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44 Posts authored by: cfitzpatrick-esristaff Employee

Just as athletes specialize, so do many teachers. On the other end of that continuum is Dominique Evans-Bye, a teacher at Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta, CA. She is the instructional equivalent of a decathlete. Her social media stream hints at this, as a medley of GIS, marine science, space science, biology, chemistry, design, conservation, education, and exploration.

 

Not purely science or technology or engineering or math, or even just STEM, Evans-Bye integrates everything. Her current course load is 6 classes in block schedule, with AP environmental science, biology, environmental GIS, and GIS & Remote Sensing, the last two as part of a CTE (career technical education) pathway, across grades 10-12, with some intros coming in grade 9. In each, she challenges her students to look outward, conduct research, engage in projects, and participate in competitions -- activities which also call for attention to social studies and communication, plus a bank of critical "soft skills."

 

Esri User Conference 2011 presentation

 

Students tackle leadership training from SkillsUSA interspersed with GIS activities (on Esri Academy and Learn ArcGIS) that build content background in their subject and beyond as well as essential tech skills. Opportunities to showcase these in presentations and competitions span the school year.  

 

Esri Oceans Summit 2018 presentation

 

"Although SkillsUSA doesn’t have any GIS technical skill competitions (yet?) my students have had a lot of fun and success with the Career Pathway Showcase. This competition involves a group of three students presenting a community service project in their subject area. Students can advance in local, state and national competitions. Judging by my student’s scores in the Nationals for the past two years, GIS has had quite an impact on the SkillsUSA community. Our first year competing, we made it to Nationals and won Silver. This year I had beginning GIS students win gold medals at the National SkillsUSA Championships by using a GIS story map to show the impact of marine debris on albatross."

 

Story Map on albatross

 

GIS is the perfect technology for integrators, and the best educators help students understand the world in a holistic fashion, building the skills and expertise to help make good decisions and solve problems. Far from generating one dimensional specialists, CTE teachers today whose students build GIS expertise tied to real world projects and competitive experiences help them prepare for tremendous opportunities ahead as problem solvers in a vast array of industries.

The ArcGIS School Bundle has grown! It now includes Insights for ArcGIS and Esri CityEngine, in license numbers matching the size of the Bundle in place. No special request is needed, these are now just built into existing and new ArcGIS School Bundles. And, like the previous elements, these are available to K12 schools and youth clubs at no cost for instructional use.

 

 ArcGIS School Bundle

 

The heart of the Bundle remains the ArcGIS Online Organization account, with its many built-in powers, "sidecar" apps, and connections to the entire ArcGIS platform, all accessible via internet connection. The second key online component has been ArcGIS Community Analyst, a powerful research and analysis tool with couple-of-clicks access to an immense wealth of demographic data (and more) all ready for mapping and analysis. The addition of Insights for ArcGIS enables intense exploration of data, in search of trends, patterns, correlations, and relationships, in a "card-based" operation, again all within a web browser.

 

On the Windows-based desktop side, ArcGIS Pro Advanced users continue building powerful skills in core 2D and 3D environments, enhancing those with powerful extensions, now including Image Analyst. The Bundle still includes the latest version of ArcMap, but desktop users in schools are largely graduating to the newer, more powerful, more connected ArcGIS Pro. The "new kid" in the School Bundle is Esri CityEngine, a powerful rules-based construction environment for creating large, interactive, immersive urban environments, long of particular interest to educators working with students anxious to work in the modeling and gaming realm.

 

Like most elements of the Bundle beyond the basic Map Viewer and Scene Viewer in ArcGIS Online, access to these new tools is established by explicit provisioning, typically according to the user's "type" and "role." These can also be managed individually, but handling more than a few in a manual and one-off fashion is inefficient and can be time consuming.

 

As with all products in the ArcGIS family, a host of resources are available for learning to work with them. See the product pages, the documentation, the Learn site, Esri Academy, and GeoNet for various forms of guidance.

