Social studies curriculum standards and GIS

03-13-2023 10:18 AM
Esri Regular Contributor
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At least in the US, curriculum standards play varying roles in state or district implemented curriculum. However, as a general rule, they are considered guidance and usually best practice from experts in the discipline.  K12 standards can broadly be lumped into social studies (includes geography), science (includes Earth science), math, English language arts, and Career and Technical education.  In addition to standards silo’ing curriculum, in most states teachers are certified to teach in one area (unless they are elementary certified).

To help understand where GIS (and geospatial keywords) can be found in K12 curriculum standards, we wrote a small program that harvested the 3,000+ state standards documents and scanned the content for the use of geospatial language. We looked for words like GIS, geospatial, spatial, geographic information, and global positioning.

The findings are presented below however treat these numbers as approximations.  Documents may have been missed in the scan, some documents are now retired, and in some cases formatting of the original document have obfuscated correctly reading the standards.

By clicking on your state, a popup with show an aggregated count but you may click through to the full report.  The full report will show you where keywords were found (and what specifically those keywords are).  Curriculum designers can use these briefs to reinforce where GIS can best serve standards-based curriculum.

For those in the fortunate position to shape your future state standards, this document should prove useful. For classroom teachers looking to “justify” your GIS use in classroom to an administrator, this document should also help.

To use the Instant app below, press “Open Map” and load the social studies standards map.  At this time of this writing, this “Atlas” Instant app is in beta (details).

Launch the map in a new window.

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About the Author
Geospatial technologies in K-12, higher education, teacher education, and informal learning. Esri Education Team