Thursday, 28 July 2016

New experiences for King's Ely students...

Already lined up:
1. A visit from the Google Expeditions team from the Open University
2. A visit from Dan Raven Ellison to talk about his project to walk across all UK Cities and National Parks.
3. A trial of new Do it Kits - microclimate weather stations
4. A new Fentastic Geography unit, with some input from the Ouse Washes partnership...
5. New fieldtrip to the Norfolk coast, complete with Seal boat trip and a day at Cley Marshes and Cromer.

Find out more by following my departmental account @KingsElyGeog or the blog

Teachmeet RGS - November 2016

There are only a few tickets left for the 2nd Teachmeet to be held at the Royal Geographical Society.
As I have some free time on Wednesday afternoons in my timetable next year, I was able to make the date this time round, and have also signed up to present at the event.
It's the week after the Practical Pedagogies event in Toulouse, so I will be sharing a slimmed down version of my presentation there, on the Power of Geographical Information.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Once a blue planet… and Ozark

Reminded of this earlier today… a classic from Jean Luc Ponty…

Followed by this from Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays

Thought for the Day

Tickets now available... The Making of a National Park City

Click to enlarge...

Submarine resource and expedition with VR

Jamie Buchanan Dunlop's latest venture has connected him with the Nekton Mission and a submarine expedition.
The expedition takes place in Bermuda.

Follow the Twitter account and click the eduction tab to download a range of free resources for teaching about the Oceans.

Rio Olympics 2016

A tweet this morning from Steve Mouldey reminded me of the document I created ahead of the London Olympics in 2012

I thought it might be useful to start a new document for the Rio Olympics.

Durham University Geography Conference resources

Thanks to Emma Hughes for letting me know about an event that took place at Durham University, put on by the Geography department at the university. This was a geography conference for teachers, with a number of lectures by Professor Mike Crang and colleagues at the Geography department. Lots of them are suitable for the new 'A' level specifications.

Please let Mike know if you are using the resources.
There needs to be more connection between academic geography departments and school geography departments.

Australian Fieldwork resource

Thanks to Stephen Matthews for the link to a great new resource on fieldwork using spatial technologies.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Fancy a coffee?

So today, I FINALLY after a long process finished the draft materials for a new section of the Costa for Schools website, which I originally authored a few years ago now, and is going to be refreshed in the next few months, and updated with extra lesson plans, and new curriculum links that I've written, using materials and information provided by the company.

There is already an excellent resource on the main Costa website called The Costa Experience which takes an animated look at the journey from Bean to Cup.

To get you in the mood, here's a nice little video which shows some of the back story that goes into the cup of coffee that you get when you visit a Costa.
Flat white for me please...

Portugal Trip - post 2

More from my trip to Portugal...
This is funded by ERASMUS, which I blogged about a few days ago as potentially being threatened by Brexit...

Day 2

Temperature was forecast to be over 40 degrees, and we met the group at the school. The plan was to introduce ideas of learning, and theories relating to pedagogy.

Session 1 was a chance to introduce myself and my own thinking about the purpose of education, and the experiences, which had shaped my teaching and writing over the last 30 years. After around 350 CPD sessions around the world over the last eight years, this was one of only a few where I was speaking to educators who were not geographers, so my discussions had to be more ‘generic’ in the sense that I couldn’t assume that the activities I used were applicable to a teacher of philosophy. There were also four or five of the group who had limited English, so my comments were translated a few slides at a time into Turkish, which meant pausing, and waiting to see that no further clarification was needed. My thanks to Nihal and Yusuf who did the translating.

After the first hour, we broke for the first of many glasses of hot black tea and biscuits and fruit. The outside temperature was soaring.

Session 2 started to develop the idea of connectedness, and the importance of this in developing teacher pedagogy. It was one of several words beginning with ‘C’ which influence our practice (although not all of them started with a ‘C’ when they were translated into Turkish). I shared the idea of geographical enquiry and we talked through Alex Couros’ model of the connected teacher. I learned about some of the connections they used, including some of the national VLE and network tools that are used in Turkey.

Having developed our connections we broke for lunch.

This was at O Raposo, and we had the first of quite a few grilled sea bream which were cooked perfectly. Lunch was an unhurried affair again, as was the walk to and from the restaurant, in baking heat.

Session 3 covered all afternoon, with a break for black tea, was in an ICT classroom in another part of the school building, with a view overlooking the municipal swimming pool, which was popular given the temperatures, and the fact that the school holidays were well underway in Portugal. I moved from the personal to the theoretical, and outlined some of the main theories of learning and pedagogy, drawing on ideas from Piaget to Vygotsky. We discussed how applicable these might be, and also discussed the greater focus on the assessment in Turkish schools, and why it was important that teachers thought about the methods they used, as young learners are exposed to different tools and experiences. We also reminded ourselves of Dewey’s comments that education was not just about preparing for future lives, it was a major part of young people’s lives for many reasons. I heard some really positive stories from the colleagues of their careers in Turkish schools. One of the ideas was about the context of learning and how it might influence pedagogy, and this came against the backdrop of the attempted coup in Turkey, which took place after the group had left the country, and which attracted great interest whenever a news story came on the TV in the restaurants where we found ourselves each day.

