Social Sciences Education


English Education Mathematics Education
Social Studies Education Science Education
Propel Home Page

What a Student Should Know and Do


People are central to geography in that human activities help shape Earth’s surface, human settlements and structures are part of Earth’s surface, and humans compete for control of Earth’s surface.l

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

Geography Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth’s surface

1. The demographic structure of a population

2. The reasons for spatial variations in population distribution

3. The types and historical patterns of human migration

4. The effects of migration on the characteristics of places

Therefore, the student is able to:

A. Describe the structure of different populations through the use of key demographic concepts, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Describe differences in the rate of population growth in developing and developed countries, using such concepts as rates of natural increase, crude birth-and death rates, and infant mortality
  2. Explain changes that occur in the structure (age and gender) of a population as it moves through the different stages of the demographic transition
  3. Use population pyramids to depict the population structure of different societies (e.g., the youthful populations in Kenya and Mexico, the older populations in Germany and Sweden)

B. Analyze the population characteristics of places to explain population patterns, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Create population pyramids for different countries and organize them into groups based on similarities of age characteristics
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of demographic concepts (e.g., birthrate, death rate, population growth rate, doubling time, life expectancy, average family size) and explain how population characteristics differ from country to country
  3. Use population statistics to create choropleth maps of different countries or regions and suggest reasons for the population patterns evident on the maps (e.g., population density in Madagascar, population growth rates in South Africa)

C. Explain migration streams over time, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Identify the causes and effects of migration streams (e.g., the movement of the Mongols across Asia and into Europe in the thirteenth century, Chinese workers to western North America in the second half of the nineteenth century)
  2. Identify and explain how physical and other barriers can impeded the flow of people and cite examples of ways in which people have overcome such barriers (e.g., the Berlin Wall, the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, the closed border between North and South Korea)
  3. Explain past and current patterns of rural-urban migration in the United States

D. Describe ways in which human migration influences the character of a place, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Use maps and pictures from different periods to illustrate changes in a place due to migration (e.g., New Delhi before and after the partition of the Indian subcontinent in the 1940s and the massive realignment of the Hindu and Muslim populations; Boston before and after the large-scale influx of Irish immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century)
  2. Explain how the movement of people can alter the character of a place (e.g., the impact of Indians settling in South Africa, Algerians settling in France, Vietnamese settling in the United States)
  3. Identify the ways in which human migration patterns are currently evident in urban service industries in the United States (e.g., the prevalence of immigrants among the ranks of taxi drivers, tailors, music teachers, restaurant workers)

Geography Standard 10: The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics

1. The spatial distribution of culture at different scales (local to global)

2. How to read elements of the landscape as a mirror of culture

3. The processes of cultural diffusion

Therefore, the student is able to:

A. Identify ways in which communities reflect the cultural background of their inhabitants, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Describe visible cultural elements in the student’s own local community or in another community (e.g., distinctive building styles, billboards in Spanish, foreign-language advertisements in newspapers)
  2. Explain the presence of ethnic enclaves in cities resulting from voluntary or forced migration (e.g., Philippine workers in Kuwait, Portuguese in Boston, Sikhs in Vancouver)
  3. Find evidence in the student’s own community or another community of immigration from different regions of the world (e.g., use telephone directories to find lists of surnames, ethnic restaurants, stores, social clubs)

B. Identify and describe the distinctive cultural landscapes associated with migrant populations, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Describe the landscape features and cultural patterns of Chinatowns in the Western world
  2. Describe the landscape features and cultural patterns of the European enclaves in Japan and China in the nineteenth century
  3. Explain the elements of landscape and culture that have been evident in the Little Italy sections of American cities from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present

C. Describe and explain the significance of patterns of cultural diffusion in the creation of Earth’s varied cultural mosaics, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Research and make a presentation on the worldwide use of the automobile in the twentieth century, and suggest the cultural significance of this technology
  2. Create a collage of pictures from at least four countries that illustrates a pattern of cultural diffusion (e.g., the use of terraced rice fields in China, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines; the use of satellite television dishes in the United States, England, Canada, and Saudi Arabia)
  3. Create a series of maps of the global use of the English language in the sixteenth, the eighteenth, and the twentieth centuries and relate this diffusion to political and economic changes in the same time periods

Geography Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth’s surface

1. Ways to classify economic activity

2. The basis for global interdependence

3. Reasons for the spatial patterns of economic activities

4. How changes in technology, transportation, and communication affect the location of economic activities

Therefore, the student is able to:

A. List and define the major terms used to describe economic activity in a geographic context, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Define and map three primary economic activities on a worldwide basis (e.g., coal mining, what growing, salmon fishing)
  2. Define and map three secondary economic activities (e.g., the manufacture of steel and the worldwide resource movements vital to such production, the manufacture of shoes and the associated worldwide trade in raw materials)
  3. Define tertiary economic activity and explain the ways it plays an essential role in settlements of almost every size (e.g., restaurants, theaters, and hotels; drugstores, hospitals, and doctors’ office)

B. Explain the spatial aspects of systems designed to deliver goods and services, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Diagram the movement of a product (e.g., a pencil, automobile, or computer) from manufacture to use
  2. Use data to list major United States imports and exports in a given year, map the locations of countries trading with the United States in those goods to identify trading patterns, and suggest reasons for those patterns
  3. Given different interruptions in world trade (e.g., war, crop failures owing to weather and other factors, labor strikes), estimate the impact of such interruptions on people in various parts of the world

C. Analyze and evaluate issues related to the spatial distribution of economic activities, as exemplified by being able to

  1. Identify the locations of economic activities in the student’s own community or another community and evaluate their impacts on surrounding areas
  2. Describe the effects of the gradual disappearance of small-scale retail facilities (e.g., corner general stores, gas stations)
  3. Analyze the economic and social impacts on a community when a large factory or other economic activity leaves and moves to another place (e.g., relocation of automobile manufacturing out of Michigan, textiles out of North Carolina, computer manufacturing into the Austin area in Texas)

D. Identify and explain the primary geographic causes for world trade, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Apply the theory of comparative advantage to explain why and how countries trade (e.g., trade advantages associated with Hong Kong-made consumer goods, Chinese textiles, Jamaican sugar)
  2. Identify and map international trade flows (e.g., coffee from Ethiopia and Columbia, bananas from Guatemala, automobiles from South Korea moving to Europe and North America)
  3. Suggest reasons and consequences for countries that export mostly raw materials and import mostly fuels and manufactured goods

E. Analyze historical and contemporary economic trade networks, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Map the triangular trade routes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that linked North America, Africa, and Europe and explain how the trade influenced the history of those continents
  2. Trace national and global patterns of migrant workers (e.g., the use of slaves, guest workers, seasonal migrant labor in the United States)
  3. Use data to analyze economic relationships under imperialism (e.g., American colonies and England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Belgium and the Congo in the twentieth century)

F. Identify and explain the factors influencing industrial location in the United States, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Map and explain the historical rise and persistence of the manufacturing belt in the United States
  2. Discuss major industries in the United States from the perspective of how geography and the factors of production helped determine the locations of manufacturing plants (e.g., those producing steel, aircraft, automobiles, meat products, other food products)
  3. Describe the changing spatial pattern of a major industry (e.g., steel production, furniture production)

G. Compare and evaluate the roles of historical and contemporary systems of transportation and communication in the development of economic activities, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Compare the transportation and communications systems of the present to those of the past in terms of factors such as quality, efficiency, and speed
  2. Make some general conclusions about how transportation and communications innovations affect patterns of economic interaction (e.g., the effect of refrigerated railroad cars, air-freight services, pipelines, telephone services, facsimile [fax] transmission services, satellite-based communications systems)
  3. Compare the types of cargo handled by major world ports over time, and suggest reasons for the changes

Geography Standard 12: The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement

1. The spatial patterns of settlement in different regions of the world

2. What human events led to the development of cities

3. The causes and consequences of urbanization

4. The internal spatial structure of urban settlements

Therefore, the student is able to;

A. Identify and describe settlement patterns, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. List, define, and map major agricultural settlement types (e.g., plantation, subsistence farming, truck-farming communities)
  2. List, define, and map major urban settlement types (e.g., port city, governmental center, planned city, single-industry city)
  3. Conduct a survey of the student’s class and get several student planning teams to design a city settlement pattern that incorporates most of the students’ wishes for a new city

B. Identify the factors involved in the development of cities, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Describe the kinds of settlements that existed before cities emerged (e.g., stopping places on the routes of hunters and gatherers, isolated farmsteads, villages)
  2. Explain the geographic reasons for the location of the world’s first cities (e.g., the effects of population density, transportation, food supply)
  3. List and explain the reasons why people would choose to change from a dispersed rural to a concentrated urban form of settlement (e.g., the need for a marketplace, religious needs, or military protection)

