High school teachers looking to develop more effective geography lessons are getting some help from the University of Delaware. A five-day training program organized by the Delaware Geographic Alliance is providing the teachers with an intense overview of the field’s latest research and methods.
“Geography is a big part of the state’s standards,” said Margaret Legates, coordinator of the UD-based Delaware Geographic Alliance, “but most of the social science teachers have history backgrounds. We wanted to boost their geography knowledge.”
No stranger to such instruction — the alliance provides professional development opportunities and classroom materials with the goal of improving geography education in the state — Legates found assistance in UD’s Department of Geography. The program’s lineup includes sessions titled “Importance of Geography,” “GIS: The Power of Maps,” and “Climate Cycles,” by faculty members Peter Rees, Tracy DeLiberty, and David Legates (no relation to Margaret). New York Geographic Alliance’s Philip Gersmehl also will contribute with a presentation about brain research and geography instruction.
“Our geography department is investing some real instructional expertise. It’s a valuable contribution to public education in Delaware,” Margaret Legates said. “Each person attending is getting a great deal of background. It’s information that’s supported with the best research that’s coming out right now.”
Fourteen teachers from seven high schools across the state are enrolled in the program, which is taking place in Collette Training Center west of Dover over five days in October, November, and December. The training is sponsored by the Delaware Department of Education.
Allen Sylvester, who teaches at Delcastle Technical High School and is a member of the alliance, said the programming so far has broadened his “geography horizons.”
“The biggest draw was seeing what the different professors were going to bring,” he said, explaining that engaging with the presenters as well as other attendees has been a great experience, one that he hopes will improve his instruction of students. “It’s been a very worthwhile investment.”
For more on geography, visit the Geography Awareness Week website, which focuses on the need to conserve water Nov. 14-20.