Sunday, 29 September 2013

4800 up...

Another milestone for the blog as we reach 4800 posts...
Thanks for reading :)

PLAY....

Late night marking... needed an injection of energy to get the creativity flowing....

The coming age of Ambient Information...

I blogged earlier about the DISTANCE project which I am involved with. This is related to the idea of the 'Internet of Things'. We are currently creating teaching resources related to this theme, and I spent some time yesterday working on them.
We are working with our partners which include Intel, ScienceScope, Open University and the Birmingham Climate Laboratory.
I'm grateful to Karl Donert for the tipoff to the European Geographer journal.

An article in Issue 11 is excellent, and outlines a speech made by Ed Parsons from Google. I've met Ed a few times in the past, and chatted at the GA Conference a few years back. Ed has a really interesting job within Google.
The article is on page 29 and 30, and is based on a session given at Leuven.
It describes the value of 'ambient information' which we communicate, often without knowing it...

I recommend reading the article if you're teaching about cities and futures. It's based on some conference sessions that Ed has done in the last few months.

While in Bristol towards the end of the summer holiday, I noticed that there was a sign saying that the harbour was going to be coming to life, using QR codes...

And in Birmingham I noticed sensors in the parking bays. A car parked over them would make them dark, so linked to an app they become an instant 'map' of available on-street parking which changes as people come and go...

Are cities becoming 'smart' or are the people who manage cities making more use of technology to support (or control) their residents ?

As Ed said:

“People define places” because place is a social construct. In order for one to gain a sense of what a place is like, one must build an idea about that place and what it means for people. 

This provides some interesting ideas for how we define what a city is....

One for my Year 9s to ponder...

Geography teacher 2.0

I'm coming to the end of my first month back in teaching...



I spent twenty one years teaching, mostly in one school, before leaving to join the Geographical Association for what I thought would be the next twenty years... it didn't quite turn out that way... I then spent two years as a freelancer, and working part-time for the Open University's VITAL service. During that time we also created Explorer HQ, and I worked on a lot of European projects and travelling, and broadened my horizons professionally in so many different ways. Twitter came along at that time, and connected me to a range of new people, and my blogging audience grew in size to a regular 2000+ daily readers...
Financially I was bouncing along the bottom, but I had a lot of interesting projects to occupy me, and which made the most of my skills (such as they are)
I'm now back teaching in a school four days a week.
A few people asked me to write about what I'd noticed going back into teaching after a break away from it.
I would have to say that the break has done me a lot of good, but it has also broken the rhythm that I was in.... To quote Neil Peart:


"I'm in a groove now
Or is it a rut?
I need some feedback
But all the lines are cut"


Was I in a groove, or just a rut ?
The last five years have shaken me out of any rhythm I had. Which means it's taking me time to adjust to being back in the classroom.
Teaching remains an exhilarating way to spend the day, with the countless interactions and conversations that are to be had. There are the demands of marking, feedback on student work, grades and reports which remain the same, although they are mostly ICT managed, rather than the carbon paper reports I used to produce. My pigeonhole has remained empty mostly, but there have been plenty of e-mails...
The subject has continued to move on, but I'm comfortable with that, as one of the people who helped it move on in a small way.
The department I teach in holds the GA's Secondary Geography Quality Mark... and it shows. The team work very hard, and have been generous and supportive. The curriculum is interesting and forward looking. I've already been on the first GCSE Geography fieldtrip, and completed a minibus assessment in advance of that. The first parents' evening is next week...

What have I been getting up to ?

As an illustration, if I take my day on Friday this week to show what I got up to, to show the amazing variety that a teaching day provides, and the various challenges it poses to you...

I was up at 6am to shower, help prepare my kids' lunches and snatch a quick breakfast. Banana and insulated mug for the journey.
Off for the 40 mile drive to work. The journey is an attractive wander via Swaffham - passing the two huge Ecotricity turbines which dominate the town, then through fields past RAF Marham: home to Tornadoes which regularly roar around the villages, and past 'pig cities' and Barton Bendish towards Downham Market. Here I pick up the A10 and hug the rivers, and cross the drains as I move from Norfolk into Cambridgeshire and Fenland proper. Most mornings, mist cloaks the low lying land, and the sun has been rising en route. Tractors are a regular occurrence at this time of year... After forty minutes or so, I see the 'ship of the Fens' on the skyline, and know that I'm nearly there. The route takes me through the centre of Ely, and into the cathedral area, where I'm now 'at work' as all the buildings from there for several hundred yards are part of the school. The cathedral is a daily dose of inspiration.

