Professional Development Night at the 2017 AP Human Reading

If you haven’t had the chance to grade hundreds (for some of you thousands) of AP exams, I highly suggest that you do it at least once. While the reading itself can be grueling, there is no other place in the world where so many high school and college educators geek out about Human Geography, in one place. While walking to breakfast one morning, I overheard a man describe how he helped his wife give birth by candlelight in Uganda-needless to say, the stories here are unreal. And while it is difficult to squeeze in a professional development night between a Reds game and a peddle-bike tour of Cincinnati, it is an event that I never miss, because here, you will find the best of the best. The All-Americans of AP Human Geography. With 37 possible roundtable presentations, I was able to hit five, 15-minute talks.

GIS, Geoinquiries, and APHG: Presented by Georgeanne Hribar of Old Dominion U. and Phillip Hare of A. C. Flora H.S.

We need to make sure that our students understand how Human Geography is applicable to our daily lives. Using data and maps to solve real-world problems is exactly what Esri GeoInquiries™ are doing. The Geoinquiries are 15-20 minute mapping activities where students toggle layers, make sense of data, and make them think spatially about real-world situations. While you would think these are most applicable to our class, Esri is expanding their reach to history, environmental sciences, American literature, Earth science, math, and elementary education. The Human Geography collection is fantastic and authored by AP Human legends; Seth Dixon, Chris Bunin, Megan Webster, and Georgeanne Hribar. There are currently 14 geoinquiries that align with the AP Human Geography curriculum, complete with worksheet and link to a free interactive Esri map. I recommend doing your first geoinquiry with your students. 

Give them the worksheet and project the maps so that they know where to find the legend and how to toggle the data. The Geoinquiries are iPad friendly, and with a fast wifi connection, you will not be disappointed.

I am going to incorporate more into my routine this year, as I’ve only used the one on population. You could either assign these for homework, have students complete this at the tail-end of a mini-lecture, or at the start of the class period with a wrap-up discussion. Having our students use Esri ArcGIS is the equivalent to having our h.s. art students learn and use the Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop programs-they are the gold standards that professionals use to complete their work in the field.

Virtual Reality Projects for the Human Geography Class: Presented by Kevin Barry of La Plata H.S.

VR presentation with Kevin Barry

Virtual reality is in it’s infancy, but it’s going to change everything. I myself have a couple of Google Cardboards but know that a teenager’s forehead will put it out of commission quite quickly. Kevin Barry suggested getting sturdy, plastic ones for a bit more money-ones that will last for a few years. I can’t wait for the day where I can spin a hologrammed Earth in the center of my classroom, with the kids watching from a large circle. The day will come, but until then, I will present them with the current, and latest technology, in hopes that they will make the holograms, so that I can eventually use them in class. 🙂  What holds me back from implementing current VR technology is that there is a bit of a learning curve for the students, and in order to change apps, videos, settings, you need to constantly take your phone out of the headset. If you don’t have a button attached to the headset, there are some experiences that allow you to simply point your guide to the arrow to progress, however, I want to be able to lead my class together on a trip through the Vatican City-not Google. I need to be able to curate my tours.  To say that you can’t do this is a bit of a lie, as Google offers schools VR Expedition packages for $9,499 (as of this publishing), for 30 units (I’m sure that Best Buy knows you have 32 students in your class).

Kevin Barry VR Presentation and Resources

Thankfully, Kevin Barry creating a wealth of usable, tested, and current resources to get us up and running with VR with low-cost in mind. Follow the link to see his powerpoint and other VR resources. As stated before, it is a matter of time before this technology is permanently in our class and honestly, I can’t wait. Field trips to Athens, a tour of the British Museum, and meetings with students on the other side of the world will change the way that we teach and learn.

