Sunday, 31 August 2014

Back to School

After a lengthy summer break, largely spent writing, as well as many trips N, S, E and W, it's the night before the start of the Michaelmas term... My 23rd year of teaching, and my 2nd at King's Ely.

I've been into school for three days already for sorting, room preparation and two days of INSET and meetings to get ready for the return of around 1000 students who will have been to all corners of the globe.
As with last year, I shall be sharing what I get up to on the Geography Teacher 2.0 blog.
Feel free to sign up on the right hand side of the home page, and you'll get one e-mail each morning that I add to it, with details of the new content.
This content will include lesson plans, resources, ideas, feedback and reflection on what is an evolving work in progress... There are some new KS3 schemes to teach which are connected to the new KS3 curriculum, some fieldwork at KS3-5 level, and also details of my writing projects and how they turn out in the classroom.

Thanks to all those colleagues past and present who have helped with my return to teaching after a hiatus working for the Geographical Association, and then as a freelance Geographer.

There's still a few uncertainties about other projects that I may be involved in this year - waiting on the EU and other bodies to report on the success or otherwise of grant applications at the moment.

This does however mean I have some Mondays free this coming academic year, so if you have a use for those in your present school or elsewhere then get in touch. Check my planned movements in the right hand column of this blog...

Geography Review magazine

Geography Review magazine is one of the most useful resources that 6th form geographers (and GCSE students who want to push themselves) can have access to. It was started by my undergraduate tutor Tim Burt, his wife and colleagues back in 1986, just after I finished my degree, and just before I started teaching in 1988. I was a subscriber from the start, and have used articles and ideas in my teaching ever since.

I have paper copies of the first 15 volumes or so, and since then the school copies have taken over, and more recently, some electronic support materials to increase the usefulness of each issue.
For example, check the extras for the September 2014 issue here. Also the other recent issues.

The magazine has now moved to Manchester, from Durham University, and has a new editorial board.
There are the usual experienced authors writing for the magazine, and there's always something of interest in every issue. The first issue from the new team is now out. Details on subscribing here.

We have a subscription at school for our students.

You can follow the magazine's Twitter feed here: @GeogReview

Read the April 2014 issue here to get a flavour for the quality of articles that are included in a typical issue.

Best wishes for the next chapter in the journal's long history...

Google Teacher Academy London

Applications are now welcomed for the latest Google Teacher Academy in London.
It's taking place in October this year. You've got until the 22nd of September to apply.
There's quite a lengthy application process, which will need planning in advance, as the use of Google Forms means the whole thing has to be done in one go...

I attended, and did a brief presentation at a previous Google event specifically for Geographers in Dublin in 2012. You can see the site and resources that was produced for delegates here. 

I won't be applying, but it would be good to have plenty of geographers represented.
Good luck if you have a go.

I provided some advice and materials for the very first GTA that took place in the UK some years back, following lobbying by Tom Barrett and others, and have previously also created materials for the Google World Wonders website and early support for Google Earth users too.
Presenting in Dublin, picture courtesy of John Bailey

Mapping London: Rediscovering London's Geography

There is a new area of the updated RGS-IBG website which you may not have seen.
It is a project called Rediscovering London's Geography.
It is described as follows:

Rediscovering London’s Geography is a project funded by the GLA through the London Schools Excellence Fund.  It seeks to improve the quality of teaching and learning of geography in London’s schools, in addition to encouraging more pupils to study geography.
Its scope encompasses connection across primary and secondary schools involving academy, free, maintained and independent schools.
The project will:
  • Create subject knowledge online resource units, including online activities and pupil assessments; focusing upon new curriculum subjects and examinations
  • Improve subject knowledge via free CPD and training events in teacher networks across London and provide continuity to support the upcoming curriculum changes
  • Engage pupils via Geography Ambassador presentations (by London undergraduates) and Going Places with Geography career events – all focused upon the relevance and value of geography to further study and careers
Our aims are to:
  • Raise subject understanding by addressing knowledge gaps and connecting teachers with new geographical subject knowledge, thus building capacity to teach engaging and high quality lessons
  • Assist the new academic demand associated with the introduction of new curriculum and examinations
  • Increase teacher confidence of using specific geographical knowledge and the undertaking of London based fieldwork via a 12 month programme of professional support (to be reviewed, developed and embedded as knowledge into new schemes of work)
  • Promote Chartered Geographer (Teacher) to provide formal subject specific professional accreditation in recognition of the new knowledge, professional expertise and commitment to CPD
  • Promote London’s unique and changing geography via the study of the capital’s wider context of economic, social and environmental development
  • Make available to pupils resources to support highest level understanding of core geographical knowledge for better achievement with new curriculum and examinations 
  • Increase interest in geography amongst students whilst highlighting its relevance to further study and careers
One outcome has been the creation of teaching resources, with more to come.