I park up and head to my classroom, boot up the computer and grab a latte from the coffee machine. I check my e-mails and two pigeon holes (I teach in two parts of the school) then set up for the day, laying out the resources I need. I've always needed to get into school early and that hasn't changed. Chats to form members, and staff briefing.

Friday is assembly for the Junior school, which means that there are over 300 people coming calmly into the assembly hall, piano playing. There's a hymn and messages and prizes to hand out.

Lesson 1 is an observation lesson: a set five Geography group exploring Polar climates. My new HoD is sat at the back, and after a starter I turn on the projector to find that it doesn't work - the bulb has apparently gone on the previous day, when I was working up at Hull University... It's onto Plan B and we still achieve most of what I wanted to.
Lesson 2 is in another part of school at least five minutes walk away. I grab what I need and walk over chatting to my HoD about the lesson, and realise I've left something important back on my desk, but it's sorted. Work on Cities and a review of the first month. Conversations and handing out miniature boxes to create cities in (an urban version of my classic 'Landscape in a Box' lesson)
It's the morning break now, so back over to the Junior school for a coffee and chat to a few people who are interested in how yesterday went, and also the Director of Studies who seemingly knows every child and member of staff really well...
I have a 'free' period which is spent marking, and preparing lesson resources to make up for the fact that my projector doesn't work. I check the iPad bookings too...
Over to lunch early. The school has a fabulous dining hall which is an old monastic barn, built in 1375, and used to house Oliver Cromwell's cavalry at one point. Friday means fish... excellent brain food.

After lunch and PM registration with my form, it's into a lesson which is a close version of my observation lesson. It's with a higher set, and we do a little more analysis and use some peer assessment and Ron Berger-esque 'FISHY feedback'... using a sheet with Tom Morgan Jones fish illustrations...
Illustration: Tom Morgan Jones

We're just getting to the climax and the fire bell goes... it's a 2nd fire drill of the term...
Back in and packing away ready for the next lesson - this time it's Cheddar Gorge, from a scheme written by Noel Jenkins...
We use Digimap for Schools to create maps for a weekend climbing trip by Brian the Climber, and also explore the landscape of the Gorge itself.

The last lesson of the day is straight after: working on the Encyclopaedia Antarctica project - students are in their third lesson of creating something for a multimedia resource, and they have been busy. We have iMovies on penguin habitats, 3D posters on aquatic food chains, Prezis on changing exploration and written pieces too... Everyone has great fun - was I able to evidence progress every 20 minutes ? Probably not... Would I require improvement ? Possibly...
Capture the enthusiasm of those students, and the moment of creativity when a superb killer whale emerged from a block of playdoh and you might change your mind...
At 3.45 the day ended, but there was the little matter of a prep duty for an hour and a quarter.
Lots of chats with students who were staying behind to finish prep. I helped with suggestions and feedback and discussions on: the beatification of Saints, a Latin translation, some creative writing, a Spanish lesson on directions, posters on Sport, numeracy and fractions and a range of other things....

Then it was the drive home, with the smell of onions being harvested in the fields as I drove along the Ouse... Home at 6pm. An 11 hour day.

For any teachers reading, you'll realise that this sounds like an average day...

