New essential book for geography teachers

The classic book for those learning to teach geography by Davids Lambert and Balderstone has now been reissued in a shiny new second edition.
I've just been browsing through, and the book has certainly had a complete 'refresh' since the 1999 version, even down to having a reference to the classic 'Parkinson and Vannet' ICT resource from Teaching Geography.
Available soon from all good book shops.

Plastic Bags

Image by Flickr user Brainless Angel, made available under Creative Commons

My lunchtime reading today was an article from the Guardian's G2 on the way that Plastic Bags have been 'adopted' by some as "environmental enemy no. 1", and their usage has been a focus for many campaigns.
Certainly if you go to Sainsbury's, there are no carrier bags on the tills by default.

A quote that was mentioned was by James Lovelock caught me eye:

"rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic"

There are probably quite a few "deckchairs" which students could identify with reference to climate change, or environmental campaigning, and perhaps produce a small display piece which suggests why the particular act or bete-noire they have identified is actually just a small part of a much bigger picture.

This idea was also flagged up recently in my nearest large town. A huge new paper mill has just opened to the west of King's Lynn, on the banks of the Great Ouse. It has been the largest construction project outside of the Olympics for some months now.
This brief letter was printed in the local paper: the "Lynn News" this week:

"We religiously turn off our TV standby buttons each night; change to energy-efficient lightbulbs, the countryside is being covered by wind turbine farms. Then what do we discover ? The enormous paper mill is using enough electricity to power a large city of more than 350 000 inhabitants ! Enough said"


Image made available under Creative Commons by Flickr user .Martin.

Been writing this post for yonks...
This time of year is the time of the annual enquiry question: "what are we going to do today ?", which is also accompanied by "is there anything to eat ?"

Bewilderwood has been on the cards for a visit for some time now, almost since it opened. One of the reasons for waiting was to see how it developed, and also to get more feedback from people who had visited.

For those who don't know what Bewilderwood is: it's an attraction for young people based in a 50 acre woodland near Wroxham, in Norfolk. There is a related story about the inhabitants of the woodland which include the creatures known as Boggles.
The visit starts with a boat ride through the Dismal Dyke (or you could take the Treacherous Trail instead...), and leads to an area with plenty of activities and treehouses to explore. A search on sites such as FLICKR will give you a flavour of the activities, which include a variety of slides, climbing ropes, mazes, elevated walkways and rope bridges. The buildings are really attractive, and cling to the trees.

One of the particular aspects of Bewilderwood is its environmental / woody aesthetic.

As with many other venues and organisations, Bewilderwood has made an effort on its environmental credentials.

Some things that are done include:

  • Food sold on site is sourced locally, wherever possible
  • Our BeWILDerboats are reclaimed lifeboats, converted to electric
  • Fences within the site have been made from wood harvested in our own woods
How could some of these ideas be adapted for the case studies that you teach in your school ?

Would make Bewilderwood a good context for teaching about the environmentalal sustainability angle of tourist activity.

I never did get there this summer in the end...
Will wait for a nice sunny weekend day in the autumn...

Animoto now with added video...

Here's a quick video I put together to try it out...

Now when people ask me at CPD sessions "can you put videos into Animoto" I can say, "Yes, yes you can...."

Video filmed using my FLIP video camera

Taking students to the ends of the earth...

Teaching students about EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS in KS 3, 4 or 5 ?
There's an event planned for the 23rd of October in Sheffield which you might find useful.
It's being organised by the Prince's Teaching Institute, in association with the Geographical Association and the Fuchs Foundation.
It includes a keynote by Professor David Lambert.
Full details are available HERE.

Coast in Norway

This week's episode of 'Coast' came from Norway.
There were some great shots of the coastal scenery and some very fortunate presenters on the Hurtigruten and flying over Geiranger fjord.
I must go back some time...
Catch it on iPLAYER while you can.

