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Exploration Journal

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Keywords: Picture editing, journals, social studies, writing,
Subject(s): Geography, Technology, Social Studies, Photography, Art, Writing, English/Language Arts
Grades 4 through 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Highland Rim Elementary School, Fayetteville, TN
Planned By: Karen Watt
Original Author: Karen Watt, Fayetteville
Unit Overview
Unit Title Exploration Diary
NOTE: This lesson format would not allow me to insert pictures that I used as hooks at the beginning of the lessons.

Unit Summary In this unit, students will use Pixlr photo editing website to create a picture of themselves exploring a geographic area. The students will choose a geographical area from a list of covered areas, research the area, find pictures of the area and photoshop themselves into the picture as if they actually visited or explored the region. They will create a diary of their explorations and present the diary given the 5 major parts of geography. The diary will be in first person.

7.3 Identify the physical location and features and the climate of the Arabian Peninsula, its
relationship to surrounding bodies of land and water, including Northern Africa, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Nile River. (G)
7.19 Create a visual or multimedia display to identify the physical location and major
geographical features of China including the Yangtze River, Yellow River, Himalayas, Plateau of Tibet, and the Gobi Desert. (G)
7.32 Identify the physical location and features of Europe including the Alps, the Ural
Mountains, the North European Plain, and the Mediterranean Sea and the influence of the
North Atlantic Drift. (G)
7.64 Identify the locations of the Olmecs, Mayans, Aztec, and Incas and explain the impact of
the geographical features and climates of Mexico, Central America, and South America on their
civilizations. (C, E, G, H, P)

Technology – NETS for Students:
3. Research and information fluency
Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate,
and use information.
a. Plan strategies to guide inquiry
b. Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize,
and ethically use information from a variety of
sources and media
c. Evaluate and select information sources and
digital tools based on the appropriateness to
specific tasks
d. Process data and report results
Media and Materials
Computer, internet access, digital camera, card reader, productivity software, printer.
Higher Order Thinking Skills
Bloom’s Taxonomy
Knowledge: Student will describe the geography of the region they choose. – Use research online to describe the geography.
Comprehension: Students will compare the region they choose to Tennessee through our class blog.
Application: Students will create a photograph of themselves exploring this region (using Pixlr).
Analysis: Students will research the region, collect data and information and create an outline to be used in the diary phase of this project. Students will use the internet to research and productivity software to create the outline.
Evaluation and Synthesis: Students will appraise the region by documenting an exploration diary in first person as if they were actually in the region. The students will address the 5 major themes in geography, each as a different diary entry. Using productivity software, the students will create this diary and insert pictures as necessary (including the one of themselves) to complete the portrayal of exploration and adventure.

Learning Objectives – Lesson #1
The student will be able to:
Find an area of interest from the list of approved sites. These sites will be covered sometime within the 7th grade curriculum.
Research location and share at least 3 characteristics today.
Collect a picture that represents that area and the geographical makeup of that region.

Lesson # 1
Teaching Procedures
Anticipatory Set:
Use visual & story of young girl who convinced her family that she traveled to South East Asia but really just stayed in her apartment and used photoshop to create her memories. Set up the project and the criteria for the project. (Find the photo online)

Objective 1:
Research geographical regions using the internet and textbook. Choose 1 geographical region to explore and find 3 facts about that region.
Regions to Choose From: (write on board) These are broad areas so any area within these regions are acceptable.
Arabian Pennisula
Central America
Objective 2:
Research pictures and images of that geographical area and choose one picture to be the background of your exploration.
Discussion of new understandings through the research today. Did anyone find something interesting? Is it important to understand the region of an area to understand the decisions that impact history that come from that area?
Evaluation/Assessment (Include both Formal and Informal)
Objective 1: Using Edublogs, respond to the Exploration Destination question with where are you exploring and the 3 facts that you found in your research today.

Objective 2: Upload the picture to the Edmodo assignment labeled Picture Phase #1 and explain why that picture represents your area. Save picture to flash drive too.