Doing powerful things with basic tools is far more impressive than doing basic things with powerful tools. Dramatic results can come from even a wee bit of well-crafted field work. And good projects can become great by engaging the power of GIS. These were just three lessons demonstrated by the school group on stage during the Monday plenary of the 2019 Esri User Conference. Before a registered attendance of 19,000, students from the small town of Lurgan in Northern Ireland, as part of the Shared Education Project, demonstrated these and other lessons for teachers everywhere, all while showing nations across the world that historic differences can be overcome.

 

(If you did not see the session live and have not seen the video, please watch it now before continuing.)

 

Esri UC 2019 Plenary Students

 

For a few hours on a cold winter day, geography teachers from three schools took 45 students on a bus around town to visit 15 sites, where students were to record two pieces of sentiment data, their school name, a photo of the site, and maybe some thoughts for improving things. The students -- from a Catholic school for ages 11-18, a mostly Protestant school for ages 11-14, and a mostly Protestant school for ages 14-18 -- collected 475 entries, using their phones and a simple survey. They returned to one school and looked at the data together.

 

The facts above could be replicated by most schools: What do students think about their community? Giving students the permission to share their thoughts and feelings is an important practice by itself. But for greatest benefit, educators must craft the experience carefully, asking clear questions and making it easy for participants to generate good data. Then, explore the patterns and relationships, going beyond the simplistic to tease out the full richness that geographic analysis illuminates.

 

The skills detectable in this story are legion: project architecture including thoughtful geographic consideration; database design; technological preparation (here, instruction on how to access and use the survey); careful data gathering; exploration of the raw data; in-depth interrogation, geographic analysis, and interpretation of data; and planning of next steps. All these students participated in a life-altering experience, in a single day. They learned powerful lessons, going far beyond what might have come from "just another typical day in class," which will influence their lives and ripple far beyond, for decades.

 

Good teachers, designing activities to engage students in powerful ways, and employing the tools and practices of geographic analysis, can work what seem miracles. Every school has the chance to engage these GIS tools for free, and every GIS professional can help nearby educators learn to do such projects. Imagine a world where the differences we share are understood. Let's build it, together. As the video notes, "these students are not our tomorrow … they are our today."

The ArcGIS School Bundle is a powerful set of GIS software available to all K12 schools and youth clubs at no cost for instruction. The core component is an ArcGIS Online Organization (“Org”), with logins sufficient for all students and educators. With it, GIS is being used in all grades and subjects, on all manner of technology, across USA and around the world.

 

The US map of Bundle sites is a little deceiving when zoomed to a local level, as every site uses a common icon. Some locations implement the Org in a centralized fashion, from school district outward, serving a few to many schools under a single license; this is efficient and makes it seamless when students shift from one school to another, but it requires special attention to keep the organization tidy and powerful. The most common model across USA operates at the individual school level, generally with one or two teachers coordinating activities and optimizing the look and feel for their special needs; the challenge here is expanding awareness and use of the resources.

 

Future blogs will dive deeply into administering Orgs for schools. Effective administration is the difference between an Org that enhances instruction versus one that is simply a bank of digital lockers. These resources will help administrators understand the Org and how to take best advantage of it in instruction:

 

The current ArcGIS School Bundle has a fixed calendar, running through 31 July 2020. At that time, active licenses will be extended for another three years, perhaps shifting slightly in configuration to serve instruction even better. The ArcGIS platform continues to evolve, with new opportunities coming into view every few months. Esri is committed to providing the most compelling resources to K-12 schools (primary and secondary) at no cost for instruction through at least the most distant milestone currently visible for the Bundle — 31 July 2023. At the accelerating pace of evolution, it’s hard even to guess what will be possible then!

Results are in for the 2019 ArcGIS Online Competition for US High School and Middle School Students! Congratulations to the national winners and honorable mentions at both levels, and to the 40 other state winners competing for the grand prize -- a trip to the 2019 Esri Education Summit and Esri User Conference. And cheers to the 124 other awardees who, just like the state and national winners, each earned $100 and important skills for the future.

