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GEOGRAPHY STANDARDS

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GRADES K-4

THE WORLD IN SPATIAL TERMS

Standard 1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective

The student knows and understands:

  • The characteristics and purposes of geographic representations --such as maps, globes, graphs, diagrams, aerial and other photographs, and satellite-produced images
  • The characteristics and purposes of tools and technologies-- such as reference works and computer-based geographic information systems
  • How to display spatial information on maps and other geographic representations
  • How to use appropriate geographic tools and technologies

Standard 2. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context

The student knows and understands:

  • The locations of places within the local community and in nearby communities
  • The location of Earth's continents and oceans in relation to each other and to principal parallels and meridians
  • The location of major physical and human features in the United States and on Earth

Standard 3. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The spatial elements of point, line, area, and volume
  • The spatial concepts of location, distance, direction, scale, movement, and region
  • That places and features are distributed spatially across Earth's surface
  • The causes and consequences of spatial interaction on Earth's surface

PLACES AND REGIONS

Standard 4. The physical and human characteristics of places

The student knows and understands:

  • The physical characteristics of places (e.g., landforms, bodies of water, soil, vegetation, and weather and climate)
  • The human characteristics of places (e.g., population distributions, settlement patterns, languages, ethnicity nationality, and religious beliefs)
  • How physical and human processes together shape places

Standard 5. That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity

The student knows and understands:

  • The concept of region as an area of Earth's surface with unifying geographic characteristics
  • The similarities and differences among regions
  • The ways in which regions change

Standard 6. How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

The student knows and understands:

  • How to describe the student's own community and region from different perspectives
  • Ways in which different people perceive places and regions

PHYSICAL SYSTEMS

Standard 7. The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The components of Earth's physical systems: the atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere
  • How patterns (location, distribution, and association) of features on the Earth's surface are shaped by physical processes
  • How Earth-Sun relations affect conditions on Earth

Standard 8. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The components of ecosystems
  • The distribution and patterns of ecosystems
  • How humans interact with ecosystems

Standard 9. The characteristics, distributions, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The spatial distribution of population
  • The characteristics of populations at different scales (local to global)
  • The causes and effects of human migration

Standard 10. The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

The student knows and understands:

  • How the characteristics of culture affect the ways in which people live
  • How patterns of culture vary across Earth's surface
  • How cultures change

Standard 11. The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The location and spatial distribution of economic activities
  • The factors that influence the location and spatial distribution of economic activities
  • The transportation and communication networks used in daily life

Standard 12. The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement

The student knows and understands:

  • The types and spatial patterns of settlement
  • The factors that affect where people settle
  • How spatial patterns of human settlement change
  • The spatial characteristics of cities

Standard 13. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The types of territorial units
  • The extent and characteristics of political, social, and economic units at different scales (local to global)
  • How people divide Earth's surface
  • How cooperation and conflict affect places in the local community

ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY

Standard 14. How human actions modify the physical environment

The student knows and understands:

  • How people depend on the physical environment
  • How people modify the physical environment
  • That the physical environment can both accommodate and be endangered by human activities

Standard 15. How physical systems affect human systems

The student knows and understands:

  • How variations within the physical environment produce spatial patterns that affect human adaptation
  • The ways in which the physical environment provides opportunities for people
  • The ways in which the physical environment constrains human activities

Standard 16. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance in resources

The student knows and understands:

  • The characteristics of renewable, nonrenewable, and flow resources
  • The spatial distribution of resources
  • The role of resources in daily life

THE USES OF GEOGRAPHY

Standard 17. How to apply geography to interpret the past

The student knows and understands:

  • How places and geographic contexts change over time
  • That people's perceptions of places and geographic contexts change over time
  • That geographic contexts influence people and events over time

Standard 18. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future

The student knows and understands:

  • The dynamic character of geographic contexts
  • How people's perceptions affect their interpretation of the world
  • The spatial dimensions of social and environmental problems

GRADES 5-8

THE WORLD IN SPATIAL TERMS

Standard 1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective

The student knows and understands:

