Geography is at the core of social studies. Whether the subject matter is history, economics, civics or current events, students must begin with a sense of where things are and how they fit into the world.
Before we can care about the world and its people, before we can wonder about what came before, what is happening now and what is likely to happen in the future, we must feel that we are part of a community connected to the greater world around us.
Without a sense of community, without a sense of place, civic engagement doesn’t happen. Without a sense of belonging and participating in the various communities that surround us, we have no reason to care about or learn about them.
Here are two FREE guides available from the National Newspaper of America Foundation. The “Community Connections” curriculum is divided into two levels.
Level One blends mapping skills with a discussion of various communities to which everyone belongs as individuals. As students learn to make and interpret maps, the curriculum addresses local, regional, state and national identity, as well as government and community. This section is written with elementary students in mind, but the clarity of language will be helpful for anyone working to grasp these basic elements.
Level Two is designed for students with a basic knowledge of maps and a sense of the levels of government and geographic division. It expands that understanding while discussing how communities create and maintain their identities, and while emphasizing how geography affects local economies, lifestyles and community identity. It is written with middle school and older children in mind, but younger students who can grasp the more complex concepts are likely to understand the language.
Lessons in both levels can be used independently or together. Click on the following links to download: