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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Safaris, Trash and Adventure: GeoTech 2010

Don't be fooled by the conference title!  It's not just about geography and technology.  GeoTech is an opportunity to expand your horizons.  It doesn't matter what you teach, because you WILL find something for you!  I'm a thinker, something that was a problem in the 4th grade...accused of daydreaming, but as an educator has served me well.  The keynote speakers consistently inspire you to venture beyond your borders and think. Blessed with two keynotes this year, Chad Pregracke and Ben Osborne didn't disappoint!  

I had no idea who these men were before I met them at GeoTech.  They were absolutely personable and instisted on having lunch with us, chatting in the evenings and experiencing the conference together.  How many teachers get to meet these kinds of folks and have a nice chat?  They were interested in our work as educators and wanted to know how they could help further our causes.  Ben's photographs are stunning!  Don't overlook the Friday evening presentation at the Science's worth the time and money, always!  Ben shared his experiences in Africa with the wild dogs and lions but even more intriguing were the behind-the-scenes videos of their adventures in filming.  Undeniably, lions are impressive beasts.  But how much more incredible that they were looking for them IN THE DARK!  The moment in the video when it's all quiet, pitch black and windless; the folks in each vehicle are whispering across the radios, "We don't see any lions," while "No lions over here either," is answered with the deep, eerie rumble of the lions' distinctive growl.  It still sends chills up my spine!  What amazing stories could my students begin to tell after viewing this experience!  Having created lessons for my students related to Mark Twain and the Mississippi River, Chad's story intrigued me.  He grew up on the river and set out to change it, make it trash-free.  His tenacity and ambition to try it and see what happens is contagious!  After hearing his story, I question how many causes are in my own backyard, simple causes that could make a big difference.  You don't have to go to Africa or live on the Mississippi River to realize that adventure and purpose should be part of our lives...our classrooms!  What adventure awaits you?

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Sunday Drive and GPS Data

Don't be intimidated by the word "data"! Like Forrest Gump says, "You can tell a lot about people...where they goin'...where they been." While out on what my grandfather called "A Sunday Drive" yesterday, I tried this with my new iPhone.
GIS Education Community Blog : Fun with GIS #42: Using the iPhone to Collect Data for GIS

Start thinking about all the great ways to connect to places! Your kids will think you're really cool!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Climate Change: See the Data!

This project offers a great way to integrate GIS and geospatial technologies with just your internet browser. Use this website to enhance your classroom discussion of climate change!

Here's some additional information that might be helpful to that discussion:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ready for Disaster?

I love that there's always something new in resources and enhancements for any lesson that you create!  In the Rural STEM GIS lesson collection ( there are activities related to disasters.  FEMA has created a web experience for kids (Adults and Businesses at that sends them on an adventure.  

There are nice ancillary materials for Geography and Language Arts as well!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ArcGIS Explorer Blog : A new version of ArcGIS Explorer is now available

ArcGIS Explorer Blog : A new version of ArcGIS Explorer is now available

ASCD Inservice: NCLB Guilty of "Readicide"?

This article offers some interesting food for thought.
ASCD Inservice: NCLB Guilty of "Readicide"?

3rd National Summit on GIS in K-12 Education at James Madison University

The National Center for Rural STEM Education will be hosting the 3rd National Summit on GIS in K-12 Education
at James Madison University in Harrisonburg from 19-20 June 2010.  This gathering will provide an opportunity
for developers and teachers to share materials and approaches, for school districts to learn about the possibilities for
GIS in the classroom, for researchers to connect to practioners,  and for the GIS in Education community to get together 
and plan for the future.  This event is co-sponsored by the Virginia Geographic Alliance.

Dr. Mike Barnett of Boston College and National Geographic will be our keynote speaker this year.

Note - the Summit will address GIS use in all school situations, not just rural schools.  All are welcome!

Details from the 1st and 2nd National Summit are available at

Please contact Bob Kolvoord ( with any questions.

The proposal form for sessions and workshops for the 3rd National Summit on GIS in K-12 is now available at

Session/workshop proposals are due by 15 Apr. 2009 and final decisions on the program will be made by 22 Apr. 2009.

