Thursday, 25 February 2010

Impolite Geography...

Impolite Geography is a fairly new addition to the blogosphere, and certainly one that should be followed by those who want more robust geographical thought than the sort of frippery you get here at Living Geography...

It's written by two geography educators at the Institute of Education: John Morgan and David Lambert, the latter of whom is also Chief Executive of the Geographical Association.
Check out their new book, which was published in January 2010.

Life Trips and Thinkingeography

One of the many highlights of today's GA Independent School's Working Group event was the chance to meet Andrew Lee
I have exchanged e-mails and ideas with Andrew for years via a number of online networks, and other channels, and we finally met face to face.

THINKINGEOGRAPHY is Andrew's website, which he is rebuilding to create a unified "look" and updated content.
This site certainly rewards exploration, with a range of intriguing areas, and a nascent online textbook.

One key resource, which Andrew showed us, was the chance to use his LIFE TRIPS resource.
This is a WIKI based resource which Andrew created when he was teaching at the Dulwich School in Shanghai.
This resource is based on the idea that people living in cities across the world follow certain routes in their daily lives, and these routes can be plotted on Google Earth, and additional data such as images and videos can be placed alongside the route information. Of course this information can be added using the basic version of Google Earth, and students can create tours along routes such as journeys to school. Andrew used the Pro version of Google Earth, which means that he also had the option to export videos of the finished product, and it is these videos which make the biggest impact on the user of Life Trips: filmed by Andrew in BANGKOK with an interpreter to give a real impression of being in a bustling city....

LifeTrips with GoogleEarth is a new website attached to a Wikispace which allows you to look at the lives of people in different cities. Using Google Earth it tracks the day paths of people who live throughout the world and helps people connect with people in their own city, or in a city across the world.

The site can be visited by anyone, though school pupils, in association with their teachers may contribute to the site by registering, and then publishing material to the connected Wikispace pages.

This website provides an index for the Wikispace in which the site’s assets reside.

LifeTrips with GoogleEarth is an invitation to communicate.

Visit the LIFE TRIPS PAGE to find out more

He also reminded everyone that GOOGLE EARTH PRO is free to EDUCATORS. It can take a little perseverance, but

Thanks to Garret Nagle and St. Edwards School in Oxford for hosting the event, and giving us an excellent lunch: the sea bass was rather good... and of course to Paul Baker for his energy and enthusiasm...

Thanks also to Tom Biebrach for giving me a lift to and from my hotel...

Making Geography Happen

Some wonderful new materials were added to the GA website today, and went live...
We have been working on these for some time, co-ordinated by Ruth Totterdell, and with plenty of web support from Anne Greaves...


The idea behind the project, which is funded by the Action Plan for Geography is that we have been following students through units of work, and across key stages to try to identify and articulate moments when geography "happens": when an activity produces a recognisable change in geographical understanding....

From the website:

Making Geography Happen is an Action Plan funded project about good quality, innovative curriculum-making. It focuses on the work done by students in geography lessons and how this contributes to their wider understanding of the world.

Five schools participated in the project and their work is available on these web pages. In addition, King Edward VII School, Sheffield is being used for a longitudinal study, tracking four students through the whole of their Key Stage 3.

Five schools have participated in the project so far, each teaching a unit of work on place. In addition, King Edward VII School, Sheffield is being used for a longitudinal study, tracking four students through the whole of their Key Stage 3.

The teachers have supplied material for this website including student work, photos and videos of students in action, and student reflections. The teachers have also added their own reflections. For example:

'We were able to focus on the geographical learning and mental processes rather than the "production" of, for example, a poster or project, this helped increase the pace of learning and challenge of lessons'

'The students were given the opportunity to develop the ability to make informed decisions using geographical evidence'

Making Geography Happen Online

The Making Geography Happen area is divided into nine parts, represented by the jigsaw pieces on the main menu. These include three information pages and six sections for the participating schools.

School Materials

The five participating schools have supplied a variety of resources for these webpages, including samples of work, reflections from teachers and students and information about the curriculum-making process.

Materials from King Edward VII School will be added during the year.


A section called 'Thinking about progression in geography' has been written by Paul Weeden, Secretary of the GA Assessment & Examinations Working Group. Although much has been written about progression in general, this section looks at what it means for students to progress in their geographical thinking and move forward as geographers.

Detailed advice on assessment is provided in the GA publication Assessing Progress in your Key Stage 3 Geography Curriculum (Paul Weeden and Graham Butt, 2009).

