Digital World "help pupils learn"....

A recent survey conducted on behalf of Digital Explorer shows that Google Earth has a significant positive impact on teaching and learning.
The survey was sent out to 481 geography teachers across the UK who had attended Google Earth training courses.
80% of respondents noted an increase in pupil attainment and their understanding of geography since using Google Earth in the classroom.
Similarly, 80% stated that their pupils were more engaged and 90% were likely or very likely to recommend Google Earth as a teaching tool.
“These figures are fantastic and back up what we have heard from teachers anecdotally,” commented Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop. “When we first started using Google Earth and training other teachers, we thought it was an amazing way to engage young people in environmental and global issues and we now have the evidence to back that up.”
Digital Explorer first used Google Earth on an expedition to Morocco in 2006 and since then has trained over 500 teachers to use Google Earth on their own field trips and in the classroom. The software has the ability to make “international learning more real” and “brings the wider world into the classroom” according to teacher comments as part of the survey. Others mention that they “can’t use it enough” and through it “geography is made more accessible and personal”. However, teachers also highlighted that school networks and ICT infrastructure can be a barrier to the widespread use of technologies like Google Earth in the classroom.
“I loved the Digital Explorer training and was full of ideas when I came back to school. The number one factor holding me back is the school network. Images loaded into Google Earth do not load in time and if I put a class on Google Earth it grinds to a halt. All very sad! I have high hopes for better results when we get a new school!” explained one course participant.

The survey was designed and conducted by Sandy Beatty of Sandy Beatty Services Ltd on behalf of Digital Explorer. 481 survey invitations were delivered to the email addresses of the participants of Digital Explorer Google earth training courses held between January 2007 and July 2009.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from:

Cranes and Stuff

Image by Flickr user Marksweb made available under Creative Commons

Cranes have become a regular feature of many city skylines. Driving into Sheffield, there are some that have been there for months, and have become a familiar outline.

City of Cranes is a film I have blogged about before, and which I'll perhaps have to get a copy of at some point. It refers to the life of a crane driver, and the way that they relate to the weather, for example.

A good post on BLDGBLOG: Infrastructural domesticity is a great title for a blog post.

Well worth reading to give you "a different view" on the typical city skyline...

What do Innovators do ?

According to an article on a CNN BLOG.

5 steps to innovation

Researchers say they have identified five skills that drive innovation: Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields. Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask "why?", "why not?" and "what if?" Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. Networking: innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives.

The article is well worth reading...

We are the people...

A free DVD in yesterday's Guardian...
Haven't watched it yet, but my learning network is full of blog posts and Twitter feeds.
The reviews have been quite mixed...

Geography all the Way now Subscription site

For those who haven't noticed, GEOGRAPHY ALL THE WAY, one of the most useful websites for Geography Teachers has now moved to a SUBSCRIPTION basis. There are some trial resources available, although I'm sure most geography teachers who use online materials or those with an ICT basis will be familiar with Richard Allaway's work.

The site represents great value at £25 for an individual license, and £80 for a site license for a school.
Almost as much value as joining the GA for a year :)

The 21st Century Classroom...

Came across this earlier today, when completing my GIS presentations for Manchester next week....

One of the slides says something very important: that introducing technology into the classroom doesn't require a skill set as much as it does a MIND SET.

View more presentations from Kim Cofino.

Worth spending a few moments with...

Quality Geography Conferences

Work included in portfolio for Quality Mark submission...

There are two events planned for March. For more details see the GA WEBSITE.

Booking now available...

Leszek Iwaskow, Ofsted's National Adviser for Geography, will open these conferences with his view on quality geography that challenges and supports student learning. Quality geography aims for both excellence and enjoyment. These conferences provide the opportunity to discuss and develop what we mean by 'quality geography' in both the primary and secondary phases.

