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Teaching Geography: Workshop 6

Russia

Before You Watch

Before viewing the video programs for Workshop 6: Russia, 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 2, 4, 10, 11, 12, and 16. 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.

Video Program Overviews: Russia

Part 1. St. Petersburg: Russia's Window on the West

As part of the vast, geographically diverse Russia, St. Petersburg has had a tumultuous history. Czar Peter the Great selected St. Petersburg as capital, building it up from the marshes of the Neva River delta due to its proximity to Europe and its potential as a port city. But with the Revolution in 1917, Lenin named Moscow capital and changed St. Petersburg's name to Leningrad. Since regaining its original name in 1989 with the end of the Soviet era, St. Petersburg has struggled with the changes from a communist system to that of free-market capitalism.

Although the city streets now teem with commerce, many industries and individuals have had difficulty weathering the transition. An increased cost of living is just one of many adversities facing residents today. However, St. Petersburg's rich history, well-educated population, and plans to develop a new harbor contribute to its potential for regaining a strong position in the world economy. This case study provides insight into the factors influencing city location and the relationships among politics, economics, culture, and geography.

The classroom activities for this segment follow Judy Ware's seventh-grade world geography class as they analyze Russia's topographical features in determining where they would build a city.

Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • explain why places have specific physical and human characteristics;
  • identify how patterns of economic interdependence influence the development of urban centers;
  • adapt inquiry learning and constructivist approaches for teaching students about patterns and functions of urban settlements.

Questions to Consider

  • Describe evidence used in the case study and lesson to assess the influence of physical and human characteristics in shaping St. Petersburg's development as an urban center.
  • How does St. Petersburg exemplify the influence of economic interdependence in the development of urban centers?
  • How does teacher Judy Ware promote student understanding of urban development by using inquiry learning in combination with a constructivist philosophy?

Featured Educator

Ms. Judy Ware, seventh-grade world history teacher, Crossroads School, St. Louis, Missouri
Judy Ware serves as program director for the Missouri Geographic Alliance. She presented on AP human geography at the 2001 National Council for Social Studies Conference. Her inquiry-based lesson on Russian cities accompanies the case study on St. Petersburg.

Part 2. Dagestan: Russia's Southern Challenge

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has faced many geographical challenges, ranging from a lack of infrastructure in its frozen Siberian wilderness to upheavals in its Muslim Republics. However, in the Caucasus republic of Dagestan, dozens of ethnic groups, the so-called nationalities, coexist despite their differing cultural traditions, craft specializations, and dialects. Despite nationalist rebellions churning in the region surrounding Dagestan, the people here continue to maintain their membership in the Russian Federation. What factors keep this mostly Muslim, non-Russian population a member of the federation? As our case study shows, part of the answer lies in Dagestan's reaction to the tragic example of conflicts in neighboring Chechnya.

This program also features a classroom segment in which Connie Hudgeons's twelfth-graders explore the role that ethnic identity plays in creating solidarity as they engage in a mediation exercise between two opposing ethnic factions.

Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • explain how culture influences each group's unique view of itself and others;
  • analyze how changes in the use, meaning, and distribution of resources influence the stability and future of a region;
  • describe how using simulated decision-making activities in the classroom engages students in critical thinking and understanding geographic concepts.

Questions to Consider

  • How have cultural, economic, political, and physical characteristics in Dagestan and neighboring countries resulted in cooperation or conflict?
  • How have historic and geographic factors resulted in rebellion among nations in Russia's southeastern region?
  • Describe how teacher Connie Hudgeons uses decision-making simulations to promote critical thinking and geographic understanding in her classroom.

Featured Educator

Ms. Connie Hudgeons, twelfth-grade AP economics teacher, Cibola High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Connie Hudgeons has been teaching since 1978 and at Cibola High School since 1987. There, she has taught a variety of courses. She has served on the Character Counts Committee, the North Central Steering Team, and the Curriculum Committee, and as special education coordinator. Additionally, she has been a teacher consultant for the New Mexico Geographic Alliance since 1993. In connection with the Dagestan case study, her students participate in a role-playing lesson on land division.