At the 2018 Esri User Conference, two teachers received the "Making a Difference" award. They teach social studies and English at the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy of Roosevelt High School, in Los Angeles. Watching the 11-minute award video, which included the premier of a brief video about the research project, provides a quick glimpse of the power of GIS in instruction and the impact of a meaningful project. But for those of us who watched class after class engage in this fashion, this video is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Students engage deeply, powerfully, in a justice-based topic they choose. They conduct authentic research, seeking patterns in the data, and relationships between the topic and the lives of those around them. These "maptivists" invest many hours learning GIS technology, struggling with data, establishing time management habits, designing effective presentations for public display, growing team sense while gaining a sense of self, becoming empowered.
A new YouTube playlist presents a quartet of videos: (1) the quick synopsis from the 2018 Esri Conference, (2) a profile of a single student a year after the experience, (3) an interview with entertainer and entrepreneur will.i.am who introduced Esri to the school, and (4) a deep dive into the design and conduct of the research project. Watching the full award ceremony video and then playlist segments 2, 3, and 4 will show the immense power of good tools and methods in the hands of good teachers.
Any school can have these GIS tools for free. Any teacher can learn these approaches. Every student deserves the chance to immerse in such rich learning, often. Please watch, learn, and share.