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The sound of America.

The hills (mid valleys and highways and byways) are alive with the sounds of music and more. But the National Geographic Society is betting that students can learn to listen for those distinctive noises that define a community, with or without an Austrian governess around.

The society's Geography Action 2004 program, Cultures: The Sound of Place, explores the sounds of America through one- to three-minute sound portraits of communities across the country-. To capture an area's place in time, students might portray anything from seaside locals haggling at a fish market to construction equipment breaking ground on a new subdivision in a growing area. The project can help "kids to start opening their ears and thinking about place in a very different way," says Program Manager Ian Signer. "So many things presented to students are static bits of information. You're reading things that somebody has written somewhere about a culture. This is one of those rare opportunities for students to create their own primary source."

The project, which is aligned to several national geography standards, involves 32 geography action coordinators representing different states. The teachers have partnered with each other and trained with National Public Radio production professionals to use mini disc recorders, microphones and audio software used to exchange sounds remotely. This year, their classes will brainstorm to come up with the most distinctive sound representing their geographical area. Beyond the physical boundaries (delineated by zip code), students and teachers are being given broad license to decide where and what to capture, says Barbara Chow, vice president for education programs at NGS.

The portraits will be available on the Geography Action Web site in the spring. The site currently includes lesson plans on culture and can help classrooms anywhere to get started in recording and sharing their own sounds of place.
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Title Annotation:Curriculum update: the latest developments in math, science, language arts and social studies; Geography Action Web site
Author:Ezarik, Melissa
Publication:District Administration
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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