Although a direct comparison with teaching before the break is hard, a few comments I would have are:

- social media has not made the inroads into teaching and staffrooms that some enthusiastic advocates might suggest - that's not necessarily a bad thing - a focus on where you are now, and the students in front of you is good... the other 'rooms' can be distracting... I'm using snippets gleaned from Twitter and other projects, but a lot of what I'm doing is good 'old-fashioned' teaching :)
- school ICT provision varies, and where it is strong there are opportunities for creatively capturing students' imaginations - I'm using it in small doses at the moment...
- pride is an important factor - I already feel a pride in working where I do... I want to do my very best for the school, the students and my new colleagues... I feel that I have been 'invested in'... do you feel that your school has invested in you recently ? how would that be manifested ?
- marking and record keeping are as important as ever
- data matters - I have data on all the students I teach, but their personalities are what I'm interested in most... when I have a parents' evening next week, I have a feeling that it's the classroom experience that will drive the conversation rather than MidYIS and other indices...
- I'm not quite 100% yet, but get closer each day - learning the routines means I feel like a bit of an NQT... albeit an experienced one...

This is an uncharacteristically personal blogpost for me, but I was asked to write about the topic, so I have. Thanks to all those teachers whose work I've used so far, and will continue to use.

A final analogy would be to an album that has just been re-released by the band Rush. It was made 11 years ago when the band were returning to music-making after some personal tragedies for the band member Neil Peart (mentioned earlier...)
It's just been re-released... with a completely different sound. It's like the original album... but a whole lot better.... You can listen to it here - check out Ghost Rider and Sweet Miracle.
And that's what I think the break from teaching and the huge range of experiences I've had in the interim have done to me... I've been remixed... and now have better clarity and impact...

Check out my GeographyTeacher2Point0 blog for snippets from the classroom as I continue to re-adjust to life back at the Smartboardface....

I wasn't walking on water
I was standing on a reef
When the tide came in
Swept beneath the surface
Lost without a trace
No hope at all
No hope at all

Oh, sweet miracle
Oh, sweet miracle
Of life

Wind Farms - a 'blot on God's creation'

According to the Bishop of Newcastle

The Newcastle Journal published an article on his thoughts a few days ago...
He says that wind farms are spoiling areas along the NE coast, including within the Northumberland National Park.

I pass quite a few wind turbines on the way to work, including this one at Swaffham.

Worth using as an additional point of view when teaching about such issues....

Image: Alan Parkinson

Global Food Waste Explained...

With five tomatoes...

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Totally tubular...

Regular readers will know of the importance of this album in my life...
Mike would be in any shortlist of 'famous' people I'd like to meet....


The BBC will be showing a Tubular Bells documentary that was filmed some months ago to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the release of the album. It's called …plus Tubular Bells and will be on BBC4 on Fri 11th October at 9pm. It features an in depth interview with Mike at his studio in the Bahamas and also footage of him performing various sections from the album, plus interviews with family, friends, and many others. Lots of great archive too.
It will be followed by a concert from the BBC's archive of The Second House performance of Tubular Bells - only seen this on YouTube....

Now is that a constructive or a destructive wave on the cover ?

Ipswich Docks Redevelopment...

Last Saturday I was in Ipswich on a GCSE Geography fieldtrip. Here are some pictures I took of the redevelopment of the marina...

Mystery map...

Via Karl Donert
Look at this map and see if you can work out what is being shown, and then follow the link for the answer...

How hot will it get in your lifetime...

Thanks to Rob Chambers for the tipoff to this interesting interactive from the Guardian's website.



With the publication of the recent IPCC report, which has been getting a lot of coverage, there's a renewed focus on global warming.

To Hull and Back....

Went back to Hull for the 4th or 5th time to work with new PGCE cohort. They were 3 weeks into the course, and I introduced some ideas, and talked a bit about my return to the classroom.
My presentation is on Slideshare.


I've been asked to blog about my return to teaching and what has changed, and will be doing that over the weekend I hope. One or two things to do before then...

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Clay work...

Today was a day for clay modelling for some in Year 8, as part of the Encyclopaedia Antarctica project.

Environment Agency Flood Plan

This is now available on the Environment Agency website.

An increasing number of people are living in properties which are at risk of flooding: around 1 in 6 homes are at some risk of flooding....

You can now complete a flood plan online using this interactive tool....
May be worth going through with students

Minecraft OS Mapping

A story that interested the Year 7 boys in my form today...
An OS intern has created a huge Minecraft version of the UK using OS Open Data.

If you have a copy of Minecraft, the data can be downloaded from the link above.

