Virginia Geography
Virginia Geography - Wrapup
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Geographical Impacts during the Civil War
Elementary
There are geographical impacts that happened during the Civil War that both sides tried to use to win battles. The first way was to control the railway to prevent the transportation of supplies and soldiers. The second way was to gain the higher ground during battles. The higher ground provided an importan strategic advantage. They could control the land and have better protection from the other side. The final way was the control on rivers. Rivers were another way to transport supplies and soldiers. They also controled the port of the city where they are located.
Geography
Middle
Virginia has diverse geography and depending upon where you might wish to settle would of course make a difference in your building. Luckily there are many rivers in Virginia some small some larger. All of which would ad farming, transportation and crops grown. I am partial in thinking we have one of the top beautiful diverse area in the US. I am sure our ancestors were intelligent enough to find the most significant area for their needs. The zig-zag fencing could have been used many areas. Using the expanse of woodland that would provide the materials
.The same type of fencing can be found in West Virginia which of course part of Virginia during this era. The uneven terrain there shows the ability of the people to adapt and problem solve. Adjustments could be done without need for extreme engineering.
Captain John Smith's 1612 Map versus Present-Day Map of Virginia
Elementary
I am excited to teach tomorrow a replica of what I saw in the video of the teacher letting students do map work to draw their own conclusions about items they found on the maps. My students have never experienced anything like this in my classroom and I look forward to the opportunity to share my experience with them and have them reflect on their learnings.
Geography shaping history
High
This is such an amazing idea beyond the normal map activity. To have high school students in VA take the VA history they know and the geography of a state they know and describe how history was influenced sounds like a great way to introduce this type of instruction in a history classroom.
Virginia Geogrpahy
Elementary
We will do much more with maps than we do now. I think including maps of all different subjects will help 4th graders just as it has helped me in this module. We can include maps of the tribes when we teach Indians rather than just giving them the tribes and the regions with a map of that, we can go much deeper. We can give them maps of railroads to help them understand the battles better during the civil war. We can find maps of plantations during slavery that will allow the students to understand better their paths while escaping on the Underground Railroad. We can do more field work and compare maps and pictures of Richmond then to Richmond now.
Virginia Geography
Elementary
This module caused me to rethink the way I have been teaching history. The video pointed out what I had known, but had somehow missed the significance - that geography is the foundation of most historical events. My history units will now be rewritten so that I teach the geography of the event/place BEFORE I begin teaching the history and/or significance of the event/place.
The Great Wagon Road
Elementary
During the American Indian Unit introduce the students to the Great Wagon Road through maps and resources. Explain the importance of the road to the American Indians. Continue to incorporate the Great Wagon Road throughout the various units in Virginia Studies. When the Germans and Scots-Irish migrate to the Shenandoah Valley bring the Great Wagon up again. Is it still there? How was it used? Use raised relief maps to show students Appalachian Mountains. How would settlers migrate west through the mountains. Hopefully they discover the Cumberland Gap. How was the road important during the Civil War? Examine and discuss how the road has changed and its transportation importance in the 21st century. Provide students with road maps of Virginia to explore
Human-Environment Interactions/Native Americans
Elementary
After learning about the basic geography of Virginia, students can discuss how the Native Americans interacted with and adapted to the environment. We can use primary source (drawings) to analyze how and why the Native Americans used the resources in the region of Virginia in which they lived.
Geography Connections
Elementary
I really like the idea of starting with the geography of the land in relation to history itself. In elementary, we separately teach the regions from the history. I'd like to find some way to better tie in the regions with the history and why the geography itself is so important the the history of Virginia. Incorporating the 'why' we started where we did in relation to using maps and diagrams may help them better understand the history of their state. I like the idea of using the older maps as resources to teach them about Lake Drummond and the Dismal Swamp and tie it into the history itself.
Virginia Geography
Adult Education
Often times, when we think historically . . . we neglect to think geographically. This lesson reminded me to incorporate a "sense of place" into my lessons. We can't talk about history without including geography. We must remind our students of "location" - this lesson has reminded me to include both physical, and human geography into my lessons. The cultural landscape of Virginia is so unique and the human/environmental connection is strong, valid, and will teach us more about history than we ever thought possible.
Special Education Teacher
Elementary
I will provide students with maps from yesterday and today. The maps will be juxtaposed so that students can make comparisons and differences. The runaway advertisements for a person escaping slavery is a good primary source that includes specifics about people's knowledge of the land and how that knowledge can help or hinder him or her journey to freedom. The naming of the nation's capital is indicative of the decision makers reverence for George Washington. Naming of places and water features can help students analyze the values that decision makers had on various people.
Cultural Landscape Field Trip to Colonial Williamsburg
Elementary
In the month of December, we are planning to take a grade level wide field trip to Colonial Williamsburg to reinforce our unit on colonial times. This will be a perfect opportunity for students to experience first hand the impact of Virginia's geography on colonial people and their lives.
Roman Empire
High
I can apply what I've learned about Virginia Geography when teaching about the Roman Empire. I can have students complete a map of the Italian/Mediterranean region and identify cities, mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, etc. We can discuss the region in terms of the Five Themes of Geography and consider whether Rome's location was an advantage or disadvantage and why. Then students would read an excerpt (and answer questions) from Cicero who discussed the advantages of Rome's location. Students can work together gathering info on how Rome's location gave the people access to food, water, rich farmland, transportation and trade (sea and over-land). Eventually students will see that the Roman Empire's location/geography enabled it to thrive and expand, and students can continue to talk about how that expansion brought with it problems and changes such as the use of slaves, civil wars, fall of the republic, and so on.
Virginia's Geography
Elementary
Have the students working in groups of two or three and pass out maps of Virginia. One map that shows the physical features of Virginia and one that shows the 5 regions. Have the students examine the maps. Ask guiding questions like what do you know about VA's features. Making sure to point out each important feature. Then do the same with the five regions and their geography. Eventually student will be able to KWL chart about Va's geographic features and regions and then we can share and discuss as a class.
This Is My State: Virginia
Elementary
