Twitter Sheep

This is an interesting one, and thanks to @angelamaiers for letting me know about TWITTER SHEEP.
This produces a tag cloud of the sort of people who follow you: your Twitter 'flock'...

Quite pleased with the emphases that my Twitter 'flock' seems to have.

Tokyo: Timelapse

I'm grateful to Digital Urban blog for another great timelapse movie.

The City of Light from sof on Vimeo.


A new mapping blog discovery via a blog comment: MAPSCROLL.
A range of intriguing resources on here within the last month including images and videos.
An example is this image of the emerging MEGAREGIONS in the US.

The Sefton Coast: a Crowded Coast...

Another Place by Sally Parkinson

Sand, Feet and Muddy Bottoms
Dr. Ann Worsley
Reader in Physical Geography, Edge Hill University

An evening lecture at the GTE conference 2009

Useful for those studying CROWDED COASTS: looking at the SEFTON COAST.

Sefton Coast: Southport at the northern end, Crosby at the southern end.
Coast as the best vehicle for exploring people / landscape interactions. It's a Crowded and dynamic coast: 49 agencies are involved in managing the coastline; several SSSIs; it gets 1 million plus visitors per year, and over 6 million birds visiting.
A male mallard will produce more poo than an adult each day. There is only 1 blue flag along the coast, as tidal inundation of salt marshes flushes out the effluent and affects the water quality and the nature of fine sediments - not human waste that affects water quality.
There are 23 miles of dune coast.
Coastline responds very quickly to changes in climate.
There is a designated kite surfer zone: 218 people have a permit to kite surf
1000+ species of plants are found in the area, on what is predominantly a sand dune coastline.
730 new strandlines are created each year (2 a day): a delivery of organic detritus and sand which provide key nutrients - also plastic debris washed up - these can form the embryo dunes as sand washes up.
  • Salt marshes north of Southport and its pier. Reclamation projects in the 1920s
  • Creek systems and brackish marsh near Birkdale.
  • Ainsdale - Pontins Holiday Camp - structure (aerial image)
Crosby - Another Place
The Freeport was built in 1960s and the promenade changed sediment dynamics and stores, and the coastline prograded west. It has a dramatic history of wrecks, some of which are revealed by sediment transfers - particularly after storms.
Tourism: impacts of Another Place on the physical and human geography.
Students measured height of sand around the figures. They had GPS locations of figures, and spot heights of installations (on plinths) Evidence of scouring around the base of the figures, and the change in the form of the beach.
How did people interact with the statues ? - observations of interactions. Lots of examples of this whenever I have visited.

Ainsdale Dune System - typical psammosere - very much as you would expect in the textbooks

Formby Dunes - lost the embryo and mobile dunes - an eroding coastline: fixed dunes and slack between them. In the last 10 years, it has lost around 4 metres of dune system per year.

Birkdale, Green Beach
Psammosere with areas of brackish marsh in front.

This has produced 3 different scenarios - different to what it says in the textbooks. 
A good basis for geographical enquiry for 'A' level students.

Formby: Nov 2007 - weekend storm removed 11m of dune front. National Trust managed site. Since 1990, the rate has increased dramatically. Up to 1906, the coast was prograding - since then there has been erosion.

Dune systems are not just retreating, but 'rolling back'. Images from 20 years apart showed the change - lowering of the dune system.
Areas of standing water in the car park, as  it has been lowered to the water table. What to do about the car park ? If it moved eastwards, cuts into red squirrel territory. Pressure on management of changing landscape and generating economic reward for effort. Difficulties for manager Andrew Brockbank.

Glacial till at the base of the dune system. Erosion clears away the sand and exposes the organic material beneath. Sampling of microscopic plants that are found in the material. Also revealed the imprints of red deer, and a 4400 year old antler, plus ox (similar to those in the caves at Lascaux) - also running people alongside deer.

Evidence for people using the coast for last 6000 years. Reconstructing the past landscape is the next stage.

GTE - Friday - my session...

An edited version of my presentation. If you have any questions on any element of this, please get in touch.

GTE - Friday

Held at the Prince of Wales hotel in Southport. A fine sprawling Victorian hotel on Lord Street - lovely fire in the entrance hall. We were in the International suite, quite apt. Some images to come tomorrow.

Friday evening session: chaired by Maureen O'Shaughnessy, followed  an earlier New Tutors' conference and lunch.
Please note that this is my summary and any misrepresentations are entirely mine.

Alan P - me - see my SLIDESHARE for an edited version

Clare Brooks 
Does Masters Level Work give teachers the capacity to be better ?

