Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Geography Collective and Cultural Olympiad

One of the things I'm proudest of in the last few years is my involvement with the Geography Collective, and our Mission:Explore books, iPhone app and other activities...
We can now announce our latest project, thanks to the project leadership of Daniel Raven Ellison.

We are very pleased to say that we will be delivering a major project for the Cultural Olympiad as part of the Discovering Places programme called Discover Explore. Discovering Places is funded by a grant from Olympic Lottery Distributor (OLD) through the London Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). It is delivered by The Heritage Alliance with the support of key partners.. one of which is us.

We will be working closely with The Workshop to create something very beautiful and cool which will be launched this summer.

“The project aims to inspire young people and their families to discover hidden, extraordinary and important historical sites and stories in cutting-edge and engaging ways. The unique collaboration between Discovering Places, The Geography Collective and numerous small and medium scales historic and natural environment organisations will inspire active participation, animate spaces, raise awareness of environmental sustainability and enhance learning by linking up local heritage assets.” The Heritage Alliance 

‘We are extremely excited to be working on this cutting edge and creative strand of Discovering Places.  This project is going to open up opportunities for children and families to explore and experience places in new ways and have a great deal of fun while thare are at it.  We will be uncovering heritage in ways that will demonstrate how inclusive the Cultural Olympiad is and break new ground on engaging young people with the people, places and stories of not only our pasts but our future’s past.’ Daniel Raven-Ellison, Project Director, The Geography Collective

To read more about the Cultural Olympiad, Discovering Places and our project take a look at the Heritage Alliance newsletter here.

Look forward to meeting the rest of the Geography Collective in May to kick-start the project... 


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Learning Score - get it while you can....

John Davitt's genius lesson planning tool: LEARNING SCORE is now available for a limited time only as a FREE download with a lifetime license.
I paid actual cash money for this about 6 months ago to use with teachers, so this is great news for those on limited budgets...

To see how it might be used Doug Belshaw has made a video of him planning a history lesson.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Mobile learning...

Gathering ideas for a future project on iPhone applications that would support geographical learning... whether outside or inside the classroom...

As well as the obvious MISSION EXPLORE app, there's also the RORY's STORYCUBES APP that I have poised and ready for business (although the actual dice are more tactile...)

Image by Alan Parkinson - cubes by Creativity Hub...

If you have other thoughts on iPhone apps that you particularly USE (rather than just having on your phone for visual impact), please let me know or add a comment below...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Rory's Story Cubes

During my lunch-time at the Education Show I took the opportunity to do a quick trip up and down the aisles to make sure that I saw as many of the stands as possible and have a chat to anyone who had a geographical connection, or who caught my eye.

One stand I particularly wanted to see was the CREATIVITY HUB stand, where RORY's STORY CUBES were available.

I have these cubes as an iPhone app and also as the infinitely preferable 'real thing', and have used them with many teachers over the last few years to explore the ideas of geography as "writing the earth".

I have used my cubes with hundreds of teachers as a way of exploring creative writing, including my sessions at various conferences. By using a net for creating a cube such as the one below, taken from MATHSISFUN with thanks, you can also add your own cubes...

Cut out the shapes and add your own words or instructions on the six sides relevant to the subject that you are using them for.

If you were making a set of geography cubes, they might contain instructions. These could be used to add a map symbol or place name, to turn a particular compass direction (to direct a route across an OS map sheet perhaps), or to describe a particular landscape.

I got a set of ACTIONS cubes to mix in with them, and had a chat with Rory - who looks just like his picture on the flyer.

I was also really impressed with the MAX cubes, and a bit disappointed that they were only prototypes and not available to buy - not yet anyway... Follow the link to add your thoughts on whether they should be made more widely available for the particular reasons that are suggested.
Follow Rory and the team on Twitter @storycubes, and read this story from the Belfast Telegraph for some information on what they are planning yet. Some interesting projects to come...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

New Danny Dorling

Earlier in the week, picked up on this story from the Guardian, as one of the impacts of last week's earthquake and tsunami...
It describes the particular impact that shortages of food, water and power are having on those who survived, or were evacuated from the areas affected by the combination of hazards that have hit the country.
The elderly are apparently being affected particularly badly.

