Thursday, 23 July 2015

Happy holidays

Taking my annual summer break for a while... back in August.

Copyright Paul Slater / Mike Rigby

New KS2 Global Trade resource

A series of new resources have been added to the RGS-IBG website in recent weeks, and the latest is now live.
It's a 6 week resource on the theme of Global Trade, and is the work of Olivia Russell.

New British Antarctic Survey Website

BAS has had a website refresh, and it is now much more visually attractive and clearer to navigate.

Don't forget that the focus for this year's RGS Young Geographer of the Year competition is on Antarctica too.

Materials from here will be featured in the SoW in the first week(s) back after Summer

Diving off the coast of Japan

A powerful read on the BBC's Magazine page.
A reminder of the legacy of the tsunami....

3D Aral Sea

Loving this by Peter Vojtek, and would like to give it a go - need some thick craft paper of some kind to make it work well I reckon, or something laser cut would be great.

Cut out the template from the link above, and start folding..
A classic case study


I've followed GeoVation since it started, and have been involved in a few projects which gained funding, notably our early Mission:Explore projects.
The hub opened recently as a venue for meetings and projects to take place in London, and I've attended several events with Chris Parker and colleagues, including the initial launch at the Royal Society of Arts.
An e-mail from GeoVation  alerted me to the launch of OS Open Names, which has an API and looks like it might be of some use with a little investigation.

The latest GeoVation challenge will be launched shortly...

E-waste republic

Thanks to OCR Geography team for the tipoff to this excellent Al Jazeera resource. If you have never taken a look at this news network's videos and materials then you have missed a great deal of useful stuff for geographers..
This would be of use for anyone exploring the idea of commodities, e-waste and globalisation / interdependence in a Follow the Things style way.

Scroll down to access images, data and text. A site I shall certainly use next year...

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Monday, 20 July 2015

North Norfolk

I've spent quite a lot of time over the last fortnight finalising drafts of chapters for a new GCSE textbook for Hodder that is due to be published in April 2016. I've been writing about coasts.

Yesterday I had a chance to get out and visit one, and visited the Cley15 exhibition which we try to see each year. A lovely sunny, blustery day...
Got out to Cley Beach, and the start of Blakeney Point. Made an audio recording for the Sounds of our Shores project, but it was a bit poor.
View from Cley Beach back towards Cley across the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve.
Click for biggery
Image: Alan Parkinson

It's a reminder that you should try to GET OUTSIDE as often as possible. I've had a lot of screen time for the last 2 weeks in particular...
The Ordnance Survey launched its GET OUTSIDE project today...

Saturday, 18 July 2015

#teacher5aday end of year review

Back in December, I wrote a post as part of Martyn Reah's #teacher5aday initiative to encourage teachers to consider their wellbeing at the start of the new year.
It's now time to review that post (mostly because Martyn 'told' me to)

I've certainly done plenty of that, working with hundreds of teachers again at events at venues ranging from the National Coalmining museum, to a school in Bourne, to a conference organised by Bob Digby for Osiris on a sweaty day in London a few weeks ago, but I've also connected with students and will be going back to teaching full time from September and taking on a KS2-3 leadership role, bucking the trend shown here

Images that I took have been used in the 2 exhibitions that Maryn's organised: at Haslemere Museum and more recently at UCL Institute of Education (one of my current employers)

As for disconnecting, well I'm 2 weeks into my summer break, but not quite there yet on disconnecting completely, with writing projects keeping me busy up until now. But I haven't driven down the A10 for 2 weeks now, which is pleasing to me...

I've walked around quite a few new cities, and certainly made the most of my time in Helsinki - next up will be a few coastal walks in Devon in a week's time, and the Shaun the Sheep trail in Bristol - the annual trip to Devon is part of the rhythm of the year, and it is the regular rhythm of the year which drives so many teachers' lives. We heard a few weeks ago that we're going to be involved in an EU project next year, which will get me to lots of new cities which I can walk around...

I've noticed plenty of new things, and also made lots of new musical discoveries... I managed to go back to the street where I was born last month, and wandered round places where I grew up - I noticed lots of changes and chatted about them with a friend I've not seen for 15 years...
I also tried some new routes to get to work, all framed around getting different views of Ely Cathedral such as this one...

I still have a big pile of books by my bed, with several pencilled in for the summer break, as I'm taking part in the #teacher5adayread project. Currently reading Ian McMillan's 'Neither nowt nor summat', on Yorkshire - a wonderful chapter on food that I read last night, and the importance of the Yorkshire pudding
I'm still working on a range of projects, and am currently doing lots of reading before writing several chapters of an 'A' level textbook for the new specifications. Always learning...


I've helped a lot of teachers by answering e-mail queries and shared resources and advice and answered questions. If people take the trouble to seek out my opinion, I try to help, and several colleagues followed up on sessions that I'd done. I'm going to be doing some more GA branch lectures in the new academic year and have other projects which I shall be working on.

