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I have created 5 new geography-based lessons and 5 new mathematics-based lessons and placed them in 2 galleries in ArcGIS Online.  All 10 lessons are geared toward Grade 6, but can be modified for primary or for upper secondary school.  All are based on ArcGIS Online and can be used without logging in; they are designed to introduce students to spatial thinking while focusing on core geography and mathematics standards and content.

The geography lessons include investigations of volcanoes, rivers, oceans, cities, and agriculture, while the mathematics lessons ask students to study demographics, temperature extremes, earthquakes, the shape of the Earth, and latitude-longitude. Each lesson is grounded in educational content standards, and takes advantage of the ArcGIS Online live web mapping environment to foster critical thinking, problem-based learning, and inquiry.

For example, the earthquake activity's introductory questions include, "Can you apply the principles of probability to real-world events and data?  Can you compare and interpret information using maps, databases, and timelines so that you can better understand earthquakes over space and time?"  Mathematics standards embedded in this activity include:  (1)  Describe and order simple events using familiar language, and describe and compare the likelihood of future real-life events using 0, less than ½, ½, more than ½, 1. (2)  Understand, explain, and use the probability of earthquakes at the global, regional, and local scale.  (3) Describe and compare the likelihood of future real-life events (earthquakes) at the global, regional, and local scale.  (4)  Understand, explain, and use the place value of positive numbers of any size.  (5)  Round numbers to the nearest 10, 100, and 1000 and justify rounding in terms of closeness to the number.  (6)  Order and compare whole numbers of any size in ascending and descending order.  (7)  Select and apply an appropriate numeracy strategy to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems and justify the choice of strategy.  (8)  Add and subtract decimal numbers with the same and different number of decimal places.  (9) Investigate the units for time and convert between them, and (10)  Draw and interpret timelines to record events.

The other activities are similarly grounded in solid content, and foster key skills and the spatial perspective.

I encourage you to try the lessons, but also to consider using galleries in ArcGIS Online to serve your own activities.  The gallery presents students with a convenient "one-stop shop" to access content.  Galleries point to a group containing the content that you wish to show, and are easy to set up, as this video explains.  And as you can see from the two galleries I set up here, they can point to more than just web maps. In the case of my galleries, I point to PDFs of the lessons, and in each PDF is a link to the web map that the students are to open to begin their investigations.  Try it!

Gallery of Mathematics Lessons in ArcGIS Online. A new Geography gallery exists as well.

I was intrigued by a recent article by a director at Teach for All, Nicholas Enna, who listed 10 skills the workforce of the future will need.  As I was reading the article, I could not help but see the connections between the 10 skills and the tenets that we in the GIS education community hold dear.

The first skill identified is that "They will need to know how to create new worlds."  Modeling the real world's complexities has been a mainstay of GIS, and more recently, GIS has been used to envision and plan the future, such as in the emerging field of geodesign.  The second skill identified is that "They will need to think holistically."  By seeing the spatial and temporal connections to such things as watersheds, human settlement, natural hazards, soils, weather patterns, landforms, and land use, students using GIS are required to think holistically about communities, regions, and the planet.

The fourth skill, that "they will turn information into matter and matter into base information on the fly," is also relevant to teaching and learning with GIS.  Students turn data from text, tables, images, videos, and spatial data layers into information to make a decision, whether it is for the optimal site for a new wind farm or library, or areas of unstable slopes near a ski area.  They become critical thinkers about the data and information that they create.

Skill number 8, that "They will all be data analysts," is at the heart of working with GIS.  As my colleague Charlie Fitzpatrick wrote, GIS is a "thinker's tool."  It requires analyzing data from a variety of sources, time periods, scales, and themes to make sense of a problem and begin to address its pertinent issues.   Data is messy and unpredictable, but the students who are not afraid to dig into and analyze data will be well positioned for the workplace.

The number 9 skill identified by the author is that, "The ability to tell a good story will be valued over spreadsheets, graphs, and data points."  For thousands of years, maps have been used to tell stories because of their compact nature but rich content.  Digital maps offer all of the advantages of paper maps and much more.  Students can create presentations in ArcGIS Online, story maps, embed multimedia into their maps, and embed the maps into web pages.

Finally, the author's number 10 skill identified that "Our future workforce must be ready to become "shallow experts" very quickly on many different types of software, platforms, and services" in some ways connects very well to GIS.  While I do believe that an immersion in GIS cannot be shallow if one wants to use it effectively, I have observed countless times that GIS is a holistic set of skills.  Using GIS requires that students have skills in a wide variety of computer and non-computer skills, as identified by the Geospatial Technology Competency Model and others.

How could you use this list of 10 skills to make the case for the use of GIS in education?

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