The second story was from Friday morning's BBC news. Despite the rise in obesity, the UK population is still enjoying longer life expectancy.

The third was prompted by a conversation with Carl Lee in Sheffield on Wednesday. He put me on to the latest Danny Dorling book, which I promptly ordered, and it arrived on Friday.

There are plenty of interesting sections which could translate into the classroom.
I liked the introduction: "Geography Matters", which includes the useful reminder for adult readers of the book that:
"The geography you may have been taught late on a Thursday afternoon at school is not the geography that is taught in universities today.."
- although in many cases it is also not the geography that is taught at schools on Thursday afternoons these days...

There are chapters on a range of themes that would be familiar to those teaching GCSE and 'A' level specifications, and this book should perhaps be available in school and departmental libraries.
Useful information on optimum populations, immigration, ageing populations and gender imbalance.
As always with Danny, plenty of thought provoking and challenging arguments and information....

Plenty of information for follow up reading in the copious endnotes too...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Thinking about disasters...

..is something that a lot of us have been doing for the last week...

So have other colleagues... Simon Jones has posted the results of his thinking on the presentation below, which he has shared on Slideshare. Some really interesting and challenging questions...
There was also a response from the Guardian's DATA BLOG, which had a comparison between Japan and Haiti as part of its DECADE OF DISASTERS piece.

There is also a useful NUCLEAR POWER feature which shows the number of power plants that may now have an uncertain future, and face far more stringent safety checks and procedures. Useful mapping in both of these features...

Responses to the disaster have spread far and wide.
Fears over the nuclear radiation that is likely to spread from the Fukushima plant caused salt to sell out in China.

Thanks also to Fred Martin for sending through this intriguing link.

This is all 6 major channels at the precise time of the earthquake laid over each other. 

The one in the top left is NHK (Japanese equivalent of the BBC) and the others are all commercial broadcasters. Which channels react the fastest - how long do some of them take to react ?

Warning: may give you a headache...

He also told me about the website which shows the live Geiger counter readings for Tokyo.

Thanks to those people who have left a comment on the Tsunami page on the GA website.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Education Show

The GA will have a stand at this year's Education Show 2011 at the NEC.
We will be in Hall 6&7 on Stand P30A - the subject association area (as at BETT) - the show starts later this week...

Come along to pick up the latest catalogues, see some of our new publications, browse some GA resources and be told about the support for Primary and Secondary colleague that members can expect, as well as our CPD support and online networks.

We would be interested to hear your views on the curriculum review, English Baccalaureate, and other challenges facing geography in schools, as well as the opportunities presented by these 'interesting times'.

I will be setting up and manning the stand on the first day of the show: Thursday the 17th of March

Alternatively, come with a USB drive and I'll let you have some free resources from my hard drive...

I'll also be handing out various bits for those who get there early...

My colleagues Nicola Donkin and Paul Baker will be on the stand on the other 2 days of the show...

Look forward to seeing some of you there...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Japanese Disaster... some thoughts...

Just after 7am on Friday morning I pulled into a multi storey car park in central Coventry. I had set off rather earlier than I needed to ensure that I was on time for an NQT event that I was running, and as I checked my mail and Twitter feeds, news started to come in of an earthquake and tsunami...
The rest of the day was spent running the conference, and by the time I got home at 7pm that night, there was a clear sense that this was going to be very bad news for Japan and the rest of the world...

It became obvious that a lot of colleagues were hard at work over the weekend preparing a range of resources.
My colleague Anne Greaves at the GA had produced a really useful page of materials at short notice on the Friday in my absence.

Below is the text of the update that I will send to Anne for addition to the GA website tomorrow (Monday) but it is here for early access, and also for possible comment... This is a draft, and is my personal response to the events in Japan...

