An Immersive Geography Learning Experience

Grafflin Elementary School’s third graders led members of the Board of Education and District administration team in an immersive geography learning experience at the November 15, 2023 Board of Education meeting. Students took on the role of “space explorer'' with a mission to navigate to a safe landing location from outer space. The presentation aligns with the District’s strategic goal of rethinking traditional curriculum and utilizes the TCI social studies program.

“As educators, we are continually evaluating our programs to ensure that they support and facilitate student growth and development,” Grafflin Principal Debbie Alspach shared. “We are excited to demonstrate how our Third Grade Social Studies curriculum contributes to this important strategic goal.”

In their classrooms, students have access to cartographer carts funded by a Chappaqua School Foundation traditional grant, which are equipped with resources like student atlases, desk maps, relief maps, and activity globes. All of these surfaces are writable, allowing students to annotate and manipulate materials during the lesson. In introducing the inquiry lesson, Mrs. Cardinale took on the role of mission control, directing the student space explorers: “Come in space shuttle, come in space shuttle. You’re going to have to make an emergency landing on your own. You’ll have to find a safe location to land.” Students then worked in pairs, using Google Earth on their iPads to decide on a safe landing path. They annotated their location by drawing on their globes and selected a continent to land safely. (continued below)

In class, students learned about geography, how we interact with geographical surroundings, and use resources. This lesson builds students’ geography skills, reinforces geographic concepts, strengthens their understanding of vocabulary like latitude, longitude, landforms, and regions, and helps build global citizens. Mrs. Cardinale explained, “These skills serve as the foundation for nurturing global citizens who are not only well-informed but also curious and deeply engaged with the world they live in. We trust that these resources will empower our students to become more knowledgeable and globally aware individuals.”

After the presentation, the Board discussed the learning and experience with students. The students explained that it is fun to work with friends and to find places that are fun and safe. They shared that using the manipulatives and technology together helps them to make decisions about their plans and engage with the learning in different ways.

“Try to land somewhere new and learn,” a student shared. “It’s a big world and a beautiful world.” Thank you to Mrs. Cardinale and our Grafflin third grade students for sharing their learning with our #WeAreChappaqua community.