The first two are now up on the website, and both would be useful to those teaching the new KS3 for the first time.

The first is a resource exploring Ice Ages and Geological Timescales, which has been written by Dr. David Anderson: Head of Geography at Eton College.

The second one is called Mapping London, and took me the first two weeks of my summer holidays to write and put together. There are 6 sessions which can be followed with KS3 students.



Thanks to the various colleagues who are mentioned along the way in the unit for their ideas which were adapted and used in various elements of the unit.
The ideas could be adapted for other cities too...

Let me know what you think...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Ice Man

Matt Podbury and Russel Tarr are putting together a geography / history unit based on my children's book 'The Ice Man', which was published in 2012, for the lucky students at the International School of Toulouse.

It's great to see what they're creating, and you can head over to Geography Pods to see the geography related elements of the unit, along with some supporting resources.


Thanks guys !
The book is still available to purchase of course...

Richard's still going 'all the way' to support Geography teachers...

Richard Allaway's site has been a feature of my teaching since it started, and it has been going from strength to strength.

Richard has just launched a new Twitter account for news updates which are relevant to the ongoing creation and updating of teaching materials.
Follow @gatwUpdates for the latest on the site.

A reminder that as the new school year starts and you want to prepare some useful resources, Richard has already done that for you. The details on the subscription rates are here if you haven't taken the plunge before and want to kick off the new year with an injection of fresh ideas.
You can also follow the Flipboard magazines that Richard curates.

IB Geography CPD courses are also offered in a range of cities, sometimes in association with the GA.

Here's Rich and I at the Aiguille du Midi a few years back...

And finally, it's worth reminding you that all KS3 resources and Humanities resources on the site are now freely accessible to all!

Friday, 29 August 2014

New Geography blog for the new year...

Always good to see another Geography blog.
This one has been started by Mr. McGrath at Oakfield School.

GA Staffordshire Branch Programme for 2014-15


The first lecture is Staffordshire's Sustainable Transport Future - the role of rail, by Keith Flinders, President Black Country GA and editor, West Midlands Rail User.
17th September 2014, 7.30 at Science centre, North Staffs Uni, Sat Nav postcode: ST4 2DF.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Another brick in the wall...

Tony Cassidy has started a collaborative document to collect ideas from teachers about how they use Lego in the classroom (or how they might use it if they currently don't). This will grow in time, so why not be part of it and add your own idea.
There are certainly a few blocks and bricks around my house as my son is a big fan. We're even off to the Bricks 2014 show at ExCeL later in the year, and over the summer had this new arrival to the collection ready for some adventures.

MOOCs: two that I'm going to get involved in

Holiday catch-up post 5
There are two MOOCs that I'm signed up for, which start in a few weeks time... These will form part of my personal CPD - as a Chartered Geographer, I have to fill in a CPD log each year to show that I am making an effort to develop my professional capacity.

1. GOING PLACES WITH SPATIAL ANALYSIS


Run by ESRI, and connected with ArcGIS Online, which is one of my targets for this year to get more integrated into the teaching I do. An intro video here.

2. THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION


IoE - Future of Education Promo from Imotion Films on Vimeo.

This is run by the Institute of Education in London, and Claire Brookes, who is also involved with the MA in Geography Education which I was signed up to when working for the GA, but never started in the end. It promises to focus on some interesting questions which look at some of the bigger purposes of education.
The VIMEO channel is already up... which includes some interesting videos with Professor Alex Moore on 'what makes a good teacher'...

Discover Japan: free one day course for teachers

Thanks to Stephen Schwab for the link to this course, which would be of particular interest to colleagues in the SW perhaps as it takes place in Plymouth.
It's organised by the Japan Society.
Details below:

Monday 29 September 2014 9.00am to 3.45pm
(registration from 8.45 am)
Plymouth University
Drake Circus
Plymouth Devon PL4 8AA
Free (booking required)
The Japan Society is pleased to invite teachers to Discover Japan – a FREE-one day CPD course for teachers. Are you interested in using Japan in your teaching? In this course, we will look at where it fits in the curriculum and where to find useful teaching materials and supplementary resources. Practical workshops with experienced tutors provide the skills needed to incorporate new materials into your scheme of work. The day will comprise separate strands for primary, art, language and humanities.

