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"So "That's" What the Whiskey Rebellion Was!": Teaching Early U.S. History with GIS


History Teacher Volume 45, Number 3, ISSN 0018-2745


The Geographic Information System (GIS) is a tool for effective teacher-centered instruction, powerful student-centered instruction, and engagement in historiography. GIS tools have existed since the 1960s, but only since the 1990s have educators explored their application to social studies. Proponents expect GIS to have a dramatic impact upon teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms, but these hopes have been frustrated by the complexity of the tools and datasets. While GIS can support inquiry learning in powerful ways, educators know that such lessons are time-consuming. In the authors' experience, GIS can support powerful learning in a wide variety of instructional modes, whether students use it hands-on or instead view and respond to displays being manipulated by the teacher. When applied to history education, GIS can support students' conceptual understanding and critical thinking--or even appreciation of historiography, an elusive goal for history educators. This article presents three history lessons that are developed by the authors using GIS in both teacher-centered and student-centered modes, with the third lesson addressing historiography. The lessons are designed for middle school, but can be easily adapted to other contexts. While each topic addresses the traditional political/military national narrative, they also emerge from specific aspects of early American geography, demography, and economics--all of which are well suited for GIS. Through repeated use of GIS, students can think more deeply about history's geospatial dimensions and even engage in the construction of competing historical accounts. (Contains 2 figures and 7 notes.)


Snyder, J.W. & Hammond, T.C. (2012). "So "That's" What the Whiskey Rebellion Was!": Teaching Early U.S. History with GIS. History Teacher, 45(3), 447-455. Retrieved July 16, 2019 from .

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