Sunday, 31 March 2013

Try Recite This

To create diagrams...



April Fool's Geography

Google Maps have got in quickly on the April Fools act.


Last year they created the 8-bit gaming maps. This year, they have added a TREASURE MAPS layer.
Click top right to add this to your Google Maps
Here's the venue for next week's GA Conference.
What other April Fools geographies will emerge ?

Thanks to Keir Clarke for the tip-off - also check out the LAT / LONG Treasure hunt...
Try GOOGLE STREET VIEW - sepia telescope ahoy... and get those screen grabs done now...

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Polish off a Penguin

This was the result of a GeoVation 'hack' type event...
You can see how dangerous your street is, by accessing a range of environmental data.
The twist is that this is converted into the number of penguins that could be 'killed' by your street's ambient conditions...
My postcode would see off 793 penguins apparently, although I'm not sure about some of the data summaries that I've seen...


New Gapminder Resources

Gapminder has been expanded with new resources for teachers.
Check the FACEBOOK page for more information.

Worth signing up for more details via the Facebook page...

Follow the Things - it's in the bag...

Last year at the GA Conference, delegates were given a free shopping bag from the Follow the Things website.

We'd be interested to know what you did with your bag.
Are you using it for your marking ?
For storing potatoes ?
As a classroom resource for teaching about geographies of consumption ?

I saw one the other day when going down the escalator into the tube.
Please add a comment below or tweet me @GeoBlogs to let me know how you're using your Follow the Things bag...


Friday, 29 March 2013

GA Conference 2013

I'm preparing my contributions to the Geographical Association Conference today.

The conference will be held at the University of Derby, which is my favourite of the three venues. It runs from the 4th to the 6th of April.

The first day of the conference doesn't involve any of the usual workshops.
I will be heading over to the Association at Work session to grab a bite to eat, and chat to Ian Cook (who features in this month's 'Geographical' magazine coincidentally) to talk about a Follow the Things project I'm doing between now and the end of June.

Later that afternoon, it's the public lecture from Ellen MacArthur, followed by the GA Awards. I know that something I worked on has won an award, and there may be a few more in the offing too...
Then it's the wine reception, followed by a few drinks with esteemed geographer colleagues...

Friday is the main day of the conference, with sessions from early in the morning to late in the evening. My draft schedule is as follows:

9am
Lecture 2
Oceans for the Geography Classroom from Jamie Buchanan Dunlop. I've worked with Jamie on three different projects this year for Digital Explorer.

10
Workshop 6
Ian Cook – Follow the Things 
A controversial choice as this clashes with Bob Digby's Presidential Lecture, but I'll be going along to get ideas and pointers for the work I'm doing with Ian. I'm sure there'll be a big turn out for Bob's lecture so I won't be missed...

11.45
Workshop 11 – SPC
I'll be going along to support SPC colleagues in their workshop.

Lunch, and a chance to network with colleagues. I'll also spend some time on the Discover the World stand to share ideas on the mission booklet which we've put together with them.

1.50
Lecture 7
David Lambert
My old boss talking about the thorny subject of progression in Geography - what's not to like.

2.55
Workshop 20
APPening Geography 
I'm up on this one. Katy Shipman and I will talk about apps, and their use in geography. We'll ask people about their favourite apps, and explore how they can support learning.

4.30
Workshop 26
I'm up on this one as well.. going to be a busy couple of hours !
Two Hundred Heads are better than one
I'm going to act as master of ceremonies, and introduce two sessions by Tony Cassidy and John Sayers. They are both on the theme of collaborative work, and the importance of sharing. 

5.35
Lecture 13
Urban Vignettes - Emma Rawlings-Smith and other colleagues who are involved in setting up a website with writing on urban areas. I'm hoping I can get across in time to join this one.

SPC Meal - down into Derby Centre for a pizza and a chat with colleagues...

GeoBeerMeet - over to the Brunswick Inn near the railway station for a gathering of teachers and some fine ale...


Sign up for the event on Google+ here

After the GeoBeerMeet I shall sleep soundly, knowing that my major contributions to the event have been concluded.
The second main day of the conference is on Saturday.

9am
Lecture 13
Digital Earth - a lecture by Karl Donert, related to an EU project which I am involved in, and which has taken me to various European locations... which is nice :)

10.10
Keynote – the changing Arctic
Terry Callaghan lecture - an important element of the conference is the chance to develop knowledge and skills in new areas. This is an area that I've been focussing on with some reading, and will develop further for some writing I'm planning in 2013 and beyond.

11.45
Mission Explore fieldtrip - a quick trip out, with a trial of some of the missions in the book

1.50
Forum
Bringing knowledge back in
A range of contributors from the various UK nations...

If you're going along to the conference, come and say hello.

RIP Uncle Monty

One of my top 3 films is 'Withnail and I'.
Sad news today of the death of Richard Griffiths: Uncle Monty... also Henry Crabbe in 'Pie in the Sky', which is one of those day time shows I always watch if I spot a repeat on a weekend...

Withnail and I was his finest hour, with so many classic lines...
Time to get the DVD off the shelf perhaps.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

VITAL Handover & end of another era...

Since October 2011, I have been managing the VITAL Geography Portal.

Vital was a CPD service organised in association with the Open University. It involved a range of subject portals and other services for teachers, including a roster of consultants, of which I was also one, and online meetings called Teachshares.
This opportunity came at the perfect time for me, as it provided a regular small income at a time when I had just gone freelance having been made redundant from the Geographical Association.
It was also an opportunity that I would not have known about without Twitter.

The service was extended through to the end of March 2013, and today is the changeover to JISC Advance, who are taking over the portals, and the end of my work for VITAL.

I'll update this post with the link to the new portal page once they go live.

You will be able to get free access to the hundreds of resources that I created, but you'll need to register. Those who had previously registered for VITAL may need to re-register.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

StoryCubes App updated...

An excellent update for the Rory's StoryCubes App which is one I use quite a lot (although I tend to use the physical cubes more often)

It's a few years old now, and various new physical sets of cubes have been added since then.
The app offers a free update of the Actions set.

There are three further new sets which can be added as an in-app purchase.
They are called CLUES, ENCHANTED & PREHISTORIA.

Well worth installing, and then you can shake away and start creating new stories. The world needs new stories.


EFL Showcase 2013

Last year, I attended the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase event at Preston Montford near Shrewsbury. It brought together 30 people from different backgrounds: academics, teachers and other interested people, to talk about technology and innovation in fieldwork. I learnt a lot of new stuff, as there were lots of non-geographers there.

Here are some pictures that I took at the event. I talked about Mission:Explore and guerrilla geography.



The date for the next event has been announced, and it will take place at the Field Studies Council's centre at Rhyd-y-Creuau at Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia. It's been a while since I last went to Betws.... the last time was with my good friend Simon Hathaway for a day on Moel Siabod.
There is a limited number of places available. The event is free, but no transport costs will be paid. A small number of travel bursaries are however available for early career practitioners.
Places will fill up quickly.

I may see you there :)

Quinoa - however you say it...

Quinoa is a grain crop which is used as a foodstuff in some areas of the world, particularly South America.

Quinoa is pronounced 'keenwa' apparently...

As the Guardian article that is linked to explains, the grain has become quite popular with some foodies, and because of its healthy nature, which means a change to growing it as a cash crop and exporting a large percentage of the annual harvest from countries such as Bolivia.

One of the issues with this is that the grain is a staple food for a range of people, and if global demand increases, particularly from countries which can perhaps 'afford' to pay more, then the price will go up and those people will struggle to feed their families...

Another impact of the eternal global demand for the 'new' perhaps ?
There are plenty of other food contexts for learning, but perhaps this could be one to develop.
Or do you quinoa better idea ?

Image by Flickr user net_efekt - Christian Guthier
Shared under CC Attribution license
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatfields/3018416303/sizes/m/ 

John Muir Trust Mission booklet

For the last few months we've been working with the amazing folks at the John Muir Trust to put together a booklet of missions which marries the Mission:Explore style of missions to the aims of the trust, which are to encourage young people to experience the landscape, and care for wild places.
John Muir was the father figure of nature conservation, and quotes from him have been included to connect the missions with some of the ideas that he had over a century ago.
The resource is part of the celebrations for the Year of Natural Scotland, 2013


You can get to see the missions on this GRAPHICLY page. It will be available in other locations shortly, and I'll add the links to those as they emerge.

Here's a slide that I've used in many of my presentations...
Get out and about this Easter... and don't forget to take the opportunity to Mission:Explore...

Cutting the ties...

Since leaving the Geographical Association, I've had at least one small connection remaining: if you visited Solly St. on Google Street View, my black Citroen C3 - sadly now scrapped after a collision with the side of a lorry - was parked outside...
Within the last few days, the imagery in that area has been updated... and my car is now gone...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Sigur Ros



Tickets booked to see them later in the year...
Turn it up....

Iceland on a plate... as featured in the Discover the World Iceland Missions

Beeching 50 years on...

In 1963, the year of my birth, the railway network in Britain suffered a major change...


Fifty years ago tomorrow, Dr. Beeching announced his cuts...

The EDP has published a report today, and there have been others on the local news for the last few days. The image above was taken from today's paper...

I used to live in Snettisham, between King's Lynn and Hunstanton - I lived on Station Road, but the station was closed by Beeching. It would have been perfect to travel to work by train rather than drive. Enjoy this wonderful film with John Betjeman taking the route, and stopping off in Snettisham...
Wolferton station is open for the Scarecrow festival every two years. It's now a private home, but there are still timetables on the platform. How wonderful would it have been to take that line in the sun, heading for the coast... and the pier would still have been there too...


I now live a few miles from a village which used to have a station... would be really useful to have it there today...


A cold legacy...

It's not long (relatively speaking) to the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
These are going to be held in Sochi.
Do you know where that is without looking at a map ? Take a look now if you don't... go on...
Oh, it's there is it ?

This Guardian article provides some background on the preparations for the Olympics, and various issues, including the rising cost of the games.

Now that the London 2012 games are over, you may be looking around for a sporting event to focus on. The Winter Games will enable a range of contexts to be covered.

There have been a few issues apparently, and one of the main issues is that this area has a small population and does not have a precedent of hosting anything on this scale.
There's also the small matter of the fact that it might be good to have some snow around for the winter Olympics... just in case they're apparently going to keep some of this year's....

Footnote: usually I'd put an image or something on the post, but the Olympics logos are all protected by copyright and even the GA didn't get permission to use one....
Perhaps you can get students creating their own logos, and then you can use one of those in any relevant blog posts...

More to come as the Games get nearer...

What did the Anglo Saxons ever do for us ?

Spent part of today over the border into Suffolk at West Stow Anglo Saxon village in the company of 40 primary colleagues. I did a presentation on how we could relate the missions to Primary Humanities, particularly the idea of exploration, outdoor learning ('fieldplay') and connect with the chronology and sense of place that came from being in a place where people had lived for centuries...

A slightly edited version of my presentation is here:


We then had 45 minutes to explore the village, or walk down to the local river, which would have been important to the residents of the village. There were sticky cards to 'swatch West Stow', mints to go the mint-stint, paint swatches, compasses and various other bits.
Remember the West Stow recipe sheet too.
This can be used for other contexts...
Equipment: a warm coat and a sense of adventure

Thanks for the feedback and ideas - some good spectrums of colour, a nice googly eyed monster made from a loom weight, and some recipe ingredients
I liked the suggestion that the village was 'best served hot...' - we could certainly have done with a little heat...

Thanks to James Woolven for the invitation, and to the West Stow team for hosting.
A good lunch too with fine cup cakes.
Here's a few of the photos I took of the village - pop in if you're in the area.


Finally, thanks to Paula from Rougham Primary for sharing her haikus of West Stow - a simple verse form to encourage some 'stand and stare' time which I referred to in the talk - the importance of pausing.... Here's a few from the selection:

Stones that speak of time
Thatch listening for centuries
Voices, hearts and minds

or

Ancient scents linger
Ashes of time - shared cooking
Eating, laughing - Home

To find out more about the work of Primary Champions, join the Primary Geography NING, where you can meet up with hundreds of other Primary colleagues, and find and share ideas.

I'd also love to hear about how you use your copy of Mission:Explore Food in the classroom...
A really nice way to round off the first quarter of the year.
A new chapter starts on April the 1st - more to come then...

Cartographies of Life and Death

Last week, while in London, I passed the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

I noticed there was an exhibition devoted to the work of John Snow.
There is a useful podcast to listen to.

Cartographies of Life and Death

I have used John Snow's work as an example of early GIS, perhaps the first person to explore mapping and data, and using it to solve the mystery of cholera deaths in an area of central London. He was born in York, and at an earlier GIS event, we took the delegates to the house where he was born, which just happened to be round the corner from the venue.

Check out this MOBILE MAP which shows the mapping that was involved in the exhibition if you are unable to get there.
Sadly, I walked past the LSHTM at half past five, and the exhibition was closed...

Useful for those teaching about the geography of health, or the geography of disease.

John Sayers - Screenr presentation

In just over 2 weeks time it's the GA Conference at the University of Derby.
I'm doing quite a few things, but one of them is a workshop with Tony Cassidy and John Sayers.
Here's one of his recent productions... combining a range of tools and his question matrix...


Monday, 25 March 2013

HMS Warrior and #kidsmeetpompey

I spent Thursday of last week down in Portsmouth.
I'd travelled down the night before from a course that I was running in Birmingham, so it was a long day, and I got to my hotel quite late. I was in what the hotel described as a 'soundproof room', although the large gap under the door, the thin walls and 'energetic clientele' meant that I questioned the validity of the description. Slept surprisingly well for all that, and the following morning took a blustery walk through the edges of the city and into Gunwharf Quays, following a route that I'd walked before on a previous visit to work with students at Priory Geography. I entered the Historic Dockyards, home to the Mary Rose and other nautical treasures... and made my way to the venue.



