National Council for Geographic Education

Top Ten Ideas for Teaching APHG to Ninth Graders

Top Ten Ideas on how to cover three units in time for the AP Exam
By Sharon Shelerud

Wow!!! This has certainly been a strange and challenging year with all of the missed school days due to weather. To make things even more challenging the AP Exam is Tuesday May 13th, rather than the last Friday of the testing period, as it has been for many years. I would imagine many of you are getting a little anxious. The best thing to do - STAY CALM!

In this column, I am offering suggestions on the top ideas/concepts to be sure to cover in your classes with your limited time. I do have a huge disclaimer though. I do not have any idea what will be on this year's AP Exam. I do believe though, if your students have a solid understanding of these ideas and concepts they should be able to use their geographic knowledge and logic to successfully answer Exam questions.

1. In your agriculture unit be sure to cover the three Agricultural Revolutions, their hearths, diffusion routes and effects on population and economic development.

2. Review types of agricultural practices and where they are dominate, the role of women, and the relationship to climatic regions.

3. Review the agricultural impact on the landscape during different time periods. Be sure to include current agricultural practices such as agribusiness, commodity chains, vertical integrations and sustainable agriculture.

4. During your economic unit, make sure to stress the hearth and diffusion of the Industrial Revolution. Make some connections between that and Wallerstein's Theory and Rostow's Economic Growth Model.

5. Focus on economic models students must understand: Bid - Rent, Weber's Least Cost, Hoettling, Loesch, Christaller's Central Place Theory and the five Economic Activity levels.

6. Spend some time on the effects of industrialization an de-industrialization on per capita GDP, human development indicators and UN HDI Index rankings, the role of women, demographics of a region and migration patterns.

7. Make sure students are comfortable with the following terms and can use them to explain current economic patterns at a national and global scale: globalization; trade alliances; outsourcing; international division of labor; special economic zones and maquiladoras.

8. Models, models, models will dominate urban geography. Students should know the three main North American urban models, the new Galactic Model, world urban models such as Latin American, European, African, Southeast Asian and John Borchert's epochs of urbanization.

9. When looking the landscape of a city, students need to be able to explain infrastructure patterns, the location of types of buildings, economic activities, and socioeconomic groupings.

10. During your final units, be sure to connect to any and all relevant concepts and ideas from past units. Make sure to address the concept of sustainability. To help keep you focused, review the College Board AP Human Geography outline.

Good luck to all of your students on the AP Exam.
Please send all comment, questions and /or suggestions for future column topics to