Thursday, 31 May 2012

Google World Wonders

Google World Wonders is a site which I contributed some Educational materials for a while ago, and have been waiting for it to launch - that wait ended today. Thanks to Keir Clarke for the tip-off once again. Nice of Google to tell those people who were involved...

The website offers the chance to explore a number of World Heritage sites. Here's the description from Google.

This new project from Google that allows you to take a virtual trip around 132 of the World's most famous historical and cultural sites. The sites includes historically important locations, such as Stonehenge and Pompeii and also natural wonders, such as the sandy dunes of Australia’s Shark Bay and the rock domes of Yosemite National Park. 
Google World Wonders uses Google Maps, Google Street View and Google Earth 3d models to explore these 132 historical locations. Each location also includes YouTube videos and photographs from Getty Images.

Information about each location is also provided by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

There is a cool spinning globe which shows the locations that are featured, and some of them also have additional educational resources which are available as downloadable zip files. There is a useful one on the Jurassic Coast, and the less familiar Ogasawara Islands.

 You can download a useful leaflet on how to use this for Primary and Secondary uses. This is the cover of the Secondary booklet, with 'stamps' showing some of the destinations. This design is used for the educational materials too...

The site offers the chance to explore a number of WORLD HERITAGE sites, and there are more to come (including the resources that I wrote for one of the destinations shown on the stamps....)

Wonder if this will feature in the Google GeoTeachers Institutes in June ?

Hurricane Season

Get ready to start teaching about tropical revolving storms.
Hurricane season will start at the end of May... or has it already started ?

Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl have already formed, but not developed any further...

Why does the hurricane season in the Atlantic start at this time of year and not earlier (or later ?)
Challenge your students to explain why...
Alberto and Beryl were the first in 2012's season - who is next ?
How are hurricanes named ?
Will there ever be another Hurricane Katrina ?

If you'd like a great activity using GIS and enquiry, you'll need to get yourself a copy of Bob Lang's 'GIS made Easy' book. This contains a full lesson activity and associated resources which teaches about some key GIS skills through the context of exploring hurricane paths.
You can have a sneak preview of the book by visiting the GA website.

Visit the NOAA site for all the latest information.

You also might want to catch up with a recent Twitter chat with the hashtag #hurrichat while it's still there: experts answering questions on hurricanes.
It's part of Hurricane Preparedness Week - lots of YouTube clips and other resources.
Get ready for the season ahead... Students should be in teams and briefed to keep an eye on a particular name and track it and report back...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vital Teachshare with Richard Allaway

I'm grateful to Richard Allaway, creator of Geography all the Way for joining my VITAL CPD Teachshare last night.
There were two main websites referred to:

Richard's site: Geography all the Way
The blog post that Richard referred to while we were talking.

Thanks to Richard, you can get a free 48 hour trial of the site (from the morning of the 29th of May onwards) by entering the username: vital and the password: vital when prompted. Enough for you to see what good value the site is.

Finally, click this link to watch a repeat of the session, which lasted about 40 minutes.

I shall let you know when the next Teachshares are being held...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Geographical Times

Received my copy of Issue 1 of 'The Geographical Times' earlier in the week and finally had time to sit down and take a read.

It was put together by Paul Turner, who I first met when he was completing his PGCE at Homerton College with Liz Taylor. It's a free newspaper, which is made up of contributions

The 2nd issue is going to be on the theme of the OCEANS, which is a splendid theme, and I shall perhaps try contributing something (whether it gets included or not is another matter...) based on my work with the Digital Explorer Oceans resources which I read today have been downloaded by 1 in 10 schools so far.

The newspaper is an actual physical object, which already makes it better than a lot of digital newsletters that you might receive. It's also a lovely opportunity for students to see their work in print, and being read by a large audience outside the school.

These contributions are eclectic, and add to the charm of the final newspaper. I liked the image of Antarctica, which was drawn by Camilla Makhmudi. There are also poems, images, and brief descriptions a little like 'blog posts', a description of a recent trip to Iceland, and website recommendations, such as the Clear about Carbon website.

The best way to ensure that you receive a copy of the next issue is to encourage your students to submit a contribution to this second issue. You'll also be in with a chance to win a camera. For details of how to do that, head for the Geographical Times website.
And finally, who can resist a letter which addresses you in this way... quite accurately of course...

Monday, 28 May 2012

VITAL Teachshare tomorrow night

Join Richard Allaway and myself tomorrow night (Tuesday the 29th of May) at 7pm for a VITAL Teachshare.
We shall talk about the development of Richard's Geography all the Way website, show some of the activities and how they developed, and share some plans for the future development of the site.

A chance to talk to the creator of one of the best geography websites out there... oh, and Richard too... ;)

You also have a few days left to order your very own GATW T-shirt or hoodie....

