about the teacher
Course Progress update:
In Exercise 11, students determine the outline of the area to be represented in their navigational aid and take measurements (polar coordinates). Encouraging them to select something distinct (such as a fenceline, street, stream, edge of a building or field etc) wiil help - it's hard to represent something you can't clearly see in the terrain on a map or model. Students will also consider the detail they want to show within this area from the perspective of the largest and smallest features. Knowing how much space these features will take up on their navigational aid at various scales will help them select a scale that is readable, but not so large that the navigational aid becomes bulky.
Resources include Exercise 11 rubric and sample solution.
Review and quiz covering lessons 11- 18:
Review and quiz covering lessons 20-26:
Review and quiz covering lessons 27-37:
This lesson is a chance to test your final design - navigational aid, method of communicating about navigation, and experience of the treasure hunt. Have fun!
• What patterns and clues in our environment help us know where we are?• How does understanding context, purpose, and limitations allow us to communicate effectively about place and navigation?• What works best for me when thinking and communicating about place and navigation?
• What milestones do I want to share in my journey through this course?• What exercises, lessons, and processes were most helpful to me?• Which accomplishments do I want to showcase to demonstrate my learning?
This interdisciplinary course addresses the question “How can we orient ourselves to the world and navigate to where we want to go?”. Using President Jefferson’s instructions to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as an example, students approach place and navigation from the perspectives of a geographer, a mathematician, an artist, a historian, a physicist, and an orienteer. Students apply the design process to solve practical problems using their knowledge and skills.
• Three interdisciplinary units• 3 prototypes and 1 final design project• 36 hands-on exercises with rubrics and sample solutions to support parent/tutor coaching• 44 video lessons including lesson content and exercise reviews modeling of step-by-step mastery thinking• 40 support videos for parents or tutors• 36 note-taking guides/ graphic organizers• 4 online and printable exams (with answer sheets for parents or tutors)• Vocabulary and learning goals for each lesson • Lesson-specific resources• A guided creation of a portfolio of student work to demonstrate 21st century learning competencies
Upon completion, students will apply geography, math, physics, history, orienteering, art and design to understand how:• Patterns and clues in our environment can help us figure out where we are• Understanding context, purpose, and limitations allows us to communicate effectively about place and navigation• People think differently about place and navigating; there is no single universally useful method
• Explain the advantages and disadvantages of using different geographic representations—such as maps, globes, graphs, diagrams, aerial and other photographs for communicating information about location and place• Use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context• Use models to communicate characteristics of place and the processes that change them• Analyze how mental maps are shaped by individual perceptions of people, places, regions, and environments• Analyze how personal, community, and national identities are rooted in and attached to places
• Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems• Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale• Use facts about supplementary, complementary, vertical, and adjacent angles in a multi-step problem to write and solve simple equations for an unknown angle in a figure• Apply Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice for geometry and measurement
• Use predictable patterns caused by Earth’s movement in the solar system to understand location and support navigation
• Move through terrain to integrate spatial concepts with locomotor movements• Develop skills such as orienting a map and using a compass to facilitate self-locating and wayfinding
• Discover clues from the past in primary sources that provide context for understanding the present.• Compare sources from different times to understand interrelationships in human behavior and the environment. Understand how these relationships lead to changes in a place's characteristics over time.
• Analyze the characteristics of form and structure and the visual elements of art to understand the artist's ideas of place, location and direction• Use form, structure, and visual elements of art to communicate
This video-course is primarily intended for students who want to learn by doing. The course is designed for diverse learners and allows for flexibility and student choice in how they interact with the course material. The graphic organizers, projects, and student portfolios are designed to allow students to capitalize on their strengths to show what they know and to support exploring new ways of thinking, designing and communicating. Parent and tutor support resources facilitate finding what works best for the student to meet the goals of the course. Grades 7-8 is a suggestion only; high school students could also use this course as a basis for more advanced work.
Students taking this course will apply their existing knowledge of Common Core Math Standards:
Students will also search the internet or community resources (library, town hall) for historical and artistic works related to their project.