Mystery flag

When travelling between Norfolk and Sheffield, as I do most weeks, I see this flag flying by the side of the road in many locations...

Quick question: Which flag is it ?

Answer to come later...

Musical Maps

Another Twitter tipoff is the CULTURAL MUSIC maps (thanks to the #musicmapping hashtag, which is worth further investigation)

This uses the GRACE NOTE service, which is used to add TRACK INFO to iTunes and other music player software, such as my Creative Zen XFi....
As you can see, the map can be used to focus on a particular country, and you are then presented with the current most popular Top Ten artists and albums for that country.

So in Spain for example, there is currently an interest in Michael Jackson and U2, but also some local artists.
This is particularly interesting when related to places such as China or Japan.
These seem to have fewer European and American acts, particularly Japan. Mousing over the acts and albums tells you a little more about them.
Worth using for investigating cultural globalisation and the spread of certain musical artists worldwide.

Which countries have indigenous artists resisting the cultural imports ?

Lady Gaga big in China ? - enquiry into why ?

Atlas Obscura

Another Twitter find, and one I was thinking of keeping to myself is ATLAS OBSCURA.
Plenty of esoterica and useful interesting bits and bobs.

Why not ask students to produce an atlas entry for a strange place which THEY know of...

The Economist - visualisations

The Big Mac Index is a very useful image for geographers.

It's just one of over 500 images which are available from THE ECONOMIST magazine's online archive of DAILY CHARTS.

Encounters at the End of the World

You may remember a few months ago that I mentioned a new Werner Herzog film: "Encounters at the End of the World".
I had worked in association with Revolver Group to produce a set of Teachers' notes to accompany the film.

View more documents from GeoBlogs.

The reason for reminding you of this is that the film is now available to purchase as part of a box set of 5 Werner Herzog films, or individually, on DVD and Blu Ray formats.

88.2% of statistics...

....are apparently made up on the spot, according to Vic Reeves.

The Daily Mail had an entertaining article today featuring some statistical detail on the UK, extracted from a book "8 out of 10 Brits"...

Free Climate Change poster from the Met Office

Thanks to 'davevade' on SLN Geography Forum
Met Office are making available free Climate Change posters
Get your orders in fast...

Another Thought for the Day

What's happened is a sort of sedentary, screen-based existence has crept up on children. They used to be free-range and now they're practically battery children, living indoors, experiencing through the medium of a screen,”

Sue Palmer, author of "Toxic Childhood"

Give your classroom a different view...

Image by Alan Parkinson

Six of the most spectacular images from those used in the GA's "a different view" manifesto have now been turned into A1 glossy posters, which would add a focal point to any geography classroom.
The posters are available from the GA ONLINE SHOP, having been added to the website by my colleague Paul over the course of the day.
There is also a pack of badges and pens now available.
As always, GA members get a large discount on the price, and there is a special price if you order all 6 posters.

Online CPD by CGeogs

Since 2007, I have been a Chartered Geographer (Teacher)
For those who haven't discovered it yet, there is a good selection of resources produced by some fellow CGeogs on the GEOGRAPHY TEACHING TODAY website.

Recycling Resource

There is an engaging new (ahem) 'Citizenship' resource on the RECYCLE NOW website.

This is a selection of resources, including videos, which feature two student guides: Charlie and Joel. Check it out...

The Fossil Hunter

Just listenting to a track by Chris Leslie, performed by Fairport Convention: "The Fossil Hunter".
It's about Mary Anning, who lived in Lyme Regis.
I visited Lyme Regis a few weeks ago, and there was a plethora of fossil-related stuff. Took a wander through the Undercliff.
There was an exhibition in the museum in the town about the work of Mary.

Made me think about the informal economy, as Mary made a living by collecting fossils.

How could you make money as a child ?

Young children in spontaneous settlements around the world face that question every day....

Thought for the Day

“In Britain, teachers are for the most part too scattered and too busy to come together frequently for discussion. They require a medium through which they may readily communicate with one another, exchange experiences and learn the progress that is being made in method or in appliances in our own country and abroad.”