Central London - Tuesday 2 March 2010
Sheffield - Tuesday 9 March 2010

About the Conferences
The overarching strength of the Quality Mark is its capacity to act as an effective 'lever of change' for the development of geography in schools and these conferences for KS1, 2 and 3 will explore the nature, effects and impact of the Geography Quality Marks.The conferences will identify elements of quality geography exemplified through work from Quality Mark schools, and will look in detail at how schools can prepare for, work towards and achieve the Quality Marks.You will take away ideas and materials to use in your school, receive a certificate of attendance and if you use the ideas from the conference in your school you will be eligible to receive a Certificate recognising Professional Development. This can help you work towards a TLA stage 1 or Geography Quality Mark.
Aims and outcomes
The outcomes of the conferences include raised understanding of:what quality geography looks like in practicehow Ofsted arrive at an 'Outstanding' judgement when undertaking geography subject inspectionshow to achieve the top Quality Mark awards in your school

Leszek Iwaskow - National Adviser for Geography, Ofsted
Wendy North and Paula Owens - GA Primary Curriculum Project Leaders
Justin Woolliscroft - GA Secondary Geography Quality Mark Co-ordinator

Teachers already participating in the Primary and Secondary Geography Quality Mark schemes will also lead workshops and share how they have supported and developed quality geography in their schools.


09:15-09:45 Coffee and registration
09:45-10:15 Keynote Address
Quality Geography: Challenging and supporting student learning
Leszek Iwaskow, Ofsted's National Adviser for Geography
10:15-10:30 Refreshment break
10:30-12:30 Phase-group workshop
12:30-13:15 Lunch
13:15-15:00 Phase-group workshop
15:00-15:30 Next steps
15:30 Close

Primary Resources collaboration

This is a collaborative document started by my Primary Colleague Wendy North.
Please contribute an idea so that the document continues to grow...

The end of 'The World' ?

Image by Flickr user twocentsworth under Creative Commons license

On the Geography Teaching Today website is a range of resources on IMPOSSIBLE PLACES.
One of the sections refers refers to DUBAI as "the impossible city"....
There is an excellent resource produced by Noel Jenkins as part of this package, which I have used on many occasions while teaching and since.

I am currently reading the second collection of Will Self's "Psychogeography" articles. The book starts with a walk across Dubai from the airport.

Now it seems that the financial difficulties that are threatening Dubai may affect financial markets in the UK.
Progress on some of the high profile building projects has stalled, including the offshore archipelago of artificial islands called "The World".

A final addition here, which I am going to use in a literacy session next week, was a fantastic piece by Charlie Brooker in 'The Guardian' on Monday of this week.

Would be really interested in comments from people who've been to Dubai giving their personal impressions of the place...

Friend or Foe

Ollie Bray has been getting a lot of "column inches" recently...

The latest article in this week's TES relates to his comments on the use of mobile phones by teachers.
What do you think ?

New GA Community Cohesion website section

A new section of the GA's website has now gone live.
It related to the area of COMMUNITY COHESION: something which has been in the news recently, and an area which geography should make a major contribution towards...


Image by Alan Parkinson

Down to London on the (very) early train this morning for an event at the Royal Geographical Society, which was based on GCSE and the new Polar resources that are now complete over at DISCOVERING THE ARCTIC.
It was also a chance to meet up with a whole host of familiar faces, some of whom I knew would be there, and others that I didn't.
The day began with a chance to network. Took along some GA materials, and good to talk to
some of the 80 delegates, plus exhibitors such as the Ordnance Survey, and the 'Approachable, Available & Accountable' Jon Wolton from Edexcel, plus Dave Holmes.

There was a keynote from David Gardner of QCDA, who talked about assessment, including a few nice ideas I hadn't considered before, but will make it into some forthcoming sessions I am preparing...
Also took the chance to pick up the latest issue of GEOGRAPHICAL MAGAZINE which had a good article by Dan Box on the Sinking Lands. I have blogged about Dan before, and am delighted that he is going to be speaking at the GA Conference 2010.

One slightly downbeat note was that one of the teachers walked off with a copy of my Toolkit book. If you find it in your pack when you get home, please let me have it back :)

GIS in the Classroom

Just working on a session for next week in Manchester. I've put together an activity which is my version of the GI Diet...