Start: Where is here? (Unit 1), Lessons 1-10
1. Place and Location
2. Exercise Review: Making Observations
3. Ways to Express Location
4. Ways to Think About Locale & Exercise Review: Expressing Location
5. Maps & Exercise Review: Expressing Sense of Place
6. Introduction to Design Thinking & Exercise Review: Map Survey
7. Prototyping & Exercise Review: Design Thinking
8. Treasure Hunt, Part 1
9. Treasure Hunt Exercise Review & Portfolio Management
10. Unit Review & Quiz
Middle – Thinking Like an Explorer (Unit 2), Lessons 11-26
11. Thinking Like an Explorer Overview
12. Geometry and Location, Exercise 7 Review
13. Polar Coordinates, Exercise 8 Review
14. Using Geometry to Plot Landmarks, Exercise 9 Review
15. Scale, Proportion, and Ratio, Exercise 10 Review
16. Applying Scale, Exercise 11 Review
17. Ups and Downs, Exercise 12 Review
18. Additional Considerations, Exercise 13 Review
19. Design and Treasure Hunt, Explorer’s Edition
20. With the Sun to Guide Us
21. Which Way is North?
22. Finding Latitude
23. Finding Longitude
24. Intro to Orienteering
25. Route Choice
26. Route Choice, Revisited
Middle – Thinking Like a Story-Teller (Unit 3), Lessons 27-37
27. Thinking Like a Story-Teller Intro
28. President Jefferson, Lewis, Clark, and Sense of Place
29. Finding historical records
30 and 31. History of a Place, Pt. 1 – Analyzing a Source
32 and 33. History of a Place, Pt. 2 – Continuity and Change
34. Exploring Art
35. The Elements of Art
36. Symbolism and Composition
37. Telling Our Story: Design and Treasure Hunt, Explorer’s Edition
End – Showing What We Know (Unit 4), Lessons 38-42
38. Explorer Unit Review, Portfolio Reflection & Quiz, pt 1
39. Explorer Unit Review, Portfolio Reflection & Quiz, pt 2
40. Storyteller Unit Review, Portfolio Reflection & Quiz
41. Design, pt. 4 - Final Navigational Aid
• How can I best communicate with my partner about navigation?• What do I want my partner to experience while using my navigational aid?• How did the design process work for me in creating my final navigational aid?
42. Treasure Hunt, pt. 4
43. Final Reflection
44. Gallery Walk and Celebration of Learning
• What milestones do I want to share in my journey through this course?• What exercises, lessons, and processes were most helpful to me?• Which accomplishments do I want to showcase to demonstrate my learning?
I grew up in Boulder, Colorado and went to college at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where I majored in French and Russian. That led to a 20-year career as an Army intelligence officer, serving around the US and in Germany, Bosnia, Iraq, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. Along the way, I commanded a company, went to grad school (the first time), taught history and coached orienteering at West Point, and served as a project officer at the Pentagon. I'm married to my West Point classmate, and we have two kids. After we transitioned from military service, our family took time off from work and school and traveled for a few years, including a lot of backpacking, camping, and orienteering. During this time, I realized that although I loved intelligence work, I am more passionate about making a difference in education. I went back to school to learn about learning. I currently teach PE, Health, Wellness, and Comparative Linguistics at a small school where I support diverse learners in achieving their learning goals.
At the end of Lesson 1, I assigned Exercise 1, which involves slow looking at a picture and a video of a place. You're welcome to use the photo I have provided and the videos linked to this lesson, or select some of your own.
This exercise will become an entry in your student's Explorer's Journal. The format for this is flexible - we need something that allows them to capture and display their thinking. It could be written, drawn, recorded audio, recorded video, or in a format I haven't thought of yet that works for you and your student. Please go for a form of expression your student is comfortable with.
The Observation and Slow Looking assignment is the first entry in the student's Explorer's Journal. We will refer to it in the next three lessons, so it's important to have enough information captured to have something to work with. The questions int he rubric will help you get your student thinking if they're struggling a bit with this lesson.
Students should capture what they notice in the format that works the best for them - handwritten or typed notes, audio file, speech to text, etc. While written notes in the note-taking guide are probably fairly self-explanatory, you might think of the audio file like a police officer keeping notes at the scence of a crime.
The Understanding Location assignment (Exercise 2) is the second entry in the student's Explorer's Journal. It builds on the observations from Exercise 1 and focuses on ways to communicate location as a specific point on earth.
This lesson relates closely to math as we relate latitude and longitude and UTM grid coordinates to coordinate systems students have learned in graphing. It also introduces the idea that historical and cultural context can be important to understanding location information. For example, describing location using an address in Japan is quite different from addresses in other places around the world.
Students should review their notes from Exercise 1 and capture their reflections on location information in the format that works the best for them - handwritten or typed notes, audio file, speech to text, etc.
Video explaining how to use the rubric to help students evaluate their own work, and questions to ask that will help you support students who may be struggling or may have forgotten to address something important. Rubrics will also be posted with student documents for the rest of the course as a means to help students become more independent in planning and evaluating their own work.
