Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Geography for your ears.

Two wonderful things to share, you can consider them an early Christmas gift. First I have notes from an Atlas of music that I am not sure was ever actually really published. You can check them out by clicking here. The second is a compilation of 50 songs for the 50 states, which you can view here. Find your favorite state and listen to its indie song. What a great way to celebrate Geography.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lost in Translation

Sometimes a bilingual student will struggle tying to translate a concept to English. Sometimes there are things that just don't translate. This interesting post highlights words from a variety of languages that just don't translate into English. Learning about those words can give us a better understanding of other cultures. Divierte!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Can you spell that please?

 Have you ever met someone with a last name you couldn't pronounce? How did European colonization influence surname distribution worldwide? GeoCurrents recently posted an in depth report on The Geography of European Surnames that you can read here.   National Geographic also has an interactive map that shows dominant surnames across the United States. Is your last name there?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Can maps change your perspective?

Twisted Sifter has compiled a list of 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of The World. There are some eye opening maps here including the one you see below. Check them out and see what you didn't know about the world we live in.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Homeward Bound

It can be simply inspiring when we think of the ways that technology and Geography can be used to benefit mankind. This is the story of one man, Saroo, and how he was able to locate his birth family on a different continent using Google Earth. You can read the story here, watch him demonstrate how he used Google Earth here, and see the commercial for Google Earth featuring his story here. Want an even longer explanation of his journey? There is a 14 minute video here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How will you celebrate?

November 7th, 2013. The theme is Past & Future. What will you do to celebrate Guerrilla Geography Day? For ideas and information visit the website by clicking on the image below. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Diversity in Houston

You might have already heard, but for most people in and around the Houston area, this is still pretty big news. Houston is the most ethnically diverse megalopolis in the United States. There are more people from more places living in Houston than any other city! Where are these new Houstonians coming from and what are the implications for the rest of the country? Smithsonian magazine has published an excellent article that you can read here.  I also have a printer friendly version here. Of course no great article would be complete without a handy handout to help you understand and analyze the article, available here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What on Earth made this?

You can visit the What on Earth made this? interactive online activity at NOVA to test your knowledge of land forms. They give you a physical feature and you have to figure out what process created it. It is a fun little activity and they give you information about some famous features. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Want to travel?

 I just stumbled upon Google Sightseeing. Their tagline says it all, "Why bother seeing the world for real?" They catalog all sorts of great Google Earth and Google Map Street view images. They categorize everything by country and topic. You potentially lose many hours there looking at all of the interesting shots. So, where have you visited on Google Earth lately?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Are maps still relevant?

  We are talking about paper maps versus digital. The Houston Chronicle recently interviewed the owner of Houston's iconic Key Map.  Wall-Mart recently stopped carrying them, but every fire truck, ambulance and police car in the city is required to have a copy and know how to use it. Both digital and  paper maps can become outdated and be replaced.  Both seem to still have a place in our lives. This is the kind of debate Geographers everywhere love. Who would you prefer map your neighborhood, a cartographer who lives there or a giant like Google? Read all about it here. 
You can click on the logo to visit the Key Map site and read about their history of cartography mapping the city of Houston. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

So you want to be a Geographer?

  Here is a link to a publication produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics about what it is Geographers get paid to do. It is sixteen pages long if you print it out. There are great descriptions of Geography related jobs in the business, social-science and earth-science related fields. Someone very smart told me to tell all of my students, "It doesn't matter what you major in when you go to college, if you want to make money you need to at least minor in Geography." Check it out!

Monday, August 5, 2013

San Diego, Los Angeles or Eastvale?

   How do urban areas change when more families live outside them than in? In the article Eastvale, CA: Suburban Charm Trumps Urban Convienience,  author Joel Kotskin explains why people are flocking to a new area just outside the big city. The reasons are nothing new, the cost of living is cheaper, you can buy bigger houses, there are more parks. The implications for development, community planning, cultural identity, and urban preservation are interesting things to consider. How does an area that is almost entirely residential support itself when it runs out of room to develop? Eastvale is an interesting place to study because it went from mostly cattle ranches to over 50,000 people in just over a decade.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smoking or Non- Smoking?

A Biology student might be interested in what smoking can do to your lungs. A Geography student would want to know where do people smoke the most and least. A Geography student would want to dig deeper and ask "why there?" What environmental and social conditions would lead people to smoke tobacco and ensure access to it? How do people in different cultures view tobacco use? Why are people in certain areas less likely to use tobacco? That is what the folks over at Geocurrents wanted to know, so they found some data, mapped it and then explained their findings in an article you can read here. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Importance of Scale

   Scale is a concept that is surprisingly simple, yet somewhat confusing. References to places and events in the news can be misleading without a reference of size or scale. Check out the story How Big Was It, Really?  by NPR and the multiple Strange Maps posts on .
This map details how much of the moon was explored by the first Astronauts to land there.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hunger Games Geography

  Last summer I couldn't put down the Hunger Games trilogy. I even went and saw the movie. Of course I was thrilled to find maps of Panem that other fans have created based on the geographic descriptions in the book. Check this one out.
Looking at it sparked an idea for a new lesson on Geographic Perspective. Students can create maps based on their favorite works of fiction! Maybe mapping imaginary worlds will help spark their interest in mapping this one.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Developing Countries?