PRIMARY: Discover the true essence of haiku with Paul Conneally and come away with tips and techniques to allow your pupils to use this form creatively to prevent it being a mere syllable counting exercise. You will explore the wide range of manga styles and traditions with Chie Kutsuwada and learn to speak Japanese with Seiji Fukushima, Chief Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation.

ART: Add a Japanese flavour to your art curriculum as you learn about various Japanese art forms, presented in a practical way by Japanese specialists. You will explore the wide range of manga styles and traditions with Chie Kutsuwada, discover the art of Japanese woodblock printing with Hiroko Imada and learn the techniques of traditional Japanese style paining with Peter Cavaciuti.

LANGUAGE: Be inspired by the Japanese language and learn how to introduce Japanese into your secondary curriculum with Crispin Chambers, Japanese teacher, Tavistock College. You will learn new teaching methods and come away with a variety of teaching tools that will help you to inspire and engage your students.

HUMANITIES: Delve in time and discover more about Japanese archaeology and Geography through the launch of a new Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage developed by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. You will explore Japan with Stephen Schwab, Geographical Association North-West advisor, learning creative ways to incorporate Japan into the new KS3 curriculum and also work with the British Cartographic Society while taking part in their interactive workshop ‘Restless Earth’.

To book your place, please complete and submit this on-line booking form or send an email to: education@japansociety.org.uk

Please indicate clearly whether you will attend the primary, art, language or humanities strand of the course and if you have any dietary requirements.

Attendance is free (including lunch). You will receive confirmation of your place.

Visit the website for the booking form.

Monday, 25 August 2014

GeoVation booklet

Mission:Explore and colleagues from Explorer HQ are very familiar with the Ordnance Survey's GeoVation project, as we have had our fair share of success over the years.

GeoVation is an OS innovation challenge. It offers funding for organisations and ideas that aim at solving some of the problems that we face.

A new GeoVation booklet has now been published, and features a range of case studies, which includes Mission:Explore, Real Food Wales and City Farmers, all of whom are connected with my current work with Explorer HQ.

Worth looking at for ideas on projects.

Devon

Back from annual trip to Devon - this time down to Otterton to stay at Rydon Stables, which is recommended.
Here are some of my pics... View full screen...



Where did you get to over the Summer ? 
I know that some of the people in my PLN got rather further than Devon...

Continents Drift

New on Spotify...

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Emma Thompson in the Arctic



Greenpeace Ad is a nice way of exploring the area...
Discussion can be had on a whole range of topics here...

Digimap for Colleges

Coming soon....


Spent quite a bit of my summer writing some supporting resources for the launch...

OS mapping and tools to support teaching of GCSE, 'A' level and BTec courses, and other qualifications at post-16 level...

Shackleton Ales

Holiday catch-up post 4
After my previous Shackleton tweet
I came across these rather fine looking ales online...


They are made by the Great British Banjo company which is also inspired by the banjo which Shackleton ordered to be saved from the sinking 'Endurance' as he said the playing of it was 'vital mental medicine'.
And I heard about them from another connection: the From Fire to Ice twitter feed
The accompanying website describes the planned adventure of Robert Small, who was badly burned in a house fire, and underwent lengthy medical treatment to recover.


And finally, a few other Twitter feeds that are Shackleton related are shown below. Will be following these for the next few years as the events of a century ago unfold...

@shackleton100
@EShackleton

Update:
Happened to be in Norwich earlier in the month on another matter, and went to Jarrolds deli, where I procured two of the ales and a rather fine glass too... slainte...

Cruise of the Betsey in the Scottish Parliament

Holiday catch-up post 3

The Betsey Cruise project I mentioned recently was also mentioned in the Scottish Parliament this week.

While in Devon, I managed to find some old(ish) maps showing the area through which 'Leader': the boat being used for the trip is going to follow...

Here's the text from the Scottish Parliament website:

*S4M-10868 Alison Johnstone: Hugh Miller and the Cruise of the Betsey—That the Parliament welcomes and expresses interest in the Cruise of the Betsey, a tribute voyage to the work of Hugh Miller, a self-taught geologist who undertook a similar voyage 170 years ago and is credited with discovering, on the Isle of Eigg, fossilised bones of the plesiosaur, an extinct marine reptile from the age of the dinosaurs; considers that the modern voyage, which is led by the Royal Scottish Geological (sic) [Should have been Geographical] Society and the Friends of Hugh Miller, is of value in inspiring young geologists and earth scientists, as well as celebrating the Hebridean islands’ landscapes, seascapes, and culture, and wishes all the crew of the vessel an enjoyable and informative voyage.

Follow the voyage for the next few weeks and beyond on the website HERE
And sign up to the Twitter feed @BetseyCruise14

Image: Alan Parkinson

NSL Historical Maps API

Holiday catch-up post 2

New National Library of Scotland Historic Maps, based on old OS mapping.

Available in various formats, including embeddable option as shown below...


Doing 'the knowledge'

Holiday catch-up Post 1
Thanks to So Shan Au for the tipoff to this excellent National Geographic article on the process of following and completing 'the knowledge' that London cabbies must do before they get their green badge that entitles them to operate within the Central London area of the GLNP*


Well worth a read... and click on the little slide show with audio a little down the page too...

The headline of it being 'the world's hardest geography test' seems to be about right.

Image made with Stamen Toner Map maker

Coming soon: a new resource on the RGS website which I have written, exploring how London has been mapped over the decades.

If you haven't been to the RGS website for a while you won't have seen this Britain from the Air resource which would provide a few ideas for teaching about the UK (with the new GCSE specs in mind...)



Thursday, 21 August 2014

Welcome to Geography !

More great work by Simon Jones, and this time he has produced an excellent resource for the start of the new school year, to introduce a new look at Geography...


It was even picked as one of the Slideshares of the day. Take a look, and login to download as a PDF, perhaps to use for the start of the new school year.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Storm Hydrograph

A reminder of this very useful resource for those teaching about rivers and flooding - ties in with the recent story of Boscastle ten years on...

 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

e-Commerce

From the ONS Flickr feed
 

Geography Tweachers in the Guardian

The Guardian's Teacher Network posted an article yesterday suggesting a list of Geography teachers who people may want to follow on Twitter to get started.


There were some omissions from the list who I would have added, although the difficulty with any list is knowing who to add and who to leave off... but some good names on there.
I get a mention at the end, which is nice - led to a few new followers. So welcome to this blog if it brought you here too - there's a lot to catch up on...

For a Twitter list that I created, you can try here... If you're new to Twitter, subscribe to the lists that are relevant to your interests, and feel free to suggest other people.

I also add a regular Twitter column to the Webwatch feature that I write for the GA magazine.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Good morning, Rocinha

A video from Al Jazeera which describes life for Rosemary Mendonca... an amazing project...

Ladram Bay - how does it sound ?

Heat map of Amazon fires

Thanks to Keir Clarke for the link to this map...
Two years worth of data on forest fires visualised...
Here are some more maps from InfoAmazonia.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Greater London National Park* in the Guardian

It was great to see maps from Peter Boyce of City Farmers in a piece in the Guardian referencing Dan Ellison's idea for a Greater London National Park*

* - currently a notional park

Have you signed the petition yet to see whether this can be taken to the next step ?

Wish you were Here ?

I'm just working to complete some materials for a project for the team behind Edina's Digimap for Schools software, which you'll be familiar with from previous blog posts. It gained the GA's Gold Award, and I've previously worked on resources for use by subscribers (and others)
Here's a nice bit of holiday related map work...

10 years after Boscastle

Ten years ago today, an intense storm occurred over the slopes of Exmoor above the town of Boscastle on the Cornish coast.
It had been wet previously, and the rain fell on saturated ground. The steep slopes funnelled the water down towards the small town on the coast.

The results are described in this Met Office analysis ten years on...
It remains a popular case study as remarkably no-one was killed in the incident, thanks to the bravery of the emergency services.

I bought a copy of the Western Morning News today as I happen to be in the SW, and there's a special feature on the flooding...


Friday, 15 August 2014

Preparing for typhoons in Hong Kong

A very useful multimedia resource from the South China Morning Post.


It explores the preparations that are made in Hong Kong to adapt to the potential risk from typhoons (the name that hurricanes are given in this area)
It includes videos and other material.
Very useful for Risky World type activities.

John Muir Trust shortlisted for award

The John Muir Trust is delighted to have been short-listed as a finalist for the third annual RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards in the Youth and Education category.
We worked with them earlier in the year to create a special Mission:Explore book.
The Trust was nominated by the Scottish Book Trust in recognition of its work in celebrating the importance and relevance of John Muir today. 

Koren Calder from Scottish Book Trust, said: “We were delighted to nominate the John Muir Trust. Their staff really helped us explore John Muir’s broader appeal to young people when working on the John Muir graphic novel. Muir was about much more than a narrow conservation agenda – he was an all-rounder, an explorer and adventurer, a mountain climber, a botanist, a writer, campaigner and visionary.”

Mission:Explore John Muir“This prompted us to find out more about the wider work of the Trust as a staff team,” added Koren, “through achieving our own John Muir Awards we really enjoyed participating in Muir Missions, getting to know a local green space, contributing to the John Muir Back to the Future film, as well as the teamwork and sharing aspect.”

Naturalist, author and TV presenter Chris Packham will host RSPB Scotland’s Nature of Scotland Awards at a special black tie gala at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh in November.

Chris Packham said, “I am absolutely delighted to be hosting the RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards this year. Scotland is home to a fantastic wealth of wildlife and habitats that we need to invest our time and energy in for future generations.John Muir Back to the FutureThat’s why it’s so encouraging to see such a wide range of projects being shortlisted for an award this year, from people who are truly passionate about conserving nature.”

The Trust was nominated for its notable achievements in celebrating John Muir in 2013-14. 
These include:
  • John Muir Award (its main engagement initiative) - over 15,000 Awards achieved in Scotland in 2013. www.johnmuiraward.org
  • discoverjohnmuir.com - specially created website for Muir information, activities and examples with over 10,000 hits.
The Nature of Scotland Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in Scottish nature conservation. A full list of the projects and organisations short-listed for the Nature of Scotland Awards 2014 can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/natureofscotland/previous/shortlist.aspx

Thursday, 14 August 2014

'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'

Yesterday, I visited the Tower of London, after a meeting in London earlier in the day.

I wanted to see 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red', the installation of poppies which is slowly filling the dry 'moat' at the Tower of London...


Each poppy represents a casualty of the First World War, and when it is finally finished, there will be 888,246 of them.
I have already pre-ordered mine, as a momento of an amazing artwork... and to support the related charities and the work that they do.


This is an example of a place that is being 're-made' with the addition of a (temporary) art work.
I've also been to other places that have been (re)presented in this way, such as the beach at Crosby, where Anthony Gormley's 'Another Place' was installed (originally for a short time, but now permanently...)
Where else is art changing the landscape, or the way that people view a building ?
There are some obvious places of course...

Images: Alan Parkinson & Sally Parkinson

Gaza Everywhere

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for the lead to this map application which overlays the outline of Gaza onto a location of your choice.
This highlights the small area within Gaza: one of the most densely populated parts of the planet, and the difficulty of finding safe places away from the bombing.

This use of mapping to reinforce the scale of locations that are being studied was used earlier in the BBC's Dimensions site.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Cruise of the Betsey - website is now live

In 1844, Hugh Miller: a geologist and preacher (amongst many other skills and abilities) embarked on a voyage through some of the islands of the Hebrides. 

He was a self-taught geologist, writer and editor of a key Edinburgh newspaper in the lead up to the tectonic changes in the Scottish church that culminated in the Disruption of 1843. Miller was one of Scotland’s outstanding geologists, one of the first of many Scottish ‘citizen scientists’ and stands beside the greats of Hutton, Lyell and Murchison.
The Cruise of the Betsey took place the year after the Disruption, when 450 ministers broke away from the Established Church. Miller joined his boyhood friend the Rev Swanson, a keen supporter of the Disruption, who had been removed from his Small Isles parish and his manse on Eigg. Swanson used the Betsey as his ‘floating manse’ so that he was still able to serve his parishioners. The cruise was to visit Tobermory, Eigg, Rum, Glenelg and Isle Ornsay on Skye. Miller’s accounts record much about the social circumstances they came across as well as detailed descriptions of the geology, palaeontology and landscapes encountered. During the Cruise of the Betsey, Miller made many ground-breaking scientific discoveries. He wrote about his journey on the Betsey, and other travels through Scotland.
I've been working with colleagues from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society on a website and other elements to accompany a range of teaching materials which will be developed and piloted through the next few months, and the website to support the journey has just gone live.


