Saturday, 30 April 2011

iPad apps in Geography classroom

A (fairly) recent tweet asked me to recommend some iPad apps which were particularly useful in the (geography) classroom.
I hadn't actually put a lot of these in one post, although the blog has details of a range of apps that I've found useful and you can search using the labels down the right hand side...
There is also a bit of an issue with just listing lots of apps as you could just as easily list thousands of them... the key is to think about how and why you would use them as your tool of choice rather than a whiteboard pen....

The new iPad2 offers real "mirroring" of the screen, which will increase it's usefulness for teachers, as well as some of the improved multimedia power and camera(s) for the creation of resources.

Here are some of the apps that I have installed which I would make use of using my iPad...

Goodreader: allows for display of files in various formats, but also has video out so will work with the old iPad
Dropbox: upload your files to the cloud - I use a 3 MiFi hotspot which then allows me to download what I need to the iPad as I need it - can also save notes using the Evernote app
Google Earth: of course, with the added integration with Streetview (also access to the MAP CRUNCH website to have a spot of randomness at the start of your lesson...)
Audioboo: create a podcast and upload it - also handy for recording and capturing discussions which could be useful assessment evidence.
Mission:Explore: set challenges, or ask students to create missions in the same "style" - fieldwork on the school grounds, or creative homework tasks
Kindle: the kindle app allows you to buy books for a professional library for the department which could then be read at a time and place to suit: having had a go with a Kindle, the experience is much better than reading from an iPad too...
Posterous: use this app to do a daily 365 project which might take the form of images, weblinks, resources, sounds, book reviews, homework tasks.... whatever you can think of ...
Flickr: upload and download images and videos - a great source of Creative Commons images for lesson starters etc.
Camera for iPad: one for old iPad owners in particular... install this app on your iPhone as well - the two devices will connect using wireless or Bluetooth. Whatever is displayed through the camera of the phone will also appear on the iPad screen - can you think of some creative ways to use this feature ?
Disaster Alert: shows updates of a range of natural hazards - there are plenty of similar apps which show the location of recent earthquakes
Living Earth: a hybrid of various features - a nice app to have on the screen - with the iPad2 would be good to have displayed on a whiteboard - includes a world clock, day/night time map view, and a range of other resources - nice
Blogsy: this looks to be the best app for doing blogs with Blogger and Wordpress, but my iPad is refusing to have it on the iPad at the moment - as a regular blogger this will probably make my life a little easier...
ArcGIS - view a range of maps, including a selection of base maps and others produced by a user community - can also measure distances and areas on the maps
MapBox - this is a large app which has the potential to produce rather nice maps. Again, I need to have some time to sit down with this and find some online documentation for how to make the most of it... This has the potential to be really good

A few other late additions:

ComicLife - have this on my laptop...
EClicker - install the app on your iPhone / iPod touch and you can answer questions that are produced and displayed on the iPad 'host' machine... Worked well when I tried it, but only had the one iPhone to test it with. Could create a set of test questions with images and other media and then use it for revision purposes perhaps.
iGeology and Jurassic - the rocks beneath our feet
Penultimate - note taking app which can also act as a whiteboard as it has VGA out - range of backgrounds and ability to save pages as images, and endlessly undo additions that have been made to show how a diagram was built up and created...
Sim City - build a city and manage it - urban geography
Rory's Story Cubes - an iPhone app, but bigger cubes is not a bad thing...

Will get this blog post up now..
Feel free to add any more apps that you use....
Also add any other apps that have VGA out on the original iPad...


Final word: I really don't like iTunes at all... Been struggling for over an hour to get an app I've paid for onto my iPad...

Mission Statement...

This post has been bubbling away for a while...
Was going to keep it to myself, but have decided to share it here...

The idea came from a circuitous link through to a website which had some examples of NASA "mission patches"

NASA Mission Patches is one such website. It has a range of the patches: individually designed badges which are used on the clothing and spacesuits, and all other materials associated with a particular mission launch.

Each mission had a separate mission patch - plenty of images for inspiration and ideas

It's a little like the field trip hoodies that many schools get organised for fieldtrips, particularly foreign ones. They usually had the names of the astronauts on them, particularly the later ones, the details of the mission name or number and a design which represented some aspect of the mission. Some of the badges featured the world in various forms, or vehicles, or characters who were important. I particularly like those where the earth is included in the design...

So the idea is to have students design a Mission Patch for a particular context....

They could be produced using PowerPoint or some similar presentation software.

Some ideas: I'll have a go at designing one myself when I have a little more time...


  • Mission Patch for a team of river explorers, with the names being equipment that could be used, or particular river terminology such as processes or features...
  • Mission Patch for a desert expedition, with key terms or features found in desert environments...
  • Mission Path for a particular city, country or region that is being studied

And of course, there's a link with Mission:Explore.
Plenty of options for badges (links to work that I do with colleagues where we look at what would be needed to gain a GIS badge, or a Geo-explorer badge

Our two new MISSION EXPLORE books: On the Road and Camping are out now... Why not order them from Amazon, or your local book shop...

Super cities...

Manila is one of the cities that many people would struggle to put in a list of the top 5 largest built up areas in the world, but it's in there at around no. 5

This BLOG POST from NeoGeography has a useful range of information on a city that might make an alternative case study to the usual old favourites...

It's also one that you could hold up an envelope and say "which city is this" ?

Futures Dimension

David Hicks is one of the key people in the area of geographical futures.

His website link here has links to many of his useful papers and other resources. Useful for teachers reading around this particular theme.
Don't forget to read Chapter 23 of the GA's Secondary Geography Handbook for more in this area...

Friday, 29 April 2011

GI Forum in Salzburg

There has been a lot of activity in Salzburg over the last few months getting ready for the GI forum in Salzburg.
I am hoping that I might be there. Got some sorting out of logistics first of all....

There will be some workshops relating to the digitalearth project that I have been involved with...

Towns on the brink

Via @Arcticlass on Twitter (thanks Sharon)

There are plenty of web resources shared by the UP HERE journal, whose tagline is 'Explore Canada's Far North'

I love the illustrations in this piece, which mentions somewhere I taught about for many years: Tuktoyaktuk...
Home of the pingoes...

It talks about the changes that are happening to the landscape as a result of reducing sea ice in terms of coastal erosion and changes to the rhythms of the year.
Plenty of useful detail here for a piece on resilience in extreme environments - a topic that would be of particular relevance for colleagues teaching exam specifications such as the Edexcel GCE Geography

Why not take the NORTH POLL (like the title) quiz to find out how much you know about the far north... Can you beat my score of 56%... ??

Illustrations by Byron Eggenschwiler

Cloud Learn

A new project that I'm excited to be 'involved' in - albeit in a very small way...

Cloud Learn has been set up by Juliette Heppell.

The aim is to explore the use of mobile learning in schools and provide guidance for teachers in the use of these devices.

This group is for classroom practitioners to discuss the use and access to mobile devices i.e. phones, ipads, pda's, handheld consoles etc as a learning tool. The cloudlearn project starts from the premise that the culture seen in many schools and colleges of blindly 'locking and blocking' in the classroom is no longer acceptable:
* it does not prepare young people for the real world
* it is liable to be dangerous (you wouldn't try to enhance water safety by keeping children away from water until they were 16 then throwing them off the pier...)
* it misses some outstanding learning opportunities
* it is disengaging ("every turned off device is a turned off child")
* it is wasteful of resources ...and as many, many teachers students and schools are finding, it is unnecessary.

The key aim of the Cloudlearn project is to source, collate, reflect on and publish proven effective practice from experienced classroom teachers and practitioners - building from what worked for us, in our respective cultural and educational contexts, to offer a portfolio of general and proven approaches. The end-of-the-year outcome is to provide sets of strategies and advice, both specific and generic, for adults and organisations, and for teachers and their students, to help them to see the need to move beyond "locking and blocking". 

These sets would be given to those involved in education around the world, not just in the UK. Over the next few months we will discuss as a group our thoughts, views and personal experiences on this and share the successes of mobile devices and the impact on teaching and learning in the classroom.

More to come later...
What are your experiences of using mobile devices in the classroom (or on fieldwork, as this is a key area for geographers to make use of this technology....)

Have a good day...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Essay guidance

Via Jennifer Watts some useful guidance on writing essays, posted on Scribd - a useful resource for older students...

Essay Writing Skills

Place matters

A late night Twitter exchange on the importance of place has led to some interesting outcomes shared by a geography colleague.

Kenny O Donnell has posted his thoughts, on his blog...
Here is the presentation that he used to provoke discussions on the theme of the importance of place.
Place matters

View more presentations from Kenny73

Nice work as always from Kenny, and thanks for the name-check...

We do like to be beside the seaside (cont)

Ruth is walking around the coast of the UK in stages...
Some nice descriptions of the stages that she has walked so far, complete with images. An authentic 'voice' to be used with other descriptions of the same area by other authors or visitors perhaps.
Site I came across for a current writing project.

Tuscaloosa (and elsewhere) Tornadoes - updated post...

Little tornado 
Bane of the trailer park 
Lifting houses to leave your mark



'Little Tornado' by Aimee Mann from the album "@#%& Smilers"

The state of Alabama lies in an area known as 'tornado alley'.
The state was one of five hit by over 100 tornadoes in the last day.
It is now thought that well over 200 people were killed 
A remarkable event...

The BBC News website had a range of articles including this one from earlier today, which outlines the problem, and begins to explain why the weather conditions at the time made the atmosphere so unstable. See the later Big Picture link for more useful diagrams in this area.
They showed how the original death toll started to rise as more damage became apparent.

One issue with the tornados was the frequency. This NOAA website has useful imagery which dramatically shows how rapidly the storms formed at the interface between the warmer and colder air masses.

As with most events, the access to the local newspapers and media is a better way to fully appreciate the local impacts and ensure that the information that might be being used with students is accurate and appropriate. The Tuscaloosa News had a series of reports and images following the event.

I hope that those people I follow on Twitter who live in or close to the affected areas stay safe.

Students could also be directed to the TORRO site, which monitors and studies tornadoes here in the UK, where they are relatively common for a country the size of the UK.

Updates: since the original post, a range of other media and information....

Check the Boston BIG PICTURE website for a remarkable set of images, such as Image 9....
Follow accounts such as @weatherzine and @ExtremeStorms for more on Tornadoes and their impacts - these form part of some exam specifications.

Image from NOAA

And a video by Jim Edds on VIMEO (sorry, I can't embed it here) - an amazing interview...

Tagxedo Seaside Descriptions - #ukcside

Another great collaborative Twitter project response...

Yesterday, I asked colleagues who follow me to provide some descriptions of the British Seaside...
Words that appear larger were mentioned more frequently by the word cloud generator.

First of all a WORDLE - click the image below to be taken to the Wordle page...
Wordle: #ukcside

Here is a Tagxedo version of the Wordle...
Click for biggery...

Thanks for all the contributors.
What words would you choose ? 
How could you use this diagram as a resource in the classroom or for a homework task ?

The Norfolk Tulip Massacre

That was the title of a good piece in the Telegraph.

The article would be useful for units on Farming and also links through to a range of other themes, including the migrant workers who pick the blooms and the use of technology to improve productivity on the farm.

A single tulip stem in a vase on the desk could set you off in many directions and global connections.

I drive through these tulip fields (well, not literally through them...) on the way up to Sheffield, and they are impressive around this time of year. A lot of the flowers are grown for the bulbs rather than for the flowers.

Also a link with Louise Ellis' GA KS3 toolkit book on the buying of a Valentine's rose: "A Thorny Issue"

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Nice feedback

Thanks to Clive Barnett of the Open University for kind comments on the resources that Anne Greaves and I put together following the Japanese Tsunami disaster...

Reporters without Borders



An excellent campaign which uses QR codes and video in a creative way...

Via the classic @Osocio

Chris Somerville in National Trust magazine

An article on the importance of geography in the current National Trust magazine. It's a familiar story, but some nice quotes and references...

The African Middle Classes

The classic sketch with John Cleese and the Two Ronnies explores the idea of CLASS and the shifting position of the Middle Classes...

A new photo project explores the AFRICAN MIDDLE CLASSES.

Thanks to the Secondary PGCE Geography blog for the original tipoff...
This is well worth reading for an alternative view of Africa.

#ukcside - the British seaside...

What does the "British seaside" conjure up in your mind ?


Here are some suggestions from my Flickr photo stream - assembled in one handy group set for a writing project I've tried (and so far not quite managed) to get finished today...



I posed that question earlier on Twitter, and am looking forward to the replies. I am grateful to those who have already replied...
Here are some thoughts:
Groynes, dogs running, seagulls, fish and chips, rock, amusements with grabber game, promenade, lighthouse, white-washed pub, Crocs

If you would like to be involved (and please do get involved) in sourcing some ideas for a resource I'm finishing off, you can either add them as a comment to this blog post, or  tweet with the hashtag #ukcside
Thanks :)

The Geography of the Royal Wedding...


OK - it had to happen...
I held out for a while but thought there would probably be some interest in the forthcoming royal nuptials. Some schools are certainly linking it to the curriculum already...

Especially as we get a day off work... (although I'll still be working on the day of course - well there's nothing on the telly....)
Here's the Met Office forecast from earlier in the week (subject to change...) - students could produce a wedding specific forecast - which way will the confetti blow ?



