Thursday, 25 March 2010

GA and ESRI (UK) join forces

Geographical Association and ESRI (UK) announce sponsorship agreement
Leading organisations join forces to help schools introduce GIS into lessons

23 March 2010 - The Geographical Association (GA), the geography subject association, and ESRI (UK), the UK’s leading GIS software provider, today announce that ESRI (UK) has become the GA’s first corporate member and strategic partner. This new partnership brings together ESRI (UK)’s expertise in GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and the GA’s understanding of the learning and teaching of geography. With GIS now a compulsory part of the national curriculum, the organisations will combine forces to help teachers respond to the curriculum changes and introduce GIS into geography lessons.

The signing of this first partnership agreement is a new departure for the GA. With funding in place for the next three years the GA can plan ahead, working with ESRI (UK) to introduce the power of GIS technology to schools as part of its mission of furthering the study, learning and teaching of geography.

Last summer ESRI (UK) responded to the curriculum changes, launching its GIS for Schools Programme which offers GIS software specially designed for schools and a wealth of resources. In an online resource centre teachers can watch video tutorials and download step by step lesson plans on topics ranging from tracking hurricanes to the spread of swine flu.

“We are delighted and honoured to be working with the GA in this groundbreaking partnership,” said Dr Richard Waite, Managing Director, ESRI (UK). “We believe passionately that GIS brings a new dimension to the teaching of geography, giving students both a deeper understanding of their subject and skills they can take into the workplace. More than 120 schools have now signed up to our GIS for Schools Programme. Working with the GA and its members we can build on this success over the next three years, encouraging more schools to use GIS and creating a community of teachers who will share their knowledge of GIS, their enthusiasm and their resources.”

Professor David Lambert, Chief Executive of the GA, commented:

“The GA looks forward to embarking on this strategic partnership with such a significant and influential company as ESRI (UK). With 6000 members we reach into most secondary schools in England - and a good many primary schools - with support and guidance for teachers of geography.
Driven by our charitable mission, to further geographical knowledge and understanding through education, we are passionate about the role of geography in schools and its engagement of young people to become informed and capable citizens. GIS can add enormous value to geography lessons and we are keen to encourage teachers to integrate it appropriately into their creative ‘curriculum making’. ”

The first milestone of this partnership will be the GA’s Annual Conference at the University of Derby, 8 - 10 April. In the public lecture preceding the conference Dr Waite will explore what GIS means for teachers and students, explaining why GI skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace, how GIS can enhance the teaching of a broad range of subjects, and how geography teachers can lead the way.

ESRI (UK) is the leading provider of GIS software and services in the UK and part of the global ESRI network. As geographic information is at the heart of most organisations, GIS has an increasingly important role to play in helping businesses become more profitable and public services more efficient. ESRI (UK) supplies a wide range of customers in many different markets, including business, local and central government, defence, the emergency services, utilities (water, electricity and gas) and telecommunications.
The potential of GIS as an educational tool has recently been recognised, and GIS is now part of the national curriculum. ESRI (UK) has worked with teachers for many years, but in 2009 responded to the curriculum changes by launching its GIS for Schools Programme. This offers everything teachers need to integrate GIS into lessons: GIS software specially tailored for schools, maps and data, and both classroom and self-learning materials.
For more information about ESRI (UK)’s GIS for Schools Programme, please visit

About the Geographical Association
The GA is the subject association for geography in schools nationally. Long established and with healthy finances, the Association has a strong and enduring presence in primary and secondary education. Supported by over 6000 members, the Association produces a magazine for teachers, three professional journals, an extensive and well used website, a face-to-face and online CPD programme and a wide range of professional publications.
We work well with government departments, statutory bodies and others in mainstream teacher support. We also have a range of partners with whom we undertake more leading edge kind of project work. In addition to ‘support and guidance’ the GA occupies a subject leadership role taking its cue from the 2009 manifesto A Different View, which asks teachers to commit to geography as a subject specialism not as an end in itself, but as a dynamic medium for education.

