June 14, 2006

Educators devise novel way to teach geography

by K.C. Jaehnig

 CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Instructor Frances "Francie" K. Shafer and lecturers Louise Stearns and Joseph S. Kallo of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's College of Education and Human Resources have come up with a new way to teach geography to elementary and middle school students that uses Beanie Babies and digital cameras.

Student teams tote Beanie Baby dogs to different sites, photograph them there, then calculate latitude, longitude and travel distance for each place, competing to see who traveled furthest.

An account of the project, titled "The Tales of the Dogs: Integrating Geography and Technology," appears in the May/June 2006 issue of Social Education, the premier journal of the National Council for the Social Studies. Published seven times each year, the journal contains articles dealing with both classroom theory and practical techniques. The council is the country's largest association dealing with social studies education.

All three authors teach in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Shafer and Stearns, both two-degree graduates of SIUC, now are doctoral students in that department. Kallo earned his undergraduate degree in 1995 from the University of Alabama Huntsville, his master's in 1998 from Texas A&M and his doctorate in 2004 from SIUC.

Celebrating faculty excellence is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.