Just like The Virginia Trekkers do, the best way to understand the geography of a place is to go there. I'd start my unit off with a field trip to Jamestown in the Tidewater region to give them a sense of where the geography and people intersected as folks came over to the new world. Assignment: you just got off the ship with your family, set up house. Tell me: what do you need? How will you get what you need? How will you keep what you need? (The students will answer these same questions as we go through each region of Virginia)
The next week, I would take them through the town of Haymarket, Va and onward to Chapman's Mill so that they
can realize they live in the Piedmont region of Virginia with little hills and various types of vegetation. Next, I would offer a weekend trip for families to do a hike along the Blue Ridge (for extra credit, of course). Finally, I would offer another weekend trip for families to go to the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. Knowing that many students would be unable to attend a distant area, I would go myself and make videos of my own in addition to the Virginia Trekkers' videos. Students will discuss what they would need in order to live in any particular area. They will answer the question: How can I work with the geography of this region in Virginia in order to live and help my family thrive.
Native Americans and Virginia Geography
Elementary
In second grade we learn all about the Native Americans. We talk about the Eastern Woodlands (Powhatans), Pueblo, and Lakota Indians. Every week we learn about one tribe during the month of November. We learn about the locations of each tribe and the geography of these areas. As we move along, we also talk about habitats and the animals that live in these different areas. We talk about climate and weather. As we begin to understand the concepts of the location of each tribe, we begin to understand the culture of the different tribes. We look at pictures of homes where the tribes lived, the clothes they wore, and the occupations they had.
I break the students into pairs and give them a picture of a scene with one of these tribes. I have them look at the pictures and draw conclusions about the tribes. Once they have discussed and observed these pictures we will display it on the board and they can present to the class what they observed.
Virginia Geography Lesson
Middle
I would apply this activity in my classroom with an exciting activity looking at a variety of state maps like the one of Virginia used in this module. Five different state maps that include show the various landscapes, climate and topography. With students in small groups of 3 or 4, I would have them examine each of the maps and try and determine what types of resources in each state and where people are distributed throughout the states. This would be a great activity to get students thinking about the connections between the geography an region and its history and people.
Geography in the 7th grade classroom
Middle
I always begin the year with a unit on basic geography with my 7th graders. After this lesson, I will try to go a little bit deeper. We will discuss how and why settlements, counties, states were first settled. We will analyze the role Virginia played in the Civil War based on its location and history. During our industrial unit, we will determine why major industrial centers were built up in the locations they were built up in.
Where We Are is Who We Are!
Elementary
Geography has played a role in where societies begin since Ancient Egypt and China. The geography of Virginia is as much a part of our history as the Mother of Presidents itself. The original colony of Jamestown may not have been the "ideal" place to start a new society, but the natural waterways and resources of Virginia provided a wealth of opportunity for its first settlers as well as its present day populations. Utilizing the transportation provided in the early 1600s has lead us straight in the new wave of the 21st Century. Our original waterways allowed for the movement of many people and products for hundred of years and the modern day shipyards provide transportation for thousands today. Virginia was blessed in some ways, but the hard working folks who developed it have found ways to use it beyond their wildest dreams!
How are ancient and colonial Virginia civilizations similar?
Elementary
We would compare and contrast the needs of the ancient river civilizations (Nile, Euphrates-Tigris, Huang He and Yangtze, Ganges and Brahmaputra) with the needs of the colonists and the native people groups that depended upon them (Rappahannock, Potomac, James, York and Shenandoah using maps, pictures and as many primary sources that we can glean. Students will understand how life is and was tied to rivers.
Geography
Elementary
Geography can be so easily tied to present and past origins of history. Students in Virginia must know valuable resources (such as coal and wood) and how geography plays a huge role in acquiring those resources. My students take for granted how rich in history, Virginia is. I would like for them to be able to understand why the regions are considered regions and what geographical similarities make them regions. Understanding the importance of travel and trade near water is also an important lesson for my students.
Geography
High
The geography of Virginia, daily impacts life here in SWVA. When teaching about our forefathers founding the Congressional College, we use Geography to show the Congressional District 9, about the population disparity. When we work on the Industrial Revolution, and the Gilded Age, we show the Coal Mines, and how this area relates to Child Labor, and FDR's 100 Day Programs around the area such as the TVA. etc. Geography is a great tool for students, because it's a physical aspect that they can relate to one of their perceivable senses. I enjoy the physical geography of Virginia. This also helps students in rural areas, who are more pro hunting, and fishing so they can relate to the geography.
Geography
High
The geography of Virginia, daily impacts life here in SWVA. When teaching about our forefathers founding the Congressional College, we use Geography to show the Congressional District 9, about the population disparity. When we work on the Industrial Revolution, and the Gilded Age, we show the Coal Mines, and how this area relates to Child Labor, and FDR's 100 Day Programs around the area such as the TVA. etc. Geography is a great tool for students, because it's a physical aspect that they can relate to one of their perceivable senses. I enjoy the physical geography of Virginia. This also helps students in rural areas, who are more pro hunting, and fishing so they can relate to the geography.
How can I Get What Others Have?
Elementary
Using maps of the state’s geographical outlines and its resources, allow students to create trading paths between the ocean and the western side of the state to share in the vast resources of VA.
4th Grade Teacher
Elementary
Showing a relevant picture before teaching a lesson allows students to think about a topic before more information about it/something that relates to it is taught. It was interesting for me to consider what I already knew about fences before reading the other resources. The preview allowed me to start with what I knew and after reading, it's importance evolved into something much greater. My perspective about fences broadened as I saw them as a small part of a much larger picture. I could see this being very useful for my students, as they will feel empowered by sharing their knowledge, but intrigued as their understandings evolve.
Virginia’s Regions
Elementary
Students can make a KWL chart about one of the regions. The students can then share with a partner. After they share with a partner then they could make a Venn Diagram with differences and similarities.
Virginia’s Regions
Elementary
Students can make a KWL chart about one of the regions. The students can then share with a partner. After they share with a partner then they could make a Venn Diagram with differences and similarities.
Pre-Revolutionary War and Revolutionary War Eras
Elementary
I will have my students create a diary in which they are George Washington (living in the Piedmont region), writing to his family in another region of Virginia. He can explain to them the geography of the land, the cultural differences of those who live there, and reasons this area was chosen as a site for the mansion, including the importance of the Potomac River.
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.