  • The characteristics, functions, and applications of maps, globes, aerial and other photographs, satellite-produced images, and models
  • How to make and use maps, globes, graphs, charts, models, and databases to analyze spatial distributions and patterns
  • The relative advantages and disadvantages of using maps, globes, aerial and other photographs, satellite-produced images, and models to solve geographic problems

Standard 2. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context

The student knows and understands:

  • The distribution of major physical and human features at different scales (local to global)
  • How to translate mental maps into appropriate graphics to display geographic information and answer geographic questions
  • How perception influences people's mental maps and attitudes about places

Standard 3. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • How to use the elements of space to describe spatial patterns
  • How to use spatial concepts to explain spatial structure
  • How spatial processes shape patterns of spatial organization
  • How to model spatial organization

PLACES AND REGIONS

Standard 4. The physical and human characteristics of places

The student knows and understands:

  • How different physical processes shape places
  • How different human groups alter places in distinctive ways
  • The role of technology in shaping the characteristics of places

Standard 5. That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity

The student knows and understands:

  • The elements and types of regions
  • How and why regions change
  • The connections among regions
  • The influences and effects of regional labels and images

Standard 6. How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

The student knows and understands:

  • How personal characteristics affect our perception of places and regions
  • How culture and technology affect perception of places and regions
  • How places and regions serve as cultural symbols

PHYSICAL SYSTEMS

Standard 7. The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • How physical processes shape patterns in the physical environment
  • How Earth-Sun relationships affect physical processes and patterns on Earth
  • How physical processes influence the formation and distribution of resources
  • How to predict the consequences of physical processes on Earth's surface

Standard 8. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The local and global patterns of ecosystems
  • How ecosystems work
  • How physical processes produce changes in ecosystems
  • How human activities influence changes in ecosystems

HUMAN SYSTEMS

Standard 9. The characteristics, distributions, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The demographic structure of a population
  • The reasons for spatial variations in population distribution
  • The types and historical patterns of human migration
  • The effects of migration on the characteristics of places

Standard 10. The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics The student knows and understands:

  • The spatial distribution of culture at different scales (local to global)
  • How to read elements of the landscape as a minor of culture
  • The processes of cultural diffusion

Standard 11. The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface The student knows and understands:

  • Ways to classify economic activity
  • The basis for global interdependence
  • Reasons for the spatial patterns of economic activities
  • How changes in technology, transportation, and communication affect the location of economic activities

Standard 12. The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement

The student knows and understands:

  • The spatial patterns of settlement in different regions of the world
  • What human events led to the development of cities
  • The causes and consequences of urbanization
  • The internal spatial structure of urban settlements

Standard 13. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The multiple territorial divisions of the student's own world
  • How cooperation and conflict among people contribute to political divisions of Earth's surface
  • How cooperation and conflict among people contribute to economic and social divisions of Earth's surface

ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY

Standard 14. How human actions modify the physical environment

The student knows and understands:

  • The consequences of human modification of the physical environment
  • How human modifications of the physical environment in one place often lead to changes in other places
  • The role of technology in the human modification of the physical environment

Standard 15. How physical systems affect human systems

The student knows and understands:

  • Human responses to variations in physical systems
  • How the characteristics of different physical environments provide opportunities for or place constraints on human activities
  • How natural hazards affect human activities

Standard 16. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance in resources

The student knows and understands:

  • The worldwide distribution and use of resources
  • Why people have different viewpoints regarding resource use
  • How tecnnology affects the definitions of, access to, and use of resources
  • The fundamental role of energy resources in society

THE USES OF GEOGRAPHY

Standard 17. How to apply geography to interpret the past The student knows and understands:

  • How the spatial organization of a society changes over time
  • How people's differing perceptions of places, peoples, and resources have affected events and conditions in the past
  • How geographic contexts have influenced events and conditions in the past

Standard 18. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future

The student knows and understands:

  • How the interaction of physical and human systems may shape present and future conditions on Earth
  • How varying points of view on geographic context influence plans for change
  • How to apply the geographic point of view to solve social and environmental problems by making geographically informed decisions

GRADES 9-12

THE WORLD IN SPATIAL TERMS

Standard 1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective

The student knows and understands:

  • How to use maps and other graphic representations to depict geographic problems
  • How to use technologies to represent and interpret Earth's physical and human systems
  • How to use geographic representations and tools to analyze, explain, and solve geographic problems

Standard 2. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context

The student knows and understands:

  • How to use mental maps of physical and human features of the world to answer complex geographic questions
  • How mental maps reflect the human perception of places
  • How mental maps influence spatial and environmental decision- making

Standard 3. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The generalizations that describe and explain spatial interaction
  • The spatial behavior of people
  • How to apply concepts and models of spatial organization to make decisions

PLACES AND REGIONS

Standard 4. The physical and human characteristics of places

The student knows and understands:

  • The meaning and significance of place
  • The changing physical and human characteristics of places
  • How relationships between humans and the physical environment lead to the formation of places and to a sense of personal and community identity

Standard 5. That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity The student knows and understands:

  • How multiple criteria can be used to define a region
  • The structure of regional systems
  • The ways in which physical and human regional systems are interconnected
  • How to use regions to analyze geographic issues

Standard 6. How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

The student knows and understands:

  • Why places and regions serve as symbols for individuals and society
  • Why different groups of people within a society view places and regions differently
  • How changing perceptions of places and regions reflect cultural change

PHYSICAL SYSTEMS

Standard 7. The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The dynamics of the four basic components of Earth's physical systems: the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere
  • The interaction of Earth's physical systems
  • The spatial variation in the consequences of physical processes across Earth's surface

Standard 8. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The distribution and characteristics of ecosystems
  • The biodiversity and productivity of ecosystems
  • The importance of ecosystems in people's understanding of environmental issues

HUMAN SYSTEMS

Standard 9. The characteristics, distributions, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • Trends in world population numbers and patterns
  • The impact of human migration on physical and human systems

Standard 10. The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

The student knows and understands:

  • The impact of culture on ways of life in different regions
  • How cultures shape the character of a region
  • The spatial characteristics of the processes of cultural convergence and divergence

Standard 11. The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • The classification, characteristics, and spatial distribution of economic systems
  • How places of various size function as centers of economic activity
  • The increasing economic interdependence of the world's countries

Standard 12. The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement

The student knows and understands:

  • The functions, sizes, and spatial arrangements of urban areas
  • The differing characteristics of settlement in developing and developed countries
  • The processes that change the internal structure of urban areas
  • The evolving forms of present-day urban areas

Standard 13. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface

The student knows and understands:

  • Why and how cooperation and conflict are involved in shaping the distribution of social, political, and economic spaces on Earth at different scales
  • The impact of multiple spatial divisions on people's daily lives
  • How differing points of view and self-interests play a role in conflict over territory and resources

ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY

Standard 14. How human actions modify the physical environment

The student knows and understands:

  • The role of technology in the capacity of the physical environment to accommodate human modification
  • The significance of the global impacts of human modificalion of the physical environment
  • How to apply appropriate models and information to understand environmental problems

Standard 15. How physical systems affect human systems

The student knows and understands:

  • How changes in the physical environment can diminish its capacity to support human activity
  • Strategies to respond to constraints placed on human systems by the physical environment
  • How humans perceive and react to natural hazards

Standard 16. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance in resources

The student knows and understands:

  • How the spatial distribution of resources affects patterns of human settlement
  • How resource development and use change over time
  • The geographic results of policies and programs for resource use and management

THE USES OF GEOGRAPHY

Standard 17. How to apply geography to interpret the past

The student knows and understands:

  • How processes of spatial change affect events and conditions
  • How changing perceptions of places and environments affect the spatial behavior of people
  • The fundamental role that geographical context has played in affecting events in history

Standard 18. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future

The student knows and understands:

  • How different points of view influence the development of policies designed to use and manage Earth's resources
  • Contemporary issues in the context of spatial and environmental perspectives
  • How to use geographic knowledge, skills, and perspectives to analyze problems and make decisions

In addition to the standards above, Geography for Life outlines skills that all students need to develop by 4th, 8th, and 12th grades.

Reprinted with the permission of the Geography Education Standards Project from Geography for Life: National Geography Standards 1994. Exploration.

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