Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Geography: Workshop 2

Latin America

Before You Watch

Before viewing the video programs for Workshop 2: Latin America, please read the National Geography Standards featured in this workshop. You may read the standards here on the Web, in your print guide, or in Geography for Life. We encourage you to read Geography for Life in its entirety as you move through the workshops. It contains further background on the National Standards, numerous examples and rich illustrations aiding interpretation, valuable tools for strengthening and developing lessons, and additional insight on geography's significance to our daily lives.

The National Geography Standards highlighted in this workshop include Standards 4, 7, 9, and 15. As you read the standards, be thinking about how they might apply in lessons you have taught.

Also, prior to attending the workshop, you should explore the associated key maps and interactive activities and read the video program overviews below, paying close attention to the Questions to Consider.

Go to this workshop's readings.

Video Program Overviews: Latin America

Part 1. Guatemala and Mexico: Population Migration

During a few months of each year in Guatemala, millions of Maya have been migrating from the highlands to Guatemala City for temporary employment. Why is this seasonal migration so prevalent? Why don't the Maya have sufficient land to support themselves, and why is there so little industrial growth? Geographer George Lovell relates this seasonal migration pattern to the collapse and explosion of Maya population. In doing so, he examines the Guatemalans' history of violence against the Maya, starting with the sixteenth-century conquistadors. Through historical survey and one-on-one interviews with Mayan families, Lovell investigates the geographic roots of migration; the cultural conflict regarding land use and ownership; and the extreme effects of temporary displacement to the city on the rural Mayan population. Using Guatemala as one geographic example, we can begin to understand the nature of human settlement, distribution, and interdependence.

This workshop includes a classroom segment featuring geography teacher Randy Hoover leading his class in an investigation into the reasons Mexican people migrate to Northern Mexico and the United States in search of employment. His class participates in group activities creating visual organizers which they use to present their findings and analysis to their classmates.


Participants will be able to:

  • explain the relationship between migration and cultural conflict;
  • identify factors associated with rural to urban migration and transnational migration;
  • identify the tools used by geographers;
  • understand how group investigations engage students in developing geographic perspectives; and
  • apply the geographic inquiry process to your own teaching.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are some causes for migration in Guatemala?
  2. What are the features of rural to urban migration? Transnational migration? How do they differ?
  3. What tools do you see geographers using to answer their questions about Guatemala?
  4. How does teacher Randy Hoover engage students in developing geographic perspectives through group investigation?
  5. How might you adapt Randy Hoover's use of geographic inquiry to investigate a question appropriate to a topic that you teach?

Featured Educator

Mr. Randy Hoover, seventh-grade world geography teacher, Dover-Sherborn Middle School, Massachusetts
Randy Hoover is social studies curriculum leader at Dover-Sherborn Middle School, a public school in suburban Boston. A former member of the Massachusetts Council for Social Studies Board of Directors, Randy is a National Geographic Society teacher consultant and has presented workshops at the National Council for Geographic Educators' conference and the Northeast Regional Conference for Social Studies. Now in his tenth year of teaching, he is the recipient of three summer fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Part 2. Ecuador: Preventing Tragedy Through Understanding Geography

In the Andes of Ecuador, inhabitants live with the constant threat of eruptions in a region called the Valley of the Volcanoes. Monitoring and mapping these geological hazards are Patty Mothes and Peter Hall at the Geophysical Institute in Quito, Ecuador. Their findings will be applied to the population and infrastructure of the area.

One of the volcanoes Patty has been studying is the 16,500-foot mountain called Tungurahua, at the foot of which lies the town of Baños. Since the tragedy of Tungurahua's eruption 90 years ago, Baños has grown rapidly, tremendously increasing the potential for human catastrophe. Using prisms, Patty measures the volcano for any changes that might indicate activity. Despite her efforts, many inhabitants are doubtful regarding the threat of Tungurahua, and such attitudes have prompted a campaign to increase public awareness of the volcano and how to respond in the case of an eruption. While researchers cannot control such geographical phenomena, their attempts to understand and predict them are inherent to the safety of the inhabitants of the Valley of the Volcanoes.

This workshop is followed by a classroom segment featuring environmental science teacher Carole Mayrose as she engages her students in an exploration of volcano location. Her class gains insight into the relationship between volcanoes and earthquakes and discusses the advantages and dangers of living near a volcano.


Participants will be able to:

  • explain how physical systems influence the Earth's features;
  • explain positive and negative influences of physical systems on human activity;
  • explain how technology helps our understanding of natural hazards;
  • explain how teachers can use student curiosity as an entry point for teaching about physical features; and
  • identify how instruction can be adapted to accommodate the learning requirements of students at all levels.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What is the relationship between earthquakes and volcanoes?
  2. What constructive and destructive features of volcanoes are explained in the case study?
  3. How has technology been applied to volcanoes to make us "smarter" about their activity?
  4. How does Carole Mayrose use the volcano to interest students in human and physical geography?
  5. What strategies does the teacher use to adapt classroom instruction for her special needs students in learning geography?

Featured Educator

Ms. Carole Mayrose
Tenth- through twelfth-grade environmental science teacher, Northview High School, Brazil, Indiana
Carole Mayrose teaches all levels of high school Earth science. As part of her teaching mission, she endeavors to provide all her students with the tools and skills that will help them complete school and succeed in life. She is featured teaching a class about the relationship between the locations of earthquakes and volcanoes, and the effects of living near such natural hazards.


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