Geography and the Common Core

In 2010, most states in the United States (including Rhode Island) adopted the Common Core State Standards as the new standards.   The two main portions of the Common Core Standards are the English Language  Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.
Many longtime proponents of geography education have tried to increase the quantity and strengthen the quality of geo-literacy being taught K-12.  The Common Core has changed the educational landscape and many are asking, “Where does this leave geography?”
The Geography For Life standards have been around since 1994, and have just recently been revised by GENIP and are currently available through the NCGE store (more distribution methods will be available in the future).  These updates reflect many of the changes in the discipline of geography, but given the importance of the common core, many saw the need to link the standards in Geography For Life with the Common Core.  The National Geographic Society, in cooperation with the National Council for Geographic Education and the Network of Alliances for Geographic Education created Interconnections to be that link.

Interconnections is the first draft of this merging of Geography For Life standards with the Common Core ELA.  The following is from the National Geographic website:

The guide, Interconnections, is an alignment of the Common Core English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects to the Geography for Life: National Geography Standards, Second Edition. National Geographic Education is making this draft guide available for public comment as we continue to refine it. Please click on this link to share your feedback with us. The final guide will be available in March of 2013.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA), has created K-12 fundamental goals that focus on the development of critical knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students need to be successful in the 21st century. The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects were designed to provide educators with a clear understanding of what students should learn. The Geography For Life: National Geography Standards, updated in 2012, also provide educators with a guide for teaching the concepts, skills, practices, and components necessary for a geographically literate student in the 21st century. Both sets of standards were designed to support a well-rounded education that is focused on critical thinking skills and the knowledge necessary for a 21st century student that prepares them for college, career, and ultimately their adult civic life.
This guide is the result of a partnership between National Geographic Education, the National Geographic Network of Alliances for Geographic Education, and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE). The purpose of the guide is to highlight those areas that are ripe for integration and provide the opportunity for more in-depth learning.
This guide was created for dual purposes. The first purpose of the guide is to show where the two sets of documents present areas for strengthened learning opportunities in the classroom. It was designed to be a tool for use by curriculum specialists, department chairs, and other educators who develop curriculum at the state and local level in language arts, social studies, science, and technical subjects. This document is not intended to be curriculum; however, models and exemplar activities can be found throughout the guide. The second purpose of the guide is to highlight those areas where direct concept and skill instruction must take place. Not all areas of a discipline or concept can or should be integrated. Each grade level shows where opportunities for integration are and where they are not. Ultimately it is intended to support educators in making informed curricular choices.
Additionally, the Board of Regents here in Rhode Island have adopted RIDE’s proposal to revise the Grade Span Expectations (GSEs) that impacts all of the Social Studies.  The new geography standards (.PDF or .DOC) represent a significant amount of work that we hope will find it’s way into more classrooms.  To see all the changes to other social studies, including civics, economics and history, see this overview of the RIDE project.
The Rhode Island Department of Education is moving forward with an initiative to expand the Civics GSEs to move forward from the hybrid of the Civics GSEs and the Social Studies Guide (Standards-Based Guide for SS Programs in RI Schools from 2001) to include strands in geography and economics, and expand the current historical perspectives strand. The RI K-12 Grade Span Expectations for Civics & Government and Historical Perspectives/R.I. History (“Civics GSEs”) were adopted in 2008 and, in the life cycle of standards, are due for a review and an update. The development process will follow the same pattern as the development of the Civics GSEs in 2006 with opportunities for educator participation and district feedback.
RIDE solicited applications for elementary, geography, economics, and history teachers to participate in this expansion work.  The teachers were grouped into teams for elementary, middle school, and high school and developed the strands in geography, economics, and an extension to the historical perspectives strand based on national and other state content standards.
The draft strands have been finalized and were posted for public and LEA review from October 5 to October 24, 2012.  The final draft versions will be posted on October 30, 2012 and were approved by the Board of Regents on November 1, 2012.  The final documents have been posted to the Social Studies GSEs section of this page.

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