The first day ended with a summary of the main ideas that had been covered, at around 5pm, just after the peak of the heat, so it was back to Cuba to cool down in a pool with a cold Sagres and some local rose wine.

In the evening we went back to O Raposo for a meal, before I was challenged to a pool competition, which I won of course.

Me with some Zappa
Vidigeuira in the heat
Some connections
Me and Jaime with Mission:Explore slide

Pokemon Go - a Geography resource?

I've previously blogged about PokemonGo, and its cultural significance in the short term. There has been so much written about the impact of this app that there are bound to be any number of conference papers and other connections with the classroom in the new academic year (if people are still playing it then...)
For example, here's a great article which asks the question:
Should Nature conservationists be worried about the app?

I decided to produce another Google Drive document, which collated stories about Pokemon Go, but also some ideas from teachers about how they were thinking of using it.
Feel free to send me any further ideas or resources, or add as a comment below.

Steve Backshall and Mission:Explore National Parks

An excellent Ordnance Survey Blog post which says a lot of nice things about the Mission:Explore National Parks book. It also features a short video with Steve Backshall.

The Mission:Explore team compiled the book after putting a huge selection of challenges to the vote by schoolchildren, with the favourites selected to be published.

It’s the seventh book the Mission:Explore team have released, since winning the Geovation Challenge in 2010, when they wowed the team with their exciting ideas using geography. If you haven’t come across them before, the project encourages people, and especially children, to see, explore and act in new ways.
Mission:Explore founders saw the subject of geography being marginalised, and in schools and neighbourhoods children’s physical geographies being reduced due to risk aversion. And they wanted to change that.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Rainforest Alliance video

National Parks Week

All this week.
Coincides with the exciting official launch of our new Mission:Explore National Parks book

I absolutely LOVE this book, drawing a cow-pat emoji is a must-try! It’s so important to encourage kids to enjoy our UK National Parks from an early age and instil a love of the countryside that will last all their lives thus helping to secure the future of our protected landscapes
Julia Bradbury, TV Presenter including 'Countryfile'

National Parks Week 2016

National Parks Week is the National Parks family's annual celebration of everything that is unique and wonderful about Britain's breathing spaces.
It runs from Monday 25 to Sunday 31 July 2016.

The theme for National Parks Week 2016 is adventure
. With diverse landscapes, activities and events there's an adventure waiting at whatever scale suits you! 

One way to ensure that adventures take place is to get hold of a copy of Mission:Explore National Parks.
Available from all National Park shops for £5 or 500p....

I'm off to the Norfolk Broads later in the week for my National Park adventure...

In London this summer?

Check out this exhibition...

Sunday, 24 July 2016

No more ERASMUS?

There were articles in two of the UK broadsheet newspapers today: the Telegraph and the Guardian suggesting that there may be some problems with UK schools and institutions getting involved in future ERASMUS schemes as a result of the Brexit vote.

This would be a disaster if it was the case.

A look at the projects that were given funding this year alone shows thousands of school pupils who are benefitting from it.

I am involved in 2 major projects: the GeoCapabilities and the GI Learner project (the latter with my school as a partner) which has allowed me to meet and work with teachers, academics and young people from across the EU and beyond...
I have just returned from a week in Portugal working with Turkish colleagues, which was excellent, and funded by ERASMUS, and we also have the MOOS project at school as well as other teacher exchanges that colleagues are involved with.

ERASMUS will continue of course, but UK students, teachers and academics may be denied from taking part in these exchanges which bring so much value with them. I expect that MFL teachers may notice this more than other subjects as the majority of UK education projects in the list seem to be about language teaching.

Not sure what we can do about this, but educators can blog about the value of their involvement and no doubt some concerted social media effort and hashtag will emerge in time as the picture becomes clearer...

Sigur Ros - Route One

I posted about the Sigur Ros Route One journey back in June. Here's a time lapse version of it: a 24 hour continuous streamed journey around Iceland. I shared this on my GIS Day that I hosted at the school.

 The music is now available as an iOS app, which is a continuously updating and evolving. Search for Sigur Ros Route One.

You can also see the journey in 24 stages, and in 360 degrees if you want it to be. Part One is shown below.

Portugal trip - Post 1

After my trip to Salzburg last week, it was time to head off again.
This time, to work in Portugal with my friend Jaime Araujo in the city of Vidigueira in the Alentejo region of the country.

Here's a brief report...

Another trip to Vidigueira, this time to lead a week long course for a group of Turkish educators, including teachers of a range of curriculum subjects, accompanied by two colleagues from the local Ministry of Education. They had chosen from a number of courses, which had been developed a few years previously, and had a six hour journey from their home city of Malatya, outside of Istanbul.

The course they had chosen is entitled:
“Different ways of learning in pedagogy and andragogy: different visions and techniques”, and is a chance to discuss the theories of learning that apply to children, and compare them with some ideas, such as those of Malcolm Knowles on how adults learn.

