Monday, 27 April 2015

Are you an entomophagist...

More reading and websites linked to my writing projects...
Click for more information on big copy on the eating of insects... a possible answer to food security...

More summer reading

Really enjoyed 'Walking Home', so this is on the list for my summer break in Devon.

DEFRA Food Security reports

The DEFRA committee publishes reports twice a year.
The two most recent ones are very interesting reading for anyone who is interested in finding out what the plans are to ensure the UK's FOOD SECURITY in years to come. I've recently read them both for a writing project, and they were very useful in providing details on the issue.

July 2014 (PDF download)
January 2015 (PDF download)

Food Waste & food banks feature strongly.... some fascinating geography here....

Spine Poetry

I've wanted to do this for a while and gave it a go today.... not the best possible effort, but I had no time to do better... more to come, and going to set this as a student activity in the new school year as part of an introduction to the library...

Another Geography blog for you...

Regular readers will know I try to post links to other Geography blogs so that people are aware of them, and may increase the number of readers.
The latest is by Al Monteith and colleagues at Ulverston Victoria High School.
Al shared a lesson relating to the Nepal Earthquake here.

7 today...

It seems that I've now been on Twitter for 7 years. It's certainly given me a fair share of inspiration and connected me with lots of new colleagues and friends...

I've even been paid by various organisations to tweet, and it's been a major part of my work with a number of different projects too, so thanks to all those who follow me...

GA Conference 2015 - 14 - New GCSE specifications

One of the things that many conference delegates were hoping for was a first sight of the new GCSE Specifications for first teaching from next September.
They are now out, and available to download. I've already got my copies, and have had the OCR ones for a while to help me with the textbook writing.
Here are the links - thanks to Angus Willson for the links which I borrowed...

Nepal Earthquake - some words...

On Saturday morning, I woke around 7 and checked my twitter feed, and read that there had been a major earthquake in Nepal, which had caused some damage to buildings in Kathmandu. I knew that Rachel from the RSGS had been in Kathmandu the day before, but a tweet told me she had left the day before... I relaxed for a minute, before realising that Pokhara, where she had been heading next was actually closer to the epicentre.
As the New York Times said in their useful summary article, this was the worst earthquake for decades, and was a shallow quake in an area which was vulnerable through poor infrastructure. The earthquake set off avalanches on Everest which affected climbers at Base Camp (and other camps) and also landslides which threatened even those who were out in the open and trekking in other areas.
As I wrote an e-mail to RSGS, Rachel tweeted that she was safe...

Over the last 24 hours and beyond, Twitter has proved once again to be an incredibly valuable tool, but also one that is fallible and needs to be used with care, as rumours and misinformation can spread through RTs. Plenty of tweets have passed through my feed, and have led me to new and useful feeds which provide the local perspective, as well as the logistical side to the relief efforts that will now start.

A few useful Twitter feeds

This story will no doubt continue to develop, and there may be some updates to this post which will be added in red below.

It's already emerged that a good friend of my nephew is missing in the area close to Kanchenjunga and there are no doubt lots of connections in any school community.
Al Monteith was quick off the mark with a lesson outline that he placed on Dropbox. I'm sure a lot of schools will be covering this disaster today.

I don't intend to post loads of links here - the story can be investigated by students easily at the moment. The impact will be felt for decades to come, as centuries old landmarks which were part of the nation's soul have been destroyed. Stupas and other buildings have been reduced to rubble.

You can donate to OXFAM HERE.
Or donate to SHELTERBOX here.

To finish with the latest BBC news report and some historical background as I press 'Publish'.

Graeme Eyre Slideshare - nice work young Sir....

Nepal Earthquake from Graeme Eyre

Drone footage from 'The Guardian'

A FLIPBOARD magazine that I curated...

View my Flipboard Magazine.

And an ESRI Story Map And a new resource from Matt Podbury, which is excellent...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

New KS3 books

As part of my new role, the next four months will be spent reviewing our KS2 and 3 curriculum documents and ensuring that we have an exciting offering for all students. There are some tweaks and changes ahead, and the Summer term is a time for trialling a few things.

We're also looking out for new books to provide ideas and possible inspiration. At the moment, we don't really use textbooks much at all at KS3 apart from the 'This is Geography' series by John Widdowson. We also have copies of all the GA KS3 toolkits, including the new ones, and make good use of 'Look at it this Way' of course.

We quite like the look of these books though, which have some interesting contexts and enquiry topics... and they're produced in association with the GA. I actually worked on the previous KS3 series which sadly never saw the light of day due to delays in curriculum reform, so good to see these are out there... What KS3 books are you thinking of using next year, if any?