 

A Story Map about the competition includes all the 2019 results and links to the creations of all 168 awardees. All four national awardees demonstrated strength in the competition's three essential elements: good geographic analysis, good cartography, and good documentation. These students (three soloists and one duo) show how clear geographic thinking using GIS can clarify the patterns and relationships that build understanding, answer questions, and solve problems.

 

 2019 Competition Results

 

A number of other entries were also strong in their own way -- powerful, enlightening, entertaining, even endearing -- so see the creations by all the state leaders and other awardees. Exposing students to many examples is important, as there are innumerable topics, data sets, tools, techniques, and strategies for presentation. Teachers, club leaders, and mentors who want to help students build skills should explore these and talk about the overall challenge: identifying a topic, researching it, drawing conclusions, and presenting the results in a format that is focused, clarifying, engaging, and consumable.

 

Teachers need not allocate significant in-class time or instruction about the competition, although some did. With the array of instructional resources available, students can learn a lot on their own, but they do need that first exposure, and an account with which to explore, build, save, and share. Esri offers all schools and clubs free instructional accounts, plus lots of classroom-ready content and project starters, links to local mentors (see Map#4) and instructional opportunities (see Maps #6 and #7), so all students can participate. This year's high school winners have strong GIS experience, but the middle school winners are new to GIS, so there are opportunities for all to engage and succeed.

 

The 2020 competition will operate much like 2019, with states applying to participate in the fall. Start planning now, with a visit to see the terrific work by high school and middle school students.

It's #TeacherAppreciationWeek, and Tuesday is #NationalTeacherDay. As if all the thanks teachers deserve could be distilled into one week, much less a single day. They don't do it for thanks, and certainly not for money. It is for most a calling, a drive to help others develop. They change the world, one learner at a time, 15 or 50 or 150 per year, with impact rippling out for generations. The best interweave knowledge, skill, art, backwards design, mind reading, Sherlock Holmes, and alchemy.

 

Esri has witnessed and documented this "magic," for all to see. It comes from social studies and English teachers at the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy of Roosevelt High School, part of Los Angeles Unified School District. Roosevelt lies in the heart of Boyle Heights, a storied community of predominantly Hispanic heritage. MSTMA accepts students from beyond walking distance, and some ride multiple buses over an hour each way to attend.

 

MSTMA eleventh graders engage in a special project, begun by two teachers (now a quartet) who wanted students in teams to investigate deeply something of personal interest and local significance. Investigation and analysis, interdependence and independence, initiative and trust, persistence and creativity, empathy and intensity … it's all there, braided in daily social studies and English classes that start gently in fall, build like a river, and surge in spring toward each team's data, maps, paper, and diverse presentations to school, community, and professional audiences. Teachers orchestrate the big schedule, adapting on the fly, working with one to fifty at a time. They propose, point, question, listen, watch, coax, restrain, coach, highlight, critique, boost, and somehow manage the turmoil. The students, struggling against substantial challenges, somehow, come together in their teams, learning fundamental lessons, with outcomes they truly own and will never forget.

 

So, #ThankATeacher. See, celebrate, and share this video playlist on YouTube.

 

YouTube playlist of MSTMA

Administrators of an ArcGIS Online Organization account have important responsibilities. They control all permissions and settings in the Org, including invitations, entry, and privileges. So I am astonished when teachers seek assistance because the ONLY admin in the Org has left the school. I'm gobsmacked when I learn it happened months ago. Good Org management means there should always be someone who can get into the guts of the Org and do key administrative tasks within 24 hours. This is so easy to set up in advance, and so much harder after someone is gone.

 

Let's say Alex launches the Org. She invites 10 teachers into the Org, gives them Publisher status, helps them log in, and sets up single sign-on so all 7th graders can be Users in the Org. This is a good start, but not enough. Alex needs to find at least one helper, someone who can do tasks when she is out of contact. So Alex promotes Billie and Carly to admin. Done, right? Again, it's a good next step, but not enough, because Alex is still the only "primary admin."