This is a great lesson to help your student find a place they can access without too much adult support. They'll need to come back here frequently during the course, so it should be nearby and a place you consider safe. If you have a front or back yard, that works well, as would a courtyard or lobby of a housing complex or apartment building. You could even use rooms inside your home, although that is probably a less desirable option than being outdoors because it limits student ability to apply some of the course concepts.
This is an introduction to design thinking. Please help your student find someone who will serve as their partner to try out their prototype navigational aids throughout the course.
This is the student's first prototype, and it just needs to be something they can try out. Students who aren't strong in art or who don't feel comfortable making things with their hands may be a bit stuck here, so help them find an option that plays to their strengths.
Although we use "map" in this part of the course, don't feel contrained to use a piece of paper with a drawing on it. Go with what works for your student!
Getting organized: If your student needs support, you can open the Treasure Hunt Instructions so you can help them get organized. But if it sounds like they have everything figured out and are excited to try out their map or model (we'll call them "navigational aids" from here forward), you might try letting them prepare to lead their partner through the activity without a preview. The treasure hunt will take part during Lesson 9.
Students are also preparing for a post-hunt interview: Once it's done, they should interview their partner about the experience. Listening is key - what works well for each of us individually isn't necessarily what works for someone else, and part of the design process is to recognize that and respond.
This is a good opportunity to take stock of progress in the course thus far. We'll return to these concepts frequently. so being comfortable with location and sense of place are important.
You can use the Portfolio Review to help your student check that they have all their notes in one place prior to the review in Lesson 10.
This lesson is the section quiz, which can be completed online or using a paper version.
In Exercise 7, students analyze the text of President Jefferson's instructions to Lewis and Clarkto see how his words reflect the definition of location, the use of tools to take measurements and the precision required, and the greater context of why he provided these instructions. Students consider how instructions to accomplish such as task might be carried out today.
Thinking Like an Explorer Overview
Rubric and sample solution for Exercise 7
In Exercise 8, students apply the definitions of point, line, and area to thinking about the area they plan to represent on their navigational aids, as well as the challenge of communicating about navigation to their partner during the treasure hunt.
Geometry and Location
Resources: Exercise 8 Rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 9, students begin by exploring a vector addition visualization tool from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/sims/html/vector-addition/latest/vector-addition_en.html This may or may not be useful to them, but ask them to at least try it out and see what they discover. Next, students determine how to measure distance using their own steps, and convert that information into steps / 100 meters. Using 100 meters simplifies scale calculations in later work - base 10 is easier to work with than base 12 (inches and feet). Finally, students take measurements using polar coordinates in the area of their navigational aid. Measurements using sets of 3 landmarks are key - we will use properties of triangles in plotting this information in the next exercise.
This exercise involves a lot of field work and could be accomplished over several days.
Resources include Exercise 9 rubric and sample solution.
In Exercise 10, students use what they have learned about polar coordinates and geometry to plot the data from Exercise 9. If your student is struggling, keep it simple - start with 1 set of 3 landmarks, and plot their locations relative to each other. Not sure how to do this? The Lesson 15 video shows me working through plotting 8 landmarks, using at least 4 different sets of polar coordinates that form triangles.
Expect that this won't be completely accurate. It's likely that most students will use a magnetic compass, which may lead to inaccuracies in the bearings of +/- 10 degrees. Plus, pace count will be an approximation, too. So, if they're plotting more than 1 set of 3 landmarks, and the sets share landmarks, it's pretty likely that the landmark locations won't line up precisely. That's part of the learning process - if you're approximating in your measurements, you'll need to approximate in your drafting, as well.
Using Geometry to Plot Landmarks
Resources include Exercise 10 rubric and sample solution.
In Exercise 11, students take polar coordinates of the features that bound their navigational aid and convert their distance measurements to determine the dimensions of their area. Next, they consider the dimensions of the largest and smallest features they want to represent. They will use this information in Exercise 12 as they consider the scale they want to use in the navigational aid.
It's important that students select features in the terrain that are easily recognizable as boundaries - roads, edges of buildings or fields, fences, streams, rows of trees etc. It's very challenging to draft an invisible line across an area (such as a property line in an indistinct grassy area between houses), so the more definition your students can achieve, the better.
Scale, Proportion, and Ratio
Resources: Exericse 11 rubric and sample solution
For Exercise 12, students have two options to determine the scale they plan to use for their navigational aid:
Either option is fine - we're weighing the difference between designing if you had unlimited resources versus designing the best prototype you can with what you have on hand.
Students may use both approaches if desired.
Resources: Exercise 12 rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 13, students consider contour lines as a method of representing elevation data and use similar triangles to estimate the height of features in the area they are representing.