From its early origins, the GA has been committed to geography in education using the contemporary technology of the age.
In 1893, this was the lantern slide. Today it includes GIS.

I will be quite heavily involved in this partnership, so there are some exciting times ahead...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

BECTa 21st Century

BECTa produced a useful resource in January 2010. It's available as a PDF download.
It contains a range of useful guidance relating to the effective use of ICT in the classroom to aid teaching and learning...

21st Century TEACHER - download from here...

Watch out for some more subject specific guidance coming soon....

Functional Skills in Geography

This might be useful for those teachers who are preparing to teach about / with FUNCTIONAL SKILLS.... (i.e. all teachers...)

This 24 page booklet is available as a PDF DOWNLOAD from the National Strategies website. It should also be arriving into all schools.

It contains a range of subject-specific (and generic) information on Functional Skills, as well as 3 developed contexts for geography lesson sequences which are as follows:

a) KS3 - Representing landscapes in literature...

b) KS3 - Investigating social inequality

c) KS4 - Consumer choice and natural resources

Oh, did I mention that I wrote it ?

I am grateful to Richard Allaway for pointing out the imminent arrival of a very useful resource to supplement to the bottled water context in the booklet...

Any feedback on the lesson contexts gratefully received - they were severely edited from the original 'vision'...

Researchers in Residence

An opportunity for teachers to work with researchers in their schools.
The importance of teachers taking notice of appropriate and relevant academic research is obvious.

Let me know if you get involved and how it goes...
Funded by the Wellcome Trust

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Google Street View goes nationwide

Images copyright Google

Google Street View has gone national
A huge update of Google's photography means that over 90% of the UK is now covered by the high resolution, 360 degree imagery along most roads in the UK
One of the first things that people would do perhaps would be to look at their own house, and the houses where they used to live....

Just done that myself, and you can see the house where I lived between 1977 and 1988 (ish) above, tho' it didn't look like that at the time...

There was a useful post on Simon Haughton's blog which suggested some geographical ideas for how the newly expanded Street View could be used in the classroom. Here are some (more):

1. Previewing a journey that is going to be made / risk assessments for fieldwork
2. Carrying out VIRTUAL FIELDWORK in an unfamiliar area
3. Investigate change over time in a local area
4. Clone Town / Land use surveys
5. Remodelling the models: transects from town centre outwards to test their validity
6. Comparing distant locations (Primary)
7. Taking a trip to the seaside
8. Play the "When were the images taken" game: look at clues in the state of buildings, traffic and people in the area, to see whether you can work out the time of year, or time of day, or day of the week when the cars must have taken the images...
My street was photographed in Summer, on a week-day judging by the images, but further towards the centre of the village the images turn to autumn...
9. Do a N, S, E and W, or 5 minutes in each direction from home etc.
10. Most URBAN fieldwork could be done in a slightly adapted way using the images, perhaps supported with some Flip video filming / audio files ? (remember that this is NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR REAL FIELDWORK which MUST continue....)

I have been updating a presentation I used last year, when Street View was limited to just a few major cities, which provided ideas for geography teachers on how they might use Street View in the classroom. Will share that here when it is complete....

Predictably, there has been a little kerfuffle in the Daily Mail...
Read the article and comments for a variety of views on the role of this sort of technology...

And just to show another feature: the maps can be embedded into blogs...

Drag the YELLOW PEGMAN onto the map in the appropriate place, and the Street View images will appear....

View Larger Map

Can also be viewed on my iPhone, which is remarkable really... The UK in your pocket....

Friday, 12 March 2010

Building a better teacher

Building a better teacher

Another Twitter tip-off....

Some excellent images here, and an article which is well worth reading in the New York Times

Thursday, 11 March 2010

PGCE Session

To HULL and BACK...

View more presentations or Upload your own.
The presentation prepared for colleagues from the University of Hull Geography PGCE course.

One website which had a good response was the GRACENOTE map.

We used it to track the inexorable global progress of LADY GAGA....

Thanks also to the Twitter colleagues who answered my #24yearsago request...

I had a great afternoon... Thanks to Justin for inviting me...