Coming up to summer blogging break too when I will #disconnect for a while...
Have a great summer everyone!

Image: Alan Parkinson

Thought for the Day

"The city is too complicated for a solitary definition and perhaps it is one of our greatest mistakes to think of it as a singular, measurable quality".
Leo Hollis

Friday, 17 July 2015

World Emoji Day

I'm not a big user of Emojis: little graphics expressing particular emotions, or perhaps conveying a message in visual format... they can be added into Twitter posts and emails.
I've been interested in developing an activity where students could tell a story using Emojis. In some sense there is a connection here with the use that I regularly make of Story Cubes, where different pictures on the sides of the cubes can be interpreted in different ways.

Here are some of the emojis that are possible in the Twitter app - many of which could be used in a geographical way... to explore ideas related to food and consumption, weather, landscape, cities, biomes and travel, and this is just a sample.
Would be a nice quick challenge, with the app on an iPad to ask students to sum up the main theme of the lesson using emojis, or challenge them to tell a story such as:
What are the benefits of Fairtrade ?
What are the disadvantages of living in a large city?

or perhaps in the first week of the Autumn term, the old classic... What did you do in your holidays ?

Any other ideas for using Emojis in Geography ?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Cities: Skylines

Yesterday, I heard I'd won a prize in a Geographical Magazine competition.
It was a copy of a city simulation which I'd been considering buying in any case to help support my work teaching about cities and how they develop. It's called Cities:Skylines.
The game is available to download on Steam, and has some great reviews.

Today there was an article in the Guardian showing how some real cities have been modelled by the game's creators.
Will share what I do with it here once I get my copy downloaded.

I already have one game on Steam waiting for a few hours when I can explore it. It's called Never Alone, and looks similarly stunning, although the subject matter is rather different.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

CSV uploads in Digimap for Schools

I've worked on a range of resources for Digimap for Schools and Digimap for Colleges over the last few years, and am always excited when a new tool is added.
Three new tools were added this week.
You'll need to login and then look at the ADD MARKER dropdown options to see them.

Stickman marker could be used to mark human influence on an area, and colour coded for good or bad impact e.g. in a National Park, or along a stretch of coastline...

Grid Reference marker will be useful for adding them to printed maps which are used for fieldwork purposes, so that they can be used by students, perhaps in association with the OS Locate app.

You can now also add in CSV files of locations.
There is a help page for this function.

Read the blog post to find out more. The upload function won't work if you are using DfS on an iPad

Don't forget that printed maps also now have a north arrow included on them.

Key Stage 2 animation from the RGS-IBG

Following on from recent post of an animation on Mountains, Volcanoes and Earthquakes, noticed that there is also a nice KS2 summary video on the same section of the RGS website.
Worth a watch for KS2 colleagues.

Excellent Story Map on Wind Farms

Thanks to Addy Pope for sharing this map, the creation of UWE students Arron Beecham, Tony Gregory and Jonathan Michael
Shows the potential of StoryMaps... lovely work, and might be very useful for folks exploring wind energy in Wales in particular.

Music Maps: Cities of the World

A nice Spotify map produced by Eliot van Buskirk
It shows songs which are popular in particular cities around the world.

Norwich has some interesting tracks associated with it.

Thanks to Anne Greaves for the tipoff to this map. Not the awesome Gracenote map that sadly disappeared, but useful nonetheless...

New RGS-IBG Animation on Mountains, Volcanoes and Earthquakes

This is a new animation that is in the KS1 and 2 Subject Knowledge section.
It explores Mountains, Volcanoes and Earthquakes in animated form, and runs to just over 11 minutes long.

Thanks to Steve Brace for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

London becoming Dubai

Alain de Botton video on the Guardian website, since our attention is on London today...

6000 up...

This is the 6000th post on this blog.
A busy academic year has closed, but have a busy summer of textbook and resource writing, and a few other projects pencilled in alongside preparing to go back full time teaching in September. The blog posts will keep coming for as long as I'm living geography...
Thanks for reading.

Sign up top right to get a daily e-mail with any new posts that have been added...

A big day for the Greater London National Park initiative

A major event in London which over 300 people are attending.

The launch of a new, and rather beautiful, website, which rewards exploration. There's plenty of interest here for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the proposal.
There are also 50 000 newspapers, which have been printed.

An article in The Guardian on the proposal.

Follow on Twitter for the latest news.

Read the proposal here...

Monday, 13 July 2015

Sixty Degrees North

One on the list of books to buy...

Malachy Tallack takes a trip through the North...

Listen on BBC Book of the Week

AONB: landscape and the value of a view

A really useful new resource from National Parks England.

It explores the value of our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and the value of landscapes.

Landscapes for Life has a range of useful resources.

Download as a PDF by clicking this link.

