About the Project

The purpose of Geography: Teaching with the Stars is to contribute substantially to geographic education in middle/junior high and high school.

ClassroomAt the core of the project is a set of media-based professional development materials, aligned with national and state standards, that will demonstrate to teachers how geographic perspectives, concepts, and skills together with relevant instructional and assessment strategies can be used to improve students’ ability to understand and deal with the geographical aspect of important issues that affect their daily lives.

Teachers are also given opportunities to practice developing and implementing instructional materials, with the support of fellow teachers and a facilitator, using the project model for lesson plan development.

Exemplary classroom lessons serve a critical role in the professional development activities in this project. These lessons are made available to project participants to use in their own classrooms. These lessons are designed to support relevant national and state geography standards.

Geography: Teaching with the Stars can be used by individual schools and districts, by NGS Alliances in geography, and in pre-service education and training in colleges and universities. They can also be adapted for use in alternative certification programs and in educational service centers. The overarching goal of the project is to help prepare geography teachers to achieve the “highly qualified” status as required by No Child Left Behind or other future national education initiatives.

Specifically, this project will:

  • Assist teachers in providing effective geographic instruction to their students;
  • Help students acquire the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors related to geography needed to understand and deal with the geographical aspects of important global issues;
  • Provide visual reinforcement to learning.

At the core of this project is a series of in-class video demonstration programs featuring actual teachers and students in real classrooms, focusing on curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The programs also contain segments in which the teachers reflect on their teaching. See Teacher Resources.

ClassroomEach video is self-contained and may be used independently. Each program is designed for viewing in instructionally robust segments. This has two important implications. The programs can be easily scheduled for flexible use in a variety of settings. They can be effectively delivered as digital video on storage devices installed in local area networks at schools or via the Internet as streaming video, as part of on-line professional development. The videos are close-captioned for the hearing impaired.

Video programming is particularly well suited for professional development:

  • Video creates a common context in which teachers with varying backgrounds and experiences can examine issues in a positive setting.
  • Video provides a vehicle for modeling skills and a base of knowledge upon which teachers can build. For example, viewers can first watch teachers in classrooms similar to theirs in realistic situations brainstorming possibilities, making instructional decisions, and using strategies that have proven effective in classrooms. Then viewers can practice using these strategies themselves.
  • Video offers a springboard for discussion and interaction that promotes learning, change, and growth. As a familiar and comfortable medium, video provides a non-threatening vehicle for discussion among people.

Two enhancements are also being developed for each in-class video program, linked to specific segments of the lesson demonstrated. Teachers can access these enhancements from a navigation bar that appears on the screen. They can return to the video when they exit the enhancement activity, or they can view the enhancements separately and in a sequence of their own choosing.

One of these enhancements focuses on the geographical content dealt with in the lesson. See Teacher Resources. The content of these lessons fits into the broad issue categories found in the recently published Why Geography is Important brochure and currently used geography texts and learning materials.

Each in-class program will include an enhancement focusing on one or more pedagogical strategies used in the lesson. An expert in the pedagogical area will host these enhancements. See Teacher Resources.

See a visual presentation of the project elements described on this page.

See video comments on Geography: Teaching with the Stars components by David Lambert, Geographical Association, U.K.