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Test Scores Associated with Lessons Designed to Engage Spatial Thinking in Kindergarten and First Grade (and second grade and middle school and . . .) Philip J and Carol A Gersmehl New York Center for Geographic Learning Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

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slide1

Test Scores Associated with LessonsDesigned to Engage Spatial Thinkingin Kindergarten and First Grade

(and second grade and middle school and . . .)

Philip J and Carol A Gersmehl

New York Center for Geographic Learning

slide3

Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

Goal:

to recast “Reading a Map”

to reflect recent research

in spatial thinking

slide4

Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

1641 articles

127 journals

63 books

slide5

Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

1641 articles

127 journals

63 books

slide6

Step 1: Review Recent Research on Spatial Cognition

1641 articles

127 journals

63 books

slide7

Important contributions come from:

- neuroscientists

- developmental psychologists

- robot engineers

- linguists

- vision specialists

- architects

- geographers

. . .

slide8

Important contributions come from:

- neuroscientists

- developmental psychologists

- robot engineers

- linguists

- vision specialists

- architects

- geographers

. . .

Unfortunately,

people in one discipline

are not always aware

of the research done

in other fields.

slide9

The human brain has several distinct “regions”

that do different kinds of spatial thinking.

brain structures for spatial thinking develop at a very early age

The human brain has several distinct “regions”

that do different kinds of spatial thinking.

Brain structures for spatial thinking

develop at a very early age.

brain structures for spatial thinking develop at a very early age11

The human brain has several distinct “regions”

that do different kinds of spatial thinking.

Brain structures for spatial thinking

develop at a very early age.

Skills of verbal, gestural, mathematical, or graphical

representation develop more slowly

(and at least somewhat independently).

slide12

Self-directed mobility is a key variable;

sex, diet, language, and handedness are also significant.

adult intervention can accelerate mastery

Self-directed mobility is a key variable;

sex, diet, language, and handedness are also significant.

Adult intervention can accelerate mastery.

adult intervention can accelerate mastery14

Self-directed mobility is a key variable;

sex, diet, language, and handedness are also significant.

Adult intervention can accelerate mastery.

At least some spatial-thinking brain structures

remain plastic through late middle age.

slide16

Step 2:

make a set

of lessons

that deal

with each

mode of

spatial

thinking

individually.

slide17

Step 2:

make a set

of lessons

that deal

with each

mode of

spatial

thinking

individually.

We are certainly aware

that this list is tentative.

But is progress ever made

by waiting until “the science”

has become unambiguous

and accepted by everyone?

slide18

The goal –

to be able

to interpret

(not just decode)

a map like this

mosque21

Marcus Garvey

Park

Mosque >

mosque22

Marcus Garvey

Park

Mosque >

MLK Houses

slide25

Inside,

it looks

like a lot

of schools

slide26

Many “curricula” start

with what students

already know –

their school.

We did too, but . . .

slide27

We noticed that

each classroom had

a colorful carpet

for “story time.”

slide28

Some of our lessons

use the rug to teach

basic vocabulary terms

for spatial thinking.

slide29

Some of our lessons

use the rug to teach

basic vocabulary terms

for spatial thinking.

October: “ color

the flowers in

the corners.”

slide30

December:

“Color the flower

that is between

letters M and O.”

Some of our lessons

use the rug to teach

basic vocabulary terms

for spatial thinking.

“First, color

the flowers in

the corners.”

slide31

February:

“Color the flower

that is in the

SE corner.”

Some of our lessons

use the rug to teach

basic vocabulary terms

for spatial thinking.

“First, color

the flowers in

the corners.”

slide32

This builds

a foundation

for the idea

of spatial

analogies.

slide33

Rather than having

students try to draw

classrooms and halls,

we made basemaps

of their school.

slide34

Students color some

rug and desk symbols

and then arrange them

on a to-scale basemap

of their classroom.

slide35

We put some colors

on a map of the hall

and asked students

to suggest colors

for the other rooms.

slide36

These basic activities

helped students acquire

the idea of representation.

Most of our lessons, however,

had objectives that were

much more tightly focused.

We put some colors

on the hall basemap

and asked students

to suggest colors

for the other rooms.

slide39

This builds

a foundation

for the idea

of spatial

sequences.

slide41

This builds

a foundation

for the idea

of spatial

hierarchies.

slide42

This builds

a foundation

for the idea

of spatial

hierarchies.

For each lesson,

we gave teachers a

background page ...

slide43

This builds

a foundation

for the idea

of spatial

hierarchies.

... a page of plausible

stages of concept

development . . .

slide44

This builds

a foundation

for the idea

of spatial

hierarchies.

... some maps

to extend the

spatial thinking . . .

slide45

This builds

a foundation

for the idea

of spatial

hierarchies.

... and some ideas

to discuss with

other teachers . . .

slide47

A child who writes

that the orange plate

is in the “MIDOL”

has learned the rule.

Exceptions – e.g. “middle” –

can come later.

slide48

Eurasia is a continent.

It follows the rule:

“landmass surrounded by ocean.”

A child who writes

that the orange plate

is in the “MIDOL”

has learned the rule.

Exceptions – e.g. “middle” –

can come later.

slide49

Eurasia is a continent.

It follows the rule:

“landmass surrounded by ocean.”

Europe is an historic exception.