MA in Geography Education at the Institute of Education

  • Teachers as "an activist profession" (Judith Sachs) - greater accountability and working with networks.
  • Implications for training and educating geography teachers.
  • Survey of PGCE student on MA course: very strong feeling that they would be challenged academically and that it would develop their intellectual and scholarly capacity, but number dropped when asked whether they thought it would make them a better teacher. It would however increase their career prospects.
  • Concerns were workload and time mainly.
  • Felt that people most likely to be unsupportive when teachers carried on masters study were school colleagues.

"Unless you've taught in this school for 2 years you know nothing" - Head to PGCE student.

Masters tends to change the way that teachers think
"Teacher thinking" rather than "teacher doing".
Masters part of a wider CPD landscape.

Technical: QTS, Induction, Threshold, LfM, NPQH (prescribed outcomes)
Academic: PGCE, MA, EdD
Professional: CGeog, GA Quality Mark
Exam Courses / INSET / Local alternatives

Steven Chubb, University of Cumbria
Cautious Revolution (or evolution)
Curriculum Change at Key Stage 3

Last year, had a presentation on the use of SPORT in Geography lessons.

"Planning the curriculum is a strange mixture of rational organisation and serendipity" (Rawling, 2007)

Eleanor's continuum (from financial adviser)

Approaches to curriculum change. Cautious may be for positive reasons, rather than inertia.
Some issue of nomenclature, and changes in staffing within a department, and the influence of the HoD in decision making.

Pressures on schools to change.
David Lambert made a point about the current financial situation and the impact of 'adventurous' financial advice.

Subjects "dropped": Italy, Brazil, Japan being dropped...
Also losing Weather & Climate, Farming, Tourism, Industry, Development and Sport.

Subjects added: Sport, Geography in the News, USA, Global Issues, a more "local focus"...

Flexibility leading to more emphasis on local geography.
Health, "Music and Geography" - dropping industry and farming as "not relevant" and staff/pupils find it "boring".

A reminder of the topics that we offered to students when we changed our KS3, back in 2007-8
View more presentations from GeoBlogs. (tags: options ks3)
Chance to introduce a more critical geography may be being missed.

Margaret Roberts

To educate or to train ?
Reflections on being a PGCE tutor

Talking about dialogic pedagogies in late 1960's... not a new thing.
Countesthorpe Experience - 1977 - teachers trying to understand what was going on in the children's heads - pupil voice being used
1980: Michael Armstrong: "Closely Observed Children" - the diary of a primary classroom...

Standards: Q15: Know and understand the relevant statutory frameworks - can't deliver a curriculum - it changes as it develops - need to engage with the curriculum. Needed to have creative engagement.
Q25: Enable learners to meet learning objectives - pervasive...

There are only ever choices.... When choices are made and accepted by a sufficient number of teachers, they tend to become 'common sense' (Castree, 2005)

Q25: Use a range of teaching strategies and resources.
E3: Have a critical understanding of the most effective strategies

5Ws could produce a very 'old fashioned' geography.
Frameworks we use aren't neutral - they produce different geographies

Using pre-planned plenaries...
Should be "whole group" could be anywhere, but tends to be used at the end...

VAK - visual - shouldn't they do more auditory if they're a visual learner ?
Kinesthetic learners in geography ?? - labelling students - some schools have different colour planners dependent on their 'preferred learning styles'.

Seeing lessons through tick lists rather than professional judgements - dangerous.

"When we teach we are making constant choices" (Castree)

Discussion followed later (after the session, in the Wetherspoons) on the idea of CHOICE as being very important. Who makes the choices ? Also relates to the development of social networks and the importance of being able to choose not to use them...

TV - now and then....

Just been watching "Whatever happened to the Likely Lads" on Gold
Classic TV from my youth.
Good to see Tony Haygarth too...

At the same time, was trying out a Twitter tip-off ZATTOO. It's basically TV on your laptop... Presume it's a bandwidth hog and needs broadband but just watched the first part of the News at Ten perfectly. 

Oh, and don't forget your COMIC RELIEF red nose, and to "do something funny for money" on Friday the 13th of March.

GMail - offline access ?

Apparently you can now / will soon be able to access your GMail when offline....

Geography Teacher Educators' Conference

Just discovered I'm first up on the main conference schedule tomorrow for this event in Southport.
Spent a lot of time on this: well, some of the other people speaking include David Leat, Clare Brooks, David Lambert, David Mitchell and Charles Rawding....

More details will be posted here after the event.
Will also be TWITTERING over the weekend, with the hashtag #gte09

Thought for today...

“Innovations happen at the intersection of disciplines. The problem may reside in one domain of expertise and the solution may reside in another.” 
Karim Lakhani

Snow next week ?

It's looking likely...

Debt = damage

One aspect of the National Curriculum is to develop "responsible citizens", and there have been a few campaigns recently that have caught my eye.

