Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Geography: Workshop 3

North America

Part 1: Boston and Denver
Part 2: Chicago and San Antonio

Maps Key maps for the region covered by this workshop >
Interactives Interactive materials that take you further into this region and the issues under discussion >

Program Overview: North America

North America is an ethnically diverse and rapidly changing region. Looking at several urban examples, we will first examine how geography can be used as a tool to analyze the relationship between urban economic and demographic data. Later in the workshop, we will look at suburban sprawl around Chicago and how two teachers help their students identify implications of city growth in Philadelphia and San Antonio.

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Part 1. Boston and Denver: Mapping Urban Economic Development

Director-Nancy Caufield
Producer-Cambridge Studios, USA

In this program, we examine urban areas in terms of ethnic diversity and income. We first focus on Boston and its "empowerment zones," impoverished areas mapped by geographers as those areas most in need of government grants for economic re-development. Following the case study, we visit a Colorado classroom where AP human geography students use a low-tech version of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to investigate the distribution patterns of poverty in Denver.


  • Explain how maps and other graphic representations are used to understand patterns of human activity in urban regions.
  • Identify the ways in which communities reflect the cultural background of their inhabitants.
  • Identify how students can use geographic skills to interpret patterns of distribution in urban regions.

Part 2. Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Antonio: U.S. City Development

Director-Nancy Caufield
Producer-Cambridge Studios, USA

This workshop examines suburban sprawl and its implications. First, we look at Chicago and the trend toward movement away from the city and into the surrounding farmlands. Following the case study, Philadelphia students examine that city's growth over the past 300 years, and another class in San Antonio uses census data to investigate the future of their city's expansion.


  • Explain the impact of transportation systems on the growth of American urban centers.
  • Identify issues associated with resources needed by urban regions, suburban centers, and rural farming.
  • Explain how teachers can use familiar urban landmarks to teach students complex geographic concepts and principles.


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