Update for GA website resources

The weekend of the 12th and 13th of March has been dominated by regular updates from the region of Japan that was most badly affected by the earthquake of the 11th (which has been upgraded to a magnitude 9) and the ensuing tsunami and aftershocks.
The force of the earthquake has shifted the east coast of Japan by 2.4 metres, and even shifted the earth’s axis by 25cm. News footage has shown the astonishing scale of the devastation, and the power of water in a highly urbanised area. Entire towns such as Minami Sanriku seem to have virtually disappeared, and tens of thousands of people are missing at the time of writing, in the massive debris fields that the tsunami left behind.
The crisis has now been called the “worst since World War 2”, with the astonishing power of the water and shaking accompanied by the potential for a greater nuclear disaster than Chernobyl in 1986. Videos showing the swaying skyscrapers of Tokyo also provide a reminder of the efforts that have been made to protect buildings from potential earthquakes. This, combined with regular drills will have had an effect on overall casualty numbers, although some of the videos show a remarkable nonchalance as people stood and washed boats being washed under bridges that they were stood on.
The combination of hazards has had wider impacts on the country’s economy, links to global markets, car exports and manufacturing have been suspended, insurance claims will run into billions, and there are forecasts of rising energy prices. Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures are responsible for over 40% of the Japanese economy, and most manufacturing has ceased. Food rationing is taking place, and water supplies are cut in many parts of northern Japan.
Energy is currently being rationed as a large percentage of Japan’s energy comes from nuclear power, and there are fears of nuclear ‘meltdown’ at a number of nuclear reactors. Screening centres have been set up as over 200 000 people have been evacuated from the area around the reactors. A rolling programme of 3 hour blackouts is planned for the next few days. Oil refineries have been affected, and many petrol stations have closed, with long queues at others.
In the longer term, there will be a stimulus for the construction industry, as the infrastructure and many buildings will require reconstruction, but this is a long way in the future…

Thoughts on pedagogy & potential activities

The challenge for teachers in the next few weeks will be to pick an appropriate route through the large number of potential resources and activities that could be selected. Teachers as ‘curriculum makers’ have difficult choices to make, and even more so than ever where this event is concerned.
Students are likely to come with questions, and anxieties, and teachers will need to tackle those sensitively. These are likely to form the basis for the response: a lesson that is planned too rigidly might not enable some of those important questions to be answered. Try to ensure that at least one computer with internet access is available for research. It may be possible to access the live news stream from NHK news: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/
Some sense of the scale of the disaster might be appropriate to explore, using Google Earth or other mapping software e.g. GIS mapping, perhaps using some of the available free tools such as ESRI’s ArcGIS online explorer: http://explorer.arcgis.com/ (a map of earthquakes in Japan has already been created)
Students could perhaps be placed in a ‘newsroom’ hot seat – maybe preparing materials for the Google Crisis Response website that is mentioned later in this resource. Alternatively they could be interviewing a survivor, or prepare questions for a rescue worker on their way to the disaster area. They might be asked to prepare / design applications that would be useful for residents and other people in the affected areas.
Use the Sky News home page or Newseum site http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/ to explore the front pages of newspapers in the UK / around the World.
Possibly a Wordle of the headlines could be constructed, to explore the language of tragedy, and how to work on some of these issues to raise the morale of people in the affected areas.
Alternatively, take a Japanese poetry form: the haiku, and pupils could write a response to what they have seen and heard, perhaps adding a hopeful note…
There could be an exploration of how the shape and height profile of the coastline of Japan may have funnelled the waters further inland and at a faster rate in certain locations.
Teachers should perhaps take a lead from students at the start of the lesson, to assess the possible focus for part of the lesson:
What do they know ?
What would they like to know ?
What should they know ?
If we are having a debate about core knowledge in geography, should ‘tsunami’ be in there ?
Remember geographical enquiry: the choice of stimulus material will be to identify appropriate images and then offer potential for research and reflection.
Is it perhaps too early to be dissecting the disaster ?
If any colleagues have thoughts on these ideas, or would like to provide further examples that they have planned, we would be very pleased to receive them and share them more widely.