 

Primary admins receive all important communications from Esri about ArcGIS Online in general or about this one specific Org. They receive emails when a user runs out of credits or requests a password reset. There is ALWAYS AT LEAST ONE admin set as primary. Any admin, and any number of admins, can be given primary status, or have it revoked, unless that admin is the only primary, and every Org should have at least two. To configure primary admins (shown below as "Designated Administrators"), follow the 1-2-3-4-5 click sequence in the image here.

 

ArcGIS Online Org admin setup

 

Esri is happy to provide an ArcGIS School Bundle free to schools and clubs for instructional use. It's a powerful instructional resource. But as fans of a certain "superhero web guy" know, "With great power comes ... great responsibility." Good ArcGIS Online Org administration is a process, not an event. See more essential considerations for good Org administration for schools at http://esriurl.com/agoorgsforschools.

Last week, Minnesota lost a key player in the rise of GIS in K12 education. Scott Freburg retired from the MN Dept of Education. But the state hasn't lost as much as it might seem. Freburg has been a difference-maker, and such folks often stick around, making more waves.

 

He had his first experiences with remote sensing and GIS in college in the mid-1980s, and started going to conferences and getting to know people. After doing GIS for several organizations, he joined MDE in 2006. In addition to building a strong enterprise GIS, over the years he has helped a number on staff get into using GIS regularly. A quiet and behind-the-scenes guy, he played a key role in getting a state license started for MN just as ArcGIS Online Organizations were becoming available to states.

 

His "cannonball into the swimming pool" event was in fall of 2013, talking to the MN GIS/LIS group, asking who might be willing to help local teachers by running a simple workshop. The next summer, 25 volunteers ran 40 events across the state, for almost 300 teachers. That wave still ripples today.

 

Scott Freburg

At Esri's 2014 T3G educator institute, Freburg temporarily closes the laptop to focus on tablet and smartphone.

 

In fall of 2015, Freburg's dream took a next big step, launching the Minnesota GIS Educators' Day, a one-day training for educators, during the school week, at the front end of the state GIS/LIS event. Teachers' substitute costs and travel costs are paid by the GIS community, and GIS professionals join the teachers for lunch, hear educators and students and mentors speak, and hear the call again to join forces. The 2015 event was a success, which grew in 2016, and again in 2017, and bigger still in 2018. Through quiet conversations, helping people over the years, sharing good ideas, and showing up, Freburg has fostered in Minnesota's professional GIS community a commitment to the K12 teachers who bring thousands of students into GIS.

 

2015 MNGISED

Freburg (front right) and teachers at 2015 MN GIS Educator Day

 

"The GIS/LIS group had a scholarship fund for higher ed folks for years, so it wasn't hard to get agreement on allocating funds for K12 as well," he said. "Four of those scholarship winners in eight years have become teachers. And, y'know, one is the teacher whose kids won Esri's national high school competition both years. So it all comes around. It's gonna keep building." (See also AAG's GeoMentor profile.)

 

What's in store for Freburg? Maybe a little more baseball and golf, a little less database management. There's a first grandchild soon. But there are also teachers to visit, all over the state. "We'd like to visit all the state parks in Minnesota … and … maybe schedule some trainings around them." Could be even bigger waves ahead.

For over 25 years, students in school have learned "standard classroom content" using GIS. Some have honed their skills further through research projects as club activities, or submitted independent work to competitions. And students in elementary, middle, and high school have engaged in service projects, making a real difference in their communities. Occasionally, students have parlayed those skills into advanced personal opportunities. For 15 years, 12th graders in Virginia’s "Geospatial Semester" have earned college credit through a GIS elective class. Similarly, Hopeworks in Camden NJ has included GIS as an option in their training program. But it has been hard to find a situation in which multiple students stepped in, studied the technology on their own initiative, learned enough to seek an internship, and used that as a springboard into a job ... until now.

 

Michigan’s GRACE project is a statewide, multi-tiered effort consciously leveraging the software and training resources made available by Esri for free to any school. GRACE builds capacity among both teachers and students, with a special emphasis on getting students to climb a ladder toward internships. This has succeeded in locations across the state, with dozens of students getting multi-week paid internships. But in one location, it has gone farther, with students now in the local workforce, working steady part-time jobs as paid GIS technicians.

