Using Technology in the U.S. classroom?


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At Washington Academy, located in Machias, Maine, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology offers the opportunity for unlimited interdisciplinary studies. Esri, a company that develops GIS software explains, “geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends.”

There are many different aspects of social studies, science, math, language arts and other curricula that GIS technology enhances for students. This helps them explore subjects in ways that typical curriculum does not. Spatial analyses, such location selection, change over time, and environmental impact, can play an integral part in the use of GIS in the classroom.

For instance, English literature students can discover and study the locations mentioned in the books they’re reading, as well as map the travel logs/journals of a specific author. Using the same technology, math students can analyze the mathematical functions of demographic data (i.e. differences between the number of males and females of Machias, Maine).

GIS Technology – Not Just for Geography

Social Studies: Washington Academy students study demographic information for countries worldwide; visualize of historical events; and examine natural changes over time.

Science: Students explore natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcano locations, explore habits of animals, and the environmental impact of humans.

Students engage in business location analysis; create travel routes for a business that will be delivering goods to our local towns.

Business and Marketing: Students engage in business location analysis and create travel routes for a business that will be delivering goods to our local towns.

Health and Biology: Even the exploration of the spread of diseases and illnesses, like the flu, and where they originated is a part of the GIS program. Teachers and their students collect and create their own data. The GIS is then used to display the data and analyze the results.

GIS technology promotes higher order thinking skills. Used in the classroom, GIS enhances students’ understanding of the spatial relationships that are found in their world.

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Robin Moloff-Gautier is the Director of Advancement, Admissions, Development and Residential Life at Washington Academy in Machias, Maine. Spatial analyses, such location selection, change over time, and environmental impact, can play an integral part in GIS use in the classroom.