November is Ideal for Teaching Geography and Immigration

Students in the Cyber Security Fundamentals and AP Computer Science Fundamentals classes

We hope you had a good October.  We have been busy with technology, teaching, reading and learning all kinds of new things.  

Students in the Cyber Security Fundamentals and AP Computer Science Fundamentals classes and members of the Computer Science Honor Society had a great time with presenters Ms. Camara Williams, School Site Engineer and Mr. Troy Perkins, Network Engineer 3 - Security.  Both work for the Norfolk Public Schools (Norfolk, VA) Network Services Division. Participants learned how they are traced by schools and businesses. Students asked great questions and one decided that Mr. Perkins is the most important person in the school system because he can shut everything down with a flip of a switch. Members of the Technology Student Association created buttons for the event.   We hope your school had a fun time teaching and learning about Cyber Security and being a good Digital Citizen!

This month we are going to focus on Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day. November is a perfect month for celebrating GIS Day as part of Geography Awareness Week

Each city, county, town, etc. has a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department.  Their web portal contains Maps, Mapper Tools and Street Index Documents. In past years, members of our city’s  GIS Department have been speakers to Social Studies (World Geography) and Career & Technical Education (Marketing and GIS) classes.  For your local department’s site, just Google your area, state and GIS. 

We have collaborated with our Geography classes on a number of activities. In a two-meeting activity , every student was assigned a country, and we had them check out a book from our list. Everyone found a book set in their country, with a main character from their country or one who had moved to their country. Students read 50 pages of the book.  They were given time in the library and some time in class to read. They did not have to finish the book, but most did. Students identified the 5 themes of geography in their book and shared this with their class. They also shared something they learned about the culture. Some students told us that even fictional locations work for this, and they were right. This works with movies too. Our Foreign Language classes have a film festival that usually takes place November. Check out the “Geography Goes to the Movies” section of the Nat. Geo. website for some suggestions and lesson plans. 

As part of the geographic celebration, we try to involve all our students in an activity which will make them interested in “finding out where that is” or learning more about “that place.”  This year we have students and teachers completing a Google form survey on our website identifying where they were born and the farthest from that place they have lived. We will post lists, put pins in our our 8 foot map and post fun facts so kids will look closely and perhaps learn about these places. We take those locations and send out quiz questions in the morning. Teachers and kids can win buttons and candy. 

As we are studying the Pilgrims, November is also a good month to become more knowledgeable about other people who have left their country to come to this country.  Our students are meeting new classmates who are from different countries, and learning about their culture and their journey can be enlightening. The immigrant experience is the topic of more and more children and young adult  books both fiction and non-fiction. You will find some links to lists in the resources section. 

November 4-10 is International Games Week Sponsored by the American Library Association, it is “an initiative run by volunteers from around the world to reconnect communities through their libraries around the educational, recreational, and social value of all types of games.”  Did you know there have been 11 Nobel Prize Winners for Game Theory? In the Computer Science & Computer Science Principles classes, students research a Game Theorist or Game Entrepreneur.  In Economics Classes, students play the board game Monopoly or online. It is a great way to teach strategy skills and teamwork! Science classes play Pandemic or an online CSI adventure and Art, art games. ESL students can play some of these games.  

Map, Facts and Geography games
KIds pick a destination and learn about the country, a few of its important people, and keep a travel journal. There is also a kids’ Q&A.
Online textbook in which kids learn about geography and geology with cute videos and games
Great source for all things kids and geography
Live video feeds of animals and locations. Studying the arctic? Check out the live polar bear feed or the Aurora Borealis.  
The Library of Congress has a collection of neat historical maps 


Below are lists of books telling the child-young adult immigration experience
Penguin Random House’s Brightly with book suggestions for all ages and teacher resources
School Library Journal’s list Scholastic books grades 6-12 with teaching materials.
The American Library Association’s Young Adult Services publication. Great source of all things teen reading
A list from the popular bookstore 

Computer Science Week : 

Hour of Code:  

Happy Turkey Day! Deborah & Lisa 

cross posted at

Deborah Marshall is the Department Chair of Career & Technical Education and Lisa McKnight Ward is the librarian at Granby High School in Norfolk, Virginia. Both are Nationally Board Certified, former Teachers of the Year, who have taught multiple subjects including AP and IB courses. They have over a decade of experience collaborating on technology-based learning. Read more at