It's a range of activities to think about the use of GIS in the classroom. Colleagues attending will be spending some time looking at the ideas in the presentation.

GIS is a tool for teaching geographical enquiry.

I have also started a discussion on the SLN GEOGRAPHY FORUM.

If you have used GIS in your teaching recently, please tell me about it....

a) which software / website you used...
b) what data was used, and where it came from...
c) what the output was, and what questions it was used to answer...
d) year group

All resources will be shared after the event...

One of the tools I'll use is uMapper
This excellent map below shows what can be produced...

The work of Ty Smith

First GA Post-16 National Conference - June 2010

Image by Alan Parkinson - as seen in "Look at it this Way"...

Details of the Geographical Association's first Post 16 National Conference are now on the GA website.

This will take place in London on the 22nd of June 2010

This conference will discuss ways to enhance A-level teaching and learning through two major themes: rivers, floods and management and the impact of urban change. The workshops will include ideas for fieldwork and the use of ICT, and how to prepare students for the fieldwork examination questions.

Online booking already available...

There are large discounts for student GA members.

Grow your own

Several people I know, along with myself have "a bit of land"...

This land is virtual farmland, and is part of a game called FARMVILLE, which operates on Facebook as an application. There was a good article in the New York Times sampler which appears in "The Observer" a few weeks ago, which included a description of someone who set their alarm for 1.30am so they could get up and harvest their crops, and then go back to sleep.
This blog post describes it as possibly "the most popular game in the world".
There is a collaborative element to the game, by placing farms belonging to Facebook friends as your neighbours, the amount of money and 'experience points' that can be earned increases.
The game has also been successful in raising almost $ 500 000 for charities working in Haiti, when players spend real money to purchase virtual items to personalise their farms, or buy additional land.
An article by Jack Arnott on "boredom as a cash crop" provides more detail on the money-raising aspect of the site. This is something that is even more lucrative with some of the multi-player online games, where the virtual worlds have a GDP apparently equivalent to some small nations in the 'real world'

Any thoughts on the possible use of Farmville as a learning resource for geography students ?

Farmville currently has a nice 'autumnal look' to it...
Anyway, I have to go: got to scare the rooks off a neighbours farm...


While looking at the latest information on the flooding in the North West of a few days ago, I came across a scheme which offers help for those who have been caught in some sort of natural disaster. It offers a very convenient solution to the primary demands that are likely to arise.

SHELTERBOX is an initiative of the Rotary Club
There is a range of educational material to accompany the site, which on first glance looks like it would be engaging for students.
Some pictures of the sort of location where the Shelterbox might arrive: in the aftermath of an earthquake which has destroyed the majority of housing, sets up the activities well.

Short video clips are also provided, including one which shows how the contents might be used.

ShelterBox updates can also be followed on Twitter, and of course, you could make a donation towards their work.

GA Consultants - a new area of the website...

The GA has a register of consultants. They used to be called 'teacher consultants' but many of them aren't teachers, or perhaps have moved into a different educational role. Their aim is to support the GA by offering advice when we are asked for a person with particular skills.

There is now a new area of the GA website which features details of the GA CONSULTANTS

There is also a Google Map for you to find your nearest consultant.

Many Eyes

Many Eyes is a visualisation tool developed by several people working in association with IBM.
It is a very useful FREE online GIS tool which can be used to generate maps and answer questions. If fulfils the 3 key reasons for using GIS in the geography classroom, as far as I am concerned, which can be seen on the image below.
Many Eyes will form a major part of a GIS session that I am delivering next week....

Innovative Colleagues

One of the great things about my involvement with the GA even when I was still teaching was the chance to meet up with other colleagues who shared a passion for the subject.

One opportunity for teachers to share their practice is through the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Network.

David Rogers is a member of the GA's Secondary Phase Committee. He is also part of the new team that will be editing the GA MAGAZINE.

I heard earlier today that he will be receiving an award at the event detailed above for his work on Pirates and Social Networking, which was featured in a Teachers TV resource.

