The recent National Geographic Workshop in Honolulu provided approximately 50 teachers from across the state with a deeper understanding of geography concepts and skills. The National Geographic Society funded the workshop in partnership with Maui Economic Development Board. “In this workshop, the teachers learned that geography is an essential element in the social studies curriculum,” said Robert Sternthall, Lahainaluna High School Social Studies Department. The first speaker, Dr. Hong Jiang, Chair of Geography at UH Manoa, enlightened the educators with case studies on change in Waikiki and the geography of tea as examples of interesting stories that convey geographic concepts. “Daniel Lin of the Pacific Voyaging Society shared how to track the canoes from their website and how to contact the crew,” said Sternthall, noting that a statewide emphasis has been placed on this voyage as a way to teach students in an integrated manner.
The group was introduced to C3 Framework, a new initiative designed to enhance the social studies curriculum. “It is based on inquiry, using compelling and supporting questions to enhance student engagement and learning,” Sternthall said. MEDB’s K-12 Project Director for Women in Technology, Isla Young, introduced teachers to the exciting world of geospatial technology. Sternthall explained, “She showed us how to avail ourselves of geographic information systems, data and mapping software from ESRI and ARCGIS. This is exciting because now we have access to this technology for our students to broaden their geographic skills in the classroom.”
Brenda Barr of the National Geographic Alliance for Educators instructed the group in the first phase of training to become certified National Geographic educators. “We hope this will strengthen the teaching of geography in Hawai’i,” said Sternthall. On the last day of the workshop the participants spent most of the day working on lessons using the C3 Framework. “We worked in groups according to the content that we are teaching,” Sternthall said. “It was a very productive workshop,” he added. “Not only did we learn new information, but we also brought home many ideas that we can use with our students.”