Janice Turner (via Twitter) posted this image which of course links to one of the major issues....

The impact on the UK economy will be mixed. Some businesses will gain, others will lose out - especially coming so soon after a long Easter and bank holiday weekend and just before May Day. There'a lesson on TES Connect on this theme....
Who will the winners and losers be on the big day ?
Watch the new footage: map the visitors to the UK who have flown from various countries, and which countries are represented (or not) on the guest list... or the global media coverage. How are different countries reporting events ? The BBC has its own section of the website.

Other connections and possibilities:

Royal Wedding sick bags (thanks to Angus Willson for that one)

It's even a public holiday on the volcanic island of Montserrat - where else is having a holiday / where are they commemorating the event on stamps ?

Royal Wedding Naan bread (thanks to Simon Renshaw for that one)

Yahoo headline: Royal Wedding Geography 

Google Earth Royal Wedding route flythrough - this was on the news at the weekend - or other ways of recording the route - if there was a Royal wedding in YOUR TOWN what would the route be, where would they marry and where would the reception be ?


360 degree tour of Westminster Abbey (on the BBC website which has other resources)

Also could consider the cultural geographical links in terms of representations of the UK / foods on the menu - there's already an English wine on the list apparently...

Ben Hennig has produced a range of excellent maps of the UK with cartograms of the various parts of the UK

Research honeymoon destinations for the happy couple ?

And of course there's only one place where geographers should really get married: at the Royal Geographical Society !

Don't forget to use the Royal wedding hashtags #royalwedding or #rw11 in your tweets and blog posts too...

Off to butter some baps...
Feel free to add your own ideas too, especially any "alternative" ones...

Monday, 25 April 2011

GA News: your help needed please...

I would like to ask for your help if that's OK...

I find myself  in a rather strange position that I've never been in before..

The Action Plan for Geography 1 & 2 funding that the GA has had for the last 5 years comes to an end this month and the result of the myriad of current changes in education, school funding streams, closure of support organisations and general uncertainty means that project funding is not available to support the work of the subject associations in the way that it has been in the past.
In order to reduce costs in the short term, and ensure that the Geographical Association has a longer term future, staff time reductions have been made, and sadly I am affected by this. I was anticipating a reduction in time due to the financial situation facing schools, local authorities, and the majority of the country. I also know that there are many other colleagues in a similar situation...

However, the reduction in my time is rather more than I was hoping, or planning for. It is a reduction to zero, and from the end of May (or August as I have 3 months notice to work) I will be unemployed.

I would be very grateful if you could give some thought to any opportunities for me to work with you, or for other opportunities that you are aware of that you think might suit me.....

If you are reading this blog then I hope you are well aware of the substantial contribution to education (particularly of the geographical kind) that I have made over the last decade, which has included:

- Websites such as GeographyPages, which contains thousands of weblinks and freely shared resources and still attracts 50 000 visitors a month on average
- Weblogs such as Living Geography, GeoBlogs, Supporting Geography Teachers, Look at Landscapes etc.
- Innovative Geography teacher projects such as the Geography of Happiness Project, GeoBlogs project and the Google Earth Users Guide - thousands of blog posts with daily updates
- Creation of the GCSE and 'A' level NINGS for most of the new specifications - introduced the idea of Nings and sharing for new specification changes- thousands of members of these networks now benefit from the sharing of the core community
- Thousands of posts and moderation of the SLN Geography Forum since 2004
- Twitter stream with thousands of resources and other links at @GeoBlogs
- GA Magazine editorial, Webwatch columns, and other content and articles
- Articles for Teaching Geography, Geography, ApoGeo (Portugal), OS Mapping News, Education Guardian and other journals and newsletters
- The 'Language of Landscape' resource that accompanied the OS Free Maps for Schools in 2010
- Online CPD courses for the TLA and TDA
- The 'Functional Skills' National Strategy booklet and activities
- The KS3 Toolkit book "Look at it this Way"
- the digitalearth.eu project
- Secondary Geography Handbook extension project on EAL
- Developing GIS course which has been used around the country in association with Esri (UK), as well as plenty of free GIS stuff including Google Earth and other software such as Aegis, Many Eyes etc.
- Mission in Mission:Explore, Mission:Explore On the Road and Mission:Explore Camping, plus iPhone app
- Numerous short pieces, reviews and BETT reviews in 'Education Guardian'
- Authored numerous content for the GA website including a whole series of Online CPD units on the theme of Geographies of Food, Food Security, Geography and Careers
- Resources on events such as the Japanese Tsunami and the Eyjafjallajokull eruption which resulted in the highest daily visitor totals to GA website
- Forthcoming books to support KS3 and iGCSE teachers by a number of publishers
- Thousands of shared photos on Flickr account
- Over 170 events attended since September 2008 at numerous schools, Universities, Conference venues and GA branches with over 60 000 miles driven in my faithful black Citroen... and many late night train journeys and usage of my Travelodge "loyalty card"...
- CfBT Regional Subject Advisory role in the East of England for the last curriculum change
- Support for a large range of organisations in terms of consultation, ideas, support, publicity
- Numerous references and letters of support written for projects
- Plenty more that I could mention....