Friday, 25 May 2012

Launch of Teachit Geography

One of the final jobs that I completed for the GA was to liaise with Katie and Chris at Teachit to prepare the materials for the launch of Teachit Geography.
It's great to see that the site is now LIVE and is ready for you to REGISTER or SUBSCRIBE to....

You can register to look at the FREE content.

There are currently over 450 pages of resources on the site, and that number grows daily...
I have worked with a list of wonderful people who have contributed resources so far, but you can join them by submitting your own resources.
Resources can be discovered using a simple search process with key words to help you find what you want quickly.

A year's personal subscription is just £15 (see later for a special GA offer...)

There are also some 'Whizzy things': interactives which can be used in the classroom, or in planning interesting resources with students. I particularly like the Decision Maker, which would help to visualise DME tasks.
An image bank, newsletter, a chance to save your favourite resources in a favourites area and a Wiki based list of Geography websites completes the package so far.

Here's the information on a special offer for GA members...

Finally, it's worth saying that TeachIt History launches in July...

Monday, 21 May 2012

Send my Friend to School 2012

Thanks to Karen from Action Aid for getting in touch to tell me about the latest incarnation of Send my Friend to School.

The Global Campaign for Education are offering free resources as part of the Send My Friend to School campaign, which are suitable for pupils at KS2 & KS3. Every school that signs up will receive a free resource pack including a DVD, set of posters and stickers by post and more lesson plans, films, background information and resources on the website at   

There are already over 5600 schools signed up

To view the campaign DVD go to:

Each year the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) invites parents, teachers, children and young people from around the world to call on governments to work to keep their promise to provide education for all by 2015. Most years about 6,000 UK schools take part in the campaign. Time is running out to get universal primary education by 2015, so we hope more schools will take part than ever before!

This year UK schoolchildren are being invited to add their voice to the Olympic-inspired Send My Friend to School campaign and urge world leaders to ‘go for gold’ and get the 67 million children worldwide who are missing out on school a quality primary education by 2015. With athletes flocking to London this year to test their abilities in hundreds of sporting events, this is an opportunity to reflect on another important race, the Great Global Education Race 2000 - 2015. 

In 2000 world leaders promised – as part of the Millennium Development Goals - that every child would complete a quality primary education by 2015. Since then millions of children in Africa, Asia and Latin America went to school, for the firsttime. But like a marathon runner, the Great Global Education Race has hit a wall. The number of children out of school has stayed stubbornly at 67 million for 2 years now, with only 3 years to the finishing line.

This year the Send My Friend to School campaign is asking UK pupils to:

·       Explore the issues of the great global education race: watch the DVD and animation, play the on-line game and use the story bank to learn about of the lives of children who miss out on school

·       Create a message: use the templates to make a medal and add messages to urge world leaders to ‘go for gold’ and keep their promise of education for all by 2015

·       Spread the word: hold assemblies and events, invite your MP in and tell your local media what you have been doing

·       Make it count: Send your messages to your MP before the end of June and add the number of people who took part at your school to our online totaliser at

Every year we are so impressed with the huge numbers of schools that take part in the campaign, but also the level of their involvement and the obvious passion that pupils here feel about their peers overseas who miss out on school. We hope that thousands of schools will take part in our Olympic-themed campaign this year and use the range of creative learning, campaigning and fun activities designed for the whole school to use and become global active citizens this summer term of 2012.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Field Studies Council video

A nice video made by the Field Studies Council...

Thursday, 17 May 2012

KS3 Geography Resources Survey

Head here to take part in a KS3 Geography resources survey by Hodder. There is a free prize draw for those who enter....

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dan Ellison: Emerging Explorer

I can finally share some news I heard about a few months ago, but which has now been made public...
Daniel Raven Ellison, friend and colleague at the Geography Collective has been named as one of National Geographic's 2012 Emerging Explorers.

The press release is here.
Dan is given the honour alongside other 'visionary young trailblazers' around the world.

The 2012 Emerging Explorers are U.S. cyborg anthropologist Amber Case; U.K. digital storyteller and zoologist Lucy Cooke; U.K. behavioral ecologist Iain Couzin; Mexican underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda; chemist Yu-Guo Guo of China; conservationist Osvel Hinojosa Huerta of Mexico; U.S. pilot and educator Barrington Irving; conservation biologist Krithi Karanth of India; Swiss crisis mapper Patrick Meier; U.S. archaeologist Sarah Parcak; U.S. data scientist Jake Porway; U.K. guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison; U.S. archaeologist Jeffrey Rose; engineer and renewable energy advocate Ibrahim Togola of Mali; and archaeologist Daniel Torres Etayo of Cuba

