Thursday, 20 December 2012

Minecraft and Geography

Does this image mean anything to you ?

If not, then you've probably never heard of MINECRAFT: a game that has millions of players worldwide and is finding its way into lots of schools too.

My son LOVES Minecraft and has produced some amazing creations on the Pocket Edition that we have on the two tablets in the house. He and his sister play together in a creative world they have generated.

When I upgrade my computer in the New Year, we will put the full version on, and really start to explore the Minecraft Universe.

Recently, after a Twitter exchange with Claire Rafferty in Australia, I created a Google Doc and started to put together a summary document which could form the basis for Geography teachers to start to think about how they could use Minecraft in the Geography classroom... and also explore where it was being used in other parts of the curriculum, and also as an extra-curricular activity.

I discovered Stephen Reid, who I'd quoted in the document was interested in the project, and he was happy to get involved too. He runs a free Minecraft project for schools to get involved with the game. Check it out.

Finally, there seems to be a movie of the creation of Minecraft that has been produced, and the trailer can be seen here - my son will be interested in this:

I'll open the document up to scrutiny and publish it in various places in the New Year so that I can work on it over the Christmas period 
Get in touch if you have something you want to contribute...

Monday, 17 December 2012

The People's Songs

The People's Songs is a new series, which is due to start on BBC Radio 2 in January 2013.
The idea behind the series is that it will feature 50 songs which reflect the changing issues of importance through the last century.
There is a range of programmes, which will go around the songs, based on themes which tell the story of modern Britain.
There are opportunities for people to suggest which songs relate to particular themes.

This may work better for staff than for young people as they may have a more extensive cultural library of moments that connect with particular music, although I may be doing students a disservice here....

There are several possible connections with the geography curriculum:
- Population change - immigration - arrival and departure
- Cultural changes
- Urban / rural themes and issues 
- Unemployment and economic change...
- Environmental themes

If we take some of the key themes that might feature in the programmes, and ask them to identify a possibly playlist for the programme, or show some videos via YouTube or songs via Spotify and analyse the lyrics.
There are some classic songs of course such as 'Ghost Town' by the Specials...

This would work well as an extended project with a group.
I would also recommend doing something perhaps with 'A' level groups to suggest some items, or record a message. Special bonus points to anyone who is featured on the programme...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

I-USE Statistics in Education - a new EU project

As I write this, I am sat in a meeting to launch a new European project.

The project is called I-USE.

The context is a simple, but important one.
It's about making sense of a world of data...

Statistical literacy is becoming increasingly important. This includes an element of information literacy, but also digital literacy.

Students (and teachers) are now living in a society that demands evidence-based arguments and decisions. While the world is changing rapidly with respect to the prevalence and use of statistics, the curriculum in schools and the approaches teachers adopt tend to be slow to respond to such changes. Therefore creating meaningful, innovative teacher training plays a crucial role in developing statistical thought processes.

Using statistics provides simple yet instant information on the matter it centres on. Modern computer-based visualisations create a vivid presentation of collected and organized data through the use of figures, charts, living and interactive diagrams and graphs, which helps lead to more critical analyses of information. 

Teachers do not always consider new forms of visualising statistical information as part of curriculum courses as they are not explicitly mentioned. As a result, in some secondary schools, many students don’t have an opportunity to learn to work with statistics and computer-based visualisations. 
Therefore, despite the fact that statistics offers powerful tools for information analysis and interpretation, many students are unable to extract meaning from the data and information they are presented with. 

The dilemma is that as more data becomes readily available and the tools for visualising and analysing the data become more sophisticated, the ability to produce useful information from the analyses is outpacing the capacity to use the knowledge productively.

The project will support teachers and learners to explore a world data and create meaning....

It connects with the EU's Digital Agenda 2020 and the INSPIRE directive.

It also links to the release of data which others can use.

One example of this is the ROAD ACCIDENT MAP which has been made available. I feature on that one...
You can follow the progress of the I-USE project on a range of social media strands.
These are now live...

Twitter feed @StatsinEdu
Blog: I use Stats in Edu

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

New GA course for IB Geography

A new course for 2013 - Richard Allaway of Geography all the Way fame amongst (many) other things, will be coming over to London in June to run a course for the Geographical Association.
The course is called 'Developing a Curriculum for IB Diploma Programme Geography'

Course overview

This course will bring International Baccalaureate DP Geography teachers together with the aim of discussing and sharing ideas about structuring, resourcing and delivering the 240 hours of teaching necessary for the higher level course. You will leave with fresh ideas, plans for the new academic year and access to a range of online resources.

Delegate reviews of similar courses

'It was fantastic, questions answered and more!'
'Spot on - directly relevant to the course. Excellent communicator!'


Registration fees include all course materials, refreshments and lunch.
GA Personal/Group/Concessionary Member: £180
New Member Package*: £279
Non-member: £300
*Includes course fee and one year's GA membership for your school.

Aims and outcomes

  • Consider the 'perfect' IB DP lesson - does it include links to the syllabus, a bit of Theory of Knowledge, some geographical skills, exam practice and even some enjoyment?
  • Look at the teaching of the IB DP Geography course's higher level content - Global Interactions.
  • Review how we are supporting students throughout the duration of the course by coaching their exam technique, linking the content together, trying to get them to think more like geographers and IB students and discussing where the Internal Assessment fits in.
  • Find out about some of the online tools that can be used to support IB DP Geography students.

Course programme

09.00-09.30  Coffee and registration
09.30-11.00  Session 1 - a lesson
What does a 'perfect' DP lesson look like? Thinking about developing textbook resources into engaging lessons tailored to your students' needs.
11.00-11.15  Refreshment break
11.15-12.45  Session 2 - a unit
Focusing on the Global Interactions higher level content. Case studies, approaches, helping your students to be 'higher level' and coaching their extended response writing skills.
12.45-13.30  Lunch
13.30-15.30  Session 3 - the whole course
Supporting students during their 240 hours of DP Geography. Using online tools to help encourage reading and geographical thinking for these busy students.
15.30  Close

Course presenter

Richard Allaway, Teacher of Humanities and IB DP Geography at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations. Author of

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Core Knowledge

Professor David Lambert, my former boss has written an interesting blog post relating to the forthcoming change in the curriculum.

It's on the IoE blog. I tried to get David blogging while working for the GA, and he wrote an occasional blog with John Morgan.
The blog post makes some interesting points about curriculum change and the role of knowledge.
The GA's report on its recent consultation about the curriculum is out shortly.

There's a useful link to a website which has the CORE KNOWLEDGE sequence.