I'd be interested to see what people do with this...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A blast from the past...

Literally....
I was stood at several of the locations in this film a few months after the eruption...

Discussing this with my Year 7s yesterday, and there were quite a few people in interesting locations, or whose family had to amend their travel plans because of the eruption. I was able to show them some of the ash from the eruption...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Greenland and grants...

One of the grants awarded by the Royal Geographical Society is the Ray Y Gildea Junior award.

The Virtual tour of Greenland is the result of the award when it was given to Ruth Hollinger of Tapton School, Sheffield (PDF download)
It's worth reading the GUIDELINES for applications for RGS grants and thinking about projects which you may be planning. This could provide the support that you need to bring your idea to fruition...

Coming later this term are new RGS grant opportunities for teachers.
I'll blog when they are released...





Two new teacher websites / blogs

It's always good to have some new teacher blogs to read, especially when they're Geographical in nature...

First of all there's the blog of Josh Tipping, a trainee geography teacher at Portsmouth University. A really stylish effort with a range of pages and new content being added...


Secondly is the new website of Emma Rawlings Smith, who teaches in Abu Dhabi....
This uses the WEEBLY platform...
I was particularly interested in the images from the fieldtrip to Masdar...


Keep an eye on these blogs as they develop through the coming academic year....
And if you have a blog you want me to publicise, or think I've missed one, then get in touch....

Freshly brewed resources...


A few months ago, I worked on a short project for the COSTA FOUNDATION and RAINFOREST ALLIANCE, which involved creating a set of teaching resources around the theme of coffee production and the impact on those who are involved producing it. I'm grateful to those who helped me collect some of the information that made its way into the resource, which went live this week...
Check out the interactive map and teaching resources for download here.


Milk, no sugar....

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Twin your toilet...

Noticed today that one of the staff toilets at my new school is twinned with one in Cambodia. Is this something you could do to reinforce the importance of sanitation and global connections. After all if we all eat, we all also.... well, you know where I'm going with this... time to do the crossword...


Or use Google Earth to find the toilet....
I'd give it five minutes....

World turned upside down...

Over the last few years I've connected quite a bit with educators in Australia and New Zealand.

The last few weeks saw the Geography Teachers' Association of Victoria conference.
There's always a moment when you hear about Victorian geography teaching and have quite a different image, but there's plenty here that's bang up to date.
The conference was called 'Making a splash in Geography'.
Here's a few resources and ideas that I'll take away from this event that I never even got to.... (maybe next year...)

- A powerful resources on stories from Rwanda
- A resource on Water for Life (PDF download)

Also a few Twitter tags to follow including @srmdrummer

This was followed by the Geography Teaching Association of New South Wales event, which also had its own hashtag. These can be searched for a short time after the event, but one of the things about Twitter is the way these disappear over time, which is why some events capture them using STORIFY or other tools.

There's the GEOG SPACE website which has a range of materials for curriculum change - I've blogged about that before. We need something similar for England, and from recent tweets it seems that the Geographical Association is gearing up to offer a range of web support.

A new Govt has also been elected in Australia - hope they don't cancel the new curriculum after all the effort that's gone into it !

The importance of Geography...

I've met Vanessa Lawrence, the Director General of the Ordnance Survey, several times - the first was some years ago when I was presenting at the SAGT conference (I'm heading up there again in October...) and the second was when she was involved in the awards at the Royal Geographical Society when I received my Ordnance Survey award for "excellence in secondary geography teaching" (although I never talk about it...) and latterly at the GA awards too...

She was presenting at an AGI event today, and reminded the delegates of the importance of studying geography....

Every Last Drop...

A nice site for teaching about water security and saving 'every last drop'.
Scroll down for the full story.....


Monday, 16 September 2013

Flatford Mill FSC


View FSC Flatford Mill Field Centre in a larger map

Off here shortly on a GCSE fieldtrip... just like old times.
Was reminded that when I was writing my KS3 Toolkit book on Landscapes, one of the activities is based on Constable's picture of the Haywain.
We wanted to have a picture of the original in the book, but the potential fee for including it was most of the budget for the whole book... so we included some kids' drawings of it instead, with thanks to Ian Gaunt from Tapton School.