C. Analyze the ways in which both the landscape and society would change as a consequence of shifting from a dispersed to a concentrated settlement form, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Describe and explain the structural landscape changes that would occur if a village were to grow into a city (e.g., larger marketplace, city walls, grain-storage areas)
  2. Explain the changes that would have to occur in farming patterns if a village were to grow into a city (e.g., the need for an agricultural surplus to provide for the urban population, the loss of some rural workers as people decided to move into the city)
  3. Describe the development of early transport systems linking the city with the surrounding rural areas

D. Explain the causes and consequences of urbanization, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Explain the links between industrial development and rural-urban migration (e.g., the movements of people into the mill towns of New England)
  2. Describe the cultural activities (e.g., entertainment, religious facilities, higher education) that attract people to urban centers
  3. Describe why people find urban centers to be economically attractive (e.g., business and entrepreneurial opportunities, access to information and other resources)

E. Identify and define the internal spatial structures of cities, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Using the concentric zone model of a city, explain how a nearby city reflects that model (e.g., central city has the highest buildings, general decrease in density away from the center)
  2. Using the sector model of a city, explain how a nearby city reflects that model (e.g., manufacturing areas in a sector, financial and professional services in a sector, and residential zones located away from those two sectors have distinctive neighborhoods)
  3. Describe the impact of different transportation systems on the spatial arrangement of business, industry, and residences in a city

Geography Standard 13: How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth’s surface

1. The multiple territorial divisions of the student’s own world

2. How cooperation and conflict among people contribute to political divisions of Earth’s surface

3. How cooperation and conflict among people contribute to economic and social divisions of Earth’s surface

Therefore, the student is able to:

A. Identify and explain reasons for the different spatial divisions in which the student lives, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Identify different service, political, social, and economic divisions of the world in which he student functions (e.g., voting ward, township, county, state)
  2. Explain the student’s functional relationship to different spatial divisions (e.g., postal zone, school district, telephone area code)
  3. Explain the need for multiple and overlapping spatial divisions in society

B. Explain why people cooperate but also engage in conflict to control Earth’s surface, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Explain the reasons for conflict over the use of land and propose strategies to shape a cooperative solution (e.g., try to resolve the controversies surrounding proposals to convert farmland to residential use, build entertainment facilities on national parkland, or set up a recycling center in a wealthy neighborhood)
  2. Identify and explain the factors that contribute to conflict within and between countries (e.g., economic competition for scarce resources, boundary disputes, cultural differences, control of strategic locations)
  3. Draw conclusions about how regional differences--or similarities--in religion, resources, language, political beliefs, or other factors may lead to cooperation or conflict

C. Describe the factors that affect the cohesiveness and integration of countries, as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Given the shapes of different countries (e.g., Italy and Chile as elongated, Japan and Indonesia as a string of islands, and Egypt and Spain as roughly square), explain how that shape may affect political cohesiveness
  2. Explain the symbolic importance of capital cities (e.g., Canberra, a planned city, as the capital of Australia, of The Hague as both a national capital of the Netherlands and a center for such global agencies as the World Court)
  3. Explain factors that contribute to political conflict in specific \countries (e.g., language and religion in Belgium, the religious differences between Hindus and Moslems in India, the ethnic differences in some African countries that have been independent for only a few decades)

D. Analyze divisions on Earth’s surface at different scales (local to global), as exemplified by being able to:

  1. Compare different areas to identify examples of similar uses of political space at local, state, national, and international levels (e.g., counties and provinces in Canada and counties and states in the United States)
  2. Compare organizations that transcend national boundaries to determine their social, political, and economic impact (e.g., trans national corporations, political alliances, economy groupings, world religions)
  3. Using a particular continent, explain the role of various factors in the development of nation-states (e.g., competition for territory and resources, desire for self-rule, nationalism, history of domination by powerful countries)

Population and Resource Distribution
time 26.48

Becky Forristal teaches seventh–grade economics at Rockwood Valley Middle School, 20 miles outside St. Louis, Missouri. Her lesson focuses on a population simulation that explores world economics, demonstrating the inequalities in land, food, energy, and wealth distribution in the world today. Using a global map on the classroom floor, students are able to visualize how resources are distributed in both wealthy and under–developed nations of the world.


Source: Geography for Life, National Geography Standards 1994. National Geographic Research & Exploration. Chapter 6. Geography Education Standards Project. Developed on behalf of the American Geographical Society, Association of American Geographers, National Council for Geographic Education, National Geographic Society


Geography Home Page

Geography Themes

National Geography Standards

Sunshine State Standards

Web Resources

The world in spatial terms

Places and regions

Physical systems

Human systems

Environment and society

The uses of geography