 

Head south from Detroit toward Toledo, Ohio, and before crossing the border you are in Monroe County. At Monroe High School, science teacher Russell Columbus had used GIS with students for over a decade, interacting with a county GIS manager early on to get some data. As a GRACE leader, Columbus posted flyers in school about internship possibilities, and handled inquiries. Students would be responsible for completing a set of Esri Training courses online, totaling over 30 hours, on their own, but following a pathway with suggested milestones. After students had earned the required course certificates, they prepared for interviews, which went well enough for several to earn paid internships, as had been happening across the state. But in Monroe, several student experiences were positive enough for both host and intern that all agreed to extend them into steady jobs for the county.

 

(Main: Monroe County maps using data from interns.

Inset: Vitale and stack of >4000 edited parcels.)

 

With a growing supply of local GIS talent, Jeff Boudrie, the GIS manager for the Planning Commission of Monroe County, says "We can now handle things that benefit the entire county ... work we couldn’t do before because we didn’t have the data." The students have been building the parcel map for the county, handling thousands of records, which in turn has supported numerous projects of economic value to individual citizens, communities, and the county. Now, other groups are adding interns, and Monroe County is able to help communities lacking their own trained local GIS workforce. Student/intern/employee Donovan Vitale will graduate from high school this year with almost three years of steady professional work experience, with the components of a digital portfolio that will turn heads, and a deep understanding of the complex relationships between land, laws, policy, data, transparency, publicity, and community development. (See this profile of the Monroe County story in Directions Magazine, and this webinar about the GRACE Project including interviews with GRACE leaders plus [starting at 20:00] Boudrie and Vitale.)

 

Students building skills sufficient to mold for themselves a future and even a career with GIS is a vision many people share. It can indeed happen, where students are responsible for their own learning, adults support introductory workplace experiences, and there are at least a few in the right places who grasp how GIS can galvanize problem-solving. There is a vast bank of work that schools and districts, plus business, government, and the non-profit sector, would like to have done. High school students are largely tech-savvy, willing to engage, and have "disposable time." Communities everywhere seeking opportunity to improve would benefit by spending an hour investigating the links, and deciding if they too can follow a treasure map.

Across USA, educators are changing the landscape. In 2009, Esri launched Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (or "T3G"), an institute for educators wanting to help other educators use GIS for instruction. In T3G, exploring the latest GIS capacities goes hand-in-hand with attention to classroom content, demos of instructional strategies, discussions of professional development, and strategies for problem-solving. Participants commit to spreading to others the power of GIS and Esri's free tools and materials, through workshops, presentations, mentoring, and more.

 

T3G Online and resources

 

T3G 2019 is a synchronous online event, with four hours on each of two consecutive Saturdays (July 20 and July 27). Participants need to arrive already comfortable with the fundamentals of using ArcGIS Online, teaching with technology, and providing professional development. T3G 2019 will help participants merge the three. The information page links to key resources for building those critical foundations in advance.

 

Registration for T3G 2019 is now open, with 60 slots available. Participation is free, and expects commitment to share with others during the coming years. T3G grads have taught educators across USA (and beyond), growing the use of "ArcGIS School Bundles," building a collection of teacher videos, and encouraging students engaged in local projects and competitions. If you can help other teachers use GIS to transform education and improve the world, join us, at esriurl.com/t3g!

GeoInquiries are free, short, pre-constructed classroom activities on standard classroom content using ArcGIS Online. They are easy for teachers to use as is or to adapt. "Level One" activities require a device with internet connection but no install, no download, no login, just choose and use; "Level Two" activities require at least one login with publishing privileges in order to do analysis. GeoInquiries work in a vast range of learning situations, from the one-device-plus-presentation classroom on up to totally individualized approaches.

 

GeoInquiries video

 

A newly revised 6-minute video introducing GeoInquiries is now viewable and downloadable. It provides guidance sufficient so even those brand new to ArcGIS Online can teach effectively with GeoInquiries.