Learning Objectives – Lesson #2
The student will be able to:
Create an outline in Microsoft Word of the region based on the five major themes of geography.
1. Relationships
2. Place
3. Human-Environment Interaction
4. Movement
5. Region
Lesson # 2
Teaching Procedures
Anticipatory Set & Objective #1:
Students understand the 5 themes of geography.
View http://prezi.com/kqq67dcl7446/5-themes-of-geography/ for a more in depth understanding of the 5 major themes.

Objective #2:
Students may use the outline template provided for them on Edmodo or may create their own outline using Microsoft Word’s outline feature.
Outline template attached.
Is Tennessee better than the region you chose as a place to live? Why?

Evaluation/Assessment (Include both Formal and Informal)
Objective 1: Using Edublogs, respond to the Compare us to them question. Compare your region to the region we live in (Tennessee).

Objective 2: Upload the outline to Edmodo’s assignment, Geographical Outline.

Learning Objectives – Lesson #3
The student will be able to:
Use Pixlr to create an edited version of their background picture to include themselves exploring their region.
Lesson # 3
Teaching Procedures
Anticipatory Set:
Revisit our friend who traveled to South East Asia via photoshop. She documented highlights of her trip by photoshopping herself into key areas of the South East Asia. Did she have to be familiar with the are in order to pull off this hoax? (Find another picture of this girl's adventure)

Objective 1:
Determine appropriate pose for your shot. Sit on a stool, lean up against wall or just stand in front of the wall. The idea is to make you look natural in the background shot so position yourself so that you will look like you belong there. Keep in mind to take your picture with as little going on in the background as possible. This will make it easier to remove you from the picture and add you to the background. Use the digital camera (and a friend) to take the shot. Upload the picture to your computer and save to your flash drive.

Objective 2:
Use this podcast as a tutorial for creating your edited picture.
The podcast ends as we are saving the picture. Be sure to include your name and your destination in the file name and save it to your computer.
Modifications: Special Needs students are to use computers along the wall that have a mouse and keyboard. Their coordination skills are lacking so the mouse will allow for better control during picture editing.
After looking at the picture, do you feel more connected with the region? Could you convince someone that you actually went there?
Evaluation/Assessment (Include both Formal and Informal)
Objective 1: The picture itself will be the assessment.

Objective 2: Upload the picture to the Edmodo assignment labeled Final Picture.

Learning Objectives – Lesson #4
The student will be able to:
Using the research, the outline and the edited picture, students will create a diary of their explorations. In first person, the students will appraise the geographical regions of the area they chose and present their findings based on the 5 themes of geography.
Lesson # 4
Teaching Procedures
Anticipatory Set:
Continue our discussion of young lady that “traveled” to South East Asia. This time we discuss what her conversations looked like to her family. What did she talk about? How did she fake that? Using the picture of my son at the old ruins of a Russian Barracks, we will discuss the picture. What was he doing there? The picture of my son is from the pixlr podcast.

Objective 1:
Create a diary of your adventures throughout your region. Each page of the diary should contain at least 2 paragraphs that you write in first person about each of the 5 themes of geography. (use your outline) The title of the diary should include the region you visited, the edited picture and a time frame. (if you visited ancient Mesopotamia you should include that time frame).

Think of these as blog posts like the young woman. Use this as your way of validating your “trip.”
Exploration Diary Template attached.
Modifications: Special Ed students are to complete this project with aid. Only one paragraph is necessary.
After posting your diary, would you be willing to travel there? Could you convince your family to take a trip to that region?
Evaluation/Assessment (Include both Formal and Informal)
Objective 1: Upload the diary Edmodo under the Exploration Diary Assignment.

Materials: Flash/USB Drives, Short Throw Projectors, Point and Shoot, Mobile Labs, Word Processor
Other Items: 15 SanDisk Cruzer 8GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive,, $6.99 each, total of $104.85
30 HP - 14" Chromebook - Intel Celeron - 2GB Memory - 16GB Solid State Drive, $299.00 each, total of $8970.00
5 Canon PowerShot SX500 IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera , $240.00 each, total of $1200.00