The work is blogged here...

Nice work Mr. Rogers


Another Twitter find via Danny Nicholson

One group of tools that can be used to help support literacy is the COMIC CREATOR.
There are a host of these tools which range from online tools to software downloads.

I have a programme called COMIC LIFE on my laptop, and tend to forget about it until it's too late...

A new discovery is MEMOOV.
This is web based, and produces animated comic-strip style resources.
The nice touch in Memoov is that the voices of the characters are recorded using the microphone on the laptop and put into people's mouths, which move as the sound file plays.
Need to spend a little time working this out further....

BECTa Digital Technology Report

Earlier this week, a report by BECTa was published, which explores "The impact of digital technology"....

I'll have a look at the report when I get a chance and post more...

Literacy in Geography

Have just been planning some materials for an event in Suffolk in a couple of week's time.
This will involve a range of strategies for exploring literacy in geography.

I have taken quite a lot of inspiration from the Scottish literacy outcomes, and the work of Bill Boyd and other colleagues in Scotland.

Embedded below is a presentation by Ollie Bray which was used at a CPD event in Edinburgh recently, and kindly shared via Slideshare.

View more presentations from Ollie Bray.
It refers to the Scottish literacy outcomes, which are worth looking at, as they have quite a wide definition of what a "text" that students engage with might be....

A key idea for me is that geography literally means "writing the earth", and students should be given a range of opportunities for sharing their ideas about the world, both individually and in collaboration with other learners.
As Ollie's presentation suggests, there is a range of web based tools that can be used for supporting students with some creative literacy tasks....

Will share more once my session has been used with Suffolk colleagues...

Here is an excellent piece of literacy work on the theme of limestone landscapes which has been shared by Kenny O' Donnell, and was produced by Emma.

This was shared using a website called POSTEROUS: if you can send an e-mail, you can add materials to Posterous....
What I like about this piece is that the geography content isn't forced, and the narrative draws you in.

As teachers we can do a lot to set the scene, introduce the characters and suggest the motivation for some literacy work. What follows can then be produced in association with the learners...

United Steaks of America

A picture from a series of photographs produced by Dominic Episcopo

Possible student homework ???

The EU in vegetables....
Africa in pulses...

New on the GA Ning

The GA Ning is a place for you to find out more about the Action Plan for Geography.

Alistair Hamill of Lurgan College has posted a great video which shows the relevance of geography for learners at the college where he teaches...

If you haven't already joined, go along to the GA NING and join.

Don't follow your sat nav...

"Don't follow your sat nav" was the advice from a spokesperson for one of the major automotive breakdown companies. He was standing next to Calva bridge in Cumbria, which had been damaged by the recent flooding in the county.

There is also, on the BBC Magazine website, a useful article on the reasons why the heavy rains happened.

Plenty of potential here for careers / vocational links: the major automobile breakdown firms have sent teams of people to help in the area.
Hilary Benn recently stood up in the House of Commons and thanked a whole list of people.

Guardian Digital Archive

The Guardian Digital Archive is now available for subscription.

The Guardian and Observer Digital Archive makes available online every page of the Guardian since 1821 and the Observer - the oldest Sunday paper in the world - since 1791. Previously only available on microfiche or in fragile bound copies, you can now take a journey through time from the execution of Marie Antoinette to the first man on the moon at the click of a mouse.

The Digital Archive includes over 1.2 million pages of articles, photographs, cartoons, illustrations and advertisements up to the year 2000. Searching the archive is free of charge. However, if you want to view in full or print out material, you will need to subscribe. We offer 24 hours, three days or a month. During the purchased time periods you will be able to search and print as much as you like – there are no restrictions on downloads.

Searches can be done for free, but you need to subscribe to view the articles in detail and print them off.
A day pass is £ 7.95

A monthly subscription is £ 49.95

Schools and other similar institutions can obtain a pass for £ 125 or less.

