Sunday, 29 May 2016

Thought for the Day

"Borders? I have never seen one, but I have heard they exist in the minds of some people."
Thor Heyerdahl 

Saturday, 28 May 2016

New GeoCapabilities StoryMap of vignettes

I've been working for over a year on the GeoCapabilities project, and can now share the updated StoryMap of vignettes: ideas of classroom practice and the thinking behind them, shared by project members… with more to come…

More to come on the project's new website.
There's a meeting coming up in Athens which I'm sadly unable to attend….

Florent Chavouet

One of the main things I get out of using Twitter is tip-offs to interesting sounding resources and books. Thanks to my publisher friend, So Shan Au, I heard earlier today of the graphic work of Florent Chavouet.

Florent Chavouet is an illustrator who spent 6 months in Tokyo and went out to draw the neighbourhood, and in so doing bring a Japanese city to life. Armed with this, and some of the wonderful 4K time lapse / walkthroughs of places like Shibuya, we should be able to explore these cities with the students next year. I'd like to revisit some of the cities work that I wrote last summer with a younger audience. I also provided a lot of urban ideas for Geography all the Way....

He also produced a remarkably detailed book on the Japanese island of Manabeshima.

Tutor2U Pack

Norfolk Chalk Streams

Spending the afternoon doing some writing about the river that flows through the village where I live, and which I can follow along a long distance footpath. It's part of a network of rivers which drain central Norfolk and head towards the Wash.
Here's a short film on the chalk streams of Norfolk, narrated by Stephen Fry.

Ice Flow - the game

Ordered this for our Year 8s to have a go at in the Autumn term this year as part of our new schemes, and planning for Geography Explorers club.

It's linked with the idea of Ice flows in the Bering Strait, and is a strategy game which can be played within an hour apparently.

It arrived quite promptly, and I'll have a go and let you know how it goes...

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Practical Pedagogies - tickets nearly sold out

Tickets for Practical Pedagogies 2016 (all 250 of them) are rapidly selling out, so act fast if you want to see me and some of the other presenters down in Toulouse in November this year.

We do like to be beside the seaside...

Thanks to all who responded with their favourite UK Seaside Resort to a vote that I added to various social media at the weekend.
I asked for the favourite UK resort and some words to explain why.

The 'winner' of the popular vote from the 93 people who replied was Brighton

'Runners-up' were Southwold, Cromer and Whitby.

Hopefully over half term, we'll get the chance to visit some of them.

Here's a word cloud of the reasons why they were the favourites - as voted by adults... I'm going to ask the students next and see what they say....

For those interested in the full list of resorts and reasons, here are they below. 
Apologies for anyone who may have been missed off the list as I had three or four streams of responses to collate.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Map of Ocean Plastics

A useful map for our Year 8s to explore this month, as there is a focus on this as part of their exam. This is a new map showing ocean plastics.
The scale of ocean plastics is remarkable and worrying...

See the map here.

This went down very well with Year 8 today who were well immersed in the problems of ocean plastics...

Edward Thomas country...

You will know if you are are a regular reader of LivingGeography that I am very much into writers on landscape and place, particularly where they go deep and immerse themselves in it...

My GeoLibrary project has hundreds of landscape-related books on the shelves.

I've  got hundreds of books on this theme on my actual shelves, and more are added every month, and others taken out of the library. 2016 has been a bumper book-buying year so far it seems.
One of my favourite authors is George Mackay Brown, and I have a whole shelf of virtually all his books, and remember fondly being in bed one night many years ago and my late colleague Tim Steer rang up from Stromness to say that he'd just come back from a night fishing trip hauling lobster pots, in a scene that could have come straight out of one of George's books, to tell me that he'd found me copies of George's books that I'd been after...

One of the other authors on my list is Edward Thomas, and I have a copy of the Little Toller edition of his 'South Country' book, describing his home area, which was published posthumously.
I discovered while visiting Bedales School last week that I was in Steep where Edward Thomas lived, and about which he wrote. There was a little guide to the local area which I was able to download, but actually discovered that I was close to his house. I went up to the Shoulder of Mutton to find a memorial stone, and also a church where there are some memorial windows.
Edward Thomas wrote poetry and other prose in the run up to, and during the First World War period, and was killed at the Battle of Arras.

Here are a few pictures of my walk around the area, including the interpretive sign that led me to some of the sights.

'A' level course in Manchester… my favourite price

Geography teachers are invited to a one day workshop at the University of Manchester on 24th June, 2016 to support the launch of the new A-Level Geography Syllabus.

Parallel lectures run by Geography@Manchester researchers will deliver the core Geography of space and place theory, the carbon cycle and arid land Geography, the areas of the new syllabus which are perhaps less familiar to some teachers. 

In the afternoon, teachers are invited to a round-table discussion to consider how to translate the new learning to the classroom, in turn generating tangible lesson ideas.

