"Hands-On Geography" is a highly interactive, content-rich 10-day class for rising 5th-9th graders.* "Hands-On Geography" involves students directly in a variety of projects, games, and activities designed to expand students' understanding of U.S. and world geography.
The class is a mix of U.S. geography and world geography, physical geography and cultural geography, with a generous dose of history, economics, and science mixed in.
Most days involve some sort of project to be completed at home to be shared with the group the following day. Because I believe, when it comes to geography, a picture really is worth a thousand words, homework assignments tend to focus on visual and spatial information, not written assignments. My assignments are intentionally open ended, allowing students with no prior geographic knowledge and students with extensive geographic knowledge (and all those in between!) to build on their present knowledge base and go as deeply into the subject matter as they would like.
Strong reading skills and the ability to work cooperatively are a must. Some of our in-class games and activities involve reading, and most at-home assignments involve some level of reading/research. Many in-class activities are done with a partner or in a small group.
Subject to students' dietary restrictions, I usually serve an "international snack" each class (e.g., guava cookies from Brazil, spicy chickpeas from India, dates from Tunisia, durian wafers from Cambodia). This is a favorite activity as students look at the wrapper to try to figure out where the day's snack is from and then sample something that kids in another country might enjoy eating.
The summer "Hands-On Geography" I class is equivalent in content to my "Hands-On Geography" (A) class. The summer "Hands-On Geography" II class is equivalent in content to my "Hands-On Geography" (B) class.
*"Hands-On Geography" is generally best suited to middle school students. It is definitely an above-grade experience for 4th and 5th graders. Please note: this is a 90-minute class.
"My kids really enjoyed the last class with you. I am amazed at what all they learned. It happens regularly that [my son] and I are having a conversation and I am surprised about his knowledge. When I ask him about it he often says "I learned it in geography class"."
"[My daughter] really, really enjoyed this class, and our family has enjoyed hearing from her about the wide range of things she's been learning! Her interest in geography has been kindled, and she's greatly looking forward to the class next session."
"I can't believe how much you fit into an hour and a half!"
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