Dan's full profile is HERE

Guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison brings the spirit of adventure to geographic education, allowing people to see the world — and the field of geography — in new and surprising ways. Guerrilla geography challenges people, especially children, to explore the world around them, engaging in creative play, making new discoveries and forming community connections. Through technologies that allow users to share their experiences digitally, guerrilla geography not only educates but also inspires young people to explore their world in ways that stretch their minds and bodies, and motivates them to educate others and take action in their own communities. His Urban Earth films demonstrate guerrilla geography in action. He has walked across 13 cities, taking photographs every eights steps and editing them to create films to reveal new perspectives on how to experience cities. His program/website, Mission:Explore, and a series of award-winning kids' books of the same name encourage youth to go on adventures to learn about the world. 

This is great news and very well deserved....

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Just added the 101st TOP TIP to the VITAL Geography Portal that I manage.

Individual subscriptions are just £10 for the year...

Details about the Portal are here.

Details of the latest SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS for schools are here...

I also added the letters 'H' and 'I' to the Word of the Week column.

If you were choosing geographical terms to represent the letters 'J', 'K' and 'L' what would you choose - each word needs an image that you have taken to represent it too....

Quite a few ideas in the book started out life on the OU VITAL CPD portal... It's a good place to communicate ideas....

Watch out for an online Teachshare which will feature the book coming soon...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Londinium MMXII

In the spirit of the forthcoming global sporting event that we are all anticipating, I have spent some time over the last few weeks putting together what might be said to be a more 'critical' look at some of the impacts of the event on a range of geographical themes. I visited the Olympics Park last month, and did a full circuit of the area around it in the company of a school group...

I then followed up a few thoughts on what might be the issues with holding this event in London. A lot of focus has been on the legacy of the games, and for me there are some issues with the way that the Olympics park will benefit the area that surrounds it, and the benefits for the Olympics to the country as a whole...

In the spirit of encouraging slightly more 'critical' geographers, here are some potential discussion points to follow up further....

If anyone has other suggestions, please comment or get in touch...


And just to show that it's not all anti-Olympics, here's my son's Team GB duck: Goldie...

Images by Alan Parkinson

Friday, 4 May 2012

Free resources from Tourism Concern

A related resource on the theme of water has been produced by Tourism Concern.

Water for Everyone: Sustainability and Tourism Issues for Geography KS 3 and 4 

Five free teaching units, focusing on water, the world’s most vital resource, and how it connects to tourism, the world’s fastest growing industry.
  • Designed for teaching Key Stage 3 and 4 Geography
  • Exploring key themes in current programme of study: understanding place / exploring interconnection and change / enquiring and communicating
  • Each unit contains an hour’s lesson plan plus an image bank and activities
  • Active learning structure, including investigation and role play
  • Freshen up your current KS3 curriculum at no cost
  • Bring real and ‘up to the minute’ case studies into your teaching
  • Prepare for the likely new emphasis on place

Unit 1 – Why is water precious?

This unit introduces pupils to the need for the sustainable use of natural resources.
Pupils will uncover how vital water is in our lives and learn how and why water scarcity is a growing problem.

Unit 2 – How does tourism affect the demand for water?

This unit links the local to the global, exploring the concept of sustainable living through the lens of tourism. Pupils will examine their own use of water on holiday, followed by how tourism relates to the problem of water scarcity, focusing on the popular Indian ‘wintersun’ destination of Kerala. 

Unit 3 – A moral dilemma for tourists

This unit raises the question of personal responsibility in the search for sustainable development. Pupils will be challenged to think through their own response to a moral dilemma posed by a story using current research on water scarcity in Goa.

Unit 4 – Water scarcity in long haul destinations

This unit demonstrates the global nature of sustainability issues, showing how countries share common problems. Pupils will undertake an online enquiry into destinations where according to current research, water scarcity is an increasing issue.

Unit 5 – Water and conflict

This unit explores the many factors and stakeholders that need to be considered if sustainable tourism is to be a reality in poor countries. Using role play to reveal different perspectives, pupils will decide whether a new tourist development proposed for the island of Bali should go ahead.

You will need to register for free to download the various documents and files that make up the resource.
The activities range from mystery card sorts, to dilemmas, to Google Earth exploration.
There is a link with tourism obviously, and in particularly the issues that face a location that wants to attract tourists, but has water scarcity problems.

There are several case studies which are used in the resources, including Goa and Bali.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Badger Book in stock...

Thanks to Graeme Eyre for telling me that he had already received his copy of the Badger GCSE Grade Booster book that I wrote, and been using the activities today...
Here's a picture of some of the books in the warehouse ready for distribution, with thanks to Gracey at the warehouse for the pic...

Order yours now to avoid disappointment...

Further feedback welcome...