Geography: The Five Themes and Key Terms

Image taken from page 6 of '[A new geographical, historical, and commercial grammar; and present state of the several kingdoms of the world ... The astronomical part by James Ferguson, F.R.S., to which have been added the late discoveries of Dr. Herschel

Introduction:

This lesson is for my ninth grade Modern World History classes. One of the sections is sheltered, which means that they are all ELD learners. The lesson is meant to wrap up geography unit, and will take about three 50-minute classes. They have studied the five themes of geography (location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region) and key geographic terms such as isthmus, mountain range, delta, etc.

Content:

They have studied the five themes of geography (location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region) and key geographic terms such as isthmus, mountain range, delta, etc. This lesson will allow them to engage these concepts in a collaborative setting.

Process:

The lesson is driven by the knowledge students have gained through the geography unit and will be introduced by a teacher-created example. Students will be put in groups of four and five. They will be given a map of the world and asked to create a “road trip.” This road trip process will be broken down into guided steps in order to accommodate my IEP and ELD learners who work well when large tasks are broken into smaller ones. The first task will be for each group to pick a starting point and a destination. They will be asked to find the absolute location of both of these points. Once this is finished, the next step will ask students to find a path between these locations that includes three more stops, goes through five of the terms from a teacher-created word bank, and goes through two regions (formal, functional, or vernacular). Once the road trip has been finalized to include the required components students will break from their groups, each taking one one of the stops from their group’s road trip and be asked to apply the five themes to this in the form of a “postcard” that includes these descriptions.

Product:

Map with stated road trip, postcard describing the five themes of the chosen location, comprehension of the way that the five themes and key terms impact the world, and collaborative work skills.

Evaluation:

The assignments will be formally assessed based upon the presence of the required elements. Students will also be informally assessed on their disposition during collaborative work time.

What kinds of thinking will students need to do to participate in the lesson?

Students will be able to use both low order and higher order thinking in this lesson. This allows for all students to be able to enter the activity and gives them a base to begin to think more critically. In terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy, students will use remembering and applying to find their destinations, path, and applying the five themes. They will need to synthesize and analyze when putting these concepts together in their projects.

To what extent do the students have options or choices regarding these lesson components?

The students have choice in that they get to pick the areas that they are working with in the world. This allows for students to choose to use their prior academic or cultural knowledge of an area or to explore something completely new. They also get to choose with terms they are working with, again allowing students to choose something new or something familiar.

Reflection:

I really appreciated this lesson study in terms of how it got me to think about exactly what types of thinking my students will be doing in their lesson and what types of thinking I want my students to be engaging in generally. I am really interested in getting students to think critically and able to do higher order tasks as I believe that is one of the most important skills students today need. It was also really helpful to get input from my fellow students teachers on the lesson for parts I was unsure of or wanted to work better.

Photo Credit

Image Credit: The British Library

“[A new geographical, historical, and commercial grammar; and present state of the several kingdoms of the world … The astronomical part by James Ferguson, F.R.S., to which have been added the late discoveries of Dr. Herschel … Illustrated with a correct set of maps, engraved from the most recent observations and draughts of geographical travellers. The twentieth edition, corrected and considerably enlarged.]”

Date: 1819

https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11004043025/

 

4 Replies to “Geography: The Five Themes and Key Terms”

  1. I think that this is a great review and that it would adapt well to my 6th grade class. I like that you gave them a good amount of choice, but paired it with clear instructions. I also liked that you were mindful of the differing needs of your students.

  2. This is an awesome idea to test and apply students’ knowledge of the 5 Themes of Geography. We just finished studying this topic in my 9th grade World History course too. We decided to use Google MyMaps and have them explain how the 5 Themes are highlighted in the locations they choose. I think your lesson plan idea allows for their creativity to shine and is less ambiguous than the route we took. I can see students having a lot of fun with this.

  3. This is a creative, well-conceived lesson, Clarice. There is a lot of opportunity for remembering and applying information, which is excellent. It is particularly important that students get that visual element. Mapping their own trip does just that. Also, it is significant that students do not lose focus on the larger purpose of the assignment and must incorporate the five themes and the key terms into their postcard. Students will have fun learning vocabulary and working together all the while.

    A suggestion I have is that you complete the same or similar assignments at different times with different lenses, from the local, to the state, to the national, and to the international level. Often, it seems, students get caught up in particular areas of interest, which are typically far away (e.g. Paris), and may not see the significance of starting small and getting to know the geography around them before moving onto the progressively bigger places and ideas.

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