Geography Awareness Week November 12-18, 2017

Geography Awareness Week is back and, as always, it is the third week in November. This year’s theme is the geography of civil rights movements. The Alabama
Geographic Alliance would like to invite you to check out some maps and links to educational sites about this important topic.

1949 Segregation
Click to view source website

This first map shows which states were segregated and in what areas. It was published in 1949 for general information purposes. It was used at the time by people of color to know which states should be avoided.

Educational Segregation
Click to view source website



This map shows the segregation in schools before the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional.

Key Moments in the Struggle for Civil Rights for African Americans

The map above lists important historical events, locations, and population statistics related to the civil rights movement.

National Geographic has many interesting articles and lessons about civil rights. Click here for more.

Wednesday, November 15, is GIS day!
View GIS day resources here

The Kansas Geographic Alliance has a website dedicated to Geography Awareness week. Make sure to check out their site.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963
Story Map exploring population, routing & change over time

The National Parks Service has made an interactive map of historic civil rights movement locations. Click here to check it out.

Human Rights Quarterly published a paper on using geography in human rights work.

Rights and Place: Using Geography in Human Rights Work
by: Jean Connolly Carmalt

While some articles are written so that younger students can read them, when it comes to a subject like the civil rights movement, the truth is that sometimes it is a emotional and difficult thing to learn. The following articles show that the quest for civil rights is not over.

Statistics on human rights

A map of hate groups that still exist in the U.S.

This last link shows the flow of migration around the world. It is important to realize that our planet, and our nation, is full of diverse cultures and people. We should build on the success of the civil rights movement, and secure civil rights for our new neighbors and fellow citizens. Click here to view the map

If you have any Geography Awareness Week stories to share, or if you would like us to add some resources, feel free to contact us.

Contact us






GTM of the PacificThe Alabama Geographic Alliance is scheduled to have the Giant Traveling Map of The Pacific Ocean from September 30 through November 22, 2016. Our goal is to move this map all across the state!  The key is to create a GTM Trail that goes from teacher to teacher. Therefore, you are invited to request the use of the map at your school at no cost for rental.  Each teacher who receives the map will be responsible for using the map, allowing others to teach with the map if they request, maintaining the security of the map, completing a survey when you are finished with it, and then transporting it to the next recipient using a pickup truck or large SUV.  The map is 26’ x 35’ so the floor space required is a gym, cafeteria, civic area, or other similarly sized space. A trunk of teaching materials comes with the map. There is no cost to you unless the map and accompanying materials are damaged.

Please let us know as quickly as possible if you would like to schedule the map for one to three days.  To reserve the map you must go to the following URL and fill out the form to make your request: (

Geography Awareness Discounts

  • Giant Traveling Maps: Anyone who completes a rental request form between Nov. 12-30 gets 10% off the two week rental rate. This means they can reserve a map now and get locked in at the $549 rate. Visit to complete a rental request.
  • National Geographic Bee: Any educator who registers a school with grades 4-8 between Nov. 12-30 can enter code GAW20 to get 20% off Nat Geo Bee registration. Registration will be $80 (including this discount and the early bird rate). Visit to register. Schools with financial need can request deeper discounts even after this date by completing a form at

McBride third-graders “Journey with Geography”

“Elementary school students go through a variety of stations designed to teach them about geography at Muscle Shoals High School where high school and college students host the National Geography Awareness Week event.”

See the full article here:

Check out the image gallery from the event:

Geo Kids At Forest Hills Elementary School

“Students in Megan Smith’s first-grade class at Forest Hills have learned a lot lately about the city’s landscape.

They’ve learned Trowbridge’s is a downtown diner and not a “troll bridge,” and Veterans Park has on display one of the coolest helicopters ever.

More importantly, they’ve learned how some of Florence’s most famous attractions have helped create the landscape of the city they call home.”

See the full article here:

Check out the image gallery from the event:

Bring the World to Your Classroom with the National Geographic Geography Bee

Join over 12,000 educators and empower your students to learn more about the world and how it works. The National Geographic Bee is an exciting competition for any fourth through eighth graders. The first 100 schools to enroll in the Bee receive free study resources.   The Bee motivates students to learn and study on their own.   As a 2014 state champion stated “My preparation for the bee has taught me good study habits which can be applied in all aspects of life.”


Register your school for $100. Visit us online at Registration vouchers are available. Please contact

 Please note Registration runs from Sept. 15 – Feb 6.

Contact Alabama GeoBee Coordinator Sharon Christman with any questions ( or 205-916-0481)


March 27th, 2015 State Bee Competition
May 11-13, 2015 National Geo Bee, Washington, D.C.


Social Studies Council of Alabama Conference

The Social Studies Council of Alabama will hold their annual conference on Monday, October 12th at Brooks Hall on Samford University’s campus. All social studies teachers in Alabama are encouraged to attend. 7 members of The Alabama Geographic Alliance will be presenting throughout the day and a booth will be set up with information. From 1:00 to 3:00, the Alliance will host a Mini-GeoFest. Mr. Juan Valdes, from National Geographic, along with Dr. Bill Strong, UNA, and other members of the AGA will present during this event. There will be goodie bags and a lot of fun so be sure to attend!


Juan José Valdés photographed at NGS HQ
Juan José Valdés photographed at NGS HQ

Juan José Valdés

The Geographer/Director of Editorial and Cartographic Research

National Geographic Society

Juan José Valdés is The Geographer and Director of Editorial and Cartographic Research of the National Geographic Society. He guides and assists the Map Policy Committee in setting border representations, disputed territories, and naming conventions for National Geographic. As Director of Editorial and Cartographic Research, he is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and consistency of its maps and map products. Now approaching forty years of service, he has worked in one capacity or another on every type of map produced by the Society. These include its map supplements, globes, page maps, dynamic mapping platforms, and five editions of National Geographic’s renowned Atlas of the World.

In addition to these duties, he serves as a liaison between the Society’s cartographic and educational branches, frequently lecturing to primary, secondary, and college level students on the significance of geography and cartography in today’s world.

He is also a National Geographic Expert who shares his insights and behind-the-scenes perspective to those he accompanies on National Geographic Expeditions trips to Cuba.

Creating a New Perspective on Geography at the Alabama Leadership Institute

GLI 2015 Participants
GLI 2015 Participants

By Megan A. Smith
Forest Hills Elementary, Florence City Schools, Alabama Geographic Alliance

University of North Alabama professors Dr. Lisa Keys-Mathews and Dr. Bill Strong have been busy the last several months preparing to host ten states at the Geo-Literacy Leadership Institute at the university’s campus. The leadership institute consisted of professionals in the fields of education, geography, and geo-spatial technologies from the following states: Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

From June 22-27, the participants of the leadership institute learned about communication, advocacy, and leadership in order to promote geographic literacy in their states and nationally. Various presenters, including Roni Jones from National Geographic, shared vital tips with attendees about how to give “elevator” speeches, write opinion/editorials, design public relations strategies, and develop talking points to advocate for geography education policy.

Louisiana participant Susan Keith shared, “The Alliance and Leadership Institute really opened my eyes to how broad geography is. Geography includes people, places, and how they relate to each other. You use geography in space programs, meteorology, routing school buses, railroads, trucking, urban planning, airlines, defense, and so much more. A world where people don’t know geography is too dangerous to live in.”

Texas participant Joe Ostrowski said, “The question I find most frequently asked is ‘Why do you care so passionately about geography?’ The question posed should actually be ‘Why don’t we care enough about geography?'”
Thanks to the hard work of the ACs coordinating this leadership institute, presentations and guest speakers left participants feeling empowered to speak out about the importance of geography education.