The event was organised by members of the Geography department at Priory School in Portsmouth, particularly Jo Debens.
The event brought together around 50 students from a number of local schools, and was hosted on the gun deck of HMS Warrior in Portsmouth harbour. This provided a few 'issues' in terms of access to 3G or WiFi, but also an inspirational setting. We were surrounded by cannons, and ropes, and the students had tables suspended from the ceiling, and surrounded by barrels, hammocks and more cannons... We were cocooned in one hundred and fifty years of history.
The weather was not the best... drizzling with rain and very cold, but fortunately I had plenty to keep me warm, running round checking on all the groups as they were working. The day was quite 'unstructured', which was good in some ways as there was a lot of 'discovery learning' going on from all concerned, including me.
Students arrived just after 9, and we got settled into the cable deck. We were a little cramped, but we had some chairs and cushions.
I spent about 40 minutes setting up the day. We had an introduction from the Education manager of the ship, and I then explained what the curriculum was, and who was responsible for deciding what it contained. We discussed the absence of student voice in the process of curriculum making, and also what was meant by co-creation. I talked about the work of Mission:Explore, and in particular the need to explore new approaches, new topics and look for relevance and challenge.

We also had an input from Robbie and Jonathan, two of Priory School's Digital Leaders. Robbie was very clear about how the Digital Leaders supported members of staff, and was very helpful during the day.

The students were then given an iPad and a range of pens and paper and some space to discuss what they wanted to achieve. I used the ideas funnel idea which was originally shown to me by Jamie Buchanan Dunlop, and later made its way into my Badger GCSE Book. This helped them to decide on a key idea that they would spend some time developing further.

After an hour's work, it was time for a break. At the morning coffee break, I headed over to Action Stations, where Jo Debens was co-ordinating some work for BBC School Report. There was lots of activity and I grabbed a coffee before heading back to the ship. It was good to meet up with several Twitter contacts on the day, who I'd not met face to face before.
I also had great support from Jonathan Parrott, the current PGCE colleague at Priory School, who was very helpful. There were also several Priory students videoing the sessions and discussions on the day, and I was also interviewed by Amelia and her friend, as were all the teachers. We also had a flying visit from David Rogers.

We then went back and did another hour before coming together to hear about the ideas that the students had put together. The students were real stars, and they came up with 9 specific ideas for developing curriculum resources, which they presented.
Some of them were excellent, all of them were interesting. They are apparently going to be developed a little more back in school. Some students used the iPads for display, others for prompts for their presentations.
Here's my original tweets of the ideas:

  • #kidsmeet idea 9 creating the 'Applas' - the app atlas - 'think find learn'... Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet idea 8 the wonderful world we live in - accentuating the positives of geography.... Food geographies... Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet idea 7 poverty in the uk - its not just overseas - defining poverty and linking it to students' lives Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet idea 6 using time based curriculum - iPads etc - new topics on climate change - topicality - more fieldwork - linking subjects Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet 5 - game-ography - technology Minecraft - climate and biomes - FIFA and tracking players - F1 visiting tracks Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet idea 4 - climate change - app - clicking on map and identifying characteristics - pen pals and global stories - Google Earth Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet idea 3 Iconic places - skyping people in other countries & app development - virtual visits - idea of place Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet idea 2 Health Mar 21, 2013 
  • #kidsmeet idea 1 USA - law & politics and modern warfare

I'll follow up with a little more detail on these ideas when I get a moment in a future blogpost...

Shortly after one o' clock, we rounded off with thank-yous to those who had helped, and I was then off to run for a train back to Norfolk.

This was yet another excellent event conceived and organised by Priory Geography. If Carlsberg made Geography departments....

If anyone would like to buy me a whisky....

I'll take one of these.... no ice...

"Health and safety gone mad..."

I've spent part of today finishing off the presentation for a conference I'm involved with tomorrow. It involves going to an Anglo Saxon village in Suffolk, and I'll be working with Primary Humanities colleagues.


One of the messages in the presentation is about the importance of risk: taking measured risks with fieldwork, and also with pedagogy. Just in time, we have a story about dangerous flapjack.

I've loaded the car up with 42 copies of Mission:Explore Food, several packets of mints, compasses, sticky cards and paint swatches, CDs, boggly eyes and a range of other things...
And if you're coming, wrap up warm !

Image shared under CC license by The Armatura Press
Font copyright: Tom Morgan Jones / Inky Mess

Digimap for Schools - new features...

I've found myself making a lot of use of Digimap for Schools over the last few months. I've used it in numerous sessions with teachers, and have demonstrated the ability to create personalised maps with annotations from every scale of mapping produced by the Ordnance Survey.

Remember that there are resources for all key stages from Early Years through to GCSE which were written by Paula Owens and myself.

The service is regularly updated, and in fact some new features are due to be added this week....
They include a range of GIS-style functions which will increase the usefulness of the tool still further.
- buffering - draw a circle around a chosen point (could also be a line buffer tool on the way)
- font picker
- labelling available in miles as well as kilometres
- better photo manipulation
- Active tool
- better Start Again feature

Of course, you still can't beat a paper map from time to time...