and of course thousands of phone calls, e-mails, blog comments, Twitter conversations and other professional support and development.
If there's an idea, resource, website or geographical thing out there, I've probably blogged it, tweeted it or came up with it in the first place. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I have had to work for the Geographical Association for the last three years.

I'd like to carry on doing that, or to return to the classroom (although I'm 'old' and expensive so that could be an issue for me too....) - have been checking the TES for the last few months and you might see me at an interview near you shortly...

I do have some events and projects already lined up, and some colleagues and contacts have already been in touch to offer me some work. I am VERY grateful to them for that, and will be telling you more about them over the next few months as I slowly adjust to the news. However, this will currently not bring in enough money on the regular monthly basis that I need...

As always, you can see where I am going to be by looking at the right hand column of the LivingGeography blog. If there's a date that I'm not already booked and you have something appropriate please get in touch. I do travel... :)

I hope to carry on "living geography" for a good while yet....
Thanks for reading...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Why we Travel

Regular readers of this blog will know of my love of travel writing.
Currently got Sara Wheeler and Barbara Demick books on the go.... with a few bits of several others for a piece of writing I'm doing.
I have 3-400 travel books in my 'library' and regular pick them out for a quote on travel, or landscape, or to find out about a particular place that I'm preparing resources on.

In May, I am going down to the Royal Geographical Society to see Paul Theroux talk about the enlightenment of travel. If anyone else is going to be there, we can perhaps meet up before hand for a swift half ?
You can read a recent piece by Paul Theroux in the New York Times here, which mentions his new book on the enlightenment of travel...

With thanks to Alasdair of @deviations for the tipoff...

As Theroux says, reflecting on the impact of current world events:

For the modern traveler there are recent and sharp reversals — the overthrow of longstanding governments, earthquakes, a volcano, the release of radioactivity into a blue sky and cows’ milk — all in the span of a few months. What then is the traveler to do except huddle and observe?


The map of the possible world being redrawn right now — parts of it in tragic and unsettling ways — might soon mean new opportunities for the traveler who dares to try it. Travel, especially of the old laborious kind, has never seemed to me of greater importance, more essential, more enlightening.


Paul Theroux

Dave's just dreamy... do you get my drift ?

Good to see the Chair of the GA's Secondary Phase Committee and a fellow member of the Geography Collective getting a bit of national recognition for his work...
Nice work David :) and a quality headline from the local paper

Love Outdoor Play news...

A really inspiring new Orange iPhone app has been released in the last few weeks.
Just managed to get this blog post written and rescued from the 'drafts' pile..

The application is called Do Some Good, and has a range of short actions that can be carried out using an iPhone.

One of the activities that is included on the app is the Love Outdoor Play campaign, which was developed by Daniel Raven Ellison of the Geography Collective.

Install the free app and you can add to map of places to play.

I like some of the other options too: an easy way to do some good in a few minutes...

Also a chance to vote for Love Outdoor Play in the MADs blog awards.

Climate Change Conference at the O2

A Study Experiences tour in November 2011
A chance to see me 'live' at the O2 arena...
No sleep 'til Hammersmith !!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

GA Conference 2011 - follow-up post 6 - Hans Rosling

A highlight for many was the Saturday keynote by charismatic statistician Hans Rosling.

Hans has featured on a number of TED talks, and is the creator of the vital Gapminder tool, which I find myself telling almost every group of teachers that I work with about. It also featured in a booklet that I produced for the Functional Skills national strategy document (click the link to download the booklet in PDF format)

Image by Bryan Ledgard
Copyright: Geographical Association

Bob Lang, Hans Rosling, Daniel Lapidus and Paula Cooper

The title of the talk was "A fact based world view" and it covered a range of topics, including the power of geography, and the importance of data. The world is not divided into developed and developing, but there are many places along a continuum. Gapminder tools can help to visualise the changes over time.

