Friday, 21 July 2017

Simon Reeve Theatre tour

Simon Reeve has announced a range of talks in the new year, to talk about his travels.

He's coming to a few places close to me, so will perhaps go along and see him.

Place Names Map

Came across this a couple of weeks ago, but forgot to post it, and just been reminded of it. 

As we all start our summer travels, we will no doubt visit places that are new to use, as well as those which we visit regularly because they make us feel secure. The Key to English Place Names is curated by the University of Nottingham, and provides a meaning for place names.
Made by the Institute for Name Studies.

The names of villages and towns frequently refer to particular people(s), social and administrative activities, landscape, birds and animals, crops and vegetation, and most of them are well over a thousand years old. In other words, they can tell us something important about the history of those places, and how they were perceived, which would otherwise be unknown. 


Tickets are now available to book from the Eventbrite page.
I've booked to present something at the event. Probably on curriculum making and subject knowledge.
There are still chances for you to do the same.

7300 and counting...

Yes, that's 7300 posts on this blog... and it's just one of 10 or so that I run to share geographical ideas on curriculum and pedagogy, and resources, and books....
There'll be plenty more to come I hope, but if you want to see what's already there, use the SEARCH box top left, or scroll down on the right hand side, and click on a LABEL to see what I've written about each topic. Whatever you're teaching, I guarantee that there'll be something you can use, and that you'll find a new website...
Every day, I see people Tweeting a new discovery that was on here months ago - click SUBSCRIBE top right and enter an e-mail and you'll get a daily summary of any new additions to the blog...
There'll be a slightly reduced rate of posting as we enter the summer holidays now, but there's always geography happening because, we're all Living Geography...

GA Conference 2018

I've started to go through my issues of 'Classroom Geographer' for a forthcoming series of articles, and have identified a useful page with advice for the GA on how to develop their conference. I'm sure Lucy Oxley does a good enough job these days without this interesting advice from 1973.
I've put in several sessions for potential inclusion in the programme, and will definitely be involved in some SPC sessions. 
You'll also get to see the Classroom Geographer work that I've started to do...

Superhero Origins

I've blogged before about superheroes as a way of exploring globalisation, particularly cultural globalisation.
This ESRI StoryMap is a nice piece of work.
Thanks to Jason Sawle for the tipoff...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Sound of the Suburbs?

I've been "finishing off" a resource today for Anne le Brocq of Exeter University, to accompany her excellent Ice Flows Game. 
I've been deep into sea level rise, Larsen C calving an iceberg, and the formation of ice on a large scale.

My next project to finish is for the Royal Geographical Society. It's well underway, and just needs some tidying up over the next few week, along with some work on coastal landforms and processes to accompany it. It's about the suburbs, and earlier on I asked on various social media for impressions of the suburbs as a location, a space, and a cultural phenomenon...

Thanks to those who offered their thoughts... The diagram will be used for illustrative purposes, and to prompt a little discussion...
I've also started to collate a Spotify playlist, so if anyone has any suggestions for songs inspired by the suburbs let me know... I have quite a few already...

Google Maps - hyperlapse around the world

This popped up today as trending... and it's a cracking little film to show off some of the possibilities of Google Earth, which is already being touted as Google's best option for a social network platform that people might actually use...

Coverack - making the news

A lot of people were woken by thunder and lightning on Tuesday night. We had two phases in Norfolk: one around 12.30 and one around 5am. The latter brought the heaviest rain and some lightning strikes very close to the house...
Lightning can be tracked on Lightning Maps website or Blitztornung. 
I've just driven across the county, and came across a number of FLOOD warning signs, and areas where soil and stones had been washed across the road and left on the carriageway.
I made a map of this particular village this morning with my Digimap for Schools subscription.

Coverack in Cornwall seems to be the place that is most badly affected by flash flooding, although there was flooding across the SE, particularly in Kent, and localised issues elsewhere, which are causing problems for travellers today, particularly around Stansted airport.
It would be useful for students to perhaps compare this with Boscastle, or work out why this may have happened in this location. What were the factors that combined to make the effects so bad in this particular place?

The BBC has a page which is collating local news, and there is plenty on social media feeds too currently...

The Carbon Cycle - an explainer video...

Phoenix House

A find via Inhabitat website
The Phoenix House is in Hawaii, and apparently has an amazing view of the lava flows on the volcano.
It's available to rent on Air bnb

I wonder what other amazing locations there are tucked away in the Airbnb listings.
I've written previously about the impact of Airbnb on cities...

Jarrow - a long walk

Another book that I have on the pile for my summer holiday reading is the new book by Stuart Maconie. I've enjoyed his previous travel books which include a social history of the North, as well as other parts of the country, and their light-hearted approach to exploring the places that Stuart passes through, usually at a leisurely pace. This time, he walks the route of the Jarrow marchers: 200 men, who walked the 300 miles from Tyneside to London in 1936 in protest at the damage being done to their towns and industries.

The book was written about a walk which marked the 80th anniversary and explored the changes that have happened to the country since then, but also how austerity and the north/south divide remain 'the same'.

It's all geography of course, as well as social history, and I'm looking forward to reading it...

Countryside Classroom

Picked up a postcard for Countryside Classroom at the Education Festival a few weeks ago (of which more to come in a future blog post) and just now had time to look at it, and follow the link on it.
This is a project which aims to connect teachers with the outside world...

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Global reach of Premier League teams

A Twitter interactive which promises to visualise the tweets which are sent by fans of different Premier League football teams (as they were when the visualisation was created). How global is your team, or compare two teams, or see which are the most popular. Change the scale and have a play. Useful for globalisation, or geography of sport type units. Made by Twitter.

Rural Crime

The Geography of Crime had its moment in the sun as a unit which a lot of schools taught for KS3 to introduce ideas like GIS very often. It's less common now, although I know that a lot of schools still teach this topic.

Rural crime is on the rise. It's often a different type of crime than urban crime, and sometimes it's suggested that the number of CCTV cameras in towns and cities may drive crime further out.

This could form part of a crime unit, or contribute to the idea of rural/urban comparisons.

The National Farmer's Union has produced a very useful report on the nature of Rural Crime, which can be downloaded from this link.

Campo Santo's FireWatch Game...

This is the trailer for the game, which I bought a while ago during a Steam Sale (there are quite a few of these during the year)
I intend to work on some resources based around this game, and the book 'Fire Season'.
I'll also reference events such as the recent Canadian wildfires and those which have affected other parts of the world too. In a warming world, these events are likely to become more common.
Fire is currently a sensitive issue, so it may be that I wait a while on this project.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Natural Flood Management - a research survey to get involved with

Natural Flood management was in the news over the winter, when the town of Pickering was apparently 'saved' from serious flooding by alternative types of channel management which were less about building walls and more about working with the catchment to change the way that it responded to a precipitation event.

This new Research survey from Kate Smith at the Countryside and Community Research Institute uses some interesting visualisations to explore the River Isbourne. It provides a Google Tour with plenty of management information which makes it a self-contained case study for older students potentially.

It could however also be used by teachers of older students in particular as a useful, practical and detailed end of year activity (it being the last week of term for many as I post this)
Start up the survey and you will be prompted to download a KMZ file which will open in Google Earth / Google Earth Pro (the desktop version that you needed to download not the new web browser version)

Why not download the tour, and take part in the survey too, so that you help out in the way that these sorts of resources are used for future dissemination of research ideas...

Weathertrending - a new weather blog

A new blog for those interested in weather is now up and running. As a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, that includes me of course.
It's called Weathertrending.
It's written and created by Sara Thornton and John Hammond, who have been on our screens for many years as BBC, ITV and Met Office weather forecasters and presenters.

The blog promises daily Quickcasts and discussions on weather issues, as well as relevant forecast and weather stories, such as a look ahead to the potential impact of stormy weather on the weekend's British Open Golf.

You can follow the pair on Twitter too @weathertrending

The format would be a good one to engage students with: perhaps they could record their own Quickcasts, or produce a short discussion of a weather-related topic, or look ahead to a forthcoming event. I remember using an activity where we looked ahead at the weather and provided some specific forecasts for specific members of staff.

Mr.... is planning a barbeque at his house on Friday night. Should he get his sausages out, or plan something else instead ?
Mrs.... is hoping to play golf on ..... night. If there is a risk of thunderstorms this will not be possible.

I look forward to seeing how the site develops...


Working on a new Education resource today.
It's for the Ice Flows Game developed by Anne Le Brocq at Exeter University and which I've blogged about a few times previously.
Anne has sent me through some very exciting stickers which I'm going to be using as prizes for engagement with the materials once they become available. More details to come...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Erasmus+ Happy 30th Birthday

Erasmus is 30 years old.

It's facilitated the meeting of millions of teachers and students from across Europe, and I've benefitted from it in many ways over the years. I first got involved with Erasmus through Karl Donert, the President of EuroGeo, and who has spent many years travelling Europe.
He asked me to take part in a project called digitalearth towards the end of my time with the Geographical Association. He was keen to get the GA to engage with this European network of teachers, and there was the first of a few opportunities to do that with this network. The digitalearth project has had a great legacy...

This took me to Salzburg, back in January 2011, for the first of many meetings and training courses. I found myself in a 3 day meeting with university professors, Headteachers and people with particular skillsets I'd not encountered before. It was a little scary, but also exciting, and we had some interesting cultural events as part of the meeting - a pattern that has been particularly important as my Erasmus participation has continued...

Image: Michaela Lindner-Fally

I've spent several months of my life since in various cities around Europe. I've worked at Salzburg University quite a few times, running courses with teachers from lots of different countries, learning from them as much as they learned from me. It's been one of the most valuable aspects of my professional career...

Here's a picture from Simo Tolvanen, one of a large group of Finnish teachers I had the pleasure of working with at Z-GIS in Salzburg.

I've visited Stockholm - sailing there on a boat through the frozen Baltic and stopping in at Estonia en route. I've scaled snowy peaks, eaten fine foods, seen art and heard guggenmusic, baked in the heat of an Alentejan summer, swum in the Mediterranean, walked on a frozen lake, wandered unfamiliar cities in the early hours of the morning, and discovered a hidden bottle of Ardbeg whisky in the most unlikely of hotels. I've seen Romanian tower blocks, sung Finnish karaoke, navigated out of an underground car park in Ghent, and seen the Acropolis at sunset and two Olympics stadia...
I've been involved in 5 Erasmus Funded projects and a range of Erasmus funded courses... and several other failed bids for project funding...
I hope to be involved in a whole lot more adventures in the future....
My school is currently involved in an ERASMUS funded project called GI Learner 

Thanks also to Jaime Araujo who has got me out to Portugal a number of times to worth with AENIE.

I recommend you find out more about the scheme and try and get involved.. assuming UK partners will still be welcome after Brexit... 

In the upstairs room at Zum Eulenspiegel, Salzburg 

Thanks to everyone I've had the pleasure of working with over the years, sometimes numerous times, and particularly to Karl Donert, who started it all off for me and supported me when I was out of work back in 2011...

Grave attraction

When did you last visit a graveyard?
Some people choose to visit graves as a way of feeling close to famous people. I remember some years ago when my children were younger, and my son wanted to visit the grave of Roald Dahl when were in Great Missenden some years ago, and felt happy that he'd seen it and had a connection with his favourite author at the time.
This BBC article describes the trend for visiting the resting place of famous people.
One of the most famous is the Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors is buried, along with lots of other people of course, such as Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust.

This book was found in Norwich library and provides guidance on how to find the graves of people all over the UK...

There was also an issue when Pokemon Go came out that people may have been entering cemeteries to 'catch them all' and not showing the same respect that they might have been expected to.

Barbara Ellen, writing in the Guardian, suggests that this is nothing new, and that there has been a historic trend for this dark tourism, or thanatourism as it's also called (I've written about it before) for some years.

I also remember when teaching about 20 years ago using a video shot in and around Cairo showing many people living in tombs in the City of Dead.

Last weekend, I visited Cley Contemporary 17 in Cley next the Sea on the Norfolk coast, and there was art in amongst the gravestones, and pathways cut amongst the graves.
So calculations of Rahn's Index are not the only reasons that geographers might be interested in such places.
To finish, why not complete this mission from our first Mission:Explore book....
One for all tapophiles...

EA Water Quality Data

For those exploring water quality as part of river studies, the EA has made available an alpha of a new service sharing water quality data from the sampling network. Thanks to John Curtin for sharing this news on Twitter. I tried it for my local area and discovered a sampling point on the River Nar that flows through my village, just a few hundred yards from my house, under a road bridge.
I took a look at the data, and there's quite a lot of detail and it is provided over a period of time, so any trends can be seen...

Sunday, 16 July 2017


CB1 is the name given to a newly created area, close to the train station, which has had some interesting press recently.
Such areas are often called quarters, although cities can have more than four...
CB1 is described as an urban mixed-use development.

It has not gone down very well with some people, who say that it is not a good 'first impression' for visitors to the historic city to see as they step out of the railway station. One 'issue' that Cambridge has had for decades of course has been that the railway station is quite some distance from the historic centre of the city. There is a walk, or a bus/taxi ride required to get to this area.

Oliver Wainwright has said that this is a 'future slum'.
The local Cambridge News newspaper asked whether this was a suitable description or not...

One to add to our Cambridge 'Changing Places' fieldwork option for sure... alongside other recent changes such as the Research Park around Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Butterfly Count

David Attenborough is asking us to count butterflies, so I'm going to count them, and you should too.... There's an app here which you need to put onto your smartphone... there's Android version too...

@savebutterflies is the Twitter feed

UK County Word Cloud - still a chance to take part

I'm keen to get up to at least 1000 entries on my UK County Word Cloud project - why not give the link to students to get involved with in a final week of term activity.
The aim is to collate thoughts and images for each UK county.

Click and enter your ideas and press submit.

Here's a preliminary result for the county of Kent...


There has been a History edition of this event for a few years, and the Geographers have now decided that it may be a good format to adopt... Save the date, and follow the Twitter feed and hashtag for more information as time passes... Will be hosted at the University of Birmingham.

Landmark Buildings Stamps

A new set of stamps showcases some classic landmark buildings from the UK...

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Ghosts of the Japanese Tsunami

This is coming in August. It looks really rather splendid, although the extract is harrowing and terrifying... Read the extract from the London Review of Books.
There's also a programme on BBC Radio 4 that is well worth listening to.

It's part of a planned new unit on Japan, which I'm pulling a few things together for... Will share the outcomes of that thinking here of course.

Rebuilding Ely

We ended the year at my school with Year 9 by completing a project following the first run through of our joint Physics-Geography project on the development of the city following a tsunami.
Here's the instruction sheet, produced by Ned Kittoe of the Physics department... The end results have shown a variety of interesting outcomes...

A thaw point...

There are many stories relating to the Arctic that have been integrated into my teaching over the last few years.
As permafrost starts to lose the permanent bit of its name, and melt, there are a few 'issues' that seem to be more certain to happen as time passes...
Bacteria are released which could contain dormant diseases, and result in new pandemic threats, in a warming world.

These include anthrax spores.

There's also the issue of carbon and methane release
There's a sense that things are accelerating and changes that we were told might happen by 'the end of the century' might happen within the next few decades.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

DVD Confessional...

As we move into the final week of term for many, I'd like to invite you to confess your DVD sins....
If you show a DVD, please tell us which one(s) you use. I used San Andreas in my final week of term, as seen in the previous blog post...
Let's see which movies are popular with Geographers this year. Dante's Peak anyone?

San Andreas

Last week I spent some time watching the film: San Andreas as part of the end of year work that we offered.
I watched the film through, to find some useful sections, and also some sections to bleep out as there's one or two fruity words peppered in there...
Reading an article by an earthquake engineer, who talks about the issues with the film. I've turned these into a worksheet where students are asked to spot the issues as they watch the film, and also to consider whether it matters that the film isn't completely accurate, as it's just a piece of entertainment.
There was also some useful guidance from Paul Berry on his Devon Geography blog back in the day.

Which films are you planning to show next week in the final week of term?

Beside the seaside

A 2nd fieldtrip a couple of weeks ago took me to Hunstanton, where we took 80 Year 7 students.
While there, I had a chat with a local guy who has spent years sorting out the stones on the beach, and has been featured in several newspaper articles. I'm going to be writing about the town and the cliffs as part of a project over the summer. More to come on that - I had a meeting earlier today.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Coffee in a warming world

An interesting story on whether coffee is likely to lose its taste in a warming world.
This has a connection with the work of Jennifer Ferreira
She has an excellent coffee related blog, which is worth taking a look at.
BBC News has an excellent feature on this, which is packed full of geography.
Ethiopia has a problem in particular it seems.