Links and connections

The BBC News website has an astonishing video: one of many, showing the force of the water as the tsunami hit:
Some colleagues have been hard at work producing resources which they are happy to share.
Andy Knill, who teaches in Essex spent most of the weekend compiling a tremendously useful Google Document:
This contains a large collection of possible sources of information and Twitter feeds to follow for updates.
Becky Pook from Peacehaven School was quick off the mark with a creative and well-referenced resource which explored not only the physical background to the event but also the emotional response. It includes some interesting ideas for model making and creative use of images. Many thanks to Beccy for sharing.
(can embed if required)
Another Slideshare, which contains a range of images is: http://www.slideshare.net/effat57/the-japan-earthquake-and-tsunami
Ollie Bray wrote a blog post which concentrated on the effort of Google and other technology firms to update their imagery as quickly as possible to enable assessment of the damage and some before/after comparisons.
There was also a useful link to Google’s Crisis Response Dashboard: http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html - this provides a range of  links including a person finder and some dramatic YouTube clips.
Mark Howell blogged his thoughts – another example of the importance of teacher blogs:
Some interesting thoughts on the issues of teaching a fast evolving news story.
Heathfield School, where blogging is embedded in the curriculum was also commendably quick off the mark with some Year 6 tasks – thanks to @DeputyMitchell on Twitter.
Jon Snow of Channel 4 news is writing his SnowBlog from Sendai in Japan: http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/
GeoEye: an image provider, has some useful Before and After images, which have been shared by the New York Times. The webpage has a useful slider to enable comparisons:
The US Pacific Fleet has started an aid operation called Operation Tomodachi, and there is a useful Flickr set here from the people involved:
The UK charity Shelterbox is already active in the area, as are many other charities and international search and rescue teams. Follow the Shelterbox teams on: http://www.shelterbox.org/
James Reynolds (http://twitter.com/typhoonfury) travels the world filming in disaster zones and he has made his way to Japan as well as posting regular updates via Twitter. A useful ‘contact’ to follow over the coming days.
There was also the amazing story of Hiromitsu Shinkawa who was rescued from the roof of his house while floating many miles out to sea.
The story of the town of Minami Sanriku is a sober, large scale example of the power of nature…

Finally, for those who would like to involve students in fund-raising, or donate to the disaster appeal.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Monday, 7 March 2011

Making a Geography pie...

It's British Pie Week. We have a "Pie Society" at the school where I taught, and visit locations around the SE (and further afield) in search of good pies...

If Geography was a pie what would its filling be made of ??

For more on the analogy of cooking and geography (curriculum making), you can revisit my article, that was contained in Tim Handley's PGCE guide.

So, to make my Geography pie I'm going to start by chopping one red onion finely...

Chop One Red Onion Finely

What are the other ingredients that I should add ??

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Twitter for news...

I talked about the use of Twitter as a way of communicating, collecting information, crowdsourcing and other things at the NQT event...

There were 3 or 4 "urban-related" tweets in my overnight feed that I caught up with earlier 'today' while having my breakfast...
Part of my daily routine now is to look at what has happened while I slept, and e-mail any interesting tweets to my e-mail account, so that I have a record of the links, and can follow them up when I have a moment...

This weekend, there has been an urban theme to many of the updates. Several of them were from the excellent @urbanphoto_blog stream... You need to follow them if you don't already.

One led me to the Twisted Sifter blog, from which I got this remarkable image, which apparently shows the suburbs of Mexico City marching into the distance, irrespective of topography.

The images were from Pablo Lopez Luz

I haven't explored the site further, but it seems to have a range of interesting images and other content.
The second site, which was equally arresting is a description of the development of a new (or perhaps not so new it seems) 'city' stretching out into the Caspian Sea from Baku, and called Oily Rocks.

The Liquid Infrastructure blog has the story and more amazing pictures of this complex structure.

Next was the news of a fire in the Garib Nagar slum in Mumbai. One of the houses affected was the home of an actress who featured in the film "Slumdog Millionaire". Of course there were thousands of other people affected too...
This was followed up by another newspaper article on the slums of Mumbai, and plans to bulldoze Dharavi. One to extend into the idea of local politics and ownership of land...

