Links open in a new window
I've used this definition for over 20 years now with great success. The definiton itself incorporates the two major themes of physical and human geography, and creates a Venn diagram approach of how the two themes interact by introducing a third theme: the environment. Significantly, this definition also introduces the notion that these interactions occur at different scales.
Furthermore, students have a clear focus to their learning. The four questions create an investigative framework for researching any geographic feature, process or system. It moves students from the known to the unknown, from factual to conceptual questions, up the hierarchy from simple to complex, allowing students to find their place, then move to the next level knowing what's expected of them.
Take rivers, for example:
1. What are rivers? (define & describe)
A river is a ___ that ___s
What do rivers look like?
What are the main features of a river?
2. Where are they found?
Where are rivers located relative to mountains
What is the absolute location of an example
river? What are the features of this location?
3. Why are rivers found there?
What processes create rivers?
What patterns are created? How?
How do rivers change from source to mouth?
How do those patterns change over time? 4. How are they important?
How do people depend on rivers?
How are rivers a part of culture?
How are rivers an economic benefit
and an economic cost?
How do rivers affect the environment?
What issues arise from our use of rivers?
What are the geopolitics of rivers?
Now, replace "rivers" with any geographic concept – how about "migration"? Voilà – you have the ultimate framework for investigative learning.