Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Power of Place: Seeing Connections Between Community and the World

Power of Place: Seeing Connections Between Community and the World

Standards: (National Social Studies Standards for 8th grade Geography)
• 4.1Personal, community, and national identities are rooted in and attached to places
o Therefore, the student is able to:
 Explain how personal, community, or national identities are based on places, as exemplified by being able to
 Describe and explain the factors that contribute to the identity of being from a specific place (e.g., a “New Yorker,” a “Southerner,” a “Texan,” a postal code such as 90210).
 Explain how a place-based identity results from the characteris¬tics of a place (e.g., environmentally conscious Inuit of Northwest Canada, seafaring traditions of Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts, nomadic herders in the eastern steppes of Mongolia).
 Explain how place-based identities can sometimes result in stereo¬types of people from a specific place (e.g., fitness-conscious people from Colorado, cowboys from Wyoming or Texas, miners from Appalachia, coffee-drinking people from Seattle).
• 4.2 Physical and human characteristics of places change
o Therefore, the student is able to:
 Explain the ways that physical processes change places, as exemplified by being able to:
• Explain how changes in climate may result in changes to places (e.g., drought and stressed vegetation, more precipitation and increased vegetation, warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons at higher latitudes).
 Explain the ways that human processes change places, as exemplified by being able to:
• Describe and explain how the introduction of a new industry or the closing of an existing industry could change the characteristics of a place.
• 6.1 People’s different perceptions of places and regions are influenced by their life experiences
o Therefore, the student is able to:
 Describe examples of how perceptions of places and regions are based on direct experiences (e.g., living in a place, travel) and indirect experiences (e.g., media, books, family, and friends), as exemplified by being able to
• Describe students’ perceptions of a place that are based on indirect sources (e.g., television, films, movies, travel brochures).
• Describe students’ perceptions of a place that are based on direct sources (e.g., visiting the place, multiple visits, or residing in the place).
• Describe students’ possible stereotypical perceptions of US regions (e.g., the West as open and sprawling region, the East Coast as densely populated and noisy, the South full of small towns where people move at a slower pace) and upon what experience or information their perceptions are based.
• 6.2 Perceptions of places and regions change by incorporating multiple direct and indirect experiences
o Therefore, the student is able to:
 Analyze the ways in which people change their views of places and regions as a result of media reports or interactions with other people, as exemplified by being able to
• Describe the changing views people may develop about places featured prominently in the news (e.g., Super Bowl site or World Series cities, the scene of a natural disaster, a venue hosting a significant international meeting).
 Analyze the way in which traveling to a new place (city, state, or country) may change prior views of that place to more informed and developed views based on the experiences there (e.g., travel for sporting contests at schools, travel for outdoor recreational activities, travel for historical interests or visiting museums).
 Analyze the effects of different sources of information that may cause people to change their views of a place or region (e.g., travel brochures or guidebooks, cable travel channels or documentaries, information from friends or family).

(Idaho Standards)
• Goal 1.8: Build an understanding of the cultural and social development of human civilization.
o 6-9.GEH.1.8.4 Explain how and why events may be interpreted differently according to the points of view of participants and observers.
• Goal 2.4: Analyze the human and physical characteristics of different places and regions. Objective(s): By the end of Geography-Eastern Hemisphere, the student will be able to:
o 6-9.GEH.2.4.2 Describe major cultural characteristics of regions in the Eastern Hemisphere.
o 6-9.GEH.2.4.3 Compare and contrast cultural patterns in the Eastern Hemisphere, such as language, religion, and ethnicity.
o 6-9.GEH.2.4.4 Analyze the locations of the major manufacturing and agricultural regions of the Eastern Hemisphere.
• Goal 2.5: Explain how geography enables people to comprehend the relationships between people, places, and environments over time.
o 6-9.GEH.2.5.2 Give examples of how both natural and technological hazards have impacted the physical environment and human populations in specific areas of the Eastern Hemisphere.
• Standard 5: Global Perspectives Students in Geography-Eastern Hemisphere build an understanding of multiple perspectives and global interdependence. Goal 5.1: Build an understanding of multiple perspectives and global interdependence.
o 6-9.GEH.5.1.1 Discuss how social institutions, including the family, religion, and education, influence behavior in different societies in the Eastern Hemisphere.

 Students will define place.
 Students will draw a conclusion on how their place connects to Japan.
 Students will describe place using both physical and human place.
 Students will compare their place around them to the place of Japan while studying Asia.

• Make copies of the Put Yourself in the Picture Photo Analysis sheet three per student.
• Select pictures of local places that students might be familiar with and then select locations in Japan making sure that there is more than three to allow students to have choices. Some examples could be: See the file.
• Review the definition of place in Geography. Place is the focus of this lesson with the other themes playing supporting roles. It has two parts to it as well, which are physical and human. Human place refers to what we remember about a place using the five senses. It also takes in to account religions, governments, economy, and culture. This aspect focuses on humans which may change over time. It also requires students to confront stereotypes and perceptions they have about each area they are studying. Students tend to have the most fun discussing place because it considers their personal experiences as they travel the world. They also get a chance to learn more about other people’s experiences and have a chance to form connections. Physical place deals with the weather, climate, and landscape of a particular place. This part of the theme allows the most connections to the other themes, especially region so students can group places with similar characteristics. It also lends itself to working with human-environment interaction and movement.
• Teachers may print out the selected pictures and break the class into groups to study different photographs or the teacher may also project the photographs to facilitate a group discussion based on the classes abilities and resources.
• Students can use their prior knowledge to figure out what photos they feel like are pictures of local places vs those which are in Japan.
• Explain that there are similarities between both the local place and Japan. It could be in use of public transportation, agriculture, physical features, or even things like food.
• The discussion will then turn to what are the differences and photographs can be used to help facilitate noticing the differences. Examples of photographs: See the file.
• End the discussion by asking students what surprised them the most between the similarities and differences.

• A great way to extend this lesson is to expand the focus of the lesson to use all of the themes of Geography to discuss Japan. The students could be divided into four different groups and each one focuses on one of the other 5 Themes of Geography. The group will teach the other themes as they apply to Japan, as part of their requirements they must produce some activity for their classmates to participate in.
• Another extension activity would be to have students research deeper into the place of Japan and conduct a research project on it to present to their classmates to help deepen their knowledge and help discover any other stereotypes that need to be addressed and expose the students to more of a culture and way of life they might not be as familiar with. They could produce a short video, a PowerPoint or a living culture presentation, where the student demonstrates their topic to other classmates. Topics might include: Medicine, Jobs, Food, Music, Important People, comparing daily life now to life historically. Once topics have been narrowed down, the teacher will discuss with students the importance of reliable resources. Reminding students that they should be selective of the resources they choose to use.

•Photos are personal ones focused on similarities between the western United States and Japan.

  • Jessica Christensen
  • Preston Junior High School
Grade Level
  • Middle School: 7
Time Frame
  • 60 minutes plus extension activities if chosen

If you have any questions about this lesson plan, or if you wish to contact the author, please email us at [email protected]