About Us

 

Overview

Logic of the Research
Logic of the Curriculum
Who's Involved

The American Migrations Project is a resource for teaching and research about African American and Latino migrations that have shaped American history. We work with Middle Schools and university faculty to create curriculum for teaching and learning about these migrations, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as an online resource in the classroom.

GIS historical census maps enable students to visualize population patterns as they change over time, and can be powerful tools for building spatial reasoning skills. Historical census maps can be used to develop deeper understandings of African American and Latino American history, making it possible for students to ask and answer their own questions about everyday people whose movements have shaped our shared history.

Our project builds on the work of educators at different grade levels – from 6th grade through college – who are developing new ways to teach historical thinking and spatial reasoning. Our research studies the ways GIS technologies can support these kinds of learning, helping us develop better curriculum and assessments for teaching with data visualization tools like GIS.

Over the next five years this website will share our curriculum units for Middle School and undergraduate social science projects studying these American Migrations, along with links to online, classroom-ready GIS census data tools. It will also share current research on spatial reasoning, historical thinking, and GIS technologies. Please browse the resources on this site, and contact us if you would like to share other resources or be part of the work we are doing.


Purpose: To study productive ways to teach history and spatial thinking with GIS, at the Middle School and undergraduate level, by developing, refining, and studying curriculum units on African-American and Latino American Migrations using historical census data in GIS maps.

Logic of the research: We know very little about effective teaching with GIS, and how teaching interacts with learning objectives, curriculum design, GIS design, and discourse processes in classrooms where GIS is being used. We can learn more by developing, teaching, and studying this American Migrations unit over time than by trying to study these things separately. The studies begin with design-based research in a small number of classrooms in the first two years; then eight case studies of instruction over the following two years; then a wider study of the effectiveness of the curriculum units in helping teachers accomplish the learning objectives, using curriculum-based assessments.

Our curriculum: We want to design curriculum units that have high cultural relevance in African American and Latino communities and schools, that give students opportunities to learn and practice historical inquiry. These units pair case studies of African American and Latino migrations. GIS maps with historical census data can be useful for our goals:

  • they enable us to study (and question) who we are as people of the USA – rather than just famous names, or “social issues”;
  • they give access to population distributions, including race and ethnicity, over time; and
  • they can be used to reason spatially about these patterns, and to teach spatial reasoning.

We are designing middle-school and college units in tandem, in order to get a sense of learning trajectories for spatial reasoning across grade levels. The curriculum and assessments will be developed through a backward design process, working closely with teachers at both grade levels.

GIS tools: On-line, free, easy-access GIS tools will be used exclusively. The undergraduate unit will use Social Explorer, and the Middle School Design Team will look at possible activities using several available tools, such as GIS for History, Social Explorer, and/or Immigration Explorer. We will develop new features in GIS for History if it is determined to be useful, but will minimize the development of any new software for this study in order to stay focused on the affordances of existing tools.



Who We Are:

Research Team
JoshRadinsky Josh Radinsky
Project Director
Associate Professor of the Learning Sciences
University of Illinois at Chicago
ChristopherFry

Christopher Fry
Research Assistant
Learning Sciences doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

JoséMelendez

José Melendez
Research Assistant
Learning Sciences doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

BenMiller

Ben Miller
Research Assistant
Learning Sciences doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

SimekoWashington Simeko Washington
Research Assistant
Curriculum & Instruction doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Advisory Board

 

Xochitl Bada
Advisor
Assistant Professor of Latino and Latin American Studies
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Andrew Beveridge
Advisor
Professor of Sociology
Queens College CUNY
Social Explorer, Inc.

 

Michelle Boyd
Advisor
Associate Professor of African American Studies and Political Science
Associate Director of Research on Race and Public Policy
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Adrian Capehart
Advisor
Assistant Professor of Education/ Social Studies Teacher Educator
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Daniel Edelson
Advisor
Vice President for Education
National Geographic Society

 

Martin Moe
Advisor
Co-Director of Social Science
Chicago Public Schools

 

Irma Olmedo
Advisor
Associate Professor Emerita of Education/
Social Studies Teacher Educator
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Anne Marie Ryan
Advisor
Associate Professor of Education/ History Teacher Educator/
Historian of Education
Loyola University

 

Former Research Team Members

 

Peggy Garcia
Research Assistant
Learning Sciences doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Emma Hospelhorn
Research Assistant
Learning Sciences doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Jeremy Riel
Research Assistant
Learning Sciences doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Jessica Roberts
Research Assistant
Learning Sciences doctoral student
University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Carlos Rodriguez
Researcher
University of Illinois at Chicago
Math Coach
Chicago Public Schools

 

We welcome new advisors and project participants. If you or your institution would like to be a part of our project, email us.

 

News

March 23, 2015
NYT's new interactive Mapping Migrations tool shows where people in each state were born with data from 1900, 1950 and 2012!

March 20, 2015
Curriculum Modules Updates:
Latino Migrations (college level)

Describe Latino Populations (middle school)

Introduction to Reading Census Maps

March 1, 2015
Chicago Election Results in Relation to 2013 School Closings

February 27, 2015
GIS Map Shows Chicago Election Results

10 Steps for Using Social Explorer YouTube tutorial is here! Check it out here!

Featured Artifact
Cooper Center Racial Dot Map
One Dot Per Person: the Cooper Center's Racial Dot Map

The map displays one dot for each person residing in the United States at the location they were counted during the 2010 Census. Each dot is color-coded by the individual's race and ethnicity.