Virginia Geography
Virginia Geography - Wrapup
/ Task

Teacher
High
If I taught American history, we could map the various regions of Virginia virtually and "tour" these places. By taking virtual field trips, students could identify the pros and cons of living in the Piedmont versus the Coastal Plain. Students could then do a gallery walk or a socratic seminar to determine which areas would have been the best regions to settle from the most advantageous to least.
Land-Human Interactions
Middle
What I found most helpful about this module is the idea of beginning history units with maps and a discussion of geograhy before delving into the content. As expressed by Ed Ayers, understanding where certain geographic features are located (for example, Richmond falls, rivers, high ground) helps students understand they "whys" of human behavior (for example, why Civil War battles were fought where they were). Looking at John Smith's 1612 map of Virginia and where the various Native tribes were located helps us understand why was important to colonists back then (knowing which tribes were friendly and which were not), as opposed to now when our modern maps show interstate highways (since our maps are now used primarily for travel). Because geography so informs the behavior of human beings and how they live/interact with their environment, it is essential to contextualize any historical event geographically.

Since I teach about two wars (the Revolutionary war and the Civil war), I will consider starting my unit with maps of Virginia, the colonies and the Unites States early in these units in order to show and remind students what the natural features of the land are (rivers, ocean, mountains, etc), where certain cities came to develop, how people traveled and why, and how products and trade worked between the states and colonies. An understanding of how people interacted with the land around them and how their physical environment impacted their daily lives is crucial for understanding the details of history and why specific events occurred where they did. I found Ed Ayers' discussion of geography and the Civil War to be fascinating, and I plan to begin that unit with maps of the south and Virginia, as well as some topography to show land elevation, as a way of "setting the stage" for them in advance of studying battles and military strategy.
Land-Human Interactions
Middle
What I found most helpful about this module is the idea of beginning history units with maps and a discussion of geograhy before delving into the content. As expressed by Ed Ayers, understanding where certain geographic features are located (for example, Richmond falls, rivers, high ground) helps students understand they "whys" of human behavior (for example, why Civil War battles were fought where they were). Looking at John Smith's 1612 map of Virginia and where the various Native tribes were located helps us understand why was important to colonists back then (knowing which tribes were friendly and which were not), as opposed to now when our modern maps show interstate highways (since our maps are now used primarily for travel). Because geography so informs the behavior of human beings and how they live/interact with their environment, it is essential to contextualize any historical event geographically.
Human-Environmental Interaction
Middle
Anonymous (not verified)
Since I teach about two wars (the Revolutionary war and the Civil war), I will consider starting my unit with maps of Virginia, the colonies and the Unites States early in these units in order to show and remind students what the natural features of the land are (rivers, ocean, mountains, etc), where certain cities came to develop, how people traveled and why, and how products and trade worked between the states and colonies. An understanding of how people interacted with the land around them and how their physical environment impacted their daily lives is crucial for understanding the details of history and why specific events occurred where they did. I found Ed Ayers' discussion of geography and the Civil War to be fascinating, and I plan to begin that unit with maps of the south and Virginia, as well as some topography to show land elevation, as a way of "setting the stage" for them in advance of studying battles and military strategy.
Geography
Elementary
I think the biggest take away for me from this module is to teach history from a geographical perspective. It help enforces the human-environment interaction that dominates our past and the future. This too will guide students towards deeper, critical thinking.
Understanding Geography
Elementary
I will help my students understand that geography influences the entire history of Virginia. I will help them see the reasons some things happened where they did. They will learn how geography influenced everything from the culture to transportation to eating habits to the styles of homes Virginians built.
Rivers, Roads and Rails
Elementary
Present a Virginia map of the past to a current map and have the students compare and contrast what they see. Encourage them to come up with hypotheses on why roads were placed where they were in the 20th century and how the primitive landscape shaped the current one.
Test
Pre-K
Test
Geographic Areas and Political Parties
Middle
In my Civics class, it would be interesting to do a map activity that combines geographic areas of Virginia and historical and/or modern voter loyalties. Once political parties are overlaid on a map, students can be presented with questions about Virginia and U.S. politics and history. For example, seeing that rural areas in Virginia tend to support Republicans today could lead to questions about why these areas were farmed in the first place, and why farmers would be inclined to support certain parties. Conversely, looking at the fact that urban areas tend to support Democrats today can lead to discussion of why places like Richmond became industrial centers, and why certain groups were attracted to those industrial areas.
Teacher, World Connections
Middle
First of all, I will try to find the John Smith map at the Library of Congress website, as I love how that shows both Europeans and the indigenous people depend on the environment. Also, I likely will use it at the beginning of the next school year to do a comparison-contrast between it and a modern map of Virginia.
Secondly, while I knew and already teach my students that we live in the Central Piedmont region of Virginia, I learned in this module that I live and work in the "Outer Piedmont Subprovince." It's just an interesting fact. I already teach, since our school's name is Dan River Middle School, how important the Dan River was and remains in the history of Danville and Pittsylvania County. We already and will continue to discuss the Dan River's importance to the native inhabitants of this area and to the European settlers when they came to the "New World" -- for food, water, transportation, etc. We already make connections to the fact that the now-defunct Dan River Textile Plant relied upon the river for the running of the mill, for transportation purposes, etc. We also make the economic connections to globalization and try to understand why the mill shut down and how those jobs went to China. I like that the module both affirms what I'm currently doing while giving me some other ideas about what I might be able to incorporate in my classroom.
Using Geography in the Classroom
Elementary
I just finished our Civil War unit, but after this module I plan on adding an additional lesson to teach my students the reasoning behind the battleground choices. I will begin by reviewing what we have already learned about geography, particularly the rivers and cities along them and early trade. Then, I will provide my students with a map of the railroads in Virginia during the 1800s and have them compare them to what they already know about the Civil War battles fought in Virginia. I will then lead a discussion about what they observe and infer about the reasoning behind the battleground locations. When we review the test they already took, I will tie each question back to Virginia's geography and how that influenced the different decisions made during the Civil War era.
Geography
Middle
Wow! This module has convicted me, I need to spend more time on geography with EVERY Social Studies unit. This will help make geography more interesting to my students, and also make the rest of history make more sense!
Virginia geography
Middle
I would make sure that students understand the relationship between the geography and the people that settled in a certain place. In teaching the Civil War I would definitely want students to understand that there were strategic reasons why the Union troops attacked where they did.
Geography time and place
Middle
In our sixth grade classroom, we must help students learn about the connections between the human culture, geography, and the impact of people's choices throughout history. While teaching it will be important to include Virginia geography in all the units we study. The geography of the land dictated where people settled and what many did for a living. As I teach the Civil War, I will bring out the information as presented in the Video portion of this lesson to help students understand the WHY battles emerged where they did. To visualize the information, map study is imperative to understand the landscape and what the significance of a battle was in the area. Learning the dates and battle names from the war will have more meaning if we incorporate the geography of Virginia into the WHY part of the lesson.
Applying Virginia Geography
Elementary
This module has reminded me how important the land and its geographical resources are to an area. I plan to integrate more geography into my lessons as we study different subjects.
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Comments

I just finished my Civil War unit and wish I had done this module earlier! I agree with you on your ideas. I will definitely lead with this next year.

Instructions

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Making Sense of Maps
This site from History Matters explores how to use maps as a historical source including what questions students should ask and how maps can clarify and distort the way we see the world.

Lewis and Clark: Same Place, Different Perspectives
History teacher Shanne Bowie reviews a history and geography lesson from National Geographic that investigates the relationship between history and geography.

Primary ICT
In this video, teacher Simon Botten demonstrates how to use a whiteboard to engage elementary-age students in history and geography.