By Seth Dixon, Rhode Island College
I am very pleased to be blogging for National Geographic Education; let me introduce myself. I’m Seth Dixon, a geography professor at Rhode Island College and I also serve as the coordinator for the Rhode Island Geography Education Alliance.
I love sharing digital teaching resources and pieces of everyday geography– the underlying geographic context behind any news article about current events.
Rarely will an article call this “geography,” so I sniff this out to share with fellow educators. I’m a huge social media fan (on Twitter @ProfessorDixon) and I’ve discovered that many teachers are creating digital Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and sharing high-quality supplemental materials that are rich in pedagogical and geographic value; I hope that this can be a part of your PLN.
Here with National Geographic Education, I’ll be sharing my favorite classroom gems in the hope they can help teachers, parents, and students interested in strengthening geo-literacy. We just celebrated Geography Awareness Week with the focus on “the Future of Food” and it’s Thanksgiving Eve, so I thought I would start off by sharing 5 of my personal favorite resources to help teach some of the geography behind Thanksgiving celebrations.
1. This interactive Esri StoryMap is one of my favorite combinations of maps involving the geography of food production and consumption. As you click the plate, you can see where common components are grown or raised, and you can also see some great patterns when considering regional dishes.
2. This New York Times interactive article discusses the regional preferences for the most popular Thanksgiving recipes. Why are cranberries such an important part of the Thanksgiving meal? Plymouth County, MA is one of only 3 cranberry producing regions, and coincidentally was also home to the first Thanksgiving. This is just one example of how the New England environment impacted national traditions and celebrations.
Here on the NG Education blog:
- The Geography of Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes. Where are sweet potatoes grown? Where do people make sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving? There is a strong spatial connection between where the goods are produced and the regions that consume these as a part of a traditional Thanksgiving recipe.
- Geography in the News: The Pilgrims’ Harsh Thanksgiving. Plymouth, England has a much more mild and moderate climate than Plymouth Massachusetts. This simple geographic fact (among others) made the transition from England to New England quite difficult for the Pilgrims.
5. Thanksgiving has some fascinating spatial components to it. I co-authored this Geography News Network article on Maps101.com that shows the historical and geographic context of the first Thanksgiving, in the memorialization of Thanksgiving as a national holiday (if you don’t subscribe to Maps 101, it is also freely available as a podcast on Stitcher Radio or iTunes).