3rd Grade New York


This inquiry engages third-grade students in exploring world geography through the compelling question “Where are we?” This question sparks students’ intellectual curiosity through the study of geographic location and the impact of humans on their environment. Working with evidence from sources, students should understand that, although we can be in different “places,” our impact on Earth is worth considering.


Compelling Question:

Where Are We?

Staging the Question:

Supporting Question Where are we, as a class community, located?

Formative Task Describe the location of the school using geographic tools and vocabulary.

Sources Source A: Google Maps


Supporting Question Where are we, as people on Earth, located?

Formative Task Complete a two-column chart that describes the location of the world’s people in terms of population density.

Sources Source A: Population density map
Source B: Earth’s City Lights


Supporting Question Why are we where we are?

Formative Task Assemble an I Notice/I Think chart drawing conclusions about geographic factors that encourage or deter human settlement.

Sources Source A: Global climate zone map
Source B: Global elevation zone map


Supporting Question Where are the “human footprints” on Earth?

Formative Task Create a concept web that makes and supports a claim about how the choices and actions of people influence our planet.

Sources Source A: Diaper Disaster
Source B: Human Footprint Consumption
Source C: US Environmental Protection Agency website on climate change

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Where are we? Construct an argument supported with evidence that addresses the compelling question from the concrete (our class) to abstract (human impact on the environment).

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Accomplished through Formative Tasks 1 and 2
Assess: Accomplished through Formative Tasks 3 and 4
Act: Host an environmental fair or Earth Day celebration to share information about “human footprints” with the local community.