The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

College maps out plans for conference of state geography teachers

By Sidney Ainkorn

The fourth GEOFEST event to be held at Macalester comes to campus on Saturday, Oct. 24. The GEOFEST conference is sponsored by the Minnesota Alliance for Geographic Education or MAGE, an organization based here at Macalester. The purpose of the conference is to bring together geography teachers, pre-service teachers and students planning on going into teaching, to exchange ideas and learn new techniques, strategies, and applications for teaching geography.The daylong conference will feature a slate of workshops and presentations, some tailored to certain grade levels, others universally applicable. The sessions cover a wide range of themes, from incorporating literacy into geography to using web maps in the classroom, and with two session times in the morning and two more in the afternoon, attendees will have plenty of opportunities to participate in the session of their choice, from the Middle School Roundtable to the Rock & Roll of Cultural Diffusion. Presenters include middle and high school teachers and representatives from geography software developer ESRI and the National Council of Jewish Women. The keynote speaker is Congressman Tim Walz, a second term representative from Minnesota’s First Congressional District and a former geography teacher. Pre-service teachers attending GEOFEST will be able to attend a special strand of sessions directed towards them and the experienced teachers can receive Continuing Education Units for attending.

Professor David Lanegran, chair of the Macalester geography department and the coordinator of MAGE, explains that there is expanding demand for geography teachers because of Minnesota’s Academic Standards, which require students to take a certain number of social studies credits, which includes subjects such as citizenship, economics, and geography. Lanegran said teachers that are “historians by training” are called upon to teach these other social studies subjects such as economics and geography. Lanegran describes MAGE as a “teacher controlled organization,” where teachers can cooperate with each other, share materials, and “develop curriculum to help teachers meet standards.”

“It’s like a big swap meet,” Lanegran said.

Students are welcome at this particular swap meet. Most of the ACTC students attending the conference will come from Hamline, Augsburg and St. Thomas, schools with more complete teacher accreditation programs than Macalester offers. Still, as Macalester’s own geography department continues to host GEOFEST, as it has for the past three years, more Macalester students may take an interest.

“It’s one of the main connections between Macalester and the K-12 community,” Lanegran said. It is connection that he would like to see grow. “I wish more Mac students were interested in becoming teachers,” Lanegran said. “You can tell a graduate of a liberal arts college in a high school . they bring to teaching a kind of zeal.

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