Thursday, 24 December 2009

SafeShare TV

SafeShare TV is a useful site, as it allows you to view YouTube videos without the distraction of seeing the comments and other related clutter, and also to crop the videos...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Literacy in Geography

... then I'll begin this post...

One dark morning, a middle aged man got up at 6am so that he could set off to drive 80 miles south to the Suffolk coast and arrive in plenty of time to work with some teachers from the county. He was going to spend the first 90 minutes of a Geography conference to talk to 40 colleagues about Literacy in Geography and Geography through Literacy...."

Was there a happy ending ? Read on to find out...

The presentation that I used on the day is available from SLIDESHARE, and is embedded below...
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.
Thanks to James Woolven for adding the various resources to the Suffolk Geography page of the Suffolk Learning Hub....

On the day, I also gave an update on GA projects. There was a range of other sessions: Colin Breeze presented a session on the work he had been doing on the flooding of 2007, and shared a comprehensive range of activities on the theme of flooding.
Also heard a useful phrase from the Suffolk Advisor for Humanities: Dale Banham.
He used the phrase "iceberg questions" - will come back to those in a later post...

For the same session, I asked my Twitter network to tell me about a book which they thought had excellent descriptions of LANDSCAPE. These were the results of the consultation....
Tynemouth – Thomas Hardy's "Return of the Native" – Egdon Heath

Isle of Islay – Iain Banks' "Espedair Street", Ferguslie Park, Paisley

London – "Bone People" – Kerry Hulme

Bedfordshire – "Waterland" – Graham Swift - description of the Fens

Newcastle – Wainwright’s Guides to SW Lakes

Portsmouth – "Touching the Void" – Joe Simpson – mountain landscapes

Sheffield – "Jamaica Inn" – Daphne du Maurier – moorland in Cornwall

W. Midlands – "Sunset Song" – Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Brighton – Sebastian Faulks – "Birdsong" and "Charlotte Gray"

Ipswich – "Around Ireland with a Fridge"

Ashford, Kent – Paul Theroux – "The Great Railway Bazaar"

Scotland - "The Lord of the Rings"

On the same morning, David Rogers was using John Davitt's Learning Event Generator to work with students on the Copenhagen Climage change conference, and challenged them to create some Army chats, which he then shared through Twitpic...

Thanks to Dale Banham and all the delegates and presenters for their work on the day.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Assessment at KS3 - what do we think of it so far ?

Rubbish... as Eric Morecambe used to say...

Have been preparing a session on ASSESSMENT at KS3 for a CfBT event in Norfolk Heritage Park in Sheffield.
A timely report in the newspapers laments the "poor quality of exams" in the UK compared to other locations. At least at KS3, students should be having a more positive experience, so that they don't equate assessments with 'TESTS' and lots of writing...

The Telegraph article has more detail...

Below is an edited version of the presentation I am using..

Update: Many thanks to John Lyon for stepping in to run the session for me at the last minute

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Google Earth Survey Results

A recent survey conducted on behalf of Digital Explorer shows that Google Earth has a significant positive impact on teaching and learning.
The survey was sent out to 481 geography teachers across the UK who had attended Google Earth training courses.
80% of respondents noted an increase in pupil attainment and their understanding of geography since using Google Earth in the classroom.
Similarly, 80% stated that their pupils were more engaged and 90% were likely or very likely to recommend Google Earth as a teaching tool.
“These figures are fantastic and back up what we have heard from teachers anecdotally,” commented Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop. “When we first started using Google Earth and training other teachers, we thought it was an amazing way to engage young people in environmental and global issues and we now have the evidence to back that up.”
Digital Explorer first used Google Earth on an expedition to Morocco in 2006 and since then has trained over 500 teachers to use Google Earth on their own field trips and in the classroom. The software has the ability to make “international learning more real” and “brings the wider world into the classroom” according to teacher comments as part of the survey. Others mention that they “can’t use it enough” and through it “geography is made more accessible and personal”. However, teachers also highlighted that school networks and ICT infrastructure can be a barrier to the widespread use of technologies like Google Earth in the classroom.
“I loved the Digital Explorer training and was full of ideas when I came back to school. The number one factor holding me back is the school network. Images loaded into Google Earth do not load in time and if I put a class on Google Earth it grinds to a halt. All very sad! I have high hopes for better results when we get a new school!” explained one course participant.

The survey was designed and conducted by Sandy Beatty of Sandy Beatty Services Ltd on behalf of Digital Explorer. 481 survey invitations were delivered to the email addresses of the participants of Digital Explorer Google earth training courses held between January 2007 and July 2009.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from:

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Quality Geography Conferences

Work included in portfolio for Quality Mark submission...

There are two events planned for March. For more details see the GA WEBSITE.

Booking now available...

Leszek Iwaskow, Ofsted's National Adviser for Geography, will open these conferences with his view on quality geography that challenges and supports student learning. Quality geography aims for both excellence and enjoyment. These conferences provide the opportunity to discuss and develop what we mean by 'quality geography' in both the primary and secondary phases.

Central London - Tuesday 2 March 2010
Sheffield - Tuesday 9 March 2010

About the Conferences
The overarching strength of the Quality Mark is its capacity to act as an effective 'lever of change' for the development of geography in schools and these conferences for KS1, 2 and 3 will explore the nature, effects and impact of the Geography Quality Marks.The conferences will identify elements of quality geography exemplified through work from Quality Mark schools, and will look in detail at how schools can prepare for, work towards and achieve the Quality Marks.You will take away ideas and materials to use in your school, receive a certificate of attendance and if you use the ideas from the conference in your school you will be eligible to receive a Certificate recognising Professional Development. This can help you work towards a TLA stage 1 or Geography Quality Mark.
Aims and outcomes
The outcomes of the conferences include raised understanding of:what quality geography looks like in practicehow Ofsted arrive at an 'Outstanding' judgement when undertaking geography subject inspectionshow to achieve the top Quality Mark awards in your school

Leszek Iwaskow - National Adviser for Geography, Ofsted
Wendy North and Paula Owens - GA Primary Curriculum Project Leaders
Justin Woolliscroft - GA Secondary Geography Quality Mark Co-ordinator

Teachers already participating in the Primary and Secondary Geography Quality Mark schemes will also lead workshops and share how they have supported and developed quality geography in their schools.


09:15-09:45 Coffee and registration
09:45-10:15 Keynote Address
Quality Geography: Challenging and supporting student learning
Leszek Iwaskow, Ofsted's National Adviser for Geography
10:15-10:30 Refreshment break
10:30-12:30 Phase-group workshop
12:30-13:15 Lunch
13:15-15:00 Phase-group workshop
15:00-15:30 Next steps
15:30 Close

Friday, 27 November 2009

New post-16 National Conference

Image by Alan Parkinson - as seen in "Look at it this Way"...

Details of the Geographical Association's first Post 16 National Conference are now on the GA website.

This will take place in London on the 22nd of June 2010

This conference will discuss ways to enhance A-level teaching and learning through two major themes: rivers, floods and management and the impact of urban change. The workshops will include ideas for fieldwork and the use of ICT, and how to prepare students for the fieldwork examination questions.

Online booking already available...

There are large discounts for student GA members.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Literacy in Geography

Have just been planning some materials for an event in Suffolk in a couple of week's time.
This will involve a range of strategies for exploring literacy in geography.

I have taken quite a lot of inspiration from the Scottish literacy outcomes, and the work of Bill Boyd and other colleagues in Scotland.

Embedded below is a presentation by Ollie Bray which was used at a CPD event in Edinburgh recently, and kindly shared via Slideshare.

View more presentations from Ollie Bray.
It refers to the Scottish literacy outcomes, which are worth looking at, as they have quite a wide definition of what a "text" that students engage with might be....

A key idea for me is that geography literally means "writing the earth", and students should be given a range of opportunities for sharing their ideas about the world, both individually and in collaboration with other learners.
As Ollie's presentation suggests, there is a range of web based tools that can be used for supporting students with some creative literacy tasks....

Will share more once my session has been used with Suffolk colleagues...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Art at the Royal Academy

My wife went on a school art trip down to the Royal Academy of Arts and Tate Modern yesterday. Below are a few of the images she took of the sculptures outside the building.
There was also news of a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy called EARTH: Art of a changing world...
This is timed to coincide with the Copenhagen Climate Change talks, and opens on the 5th of December and goes through to

I'm in London during that period so will certainly be going along.

There is also a connection with the CAPE FAREWELL project which I used as my POLAR context when teaching the OCR Pilot GCSE Geography...

Friday, 13 November 2009

Functional Skills Support Programme

For the last few months, I have been involved in a writing project, which finally finished today, at the Malmaison hotel in Birmingham - not the greatest place to get to from where I live it has to be said...
The project was to produce a Geography booklet: one of a series of 11 to support the secondary National Strategy's Functional Skills Support Programme.
This is supported by the DCSF and LSIS

Functional Skills are "the essential elements of English, mathematics and ICT that equip individuals to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work."

Look out for the Geography booklet, which contains 3 suggested lesson sequence contexts for teaching these skills in GEOGRAPHY, in March 2010

Visit the FS SUPPORT website for more details on Functional Skills.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

GA Conference 2010

The GA Conference programme for 2010 has now been finalised by Lucy Oxley, and is available to download in various formats from the GA CONFERENCE area of the website.

This year, there are a series of colour coded CPD PATHWAYS, which can be seen above, to reflect the particular personal CPD needs that teachers might have, and also certain school priorities.

I will be attending a whole range of events over the course of the 3 days, and will blog more about the sessions I am involved in nearer the time.

Booking can be done in various ways...

The conference price is held at 2009 prices !

There is also an EARLY BIRD BOOKING price - the early bird booking period ends on the 31st of December 2009

Free registration is available to all full-time and PGCE students. Please attach proof of your student status, e.g. photocopy of your NUS card, with your completed booking form. Online booking for students is available but proof of status will be required by email, fax or post.Bookings cannot be processed without this proof. Please note: student registration does not include lunch, however there are several outlets situated within the exhibition area where you can purchase hot and cold food.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Northumberland Coastal Resource

Images by Alan Parkinson

On Friday this week, I had the chance to travel up part of the Northumberland coast as part of my journey north to Edinburgh with a car full of GA materials.
Took the road from Alnwick to Beadnell: familiar from several family holidays, and then took in views of Seahouses, Bamburgh Castle, Grace Darling Museum, Holy Island etc.

Thanks to my colleague Wendy North for alerting me to a resource produced to inspire people to explore the Northumberland coast, called OUR COAST, OUR SEA....

Some nice geographical ideas here: check them out !

By the way, the haddock and chips from Neptune's restaurant in Seahouses were worth the wait.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

New CPD conferences for 2010

After the success of the "Living Geography" events in London, York and Wrexham, a new set of dates have been released for next year.

Raising the Profile of Geography in your school offers a series of workshops for Secondary teachers.

This time, I will be joined by Ruth Totterdell and John Lyon as co-presenters.
Full details available on the GA website by following the link above.

Language of Landscape Survey - prize draw

The Ordnance Survey Free Maps for 11 Year Olds are arriving in schools - you may already have had yours...
When you get the maps, you will also find a couple of (much sought after) hard copies of a publication called "The Language of Landscape"
The booklet is supported by a series of downloads from the NATURAL ENGLAND website.

I have created a SURVEY MONKEY SURVEY for those who have got their maps, and have also made use of the "Language of Landscape" to help students use the maps: whether inside or outside the classroom (or ideally both...)

Click Here to take survey

If you have used the maps and the book, please fill in the survey.

All completed questionnaires by 1st of December will be entered into a Prize Draw to win a copy of the KS3 Teachers Toolkit title: "Look at it this Way", a copy of the Geography Collective's "Journey Journal" and a few other geographical goodies....

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Journey Journal

Spent some time yesterday with Dan Ellison pinging e-mails backwards and forwards with the rather wonderful designers at Can of Worms putting the final touches to the Journey Journal before it went off to the presses for the first print run of 3000 books.

Journey Journal is a rather wonderful book for upper secondary / lower secondary age pupils.
It is designed to be used when on a "journey" of some kind, perhaps as one of the millions of days which are taken as authorised absences every year, or maybe on a foreign exchange / activity / cultural trip.
It's a quirky and creative way of recording the visit, and encouraging young people to take notice of their surroundings.

Coming soon to an educational establishment near you.

Get in touch via the GEOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE website for more details of how to order....

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Flip Video in the Classroom

Got this idea via Paul Cornish and his Teachers TV programme.
Produced a user guide for how to embed YouTube videos, made with Flip, with a worked example...
Just been filming a few clips and adding them to YouTube ready for some events next week...
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.

Also broke a tooth earlier, and waiting for the inevitable throb of pain - fingers crossed it's OK at the moment, but my proposed travels for this week are shown below, so not sure how I'll fit in a trip to the dentist :(

Friday, 9 October 2009

Today's learners...

Yvonne Roberts was one of the speakers at the 2nd day of Handheld Learning 09 conference. I wasn't in the building, but was following remotely via Twitter, and the conference hashtag #hhl09

She quoted that 65% of students say they still copy off the board. I also found this quote in an earlier article that she wrote.

Education in the state system in England is a 19th century folly. It has been moulded by an arcane set of rules and concepts that have no evidence base and certainly very little proof of success. It was based on schools producing canon fodder for the world wars and manual labour, in the main, for the mines and factories. Sitting in a classroom for an hour writing down what the teacher says, mute and unquestioning, does not work with the grain of most boys' temperament – and it's not all that appealing to girls either. It's also no preparation for the modern, fast paced, constantly changing world.

What's required instead, is problem solving and collaborative learning; pupils asking questions, encouraged to bring their life outside the class into school – skills with computers and the internet for instance, work to keep their curiosity alive. More genuine participation; more mixed ability; a better focus on the individual child so no one drops behind, their lack of progress camouflaged by the ridiculous notion that in education, "one size fits all". It's happening in a growing number of schools but this change goes uncelebrated because of the dictatorship of the DCSF, fearful of educational "mavericks".

Yvonne Roberts

On the same day, Ollie Bray wrote a good post on his blog about some research into the way that young people interact with technology.
Here's a summary:

  • They personally own 8 devices (including MP3 player, PC, TV, DVD player, mobile phone, stereo, games console, and digital camera)
  • They frequently conduct over 5 activities whilst watching TV
  • 25% of them agree that “I’d rather stay at home than go on a holiday with no internet or phone access”
  • A quarter of young people interviewed text or IM (instant message) friends they are physically with at the time
  • They have on average 123 friends on their social network spaces
  • And the first thing the majority of them do when they get home is turn on their PC
What are the implications of this for teachers of geography, who share a learning space with double digit numbers of these young people many times a week....

Free GeoPacks resources

If you haven't already picked up on this from previous blog posts, Rick Cope over at GeoPacks has been posting a monthly free resource to the website HERE.
These are all high quality resources, and well worth downloading. Registration with name and an e-mail is required.

The latest freebie is the FIERY FINGER OF FATE which helps you pick a particular student: an alternative to Russel Tarr's excellent Class Tools SLOT MACHINE perhaps ?

Thanks to Rick for his generosity...

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Iain Stewart Lecture

Over to King Edward VI 5 Ways school in SW Birmingham today. A cross-country trip with more amazing weather thanks to the current high pressure.

Took a tour through the southern suburbs of Birmingham thanks to my Garmin which came into its own here.
Thanks to Bob Lang and Paula Cooper for the invitation and for hosting us all so well, and giving me a guided tour of the department and the school.

The school is certainly a geographical "hub". It's a Humanities school with a 'Geography' specialism, a GA branch, and the centre of an RGS local network. The teaching staff include several Chartered Geographers, and the school also holds a GA Secondary Geography Quality Mark and is a Centre of Excellence.

Met up with Professor Iain Stewart from Plymouth University, and a PhD student of his: Kate Donovan, who were delivering a lecture on the theme of geological hazards and their cultural references.
Iain is an honorary Vice President of the GA, and also a Primary Geography Champion.

Image: thanks to Ian Dixson
Left to right: me, Bob Lang, Iain Stewart, Paula Cooper, Kate Donovan

The lecture was excellent, and drew a crowd of between 300 and 350 people to the school's hall. Also good to meet up with colleagues new and old and virtual....

I will be writing a separate report on the lecture with my notes, and also sharing Iain's slides, which he is keen to do...

An excellent evening...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Social Inequality

Image by Alan Parkinson, and available under Creative Commons license

A conference for level 3 students of Geography, Humanities, Sociology and Health Studies.
Organised by Carl Lee, and took place at the University of Sheffield.

Danny Dorling and colleagues John Pritchard and Dan Vickers from SASI were present, and presented on the issue of Social Inequality, using images from WORLDMAPPER and talking about their work.

The second session involved a discussion on tackling inquality.

Thanks to Carl for the invitation. Carl has added a range of the resources that were used at the event to the EDEXCEL 'A' LEVEL NING. It is also worth hunting out a copy of Carl's excellent book on Sheffield: "Home: a Personal Geography of Sheffield"

The SASI website features a range of very useful links for those interested in teaching and learning about social inequality.

Some notes that I took in the first part of the day will hopefully be added in due course...

Friday, 18 September 2009

More on Teachers TV

As part of the Better Learning with ICT series on Teachers TV, there is another excellent geography example which I recommend that you watch.

David Rogers, a GA Secondary Phase Committee member, who teaches at Priory School, Portsmouth was filmed teaching a lesson using social media: Facebook and Twitter to teach about the problem of piracy with a Year 8 class. Unfortunately, the tweets I sent didn't make the cut, but I recognised a few of the avatars from my own PLN.

To access the clip, go to the main video page.
Once the main clip is underway, you will notice a series of icons along the time line. Go to the very end of the clip, and if you mouse over the icon you will see that it says:
"Online Communities: KS3 examples"

This will give you access to two case studies.

David's is the second of the two case studies, but both are worth watching.
David's session starts 2 minutes and 46 seconds in. Give it a watch !

Functional Skills and Social Networking

I am currently producing some materials related to FUNCTIONAL SKILLS.

More on this can be seen on the QCDA website
A pilot has been undertaken and the next phase is the development of some materials to be made available to all schools.

This will include some subject-specific booklets.

It occured to me that in order to cover quite a few of these skills, not just the ICT skills, that two excellent resources produced by my geography community colleague Tony Cassidy would probably be useful.
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...

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Embedding YouTube and Flip videos in the classroom

If you haven't already watched this programme on Teachers TV, then you really need to.
And if you haven't already bought a FLIP (or similar) video then you really need to....
Paul Cornish, of the excellent GEOGRAPHER website helps a colleague from a different school to explore the use of video in the classroom.

This is a wonderful resource, which includes a range of ideas for using video in the classroom, and certainly went beyond how I used it: an excellent "living" climate graph example...

It led me to a new tip which I hadn't been aware of before, which provides a particularly neat method for embedding "live" YOUTUBE (or other TUBE) videos into powerpoint.
Of course, this requires the videos to be hosted on a site which is accessible in school, which may be an issue for some colleagues. You need to have a live internet connection for this to work.

I used a video from YouTube with very straightforward instructions (and then recursively used that same video when I tried the method myself):
  • If you have an older version of powerpoint CLICK HERE
  • If you have Powerpoint (Office) 2007 CLICK HERE

Had a go and it worked very well.
Needs to have a cut and paste, and then some changes to the PROPERTIES of the Shockwave flash object (video). You also have to enable the DEVELOPER tab in powerpoint if you haven't already got that enabled.
This creates a window on the slide with a video which can be made to LOOP or not, and START AUTOMATICALLY or not...
These can be included with other text and graphics (and other videos) on the same powerpoint slide in an appropriate place.

All the resources that Paul uses in his lesson are contained on the TEACHERS TV PAGE.

Would be interested to hear from colleagues who have used this method, and how they used it...

Started to put together a PPT with step by step instructions which I shall add here when I've finished it - got a few other priority things to finish first...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Latest Shift Happens update

Latest Shift Happens update

Because it fills 5 minutes of any CPD session...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Language of Landscape

The Ordnance Survey are sending their free maps into schools once againthis term. Make sure you have registered to receive yours.
This year, in addition to the usual maps, stickers, map skills guide etc. there will be a 12 page booklet produced with Natural England.

Natural England website now has all the resources.
You can read about the scheme, and the booklet, which is called "The language of landscape" is available to download as a PDF.

The booklet is accompanied by a series of other PDF downloads to support the activities, which could contribute up to 4 lessons to a Year 7 Scheme of Work, such as these fab ACTIVITY CARDS (PDF download)Thanks to Mark Jones and Val Vannet, and also to Ian Gilbert for inspiration for part of this resource. Those credits didn't make it into the final document...

If you use this, please let me know what you thought of it, how it went, whether you invented some other activities etc.

Opportunities via CABE

You may be interested in the following opportunities for teachers through the Engaging Places project.

The first is an opportunity to win an original architectural drawing for your school.
Teachers need to submit a lesson idea that uses a building or a place.

Win an original architectural drawing
September sees CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) mark its 10th birthday, to celebrate, we're inviting all teachers to submit a lesson idea that uses a building or place. The most inspiring idea will win a framed signed drawing from a renowned architectural practice for their school. Visit to enter by Friday 16 October 2009.

The second opportunity is related to grants.

Educational grants
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is offering six grants of up to £1,500 to schools in England to offer exemplary learning experiences inspired by the built environment. The education grants are available through a competitive application process and fund projects that take place between December 2009 and 31 March 2010. For full details on the application process, categories and previously funded projects please visit:

Both of these have a strong geographical theme, and it would be good to see a NING user being awarded some of the available money.

Monday, 7 September 2009

CPD event in Cambridge in November

You might be interested in this event in November which I'm having an input into... “Compelling Learning Experiences - Ensuring Pupil Engagement and Progress in the Geography Classroom"
16th November 2009 Cambridge Professional Development Centre, Foster Road, Trumpington, Cambridge, CB2 9NL
 Ofsted are increasingly focusing on the enjoyment, engagement and progress made by pupils in lessons there is an increasing need to make Geography a Compelling Learning Experience so they actively participate, enjoy and raise their achievement in Geography lessons.  The workshops will focus on Active Learning, Thinking Skills, Enquiry Skills and developing the use of Questioning for pupils and teachers. These approaches are all key to delivering PLTS (Personal Learning and Thinking Skills) such as enquiry, investigation, evaluating, looking at things from different perspectives, problem solving, team work, asking and answering questions in the Geography Curriculum.  This course is suitable for all, including NQTs, non subject specialists, experienced Geography teachers and Heads of Geography.
Cost is low, at only £81!
Provisional Outline of the Day
9.30am Arrival and Refreshments.
10.00am ‘Questioning Geography’ David Beresford Cambridgeshire County Associate Advisor and Advanced Skills Teacher – looking at engaging pupils through images, developing questioning, active learning and thinking skills. 11.00am Refreshments. 11.20am ‘A different View’ Alan Parkinson from the Geographical Association - a look at the new free resources from the Geographical Association. . 12.20pm ‘Geography on safari’ – use of fieldwork (in and out of school) for enquiries and investigation into personal Geography and the ‘real world’. 1.20 pm Lunch. 2.20pm ‘Thinking inside the box’ Amanda Alderton SSAT Lead Practitioner– ‘learning from objects’ for enquiry and questioning. Why let the Historians have all the fun with museum object boxes? Struggling to get pupils out of school for fieldwork? Bring the museum to the classroom!
3.20pm Refreshments and Evaluation.
Sessions will include ‘hands on’ activities, ideas and resources to take away.
Booking Information  Cost is only £81 (including a £1 environmental levy)  Booking is online via the SSAT. To book a place go to  For further information contact Amanda Alderton:

Friday, 4 September 2009

New GA website now live....

The GA web team: Anne Greaves and Ben Major, have been working away for months with designers Ledgard Jepson on a new website for the Geographical Association, and it is now live, after several weeks of beta testing and tweaking. Visit the GA URL to see the new site.

The site looks a lot brighter, clearer and easier to navigate, and uses more of the screen’s width. Thanks to a major effort on tagging the resources, it is also easier to find things using the ‘Search’ function if they are not immediately obvious from the home page, and a new ‘Resource Finder’ should help you find something appropriate to the key stage and topic that you are interested in quickly, or items written by a particular author.

A one page user guide to the new site and how it’s laid out can be downloaded by following the link (PDF download):

Members can also bookmark their most useful sections of the website on their own personal homepage. Logging in to the site will provide members with details about their account, and allow access to the journals which you subscribe to.

There are plenty of new items in the shop, which are displayed in a scrolling window, which will also suggest items that might be of relevance to you if you login.

News is easier to find, and has all been updated.

If you are not already a GA member, this is a good time to join and take advantage of the many membership benefits.

The website is also home to all the resources supporting the GA’s manifesto for school geography “a different view”.

Download the latest GA MAGAZINE from the site now

Thursday, 3 September 2009

OS Free Maps for Schools

The OS Free Maps for Schools scheme is underway once again.
Schools will receive letters in September relating to the scheme. As in previous years, schools can claim a free OS Explorer 1: 25 000 map for each 11 year old pupil.

This year, schools will also receive 2 copies of a booklet called "The Language of Landscapes" along with the maps, produced in assocation with Natural England and the Geographical Association.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Facebook and Tony Cassidy

Tony Cassidy's latest contribution to the geography resources pantheon is a resource which is based on the profile that people create when they join FACEBOOK.
Tony has created a blank FACEBOOK profile template in powerpoint, which could then be used to create a template for a huge variety of contexts within the geography classroom.
What if they had a Facebook profile?
View more presentations from TonyCassidy.

Tony himself suggests producing one for Old Harry: an extension of the classic - "Old Harry: This is your Life" idea....
On the SLN Forum, further ideas that were suggested by a number of colleagues included:
  • The area / street the students live in
  • A new migrant arriving in the UK
  • Teenager in Kenya
  • Resident of Dubai
  • Young person on Baffin Island
  • Mt. Vesuvius
Could also do it for a Country...

Could also use it as a context for teaching about e-safety

As many teachers in England and Wales prepare to return to school this week, this is just the sort of simple, creative resource that should strike a chord with pupils and ensure some thoughtful "writing" to start the new geographical year...

Extreme Environments CPD

Teaching students about EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS in KS 3, 4 or 5 ?
There's an event planned for the 23rd of October in Sheffield which you might find useful.
It's being organised by the Prince's Teaching Institute, in association with the Geographical Association and the Fuchs Foundation.
It includes a keynote by Professor David Lambert.
Full details are available HERE.

Identity and "a different view"

It may be that you haven't yet visited the Who do we think we are website.

WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE has a very useful section written by Professor David Lambert, which provides an excellent summary of the appropriate links between geography and identity.

The site also has a NEW interactive area, which contains ideas for teaching about cultural diversity in various contexts...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Animoto now with added video...

A tool used by many teachers to create resources...
Now has the ability to add videos

Here's a quick video I put together to try it out...

Now when people ask me at CPD sessions "can you put videos into Animoto" I can say, "Yes, yes you can...."

Monday, 3 August 2009

Geography SEN Resource

An area that has interested me, and which I have been asked to produce something for is the area of SEN...
Two recent articles which dropped into my Twitter feed were produced by Teaching Expertise. If you are on Twitter you may wish to follow @teachexpertise

The first article was on transition and in particular on support for autistic spectrum pupils on the theme of tasks and moving from one room / task / year / school / teacher to another...

This geographical dislocation is often a source of concern for students, and the advice given in this article seemed to me to be very sensible, and worth passing on to secondary colleagues in particular.

The second was on Learning from Home using ICT

John Davitt Keynote

Just been listening to a wonderful John Davitt keynote from the Building Learning Communities conference.

Thanks to Bob Sprankle for the mp3 podcast.

A few great quotes:

“I dream of a world where learning is as important as shopping.”

"Stress kills learning"

"There are many paths to the same destination that the curriculum might be."

"Banda spirit master was the first multi-sensory worksheet..."

Take a little time over the summer to listen to John...

Secondary Geography Quality Mark

Have just emerged blinking into the daylight after two days: a total of 15 hours spent moderating almost thirty school submissions for the latest cohort of entries for the GA's Secondary Geography Quality Mark.

There was a tremendous variety of work, plenty of innovation evident, and a host of excellent student projects which show that new geography is very much 'living'...

We are putting together additional guidance for schools who are thinking of undertaking the collection of evidence for the portfolio, and appreciate the many hours necessary to complete this appropriately.

The Secondary Geography Quality Mark is really becoming embedded as a framework for departmental self-evaluation, which is backed up by a focus on quality geography and carefully moderated.

If you would like more information on applying for the Quality Mark, please contact Justin Woolliscroft at

Please note that there is also a PRIMARY GEOGRAPHY QUALITY MARK - for details of this contact Wendy North

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

GA Teachers Toolkit

After two years, the final proofs have been checked, and the book "Look at it this Way" is in the final stages and should be in stock for the start of the new Autumn term (early October at the latest: it has to come from China...)
Great news !