The GA WEBSITE has a range of resources for use with Gapminder. The wonderful Paula Cooper wrote the resources.
Bob Lang, who has done a great deal to connect the GA with Gapminder presented a follow-up lecture which showed the wider geographical importance of the work that Hans and colleagues are doing.

Play the GAPMINDER CARD SORT game too...
See Hans talk about the importance of reducing CHILD MORTALITY here, although as David Rogers said, seeing Hans live will always be more powerful than any video...

EUPHIX: EU health website

Just researching some links for a project I'm going to be doing on "Food and Health"....
Came across the EUPHIX website, which provides a range of health indicators for the EU.

Some useful data downloads.

Also links to some useful PDF documents as well.

A few other web searches led me to a range of other documents:

A sample from an OUP book (PDF download)

Food and health report from the Netherlands (PDF download)

Also check out plenty of my photos in the IB Food and Health Flickr group (and feel free to add your own)

Useful UK Mapping of particular health indicators on MapTube

Fact sheets on HIV / AIDS from UN

Climate Health simulation game and resources from the Wellcome Trust

A lengthy thread on the AQA Geography NING

An interactive NHS Atlas of Risk

The work of Danny Dorling would be useful here for a UK context

Psychogeography at Leeds University

The Parkinson building is an important landmark in the urban geography of Leeds... which is nice...

I am preparing a presentation for the Leeds PsychoGeography group... had an e-mail earlier today to say it's been postponed a while, which is good as it gives me a little more time to pull things together.
Going to be talking about Mission:Explore and its connections with other resources on exploration / geography / urban exploration etc.. and mention various other geography folks and their activities... Came across this resource by a Leeds-based member...
A presentation on Psychogeography by Tim Waters

Water changes everything...

Thanks to Tom Barrett for the tipoff...


For more on Water, check the GA's KS3 toolkit book by Sarah Watts.

Hottest Easter for ... a while...

Time to resurrect something from the archives, given the weather at the moment...


TEACHING IDEA FOR CHANGES TO CLIMATE AS A RESULT OF GLOBAL WARMING
There'll be LESS OF THIS and MORE OF THIS...
Create a powerpoint with a series of images representing changes which we are likely to see as the climate changes...
See who can produce the best set of images which show the changes that we can expect
Try to think of some intriguing changes...
For example a view of people sat inside eating round a table and others sitting around a barbeque in the garden, or at a pavement cafe.
Crop Changes
Species change
Lifestyle change
Water shortages
Temperature related change: disease / health / clothing etc...
Try to alternate the LESS and MORE slides, and have perhaps some sort of connections between them....
Here is a basic template and a starter powerpoint, with the animations which fade the words in and out on the slide... You will need to add other slides, and of course an image on each one which will be behind the text. May need to move the text, or may want to add a semi-transparent box behind the text, or change the colour of the text. Each slide is set for 10 seconds which allows time for the text to fade in and out, and the transition is for a fade through black, which I like, but which you can change....
Could also attach music to the first slide and set to play through the duration of the presentation...

Context is everything...

Reading about the Where 2.0 conference is California via GEarthBlog...
This year there's a lot about context.


con·text  (kntkst)
n.
1. The part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning.
2. The circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting.


A key context of course is the geography behind the work that is being done with technology. All the work that we've done on our ONLINE GIS course and also the collaboration with ESRI means that we have focused on a context for the learning, so that the geography comes first, and the tool is used as an appropriate way of teaching the topic, or following through the enquiry....

A lot of what we do as teachers is to look for context....

If the context is right, then it can bring a unit to life...
This can mean the location, the person, the wider connections or the particular way that a lesson is introduced... For example, if teaching about farming, there are plenty of farming types and examples of specific farms that could be chosen... Some are likely to work better than others. Which ones and why ?
Any other thoughts on context ?

iPhone tracking

A number of Tweets earlier today about the way that iPhones track their location on a second by second basis in a file which is stored on the device.
Led me to this website which is by Pete Warden, and offers a download of a small application which will produce a map of your own movements.
I would love to access my own file, but sadly this only works for OS X machines... anyone know of a way to get this out on my Windows 7 laptop.... ?


Oxford to Cambridge and then London from Alasdair Allan on Vimeo.

How bad is a banana ?

Bought this book in Kindle format yesterday as it looks to be a useful source of discussion material, and enquiry questions.