I attended an event at 'The Guardian' headquarters earlier in the month, and as a result have a free months trial.
The first thing I did was to search for the newspaper on the day I was born, which turned out to be a SUNDAY, so there was a copy of the OBSERVER REVIEW for that day, which had a completely appropriate headline, which is shown above.

Later in the same issue was another fascinating piece on the development of tourism in the UK...

Interestingly there was a graphic showing the percentages of British holidaymakers going to European countries which I think was still being used in certain geography textbooks thirty years later...

Finally got round to doing a few searches today...
Will let you know how I get on.

Gloucester bound...

Braved the wind and rain to head for Gloucester today, via Stratford upon Avon. Had a bit of an evening wander in the old part of town: a pity I didn't get the chance to see it in daylight: it must be about 30 years since I last visited...

Below is the presentation I plan to use with Gloucester colleagues at the Hucclecote Centre...

David Wright

I had some sad news earlier today that David R Wright had died on Friday. David had been ill for some time, but I last saw him at a GA Norfolk branch a few months ago: he was a passionate supporter of Geography in Norfolk, and also of the work of the Geographical Association. An article of his was featured in the most recent issue of GA Magazine.

David worked at the University of East Anglia for many years, and also attended numerous geography network meetings that I attended from the late 1980s onwards. He produced a facsimile version of a book on Norfolk's geography that I used recently to prepare some materials. We also shared billing a few times when running sessions for new PGCE colleagues at the University.
David was also present at the RGS-IBG AGM in 2008 when I was one of the award winners. He was receiving the prestigious RGS-IBG "Ness" award for "popularising geography among young people", and he will perhaps be best remembered for his work in mapping and atlases, particularly the production of a range of atlases and other books related to mapping.

He was well travelled, visiting over 100 countries, and will be sadly missed....

For some of David's work on MAPPING, see this section of the GA WEBSITE.

This is a personal remembrance, and there will be further comments from the GA at a later date....


One of the impacts of the Cumbrian floods has been the damage to bridges.
One particular location where this is having an impact is in Workington, where all the bridges across the river have been damaged, and are impassable.
Calva Bridge is likely to collapse and has been cordoned off...
The floods are being called a "one in a thousand year" event.

The rainfall that fell was a record for a 24 hour period in the UK.

BBC: Cumbrian flood victims have lives on hold

If we are looking for "living geography" context, one idea would be to take a local settlement to you that has a river and bridges, and imagine that all the bridges have been damaged or become unusable.
What impacts would this have on the community ?
Students research and report the impacts...

This also relates to an idea in my Toolkit book "Look at it this Way" based on the closure of the road below Mam Tor in Castleton...

Mark Ollis has shared 2 presentations on his Slideshare page which contain images that he took in the area over the weekend.
More to come on this in future blog posts as I have some presentations on flooding to prepare for in 2010...

Language of Landscape Survey - prize draw

Language of Landscape

My Survey Monkey SURVEY is still live, and you now have until the END OF JANUARY to enter and have the chance to win some landscape related goodies.

All you have to do is fill in the survey if you have used the booklet that came with the Ordnance Survey Free Maps for Schools. I'm aware that some schools haven't yet received them, but as soon as you do, and have had a chance to try some of the fun activities, please complete it...

The Climate Challenge

OXFAM have launched a new website called "THE CLIMATE CHALLENGE" ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference.

It has a range of games and quizzes featuring celebrities (some of whom you may have heard of) and, usefully, a series of downloads which include the following things below to clutter up your blog post...

The game is also available in a range of languages including CHINESE....
Why might that be ?

Rainforests Booklet

I picked up a few copies of this booklet last time I was at the GA offices.
It's produced by the Prince's Rainforests Project, and is called "Rainforests: the burning issue".

There is a nice ONLINE VERSION of the booklet available by following THIS LINK.
It might be useful to refer students to the online version and discuss the pros and cons of print over screen...

Standard !

Thanks to Indra Persaud on Twitter....
Evening Standard today features Geography teaching, the Prince of Wales and Ed Balls...

GA on Twitter

Follow the GA on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news on resources, CPD, events, publications and generally all things Action Plan and geographical....