Douglas Freshfield, Geographical Association President , 1901

Global Education Resource Directory

NATE: the National Association for the Teaching of English has launched a site which acts as a directory for those wanting to teach about Global Education.

Global Education Directory is worth a visit...

Joint GA / RGS lecture on Norfolk coast

Image by Alan Parkinson - Creative Commons

It's less than a month now to the first event in the GA Norfolk Branch's programme for 2009-10

The first event is a lecture to be delivered by Jon Hooton and is on the subject of the Norfolk Coast, and looks at 1000 years of coastal development.
The lecture starts at 7.30pm at Easton College, Norwich.
See you there....

Urban Earth Events

A message from Urban Earth creator Dan Raven Ellison...

We've three events for you to join if you're going to be in the UK - if not, we'd love it if you would set up an event of your own. See below.

27th August - URBAN STORY: LONDON RED This walk will track through some of the most deprived parts of Greater London.

10th October - URBAN EARTH: WEST YORKSHIRE URBAN AREA The West Yorkshire conurbation includes Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield. This is going to be a 25km, 8 hour walk.

29th January - URBAN EARTH EVENT: CANTERBURY (UK) Invade, capture and expose Canterbury (UK) by joining over 60 people in this intimate weekend. Get 10% off the weekend with the code: tenpercentoff

Create an event..

Creating an event is easy - you can post one on our Ning at and invite people to take part. There are currently three different types of URBAN EARTH event so all you have to do is pick one and get going...

1. URBAN EARTH This is a walk from one side of an urban area to the other. The length of the walk should represent the size of the city's urban footprint - the route should represent the proportions of the city that are occupied by people living in different levels of deprivation. Sound tricky? Get in touch for some help or organise an URBAN STORY...

2. URBAN STORY This walk could be across an entire city, but the next one in London is from the outskirts of the urban footprint finishing in the city's centre - the focus of this type of walk is to stay within a particular socio-economic or environmental profile - for London we've looked at a map to see where is most deprived and we're staying in those areas. Next time we'll focus on ethnic groups...

3. URBAN EARTH EVENT - Choose a city and then invade, capture and expose it within an 'event' (and party with plenty of dancing and urban missions).

For any of the events all you need to do is plan it and then whack it up onto our Ning at Need help? Get in touch.


Did you enjoy your "staycation" ?

Image by Alan Parkinson from his "staycation" in Devon this year... Creative Commons licensed...

Staycation is one of those words which has appeared this year, in response to an apparent effect of the financial crisis affecting many households, and the relative weakness of the pound against other currencies, particularly the Euro. It's an American term, which is a combination of two words of course.

A recent article in the Times provided a glossary of new terms which were being applied to
particular types of holiday or short break...

How about asking students as part of a unit on tourism to provide a definition for the following terms:

1. Weighcation
2. Gaycation
3. Sackedpackers
4. Palidays
5. Minimoons
6. Voluntourism
7. Babymoons
8. Surfaris
9. Advultures
10. Setjetter
(perhaps the place below would be visited by one of these people - it's where scenes from James Bond movie "Die Another Day" were filmed)

Image by Val Vannet made available under Creative Commons - more available HERE
Assessment: come up with a new term that describes a particular niche form of tourism...

Answers coming shortly....
Happy to have suggestions for answers or other terms added as comments to this post...

Great musical news...

New Jan Garbarek double live CD out in September.

Visit the ECM WEBSITE for a taster of some of the tracks on this: the first live Jan CD.
New musical soundscapes to explore...

Who am I ?

Online that is...

Thanks to Armin Grewe via Twitter for the tipoff to this MIT website, which collates online information about your (or someone else's) name.

I put in Alan Parkinson, and it went through all the various people with the same name, and also picked up quite a few references to my different online activities...

uMapper Geo Dart Game

As promised, here is the GeoDart game that I made using uMapper...
Very easy to do by following the instructions HERE.
Why not make your own ?