Book 1

Enquiry topics:
1. Living in Japan Why isn't Yuna able to play the sport she loves?
2. Holes in the landscape Why should we be concerned about sinkholes?
3. Is fracking all that it's cracked up to be? Is fracking a sustainable solution to the UK's energy security challenge?
4. Almost Armageddon! Why did the earth nearly die at the end of the Permian period?
5. Disasters and risky places Are Haiti and the Philippines risky places to live?
6. Don't snatch How is so-called 'land grabbing' affecting Africa?
7. Olympic spirit Where should the 2022 Winter Olympics be held?

Book 2

Enquiry topics:
1. Frozen landscapes Do corries really prefer north facing slopes?
2. On thin ice Can Russia exploit the Arctic sustainably?
3. Welcome to Quake City, New Zealand How has Christchurch been affected by earthquakes?
4. Managing the coast When is doing nothing actually doing something?
5. Life's a beach Why do most Australians live on the edge?
6. Preventing history repeating itself What's being done to save Allerford?
7. The world's other population problem What should the European Union do about its declining population?

Book 3

Enquiry topics:
1. 'Middle' - of what? 'East' - of where? Is the Middle East a region?
2. Issues in the ocean Is our use of ocean resources sustainable?
3. Going boldly Is India's space programme justified?
4. From Shangombo to South Tavy Head Why are Thandi and Moses working in Soweto market?
5. Using someone else's water How does water consumption create interdependence and conflict?
6. Biodiversity under threat Can economic development on Borneo be sustainable?

Public Service Broadcasting

I've been listening to this band for 3 years or so now, but never quite managed to see them live, as their concerts weren't close to where I happened to be, or were at a time I couldn't make. Last night in Cambridge, I finally got the chance to see them, and they didn't disappoint.
They played 15 songs, plenty from 'The Race for Space' and some old classics too... Great visuals and humour, and I loved the film that was played before the concert started with the message about not filming the show or holding up mobile phones... The brass section at the end was great too... 

They're on tour at the moment - Sheffield in 2 days time is the next show - well worth catching....

A Spotify Playlist of the set below:

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Still room on our free CPD day in June

Fancy a free CPD day at my school ? 

In the first week of June, there is a chance to take part in a free CPD session which is taking place at my school for Primary colleagues. State and independent schools welcome! Let anyone who lives within an hour of Ely know please.
There are 3 sessions in the day.

One of them is on the GA's Primary Geography Quality Mark, and I'll be leading that one to kick off the day. My HoD Claire will then be talking about images in geography teaching.
After lunch, there's a chance to hear Paula Owens from the Geographical Association talking about the Global Learning Programme. If you teach in the area and fancy coming along, let me know, or let Claire know using the e-mail in the document below...

What 3 Words

When I first came across this website some months ago now, I was struggling to see the value of it.
It essentially splits the world up into squares, each of which is attached to three random words. These words can then be used to identify the square by reversing the process. In essence, it means that a location can have three random words as a unique reference.
I wondered why having three words for a location was a good thing.

e.g. the Hayward Theatre, where I was last week for a CPD session, has these three words to identify it...
snoozing, coached, fork
The makers of the website have now answered that question, and made me see the site in a different light.
The business case is described on the site too.
The site now has a series of important USE CASES. These make the point about the value in several business sectors.

A useful activity related to the value of mapping and location would be to show students the site, and zoom in on area. Show them that the classroom, for example has three words to represent it, and ask them what value they can see in the site.
How else could the same location be described to someone else?
Think 6 figure GR, think latitude and longitude... which would be easier to remember?
One particular use that I liked was in favelas or other places where a conventional address was not available, the three words could be used with an app to locate an address for deliveries, medical help etc.

Once the students have worked out what they might do with it, show them the actual use cases that the site creators have come up with, and they will perhaps see a wider range of uses, or created some options which are even more interesting...

Eric Ravilious

Need to work out when I'm going to see this...

Greater London National Park* - the Green Paper

The Greater London National Park* 

A consultation is now underway with the publication of the Green Paper on the proposals.

Download the document, which has been beautifully designed as well as thought through...

* - a notional park

Migrant Map

An important map... migrant deaths, created by Andrew Marszal.

Friday, 24 April 2015

GA Conference 2015 - 13 - Jo Deben's GA blog post...

Good to see other people's summaries of the conference, as well as my own.
Thanks to Jo Debens for her write-up of the conference, and a mention for my Teachmeet presentation. Here's Jo's revision games presentation which she put on Slideshare.

Details of EU projects now on the GA website

I'm working on two EU funded projects at the moment.
Details about them are now on the GA website.
The first is the I-USE project.