It's subtitled "the carbon footprint of everything" and offers an appraisal of the impact of a range of activities from opening a door to the eponymous banana.
Will share some other ideas for using the book when I've got into it a little more. You can download a preview if you have a Kindle App, or can LOOK INSIDE on the Amazon page.

So how bad are Easter eggs ??

Friday, 22 April 2011

Earth Day

A nice animated Google logo for Earth Day...
Remember the old faithful "doodle for Google" homework task - always works well...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Teachers TV website to close

Yet another casualty of the cutbacks...

Teachers TV website will disappear on the 29th of April...

There are some other casualties of the austerity measures still to be announced - check this blog after the Easter break for one of the bigger ones - but the disappearance of the Teachers TV website means the loss of quite a few programmes that I was involved with producing...

So I'm currently downloading the WEATHER and CLIMATE series, and the SECONDARY GEOGRAPHY and ICT programme which featured Bob Lang, Paul Haigh and Helen Young.

Get them while you can....


UPDATE: There is a project to save the films and then upload them to a Dropbox account - more later...


Further UPDATE: site will reappear on May 11th in a different location... Guardian article

Mystery object....

Have just received a 'mystery' bottle through the post...
It's not a mystery to me, as the geographer friend who sent it to me told me what it was, and some pictures of the circumstances of its collection...
Any one guess what might be in the bottle ?

Update
Val sent me this image of sunrise at Erg Chebbi from where the sand was located...
Well done to all who guessed the mystery substance.... even Anne Greaves...

Update 2: SAGT Flickr pool now has Morocco photos - plenty more to come

Google Earth Builder and Map Maker

Google Earth Builder was announced at the Where 2.0 event...


The website is HERE

There's also the steady roll-out of Google Map Maker.
This has just been added to the USA.



You can also SEE LIVE MAPPING by other users...

I need to investigate this, and Google Fusion Tables a little more when time permits....

Mass (Geographical) Observation

One of the things that I am quietly 'obsessed' (ish) with is the Mass Observation project, which dates back to the 1930s
I have a number of books which drew on the project: one by Simon Garfield, and several chunky ones by David Kynaston.

I keep checking on the recruitment criteria, but sadly they never seem to want people my age in my geographical area.

Elements of Mass Observation also creep into several other books that I own, and there are elements of cultural geography in the data patterns and other outcomes from the project.

Now everyone has the chance to be a Mass Observation person for the day, and the day is the 12th of May, which is coming up.

Details of how to participate are HERE

You'll need to keep a diary on the day in electronic form, and include a disclaimer that it can be used in the archive...

Write as much as you can about what you do, who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat and drink, what you buy or sell, what you are working on, the places you visit, the people you meet, the things you read, see and hear around you and of course what you yourself think.


I'll be taking part, and will be having a typically geographical day I'm sure...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Ice Age Movie... excellent geography starter...

Thanks to my son: Sam, for showing me a great video which is part of the Ice Age series of shorts featuring Scrat.
It has a useful diagram of the structure of the earth, and Scrat's endless pursuit of the acorn heads to the centre of the earth....
It shows how the continents were formed, how giraffes got long necks and how several world-famous monuments were created.


The version of the movie here is not the best quality, but it's the one that allows embedding...

Coal

This is worth a watch... the first of a series on American TV.

Showing on SPIKE channel in the USA, but you can watch it online...

Enjoyable...

Slide



This website, called SLIDE will create a movie from your images...
Give it a go.... Here's one of some of my pictures of Rory's Story Cubes...

GA Conference 2011 - follow-up post 5 - IB Geography

One of the new strands this year was an IB Strand, with IB standing for International Baccalaureate.

Richard Allaway was asked to do two sessions for teachers. The first session was chaired by me, and took place on Friday.
This involved Richard and the IB Geography Chief Examiner: Simon Oakes
They talked through the background to the course, and what was involved for an audience that was largely teachers new to the IB who wanted to know more about the course.

The second session, on Saturday morning, was more about resourcing the course.
There are plenty of ideas here for geography resources, both textbook based and online...

Also the results of a survey on the Top 10 most useful online resources... A really useful, striking presentation:

Many of the online resources would also be useful for other courses, not just the IB.

If you are interested in finding out more about IB, the GA are organising a one-day event in London on the 24th of June, presented by Richard Allaway and you should book early to guarantee your place.

I may be some time...

We are gearing up to the centenary of one of the major events in British history...
On June 15th, 1910 the ship "Terra Nova" left Cardiff headed for Antarctica and the British Antarctic Expedition 1910...

