National Council for Geographic Education

Ninth graders and AP® Human Geography Top Ten List

Teaching Economic Geography to Ninth Graders

By Sharon Shelerud

 The first column deals with what I have found to be the top ten most effective ways to help students understand Economic Geography.  The order is not hierarchical, as I change strategies each year to fit the students’ needs.  However, I make sure I do these ten things every year, and have found they are helpful to my students.

1. Teach the Industrial Revolution. Get a short, but complete reading on it and spend about a day- a day and half discussing where it began, how it diffused, and how it is connected to agriculture, population, urban and development issue/topics. I have found many of my ninth graders have learned very little about the Industrial Revolution.

2. Teach how different modes of transportation affected the economic development in the United States. Have maps of the canal system and cities along the route, the railroad system and highway system.  Show students how cities grew, prospered and declined as transportation changed.

3. Show the students where the Rust Belt and Sun Belt are.  Talk about why there is a population movement to the Sun Belt, and away from the Rust Belt.

4. Many students don’t know what an industrial factory or a Rust Belt city looks like. I show them the music video of Billy Joel’s “Allentown”, just so they can get idea of the types of industries that left many of the Rust Belt cities.  I then talk about Deindustrialization.

5. Chart and map today’s world industrial regions.  The Rubenstein book is great for this exercise.  Then ask students why some of these regions are more prosperous than others.  Tie answers back to the DTM, Wallerstein and Rostow.  This is also helpful when talking about Globalization and Outsourcing.

6. For Weber’s Least Cost Theory, give students a sheet of paper with six triangles drawn on it. Give students scenarios and have them place the factory on each triangle.  I start with a scenario that is really simple and then build up to more difficult ones. Usually by the 4th triangle most students understand Weber’s Theory.  If students are ready, you can have them create the last one or two scenarios for each other to plot.

7. If you have not done so already, be sure to give students FRQ’s. I will put one in on a random day to make sure they are taking notes on the text and as a review of past learning.  Have students score each other’s.  I have two students score each FRQ and then talk to each to ensure they are both scoring the same way.

8. Give ON Quizzes (open note) to make sure they are still taking notes.  Many ninth graders get lazy or cocky this time of year. ON Quizzes keep them focused.

9. Play geography Cranium with vocabulary terms.  I play maybe once a week for 20 minutes or so.  They LOVE it!!!

10. Have students choose 5 – 6 words from 2 – 3 past units and show how they are related to the terms/concepts in the Economic chapter. Students need to practice seeing how everything is connected to each other.  This helps them realize this is not a memorization class, but an understanding of the concepts class.

I hope you find this top ten list helpful.  Next time the topic will be The Top Ten Ways to Help Ninth graders prepare for the AP Exam on May 18th.