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National Geography Standards 1-6: The World in Spatial Terms & Places and Regions

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, we will define and discuss the first six National Geography Standards. They deal with the world in spatial terms as well as places and regions.

The 18 National Geography Standards

The science and study of the topographical features of the earth are known as geography. It's a very complex field involving mountains, deserts, oceans, people, and so much more. So, how do we teach all this vast information to students?

It turns out there is something called the National Geography Standards. Actually, there are 18 National Geography Standards. This lesson defines and discusses the first six National Geography Standards.

The World in Spatial Terms

The first three standards all have an essential element to them, that of The World in Spatial Terms. They are as follows:

Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information. This means students should know what a map is, how to use a globe, what aerial photographs are for, what GPS can be used for and so on. Another example of this standard is a student being able to analyze the same area via a street map vs. a topographic map vs. a satellite image and explain to a teacher or another student why one geographic representation may be better than another and in which type of scenario.

Standard 2: How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context. For example, this standard helps ensure students can remember, from memory, some of the more important details of a map or a route, like landmarks they may encounter on their way home from school and where they would be located on a map or a sketch of a map. Furthermore, a student can be asked to create a mental map of a place they've been to recently. Then, ask them to visit that place over the weekend and ask them to create another mental map and compare the differences for accuracy and changes in details.

Standard 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface. Using this standard, students should be able to do things like construct a model of the Earth and describe its key features, like the oceans, continents, and the poles. Students need to be able to construct tables or maps that not only pinpoint locations of various cities but also show how population density ties into important transportation hubs and networks. 'Why is Chicago such a large city?' is a good question to ask in this regard.

Places and Regions

The next three standards involve the key element of places and regions.

Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places. As an example, using this standard, students should be able to describe how the environment changes with latitude and how people dress and live with changing latitudes. They should be able to explain how and why it is that certain regions within a country develop a national identity that goes beyond a recognized country, such as the Basques in Spain or the Chechens in Russia. 'Why did we build the Panama canal in Panama and not in another country?' is a great question for this standard as well.

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