The 'even-bigger Lake' District

The rain has apparently been falling in large amounts in the Lake District and surrounding areas, and there are many flood warnings in place in this area, and also down into North Wales and South West Scotland, in areas such as Dumfries.

The Environment Agency has done some preparatory work by clearing river channels to encourage water to flow freely.

Some areas have experienced a month's worth of rain in less than 24 hours, and many people have had to be evacuated from their homes.

Apparently the town of Keswick is virtually cut off.

First thing I did was to put BBC NEWS Channel onto the laptop screen (don't forget that you need a TV license to watch this channel live online....) and caught an extended report from two reporters who were in the area. Decided to see what I could get from the various networks...

So did a TWITTER SEARCH (Visible Tweets was down at the time)

First thing was to search for "river level rising"
Led me to @AnnabelWeir who mentioned checking the river rising and had an exchange with a user called @cragchris who led me to shared photos in an online gallery: some very useful images from Linda Mellor of the area around Blencow Bridge.

It was obvious that the Police were trying to keep people away from the flooded areas: "disaster tourists" for their own safety....

Another tweet led me to a hashtag search and tried #cumbria

This led to a whole new range of people to follow and see what they were talking about, and it was possible to identify a range of effects that were happening "live"....
  • Bypass from Kendal to motorway closed
  • River levels rising and sandbags going into place
  • Accidents on other roads blocking them
  • Ullswater overflowing onto nearby roads and causing obstructions to vehicles other than 4x4s
Can also follow the Environment Agency on Twitter @EnvAgency for all the latest updates on the situation in Cumbria and elsewhere.


Sadly, it appears that at least one life has been lost as a result of the flooding.

Also, in a report in 'The Times' there was this snippet about the cancellation of the World's Biggest Liar competition which had to be cancelled, but when the organisers rang people up to tell them, they didn't believe them...

As with other events that happen "live" in the media, there is now a chance to "have your say", and this was one comment made on the floods, that could form the basis for a discussion or "talking head" type statement...

Travelling by train in the UK it never ceases to amaze me how industrial the "landscape" is. There is so few trees, ditches, hedgerows, forests all these things are natures sponge.

Farmers have been allowed to devastate the landscape for the sake of a few more acres of land, ridiculous! Then it rains and all hell breaks loose. Less concrete, more trees put back the hedgerows the solution is not building walls around places, that is a joke. Put the trees back it will work!

The GA has produced a FLOODING section on its website.

Copenhagen 09 explained through food...

In Search of Lost Place

A new blog by my geography colleague Ben Major...
Well worth a read..
Today, Wednesday the 18th of November is WORLD GIS DAY.

Colleagues from the GA are taking part in various events throughout the day at various locations. I will be at Leeds Grammar School, who were heavily involved in the GA's Spatially Speaking project.

Use Twitter hashtag #GISday to keep up to date with all the events around the world...

Packing my case (studies)

Today it was over to the Open University campus in Milton Keynes.
One of the great aspects of the current phase of my job is the chance to visit lots of the places that I used to teach about as case studies.
Got me thinking about other classic case studies I might have seen since starting my new role...

Here's a few that instantly came to mind:
  • Volcanic Plug with Edinburgh Castle sat on top ('Once there were volcanoes here')
  • M62, and going past the farm between the carriageways ('Routeway')
  • Crossing the River Coquet in Northumberland (Geog.1 or Geog.2)
  • Milton Keynes / Stevenage - New Towns
  • Liverpool (home of Walter of fame)
  • Manchester: Chinatown and Canal Street (Urban rebranding and urban cultural geography)
  • Isle of Islay (tidal power)
  • Major bridges (communications): Humber, Severn, Forth etc.
Image of XSCAPE Milton Keynes by Alan Parkinson under Creative Commons

Gorgeous George...

Val Vannet sent me this picture...
A mystery pic which will be developed further over the next few days...

Update: two different rock types visible in the picture - George is the one top left....

