Friday, 31 May 2013

Support from Australia...

The new Australian Curriculum document for Geography was launched in the last few weeks.

The support site for the introduction of the new curriculum has now gone live too.

It's called GEOG SPACE.

There's quite an influence from some familiar UK names here, such as this diagram on the 'Child as Geographer' from the work of Simon Catling.

© 2013 Education Services Australia Ltd, except where indicated otherwise. You may copy, distribute
and adapt this material free of charge for non-commercial educational purposes, provided you retain
all copyright notices and acknowledgements.

There are also influences in the SUPPORT UNITS from a range of UK geographers including Fran Martin, Paula Owens, Stephen Scoffham and Liz Taylor.

The SUPPORT UNIT section, in fact, would make excellent reading for geographers around the globe. It's a really useful synthesis of key thinking around concepts, fieldwork, geographical enquiry, ICT and related areas of geographical thinking.
There are extracts from the GA Secondary Handbook, and useful links to other websites.

Delve into the CORE UNITS, and you will find a range of materials for teachers to use straight away and get the curriculum underway...
Here's an activity sheet for a unit on MUSIC FESTIVALS for example (PDF download) which provides a good starter, although I think the Woolvens did a better job here :)

I also liked the unit on E-Waste, and ideas for units about place, coastal management and

For example, here's the New South Wales About Fieldwork website, which was a new one for me.

Well worth spending some time looking through these sites, particularly for new teachers of geography.

And visit the site of AGTA, who were involved in creating these new resources. Plenty of additional ideas and resources on this site too.

So I wonder where the equivalent website is for UK teachers ?
We are getting one, right ??

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

SW Geography Conference - 1st July

At the start of July I'm going to be in Newquay in Cornwall, working with colleagues in the South West for the first time.
I've been asked to lead a morning on the broad theme of Progression in Geography. 
This will include sessions on national developments, raising standards (some ideas), good practice in leadership and management of teaching and learning. My input will finish with some ideas for the use of new technologies, which is where I'll be on safer ground.
One issue with leadership and other aspects is the extent to which it is affected by the personality of the leader, but also the make-up of the whole departmental team. I've been fortunate to work with some great colleagues in my time, but recognise that it can be hard if you're working with uncooperative colleagues.
Here's the flyer for the event... looks good :)

If you're in the area, you're very welcome to join us. Further information can be obtained from Jo Bardell on 01872 322931. The event is free for SLA subscribers, and costs £175 for non SLA subscribers.

I may well be tweeting some questions over the next few weeks (I'll wait until the term restarts to ask them....) to prepare some provocations and elements of tasks for colleagues to engage with...

If anyone reading this has a particularly good reference / website / resource on progression and raising standards in geography, which is a bit of a 'thorny' and contested issue, I'd love to hear from you...

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Teachmeet East

Teaching in the East of England ?
Get yourself over to Norwich on the 22nd of June for TEACHMEET EAST 2013

Great work by Tim Handley once again...

Bluebell Primary School
Lovelace Road
(Near UEA)
NR4 7DS Norwich
United Kingdom

Sign up HERE

There are several stages to the event.
Two hours of hands on activities. I was asked to come and do a Mission:Explore activity as part of this stage, but couldn't make it as already 'taken' that day.
Then there's the TEACHMEET from 2 - 5.45....

Sadly I can't make that weekend, otherwise I would be there....
Get your ticket soon...
And say hello to my good friend Andy Knill who WILL be there...

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

LocateStreet - a nice end of term activity...

You may have seen an earlier post on GeoGuessr,  but here's a big mention for LOCATESTREET 

This is a variation on GeoGuessr, with various points being offered for guidance, although the Elevation option doesn't offer that much help...

You can choose to play on a Global basis, or other scales.

You are presented with 4 options of location to choose from, and if you pick the correct option you can earn bonus points for clicking on the actual location on a map...
The site takes you to some fairly out of the way places... I seemed to end up on rural roads, and in cul-de-sacs on industrial estates quite often.

Hardcore players should choose the GLOBAL option... and discover that South America looks a lot like Australia in places...
Choose the COUNTRY option, and explore a range of countries from a list, which includes the UK. This offers potential for a CITY based search for example.
There are also some US based Thematic search options.

The game is addictive. Had to stop myself playing on it last night....
If you get one of the highest scores so far you can enter your e-mail to be added to the High Score table. May be an incentive for some to use additional 'support' to search for business names etc., but that wouldn't be in the spirit of the game...

Also, while playing, I've come across a few random sights.
This looks like some sort of hawk diving into a field to catch something ?

And what is this bloke doing standing in the road ?

The game was developed by Nick Burkhart of Chelonia Labs in California.

As with GeoGuessr, there are various clues that you can look for to help with locating yourself in fairly random housing estates.

Telephone dialling codes tend not to be blurred out. 020 will tell you that you're in London.
If on a main road, head for junctions where there'll be road signs.
Look at the vernacular building materials - some places have distinctive stone or house designs.
Become familiar with the basic geography of London, which features heavily in the UK option.

Be aware though, that they can be misleading. I spotted a Yorkshire registration on a motorbike, which ended up being up in the far north of Scotland, flipping tourists...