The Debt = Damage campaign has a simple, clear message. It was developed by 13 year old 

Lizzie won a UNICEF YOUTH VOICE competition to develop her website.

Nice to see that GeographyJazz is on the GLOBAL DIMENSION Blogroll too... Thanks !

Mystery logo...

This just dropped into my inbox. 

What is this image celebrating ?

Is it a cause for celebration ?

Get your school involved in SPRING DAY FOR EUROPE too...
IDEAS move Europe...
Make 2009 a year of Creativity and Innovation in your practice.... I'll try to....

David Rogers on a zipwire....

Loving this blog post by David Rogers, looking at the issue of ENQUIRY and EVIDENCE. Fits in with what we said at the Living Geography event about sharing your personal geographies with students.
Nice work !

BETT Reflection 2 (finally...)

BETT was a couple of weeks ago, and finally found time just now to finish a reflective post...

OS Stand: image by Alan Parkinson

Saturday at BETT.
Wandered down Hammersmith Road in the sunshine, and at half past nine, half an hour before the show started, there were queues forming outside, although not as large as earlier in the week. There were also several people sitting with their laptops outside the Wetherspoons pub - the pub may have been closed (or at least I think it was), but the WIFI was switched on ;)
Exhibitor entrance was calm. Wandered through the main halls with space station style announcements: "the time is now 9.40 - BETT 2009 will open in 20 minutes".I liked the software produced by iBoard. This is primary software which had some nice activities. Tried a few which had been made available during the show. I liked this GOODEY'S MODEL style activity.
TWITTER is getting a lot of attention at the moment, and rightly so. It's been responsible for most of my recent discoveries of web based resources.
At the Teachmeet, Drew Buddie suggested that "Twitter is my Google", but then he does have around 2000 people both following him, and that he is following. He has also made over 16,500 'tweets'.

The plane crash on the Hudson last week was covered in all the media. This Twitpic was posted by a Twitter user who was on one of the ferries that was used in the rescue operation...
Had a German visitor to the stand with a twin school in Blackburn. He particularly liked the GA city guides.

Had a chat to Diana Freeman of Aegis 3: GIS software which is used in a lot of schools. Diana kindly provided software for a session that I ran at the GA Conference in 2007.
This now has some additional features, which I shall blog about more later, but one key additional feature is the streaming of OS 1:10 000 or 1:50 000 maps of areas into the worksheets.

NEN: National Education Network: this looked to have links to useful resources. It is an amalgamation of existing web services and 'grids for learning'. Ollie Bray beat me to it with a good post which picked out the geography content in particular. Plenty of interesting things there.

Also a long chat with the nice people at ESRI: Peter O' Connor's GIS BOOK was being publicised, and there was a lot of interest.

Missed David Roberts, who wandered past in one of the few busy periods of the day. Catch you later David !

Brainpop: spoke to the good folks at Brainpop, who also sponsored the Teachmeet
Showed them MISSION EXPLORE - still hopeful of an 'outcome' here...

I also picked up on a Digital Urban blogpost, which mentioned something that was available in the main hall: Pico Projectors

Thanks to Alf from the Historical Association for his company on the day. I presume you've finished your book now....

Steve Sidaway showed me Txt tools, and a project of the University of Aberdeen project, which involved a real-time simulation of flooding. Students were told that they could receive texts at any time over a 3 day period, and at any time, and had to respond. The system can also take an RSS feed from a website / blog / NING and create a text message at a pre-determined interval, assuming there has been some change to the feed in that time. TXT Tools is well worth checking out. More on this in a future blog post...

TASC Wheel

Just working on a session with Brighton teachers in a few weeks time, and liked Jeff Stanfield's use of this yesterday, so putting it here to refer to...
It's used with Primary students in particular, but is a nice way of visualising the ENQUIRY process, which is central to good pedagogy.
I loved Jeff's use of personal geographies as well, and the way that he combined it with ICT to provide the 'hook' into the lesson idea, with creative use of titles...

Shouldn't every lesson, like a book have a title ?

Spring 2009 Journals now available

In addition to the hard copies, which should be arriving shortly, GA members can also download a copy from the GA website.Teaching Geography: the first under new editor Mary Biddulph, and includes a rather nice article on Young People's Geographies, and also a very useful GIS article by Peter O' Connor.

Geography has a focus on Sustainability, and it was interesting to see that a book I mentioned in a recent blog post is also focussed on here: Fred Pearce's "Confessions of an Eco Sinner", and it was also good to see a mention of the work of Ian Cook, who has been involved with the Young People's Geographies project, and is very much part of the idea of following products back to their origins: very much the focus of 'Living Geography'....