Here's the background to the project:

Follow our journey, and celebrate the life and achievements of a great Scot, a great scientist and a remarkable observer of the social history of the time. Hugh Miller, of Cromarty, recorded his voyage of discovery on the Betsey, around the Inner Hebrides, in the summer of 1844. Our journey will recreate this 170 years later with a crew of geologists, writers, musicians, geographers and other talented people. Join us on our journey!
6th – 12th September 2014

I was invited along on the voyage, but will be teaching at the time. I'm going to be involved in other ways. One of them is to produce mapping, such as the Story Map below:

  and the map of the voyage:
View larger map

Plenty more to come once the 'Leader' casts off...

Thought for the Day


Sunday, 10 August 2014

"in the middle of nowhere"...

Request for a writing project: can you tell me any places that you have described as being 'in the middle of nowhere' which probably weren't if you're honest...
e.g. I used it earlier today to describe somewhere in the Peak District... which is not in the middle of nowhere....
  • Where would you think was closest to being 'the middle of nowhere' ?
  • Which places that you've visited best fit the description ?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts and stories...
Map of the village where I live made with Stamen Toner Map maker...


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Make Geography while the sun shines....

Having geography withdrawal symptoms over the summer ?
Want to keep doing some place-based activities through August to keep your eye in ?
Here's a few suggestions for you to contribute as you make your way through the country or elsewhere on your summer break.

1. Time to Mission:Explore
Sign up to the website, or get one of our activity books and head out into the open to complete some of our missions. You can earn some virtual badges and rewards by submitting photos of what you get up to. We've updated the website.

2. Count butterflies
The Big Butterfly Count is taking place as part of fears that these creatures are disappearing as their habitat is lost or is changing. You can print off an ID guide, or enter your numbers on the website, or use the Big Butterfly Count app. I've been watching a few butterflies around the place so far today, and will be doing this the next time I'm outside for a long time. Fifteen minutes is all you need.


3. Buzz off
As with butterflies, there is a concern over the disappearance of bees, which are vital in pollinating our crops.
Download the free app.
For a couple of pounds, you can also get a useful poster showing the various bee species that students might encounter doing the count. Avoid if you are allergic to bee stings of course.



4. Brown field spotting
A rather different type of thing to spot is part of a campaign by the CPRE.
Can you spot a #wasteofspace
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has started a crowdsourced map of brownfield sites which could be redeveloped, rather than look to build on greenfield locations.

5. Visit your library
Go to your library and take out a book which has an outdoors theme... and read it outdoors. Special marks for reading a book that is set in a particular place in the actual place where it is

Libraries are also cool places to go, and if you don't visit them they may disappear...

6. Your ideas here....

Cruise of the Betsey - September 2014

Working on the website for this project today. I'll let you know when it goes live.
Follow the Twitter feed for more news.

STORIES IN THE LAND: CELBRATING HUGH MILLER & THE CRUISE OF THE BETSEY ( 6th -12th September)
The Friends of Hugh Miller and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) are chartering a traditional sailing boat for a week in September 2014, to follow the journey of discovery taken by Hugh Miller in the summer of 1844 on the sail boat, the ‘Betsey’.  The project will celebrate the life and achievements of a great Scot, a great geologist but also a remarkable observer of the social history of the time.
We have recruited an intergenerational mix of geologists, geographers, artists, writers, ecologists, storytellers, theologians and historians (including Gaelic speakers), which will reflect Hugh Miller’s remarkable ability to think across disciplines. Geology, landscape, people and story will be at the heart of the journey which will begin in Oban on 6th September. Our floating manse, art studio and scientific laboratory is the sailing boat ‘Leader’ built in 1892, which sleeps 19 people including 5 crew (see www.trinitysailing.co.uk).
Public events
Public events are planned in Cromarty, Fort William and Oban and on the islands of Eigg and Rum. Working in partnership with the Scottish Geodiversity Forum, SNH, the Scottish Geoparks, the National Library of Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland and others with an interest in landscape and geology, we are planning to advertise a ‘Hugh Miller Festival’ throughout the month of September. Cromarty Craftworkers are currently designing an ensign for the boat and this will be used as a logo to badge/identify events which are part of the festival. This means we can tap into things that are already organised e.g. the re-launch of Fossil Grove in Glasgow.
We are also developing materials for primary and secondary schools, and plan to have live links to the boat during the voyage if possible! – see below.
Two new RSGS interdisciplinary resources for primary schools and S3 which focus on ‘Learning about Scotland’
RSGS is developing two exciting new resources to link with the Cruise of the Betsey in September, which focus on learning about Scotland. The Secondary resource targeting S3, which has been written by RSGS Tivy medallist, Alan Parkinson, involves different departments (drawn from geography, science, english and history) working together over a period of 6 weeks. The programme combines opportunities for indoor and outdoor learning. Working in partnership with Education Scotland, we are currently recruiting schools who are interested in taking part in the pilot which will take place in September/October 2014 to coincide with the Betsey re-enactment.
We are also working with Sallie Harkness of storyline Scotland (author of the much-admired RSGS Droving Storyline materials) to create a primary resource about landscape and geology which has a focus on Hugh Miller. Primary schools in Cromarty, Edinburgh, Oban and Eigg have already agreed to take part in the piloting.


