Exploring Our World: Geography as an Essential Inquiry Skill

An illuminated world flickr photo by hasor shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Over the next two weeks teachers from across New Haven Public Schools will gather at Southern Connecticut State University for our Geographic Information Systems Institute.

Teachers will receive 8 days of training on using GIS and Story Maps. they will then engage in a design studio to create inquiry lessons that integrate other content areas.

Teachers will then return in August for a one-day institute. Then next school year we will visit with teachers and observe and coach faculty on their integration of GIS into the classroom. We will wrap up next year with a three day follow up institute.

At SCSU we believe in long term and embedded professional development. We encourage teachers to take a critical stance toward edtech and really consider how it shifts their pedagogy.


Teachers meet with Dr. Miller to first learn how to use qGIS a mapping software tool. Dr. Miller created a library of training activities.

NHPS faculty have studied the Trail of Tears, election results, and Connecticut’s geography.

Story Map and Curriculum Writing

Next teachers gather with me to develop units that integrate into their curriculum. In week one we begin with story maps using the StoryMapJS. We spend the first half of our time together with a mini lesson. We look at how we can integrate maps into integrated curriculum. Topics ahve included:

  • Story Maps and autobiographies
  • Story Maps and art
  • Story Maps and literature
  • Story Maps and armed conflict

Next teachers get two hours of design studio time to work on their lessons. We began with a crosswalk of the new CT. Social Studies frameworks. We discussed how the inquiry arc gets reflected in our lesson designs. We highlighted assessment strategies using criterion and holistic rubrics, but mainly we played.

I can not wait to see what these teachers make!

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Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry is a teacher, researcher and scholar at Southern Connecticut State University.

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3 Responses

  1. Yes!! Know your turf & surf ?

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