You can now make your own OS Map, complete with customised title and cover at the OS website, and the map will be delivered promptly for £16.99

One option would be to make use of the designing tool so that students mock up an OS map for an area that they are familiar with, and with an image of their choice.
This would make a nice display.
Here's one I made earlier, complete with a frosty image I took a few months ago...




Thought for the Day

"There is nothing good to be had in the country(side), or, if there be, they will not let you have it."

William Hazlitt

Norwich

In the shape of a Canary... (ish), here's the result of a request on Friday last week for words to describe 'Norwich'... thanks to all who contributed their thoughts to images of this fair city...
Created with Tagxedo....

Click for biggery, and notice the colour scheme too... 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Scarfolk

I'm always impressed by writers who are able to conjure up entire worlds and sustain a mood, mythology and history for their creation. Some of my favourite books depend on entering a world that the author has created. There's also a certain geographical element to this of course.
Authors need to become experts in the meteorology, geology, biology and pedology of their creation and they need to make sense. Settlements, transport routes, resources or inequalities - all of these are conjured up. Tolkien's Middle Earth or Jack Vance's Lyonesse are worlds I spent hundreds of hours in when I was younger.
If students are to be able to develop an extended piece of writing, or immerse themselves in a particular milieu this tends to lead to independent learning - they want to learn more in order to develop their enjoyment of the experience.
My son is very interested in Minecraft, and this has led him to research and uncover a range of videos which show how to carry out particular tasks, craft particular objects and combine particular processes to develop.

All of this is quite a  long lead in to a recent discovery of mine via Theo Keuchel.
It's a website which describes the daily goings-on in the mythical NW town of SCARFOLK.

It's a hybrid of 1970s nostalgia which has been subtly warped and twisted... There's some real skill at work to edit familiar graphics such as tape cassette inserts (OK, familiar to those aged over 20...) and twist them into a dystopian vision in beige and brown... I wonder whether they need a geography teacher for the local school ?

You can follow the creator of Scarfolk on Twitter @richard_littler

I think I may try to create my own warped milieu... although some would say that I've been doing that anyway for some time...
Sleep well...

Sound as a pound...

Planning some resources for a CPD day, and one of the elements is about active revision techniques.
How can you help students to develop their memory of key case studies ?
I like this idea from Steve Mouldey for teaching about waves. He uses chalk to draw a headlands and bays coastline, then some wave orthogonals. He then asks students to stand on the waves and slowly walk in as the waves would approach the coastline... students can see them converging.

Also heard about schools which model physical processes, such as Longshore Drift (of course), but also others which are less obvious.

There's Noel Jenkins' migration powerpoint lesson too which springs to mind.
I got to thinking about POUNDLAND. This has a remarkable range of items, which are all priced at - yes you guessed it - a pound.
I remember visiting a EURO SHOP in Dublin a few years ago now and getting a perfectly good umbrella.
Turns out that Isabella Wallace, who does courses for OSIRIS (as I have just started to do - more to come in a blogpost shortly) has already explored this territory with Poundstore Pedagogy. (other discount stores are available after all, with QD, Tesco Value, Lidl and Aldi all offering very cheap items from time to time)
Recently, Poundland had an emergency shelter tent for just £1....

What else can you find ?

Another reason why I use Twitter...

I've discovered so many new ideas through my connections on Twitter. This post describes something I discovered several months ago, and have just discovered in draft, so published it today...

I've been broadening the scope of the people that I follow too...
A fairly recent discovery was from Pete Jones who goes by the Twitter name @Pekabelo

First up was a wonderful quote from Kurt Vonnegut, who I read a lot when I was younger but not revisited for quite a while. This instantly got used several times in a number of serendipitous conversations about our work in the Geography Collective.
This was followed by a link to an article by Pete on the work of Heston Blumenthal, the famous chef. I have previously referenced Heston in something I wrote for the PGCE Tips guide (link below)

Fits in with the idea of Chop one Red Onion (PDF download)

Heston Blumenthal post...

This is worth reading, as it provides some interesting ideas for exploring improving what you currently doing, and also the goals that you set for yourself...

Norfolk Geography Conference 2013

Thanks to Rob Lodge for inviting me to the annual conference at the professional development centre in Norwich on Friday this week.
I did a brief input with some colleagues on Creativity and trying something new....
Alan Kinder did a keynote and workshop during the morning on curriculum change which was a useful update for me, and we also heard from Anne Roe about an interesting heritage project in Great Yarmouth.
Here's the notes for my session.... presentation is on Slideshare...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Aim High

Google Earth is a tool that can sometimes be forgotten when there are so many other things which can be used with students.

