“Nadia!” The voice on the other end of the phone line was bubbling with excitement. It was one of my best friends, Mr. Mizelle, calling to share some fascinating news. “I was asked to take over the GIS class at my school!”
“Yay! That is so exciting,” I added, “but what is GIS?”
GIS, as it turned out was an acronym for Geographic Information System. In essence, it is the computerized system of capturing, collecting, mapping and displaying of data related to positions on the surface of the Earth. As a result, people can begin to see the relationships between various types of data and geographical locations.
Recently, I participated in a 4-day immersion into the world of GIS and it was so fascinating. In this training, hosted in partnership with the Cobb County Schools’ Social Studies Supervisor, Trudy Delhey and West Georgia professor Dr. Jessie Hong which brought K-12 teachers as well as TTISs and yours truly. We delved into the various workings of ArcGIS to work with data showing population density, school locations, and climate regions on maps. My favorite part was learning how to create Story Maps. These take layers of map data and present them in story formats ranging from PowerPoint-style presentations to interactive one-page parallax-style web pages. The training experience culminated in each of us creating our own GIS layer, map, or story map using and writing a lesson plan using the Inquiry Design Model lesson plan template (more about IDM here) which was shared with our colleagues. I cannot wait to receive the Digital Badge associated with completing this training to share with each of you here.
Moving onward, I am quite excited to share what I have learned with my fellow educators to help them create timely connections between geography, Social Studies, and their content areas.
Of course, I will be sure to post updates here and on Twitter.
Until next time, push yourself outside of your comfort zone to learn something outside your realm of expertise.