Setting sail in September...

Commuting map

A really useful map which has been produced by Alasdair Rae at the University of Sheffield.

This has been produced using Census 2011 data, and explores some of the major commuting routes taken by people in England and Wales.
Click for biggery.
Some interesting patterns here. You can see the way that London draws people in from further than other cities.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Shackleton 100

100 years ago yesterday, one of the greatest (perhaps the greatest) of human adventures started, with the departure of the Endurance.
Shackleton's exploits have intrigued me over the years. At my previous school, we started a Shackleton Society, and visited various exhibitions and the James Caird: the boat used by Shackleton to sail from Elephant Island to South Georgia, piloted by Frank Worsley.

My book shelves have large section of Polar books, including those on Tom Crean, the Aurora party and even the ship's cat: Mrs. Chippy.


For the next few years, the journey will be followed by a number of Twitter accounts, such as @Shackleton100 
There is also the Shackleton in Schools Facebook community which is worth 'liking' for related educational ideas and links.

We will also be following the voyage at school. I'm going to post updates for the next few years as the journey unfolds...

New technology website

A new website produced by Charlotte Lemaitre, who teaches in Brussels.
It explores the uses of technology in education, such as iPads.

Check the tabs at the top for a range of resources

The presentation has been created for a Learning and Technology conference at the British School of Brussels in October. Details here.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Concept Cartoons: a new resource for Sand dunes

Thanks to Emily from Millgate House Education for getting in touch about a new resource they have produced.
It makes use of Concept Cartoons, which have previously been used for teaching a range of subjects, but this is the first time they have been used to teach Geography. 

Concept Cartoons have been used successfully in classrooms internationally to teach maths, English and science.  We have recently started producing bespoke sets of Concept Cartoons focusing on smaller subject areas. Concept Cartoons encourage students to discuss their ideas in a real life context and often lead into individual or group investigations. They are particularly valuable for highlighting common misconceptions in learning.

This new resource was developed to support students undertaking fieldwork on Talacre dunes in North Wales, but is now being made more widely available...


You can download a sample of the resource from the website to see whether it looks like it might be useful for the pupils that you teach.

Preparing for the new National Curriculum 2014

Many thanks to Paul Berry for being one of the first to share his planning for the new Curriculum, which will start to be taught in thousands of schools in less than a month's time.
I admit to having started on my thinking for the new school year, but currently am involved in a great deal of writing, so will get to it at the end of August.
One of the great things about Paul's post on his Devon Geography blog is the sharing of a list of the enquiry questions which he is going to be using, which are really interesting. Paul is asking for feedback on those, and the other elements that are going into his planning so far. It's great, as always, to see colleagues sharing ideas within the community for the benefit of us all...

Favela construction

Thanks to Ben Hennig for the tipoff to a very useful article on favela construction which provides an alternative perspective on the decisions that go into the construction of favela housing, and the timeframe over which it takes place.
It's worth reminding yourself that favelas vary in age and services, as do any other neighbourhoods within a city.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The dangers of perfection...

Some years ago, the Deputy Head at the school where I taught was a lady called Judith Carlisle. She moved on to a school in Dover, but I noticed this week that she was in a few of the papers for some school policies which reminded her pupils that perfection was a dangerous thing to try to reach.

One of the statements she made was that essentially 'no-one will remember what you got for your GCSE French in five years time' ....

There are some interesting debates to be had here about the relative value of the exams that students take compared to the whole experience of school life, and the importance of recognising failure as part of the learning process...

Meanwhile, we wait for this year's GCSE and 'A' level results in the next couple of weeks...

And finally, I got a 'D' in my French GCSE....