||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Teachers Learn Geography|
At UW-Eau Claire
MAILED: July 3, 1998|
EAU CLAIRE In 1985, the National Geographic Society, based in Washington, D.C., hosted a geography institute for teachers from seven states.
It was such a success that NGS included another seven states the following year and each subsequent year until all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada had attended.
In 1990, four educators from Wisconsin were invited. One of them was eighth-grade teacher Paul Schoenike from Monroe. Now he is a teacher consultant and a staff member of the Wisconsin Geographic Alliance Geography Summer Institute, in its third year at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and its eighth year statewide.
"We are taking the knowledge of the body of geography and organizing it," he said.
That organization takes place during 12 days in a program coordinated by the WIGA, which is housed at UW-Eau Claire.
The Institute accepts an average of 30-35 Wisconsin kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and allows them the opportunity to be taught by professional geographers.
According to Alliance coordinator Dick Palm, the Institute will cost the Alliance about $55,000. The funding for the Alliance comes partially from the NGS, which matches monies granted by the state budget.
For teachers, it is a worldview changing experience.
"We're showing you ways in which you can look at the world around you and look at things that have been there all your life and see them for the very first time," Schoenike said.
And for 12 days, it also changes the look of a portion of the geography section of Phillips Hall.
From posters to pictures, Far Side cartoons to investigation group lists, teachers are surrounded with ways to make geography fun for not only their students, but also themselves.
"It's been very exciting," said Linda Christopherson, a sixth-grade teacher from Colfax. "It's a massive amount of ideas."
Each teacher will receive about $1,200 worth of teaching materials in the form of maps, atlases, posters, videos and lesson plans, Palm said.
In addition, Schoenike said investigation groups meet daily to take the content of the day's presentations and ask how it could be applied to a classroom setting.
"It's about who would use what and why," he said.
Participating teachers also learn different ways to approach the five main themes of geography: human/environment, place, location, movement and region.
Each teacher also must make an in-service presentation upon returning to his or her individual school, Schoenike said.
Those presentations, if they sound anything like the remarks of Institute participants, will include words that will present geography as synonymous with beneficial, massive, marvelous, exciting, wonderful.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 7, 1998