The workshop will be opened by Professor Martin Evans who led the new A-Level consultancy on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society.

This workshop is FREE to attend.

Please book your place by 20th June and indicate which of the three workshops you would like to attend by choosing the relevant ticket.

Coffee will be served with registration from 9.30am in the Foyer of the Humanities Bridgeford Street Building.
Friday, 24 June 2016 from 09:30 to 15:00 
Humanities Bridgeford Street, Ground Floor Foyer, University of Manchester

Mission:Explore National Parks launch party

We are having a launch party for our Mission:Explore National Parks book which we've been working on. Next week, we are taking over a space at the OS GeoVation Hub in London, which is well worth visiting to see…
We're going to launch our new book… possibly defenestrated from an upper floor…
A few tickets are available here if you'd like to join us.

Join the Mission:Explore team and National Parks UK as we celebrate the arrival of our latest children's book with bubbles and nibbles. 
Mission:Explore National Parks challenges children to become extreme explorers, natural navigators and wildlife watchers with 49 illustrated missions that dare you to (re)discover our National Parks.
“Mission:Explore is cool, exciting and just plain fun!” National Geographic
“Mission:Explore is like bringing along a nanny with endless patience and a James Bond fixation.” The Sunday Times

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Bedales BACs

Ten years ago or so, Bedales school in Hampshire decided to move away from offering GCSEs to its students.
The idea was that GCSEs weren't offering the same challenge as could be offered by their own course, and so they developed their own courses: the Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs)

These course were bespoke to the students at Bedales, and provided the opportunity to make the most of their location.
Earlier this year, Paul Turner joined the school as Head of Geography, and started to overhaul the GEOGRAPHY courses with the support of Jackie and other colleagues. You can download the details on these courses as a PDF from HERE.

Earlier this week I headed down to take a look at these courses in action, which was a fascinating few days and I'm grateful to Paul for inviting me and for his colleagues for making me so welcome.

I found lots of fascinating work being produced, and a course which offered a great deal of innovation and lovely student outcomes.

World Development Indicators 2016

The latest edition has now been published. This is always an interesting resource, as it shows progress across the world in the last year in meeting or working towards certain development goals.

Download, or read online as an ISSUU document.

One important change is there is no longer a distinction between developing and developed countries in the report as has previously been the case.

In WDI 2016, there is no longer a distinction between developing countries (defined in previous editions as low- and middle-income countries) and developed countries (previously high-income countries). Regional groupings (such as “East Asia”) are now based on geographical coverage rather than a sub-set of countries that were previously referred to as developing. In some occasional cases, where data availability or context have dictated it, we’ve excluded high income from some charts or tables, and we’ve indicated that in the footnotes.
Two implications of this change are that a new aggregate for North America has been included in tables, and aggregates for Europe and Central Asia include countries of the European Union.
The work of Hans Rosling has to be part of the reason for this change, and a recognition that such divisions are increasingly harder to make.

The data are available in a wide range of formats too:

All the data in World Development Indicators is available completely free of charge, as part of the World Bank’s Open Data Initiative. A complete list of tools to access, explore, and interact with WDI 2016 are available at and include:

Micro:Bit and Geography

I've borrowed a BBC Micro:bit.
Every Year 7 is getting a copy of this new, tiny bit of technology, which is plug and play and which offers to help students explore the ideas behind coding.

There are plenty of resources out there for starting to use Python to code with it.

Does anyone have any Geography related ideas for how to get stuck into this little piece of technology?

Thanks to Glyn Rogers, for sending me some links to some resources for Micro:Bits.

This National Geographic page provides some ideas. 

The device features 25 LED lights and two programmable buttons, which can be used in game-play or to skip through tracks in a playlist. It also features an on-board compass to track the direction of the wearer.
Each micro:bit comes with a USB, cable and battery holder. 
To programme a micro:bit, kids simply need to connect it to their computer and add some simple lines of code to create the device they want.
The hope is that all those computer science skills might inspire a new generation of avid game developers, super software programmers and wacky website builders. Your BBC micro:bit could be where it all starts...

I also came across the iPhone app which was developed by Sciencescope iPhone App, which was developed by Sciencescope who I previously worked with on the DISTANCE project. Search top left to see more about this project.

Also found the FREE Hodder / Microsoft GETTING STARTED for Teachers Guide as a PDF download.

Also noted that there is a compass built in to the Micro:Bit... (see diagram opposite)

What is a Case Study?

With Year 12 exams over this week, it won't be long until it's the GCSE students' turn in the exam room.
We talk about case studies all the time in Geography, but what is a case study?

Students often ask about case studies and sometimes give them undue importance when it comes to their revision too - they are important for some questions but the majority of questions require a more synoptic view the further up the school you go.
There are also what are referred to as located examples on many exam papers.
These are like case studies but not quite as involved. One area that I focus on is that ideas are put in context, and this usually involves an element of location if the question is asking about how a particular place connects with the theme that is being studied.