A blast from the past

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for reminding me today via a post on SLN about the "Lines of Defence" project, which highlighted the rate of coastal erosion along a stretch of Suffolk coastline.

How big is your house ?

If you live in the UK, your answer is probably "not big enough"(particularly if it's a new build)

We live in smaller houses than many other countries, according to CABE report.
What are the geographical implications of this ?

New cones hotline ?

Image by Flickr user iboy_daniel made available under Creative Commons

On the M8, the roadworks now have a TWITTER FEED.

This allows motorists to keep track of activity and progress as the work continues, so this social tool is helping to keep the traffic moving...
Any other weird and wonderful Twitter accounts out there ?

Geography 'A' levels

Interesting story on the front page of the Independent newspaper today.
'Scandal of Class Divide at 'A' level' talked about the worrying divide between schools in terms of the subjects that are offered at 'A' level, with some schools going for the 'easier' subjects over those that are seen as more challenging.

A worrying figure was that "one in seven schools" apparently failed to enter a single pupil for 'A' level Geography.

The article can be read HERE.

Results day tomorrow - best wishes to all those receiving AS / A2 results.

Norfolk Broads day out...

Spent yesterday in the Norfolk Broads on a cruiser. It was a glorious day weatherwise, and perfect for pootling about on the river. Over to Neatishead Staithe to meet up, then cruised out into Barton Broad.

Barton Broad was the subject of a 5 year restoration and management programme which involved dredging and improving water quality.

We saw lots of evidence of ongoing management with signage for a Flood Defence plan, and also some dredging along the River Ant, which flows south from the Broad.
Pics on my FLICKR page.

As seen on lorries...

Seen this morning on an Effluent services lorry in Sheffield...

"The final link in the food chain...."

Geographer in Residence

On Radio 4 this morning was a story about Alain de Botton, who is apparently going to be writer in residence at Heathrow airport.

A lot of what de Botton says about these places is packed with geographical context.
See this BBC NEWS article which gives a good flavour of the work.

Airports are known as being spaces which have weird geographical bipolarities, and where the extremes of life are

Alain de Botton's work will be turned into a book: 10 000 copies will be handed out to passengers in late September.

So how about a geographer in residence at Heathrow (or some other location ?)

2009 Hurricane Names

The Hurricane season is under way, and the first hurricane of the season, which has now been confirmed, is called BILL.


Thought for the Day

"There is almost an unspoken deal: we'll spoon-feed you the required information to pass your exams, if you play by the rules and do your homework on time … GCSE exam results are not a true reflection of the talent of my students … It is time to scrap them."

Peter Hyman

Iceland images

Val Vannet has just returned from the SAGT Fieldtrip to Iceland, and has created a group where participants will be adding their images. Val's images are already there and make a spectacular start....

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

uMapper Geo Dart Game

If you visit the mapping site uMapper which is able to generate rather nice flash maps, you'll find a new addition.

Make your own GeoDart game using the instructions provided.
Haven't used it myself yet, but am going to give it a go in a moment, and will post the results later all being well...

Geography in your pocket...

Image from Flickr user Nicobobinus made available under Creative Commons

Been working on an idea for a "Living Geography" activity based on the contents of pockets...

The geography in your pocket...

Could start with an image of Gollum from 'The Hobbit' who is involved in the classic exchange
with Bilbo Baggins where he asks the question "What have I got in my pocket ?"

The activity could be used for an introductory activity for a unit on Consumption and related topics...
Depending on the nature of the contents, the lesson could then be led in a range of directions from shopping and industry, technology, agriculture or globalisation...

It would make sense for the teacher to consider which direction the lesson needs to take ideally, and to perhaps prepare some items in advance and then introduce the lesson casually...