Sunday, 19 May 2013


A mention for a little variation on a site which I like a little more to be honest, called Mapcrunch.

It's become very popular in lots of places over the last week.

GeoGuessr is a 'game' which takes you to 5 'random' places and challenges you to identify where you are.
A map is provided so that you can add a pin at an appropriate place. This action in itself requires a little geographical knowledge...
There is a score provided for how close you are to the actual location.

There's a chance element involved of course, and there are perhaps more clues available in urban areas than there are in rural areas. These involve signs on buses and other vehicles.
For example, one image I was presented with was the Eden project, so I got within 2 kilometres of the actual location - another looked like Australia but was in fact in S. America so I was several thousand kilometres out...
Since the image is a StreetView image, you can also head off in a direction of your choice to look for clues, or you might decide that is cheating and not allow it...

Remember that Streetview doesn't cover the whole globe either, so if a picture looks like it might be in Africa, then it's probably South Africa or Botswana.
This map shows the current coverage.

This Slate article was closer to my thinking about the use of the site - as students use the site, they should be developing ideas for a guide for how to do well on GeoGuessr. These could be put together using an appropriate package (or a paper and pen)

There could be league tables for how well people do perhaps, or set group challenges. Perhaps a 'GeoGuessr' of the week ?
You could also provide options for support that could be used each game (in the vein of 'Who wants to be a Millionaire')
These could include:

  • A Google Search
  • 1 minute to explore beyond the area shown on the original photo
  • The chance to add an extra 1000 points to the final score if the guess proves to be in the wrong continent...
Any other ideas for 'jokers' ?

There could also be a rubric for assessing the clues that are provided in an image...

e.g. Urban or Rural, Weather conditions, presence of snow, upland landscape or lowland, coastal or inland, presence of a distinguishing feature such as a large building, flags, language / typography / alphabet used in signage, advertising billboards, company names on vehicles or stores
More often than not it's a 'feel' that you get - is it European or not ? is the vegetation tropical in appearance ? 

Any other thoughts for using with pupils ?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Free Digimap for Schools webinar

Coming up in June is a chance to take part in a free webinar which will tell you about the OS Digimap for Schools service.
Remember that there is a full set of resources ready for those using the service, which I wrote at the end of last year.

Details below from the Digimap Blog

This will be the first of many that we aim to run.  The purpose of the webinar is mainly for schools already subscribed looking for hints and tips on how to use Digimap for Schools.  However the webinar is open to anyone interested in hearing more and seeing a demonstration of the service.
There will be an opportunity to ask questions either by text chat or by talking if you have a microphone.
Sign up HERE

Saturday, 11 May 2013

New Follow the Things resources coming soon....

For the last week or so, and for the next few weeks as well on and off, I'm going to be spending some time working to develop materials for the rather splendid Follow the Things website. 

The website is created in the form of a 'shopping experience', but follows the stories behind the products which sit on the 'shelves'. It explores themes related to trade justice, which are of course very raw and topical at the moment, with the rising death toll from the incident at Rana Plaza in Savar, near Dhaka.

We're working on a range of materials which will help you to engage with the website, as well as creating your own materials and stories. At the same time, there are some changes coming to the website, which will include a brand new area for teachers and students.

We'll also be creating:
- Reading lists of books that are linked to this theme, such as Kelsey Timmerman's 'Where am I wearing' and 'Where am I eating' and explorations such as Conor Woodman's 'Unfair Trade'
- Opportunities for you to get involved
- Some further missions on the special Follow the Things challenger area of the Mission:Explore website.
- Thinking on the people who manufacture items that you wear, or use - this will particularly link to the events in Bangladesh and beyond.

Go to the PRODUCTS OF SLAVERY website to find out more about this process.
You can also download a rather nice PDF of a poster (which can also be ordered as a hard copy) - donations are also welcome if you download the PDF

We'll be having one (or more) Google Hangouts later in May to give you the chance to see the updated site in action

We're covering social media too - we'll be adding links to:
- Twitter lists of relevant accounts relating to trade justice - you can also follow FOLLOW the THINGS on Twitter to get the latest relevant news retweeted out from a range of organisations
- Websites and ready made resources to extend your knowledge in this area
- Pinterest boards with relevant images from campaigns
- Case Studies of trade justice issues, and particular products which might resonate with students as young consumers:

These will focus on some of the more popular areas of the website, such as our LEGO re-enactments.
With LEGO now being the world's biggest toy brand apparently, this is perhaps a good time to focus on these, as well as the Lego School being built in Billund, Denmark.

And we'll also be developing ready-made materials for CPD sessions, so that you could spend a departmental meeting exploring the ideas on the site.

There's no shortage of interesting material and inspiration related to this issue..
For example, here's an interactive map which shows the places that supply Apple. Thanks to Karl Donert for the link here.

At a time when the world is increasingly globalised and interdependent, the work that is covered on Follow the Things is becoming more important than ever...

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Primary resource for Geography teachers on Frozen Oceans

A Primary version of the Frozen Oceans pack, which I co-wrote, and which received a GA Silver Award this year, has now been released on the Digital Explorer website.

You will need to register for free to download the pack as a PDF

Top quality resources for Primary colleagues.