Teacher Tips

The teachers involved in the project reflected on what they learnt about how to make geography happen in their classes. Some of these thoughts have been combined to form a 'Teacher Tips' page containing practical ideas of how to move children forward in their geographical thinking.

National Curriculum Levels

Making Geography Happen does not seek to emulate or replace the QCDA's exemplification of standards nor does it attempt to 'level' the work. We have been working closely with QCDA's exemplification team and encourage you to use the forthcoming files of students' work they have developed to exemplify standards across the current Key Stage 3.

Individual files of work for levels 3 to 8 will be published on the QCDA website during 2010. These files will include a wide range of evidence along with annotations and a commentary evaluating each student's overall performance.

Please take a look and let us know your thoughts so far....

Sunday, 7 February 2010

GTE Conference 2010

Image by Alan Parkinson

This weekend was spent in the august surroundings (although it was January) of Madingley Hall, to the North West of Cambridge, close to the American cemetery, and in beautiful rolling countryside.
The occasion was the annual Geography Teacher Educators' conference.

This year's was organised by Liz Taylor and colleagues at the University of Cambridge. I have known Liz for quite a while, as the school I used to teach at worked with Homerton College in Initial Teacher Training/Education - several colleagues started out on the PGCE course there.

I attended the first two days, with a dusting of snow overnight adding a touch of magic to the grounds. The food was great, comfortable accommodation, and a range of excellent sessions to attend. There were also some excellent local ales brewed by the City of Cambridge brewery: one of them: 'Scholars' Choice' was brewed specially for Madingley Hall, and was fairly delicious. I used my iPhone app to work out that it had travelled 12 miles.

I had not been aware of the historical significance of the venue, but this was made clear in an entertaining after dinner speech by Rex Walford.

It turns out that back in the 1960's Madingley was the location of a series of conferences which helped define and frame the shape of school geography for the next 20 years. The conferences were written up in a series of books and papers, and when I got home I realised I had a copy of the key book: "Frontiers in Geographical Teaching".

Rex, it turned out, had kept all the original materials from the conference(s) that he attended at the time, and had a lot of stories about the sessions, and their impact on him.

If you can't wait, the presentation that I used at the conference is reproduced below, although without my inimitable exposition of course...
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Poland Study Tour

The Geographical Association is organising a Study Tour to Poland for geography teachers in July - August 2010. The trip details are as follows:
Poles to Poles

28 July - 10 August 2010

The GA International Working Group will be leading a north to south journey through Poland from the Baltic to the Tatra Mountains, investigating the impact of EU membership on environment, economy and society.

The programme includes visits to Gdańsk, Toruń, Warsaw, Kraków, Oświęcim and the Tatra Mountains, providing a range of urban and rural environments full of contrasts.

Download: Full Itinerary

With Community Cohesion on every school's agenda and Polish children in our schools the length and breadth of the UK, this trip should be of interest to teachers of all phases, and, with the abundance of budget air services to Polish cities, within the budgets of most teachers.

Costs and Booking

Price: £825 (sharing twin). Single supplement: £295

The price includes all transport in Poland, accommodation (mostly in 3* hotels), breakfast and one main meal per day, plus entrance fees to main venues and geographical visit sites.

Please note that international flights are not included in the cost. Ryanair and Wizz Air operate flights to Gdańsk from Cork, Doncaster, Dublin, Glasgow, Liverpool, Luton and Standsted. Check their websites for further details.

Download: Booking Form

Bursary for new teachers

Two bursaries of up to £200 are available to new teachers within their first five years of teaching. Contact Adam Nichols for further information.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Fair Miles: Oxfam report...

A new report published by Oxfam and IIIED is now available from the Oxfam site.
It is available to purchase, or as a FREE PDF download. (link starts download of the resource)

The report is called FAIR MILES.

I have had a quick look and it is a useful document. Thanks to @primageographer for the tipoff to this resource, which will prove useful for preparation for my GA Conference 2010 workshop on this topic....

Here's a description, taken from the Oxfam website:

Today’s food is well travelled. A pack of green beans in a Northern supermarket may have journeyed 6000 miles, or 60. But while food miles loom large in our carbon-aware times, transporting it counts for less than you might think. And there is a far bigger picture. Food is more than a plateful of emissions.

It’s a social, political and economic issue that involves millions of small farmers in poor countries who export produce to the North. They have built lives and livelihoods around this trade. By buying what they grow, you’ve clocked up ‘fair miles’.

This pocketbook delves into the realities of the produce trade between Africa and the UK, examining both sides of the equation in search of a diet that is ethically, as well as nutritionally, balanced.