The conference fee will be $100 and will include all meals and one night of lodging in a JMU dorm.

We invite any and all to come and present.

Feel free to forward this to other lists/interested parties.

Bob Kolvoord, Ph.D.
Professor, Integrated Science and Technology and 
Educational Technologies
James Madison University
MSC 4102
Harrisonburg, VA  22807

+1 540/568-2752 (o)   -2768 (f)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pointed Journeys

I've mentioned the Degree Confluence project in the past (, because I've been out there zeroing out my GPS unit: twice to 30N 90W, one trek in the middle of Lake Tahoe and others. It's great fun! I was introduced to this project by Dr. Joseph Kerski. Appropriately, The American Surveyor has featured a beautiful article on his journeys to "feel centered."

Saturday, March 13, 2010


If you're headed to #NSTA or just want the latest software and GIS classroom materials at a great price. Check out GISetc! They'll be in the Geospatial Zone with #ESRI!

Worldmapper: The world as you've never seen it before

Cartograms offer a great opportunity for quick visual analysis in the classroom. This site is one of my favorites.
Worldmapper: The world as you've never seen it before

Monday, March 08, 2010

ASCD 2010 Report

I'm reminded of the Dr. Suess book, Oh the Places You'll Go!  Two
conferences in one weekend is where I went...driving to San Antonio
from GeoTech in Dallas.  After stopping by Baylor University, my alma
mater, to say hello to the bears (Yes, we have real bears in the bear
habitat on campus).  Shannon White and I headed on down to San Antonio
to meet up with Randy Kilian-Smith.  With the theme "Critical
Transformations" ASCD ( offered a great opportunity to
inform folks on the possibilities with geospatial technologies. Linda
Mariotti, ASCD President, says "As relationships, systems, economics
and societies are being redesigned and refashioned in ways that
challenge the status quo, new dimensions of learning and teaching must
also be boldly envisioned.  Everyone with a stake in learning must be
engaged in better meeting the complex needs of 21st century
students."  Doesn't it make sense to put geospatial technologies in
this discussion?

We presented "Transforming Curriculum with Geospatial Technologies."
Geospatial technologies facilitate a learning environment for students
to discover the whys and hows of their curriculum, to engage multiple
intelligences, and to think spatially.  These technologies offer
unique opportunites to incorporate 21st century skills by expanding
the scope of curriculum to tap into cognitive research strategies
through studying local and global issues across all content areas.  We
shared research-based pedagogical approaches to classroom-tested
geospatial tools, ready-to-use resources, lesson plans, software
recommendations and experience.

It's always a challenge to include everything we need to say in 60
minutes!  But we gave it a go and enjoyed having our beloved leader,
Charlie Fitzpatrick, in the audience.  You can have a look at the
presentation online at
Special thanks to ESRI who provided us with books and GIS in education
materials for the participants and to the GeoTech Center for
sponsoring my travel needs.  We're looking forward to next year's
conference.  I encourage you all to get involved in local, state,
regional or national events where you can share your perspective on
being spatially aware and impacting students.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sketch-A-Map and 20 Minute GIS Presentations- Ready!

Thanks for everyone who supported our efforts!  Great crowds  at all the sessions!  The pdfs and resources are ready for you to download.  See you at the next GeoTech! 

Friday, March 05, 2010

Teaching GIS: Using Data that's...Ready to GO!

Thanks again folks for filling the room again this morning.  The powerpoint handout is available online at  If you're interested, tomorrow...I'll be presenting on using Sketch-A-Map in the classroom and 20 Minute GIS.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

GeoTech 2010

If you're still thinking, "Hey, I wish I had signed up to go to GeoTech!" No worries, you can still join us! Two three hour workshop opportunities tomorrow and a full day of sessions on Saturday.
See you at Bishop Dunne HS! Click to register.

Introduction to GIS

Thanks for the great turn out at our GeoTech 2010 workshop! The handouts are available online at While you're at the website, check out lots of other goodies that might help you be more geospatial!