The high places of the world are important in GCSE and 'A' level but should also form part of work at lower key stages, as mountains can be awe-inspiring.

Ask colleagues and students - which mountains should we study ?
Which are your favourite mountains ?
Why do mountains matter to us ?

In this year of Everest commemorations perhaps now is a time to turn our gaze to the heights...

Street View Collections have now been extended to show some of the mountains that the Street View cameras have been too...
See what else is there. You might be surprised...

Don't forget MAPCRUNCH too...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Thought for the Day

"any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich..."
Plato

Why not follow Dan Raven Ellison's lead, and set your students off on a 'polar' expedition....

Flickr - extreme photos !

It's important to identify photos which have high impact and are of a good quality to use when teaching...
FLICKR is one place to search, with over 7 billion images.
There is a range of additional resources connected with Flickr, including a blog, and various image search tools such as COMPFIGHT.

Check out this extreme photography by Sean King - who it turns out is also colourblind...

Maasai Mara

Thanks to Luke Kilvert for the tip off to a really useful resource for teaching about the impacts of change in the area where the Maasai live. Their cultural and environmental heritage is under threat. Good for bringing the images and examples in 'Interactions' up to date...

Al Jazeera clip



Effect sizes and student achievement...

While reading round several events I've been doing this year, and which are coming up in the next few months, I have been mindful of some of the research that has been done into the interventions which have an effect on pupil performance. The extent to which certain things 'makes a difference' can be measured using something called the 'effect size': something which seems to work has a larger value for this. John Hattie and colleagues have been working in this field for many years.

OSIRIS Education, who I have been doing a few courses for this year, have shared a nice infographic which sums up some of the main impacts, and would make useful viewing I think for many teachers.
Some of these effects are beyond the scope of the teacher to impact... and I think that there are some teachers (myself included) who would probably say something like "I'm not sure my students have read that research though because they... INSERT DIFFERENT BEHAVIOUR HERE..."
Which means that for any group of teachers they will have their own specific needs and pressures, and that's what makes CPD days interesting, when teachers talk to colleagues who they don't normally meet day-in-day-out.

Terry Burr has made the infographic, which can be viewed on the OSIRIS site HERE.
Print it off and use it as a stimulus for discussion.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Proud to be a member...

There are many societies for the appreciation of small every day things, and bigger things such as Clouds. I'm a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society (and have been since it started), but recently joined another society...


And as the opportunity has arisen, may I say how important I think telegraph poles are - take a look out of your front window now (unless it's dark and you'll probably see at least one...)
I can count 4 from mine, and I live in a small village...

What other societies are there which are dedicated to other less-famous aspects of the English landscape  ??

Thinking like a Geographer

Thanks to Victoria Ellis for discovering this little gem... student-created and excellent...

Free Top Trumps cards...

Top Trumps are often used for revision purposes, with students being asked to create their own cards on a topic of a geographical nature...
Card sets of Volcanoes, Rivers, Earthquakes, Megacities etc...
Check the NEW FOREST SET that I tweeted about some time ago.

Did you know that you can join the TOP TRUMPS School Club, and get 6 free packs each year ?

Go to the TOP TRUMPS education site to get the details...

Thanks to Stephen Reid for the tip-off to this opportunity



YouTube Picture Slideshows...

You can just upload videos to YouTube right ?
Wrong...
You can now upload images, which are turned into Photo Slideshows with effects, and can have music added from a choice of many thousands of tracks...

Check out the other new options on YouTube.
Handy as we approach GCSE Revision time - why not challenge students to create a revision resource for their peers, which can then be assessed against criteria which you have developed as a group.

Ensure that images are creative commons licensed and appropriately referenced...
Thanks to Doug Belshaw for the tip-off...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

GCSE Geography request...

I'm interested in the support strategies for GCSE Geography that seem to work the best for you.

I've also set this post up to show the potential for using GOOGLE FORMS for collecting data. This can be used for data collection for KS3 and GCSE/'A' level projects. It features in a new book on 'Fieldwork through Enquiry', which I wrote for the Geographical Association, and will be published later this year.

If you have a GMail account, you will already have a Google Drive available to you, which you can claim by visiting the site.
There is a HELP PAGE here.

If you had a minute or so to fill in the few questions that I've added below that would be much appreciated. As any entries are made, they will appear on a spreadsheet, and can then be analysed. There are also some immediate visualisation options....
Thanks in advance...

Some nice geography lessons...

Meaghen Brown has shared a number of interesting 'geography lessons' online.

I enjoyed this one on the Story of Place in particular.

GCSE Revision Techniques

Some more really useful student support from David Drake.
This time it's revision ideas for GCSE

Friday, 15 March 2013

Mission Explore Sustainable Seafood

We've just made a new resource for National Geographic....

It's a set of materials for exploring issues surrounding sustainable seafood.