The course was hosted by the school in Vidigueira I had previously worked at, which is in the Alentejo region, about 130km SE of Lisbon.

Day 1
Travel from Stansted – Lisbon, and then on to Cuba. In the evening, there was a trip to O Raposo, to meet the group, and start the conversations that would carry on for the next 4 days. This was the first of several visits to this restaurant, down a side street in Vidigueira, very much for locals, and overseen by an unhurried, and calm owner, whose wife was doing all the cooking. We were entertained by some acapella singing by one of the customer’s children.

And some images from the trip:

Center Parcs

Another excellent trip to Center Parcs last weekend….
This little fellow was one of the visitors to our house in the woods.

1966 World Cup Map

The Ordnance Survey has created a map which shows the birthplace of football players from 1966 and more details about the tournament.

Pokemon Go

There's been a fair bit of interest in Pokemon Go over the last few days. I was interested in the educational value of this, as a way of encouraging 'exploration' in search of more animals or other resources. There've been lots of connections in the news relating to how it might be used to attract victims by criminals, for example, and the notion of how it changes spaces and public engagement with them, and has also helped a few people leave the house who previously had social anxiety.

I downloaded the app, and have started to capture a few nearby Pokemon (I don't get a mobile signal in my village so am tied to the wifi signal).

Also had a quick look when I was in a nearby town, and saw a couple of other people paying a suspicious amount of interest in their phone screen. There were also some people playing it in Portugal last week. I've started to collect articles which refer to the possible use (or not) of the app for education, the way that it connects with GIS (such as ESRI mapping) and the way that it also encourages young people to go outside and perhaps engage with spaces in different ways. I'll share these in a future post, but just wanted to put this here, so that you could see that I'm thinking about this (and will be writing about it for the GA Webwatch column too) and also the economic benefits for Nintendo, and Apple who get a fee every time the app is downloaded….

Let me know of any exciting and interesting Pokemon Go developments which are connected with Geography and I'll add them to the final post and article.

Gotta blog 'em all...

New reading and fascination

As regular readers of the blog will know, I'm an enthusiast for all things geographical, and in addition to that, I will also have my occasional focus on particular topics for a period of time.
At the moment, my interests include logistics, and what lies behind the transportation of people and goods around the world.
This book explores the value of logistics, and the role for companies like Domino's Pizza, which forms one of the case studies in the book.
Worth checking it out.

If you want plenty of geography related books, check out over 300 of them on my Geography Library blog.

GeoCapabilities training materials

I've been involved with writing parts of these, and editing them, and they are now looking good on the new GeoCapabilities website.

BBC Olympics trailer

The BBC trailer for their Rio Olympics coverage places a lot of emphasis on the wildlife of the Amazon…
How relevant is that to the urban locations for the games?
Is Brazil defined by the Amazon?
Are some of these animals threatened by habitat change?
Some interesting discussions to be had…

Saturday, 23 July 2016

New GeoCapabilities website

A new GeoCapabilities website has now been launched, following work between the partners and Greg Donert, who has been producing the website for us.

I've also been involved in a small way, by attending several of the meetings since the start of the project, writing a few reports, creating and formatting course materials, and also working on ideas for the curriculum vignettes, which are shared using ESRI StoryMaps.

Details on the project:

The GeoCapabilities website was developed through an international collaborative process involving a considerable amount of original research and pilot testing with teachers and teacher educators. This work began with a pilot study in 2011 funded by a grant to the American Association of Geographers (AAG) from the U.S. National Science Foundation, under the direction of Dr Michael Solem. This mainly theoretical phase led directly to a larger partnership under the direction of Professor David Lambert (UCL Institute of Education) with funding from the EU COMENIUS programme. The full partnership includes Sirpa Tani (University of Helsinki, Finland), Karl Donert (Eurogeo, Belgium) and Duncan Hawley (Geographical Association, UK) as well as four school partners: Elina Särkelä (Viikki Teacher Training School, Finland), Panos Papoutsis (Doukas School, Greece), Richard Bustin (City of London Freemens School, UK), and Kelly Kerrigan (Stafford Grammar School, UK).
Since its inception GeoCapabilities has attracted a lot of interest internationally beyond the formal partnership. Several individuals have declared an active interest, contributing to research, translations, conference presentations, and other key papers. These “Associate Partners” currently hail from countries as diverse as the Netherlands, Sweden, China, Japan, India, Germany, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Czech Republic, Singapore, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

'A' level book gone to print

After two years and thousands of hours of effort, the 'A' level textbook for the new AQA specification has now gone to print. It will be published by Cambridge University Press. This is great news, as it means that the book will now be out several weeks before other similar books, and also ahead of the end of the summer break, so teachers will be able to have access to it in the crucial few weeks before the start of the new academic year.

I was the series editor for the book, and also the associated materials. You can see the names of the author team on the cover image below - a great team, helped by a large team from CUP.

You can find out more about the book (and order your copies) here.