Living Geography Animoto

Edited version....

Living Geography - new Chris Kington book

One bonus from today's Living Geography conference was the first sighting of the new Chris Kington book, edited by David Mitchell, and with plenty of fascinating content.

The next Living Geography conference will take place in York on the 9th of June.
We are already taking bookings.
Book online at the GA WEBSITE, or ring Lucy Oxley on 01142960088

Edited version of keynote

Some formatting issues here, and will be updated for future events to include local references...
A podcast will soon be available for those delegates who attended the conference.
Think of it as an appetiser...
Many many thanks for the delegates who came to the event today !
Remember: the day doesn't end when the day ends...

Living Geography - literally....

I'm literally sitting on the train writing this blog post... (someone has just said in the carriage: "I'm literally on the train"...)

Yesterday evening was an interesting one. I walked across London in Dan Raven Ellison style (but without the photographs) to the Royal Geographical Society to see Charley Boorman speak at the Monday night lecture.
I have to confess to being a little disappointed - out of 40 minutes talk, 9 minutes of that was a video, and a few more visuals would have been nice: one of the biggest inspirations of the trip was a picture of Mongolia hanging in the RGS... but we didn't have an image of it, and a sense of the GEOGRAPHY in Charley's trips was lacking. The Dakar Rally trip was an incredible
 experience, and some dramatic images of the scale of the event came across. He was an engaging speaker, and there were a lot of people who came out on a chilly Monday night.
After that it was back to Carluccio's in the Brunswick Centre.
Carluccio's seemed to be surviving the credit crunch so far: it was packed. 
Wandered back towards Euston, and Justin Woolliscroft demonstrated his extensive knowledge of the pubs around the station.

Image of Hamilton House by Flickr user Jamie Barras

Up early this morning to walk to Hamilton House, across Euston Road from the British Library, for first of Living Geography conferences. We set up the rooms, and the delegates started arriving: everybody arrived on time. First keynote was a bit nerve wracking. I recorded myself for the first time, and it sounded quite good - few too many pauses. Good to see a few familiar faces among the delegates. There will be 5 Living Geography events, and this first one was in some ways a trial run for the organisation of the day. There were 29 delegates, who came from as far away as Bristol, Ramsgate and King's Lynn. We learned a few things about the organisation and content, and already tweaked my sessions for next time. Really enjoyed some of Jeff's ideas for exploring places, and his performance of Bill Bryson stood on a chair, and David Waugh anecdote...

We all felt really happy about the way the event went. Thanks to David Lambert too, for coming in at the beginning and the end of the (long) day as well.
There were some impressive folk presenting today's event , and very many thanks to Lucy, Ruth, Justin, Jeff and Julie.

The next Living Geography event will take place in York on the 9th of June. Book online, or ring Lucy Oxley on 01142960088

Enquiry: I'm a kid, it's my job...

A starter for a lesson / CPD on ENQUIRY ?

"When I'm 64..."

The number of people aged 85 or over rose from 0.6 million in 1982 to 1.3 million in 2007

There are other similarly useful statistics in this NATIONAL STATISTICS report. (This links to a PDF report to download)

Incredible Edible Todmorden

Another discovery via the Alternative Channel
Incredible Edible Todmorden

An alternative field trip could be related to FOOD SECURITY.
The town of TODMORDEN, in West Yorkshire has set itself the goal of being self sufficient in vegetables by 2018. This means identifying plots where food can be grown rather than what might have been there before. The scheme has had quite a lot of recent publicity, although I'm not sure whether they'd have liked being called 'deprived' by the Times...

Sustainability is a key element of this scheme, and also a key geographical concept.

Fits in with fieldwork that I carried out as part of the PILOT GCSE Geography, where students were set the task of developing a sustainable scheme for an area of town. They could be sent out to discover and map possible new sites for growing vegetables: in the middle of roundabouts, round the edges of the school field etc.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall also has a website which relates to the issue of FOOD, which has a GOOGLE MAP "coming soon"....


Hugh on Landshare from River Cottage on Vimeo

Proboscis and Innovation

Just been re-reading some materials from a conference that was held in 2007.

I got there because of a tip off to a site called PROBOSCISThis was in connection with "public geographies", and there is a lot to explore here.

One of the ideas that I came across was the STORYCUBE, which I immediately liked, and started thinking about how to use it as a pedagogical tool, or as an outcome of a piece of work.

It turned out that it had been used in this conference, which included a contribution from Futurelab. Storycubes were also used in other events. This image shows them being used along with WORDLE.
And a final quote that came from this exploration...

