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History Units
  - Geography
  - Alaska's Cultures
  - Russia's Colony
  - America's Territory
  - Governing Alaska
  - Modern Alaska

Related Stories
  - Climate Change Juke Box
  - Alaska's Heritage

Field Trips

In the News
  - Alaska Earthquake put Geysers in Yellowstone on new schedule

Teacher's Guide

Regional History
Teacher's Guide
Geography: Alaska’s Physical Systems/History

Enduring Understandings

Physical process related to the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere have shaped Alaska’s environment.

Ecoregions provide a means of understanding the spatial interaction of physical systems in Alaska at different geographic scales.

Knowledge of geography enables us to develop an understanding of the relationships between people, places and environments over time.

Estimated Time:

Four class periods

Materials needed:

Student access to Internet
Butcher Paper
Various art supplies

Background Information:

Alaska has four separate, yet interrelated components that make up its environment:

  1. Lithosphere
  2. Atmosphere
  3. Hydrosphere
  4. Biosphere

1. Lithosphere or landforms, is the most easily recognizable in the mountains, hills, valleys and rivers of Alaska.
2. Atmosphere has underlying factors that make up the climate of an area. They include latitude, land and water, and other factors such as temperatures, violent storms and fog and precipitation.
3. Hydrosphere refers to glaciers, rivers and lakes, and oceans.
4. Plants and animals make up the biosphere and reflect general plant and animal distributions.

Lesson Plan:

  1. Have students read in small groups one of the sections in Alaska’s Physical Systems.
  2. Have them report what they learned from their section, and discuss sites in Alaska that have these systems.
  3. Students will select a physical system to look at to answer the question: How has its physical systems impacted Alaska’s history?
  4. They will then study maps, (texts if available) and look at websites to determine how the physical systems have impacted Alaska’s history.
  5. Students will create timelines on their particular physical system with descriptors. Alternative timelines should be encouraged, such as poetry, art or drama. If students want to make electronic timelines, use of pop-ups or some other interesting facet should be encouraged.

Alaska Standards:

Geography: A1, B1, B7, C1, C2, F1, F5
Culture: E2, E4
AK History: AH. PPE 1

Assessment: Review A Story of Russia’s Colony and worksheets.

Exceeds Meets In Progress Not Started
Content The timeline shows a sophisticated understanding of the individual physical feature and its impact on history.

Descriptions are clear, detailed and error free.
The timeline addresses location, people, and/or events. Dates and descriptions indicate an understanding of historical importance. The timeline addresses some requirements. It has relevance to Alaska's history but may be confusing or very genera.. There is none or not enough work
product to evaluate.
Resources There is evidence of copious research in the quality of work.

Sources are cited.
Date is from a variety of cited sources. Data is sparse and/or may not be cited. There is no evidence of research.
Presentation The timeline is creative and is presented in a legible and attractive manner. The timeline is legible and attractive. The timeline may be legible but lacks organization or efforts to enhance the final product. There was little or nothing to evaluate.


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