This was followed by a tip-off from Bob Digby to an article on the increased threat that coastal settlements in the UK are likely to face
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation relates to the idea of Social Justice, and looks at the impact on disadvantaged UK coastal communities.
Click HERE to download the report as a 1.4 Mb PDF file

The possible impacts on East Anglia (as featured in the report) are summarised below...

•  Weakening and collapse of cliffs due to desiccation as a result of higher summer temperatures and lower precipitation; also cliff destabilisation as a result of decreasing vegetation cover.
•  Weakening and collapse of cliffs due to increased precipitation in winter, which causes more water to penetrate into desiccated cracks.
•  Higher rates of coastal erosion from higher sea levels, more frequent storm surges and weakened cliffs.
•  High erosion will cause enhanced rates of longshore drift which may pose threats to the major ports of Great Yarmouth, Felixstowe and Harwich.

And finally, was an article by Rick Poynor on the book "Edgelands", which I am reading via Kindle app at the moment, along with some images of these peripheral areas.

So basically, Twitter - thanks to the Flipbook app - has replaced the need for me to buy a Sunday newspaper...

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Mapping tool - Sketch-a-map from ESRI

A nice mapping tool produced by / for the ESRI Education community , which offers a range of base maps, and tools to draw on top of the base map to create a personal map. I liked the text tool, which allows labels to be placed by clicking on the map.

 The finished map can then be saved or printed.
Another option for map creation.

Try it out

Friday, 4 March 2011

GA Entry Level Membership

You now have an extra opportunity to support the work of the Geographical Association through our new Entry Level Membership

The GA's new Entry Level Membership has been designed to offer a taster of the benefits provided by full GA membership. It's also an ideal top-up for geography teachers in schools with an existing GA Group Membership.

For just £15 a year Entry Level Membership will give you:

Print and online copies of GA Magazine three times a year - browse a free sample issue on the GA website.
Members-only teaching resources.
Discount vouchers from a great range of third-party suppliers including Thermos, Paramo and National Geographic.
A personal homepage on the GA website.
A fantastic photo gallery.
Evidence of your commitment to your profession.
Membership of your professional community.
Join online, download a membership form or call 0114 296 0088.

Looking for more membership benefits to support your professional development?
Then have a look at the GA's range of other membership options, starting from £29.50 a year, which provide all of the above plus:

One or more of the GA's journals in print and online three time a year. View free sample journals on the GA's website.
Discounts in the GA Shop.
Discounts on GA CPD events and Annual Conference.
Join online, download a membership form or call 0114 296 0088.  

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Exemplification of standards

So far, feedback from delegates for the NQT conference tomorrow have suggested that assessment is one area that I need to spend some time focussing on - so I will.
This will be in the context of curriculum planning, as assessment is for learning, and also checking on progression...
The original APP work has turned into exemplification of standards....

To see examples of student work at each level from 3 to 8, visit the website and click the appropriate link...
You will see a portfolio of work which can be used to compare with work produced by students at your school. You might also get some ideas for developing some assessments of your own...

Tony Cassidy Slideshare

A well as my own Slideshare account HERE, you would do well to visit the account of Tony Cassidy
One presentation that we will refer to is Tony's iPhone template...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

NQT: Things to do - 1: Flickr

This is the first in what will turn into a series of posts on things that NQT Geographers could usefully be doing to expand their range of available resources and strategies.
The first one is to start using Flickr (or some other online photo storage utility such as PICASA WEB ALBUMS.

A free Flickr account can store 200 photos (there are some upload limits) - you can, of course, create more than one free account as long as you have more than one e-mail address...
A PRO account costs about £15 a year, and is well worth it for the fact that you can then upload unlimited photos to storage. My account now has over 5000 images which have been added over a number of years.

There is a useful Flickr app for iPhone and iPad which can be used to upload/view images.
Images can also be attached to e-mails which are sent to a free Googlemail account, but each set of photos would need to be attached to an appropriately named e-mail to allow for searching. This is another free option though.

One advantage of taking photos and storing them is that they might be useful a long time later.
This post features two photos that I took about 4 years ago...

Geographies of food...