Consider the connections that can be made between the objects, the pupils' experiences and the raw material and consumption chain involved in the objects (could also consider the interactions between the objects)

I am developing this unit further for the Living Geography Regional Conferences in Wales which are coming up shortly.

Image by Alan Parkinson

One particular resource I'm working on is related to the environmental cost of the coins that are found in most people's pockets.
It's based on an excellent article that was in the MAIL ON SUNDAY magazine a couple of weeks ago. It traces the trail of DIRTY MONEY from the mines where the raw materials from coinage are extracted from the ground.
Concentrating on just one POUND coin would also go to the connection with POUNDLAND, which is doing well, and is part of the changing retail landscape of the high street, with its associated demographics.

Another popular unit is the MOBILE PHONE lesson in the Teachers' Toolkit title: "Into Africa". This always goes down well whenever it is used.

Looking at the image above, you could also consider the impact of smoking and tobacco cultivation.

For the academic background, read the RGS Social and Cultural Geography Research Group and the work of Ian Cook and others...

An interesting connection that could be made is to the idea of SUSTAINABILITY: students could consider alternative forms of currency. Could there be a future of no metal coinage ?

Also consider the connection with 2012 Olympics.
I recently received a mailing from the Royal Mint, which had apparently gone to every household in the country, which offered the chance to buy coins to celebrate the Olympics.

As usual, more half-formed ideas, but I am working on the finished resources ready for the forthcoming conferences.

How did you spend your day ?

An excellent interactive map from the New York Times which shows how people spend their day...

Click the different labels at the top to investigate how the graph changes. A very useful infographic.
Based on 1000s of Americans in 2008 - something else to consider too if using with students...

Twitter tipoff via @mrgeog


GeoSquishing is a picture taken with a landmark in the background appearing (because of the angle that the photo is taken) to be squished by the fingers or hands of someone... Here's my example of Stonehenge...
Any other GeoSquishes out there from this summer ?

And, because that viral squirrel is getting everywhere, here's my version. There are plenty of generators out there online that will put the squirrel into any image you choose.

Devon 09

A little Flickrslidr slideshow of some of my favourite Devon images from my recent family holiday...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Quote for the Day

Jeremy Clarkson on fieldtrips:

"Mostly they'd load us onto the school minibus, which would then be driven by a certifiable lunatic to the Peak District, where we'd be made to walk five miles through a peat bog to look at a millstone grit outcrop..."

Check the GA NING for my fieldtrip guidance....

Another claim to fame...

Received a copy of this resource in the post today, along with the CD pack that comes with it: my contribution was the product of my Easter break. It looks rather good now that it's all complete...

Disclaimer: other specifications and accompanying resource packs are available...

You've seen the film.... eat the star...
I remember a story of a cinema where people who had just seen the film "BABE" were met with a sign offering bacon sandwiches at a local cafe with the tagline: "you've seen the film, now eat the star..."

Remember 'Finding Nemo' ?

After seeing the film, many children wanted a clown fish, and the demand threatened the species and the coral environments where it lived. They didn't want to eat Nemo as much as take him home and have their own... (although I do have a cartoon somewhere with Nemo chopped up in sushi rolls)

This story from June 2008 provides a little more background on the clown fish story.

There was also 'Happy Feet', which featured penguins, but there was little chance of parents shelling out for one of those.
Other films that created a big demand for pets: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ? - cue loads of terrapins dropped down the sewers to join the giant crocodiles down there...

The latest anthropomorphic antics of the new Disney film "G-Force" feature guinea pigs, and of course these are far more accessible in terms of price and general availability (there's a pet shop at the end of my road - no really, there is...) and it has quite a few in at the moment.

This trend goes back quite a long way apparently - it's sometimes called the "101 Dalmations" effect...

A quick look at the PETS AT HOME website revealed that it's not just the cost of the animal (the guinea pig), it's all the other stuff that they need....

Local news also featured a report last night on the increasing number of cats that are being abandoned. Why not get a RESCUE GUINEA PIG if you really have to have one...

