Monday, July 10 – Friday, July 14, 2017; 8:30am – 3:00pm
Arbor School of Arts & Sciences in Tualatin, Oregon
Cost: $225.00
Space is limited to the first 20 teachers who register.
Licensed teachers can receive 30 PDU’s for the seminar.


  • As educators, how can we better help our students become global citizens? 
  • How can we cultivate for our students a deep connection to place? 
  • How can we help students better understand the connection between environmental and human systems? 
  • What are some best practices in developing thematic, multidisciplinary, hands-on learning experiences in a K-8 setting? 
  • Why is studying geography important? 

These are some of the questions we will address in a weeklong Seminar that delves into how geography-oriented thematic curriculum can help inspire curiosity, creativity, academic rigor, and overall well-being among students. Exploring the themes of Environments and Journeys to bring academic content to life, we will focus on integrating geography and mapping in every classroom in a way that builds connections across disciplines. 

Participants will:

  • Gain strategies for directly teaching mapping skills and leading discussions of environmental science concepts.
  • Compare and debate the merits of different world map projections.
  • Explore the wide array of math concepts and skills that can be called on in geography studies and draw specific connections to the Common Core State Standards.
  • Do hands-on field work that you can then teach to your students.
  • Integrate literacy components within a variety of content areas, including close-reading and writing of nonfiction.
  • Practice nature journaling strategies that give a sense of place and connect students to the environment.
  • Develop or enhance a specific lesson series that uses geography, mapping, and thematic curriculum to give greater relevance and endurance to the important ideas and skills you teach in your own school setting.
  • Receive a free copy of either Arbor's Environments or Journeys curricular guide with Common Core alignment analysis.

To learn more about thematic geography education at Arbor School, watch this short video made by Oregon State Geographer Cy Smith.

Testimonials from Arbor's 2015 Geography Seminar

"Laurel and Azure were wonderful facilitators - they taught in a style that was collaborative , creative, hands-on, resource-rich, and very well thought-out. They left room for rich conversations and were incredibly generous with their offering to us. Thank you!"

"The seminar has helped me think of ways to incorporate mapping/geography over the whole course of the school year. I appreciated having time to collaborate ideas and write plans while the information is fresh in my mind."

"I'm now thinking about maps as a way to show understanding in a whole realm of content areas. I've been able to rethink some of the ways that I teach mapping and reading map skills."

"I've loved how this seminar has opened my mind to thinking about the intersection of culture and geography. The concepts of "finding a story in a map" and "mapping a story" are two that will be brought into my first grade classroom. This seminar has ignited my love for anthropology and has inspired me to craft a "random autobiography" poem, mapping my journey."

"I've loved:

  • connecting and sharing with a wide diversity of teachers
  • having hands-on experiences grappling with the mathematics of maps
  • ample time spent outdoors nature journalling contemplatively 
  • playing with "memory maps" and other narrative maps.
  • gaining  new ideas for bringing math concepts into our project work through maps."

"The energy and pacing around the class this week was very comfortable and created a great environment for learning. It didn't feel like too much was being crammed in and yet we did a lot! Both teachers are clearly "masters" in their field and are very approachable and open to student input."

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"Through this idea of asking an essential question and thinking about why we should study a certain topic I will be able to more clearly identify which skills I want my students to practice and what activities will give them the opportunity to demonstrate this. I really learned a lot about all the ways one can make maps."

"I'm excited to teach through the lens of geography. Prior to this course, I was not able to come up with a creative way to teach about maps and geography. Now I'm armed with the ability to teach about maps and geography through a thematic curriculum that will help 'connect the dots' in science and social studies."

"I loved coming here every day. The campus is beautiful. Laurel and Azure were so energetic and positive, so inspiring. They were very helpful when we were working on our projects."