National Council for Geographic Education

Top 10 Ideas for Teaching APHG to Ninth Graders

Top Ten Resources for additions to the AP HuG Syllabus- Part 2
by  Sharon Shelerud

This column is dedicated to the units of Agriculture, Economics, Development and Urban Geography. I have selected two or three of the concepts added to each unit (starting in 2014-2015) and provided a resource for you and/or your students to use to explore these concepts. This is simply a starting point. I would encourage everyone to continue to share the useful resources you find with each other. Most of these resources were shared on the AP Reader Facebook® page.

Unit 5: Agriculture, Food Production and Rural Land Use

1. Students need to understand and identify agricultural types and the settlement patterns associated with each (subsistence, cash cropping, plantation, mixed farming, etc.). This site provides the best visuals for showing the different types of farming: - (Human Geography in Action, 5th Edition [1] – student companion sites – Browse Resources – 8.1 Agricultural Landscapes).

2. “Food Production” is a new addition to this unit. Here is a game from National Geographic Education [2] that students can play to get them thinking about food production: 

3. Fair Trade has also been added to the syllabus. Students can read about fair trade and some real world examples here: [3]

4. This article from the LA Times [4] shows the dark side of large-scale commercial farming in Mexico. It could be used to show the role of women and children in agriculture too.

5. A good food atlas is essential. Here is one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture [5] :

Unit 6. Industrialization and Economic Development

6. Rostow and Wallerstein have been specifically listed in the new syllabus. Most textbooks mention these two models, but do not go into enough depths for students to really understand them. Here are two resources that will be help students better understand these very important theories.

i. This site does a nice job of giving a more in depth explanation of Rostow’s Theory: [6] . And here is a diagram.

ii. Here is a diagram showing Wallenstein’s World Systems Theory Model.

7. When companies shift manufacturing to newly industrialized countries, it can bring challenges as well as opportunities. Students can list the opportunities, but often don’t know what types of challenges there will be. To start a discussion on this I would suggest you have students read this article from USA Today [7] about Argentine’s economy:

The CIA World Fact Book [8] would be very helpful in having students look up and better understand GDP, GDP per capita, and HDI, access to health care, education, utilities and sanitation.

Unit 7: Cities and Urban Land Use

8. You should teach Borchert’s epochs of urban transportation development. Here is a link to his article from the Geographical Review [9]:

I have students read this article and then the next day we discuss each of the epochs and create a chart showing the main elements of each epoch. When they get the article, they are overwhelmed by it, but after a day of two discussing it in class they understand it very well. Here is a site I just found that will help to reinforce his work: [10]

9. You should discuss problems with urban sprawl. This article from The Atlantic will lead to an interesting discussion that will also bring in economic and demographic issues: [11]

10. The issue of segregation and housing is a major issue today. This web site will help students understand how “easy” it is to segregate. This game will be an excellent lead in to a class discussion on related issues: [12]

These are but a few resources to help you teach some of the new concepts in the AP Human Geography Syllabus. As always, as you find resources, please share with others. The only way we can be great teachers is by working together.

This is my last new column. Thank you to everyone who has shared resources. Thank you again to NCGE for this opportunity and to all of you who have found this column useful.

My best to all of you.

[1]M. Kuby, John Harner & Patrica Gober. Human Geography in Action, 5th Edition (Wiley, 2010)
[2] “Planet Food: Explore the World Through Food,” National Geographic Education,
[3] Fair Trade Federation Official Website,
[4] Richard Morosi, “Desparate Workers on a Mexican mega-farm: ‘They treated us like slaves’,” Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2014,
[5] USDA, “Food and Agriculture Atlas,” Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014.
[6] Supriya Guru, “Rostow’s Five Stages of Growth – Explained!” no date.
[7] Alan Gomez, “Argentina’s economic woes prompt exodus to USA, USA Today, November 30, 2014,
[8] “The World Fact Book, “ Central Intelligence Agency, Last updated August 15, 2014.
[9] John Borchert, “American Metropolitan Evolution,” Geographical Review, (57:3) 1967, pp. 301- 32. Retrieved from University of Oregon course database,
[10] Michael Graham Richard, “How fast could you travel across the U.S. in the 1800s?, Mother Nature Network, December 26, 2012,
[11] Alana Semuels, “The Unfinished Suburbs of America,” The Atlantic, November 14, 2014, 

[12] Vi Hart and Nickey Case, “The Parable of the Polygons,”