Test Scores Associated with Lessons Designed to Engage

Test Scores Associated with Lessons Designed to Engage

Test Scores Associated with Lessons Designed to Engage Spatial Thinking in Kindergarten and First (and second grade and middle school and . . Grade

.) Philip J and Carol A Gersmehl New York Center for Geographic Learning Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition Goal: to recast Reading a Map

to reflect recent research in spatial thinking Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

1641 articles 127 journals 63 books Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

1641 articles 127 journals 63 books Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

1641 articles 127 journals 63 books Important contributions come from: - neuroscientists - developmental

psychologists - robot engineers - linguists - vision specialists - architects - geographers ...

Important contributions come from: - neuroscientists - developmental psychologists - robot engineers Unfortunately,

- linguists people in one - vision specialists discipline are not always - architects aware

- geographers of the research ... done The human brain has several distinct regions

that do different kinds of spatial thinking. The human brain has several distinct regions that do different kinds of spatial thinking. Brain structures for spatial thinking develop at a very early age.

The human brain has several distinct regions that do different kinds of spatial thinking. Brain structures for spatial thinking develop at a very early age. Skills of verbal, gestural, mathematical, or

graphical representation develop more slowly (and at least somewhat independently). Self-directed mobility is a key variable; sex, diet, language, and handedness are

also significant. Self-directed mobility is a key variable; sex, diet, language, and handedness are also significant. Adult intervention can accelerate mastery.

Self-directed mobility is a key variable; sex, diet, language, and handedness are also significant. Adult intervention can accelerate mastery. At least some spatial-thinking brain

structures remain plastic through late middle age. Step 2: make a set of lessons that deal

with each mode of spatial thinking individually. Step 2:

make a set We are certainly aware of lessons that this list is tentative. that deal But is progress ever made with each

by waiting until the science mode of has become unambiguous spatial and accepted by everyone? thinking individually.

The goal to be able to interpret (not just decode) a map like this

Mosque > Marcus Garvey Park

Mosque > Marcus Garvey Park Mosque

> MLK Houses Inside, it looks

like a lot of schools Many curricula start with what students already know their school.

We did too, but . . . We noticed that each classroom had a colorful carpet for story time.

Some of our lessons use the rug to teach basic vocabulary terms for spatial thinking. Some of our lessons use the rug to teach

basic vocabulary terms for spatial thinking. October: color the flowers in the corners.

Some of our lessons use the rug to teach basic vocabulary terms for spatial thinking. December: Color

flower First,the color thatflowers is between the in

letters M and O. the corners. Some of our lessons use the rug to teach basic vocabulary terms

for spatial thinking. February: Color the flower First, color that is in the the flowers in

SE corner. the corners. This builds a foundation for the idea of spatial

analogies. Rather than having students try to draw classrooms and halls, we made basemaps of their school.

Students color some rug and desk symbols and then arrange them on a to-scale basemap of their classroom.

We put some colors on a map of the hall and asked students to suggest colors for the other rooms. These basic activities

helped students acquire the idea of representation. Most of our lessons, however, had objectives that were We put some colors much more tightly focused. on the hall basemap

and asked students to suggest colors for the other rooms. This builds a foundation for the idea

of spatial sequences. This builds a foundation for the idea of spatial

hierarchies. This builds a foundation for the idea of spatial hierarchies.

For each lesson, we gave teachers a background page ... This builds a foundation for the idea

of spatial hierarchies. ... a page of plausible stages of concept development . . .

This builds a foundation for the idea of spatial hierarchies. ... some maps

to extend the spatial thinking . . . This builds a foundation for the idea of spatial

hierarchies. ... and some ideas to discuss with other teachers . . . A child who writes

that the orange plate is in the MIDOL has learned the rule. Exceptions e.g. middle can come later. Eurasia is a continent.

It follows the rule: landmass surrounded by ocean. A child who writes that the orange plate is in the MIDOL has learned the rule.

Exceptions e.g. middle can come later. Eurasia is a continent. It follows the rule: landmass surrounded by ocean.

A child who writes that the orange plate is in the MIDOL has learned the rule. Exceptions e.g. middle can come later.