Looking forward to the trip as it will be a good chance to try out some of the techniques that are in my most recent book with John Widdowson.


We're staying at the FSC centre, and doing one of the Controlled Assessment tasks for the OCR 'B' Geography specification. 
Hope the weather's like it is in the picture above...

More details and pictures will follow on my return over at my new Geography Teaching blog.  


In preparation for the trip, I had a minibus test today, which took in Grunty Fen, and various villages that were linked with Hereward the Wake... a drive through history.... and below sea level in places....

GA Magazine - Autumn 2013 issue

Another excellent issue with the latest Webwatch...
Will be available to download from the GA website shortly...

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Blast from the past...

Thanks to Simon Williams for sending through a picture taken almost 30 years ago, while on an undergraduate fieldtrip to Besancon in the South of France.
You'll have to guess which one I am... remember it was the 80s. I could probably still fit in those Wrangler cords...

A grand day out...

While heading down to the SW for a family holiday at the end of August, we passed through Bristol where we went on the Gromit trail.
This was great fun, and every one of the Gromit statues was very impressive. They were scattered throughout the city, and in many buildings beyond. We managed to find almost half the statues in total.
Here are some of the images I took...

We also picked up a competition entry form. The aim was to design a Gromit in the same vein as the ones that had been displayed. Heard earlier this week that my son is one of the runners-up in his age-group, from over 1000 entries !
The judge, an illustrator himself said that:

“I assessed the entries based on the originality of the design, the thought process behind it and the artistic qualities.

.. which seem to be appropriate criteria for art work...


Image: Alan Parkinson

Saturday, 14 September 2013

GA Cambridgeshire Branch now on Twitter...

After twenty years teaching in Norfolk, I now cross the border into Cambridgeshire four times a day for my new job.
I'll be making use of the GA's Cambridgeshire branch later this year: some lectures and also the Worldwise Quiz later in the term.
The GA's Cambridgeshire Branch is now on Twitter, where you can find more about their activity.
Here's a shot taken approaching the Cambridgeshire border yesterday.... passports at the ready !


Image: Alan Parkinson

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning is an HEA funded project, which explores the way that technology can enhance pedagogy in fieldwork in particular. There is a focus on data collection, and the use of mobile learning.

Last year, I went to the 2nd annual Showcase event of the project at Preston Montford Field Studies centre, and until recently I was due to attend the 3rd event at Rhyd Y Creuau

I gave a presentation last time on our work with Mission:Explore and the connections with ludic pedagogies...

This time I was going to talk about the DISTANCE project that we have been working on.
However, instead of making my way to Snowdonia yesterday, I was teaching, and instead of presenting at the FSC Centre today, I was marking Year 7 homework. All part of my transition back to teaching...

I've tweeted a few folks who are at the event, and from the sound of it there have been some excellent presentations and fieldwork excursions.
I've been following the event hashtag too: #eflshowcase

Follow the Twitter account too...

Some apps and other tools that I've been using for some years have been getting a mention, so good to know that I'm up to date here... Some further new ideas too. Some of the resources will also be shared on the website after the event hopefully...

More changes...

Two weeks down...

Pausing for breath with a cup of tea on a Saturday morning, two weeks into the new term...

Meanwhile, most of my colleagues are preparing for an Open Day with Saturday school, followed by sport.

It's been a whirlwind return to teaching which is allegedly 'part time' but has been all consuming over the last few weeks as I get used to a whole new set of routines, meet 7 new groups of students, and get to grips with the ICT, school admin system, 'cross-phasing' (teaching lessons in separate buildings which are five minutes brisk walk apart), long(ish) distance commuting four days a week, Friday night duties and computerised prep tracking.
Add to that my son starting Year 7, daughter starting GCSEs and my wife starting a new extra part-time job in a school which was then OFSTEDed this week...
It's as if the last five years never happened.

OK, that huge pile of books is not going to mark itself...

Thanks to all colleagues and Twitter followers who have sent their best wishes and asked how it's going.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

We don't farm like this...