The Geographical impact of Virginia is unreal. We discuss this throughout our study of VA US History. Geography is covered in EOC US SOL's almost in every facet of history all 15 testable materials. I enjoyed the presentation of this, and wish that others could see the impact Geography has on daily life. A local county was the "Trumpiest" County in the United States. Buchanan County's livelihood is made by coal mining, after a perceived "War on Coal" by Democrats, and President Obama's policy, Trump carried Buchanan County something like 95% in a County that has been historically Democratic. The Geography won't allow for new industry, or school consolidation. The Geography, has lead to a displacement of population, and an economic impact, on the West side of Roanoke.

I love the idea to have the students create a diary where they are being George Washington and talking to members of their family from other regions. Great idea!

I love everyones ideas, especially the one with the various field trips to additional places in Virginia's regions.

I like the post by the Middle School teacher who focuses on Land and Human Interactions because he plans to introduce lessons with maps.

I like the idea of the diary and writing about the land as seen through the eyes of another person. I think I might incorporate that but have it done through the eyes of the settlers. I'd like the students to compare maps and do research first and then write from a first person point of view of what they see and how they interact with the new geography.

Geography seems to impact so much on all History. I would take each unit that I introduce and make sure that I include all aspects of geography in the lesson. For example, when I teach the different Native American tribes I would have maps to interpret how the land dominated and shaped their lifestyles.

Interpret primary sources to have students match the tribe with the resource. Have them write a summary to tie the matching game with the resources in the geography of that region.

I also liked the idea of comparing a map of Jamestown in 1607 vs a map of Jamestown today.
Compare and contrast the two maps. What created the changes?

The different sources made me more aware of just how important Geography to History.

I loved the ideas about teaching the Civil War and the specific battles and how railroads had so much impact.

Although I've already taught these lessons without using this learning experience, I am excited that I will be able to review the same material using a different strategy that will engage my students even more.

I would begin teaching with showing types of maps of our regions explaining that they themselves have not changed. I would also see field trips to the mountain area and then to coastal areas would help visually see the difference. I would hope to also do a salt map/plaster model of Virginia. Analyzing each area for its benefits advantages. I think you would need to apply some thoughts on how population.

Instructions

Congratulations on completing the module! Read and comment on classmates’ ideas here. Return to My Course to move to the next module.

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.