Shackleton's Whisky

I was alerted to this story by Val Vannet

This BBC NEWS story talks about a plan to dig up the whisky that Shackleton took but never drank (how careless...)

Wonder what it tastes like ?

The Road

"The Times" this Saturday named Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" as the book of the decade. I have no problem with that nomination: this is an incredible book, and the plot and setting are utterly compelling.

Not sure what to think about it being made into a film. The trailer is HERE: film opens tomorrow in the USA.

There has been much discussion about the setting, and comparing it to real places, and plotting the route that the father and son take....

World GIS Day

On World GIS Day I will be at Leeds Grammar School for an event hosted by the AGI Northern Group.
There will be representatives from a range of organisations including MetGeo Info, Halcrow, Arup, Geoplan, British Geological Survey, Network Mapping, OSGeo, Ordnance Survey, and the Environment Agency... and of course the GEOGRAPHICAL ASSOCIATION.

Water Conflicts...

A very useful Sky News video.... - Free Map Outlines

Always handy to have outline maps of countries.
d-maps have plenty of these, and they are COPYRIGHT FREE importantly...

Thanks to Dan Ellison via SLN for the tip-off...

Continents drift....

My in-car listening for the last month or so has been the new Bruce Hornsby album: "Levitate" which is, thankfully, not on Spotify.
One track is a masterpiece: "Continents Drift", which features a wonderful guitar solo by R.S Hornsby, who sadly died just days later.
Great lyrics about a relationship changing...

Continents drift
Across a moonlit ocean
Continents divide
In a glacial measured motion
Continents drift
As foothills move our mountains
Our fault lines are accounted
As our continents divide

I have been listening to Bruce Hornsby for over 25 years... Here's a promo video for the album...

Earth: Art of a changing world

My wife went on a school art trip down to the Royal Academy of Arts and Tate Modern yesterday. Below are a few of the images she took of the sculptures outside the building.
There was also news of a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy called EARTH: Art of a changing world...
This is timed to coincide with the Copenhagen Climate Change talks, and opens on the 5th of December and goes through to

I'm in London during that period so will certainly be going along.

There is also a connection with the CAPE FAREWELL project which I used as my POLAR context when teaching the OCR Pilot GCSE Geography...

Cloud of Atlases

Cloud of Atlases.

This excellent BLOG POST from an Australian newspaper site has some intriguing maps....
The key / legend has been removed, and the task is to try to identify what the map is about.
Have a look and see how many you can work out.

Via Twitter as per...

Edexcel Podcasts

Exam Boards are gearing up for supporting teachers through their first Controlled Assessments.

One example (other exam boards are available...) comes from EDEXCEL.
They have released a series of PODCASTS which explain how Controlled Assessment will work in Geography for their 2 exam specifications.

Functional Skills Support Programme

For the last few months, I have been involved in a writing project, which finally finished today, at the Malmaison hotel in Birmingham - not the greatest place to get to from where I live it has to be said...
The project was to produce a Geography booklet: one of a series of 11 to support the secondary National Strategy's Functional Skills Support Programme.
This is supported by the DCSF and LSIS

Functional Skills are "the essential elements of English, mathematics and ICT that equip individuals to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work."

Look out for the Geography booklet, which contains 3 suggested lesson sequence contexts for teaching these skills in GEOGRAPHY, in March 2010

Visit the FS SUPPORT website for more details on Functional Skills.

What do you think of it so far ?

Over to the wonderful buildings at Gressenhall Rural Life Museum in Norfolk today for the Norfolk Geography Conference, organised by Rob Lodge with Ben Utting.
The keynote was on the theme of Assessment, and was delivered by Alan Kinder from Barking and Dagenham.
Some stuff on APP as well...
I did a session on Creative Assessments, with the title slide above, and with some varied questions for the delegates...

This led me to a useful powerpoint shared by Dave Drake.
More to come on APP soon...

Hot Topic...

A few weeks ago I sat by the side of the road which passes through Ilminster in Somerset. As darkness fell, and tractors sped backwards and forwards loaded with some indeterminate foodstuffs, I sat chatting with a journalist from the Times Educational Supplement on the issue of teaching about meteorology...

