Title: Describing Places 202

Key Word: Region

National Standard 4 (Physical & Human Characteristics of a Place)

State Standard 11 (Physical and human geographic features of a place)

Teaching Level: Middle School
Introduction: The World, a country, state, or town can be seen through many lenses, each one highlighting different information. This lesson will develop the concept of regions: Physical and cultural.

Objective: Students will identify and analyze special purpose maps showing regions of their state or town.

Materials: Atlases with a variety of special purpose maps on regions. State maps showing regions. Outline map of New Hampshire and/or maps of local town available through the town office or in the New Hampshire gazetteer.

Procedure: Give students about three minutes to write a description of their state or town, without referring to any sources. Invite a few students to share what they have written. These descriptions represent a sample of existing knowledge and impressions. Save until later.

Begin exploring the concept of regions. If necessary, review the definition of region as an area united by a common feature or characteristic. Use questions like: What do you think of when you hear the words "Lakes Region"? What is your favorite region of New Hampshire?

Show a New Hampshire Highway map that identifies some of the various regions in New Hampshire (Lakes Region, Merrimack Valley Region, White Mts. Region...). Ask students to think of other kinds of regions; for example, The North Country, the coastal region, an urban area.

Challenge students to think of other ways a region can be defined: The Polish section of a city, Chinatown, the poor part of town, gang territory, the rich part of town, the central business district, and the industrial part of town.

Have students make a map that shows regions of the state or regions in their hometown. Encourage them to illustrate each region with the feature that defines it. The illustrations will no doubt represent facts as well as personal impressions.

Have students share their maps. Encourage dialogue among students about the regions they included.

Have students take a more critical look at the special purpose maps that define regions. Start with familiar ones: state maps showing regions, or maps of their hometown. Ask why the lines defining the boundaries cannot be considered exact. If they need help, ask them to picture themselves standing on one side of the line dividing two regions. Do they think that on one side of the line there is an arid climate, for example, and on the other it's semiarid? Or is there a transition zone where change occurs gradually and no real "line" exists?

Ask a student who made a hometown regions map to tell the class about the regions represented in it, and how you know you have gone from one region into another. This might bring out the idea that some regions are more clearly defined than others and that the transition zone may or may not be easy to locate.

Remind students at this point that as they take this critical look at regional maps, they are "doing geography" as well as practicing their critical thinking skills.

Draw Conclusions. Some examples are: You can identify many different regions in state, or town. Taking a closer look at a state or hometown through its regions can change your impressions or opinions of it. Special purpose maps helps you identify regions. There can be regions within regions.

Evaluation/Assessment: Write a response to this question: If you wanted to learn about a state or town, why would investigating its regions be a good starting point?

Extension/Enrichment: Make a world climate zone puzzle for your classmates to use. Write a series of questions to go with it. For example, In which climate zone do we live? Which is the most common climate in the world? What might it be like to live on the "line" that separates one climate zone from another?
Investigate the history of a local region to find out how it has changed over time, why it changed, and make a prediction about its future.

Reflections: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.

Thank you, The authors


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