Also, don't forget the Costa for Schools resources that I wrote a few years ago, and updated with new additions earlier this year.... It's a pity my name is not listed anywhere on the website that hosts them...

FSC Geography Fieldwork resource

The FSC have put together a really useful resource on fieldwork, which provides guidance on different tools, approaches and resources for those planning fieldwork opportunities for students. There is a particularly useful GIS section, which includes some useful resources. Well worth checking out.
Sections for GCSE and 'A' level Geography... and the all important GIS section too.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

IceFlows - the game

I've spent quite a bit of time over the last week or so working on a new resource to accompany the IceFlows Game which was developed by Anne Le Brocq of Exeter University.

Follow the Twitter feed @iceflowsgame to find out more...
The game is available online, and also as an app.

It is taking shape now, and should be completed by the end of the month and available for download.

The game models the processes going on in ice shelves and ice sheets, and there are plenty of associated resources that will form part of the pack, to help explore the implications of them melting away. With Larsen C close to breaking off to form a huge iceberg, this is an area that is likely to make the news in the coming days....

Why not take a look at the game in the next few weeks as an end of term activity

Larsen C finally calved a huge iceberg yesterday, just as I was finishing the first draft of the resource pack.
There is a tool to measure just how big it actually is by comparing it to a map. Made by Christopher Möller, and can be viewed here. 
Here's the iceberg with Norfolk and Suffolk for scale - that's a big chunk of ice...

Meaningful Maps - more research involvement for King's Ely

After the publication of the paper on VR in Education that I blogged about recently, there's a further project that we're involved with. In the last few weeks, students from several year groups have been involved with the Meaningful Maps project by drawing a map of a place that is important to them. These have been completed by some of my colleagues at Kings Ely Junior, and also King's Ely Acremont (thanks to Sarah Stevens for a big pile of maps)

The project is being organised by Stephen Scoffham, Peter Vujakovic and Paula Owens.
The website is now up and running, and it will develop as more maps come in during the pilot phase of the project which we are involved with.

VR Research Paper now available

A research paper that I am the co-author of has now been made available on the Open University's Repository. It explores the role of smartphone-driven virtual reality field trips, and connects with the visits made by Shailey Minocha and her colleague Ana-Despina Tudor to my school: King's Ely.
Click the DOWNLOAD link to see it. You may also have been in Shailey's GA Conference session where this was presented, following by a workshop where she supported Richard Allaway.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

School's out for summer

OK, so I've just finished my 25th year in the classroom....
I've got about 8 weeks of summer ahead, and as usual I can't just sit and do nothing, so I've got quite a few things lined up to do, all of which you'll be able to read about here once they're finished...
  • Finishing an education resource pack to go with the Ice Flows Game (a GA consultancy job)- that's my first job to do and it's going well...
  • Writing project for Norfolk County Council on Hunstanton and coastal erosion
  • Three resources for the Royal Geographical Society on Suburbs and some 'A' level materials for their Data Skills in Geography project (already started these some time ago, so just finishing off now)
  • Writing for the Innovative Geography Teaching Grant that I've been awarded by the Royal Geographical Society, on a project with Peter Knight of Keele University. The website is already up and running here.
  • Moderating Primary and Secondary Geography Quality Mark applications once again, with a trip up to Yorkshire.
  • Drafting ideas for education materials in support of the Women's Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition in 2018 for Felicity Aston and colleagues
  • Writing journal articles on my explorations of the contents of 'Classroom Geographer'.
  • A few other little bits and pieces
Also got 3 weeks of time away in there, to travel, read and take photographs.

Started the relaxation yesterday, with a visit to Cley Contemporary 17, then down to the beach at Cley before heading inland for a pub lunch in a quiet village watching the world go by with a pint of local ale...

Have a great summer everyone, whatever you're up to.... there'll be the odd blog post here between now and September to clear the 'Drafts' folder, and share a few pretty pictures and interesting news stories....

Image: Alan Parkinson

CPRE Norfolk report on the future of Norfolk

Heard some sections of an interview earlier this week on BBC Radio Norfolk with members of CPRE Norfolk.

They were launching a new report called A Vision for Norfolk, which looks at a future for the county's amazing countryside.
A useful resource for rural futures/changing places.