Meanwhile my colleague Justin was in the pub drinking local cider...

Fast forward a few weeks, and the article: "Hot Topic" was published in the TES, and you can read it HERE.

The World of 100 People

Toby Ng has produced a series of excellent graphics which relate to the resource: IF THE WORLD WERE 100 PEOPLE

Check them out at TOBY's SITE

Here's an example on water availability...

'Going Digital' at The Guardian

Image: Mark Hillary via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Going Digital

This event was held today at the Guardian HQ, on York Way, which is just around the corner from King's Cross station, which is ideal for me. This was a very nice building to be able to see inside, and good coffee.
There were some interesting speakers, but I'm not sure how successful they were at addressing the title of the day, which was related to using online resources to raise achievement.

The Guardian Archive was not demonstrated much, although this was one of the showpiece elements of the day, although some of the image collections that were demonstrated had, for me, less use than the millions of Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr.

Martin Wainwright, who has written an intriguing book called 'TRUE NORTH' was an entertaining speaker. He also provided some good C.P. Scott stuff, and Jo Grimond.

Here is the somewhat circuitous stream-of-consciousness topic sequence that Martin went through, starting with a conversation with someone on the train to London from Leeds...

Train - British Rail - Narnia - Nature table - Health and Safety - Morris Minors - Martin Parr - Fungi - London Plane - Guardian Manchester Garage - Elephants - Guy Fawkes

It was good to see the Jane Bown photography exhibition down on the ground floor as well.

Managed to get work done on the train there and back, so all in all a reasonably useful day.

Using video in the (Geography) classroom...

Using video in the geography classroom ??

If you do, please go to the HULL UNIVERSITY survey page and fill in the form.

You have until the 30th of November to fill in the form, and have a chance to win an iPod Video Nano

Cycling home from Siberia

It's important to look for real-life contexts for lessons, particularly to look for those which may engage students.
One geography teacher who undertook a remarkable adventure, was Rob Lilwall, who resigned from his job in 2004, and decided to cycle from the far east of Russia back home.

Noticed that Rob is speaking at Explore 09 this weekend.
Rob's journey is over, but Mark Beaumont's latest journey is continuing... of course, you'll have to go to Mark's BBC related blogs for all that news, or follow his Twitter feed...

The Lava Project

With thanks to @nicolatwilley and @bldgblog on Twitter
Like this idea of stamping lava as it emerges from the ground...

Lava Project from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

GA Conference 2010: programme now available

The GA Conference programme for 2010 has now been finalised by Lucy Oxley, and is available to download in various formats from the GA CONFERENCE area of the website.

This year, there are a series of colour coded CPD PATHWAYS, which can be seen above, to reflect the particular personal CPD needs that teachers might have, and also certain school priorities.

I will be attending a whole range of events over the course of the 3 days, and will blog more about the sessions I am involved in nearer the time.

Booking can be done in various ways...

The conference price is held at 2009 prices !

There is also an EARLY BIRD BOOKING price - the early bird booking period ends on the 31st of December 2009

Free registration is available to all full-time and PGCE students. Please attach proof of your student status, e.g. photocopy of your NUS card, with your completed booking form. Online booking for students is available but proof of status will be required by email, fax or post.Bookings cannot be processed without this proof. Please note: student registration does not include lunch, however there are several outlets situated within the exhibition area where you can purchase hot and cold food.

Up, up in the air... and back in a box... my beautiful balloon...

BALLOONS APP is an app for the iPhone that allows you to create and label a balloon and then let it go, and catch balloons from other people...

Just had a feeling that there may be a use for this tool, in terms of releasing thoughts and questions around the world and seeing who picks them up. Also a lot more environmentally friendly than a real balloon launch....

Also, good to see SPC colleague David Rogers at the BBC studios to welcome back the famous BBC BOX, which has been travelling the globe for the last year with a GPS unit attached to it. Here he is pictured above...
Nice work Mr. Rogers !