The ocean plays a critical role in everyone's life, no matter where they are located. Covering 70 percent of our planet, the ocean provides the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat. These hidden connections are made very tangible through the food on our plates. Seafood is a staple diet of more than one billion people worldwide, and nearly as many rely on fish and shellfish as their main source of income.

With all these dependencies on its resources, the ocean is heavily strained. More than 75 percent of the world's fisheries are currenlty overfished and being depleted faster than their populations can replenish. Scientists predict that if fishing rates continue as they have been, all of the world's fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048. The primary issues affecting the sustainability of marine fisheries include overfishing, illegal fishing, habitat damage, bycatch, and management.

These 20 seafood-related missions find their basis in your local community and explore some of the issues our ocean is facing in a fun, hands-on way. Everyone is connected to the ocean andMission:Explore Food—Sustainable Seafood makes these connections apparent through personal discovery, investigation, and adventure. Dive into the ocean-y secrets of your kitchen, backyard, and grocery store if you dare!

Google Earth Event


Richard Allaway is organising a special online event on the 6th of May.
It will take place at 8pm in the evening

This session will outline how Google Earth skills can be incorporated into the school curriculum and not just the Geography one!  This will lead to the discussion of a real, tested, classroom example of building a continuum of skill development leading towards a project planning the first commercial (1937) passenger flight from Southampton (UK) to Cape Town (South Africa) which happened to be on a boat-plane! (25 minutes)

I'm hoping to be in there to help out...
The official site where you can sign up to join in or find out more information is HERE....

Fieldwork Guidance

I wrote this while working for the GA.
It's a little dated in places, but there's still useful advice and some nice quotes.
Could be helpful if beginning to put together a bid for equipment or additional support to develop fieldwork within your school. I thought I'd add it here so that you didn't have to hunt for it.

Thanks to the folks who joined me in London yesterday for a GA fieldwork course. I had a really good day. There's plenty of fieldwork-related content in the workshops and lectures at the GA conference. Hope to see lots of you there - come and say hello.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Food Banks

I wrote about Food Banks four years ago as part of a CPD unit that I wrote for the TDA which is available on the GA website.

In previous years, these have become even more common, and there are now thousands of people in the UK who rely on help to feed their families.
This New Statesman article is helpful too in outlining some of the issues around this option.

Will there be even more people relying on Food Banks in the future ? The latest news on energy prices is not good news, but not unexpected.

Recently a child poverty map of the UK revealed a range of extremes of children's lives.

And last week, my local paper had a headline about child poverty too, as shown to the right...

A good focus for discussions on 'development indicators' perhaps...

GA Conference fast approaching...

Do you have your booking in yet ?
The conference goodie bags are waiting for you....
More details here...

Also, for those who have been waiting for the Geographer badges to come back in stock at the GA shop, there are now 20 000 shiny badges waiting for you to order them...

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Turned out nice again....

A few weeks ago, the author Richard Mabey read an essay on Radio 3, spread across 5 nights.
The theme was Changing Climates, but it was more related to the great British weather.

The book is now available. It's a slim volume and beautifully presented, and can be read within an hour, or savoured for longer.
It provides some useful background contexts to teaching about weather.

This from the introduction:
"weather is what happens here and now, to our settlements and landscapes, to us... it changes the way we think and feel, about ourselves and the future..."

You can LISTEN AGAIN to all the five programmes for 'at least a year'...

Also have a discussion about the difference between weather and climate...

Looking down from Olympus

A new possible case study for environmental pollution which connects with a range of other issues.

The Greeks are facing a major austerity crisis at the moment, in fact there was a national strike last month, the latest in a series of 'industrial' disputes. One element of domestic expense is heating bills through the winter.

One of the ways to save energy is to burn fuel such as wood for heating and cooking. This may also be the main source of fuel in the first instance, but has started to replace gas and electricity (the cost of which are increasing). People are cutting down trees and switching to fuelwood for fuel.

There are several consequences of this shift, and one is the extent to which woodland is being illegally removed for fuel - this potentially also causes problems in other ways of course.
There is also an impact on air quality
This is not of the same scale as the issues in Beijing, where the air pollution is frequently at dangerous levels, and has been for some months...

There is a useful article on the BBC news website from January this year. It describes some of the key aspects.
Why not ask students to research this further....

This Place

This Place is a splendid new resource created by Oliver o' Brien at CASA at UCL in London.
It is an adaptation of some code that was created to explore and display data from the USA Census, so that it shows data from the 2011 UK Census.

You can explore any postcode in the UK or type in the name of a major city....

There are some fascinating patterns which emerge from the tool....

Type in your own postcode and see what occurs...
Look at population density for example in a central part of London compared with a more rural area.

