Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Geography: Workshop 7


Before You Watch

Before viewing the video programs for Workshop 7: Europe, please read the National Geography Standards featured in this workshop. You may read the Standards here on the Web, in your print guide, or in Geography for Life. We encourage you to read Geography for Life in its entirety as you move through the workshops. It contains further background on the National Standards, numerous examples and rich illustrations aiding interpretation, valuable tools for strengthening and developing lessons, and additional insight on geography's significance to our daily lives.

The National Geography Standards highlighted in this workshop include Standards 6, 10, 11, 13, 17, and 18. As you read the standards, be thinking about how they might apply in lessons you have taught.

Also, prior to attending the workshop, you should explore the associated key maps and interactive activities and read the video program overviews below, paying close attention to the Questions to Consider.

Video Program Overviews: Europe

Part 1. Berlin and Amsterdam: City Rebirth and Growth

In 1989, the destruction of the Berlin Wall paved the way for the reunification of East and West Germany after more than forty years of antagonism. The wall not only divided a country, but also provided a concrete symbol for East-West opposition throughout Europe during the Cold War. Since the Wall has come down, though, Berlin has struggled to define itself as a reunified city.

In this case study, we visit the neighborhoods of Kurf├╝rstendamm, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain, as well as Potsdamer Platz, in order to examine the process of Germany's reunification and growth. We see that, in addition to the significant commercial features of reunification, there have been tremendous political developments as well. Germany moved its capital from Bonn back to Berlin; they have also refurbished the Reichstag. In these ways, German officials are forging the way for this undivided city to symbolize not only the integration of East and West Germany, but also the shared interests of a more unified Europe.

Paired with this case study is a classroom segment on Amsterdam. Craig Cogswell's high school students create brochures encouraging economic development and write letters addressing various problems in that city. In so doing, his students come to understand various aspects of urban organization in a European context.


Participants will be able to:

  • identify how culture shapes a region's character;
  • explain how geography can be used to understand the present and plan for the future; and
  • describe how inquiry learning can be used to promote student understanding of complex features of urban centers.

Questions to Consider

  • How have human systems contributed to Berlin's success and difficulties as a present-day urban center?
  • How will Berlin's location influence its future development as a political and economic center of activity in Europe?
  • How does the teacher Craig Cogswell use the steps of inquiry learning to develop student understanding of Denver and Amsterdam as urban centers?

Featured Educator

Mr. Craig Cogswell, eleventh- and twelfth-grade world geography teacher, Westminster High School, Westminster, Colorado
Craig Cogswell has master's degrees in secondary education and educational technology from the University of Colorado and has taught at ASGI and as a guest lecturer at the University of Northern Colorado. He received the Dave Hill Award for the advancement of geographic education in Colorado in 1999 and was named Colorado Teacher of the Year in 2000. Craig's lesson for this program encourages critical thinking with regards to urban organization in the context of Amsterdam.

Part 2. Strasbourg and the European Union: Supranationalism in Europe and Beyond

Why is the city of Strasbourg such a strong contender to become the capital of a more politically unified Europe? The answer lies in the symbolic significance of Strasbourg's location and history. Literally meaning "city of the roads that cross," Strasbourg serves as an intersection for roads leading west to Atlantic Europe, east to Central Europe, north to Great Britain, and south to the Mediterranean world. Further, Strasbourg's location on the Rhine River between two of Europe's strongest historical rivals —France and Germany—provides the means to showcase both cultures. Cultural integration was furthered in January 1993 when the European Union agreed to allow citizens free circulation between its member countries, negating the need for border stops and reducing customs checks.

In addition to its cultural duality, Strasbourg's political role as home to the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights has further social and economic implications for its residents. As European supranationalism expands and Strasbourg's role in the European Union evolves, its inhabitants must re-examine their identity in a multilayered context: French, German, and European.

This case study is followed by a lively debate among Andy Aiken's AP human geography students as they discuss the merits of trade alliances such as the European Union and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In this classroom, we see that open discussion encourages students to take a stand and articulate geographic issues.


Participants will be able to:

  • analyze organizations that transcend national boundaries to determine their social, political, and economic impact;
  • explain why places and regions are important to individual human identity and as symbols for unifying or fragmenting society; and
  • explain how an inquiry approach can promote the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for the AP curriculum.

Questions to Consider

  • How have changing economic and political systems in Europe contributed to Strasbourg's important role in the region's future?
  • What part does Strasbourg's geographic location play in shaping its role in the European Union?
  • How has culture played a positive and/or negative role in shaping the economic and political past, present, and future of the region?
  • What pedagogical skills does teacher Andy Aiken use to promote student critical thinking and problem solving while examining the effects of supranationalism?

Featured Educator

Mr. Andy Aiken, tenth- through twelfth-grade AP human geography teacher, Boulder High School, Boulder, Colorado
Andy Aiken is active in the Colorado Geographic Alliance, having assisted in the creation of the state geography standards. He recently received a grant from the Foundation for Boulder Valley Schools to teach other area high school educators how to incorporate world geography and history computer software into their curriculums. In our program on Europe, Andy leads a classroom discussion on supranationalism in the European Union and North America.


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