A day at the seaside

Over to Southwold yesterday for my wife's birthday, and we had a good day on the Suffolk coast, and had just finished our meals in the sun, and were packing up to go home when the rain started pouring...

My wife was wearing her Mapisart scarf which I had ordered some months ago. These are rather pricy, but unique...

Here's the area featured on the scarf

If you look closely you can see Sizewell nuclear power plant in the distance in the picture at the top of the blog post.

Southwold was featured on BBC Radio Suffolk this morning as it is apparently close to the point where second home ownership and holiday homes will outnumber those who live there permanently. An interesting place to explore using various data visualisation tools.
Here's the illustreets people profile for example.

The Ramblers - the big pathwatch

You can visit the Ramblers website to find out more about the campaign

Download the app and take part - a good excuse to go out for a walk.

Air traffic visualisation

Another transport related link ahead of the launch of a new resource I've been involved in producing for CILT and the GA. More to come on that in the new academic year.

London 24 from NATS on Vimeo.
NATS handles over 2 million flights in UK airspace every year.
Of those, over 1.2 million arrive at or depart from one of the five main London airports.
That's over 3,000 flights every day using just six runways.
And 99.8% of flights experience no ATC related delay.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

An award for my school...

From the Principal's end of year letter....

We heard that we had been nominated for an award from Education Business Awards, an organisation in its tenth year of providing recognition for successful investment in education across all sectors of Primary and Secondary education nationally. 
We don’t know who nominated us, but we are very grateful to whoever it was because, at the award ceremony in London today, we won the ICT Facility Award for the ‘educational establishment in the UK that has made outstanding progress in the provision of a first class environment for the teaching of ICT and related subjects’.
The entry in the programme read: 
King’s Ely is quickly gaining a reputation as a trailblazer when it comes to the use of ICT.  Despite its mediaeval buildings, the school is making advancements in ICT provision including four computer rooms, Bring-Your-Own-Device initiatives and taking part in a Europe-wide Erasmus project to build digital resources.

Which is nice :) 

World Population Day

Explore the UK's population change in the last 10 years with this ONS interactive...

Friday, 10 July 2015

Rackheath and Waverley

Rackheath Eco-community is a planned eco-town on the edge of Norfolk.
It is one of a series of eco-towns which are proposed to meet the demand for new and affordable housing, and also provide energy-efficient homes.
It promises to offer:

  • Renewable on-site energy production
  • User-friendly public transport systems, encouraging people to use cycles and walkways
  • Efficient recycling and waste management
  • High quality amenities, including shops, schools and sports facilities
  • A network of green open spaces, parks and gardens

It's difficult to find up to date news on what the current state of the planning is though...  happy to hear from anyone who knows more about what is happening...

There is already a campaign against Rackheath (SNUB) which also opposes a new road that is designed to join up the eco-town with the Norwich southern bypass.

Waverley is a new community, currently under development on the edge of Rotherham, close to Sheffield, and the former Orgreave works, which became famous during the miners' strike of 1984. I passed through it this week while avoiding some roadworks on the M1, and noticed some significant changes since I last drove through about 2 years ago. This is going to be another large community, but it needs to have a range of services and also jobs in the area if it is going to be self-sustaining and not just another dormitory estate for workers in Sheffield. I noticed that the pub is built at least...

Cambourne, on the edge of Cambridge is well under way... 

Cambourne is a new settlement, made up of three villages: Upper Cambourne, Lower Cambourne and Great Cambourne. Construction began in 1998 and still carries on today. It is expected to have a population of around 10,000 once finished. Cambourne is based in the district of South Cambridgeshire and is around 9 miles west of Cambridge.

And today, we have a news report suggesting that the planning system is going to be shaken up so that brownfield sites can be built on without planning permission.

Climate Change history

Rewind to 1984, and I'm doing my Geography degree at Huddersfield Polytechnic, specialising in hydrology with (now Professor) Tim Burt. Outside of lecture time, I got involved in some fairly offbeat stuff, which I won't be recounting here (none of it illegal), and met Conor Kostick, who was studying Maths at York University at the time. We kept in touch over the years, as Conor showed the range of his talents as a gamer, writer, chess player and historian. He runs tours of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, and became a Medieval historian, where he lectures at Trinity College, Dublin and became an expert in the Crusades. Along the way, he also wrote a series of award-winning and rather fine children's books, particularly the book 'Epic', which drew together a lot of his interests.

Conor came up in my Twitter feed yesterday, as he was actually at the Royal Geographical Society (along with a few other people that I know) for a Historical Geographers' conference, and it turns out that he's turned his historical talents to a geographical 'cause': climate change.
As part of his current work at Nottingham University, funded by a number of prestigious research grants, he has looked through medieval manuscripts to find any mention of phenomena which could be connected with volcanic eruptions or other events which could have a short term impact on climate.

Conor contributed to a paper published in 'Nature'.