VITAL work coming to an end

After 18 months working to manage the Geography portal for VITAL: the Open University's CPD service for teachers, I have another week left in that particular employment.
I am very grateful for the opportunity that this has given me to have a little financial security at a time when my job was made redundant, and also to support teachers by creating a range of resources, and also running a series of teachshares: virtual meetings. I am grateful also to all those who 'attended' these meetings, but also who joined me on the night as guest speakers, including David Riley of Triptico fame, Jamie Buchanan Dunlop, Richard Allaway and Paul Cornish...

This interview of Peter Twining by Bob Harrison also makes interesting reading about the impact of VITAL, and the legacy of the scheme. VITAL includes a range of strands, and it's worth finding out about them, and how they might be able to help you. I was also added to a list of IPD Partnership consultants for the East of England.

Later next week, my work for VITAL will finish, and the portals will then be transferred to JISC advance, who will take on the work of the portals. A reminder that these are free of charge, and all you need to do is register to access the resources.

MoCC Video

At the start of the year, I was invited to an event at the University of Exeter, to explore ideas of trade justice, commodities and the stories behind things that are for sale in shops. The idea of MoCC starts by imagining shops as museums, and every product that is for sale as an exhibit in the museum. What would you write on the tag that goes with it to explain its story...
MoCC is the Museum of Contemporary Commodities.
Watch the video to find out more about the project.
This is something I am going to be involved in later this year, as I work on a project with Ian Cook of Follow the Things fame....


MoCC Thinkering Day from Simon Moreton on Vimeo.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Cottager's Reply

Thanks for Matt for suggesting this song from Chris Wood yesterday at the GA Post 16 fieldwork course that I ran. It could be used very nicely I think as a way to introduce some ideas of rural change and pressures on local people wanting to stay in their home village...

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Just purchased

Out next week....

Danny Dorling, the London Underground and social inequality - what's not to like ??


World Heritage Threats...

Last year, one of the projects I was involved in was for the Google World Wonders project.
It involved writing about some of the world's World Heritage Sites.
I created some resources relating to the Pilgrims' route to Santiago de Compostela, and the area around Saint Emilion.
These are yet to be added to the website, although a 'stamp' with the logo of the city appears on the front cover of the teacher notes which can be downloaded from the website.
There are currently 28 places in the UK that are listed.
There are applications currently in to add some further places. These are currently on what is called the tentative list.

I started to explore these sites as a result of a story relating to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
A golf course is planned, and the development threatens the nature of the area around the causeway, to its detriment according to some people. Stonehenge has had long-standing problems identifying a solution to the busy A303 road and a lack of easy access and a decent visitor centre.

A few other searches related to other World Heritage sites in the UK (and elsewhere) identified a range of potential issues which could affect their listing, and provide the context for a little investigation by students...

Last week, while in Salzburg I heard about some of the proposed developments which threaten to change the nature of the old town, which is listed (and quite rightly)
There is already a Spar in Mozart's house... which seems a bit wrong...

Monday, 4 March 2013

Updating Facebook...

It's now three and a half years since I posted this work from Tony Cassidy and Liz Smith...
In a month's time, you'll be able to see Tony and I, along with John Sayers at the GA Conference.

Check out the profile template of TONY CASSIDY.

The resources take the shape of a template to produce a FACEBOOK-style "profile"
The profile is for a geographical context: a landform, city, development indicator, famous person, body of water... etc.
The template is here:

And followed shortly after by a TWITTER template, also produced by the inimitable Tony...

Quality stuff...

UPDATE: Here is some fantastic work by Year 9 students from Seaford Head Community College, who used the idea in their Geography lessons with Miss Smith. I love these. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to see some other examples...


Friday, 1 March 2013

ESRI UK Conference 2013


If you're really interested in GIS, then booking is now open for the ESRI UK user conference in May 2013
Plenty of interesting sessions...

I'm currently working on some educational materials for ESRI UK for ArcGIS Online.
They will hopefully be ready for the GA Conference in April, which is just over a month away.

Salzburg Geo-media

Many thanks to the 15 teachers and teacher educators that I have had the pleasure of spending the last three days with at the Z-GIS centre, which is part of the University of Salzburg.
Thanks to Karl Donert for organising the course.

We had colleagues from a wide range of backgrounds, experience and EU locations including a substantial UK and Ireland contingent (which meant I had to work extra hard as they'd probably already seen my 'tricks' before...)
We had plenty of interesting discussions about teacher influence on the curriculum, the value of technology (and the SAMR model), the impact of fieldwork and the importance of teacher choice.

Here's the winning image in the photo competition, taken by Angelique Roben from the Netherlands. It was taken on the trip up the Untersberg on Thursday morning.


If you would like me to set you up with an account for Mission Explore website, please get in touch by e-mail.

My blipfoto archive from the last year and a bit is here.

I shall publicise further opportunities to come along on the courses here as and when they become available...