To find contour data, students can draw on existing information, or use point elevations from The National Map. They will use a ruler held at arm's length so the base of the ruler covers the base of the object being measured, to estimate heights of features. Students may need assistance measuring the distance from their eye to the base of the ruler when their arms are fully outstretched.
Ups and Downs
Resources include Exercise 13 rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 14, students draft their Explorer's version of their navigational aid, focusing on spatial accuracy and bringing together their ideas from lessons 11-17.
Resources: Exercise 14 rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 15, students test their navigational aid and observe how their partner uses it. Using their observations of their partner's experience and feedback from a post-testing interview, students update their ideas for their overall navigational aid and testing design.
Design and Treasure Hunt, Explorer’s Edition
Resources: Exercise 15 rubric and sample solution
Exercise 16 involves placing a stick upright in flat ground and marking the tips of its shadow every 15 minutes over the course of an hour. Then, it's simply a matter of connecting the dots to get an E-W line; a line perpendicular points N-S, with south being towards the sun and north being the direction the shadows point. If your student gets distracted easily, try setting a time to go off every 15 minutes as a reminder.
The resulting perpendicular line provides an approximation of geographic north (the point where the axis of rotation meets the earth's surface). Not quite the same thing as magnetic north, but pretty close depending on where you live and what time of day / season your student took their observations.
The diagrams of the sun compass show numerous readings during entire days, with one set from late November (nearing the winter solstice) and one from early April (near the spring equinox). Depending on which hour you used for your straight line, you can see that you'd get "north-ish," but the most accurate readings will be around midday.
With the Sun to Guide Us
Resources: Rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 17, students think about how they have observed their partners orienting their navigational aid or ask follow-up questions to understand their partner's thinking. Students try orienting their navigational aid using both solar observations and magnetic compasses, and decide what level of precision is necessary, and how they might want to show information related to orientation on their navigational aid.
Which Way is North?
Resources: Exercise 17 rubric and sample solution
Using a protractor, a string, and a weight, you can figure out how many degrees the sun is above the horizon when it's at its highest point during the day. The key is to keep an eye on the shadow - it points due (geographic) north when the sun is at its highest point.
Figure out how high the sun is above the horizon, look up the latitude where the sun is directly overhead (90 degrees), and figure out how far away you are from that latitude based on how you see the sun, and you can use sun observation to calculate your latitude.
The key to making sense of all this? For every degree away from 90 degrees that you see the sun at its highest point, that's a degree of latitude you are away from where the sun is directly overhead. If it's 89 degrees for you, then you're just one degree of latitude away from the unique latitude where the sun is directly overhead (today). 45 degrees? You're either 45 degrees north or 45 degrees south of the latitude where the sun is directly overhead. No sun? That's a bit more challenging, but you're at least 90 degrees away from where the sun is directly overhead.
Confused? Check the sample solution, or the video for the next lesson with the worked solution.
Resources: Exercise 18 rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 19, we refer back to our sun observations, noting the time that the sun was at its highest point. We'll use this information to compare to when high noon occurred on this day in Greenwich, England. The difference in time can be converted into degrees (because the earth rotates 360 degrees in a 24-hour period), and we can use those degrees to calculate our longitudinal distance from Greenwich, expressed in degrees of longitude.
Resources: Exercise 19 rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 20, students identify possible ways to go between to points and what they might use along the way to help them navigate (remarkable points, linear features). Then, they identify which route they think will be the fastest. We'll test their guesses - or at least a few of the most likely guesses - in the next lessons.
Intro to Orienteering
Resources: Exercise 20 rubric, sample solution
In Exercise 21, students apply a deliberate approach to identifying possible ways to go between to points and what they might use along the way to help them navigate, and compare them to the results from field testing.
Resources: Exercise 21 rubric, sample solution
In exercise 22, students consider how they might integrate route choice into their navigational aid testing, either to learn more about navigation or communication, or to provide a more interesting experience for their partner.
Route Choice, Revisited
Resources: Exercise 22 rubric, sample solution
In Exercise 23, students consider the locale-related information President Jefferson asks Lewis and Clark to report during their journey to the west.
Resources: Exercise 23 rubric, sample solution
In Exercise 24, students consider how President Jefferson's instructions to Lewis and Clark reflected his desire to understand sense of place.
Resources: Exercise 24 rubric, sample solution
In Exercise 25, students explore historical documents or artifacts - ideally maps or pictures - from the area where they're making their navigational aid. If you can't find something that includes the precise location, see what resources you can find that represent the history of the area. Some good places to look online include the Library of Congress (loc.gov) or your town or city's website. Public libraries and town or city halls are also good places to visit if you're looking to get out and about.
