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GIS in the Classroom: James Cox

Geographic information systems are a great tool to use in a geography class, but it can also be applied to other subjects like history. Find out how James Cox, a teacher from Palmerston, Ontario incorporated ArcGIS Online in his grade 8 History class.

Last year, James Cox, a grade 7 and 8 teacher from Palmerston Public School decided to incorporate ArcGIS Online in his teaching to encourage critical thinking in his students and to meet the new curriculum objectives outlined in the revised grade 7 and 8 Geography and History curriculum. As James is familiar with geographic information systems, he knew he could use it to teach subjects beyond geography.

While teaching History, James noticed that some of his students had a difficult time understanding the evolution of Canada and what it looked like prior to Confederation, so he decided to use Esri Canada’s Mapping Canadian Confederation lesson to help them. This resource engaged his students and helped them gain a better spatial understanding of where important historic events occurred in Canada.

Figure 1.1: Mapping Canadian Confederation lesson using ArcGIS Online.

This year, James plans to introduce collaborative mapping to his Geography students. He wants them to work together on issues of sustainability and to explore patterns in the physical world. His ultimate goal of this project is to get his students to understand the connections between phenomena and to come up with ideas on how to create a sustainable world for future generations.

Stayed tuned to a future blog that will cover James’ new ArcGIS Online projects.

Visit our Lesson Planner to explore resources that support Ontario’s revised grade 7 and 8 Geography and History curriculum.

Read more about other teachers who have integrated GIS into their teaching and contact us at if you would like to be highlighted in an upcoming blog post.

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander