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...