A child who writes

that the orange plate

is in the “MIDOL”

has learned the rule.

Exceptions – e.g. “middle” –

can come later.

slide50

We made

GIS maps

of the local

neighborhood

. . .

slide51

. . .

with a

wide range

of complexity

. . .

slide52

. . .

drawings

make it seem

more “real”

. . .

slide53

. . .

but footprints

made it into

“their” map

. . .

slide54

Students used this map

to preview/review

a walking field trip in the neighborhood.

slide55

When they returned

to the classroom,

their experience

became a lesson

in language arts.

slide57

They also did

some basic

classification

of land uses.

slide58

Most teacher/researchers have

some haunting memories of events

that they failed to document properly.

One of mine is of the classroom

that the students transformed into

a model of their walking fieldtrip.

They used desks as buildings,

and put a green ball on one

to represent the mosque.

It was a nice model, and it clearly showed

mastery of the idea of representation!

slide59

“Under the hood”

of these lessons

is our “taxonomy”

of the modes

of spatial thinking.

slide60

location

representation

aura (influence)

hierarchy

transition

analogy

association

pattern

region

slide65

527 students:

81 languages

spoken at home

slide67

Traditional geography materials(with their heavy emphasis on verbal recall of place-names and trivia facts about places)

have little value in this setting.

slide68

We started by

making maps

of the school

at many scales.

slide69

Sixth-graders

used the maps

to help teach

second-graders

about New York

slide70

Third-graders

mapped the

path of the sun

across the floor

hour by hour.

slide71

Fourth-graders

made maps

of where

their families

came from.

slide72

Fourth-graders

made maps

of where

their families

came from.

Out of 23

“family maps,”

only 3 were

of New York.

slide76

The shape

is all wrong,

but key details

are in place.

slide77

The shape

is all wrong,

but key details

are in place.

B

The Buffalo

“Embayment”

at the end

of Lake Erie

slide78

The shape

is all wrong,

but key details

are in place.

O

B

The Oswego

“Embayment”

at the end of

Lake Ontario

slide79

The shape

is all wrong,

but key details

are in place.

R

O

B

A square corner

at Rouses Point

on Lake Champlain

slide80

The shape

is all wrong,

but key details

are in place.

R

O

B

Long Island,

extending

out to the

Hamptons

H

slide81

The shape

is all wrong,

but key details

are in place.

R

O

B

Orient Point,

the “fish tail”

at the end

of the Island

P

H

slide82

R

O

B

P

H

slide83

R

O

P

B

H

slide84

R

Note: many details

are there, in basically

correct relative position,

though the general shape

seems “way wrong”.

O

P

B

H

what does this mean for teaching86

Classroom lessons and displays

should be designed to emphasize

the kind of landmarks children use

to build a hierarchical mental map.

Relative location? Individual differences ?

What does this mean for teaching?

illustration from the national geography standards page 65
Illustration

from the

National

Geography

Standards

(page 65)

slide88

This is the kind

of intuitively

plausible goal

that appeals to:

- concerned parents

- overcommitted administrators

- well-intentioned politicians

slide89

This is the kind

of intuitively

plausible goal

that appeals to:

- concerned* parents

- overcommitted* administrators

- well-intentioned* politicians

*PC translation:

neuroscientificallychallenged

slide90

This is the kind

of intuitively

plausible goal

that appeals to:

- concerned* parents

- overcommitted* administrators

- well-intentioned* politicians

What’s the problem?

The human brain

does not seem

to learn that way!

*PC translation:

neuroscientificallychallenged

slide93

Language Arts Scores, K1 school:

September high 50s

April mid 90s

slide94

Language Arts Scores, K1 school:

September high 50s

April mid 90s (43)average

slide95

Language Arts Scores, K1 school:

September high 50s

April mid 90s (43)average

Composite Scores, K12 school group

White, Asian / Black, Hispanic

81 / 79

slide96

Language Arts Scores, K1 school:

September high 50s

April mid 90s (43)average

Composite Scores, K12 school group

White, Asian / Black, Hispanic

81 / 79

(53) / (37)

conclusion

Conclusion

We made lessons based on ideas

from recent research on spatial cognition.

conclusion98

Conclusion

We made lessons based on ideas

from recent research on spatial cognition.

Reading and math scores went up.

conclusion99

Conclusion

We made lessons based on ideas

from recent research on spatial cognition.

Reading and math scores went up.

Scientific integrity forbids any claim

of a strong cause-and-effect relationship.

conclusion100

Conclusion

We made lessons based on ideas

from recent research on spatial cognition.

Reading and math scores went up.

Scientific integrity forbids any claim

of a strong cause-and-effect relationship.

We can claim to have obeyed Hippocrates:

first of all, do no harm!

conclusion101

Conclusion

There is no credible evidence

that devoting considerable class time

to geography lessons in primary school

has harmed reading and math scores.

slide102

Real Conclusion

Educational activities and assessmentsshould build on modern knowledgeabout human cognitive development.

slide103

Real Conclusion

Educational activities and assessmentsshould build on modern knowledgeabout human cognitive development.

cheap - quick - good

slide104

Real Conclusion

Educational activities and assessmentsshould build on modern knowledgeabout human cognitive development.

cheap - quick - good

Pick two,

because you

can’t have all three!