My LOOK AT LANDSCAPES blog will hold a range of additional ideas and resources to accompany the book. These will include:
  • further weblinks on the theme of landscapes
  • further images of landscapes for use in the classroom
  • some 'out-takes' that didn't make the final textbook
  • further ideas for developing the lesson ideas in the book
I will also add new 'labels' to the posts which will identify which lesson from the book is being supported. There will also be further materials and support on the GA website, as part of a recognition that a book should not 'end' with the actual physical product itself.

I will also be looking to showcase work that colleagues have prepared in response to the content of the book, and would be very pleased to see examples of student work. I already have some examples of that, but others can be sent to me at the GA.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

David Lambert's presentation

Several teachers have created NINGS to support colleagues.
The GA's NING has a list of some of these that we are aware of at the bottom of the main page.

One new one is Tony Batista's SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE NING.
This has a version of David Lambert's IoE presentation that was used at the Geography Alive ! conference last week in Bristol...
Nice work - let us know of any other geography NINGS that you know about...

Good teachers are made in the classroom

A good article which I blogged about last year, and is well worth reading.
In the INDEPENDENT newspaper.

A few quotes:

The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers

We need to accept that teaching need no longer be a career for life; that highly able people can add a huge amount to a school in just a few years.

We would give all teachers a financial entitlement to spend on their own professional development, integrated with the performance review process and supported by a mentor. This would give teachers autonomy over their own development while allowing schools to guide this development through support and appraisal.

Monday, 13 July 2009

SAGT Conference

This annual event takes place this year on the 31st of October at the Edinburgh Academy in Edinburgh.

This year's SAGT keynote speakers include the mountaineer and author Andy Cave, and Ollie Bray. The theme is "Today's Geography , Tomorrow's World".

I will be doing Workshop 10: "A Different View : what's your view ?"

Go HERE to download your conference programme and book a place. (PDF download)

The conference costs £60 for non-SAGT members, and £35 for SAGT members

The description of my workshop is below:

A Different View”: what’s your view ?
Presenter Alan Parkinson
Secondary Curriculum Development Leader, Geographical Association
In April 2009, the Geographical Association published its ‘manifesto for geography’. Called ‘a different view’, it explores the nature of school geography, and suggests an approach to teaching the subject called ‘living geography’.
The manifesto takes the form of a booklet with stunning images and text, a poster and postcard set, and a website packed with resources including a range of multimedia content. It is entirely self-funded by the GA. As with the last four years at SAGT, I would appreciate some interactivity from delegates (whether or not you opt for my session). Please take the time to visit the manifesto website at: and e-mail your ‘views’ to me at aparkinson AT

The seminar is designed for all levels from S1 upwards: as the manifesto is applicable to all phases. Delegates attending the workshop will go away with a range of materials to use immediately, as well as some suggestions for encouraging students to develop their own ‘different view’ of the
world – the manifesto is intended to provoke debate, and support engaging teaching.

You can also catch David Rogers. Come along to the GA stand too, and meet John Halocha.

Friday, 10 July 2009


The Diplomas are coming...

A diploma for Humanities and Social Sciences is due to be taught from 2011. I blogged about this a few weeks ago when I attended a consultation event...

Two other Diplomas with geographical content, which are already underway include

We would like to collect some examples of schools working with exciting geography, but in the spirit of the Diploma i.e. that could be:
  • in collaboration with employers and perhaps colleges and university,
  • perhaps some employer led work,
  • perhaps cross phase,
  • perhaps some off site working.
Does that sound like your department ?

Please contact Alan Parkinson or John Lyon at the GA, or leave a comment below and we'll get in touch.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Effective Teachers

The results of a two year ESRC funded research project into what makes effective teachers have just been released...

“More effective teachers create a positive climate for learning by challenging pupils’ ideas, inspiring them, being more innovative in their practice and differentiating amongst pupils according to their abilities and interests where appropriate”. This means, according to Professor Day, “Pupils have more control over and engagement in their learning and more opportunities for success”.

The results show the best teachers are not necessarily those with the most experience. They are the ones with enthusiasm for their work, high aspirations for the success of every pupil, positive relations, high motivation, commitment and resilience. Combining good knowledge of their subject and teaching practice and providing support tailored to the individual needs of each child, these teachers focus on building self esteem, engendering trust and maintaining respect.