New AMSCO APHG Review Guide: Presented by David Palmer

I hear great things about the AMSCO series, and listening to others around the table, this one is no different. David Palmer showed us all of his new tricks in this Human Geography review guide, complete with questions after each section, and a test at the end. Best of all, he assured us that new urbanism is in his text. The answers to the questions do not come with the text, but previously, answers have been snail-mailed to teachers who request them.  As I flipped through the text, it looks pretty darn good. The last review guide that I was completely happy with was the series by Dr. Christian Sawyer-it is very thorough and concise, once again with questions after each section. There are updates to the Sawyer review, but none as good as his 2009. Barron’s and Princeton can’t touch the Sawyer and Palmer review guides-they are the only ones I’ve ever suggested to my students. While on the topic, the iScore5 team was there to also present their latest review app. There were some major improvement this year, I wrote a post about this app previously, hopefully it can help you decide whether to throw it into your budget next year.

Flipped Classroom/Microlearning: Daniel Snyder of Pine Crest High School

It’s always fun to put a name to a website, and I got to do that with Daniel Snyder’s AP Human Geography teaching website. If you are looking for a comprehensive vocab list, Fouberg’s guided worksheets, presentations and other ideas, check it out. But Daniel was not here to talk about his website, instead, he wanted to share his information on flipping the classroom. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of flipping the classroom. I wrote a post about the topic a couple of years ago, and I still feel the same way. Nevertheless, I absolutely admire the time and effort that Daniel Snyder put into his flipped project. Heck, he’s done it so well, I worry that kids won’t bother signing up for the class, and just sign up for the test! Every teacher has a niche, and this is Daniel Snyder’s. Check out his videos at his Youtube channel. You can tell this is truly a labor of love, and if you decide to flip your classroom with your own videos, Godspeed-what a tremendous undertaking. But why not just use Daniel’s? He continues to build his Youtube channel for all of us. Below is Daniel’s introduction video for his class.

The truth is, I am leaning towards assigning more short videos to my kids for homework. But no, the videos I intend for students to view do not have my face, voice, or lecture notes in them. I want them to see real-world applications that I simply do not have time for in class.  I still need them to read base materials, but I also need to buy some time for them to see the good stuff. 5-10 minute videos that they can watch after eating their lunch, or even before school. Aside from the open-note reading checks that I do with the kids (reading quizzes) after each homework assignment, I need to start incorporating FRQ questions (a part A or B only) using the real-world application videos. The reason I sat down at Daniel’s table was to find out how he is leveraging the system in his classes. He told the group that he still has his kids read the textbook on top of watching the videos and use guided worksheets to complete homework.  Daniel said that if done right, your teaching will only get more difficult, not the other way around-and I have to agree. He said that he noticed a full point increase in his test scores since he began, and he swears by it. Every teacher and school in America has different needs, situations, learning methods, and teaching styles. With so many variables, the flipped classroom may or may not be right for you. If you need a good example-Daniel Snyder of Pine Crest High School is the man. I snapped a photo of his handout that he distributed at his table-it is chocked full of great information on flipping the classroom, check them out below.









Proposed GIS course: Presented by Dorothy Cassetta of Carrol H.S. and Adriana Martinez of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

The presenters told us that CollegeBoard isn’t taking any new course proposals until 2018-2019. With that being said, they are going to try their darnedest to get an AP GIS course launched. But in the meantime, they need backers, people! They need to hear that your school is open to the idea of implementing the class. The attestation Google Form is on the front page of the website and it shows a need for signatures by June 15th, 2017-so get moving! If you follow the link to the course proposal website, you can see that a large amount of work has already begun. I am incredibly impressed with the course description. I think there are a lot of Human Geography teachers who are lucky enough to get sucked into it’s teaching swirl just by being endorsed in the social studies. Now, I have my master’s in Geography and Environmental Sciences and I can tell you that the course description for AP GIS is no joke. Teachers would require some serious professional development to get up to speed, but its nothing that we can’t handle. The women presenting said that the course would not be software specific, meaning that you could use GRASS GIS as well as ArcGIS (though ESRI provides free student accounts and the program grows more user friendly every day). Students would need to show proficiency by producing maps using the software, and submit them to AP as part of their exam. If you haven’t yet jumped on the ArcGIS bandwagon, refer back to the first session that I wrote about and start using those geoinquiries to help you get acquainted. Have questions? Ask Dr. Martinez.

And that’s a wrap people. A special thank you goes to the presenters, for an amazing job you are doing. Do you have a great lesson plan to share? Feel free to add it to the Human Imprint and give yourself the credit-you earned it.

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