There are a few definitions of case studies then.

An important element for me is context.
A good case study should include the following elements:

- location, perhaps including some sort of map
- description - connected with some key geographical themes
- opportunities and challenges connected with a particular process
- a decision to be made which may change the place in the future
- a few statistics to reinforce knowledge of the case study and make it stand out from any other place that could have been chosen

e.g. if it was a look at the St. Ives decision in the referendum to ban second homes in the town, the students would be expected to know a range of things:
- where St. Ives is located (an inset map of Cornwall and St. Ives location perhaps)
- a sketch map with some major features of the coastline at that point, the Tate Gallery etc.
- some data on the impact of second home ownership - whether that was positive or negative - on social, economic and environmental themes
-a look to the future, and perhaps the impact of the proposed changes in home ownership

There is also the discussion over the age of certain case studies as well. The famous eruption of Mt. St. Helens dates from 1980 (the anniversary was this week - in fact today 36 years ago...) but there are current rumblings and earthquakes which suggest the volcano may be coming back to life...
Back in the days of the CfBT support for the previous new curriculum, when we moved towards concepts and other interesting ideas, I did a session where I used a Rick Astley song to sum up the way that some teachers clung onto case studies that were perhaps past their sell by date.

Here's a template from Jo Payne that I've used in the past to help capture case study content.

Rivers of London

Been interested in reading this book series by Ben Aaronovitch, and today I started reading the graphic novelisation, which has started interestingly.

Any other Geography-related graphic novels out there? 2000AD and Megacity One for urbanisation perhaps?

Sleipnir from Vaavud

New toy for this week is a wind meter that works with my smartphone (and maybe yours too....)

Friday, 20 May 2016

CPRE Book coming in June...

And here's a related tweet...

New OCR Geography textbooks...

Thanks to a tweet, I then heard of another new book which I was involved with, which will be coming out next week: the OCR 'B' Geography book produced by Hodder Geography.

Empty Classroom Day

It's definitely been a week for "new stuff".

I've been spending time supporting Year 12 students with their exams and the usual full-time teaching lark, and in between I keep getting e-mails about new "stuff" that I've helped with.

The first thing that I'm going to blog about is a new resource for the Empty Classroom Day.

Empty Classroom Day is on the 17th of June, and we will be taking part at King's Ely.

At Mission:Explore, we've been working on some books for the Outdoor Library for this project, along with PROJECT DIRT.

Download the book above for a special set of Mission:Explore missions...

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Story of a Spoon

Linked to the idea of ocean plastics and the amount of plastics in the oceans.

Refer to the idea of "single-use items"....

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

ESRI UK Annual Conference 2 - Rivers StoryMap and data...

Another StoryMap, this time made by the Eden Rivers Trust. Another reminder of how awesome this resource can be.

ESRI UK Annual Conference 2016 - OCR StoryMap

I was supposed to be at this event, but ended up at Bedales as it was an irresistible offer, and I wasn't able to have as many days out of work.
Here's one of the resources that was shared at the event, and made by OCR Geography.... I shall be making something similar for the GCSE fieldwork next year....

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

My last 2 days...

Thanks to Paul Turner, Jackie Sueref and colleagues and students at Bedales School for the last two days which have been very interesting. An excellent experience.

Fancy a laugh?

Search Twitter for 

Warning some content NSFW...

Monday, 16 May 2016

Go to sleep....

This is directed at anyone doing a Geography exam tomorrow.... get some sleep - wake refreshed, have some breakfast.... and smash it... (as you young people say apparently)

Danny Dorling at TedxExeter

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Where is East Anglia?

An interesting piece from the BBC which explores different definitions of East Anglia.
It has a number of maps based on different potential areas which lie within it.
Some people include Cambridgeshire for example and others don't.
I live in Norfolk which is definitely 'in'....
Could also be used as a discussion question relating to other areas.
And also consider the marketing of the region by Visit East Anglia and similar ideas.

Looking for Science and Computing teachers for a new Digital Explorer resource

Digital Explorer

Get involved!

We have an exciting new submarine-based STEM programme in the pipeline and we’re looking for KS2 and KS3 Science and Computing teachers to be part of developing the education resources. The one day workshops will be held at the Royal Geographical Society, London and we’ll pay £100 plus travel expenses* for your time. 
Submarine STEM Design workshop on 26/27 May 10am – 4pm
Creative session to frame lesson concepts and ideas based on deep sea submersible exploration.
Submarine STEM Development workshop on 1 July 10am – 4pm
Development session to create draft resources and ideas for multimedia resources.
Please indicate which session you would like to attend with a brief bio and your interest in the programme using the button below. Note that the May session will be held on either 26 or 27 May, so if you are able to attend on either date, please make this clear.