Through 1911, there were a number of trips to lay caches of food and fuel for the proposed push for the South Pole.
I'm sure later this year, someone will start "tweeting" the diary of Scott and his men as they made their push for the South Pole, through into 2012 and the centenary of Scott's death...

On Sunday, there was a programme with Ben Fogle on the huts that were the home of the expeditionary force while they waited out the winters. This Daily Mail article describes the background quite nicely, and the programme is still available for a few days on iPlayer...
Visit the Antarctic Heritage Trust for more on the huts, and the campaign to preserve them.
This would be a very useful context for exploring a range of geographical themes.

The Extreme Environments topic is an obvious match - there are plenty of additional supporting materials, such as those from the RGS-IBG.
A useful BOOKLET (PDF) can be downloaded from the site by clicking the link...
It could also reasonably be brought into something like Food and Health, given the apparent connection with the quality of food and the health of the explorers.

A final way that you can support the trust and also get some really cool stuff is to follow the QUBA link to the official SCOTT merchandise...
Very cool.. (and reassuringly expensive)

Kulula airlines

Another in the Creativity strand
The livery of South African airline Kulula airlines is quite striking...
Do an image search to find all the various labels that have been added to the outside of the plane...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

GA Conference 2011 - follow-up post 4 - MISSION EXPLORE

Had a good time at the GA Conference helping out on the Mission:Explore stand on the Friday with Helen. We sold quite a few books at a special conference offer price, and more people know about our concept now than did before. Everyone seemed to like our two new books: Camping and On the Road, and it was good to finally get my hands on the physical copies of the books.

We also had a great turn out of around 40 delegates for our free Mission:Explore field visit on the Saturday.

Update
Kenny O Donnell spent today using Mission:Explore with his teaching groups.
Read about the results HERE

Doreen Massey Landscapes Essay

Thanks to @JoeMoran for the tip-off to a Doreen Massey essay on landscape - part of a larger blog project: The Future of Landscapes...
One to make you think... I don't pretend to understand all of it, but there are some nice sections and links to a film project.

Map Addict - GA Public Lecture & Wine Tasting

Thursday night's Public Lecture at the GA Conference 2011 was by Mike Parker: "self-obsessed" (rather than self-confessed) map addict (to quote his introduction on Radio 4 on one occasion...)

He talked about his book, and his love of maps, taking in the classic "Map that Came to Life" (see image at the bottom of this post...), the importance of maps historically, the changes that have taken place in mapping, the wonders of OS maps and the need to ignore the sat-nav and use proper maps. Some nice images, mostly from his book "Map Addict".

Image by Bryan Ledgard
Copyright: Geographical Association

I feel partly responsible for Mike being there, having got in touch with him when the book came out. He kindly wrote an article on his favourite and least favourite maps for GA magazine.

Vanessa Lawrence of the Ordnance Survey was on hand to listen to the lecture but also to pick up the GA's GOLD AWARD for the Digimap service.




From there it was on to the GA Wine Tasting event where I enjoyed working through a total of 8 wines, with GA colleagues and guidance from the folks at Guildford Wines.
The reds were the best.

Since coming back, I have re-read some bits of Mike's book for a few forthcoming sessions which have a "mappy" focus...

Mike's new book "The Wild Rover" is now out in hardback...

Tour of Britain 2011

The route of the Tour of Britain 2011 was announced earlier today...
After last year's visit to Norfolk it's great news that the race is coming through the region once again....

This time it is coming a little further inland and if the map is anything to go by, it looks like it might even be coming straight through my village.
Will wait for the final detailed route map to find out more...

As with previous years, this would form a great context for learning about a whole range of geographical concepts and skills...


Update
The Tour is coming straight through my village !

GA Conference 2011 - follow-up post 3 - Presidential Lecture

Click HERE to download a PDF of John Hopkin's Presidential lecture from the GA Conference 2011.

One of a growing number of sessions from the conference that are now available to download from the GA website. Keep an eye on this page on the website for more as the days go by...

Ocean debris

The flotsam from the Japanese tsunami that was swept out as the waves receded has started its long journey across the Pacific. It could sail the ocean currents for as long as three years before making landfall...

Living below the line... could you ?

Via @GlobalDimension

The line that is referred to is the poverty line...
Could you live off £1 of food a day for five days ?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Thought for the Day

"Share and enjoy"
Douglas Adams

Mission Explore: vote for us please...

The National Trust are looking for the Outdoors Book of the Year in association with the Hay Festival.
I have an idea for one that you could vote for....
Please follow the link, and vote for Mission Explore by the Geography Collective.