 

Anyone seeking to modify GeoInquiries, or construct locally-focused versions, or see other strategies for using them, should see the GeoInquiries zone on GeoNet. It's also a great place to ask questions or post ideas for designers.

 

Share the video with colleagues! Help them discover how to take advantage of great content and tools, all free for schools and enticing to students.

A transect is a path across an area. Geographers, both formal and informal, often follow a transect across an area to explore the changes between here and there. Sometimes the changes are close together and dramatic; other times a transect must cover a long distance before yielding a significant change in landform, land use, building style, population density, and so on.

 

Educators can't always go on actual field trips. Limits in time, spending, and permissions may constrain what a class can do in real life. But a class that knows how to use ArcGIS Online can conduct a virtual transect, looking at many characteristics visible in the field and some that are invisible in the field. The Virtual Transect app shows you how.

 

Virtual Transect app

 

First, look at the example, a tiny town in central Washington, then think about building your own. Mark a corner of the school grounds with a map note, then create rings of a distance that one might experience on foot (0.5 miles), by bicycle (2 miles), or in a car (10 miles). Using the imagery layer (as basemap or as an added layer), mark out changes in the land radiating outward. Then add some layers from the Living Atlas to find additional changes in the patterns of land and people.

 

I did a similar description of this process years ago, when ArcGIS Online was just getting started. It is so much more powerful now, with more data, more analysis tools, more presentation options, more collaboration possible using an ArcGIS Online Organization. These tools let explore, analyze, illuminate, and describe patterns, and then determine actions to make the world a better place. While the best experience is clearly from mixing the real thing with the digital, you can begin right there in the classroom, doing a Virtual Transect.

GeoInquiries(TM) have revolutionized “teaching with GIS,” by making this remarkable technology accessible even to teachers with modest technology, tech skills, and instructional time. In 2014, Esri started offering ArcGIS Online accounts to every US K12 school for free for instruction. Launched at the same time, GeoInquiries collections have grown to nine sets of 15-20 lessons (150 in all so far), presenting standards-based content through ArcGIS Online. GeoInquiries combine concise two-page documents with unique prepared maps using the standard ArcGIS Online Map Viewer interface, requiring no download, install, or even login for initial activities. (See short intro movie. “Level 2” activities require an Organization-based login with publishing privileges to do analyses.)

 

GeoInquiries website

 

With varied instructional strategies, teachers can cover key content in bite-sized chunks through interactive experiences. Provided instructions follow an inquiry approach, to leverage curiosity and engage students as powerfully as time and conditions permit. Over time, we have seen teachers use stylistic variations.

 

Mini-Lecture: Some teachers know their subject matter very well, and need simply a way to illustrate quickly a few geographic patterns and relationships in a few minutes. They project from their computer to a screen at the front of the room. Some teachers even do this to present in multiple classrooms at once -- in their regular classroom and simultaneously in another across town (even across the state), where there isn’t a teacher available to teach the course.

 

Guided Discovery: It takes a little more time and attention to the teacher instructions to ask a steady stream of questions designed to entice responses from a whole class at once and steer students collectively toward discovering fundamental goals of a lesson. But even for teachers doing this multiple times in a day, unique class makeup can yield very different paths from one session to the next.

 

Worksheet World: Some teachers provide students a custom worksheet and, after a quick intro, ask students to go step-by-step. Some teachers aim simply to have learners document factual responses, but building student engagement by incorporating higher level questions at different points (either at a specific step or at a common time) often yields more active students.

 

Weather GeoInquiry

 

Teacher Tryouts: A few teachers issue copies of the unedited teacher page and ask students to go through the activity within a specific time period, following the specified structure, and preparing to respond to follow-up questions or to craft their own powerful questions, or, for fun, “stumpers.”

 

Meandering for Meaning: Some teachers ask students to open the map and explore the content without much guidance beyond an overarching idea or concept. With riveting content this can be effective, but insufficient guidance can permit less focused students to meander much farther afield. (See “Presentations” below.)