Resources: Exericise 25 rubric, sample solution
In Exercise 26, students dig into whatever information they can find about the document or artifact they have selected for further study. If they're having difficulty getting started, you might ask them to see what they can find out about the person (or people) who made the document or artifact they're studying. This is a great time to see what you can find on the internet, and a very appropriate use of resources like Wikipedia that will provide a good overview and links to other sources with more information.
If your student is working with a document or artifact from a collection (physical or digital), it's possible there are some hints in the curator's notes or files, too. This is a little like detective work: study your document or artifact, ask questions, and then see what you can find out!
Still having a tough time? Check out lesson 31, which is completely dedicated to an exercise review to model my thinking and my approach to learning more about the map / battle description I investigated.
Resources: rubric and sample solution
In Exercise 27, students compare information about their area over time, looking for what changes and what stays the same. Once again, you can go straight to Lesson 33 for an example of how to do this.
If your student is working with pictures or maps, a nice way to simplify this is to lay everything out so key landmarks are aligned from picture to picture. For example, you might decide to put north at the top and put a marker by a landmark that is common to most, if not all of your documents.
If you're working digitally and your student is familiar with presentation software like Google Slides or Powerpoint, you might try the approach I took:
1. Align all your images so north is the same direction on each slide
2. Use one of your pictures that's sized about right for the area you want to look at as the "base." Place small circles or other markers by at least 3 landmarks (road intersections, edge of a lake, etc).
3. Using the copy function, copy those 3 dots to all the other slides
4. Check the pictures on the other slides to make sure the "maintain aspect ratio" box is checked (usually under properties). Then, resize the picture until the landmarks are close to the dots
5. Finally, you can set the transition time to slowly change from one picture to the next every 15 seconds or so.
(That's a lot of work. Just orienting a couple of pictures and going back and forth between them should be fine for what we're trying to accomplish).
Resources: Rubrice, sample solution
Most of this lesson is the exericse review, but it ends with Exercise 28, a short exercise to nudge students to put all their historical research into the context of the partner's interests. Students can use existing empathy interview notes, or ask their partners a few questions to get the information they need about what historical information would most interest or be of value to their partners.
In Exercise 29, we return to slow looking, this time to appreciate a work of art related to our area. Your student may need some support finding artwork. I like to start with the Library of Congress's digital collections (loc.gov), but your town, city or county website or physical buildings may have something relevant, as may any museums in the area.
Resources: rubric, sample solution
In Exercise 30, we return to one of the works your student considered for Exercise 29, this time being deliberate in considering the elements of art and how the artist uses them to tell a story.
If your student is having difficulty, ask them to start by picturing how this work would be different if the artist had done something completely opposite. For example, bright colors instead of muted, or thick lines instead of thin, or shapeless blobs rather than clearly defined shapes.
Resources: rubric, sample solution
Exercise 31 finishes with observing texture, symbolism and composition in the work of art considered in Exercise 30, then shifts to taking these ideas and drafting a Storyteller's prototype navigational aid.
If you student has already done their Explorer's prototype, you might encourage them to let go of any need for spatial accuracy as they draft their Storyteller's prototype. We'll work on combining these ideas in our final navigational aid.
Resources: Rubric, sample solution
In Exercise 32, students put together what they have learned about the story of their place in drafting their Storyteller's prototype and testing it with their partner. Encourage creativity here - it's ok if this version isn't spatially accurate or complete in its representation of the space.
•Geometry and Location•Polar Coordinates•Using Geometry to Plot Landmarks•Landmarks and Triangulation•Applying Scale•Ups and Downs•Additional Considerations
If your student hasn't completed Thinking Like an Explorer yet, I recommend watching the video resource in Lesson 38 for my thoughts on how to use the multiple choice quiz.
In Exercise 33, students review their notes from their exercises and prototypes and integrate their best ideas into a final design. If you're the treasure hunter, it's ok to take a break during this lesson and exprience their work in the final treasure hunt.
This lesson is your student's chance to test their final design - navigational aid, method of communicating about navigation, and experience of the treasure hunt. Have fun!
This is an opportunity to pull together all the exercises and prototypes and think about what students have learned during this course. How might the multi-disciplinary approach, or the design process, or thinking about communicating deliberately with others be applicable to problem-solving in our lives?
We're finally there! Take a moment to look at your student's work and hear how they have learned during this course. You might find this portfolio useful if your student is applying for a job or a program that requires showing learning, working with others, planning, or handling responsibility.