Europe is an historic exception. We made GIS maps of the local neighborhood ...

... with a wide range of complexity ...

... drawings make it seem more real ... ...

but footprints made it into their map ... Students used this map to preview/review

a walking field trip in the neighborhood. When they returned to the classroom, their experience became a lesson

in language arts. They also did some basic classification of land uses.

Most teacher/researchers have some haunting memories of events that they failed to document properly. One of mine is of the classroom that the students transformed into a model of their walking fieldtrip. They used desks as buildings,

and put a green ball on one to represent the mosque. It was a nice model, and it clearly showed mastery of the idea of representation! Under the hood of these lessons

is our taxonomy of the modes of spatial thinking. location representation aura (influence)

hierarchy transition analogy association pattern region

In a K-12 School Skip K12 527 students: 81 languages spoken at home

Traditional geography materials (with their heavy emphasis on verbal recall of place-names and trivia facts about places) have little value in this setting.

We started by making maps of the school at many scales. Sixth-graders used the maps

to help teach second-graders about New York Third-graders mapped the path of the sun

across the floor hour by hour. Fourth-graders made maps of where their families

came from. Fourth-graders made maps of where Out of 23 their

families family maps, came only 3 from. were of New York.

The shape is all wrong, but key details are in place. The shape is all wrong,

but key details are in place. B The Buffalo Embaymen t

at the end of Lake Erie The shape is all wrong, but key details are in place.

O B The Oswego Embaymen t at the end

of The shape is all wrong, but key details are in place.

R O B A square corner at Rouses

Point on Lake The shape is all wrong, but key details are in place.

R O B Long Island,

extending out to the Hamptons H The shape

is all wrong, but key details are in place. R O

B Orient Point, the fish tail at the end

P H R O B

P H R O B

P H R O

B Note: many details are there, in basically correct relative position,

though the general shape seems way P wrong. H

What does this mean for teaching? What does this mean for teaching? Classroom lessons and displays should be designed to emphasize

the kind of landmarks children use to build a hierarchical mental map. Relative location? differences ? Individual

Illustration from the National Geography Standards (page 65)

This is the kind of intuitively plausible goal that appeals to: - concerned parents - overcommitted administrators

- well-intentioned politicians This is the kind of intuitively plausible goal that appeals to:

- concerned* parents - overcommitted* administrators - well-intentioned* politicians *PC translation: neuroscientifically

challenged This is the kind of intuitively plausible goal that appeals to: - concerned* parents

- overcommitted* administrators - well-intentioned* politicians *PC translation: neuroscientifically challenged

Whats the problem? The human brain does not seem to learn that way! Step 3: Look at the Test Scores

Language Arts Scores, K1 school: September high 50s Language Arts Scores, K1 school: September high 50s April

mid 90s Language Arts Scores, K1 school: September high 50s April mid 90s

(43) average Language Arts Scores, K1 school: September high 50s April mid 90s

(43) average Composite Scores, K12 school group White, Asian / Black, Hispanic 81

/ 79 Language Arts Scores, K1 school: September high 50s April

mid 90s (43) average Composite Scores, K12 school group White, Asian / Black, Hispanic

81 (53) / / 79

(37) Conclusion We made lessons based on ideas from recent research on spatial cognition.

Conclusion We made lessons based on ideas from recent research on spatial cognition. Reading and math scores went up. Conclusion

We made lessons based on ideas from recent research on spatial cognition. Reading and math scores went up. Scientific integrity forbids any claim of a strong cause-and-effect relationship.

Conclusion We made lessons based on ideas from recent research on spatial cognition. Reading and math scores went up. Scientific integrity forbids any claim

of a strong cause-and-effect relationship. We can claim to have obeyed Hippocrates: Conclusion There is no credible evidence

that devoting considerable class time to geography lessons in primary school has harmed reading and math scores.

Real Conclusion Educational activities and assessments should build on modern knowledge about human cognitive development. Real Conclusion

Educational activities and assessments should build on modern knowledge about human cognitive development. cheap - quick - good

Real Conclusion Educational activities and assessments should build on modern knowledge about human cognitive development. cheap - quick - good

Pick two, because you cant have all

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