 

Presentation Power: To reduce digital meandering, exercise analytical thinking, or expand creativity, some teachers engage “Presentations.” After a quick intro to the content, students save the GeoInquiry into their own account, explore for perhaps 10 minutes, then take about 15 minutes to construct their own “3-slide presentation” focused on their own view of the big idea of the lesson. Sharing their creation with two other students before assessment by the teacher can support big ideas while stimulating some creative designs. (See blog about this, http://esriurl.com/funwithgis229)

 

Level 2 GeoInquiry

 

Teachers can mix and match these modes even within a single lesson. Whatever the strategy, GeoInquiries offer teachers the chance to engage students with dynamic content, often on their own devices, helping them identify patterns and relationships, which build more solid background. With a few GeoInquiries under their belt, students and teachers may be ready for deeper dives, doing analyses with "Level 2 lessons," or going beyond pre-structured content into custom projects. GeoInquiries offer a powerful on-ramp to learning, thinking, building, and doing with technology, which is an essential skill for today's learners at all ages. See the collections at esri.com/geoinquiries.

A true craftsman uses skill developed deliberately, with attention to detail, and often with signature elements. Lyn Malone is a craftswoman. A teacher of social studies in grades 7-12 from 1970-2002, and provider of professional development since, Lyn designed lessons, activities, and projects used by thousands that covered key content, but did so with the eye of an artist and mind of an analyst. Even her casual conversation uses complete sentences that vary in structure.

 

"My Bachelors degree was in history, and my Masters in American Civilization, which is much more interdisciplinary than straight history." Her early teaching career spanned the breadth of the social studies, all in senior high. "But I always loved geography, always loved maps. I went down to Middle School in 1983, and started going in evenings to Rhode Island School of Design," building over the years a certificate in scientific and technical illustration. She started doing maps, and illustrations of historical artifacts, but that industry shifted to digital faster than could a full-time teacher who was also working with the new Rhode Island Geography Education Alliance.

 

As with many educators in the 1990's, GIS did not come easily for Lyn. "I went to at least three full-day workshops introducing GIS, and loved them, but couldn't make anything happen. That's why the 1998 institute" [an intense, two-week, day-long, GIS boot camp for teachers] "was such a huge boost." What followed were new activities, interdisciplinary, sometimes in concert with colleagues in other departments, schools, and even states, and built always from the perspectives of both designer and analyst. "I loved working with data, especially about population. Not so much building it, but finding and discovering what could be done with data others had assembled."

 

In 2000, Barrington Middle School won the first "Esri Community Atlas" contest, which challenged students to craft a website with simple but powerful maps portraying the community. Lyn and three students from grades 7-8 were invited to present their work on stage at the 2000 Esri User Conference. It was so well crafted and delivered that Roger Tomlinson ("the father of GIS") stood in line to talk with them, General James Clapper congratulated them and handed each student a commemorative coin, and Esri president Jack Dangermond whispered "We have to do this again," launching what has become a regular UC Plenary highlight.

 

With signature panache, Lyn models the latest in GIS vocabulary at T3G,

and dons foul weather gear to model GeoNews for a class.

 

Those attributes earned Lyn a spot co-authoring a ground-breaking curriculum package, Mapping Our World (in several versions), followed by Community Geography. In 2009, Lyn helped launch Esri's educator institute, Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (T3G). Numerous events in New England and far beyond, for educators and the wider public, have featured her activities and presentations, always models of focus, detail, and elegant design.

 

Describing T3G as "Part boot camp, part religious revival," Lyn captures the essence.

 

Eventually, though, even artisans slow down. With almost five decades of instruction behind her, Lyn is looking forward to a little more leisurely travel, reading, art, and maybe classes, with fewer deadlines. But the many thousands who have engaged with her lessons stand a chance of seeing a complicated world more clearly, with geographic patterns and relationships illuminated through GIS. Thank you, Lyn!

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.

 

MSTMA Maptivists mapping data with ArcGIS Online

 

A new YouTube playlist presents a quartet of videos (shortcut: esriurl.com/maptivists): (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.

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