"The ubiquitous presence and utility of ICT in modern life are having a significant impact on the way we live, and even on the notion of an educated person. It has led to the concept of the knowledge society -sometimes also called the learning society or information society. There is a widespread awareness that these developments have profound implications for education, and that schools must change, but as yet little detailed consideration of the extent of the change needed and the advantages that ICT can bring. The growth of the knowledge society and the pervasiveness of the technology represent a major challenge anda major opportunityfor education."
OECD, Learning to Change: ICT in Schools(2001), p.9

•„…change in education may now be thought of as a constant condition, rather than an event‟
Futurelab Literature review: Teachers Learning with Digital Technologies: A review of research and projects, p.507794


The quickest way to innovate is to bring innovative people into your organisation
JAB design

Via Twitter contact

Look out below...

Been preparing resources for a joint SfE / GA conference which was being organised for the new GCSE specifications, but has unfortunately been cancelled.

One focus area was that of Avalanches

What pedagogy could be used to teach about avalanches ?
What approaches to delivering 'content' so that it sticks, and becomes part of the learning process, and can also be assessed in a way which allows students to achieve ?

The first area that has to be tackled is to look at the specs and see what will be part of the assessment.

Edexcel ‘A’: Avalanches and their management

a. The physical and human causes and effects of an avalanche in a named location.

b. Prediction and prevention of the effects of avalanches by forecasting, the design of buildings and defences, planning and education.

So let's choose a location first of all.

Where would be appropriate ?

The Alps are a popular ski destination, and have been for many decades. There are many ski resorts, and the area is also a possible case study for other elements of geography: it could be used to deliver work on climate change, impact of transport network enlargement with the tunnels beneath the mountains, glaciation, impact of tourist development.

Wikipedia page has useful maps....

Check out an old favourite: the VIRTUAL MONTANA site for more on the Alps.

Also something in this GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH result.

How about a starter video courtesy of YouTube

Location: The Alps
Too wide ?
Narrow it down to a region of the Alps, based around a particular resort that has an avalanche risk, and has perhaps managed it in particular ways.

To protect skiers, resorts will employ PISTEURS. These are people employed either full or part time to keep an eye on the snow condition, and the development of the SLAB.

They may well use explosives to clear small accumulations of snow before they have a chance to develop into cornices or larger accumulations.

If we look at the second part of the specification section, it refers to prediction and prevention. This is an opportunity to introduce the HAZARD RISK EQUATION, which forms part of some 'A' level specifications, such as the new Edexcel specification.

There are a range of AVALANCHE RISK flags which are used in areas.

These flags could be generated in advance of the lesson...
Here are some that I created and placed on SLIDESHARE in advance of the conference....

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: a great Geography resource

I have mentioned this book before, but have just been re-reading sections in association with a resource which I am producing for the Training and Development Agency. The resource is on the Food Crisis and Food Security and is being written in association with Oxfam and BGCI.

Fred Pearce's book "Confessions of an Eco-Sinner" is a fantastic resource for geographers, and has just been reprinted - it is available for around £6 from Amazon.
The book is made up of short chapters which concentrate on the origin of particular consumer products, some of which are connected with the author's son, who died suddenly in

Products that are included in the book include:
Mobile phone
Computer mice
Green beans: grown in the Makachos district of Kenya

If you use this book in your geography teaching, please get in touch to let me know how you use it.
This is well worth purchasing for your Geography department library.

You can't escape assessment....

but you could e-Scape assess.....
The GA has been involved, with Goldsmiths College, in an exciting trial of a new method of assessing student's geographical work, using handheld technology (PDAs) to create a digital portfolio, which is then assessed using a method called 'comparative pairs'. This is a more robust method of comparison between individual pieces of work than the traditional method of moderating pieces of coursework. It was suggested by Alastair Pollitt, former head of research at Cambridge Assessment, based on earlier work in the 1920s (see later)

The final report on the trial, written by Fred Martin with David Lambert has now been made available on the GA website, along with further details on the project.

The trial involved schools taking part in a field visit to Porthcawl, and exploring the issue of rebranding on their return. There are links to other projects which involved the use of handheld technologies, and also the idea of media landscapes. The report also mentions a range of other field investigations which Fred Martin produced.
An e-portfolio was created as a result of the process, and this was judged by comparing each portfolio with all of the others, and saying in each case "which is best" ? The software that was used was an online system, which meant that judging could take place at a time and place to suit the judges within the (fairly tight) timeframe that we were given.
Over time, the software decided that there were some pairs that didn't need to be compared (if you take the 'best' and the 'worst' piece from a sample, you don't really need to compare them to see which is best as it's fairly obvious...)

As one of the judging team, I have to say that this whole process was a fascinating insight into the techniques (and in some cases, deficiencies) of the current systems of assessing large numbers of exam candidates. I certainly learnt a great deal about the way that assessment works. A related issue is that this could form an approach to the management of controlled assessment, as the software on the PDAs could be set up to 

The appendices in the report, which can be downloaded from THIS PAGE of the GA website would reward closer reading by those who are interested in an alternative approach, which also taps into the 

The later appendices contain too many 'hard sums' for me, but I think they say that I was a reasonable judge - was I more Craig Revel Horwood than Bruno Tonioli ?

For those who also want a little more, Tony Wheeler has published a useful summary of the whole process on the FUTURELAB website's FLUX section, and there is also a TEACHERS TV programme on e-assessment. Mobile phones are mentioned here too (iPhones perhaps ?)

This includes a useful analysis of the comparative pairs method, and the reason why an e-portfolio makes the judging of this a possibility....

Alastair explained how Louis Thurston had developed this theory of assessment in the 1920s, based on simply comparing one piece of work directly with another. Alastair argued that abstract assessment criteria did not help in the process of marking, as examiners inevitably convert the abstract into concrete exemplars, increasing variability and unreliability. So why not just compare work directly? If enough comparisons between two different pieces of work are made by enough judges, a very reliable rank order emerges (the one that always wins moves to the top, the one that always looses goes to the bottom and the others spread appropriately between). I understand that QCA use this system already to monitor inter-board comparability, basically to ensure an ‘A’ in maths from OCR is the same as an ‘A’ in maths from Edexcel.

The problem lies in the scale of the award. With twenty paper scripts and half a dozen judges it can be done round a table, but when there are thousands of scripts and dozens of judges it becomes a logistical impossibility. However, with the advent of web-based portfolios, like the e-scape set of portfolios, are available anywhere and anytime each assessor has an internet connection. Multiple copies can be viewed at anytime, making the paired process possible in a high-stake assessment for the first time.

iPhone in Geography Education

Could this just be the best new piece of technology that is available for geography teachers ?
A growing number of geography teachers are discovering the joys of the iPhone.
Increasingly, the ways that they use them in their geography lessons and fieldwork are also being added to blogs and other online materials, perhaps because teachers who own iPhones are more inclined to use technology in their teaching ?

Some examples of teachers who are using this include Ollie Bray, who has posted a series of useful tutorials on how he uses particular apps for the iPhone.
I would also recommend John Davitt's iPhone app: the RANDOM ACTIVITY GENERATOR, which is demonstrated here...

Do you have an iPhone ?
Do you use it in your teaching ?
Please get in touch...

Oscar nomination for Peter Gabriel

A great geographically related song from the end credits of WALL-E: "Down to Earth"...
Has been nominated for an Oscar we discovered today...

Here's another "hydrologically-themed" track which is a classic live favourite. Hopefully will get to see PG again this year...

and finally another beautiful track from WALL-E with Peter Gabriel's touch on it. Used this as the mood music for an SAGT presentation:

SfE Conference on 5th Feb cancelled

Breaking News...
The SfE Conference on the 5th of February has been cancelled.
Apologies to those who were hoping to see me discuss "Physical Geography at GCSE: a changing Landscape" - materials that I had produced will now be used in other contexts, so you may see snippets of them, particularly if you are at Brighton in February.

Wet wet wet

Raining here in Norfolk/Suffolk
Image by Flickr user macwagen made available under Creative Commons - thanks !

Was all set to go down to the FSC at Flatford Mill today, and then out on the Shotley peninsula to do some village fieldwork, but it's pouring with rain, and a 2 hour drive in the rain is not my idea of fun, plus I have a few things to complete today, so putting the kettle on instead and getting stuck in....

More Tilt Shift wonder...

Helpless from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

This video by Keith Loutit is incredible...
Features the building of a sand whale as part of a campaign by Australian Greenpeace

One for teaching about coasts / environmental issues ?

Wordling Obama...

History (and Geography) was made on Tuesday with the inauguration of Barack Obama.
The following day, the newspapers analysed Obama's inauguration speech, and one of the tools they used to analyse the text was WORDLE.

Wordle user BOGUSH produced the following diagram of Obama's speech

Remember that if you are going to use a diagram that has been created by Wordle, you need to include the following acknowledgement:

Image credit: Images of Wordles are licensed Creative Commons License.

A similar website is called TAG CROWD, which includes a URL entry option.

Thanks to David Rogers for passing on his work on the inauguration, and Kenny O' D for the Wordle link...

Making Geography Happen

Spent most of the day in the first meeting for participants in this Action Plan for Geography funded project, with a group of exceptional teachers from both primary and secondary phases, plus members of the APG2 team, Ruth Totterdell (the project leader) and Paul Weeden, from the University of Birmingham.
The day was introduced by Prof David Lambert, and outcomes from the project will begin to emerge later this year. Keep an eye out for an announcement later in the year on the GA website, and this blog...

Save the World - Eat a Camel...

Save the World - Eat a Camel...

Via the excellent ALTERNATIVE CHANNEL.

Are you a hump or a leg person ??

Tilt Shift Time Lapse wonder !

Via the DIGITAL URBAN blog,

TILT Shifting is a method for creating the impression of tiny figures in a larger setting, by concentrating the focus on a small section of the image and taking the rest of the image out of focus.
There is a VERY WONDERFUL website which allows you to create your own mini tilt-shift masterpieces.

The blog post is a link to a Russian website which has some purpose presumably, but what is great is the visualisation of tagging individuals and vehicles as they move through the teeming city, and the visuals with the tilt-shift are excellent.

MapType from MapType on Vimeo.

There is also an excellent video of London by David Hubert, which is a useful comparison to Dan Ellison's URBAN EARTH creations. Once again, this could be a model for how students armed with digital cameras could re-present their home towns.

London (harder, better, faster, stronger) from David Hubert on Vimeo.

The DIGITAL URBAN BLOG is one that you should bookmark - there are other tremendous resources there from the last week alone...

BETT Reflection 1: John Davitt

Just catching up on some scribbled notes from my project planning book while watching John Davitt on the stand at the LEARNING ELSEWHERE stand in association with Stephen Heppell's HEPPELL NET

He was demonstrating his LEARNING SCORE resource with a group of primary school children: the context was learning how to play chess.
A few quotes I liked were related to a diagram which showed the growth in technologies from the slate "which had an undo command ten thousand years ago..." to the iPhone as a rising line, and personal development in competency as a curve, and said:

"the powerful thing about a curve is that it will always 'do for' a line in the long term...."

Also used the phrase "surfing the capability wave"

Referred to the "active-passive" continuum and how technology allows learners to move from "consumers" to "producers": editing movies, creating podcasts and sharing resources online with their network of contacts.
Also used a grid of sensory experiences in the classroom, and how a lot of learning comes from "seeing" and "hearing", which produces a "Bermuda triangle from which no learning emerges"...

Engaging stuff....

Which examples of that phenomenon have you come across recently ??

Also check out OLLIE BRAY's blog post on TXT TOOLS and their usage in education..

New GIS book

Just been browsing the new "GIS for A-level geography" book written by Peter O' Connor
This is available from the GA Shop: priced just under £30 for GA members.

It's the first book of its kind to cover GIS at this level.

After an introduction to GIS, which includes a range of practical applications. I like the fact that it starts with a simple image of supermarket loyalty cards. When I used to teach 'A' level ICT, there was a section on the importance and value of data collection of this type, which can be used to populate a database of geo-referenced data linked to individual's shopping patterns.

The book explores methods and techniques of data analysis and GIS output and applications.

What teachers will perhaps find particularly useful are the 5 practical exercises which use ArcView 9.2 (a 12 month trial of the software and mapping data are included on the DVD that accompanies the book)
The exercises would be relevant to most 'A' level courses:

1. Where are all the people ? - map the UK's population density 
2. How do patterns of crime vary across England and Wales ?
3. Is there a relationship between crime and levels of urban development ?
4. How does economic and social structure vary across the Cambridge urban-rural fringe ?
5. Mapping areas of low flood risk

Every activity has been fully explained with screenshots of every step of the process and full descriptions of which key to press....

Preparing for the Future: BETT Presentation

Dan Sutch of Futurelab presented the session below at BETT09.
The particularly important sections for me are slides 23 to 27 which look at teacher CPD and networking.
Well worth reviewing and also visiting the sites that are mentioned in the presentation. Thanks to Dan for sharing.

New tools for new teachers...

Earlier today I had the pleasure of 3 hours in the company of the Sheffield University PGCE cohort.
I went through a range of new web tools and suggestions for pedagogy.
I added in a website which Noel Jenkins drew my attention to over the weekend: a NEF site which compares your "happiness" or "quality of life" with that of a country.
The Unhappy Planet Index is well worth a visit.Which country are you as happy as ?

When I tried it, I was as happy as PANAMA.
How happy are you ?

I will also be doing the session with UEA colleagues in a couple of weeks time: minus a few slides. Here's a taster...
If you're a PGCE tutor and would like me to speak to your cohort, please get in touch...

New Simon Reeve series...

Simon Reeve has previously travelled around the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. On Sunday at 9pm on BBC2 he starts his latest journey in a series called 'EXPLORE'.
How about 'Argentina' as a case-study country ?

Education's for sharing...

Living Geography - just over a week to go...