Inspiration for this post was a brief piece in Guardian G2: "Hollywood guinea pigs are for life, kids.

Oh, and I want a BACON is a VEGETABLE shirt....

Any other film-related trends which had an environmental impact ?

Fieldwork Guidance

Now available via Slideshare EMBED

New Met Office maps

Thanks to Ollie Bray, via Twitter of course, for the tip off to the new Met Office maps viewer.
This offers the chance to zoom in to your chosen area of the country and add a range of weather information. You can add places of interest, or click the map to get a forecast for the week ahead.

Just used it to help my wife decide whether a picnic in Sandringham this lunchtime might stay dry... my money is on "maybe"....

Update: picnic stayed dry...

The NEW Ten Pound Poms

Below is a resource that I produced for the old Edexcel 'A' level specification on the subject of the "Ten Pound Poms" scheme, which was introduced in the 1940s to reduce a skills shortage in the country. There were mixed experiences of the scheme, and this was the focus of a BBC 'Timewatch' programme.

This DAILY MAIL article describes the lengths that people are going to, to secure a limited number of £10 one way air tickets being offered by STA travel: cue the pictures of tents pitched on London pavements....

For more on the original scheme, visit this OPEN UNIVERSITY page.

Coastal Path: gaps

Natural England have published a series of maps which show the gaps in the coverage of the planned coastal path which runs around the entire coastline of the UK.

There are quite a few GAPS local to where I live....

General MAPS PAGE is here.
How about investigating some local gaps to you...

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

This Friday morning, it will be 07/08/09
And just after 10 in the morning it will be 10:11 and 12 seconds...

Sky News is asking people to take a snapshot at that precise moment...

How about taking a GEOGRAPHICAL picture ?

Language of Landscapes

I hold in my hand one of the first printed copies of a rather lovely resource that is going out next year with the Free OS Maps for Schools, funded by, and produced in association with Natural England and the OS.
It's written by me, and is fab.
More to come in September once it starts going out. Keep an eye out for it when you open your boxes of maps.

Also keep an eye out for the first online version of "Mapping News". Although it's unfortunate that this will no longer have the "thud factor" of the magazine itself landing on the desk, it's still a very useful resource, and there should be a lot of useful content.
I will blog about this more when this becomes available, but just finishing off a contribution on outdoor learning...

Windows and Tab

In Vista....
Press them together and hold down the tab and you get a nice visual of all the tabs you have open and can move between them to choose the one you want...

Thanks to John Davitt for the tip-off via his keynote at #blc09

John Davitt

Just been listening to a wonderful John Davitt keynote from the Building Learning Communities conference.

Thanks to Bob Sprankle for the mp3 podcast.

A few great quotes:

“I dream of a world where learning is as important as shopping.”

"Stress kills learning"

"There are many paths to the same destination that the curriculum might be."

"Banda spirit master was the first multi-sensory worksheet..."

Take a little time over the summer to listen to John...

Mobile Learning

Ollie Bray presentation from recent event in Scotland. Some great ideas here and the usual high quality visuals....

Barry Lopez

"Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion." - Barry Lopez

"Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive." -Barry Lopez

Thanet Earth

Have posted about Thanet Earth before, and was reminded about it by a blog post.

Huge greenhouse complex, which has a developing website. It's the UK's largest, most high-tech greenhouse complex...

Interactive diagrams

2 new links today from Russel Tarr to help provide infographics for websites:

CHARTLE is a website which allows the creation of interactive charts....

another website is CHART GIZMO

Both worth a look....

Landscape blogs...

Been working on a few bits and pieces today. One of them was for the latest updates on the Regional Living Geography conferences.

Also looking at some LANDSCAPE blogs. Here are a few that I have followed for a while...

SOME LANDSCAPES and also the useful PRUNED

And of course no round up would be complete without a mention of Geoff''s BLDG BLOG, which
has also spawned a book I have blogged about before...