Can we still categorize countries as developed, developing and undeveloped? According to, probably not. they use indicators like birthrate and life expectancy to show how countries have progressed over the last century.  Check out their cart Stop calling them "developing countries"  and click on the play button at the start of the timeline. Each circle represents a different countries. Who develops first and why do you think that is? What is going on with China and India? This site is really informative and interactive, so have fun with it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Language We Speak

Here is a great website that uses variations in the way English is spoken to create some pretty cool maps, Dialect Survey Results.

The map above shows where people drink soda (red), pop (blue), or coke (green). These maps were created using a survey and you can use a drop down menu on the left to check out all of the questions, responses and maps. As you play with the maps, think about all of the different influences on our culture. Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

What happened to India's exploding population?

As you can see on the map above, India is getting close to the replacement rate. When did that happen? How did that happen? Basically as India developed a middle class, with time and money to spare, they discovered they wanted to do other things besides spend that time and money on more children. Television has had a huge impact on this as most shows show families with smaller sizes. You can read all about this recent development in  Population Bomb? So Wrong, by Marin Lewis .

Monday, June 10, 2013

Geography Photography

National Geographic Traveler is running a photography contest. You can view some of the beautiful entries here.

Addicting New Geography Game - Locatestreet

If you enjoyed Geoguesser, you will quickly become addicted to Locatestreet. Like Geoguesser it uses Google Street images. This game gives you clues and you actually have multiple choices to choose from. Don't let that fool you, this game is more complicated because if you choose the correct location, you get a second round. In round two you have to pinpoint the location on a map. Points are alloted and tallied as they are earned. Give it a try!

Monday, June 3, 2013

What happens when plates collide?

 Continental drift isn't just something that happened a long time ago. We see it today in the form of earthquakes along the fault lines and new volcanoes. USGS has been monitoring new volcanoes around Alaska and you can read the full article here:

A Blast of a Find: 12 New Alaskan Volcanoes

One of the newest volcanic vents discovered in Southeast Alaska is an underwater volcanic cone in Behm Canal near New Eddystone rock.


"In the past three years, 12 new volcanoes have been discovered in Southeast Alaska, and 25 known volcanic vents and lava flows re-evaluated, thanks to dogged work by geologists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Forest Service. Sprinkled across hundreds of islands and fjords, most of the volcanic piles are tiny cones compared to the super-duper stratovolcanoes that parade off to the west, in the Aleutian Range."

This spectacular columnar joint pattern in lava exposed in Alaska's Suemez Island formed when the lava flowed next to a glacier about 700,000 years ago.


"But the Southeast's volcanoes are in a class by themselves, the researchers found. A chemical signature in the lava flows links them to a massive volcanic field in Canada. Unusual patterns in the lava also point to eruptions under, over and alongside glaciers, which could help scientists pinpoint the size of Alaska's mountain glaciers during past climate swings.

"It's giving us this serendipitous window on the history of climate in Southeast Alaska for the last 1 million years," said Susan Karl, a research geologist with the USGS in Anchorage and the project's leader. "

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day

Check out this awesome infographic created by the US Census. Click on it to view full size.
Memorial Day infographic image

[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Looking back

As you look back on the 2012-2013 school year what do you see? Is it Geography looking back at you?

Hopefully this course has given you a new perspective on the world around you. Maybe you will remember the five themes or ESPN. Maybe you will understand international news stories and how they impact everyone. Maybe you enjoyed learning about Geography so much you will want to take AP Human Geography as a senior. I hope that you leave this class with an improved vision of the world we inhabit. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

How big is your brain?

Ok, so you know some capitals, but can you spell them? Can you complete this?

Will you win the bee?

Ten random questions to train your brain for the National Geographic Geography Bee. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Another cool game

This game uses street view from Google Earth. Basically it is like you just fell from the sky and you have to guess where on earth you are. It is really easy to get addicted to this one. You can walk around and zoom in on street signs for clues about where you are. We play a round or two in class when we finish assignments early. Check it out here.

Let me know if you enjoy this one!

Great Map Practice

Sheppard Software has lot's of time consuming games on their website. As a Geography teacher, I am partial to the ones that help you with map practice. Check them out here.

A website is born!

This will be a great place for me to share information with my students and their families.