The first Living Geography conference takes place in just over a week.
For those who are unsure of the venue: it will take place at HAMILTON HOUSE.
This is close to Euston and Kings Cross / St. Pancras railway stations.

If you're coming along, I look forward to working with you !

Mark Cowan at it again...

Exam command words: A poem
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: explain describe)



I was an early purchaser of EarthBrowser, which has just announced its latest version.
This can be seen in a FLASH demo at the EarthBrowser site.

The latest version includes a number of updates:

Major user interface improvements
- Small grid control panel
- Twice as fast as previous versions
- Instant launch
- Over 60,000 cities / add your own cities
- Street Map layer
- NASA OnEarth Near Real Time satellite overlay
- Add/Restore Favorite Views
- Popular Satellites dataset
- Ocean Buoys

The key addition is that EarthBrowser can now be embedded directly into a website, which is a feature that a lot of users will find very useful.

Action Aid

Spent yesterday morning with the folks from Action Aid, exploring the issue of CLIMATE CHANGE for a project which will emerge later in the year. It was good to meet up with some geographers who shall remain nameless for personal reasons ;)
Check out the Action Aid campaigns, and keep an eye out for the free POWER DOWN pack.

Teachmeet at Bett 2009

By the time we got through the door, there was hardly a seat to be had: so I stole someone else's. Ollie Bray had been throwing something together at the last minute, and with a minute to go he started copying a 180 mb video file from a memory stick and kept his fingers crossed that his name wouldn't come out first (as it happens, he was the last person up!)

Check out my FLICKR images of TEACHMEET.

Grabbed some free beer tokens, and a seat with John Davitt, who had a stuffed camel with him, for reasons that would become clear later.Image of camel by Flickr user cloudberrynine - Humph is sat on a pile of GA Magazines, which is nice...

Around 250 people had signed up, and there were also others following on the flashmeeting, and a large MONITTER display showed the Twitter 'tweets' that had the relevant hashtags #tmbeet09 etc

John showed us the LEARNING SCORE resource.
This is a very powerful resource, which visualises the planning of a lesson sequence by dragging and dropping elements which can then be seen in different formats. I saw this demonstrated the day after on the Heppell stand.

Ian Usher introduced the evening, and talked through the the way that things would work for those who were unsure. There were a few comfort breaks during the evening, which featured presentations lasting either 2 or 7 minutes. John Davitt kept time on his countdown timer, and anyone who over-ran had the stuffed camel thrown at them.

Ian Stuart joined the Teachmeet from Islay: speaking about the 2020 Unconference on the Isle of Islay.
John Davitt demonstrated his Random Activities Generator (RAG)This is a downloadable APP, to be used on the iPhone. Soon to be available from the iTunes APP store: check out the demo. What I loved was that when you shook the phone, another idea was displayed...
GeographyPages hosts a Geography Learning Event Generator, created by John which has been downloaded around 3000 times, and was featured at Teachmeet at SLF.
There was a great moment when one of the random combinations came up with:
"How Hitler was defeated as a Blues Song..."

Tom Barrett talked about the idea of linking Twitter and Google Earth. Twitter network - challenging the students to find them on Google Earth. Also using it to map weather data and temperature data which would come in 'live': this needs a particularly large twitter network for it to work. I'm going to try a live request tomorrow all being well. He also talked about the multi-touch Smart Table, which was demonstrated downstairs at BETT.

Greg Hodgson of Chalfonts Community College showed some Art activities from his college's VLE, which looked at Images, Movement and Interactivity. The college appointed an
e-technician for supervising the VLE: increased traffic to the VLE - link to post recently on the use of VLEs. Demonstrated Photoshop Tennis...

Drew Buddie talked about Twitter and the Glogster site, which produces multimedia posters (I have shown this to teachers in Suffolk before)

Ian Usher showed the Microsoft ZoomIt application.

Ollie told me about an excellent simulation that had been undertaken at the University of Aberdeen. Had a chat with Steve Sidaway from txt tools who had set up the simulation text system. Also possible to have RSS feed turned into a text message apparently, and an update sent when a website or blog is updated.
Russel Tarr's CLASSTOOLS slot machine spun for the last time with the clock ticking up to
Ollie Bray, who was the last person up. By then he'd had a few lagers, but completed what a lot of people said was one of the highlights of the evening with a mention for Graphic Novels and Google Earth.

Ollie said the day after that someone had come up to him, and said that they had really enjoyed his presentation, then said that they had no idea what he'd been talking about as they couldn't remember...

Down to Pizza Express in the basement for a v.nice pizza (was pretty hungry by 9.30) and a chat to Eylan from Brainpop.
Check out the FREE content, and then request a free trial...

Met up with Doug Belshaw finally after some years of Twitter following and other virtual exchanges.