5 Themes of Geography - in the Adirondacks
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Grade: 9th Grade
Class: Global Studies
Author: Karen Gavigan
Utica Schools
NYS Content Area Standard:
Social Studies:
NYS Interdisciplinary Standard:
English Language Arts:
Standard 1: Language for Information and Understanding
Adirondack Curriculum Content Area:
Human HistoryNatural History
Keywords: geography
The Challenge:
Investigative Question or Issue: What features of the Adirondacks apply to the 5 Themes of Geography?

This challenge originally created by P. Destito, K. Gavigan & K. Gradel.

The challenge authors recommend the following web sites for teacher use:

For more information about the themes see "The Five Themes of Geography" website by Lisa Keys-Mathews 

The following website contains additional ideas for products for students

VTS resource is

The Challenge:

In teams, each group will create a product around one of the assigned themes of geography.  These themes are location, place, human-environment interaction, region and movement.

Teacher directions:

1.  Using a variety of pictures, images, maps, etc. discuss the themes of geography with the students.

2. Drawing from a variety of sources, display images that can apply to the 5 themes and have the students decide which theme is being addressed.

3.  Break students into small groups (need 5 groups), assign each group  a theme of geography.  Each group must decide (or teacher may assign) individual roles for each member with 100% involvement.  Examples include; scribe, presenter, time manager, quality control, art director, etc.

4.  As a group, the students must prepare some product (i.e. poster, diorama, etc.) about the Adirondacks, illustrating their assigned theme . They will need to present and explain to the class, their product.

5.  Optional- Can use one or more image for a Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) session.  In this session, the facilitator (you or a student) will initiate the discussion with the approved VTS questioning method.  This could be concluded with an essay, if desired.

Student Handout

Produced at the 2008 Adirondack Geography Institute and revised by the ACP.

Quality Standards:
  • Product clearly illustrates the assigned theme with at least three examples related to the Adirondacks (drawings, pictures, etc.) with captions explaining the relevance to the theme.
  • Product must contain a title, captions, team member names, and keys if applicable.
  • Presentations must include introduction of team, explanation of product, and question and answer session.
  • VTS session, if used, will be evaluated based on specifications of the individual conducting the session
Product Quality Checklist
Print This Checklist
Standard/Criteria: Points Possible: Points Awarded:

 Product contains title, captions, team member names, key if applicable


Specific Geography theme is communicated clearly:

  • Location- 3 examples including relative location and absolute location examples
  • Place- 3 examples including human characteristics and physical characteristic examples
  • Human-Environment Interaction- 3 examples including human adaptation, human modification and human dependance examples
  • Movement- 3 examples including people, goods, and idea examples
  • Regions- 3 examples including formal, functional and vernacular examples


Presentation introduces members, clarifies their assigned theme, and answers questions in an appropriate manner


Individuals will be evaluated on their performance of their role within the group, as observed by the instructor during the task


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