Thanks to Richard Allaway for the tipoff to this video...

New National Curriculum documents released...



It's been a while coming, but there were new curriculum documents released today, as well as some feedback on the consultation process, that involved a range of organisations and individuals, and you can download the document as a PDF here....

Here's the responses for Geography....

Question 9: Do you have any comments on the revised draft programmes of study or attainment targets for geography? 

There were 302 responses to this question.

114 (38%) Yes

188 (62%) No


29 respondents (25%) welcomed the revised geography programmes of study, in particular the greater demand in relation to a pupils’ acquisition of geographical knowledge, understanding and skills; the reduced repetition of content across the key stages; and the rebalancing of human and physical geography.

29 respondents (25%) viewed the strengthening of climate change as a significant improvement in the revised curriculum. 14 respondents (12%) welcomed the increased profile of environmental geography
throughout the key stages.

31 respondents (27%) were concerned that the programmes of study did not make sufficient reference to the need for all pupils to develop relevant geographical enquiry skills, which limited the ambition for pupils in this area.2

29 respondents (25%) were unhappy with the lack of reference to sustainability and globalisation. Some of these respondents felt that there was a need for pupils to learn about global economies and called for coverage of the ‘big debates’ at key stage 2 when pupils’ views and attitudes are formed.

17 respondents (15%) felt that key stage 2 was too occidental, limited to teaching about the United Kingdom, Europe, and North and South America. Some of these respondents felt that key stage 2 should allow teachers to teach pupils about other cultures which were not well represented in the community.

16 respondents (14%) felt that the proposed curriculum content was too narrow and called for greater breadth and detail.

14 respondents (12%) welcomed retention of fieldwork and outdoor study in the curriculum. Some of these respondents believed that the curriculum should include an explicit reference to the amount and type of fieldwork which should be covered at key stage 3, whilst others believed that time outside the classroom was difficult to organise due to increasing costs.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

New features on Google Forms

Thanks to Theo Kuechel for the tipoff here...

4 new features added over the weekend... this makes Google Drive even more useful...

Via the Google Drive Blog
Extracts from the blog post reproduced below... read the full post (and others on the blog too)

Guide respondents through your survey with a progress bar 
Sometimes it’s helpful to give respondents a sense of how much of a survey still needs to be completed, and now you can by turning on a progress bar in your form.


Get results the way you want them with data validation
To get started, create a new Text question in Forms, then click on the Data validation tab. Click the checkbox and select “Text,” then “Email address,” and voila, the survey taker will see an error message if they don’t enter an email address.


Embed YouTube videos
You can now embed a YouTube video right inside a form -- perfect if you want to get feedback or ask questions about a video.   
This works really well for quizzes in class, especially if paired with data validation and the progress bar. Embed a video and then use data validation to give hints when students enter incorrect answers, and add a progress bar so they know how far along they are in the quiz. 


Add a custom message to closed forms 
Sometimes when a form is closed, you still want to make information available for respondents who weren’t able to complete it in time.

After you’ve switched your form to “Not accepting responses,” you can now add your own message and instructions for follow up.

Posted by Elynn Lee, Software Engineer

iPads in the Classroom....


Curate! Create! Collaborate! from Simon Jones

More excellent work from Simon Jones... Useful advice and beautifully presented as always....

New book

Now in the GA Store...

Monday, 9 September 2013

ISI

After school today had an introduction to ISI: the Independent Schools Inspectorate

This is the equivalent of OFSTED for the Independent sector, and one major (and welcome) difference between this and OFSTED is that the inspectors (other than the lead inspector in some cases) are practising teachers. This is more of a review by PEERS, and the criteria for judgements is also slightly different.
It was interesting to hear the differences in perspective, compared to what I have been familiar with from projects with the GA which have involved HMI and Leszek Iwaskow in particular, who I've had quite a lot of chats with over the years, and done several events with.
The section on teaching was interesting, as was the extent of the guidance.
This would make interesting reading for all teachers who may be preparing for a visitor in the coming academic year.

Introduction to Volcanoes

Via Andy Day and Rob Chambers...
Useful intro video on Volcanoes to use / review / adapt / remix / recaption etc...