The second is the GeoCapabilities project.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Iain Stewart on the Carbon Cycle

I shared a BBC Taster 'experimental website' where you could choose an adventure for Simon Reeve a few months ago, and the latest website in the series of trials features Professor Iain Stewart talking about the Carbon Cycle - a special revision resource for 'A' level Geographers especially.
Check it out !

Did I tell you about the time Iain presented me with a medal ? I don't like to talk about it though....

Street Food

Working on a few projects today that I am making progress with...
One has a section relating to sandwiches and 'casual eating' - our convenience food lifestyles which lead to us spending billions on food that we eat on the go.
Led me to an idea about 'street food' but where the names of the streets are to do with food...
Here's an example of a street in Camden which has a food connection...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Other examples of food related streets and street names welcome

Ready for Saturday.... GO!

Looking forward to this concert.

Earth Day

Earth Day today - what are you planning ?

This video came via Jodie Chambers. Not my cup of tea, but the youngsters might like it :)

I prefer this National Parks timelapse

Also find out what animal you are, using the Google Earth Day quiz...
I'm a giant squid apparently...

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Geography Teacher Educators' conference - materials now online

Image: Alan Parkinson

If you're interested in seeing some of the latest research on teacher education in Geography, and get an update on some thinking about teaching and learning, visit the page that has now been created to host the materials shared during the 2015 GTE Conference, held at the University of Oxford: one of a long list of universities that I've done some work for.
You may remember that I attended the event and presented on the GeoCapabilities project that I am involved with, on behalf of UCL Institute of Education.

Worth browsing the presentations... even if the title isn't immediately connected with what you're doing you may find some useful ideas...

Monday, 20 April 2015

A reminder about the Costa for Schools website

A reminder about a resource I wrote last year for Costa Foundation. It's on the theme of coffee and its connection with the lives of those who grow it, process it, and drink it...

Well worth a look, and you can also request a free coffee map from the website too.

GA Conference 2015 - 12 - Conversations in lifts

I bumped into Paul Turner in a lift, and he shared his news... Here's a reminder of the rather fine free eBook that Paul created last year. One of the things about the GA Conference is those conversations you pick up with people from the previous year...

GA Conference - 11 - New materials on the I-USE website

I-USE is one of the projects I'm involved in, on behalf of the Geographical Association.
The website is now growing, and there are some new materials that have been added since the workshop that we did at the GA Conference last weekend.

Visit the website and click on the TOOLS TAB or the LEARNING TAB to find out lots of new content.
Here's a unit on Overpopulation, for example, created by Malene Schmidt.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

GA Conference 2015 - 10 - Ideas Zone

As with last year, the Ideas Zone was back...
This means that there was the Follow the Things lego out, and also the Mission:Explore stand. This year, we brought along a massive slab of modelling clay and other items so that people could have a go at our Crafty Explorers.
There were some great and creative ideas from the delegates who came to see us.
Was also great to see Eeva again, who was back to help out at the Ideas Zone.

Adobe Shape

Been playing with the Adobe Shape app a little this weekend, and getting some really interesting results from it.
It turns pictures / patterns into vector / line drawings, and produces an interesting final product.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Another new Geography blog...

I like adding a mention of new Geography blogs... always better when you have a readership for what you have to say, although I always tended to just throw my stuff out there and see whether anyone came across it....
Today's find is from @Fiona_616: on Blonde Geography.

Painting the town red.... or any colour you like...

Grown-ups colouring books are apparently a thing now...
This one looks rather good though, and just pre-ordered it...
Steve McDonald has created a colouring book with a range of cities and amazing places...

Friday, 17 April 2015

New role from September

As the contracts have been signed and colleagues are aware, it's OK to share that from September I'm going to be working full time as Head of Geography at King's Ely Junior.
It's the latest twist in my career in geography education. From teacher to Head of Geography - twenty years teaching, then 3 years at the Geographical Association, then 2 years freelance working for various Universities and endless projects, then 2 years part-time and freelance mix, and now back to teaching full time with the odd bit of writing and CPD thrown in...

Delighted to be working with colleagues and students who I've been working with part-time for the last two years in an 'ordinary' department. Some interesting things planned already, and a new overall Head of Geography too for next year.
Thanks to all those who've supported me (there are several previous 'thanks' blog posts) and particular thanks to Claire Kyndt for inviting me to think about teaching again. Still remember the e-mail I received as I sat on a hotel balcony in Bruges watching the procession of the Holy Blood before a meeting with EU colleagues, which set me thinking of what might happen next....
It'll all be blogged of course, here and on my teaching blog.