Inquiry Lesson – Discovering Careers in GIS

Word Document (much prettier) Free Download: inquiry-activity-discovering-gis-careers


 Grade 11 Open Geography

Course CGT3O – Introduction to Spatial Technologies – P. 177
Lesson Title GIS:A 21st Century Geography Career
Overall Goals: Inquiry:

Students will use a variety of sources to find out what GIS professionals do, who they work for, analyze and evaluate GIS work/websites and present their findings to the class.


Presentations will be followed by constructive discussion to solidify concepts

Curriculum Objectives Students will:

A1.1 formulate different types of questions to guide investigations using spatial technologies (e.g., factual questions

A1.3 assess the credibility of sources and informa­tion relevant to their investigations

A1.4 interpret and analyse data and information relevant to their investigations, using various tools, strategies, and approaches appropriate for geographic inquiry

A1.6 evaluate and synthesize their findings to formulate conclusions and/or make informed judgements or predictions about the issues they are investigating

A1.7 communicate their ideas, arguments, and conclusions using various formats and styles, as appropriate for the audience and purpose

A2.4 identify some careers in which a geography background might be an asset

Student questions and prior knowledge
  1. What do GIS professionals do?
  2. Where do they work?
  3. What education and training do they need?
  4. How do you get a job in GIS?
  5. What is the future of GIS?
Principles  1. Promote talk which is exploratory, tentative and hypothetical.

2, Use a wide variety of intellectually challenging teaching procedures.

3. Develop students’ awareness of the big picture: how various activities fit together and link to the big ideas.

4. Promote assessment as part of the learning process.

Materials  pencils



projection screen

poster boards or computers with presentation software

computer and video projection equipment


classroom with open space for presentation

  • ·         valid educational texts/journals on careers in geography
  • ·         Computers with internet access and word processing/presentation          software
 Safety Precautions           I.            Online data and privacy safety

         II.            Ergonomics

 III.            Avoiding academic dishonesty

Lesson Outline Activate

  • Ask key questions (above)
  • Explain expectations for work habits and finished product
  • Guide students to reliable resources (try to split them into groups and have them research different companies)

Acquire (Ongoing):

  • Mind map key points
  • Find articles and websites that depict and explain careers in GIS
  • Reach out to local professionals if possible (guest speaker)


Apply (Ongoing):

  • Present findings to the class in multimedia format


  •  inspire constructive discussion after presentations
  •  reach out to community GIS professionals for future inquiry

  •  Presentations and speeches
  •  Peer Assessment
  •  Self Assessment

Field Work for Senior Geography Students – Trailblazing and Map Making

When I think back to my earlier years, the most educational field work we did happened to be right in our hometown. Growing up in the Sault and attending St. Ann (Huron Superior Catholic District School Board) for K-8, we had a regular opportunity to go to what was formerly called Camp Korah (now St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre). This place was only a ten minute bus ride northwest of our centrally located school, so we could spend a day there without requiring an overnight stay or delayed bussing.

The facility had teachers and instructors who introduced us to orienteering and took us on guided hikes to learn about hiking safety as well as plant and animal identification. The facility offered access to a small lake, recreational trails, an indoor classroom and a large field. Teachers knew how to organize a variety of students into groups and still teach us lessons.

I would love to bring senior geography and science students to a similar facility in the future. Because a lot of children spend most of their time indoors, and learning how to navigate and identify landmarks outdoors is a key skill for geography education. If I were to organize this type of field excursion, I would ensure that students have a goal setting activity before and after the outing to ensure that their learning was focused. For example, perhaps we could help the facility digitally map a new or existing trail or create signage/brochures for an existing trail.

For senior geography students, this type of learning environment would be an excellent place to do field work. Learning how to orient in the wilderness while paying attention to biological, geological and man made landmarks may mean the difference between a successful and potentially dangerous mapping experience. A useful approach to this field work would be the planning and execution of a common goal (i.e. mapping, signing, and maintaining any type of recreational trail). As most students I teach come from rural areas, perhaps working on an ATV or snowmobile trail may be the most relevant to them as it is important to them.

It may be a challenge to teach students who are not used to working outdoors, as well as students with behavioral challenges. However, incentives to remain on task may help ensure that the day is enriching for all.

Specifically, for CGT3O Introduction to Spatial Technologies, the following curricular expectations would be met with a trip to an outdoor education facility:

B1. Applying Skills in a Local Context: use a variety of spatial technologies to collect and analyse information and field data for the purpose of assessing local geography and geographic issues

B2. Fundamentals of Field Data Collection: demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts and processes associated with the collection and analysis of field data using a variety of spatial technologies

B3. Fundamentals of Cartography: describe and use basic mapping conventions, various types of maps, and fundamental concepts of cartography, and apply that knowledge to analyse bias in the construction and use of maps

What are your experiences with field work? Please feel free to share!

My Top Ten Digital Teaching Strategies

Inquiry Process

This can be done on a regular basis for mini-inquiries that could lead towards a culminating activity

Technology: Public Library of Science– a free database that archives scientific papers and could be used for legitimate inquiry.

Media Presentation

I like to showcase current events or culturally significant media to provide an alternate perspective to text based resources on a daily basis. The students are almost hypnotized by it, and it can really calm a hyperactive group.

Technology: Teacher Tube – a safe collection of video media that is targeted at educators


Frequent discussion is a quick and easy formative assessment on how students are progressing in their understanding. It also gives them a forum to discuss their opinions and solidify their responsibility as a learner.

Technology: WhatsApp – an online messaging platform that works with almost all operating systems

Readers Theatre

Texts that have a large character roster (i.e. Harry Potter) would be most effective and would give the students a reason to read the text and stay engaged. This strategy has been effective with some of the less enthusiastic readers I have met.

Technology: The Best Class by Dr. Chase Young – RT Scripts – This site provides instant access to a variety of scripts that can be used for readers theatre

Read Aloud

This is typically best if done right away, this sets the tone and allows the teacher to interact with the students in a direct instruction manner. Discussion can be encouraged before, during and after the read aloud to encourage attentiveness.

Technology: Storytime Online: 100+ Free Video Read Alouds – I find video read-alouds helpful for engaging students who cannot see the book I am holding due to small size.


For geography, Map puzzles and globe use can stimulate tactile senses that may allow for better learning of geographic boundaries.

Technology: Map Puzzles – US and World (Free) – easy and fun for students of all ages and abilities, this website acquaints students with the shape and location of different states, countries and territories.

Socratic Dialogue

For an opinionated and potentially polarizing discussion that may arise, the Socratic method of questioning can help students with a variety of perspectives support their beliefs and potentially find strengths and weaknesses in their argument.

Technology: Education Technology With The Socratic Method – There are a few websites/apps that help support online discussion and this site summarizes them well.


Students can participate in a group story that is recorded by both them and the teacher.

Technology: 50 Sites and Apps for Digital Storytelling – again, not one site but an aggregate of a whole lot of storytelling apps and sites.

Independent Reading

This activity is meditative, relaxing and self-directed and should be a part of the daily routine (for age groups that respect this activity).

Technology: Ibooks on the Ipad, or Amazon Kindle (if on PC)


Games could serve as a weekly reward for amiable behavior and can also be relevant to curricula

TechnologySeterra Online Geography Games – I have seen this in use in Intermediate classrooms and it is highly engaging as well as challenging. The game allows students to acquaint themselves with the shapes and locations of states and countries.