Sunday, 8 September 2013

WOW Geography... Coming soon...

Happy to be involved with this exciting new initiative for geography teachers... More details soon...

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Tokyo 2020

Just started preparing my resources for this... ;)

Intense... but not in tents... the Geography Camp...

Over at the Geography Collective HQ, we’ve been making some changes and plotting some quality events.  We are really pleased and excited to announce some of our plans for our residential camp in early 2014.  This will focus on helping geography departments make sense of and subvert the current changes to the National Curriculum and examination system.
As well as the central theme, there will also be lots of informal activities, laughter, great food and fun.   We are shaping the programme at the moment, but it will include stuff like:
  • Fitting existing Schemes of Work and resources to the new National Curriculum;
  • Using young people to hack your existing curriculum;
  • What to do about assessment;
  • Using Key Stage 3 to improve GCSE performance.
The final programme will be very much shaped by those who attend.
The style will be (un)conferency, with plenty of opportunity for informal chatting and sharing.  As a school leader who held the CPD budget, we’re making it great value and will ensure you’ll leave with lots of ideas, contacts and resources.
We’re delighted to announce that we’ll be using the Field Studies Council centre at Juniper Hall.  It’ll be full board and accommodation included in the price. The dates are Friday 25th to Sunday 26th of January 2014.

Follow and use the hashtag: #GCCamp

Does my butte look big...

Just back from watching the remake of 'The Lone Ranger' today with my son...
Plenty of desert landscapes and features created by weathering at the start of the film, and desert canyons and washes... drifting sand dunes and cave dwellings...
We both thought the film was great - full of action sequences, a good unfolding story and memorable characters, good humour and design...

Thursday, 5 September 2013

'There has never been a better time to be a teacher..."

So said Michael Gove earlier today.

Read the speech here...

"Great teaching can and does make a huge difference to children’s performance. Great teaching involves empathy and energy, authority and resilience; detailed planning; constant self-improvement. A great teacher has the ability to ‘read’ a classroom and understand its dynamics, instantly; shows inspirational leadership, exciting and motivating pupils to help them achieve their full potential.
But common to all the great teachers I know is a love of children and a love of knowledge. And that shouldn’t be surprising - because the very best academic research also proves the vital importance of an education which is knowledge rich."

In other news...


SAGT Conference

Now booking...

North Inch Community Campus, Perth
See you there I hope ! I'm leading Seminar 2
Booking/registration form available HERE

Monday, 2 September 2013

Back to School

After a 5 year break which has been well documented in the posts on this blog it was 'back to school' today.
I spent the day mostly with my new Year 7 form, in welcoming assemblies and for over an hour in the morning, we walked up to Ely Cathedral for the Beginning of Year Service. Wonderful choral singing and organ playing, and various formal events. The weather was excellent too. This was followed by a varied programme of activities. At the end of the day, out to chat with some of the parents, and then a staff meeting, before the journey home in evening sunshine.
And it was chocolate pudding and chocolate custard at lunchtime...

Resources and more will be appearing over on my new(ish) teaching blog.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Sunday, 1 September 2013

I'm getting ready...

And thanks to Richard Allaway I already have the t-shirt
Plenty of resources available for download... 
Take part this year...

New Danny MacAskill film...

Taking my cue from suggestions from Paul Berry and David Rogers, I've been spending time planning the coming week's introduction to geography for my new groups...
I'm going to use various elements from some things they've suggested over the last few years, and will kick off with a bit of Danny MacAskill for the Year 7s, who are going to head in to a unit on Adventure Landscapes.

I came across this new video that Danny has made, going back to his childhood, and showcasing his problem-solving skills and his technical ability.
We'll be exploring how this links with geography, learning and expectations of the students.
Plus it's quite cool...



And here's a QR code that will be put up in the various Geography areas to guide students to the new teaching blog that I've set up, and which will start to come to life in earnest from tomorrow...

QRCode

Living Geography continued....

Just discovered a quirk in the road numbering which means I can identify that a particular block of houses were built after the others and squeezed into a gap between them... 
All very Mission:Explore...