Wednesday, 22 December 2010

See you in 2011...

Image: CC licensed by Flickr user Huge Cool

@FrozenUK

Started a new Twitter stream yesterday to collate stories of the Big Freeze...

Follow @FrozenUK for the cold weather geographical digest... or add #FrozenUK to your tweets and I'll pick it up and add it when I get the chance...

There is more snow falling as I type this...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

GA Shop discounts...

We have been working over the last few months to add some additional membership benefits as we move into 2011.
One of these was announced yesterday...

It's a series of discounts with a number of companies for GA members.

For the details check out the GA website.

We also have some other companies signed up, but we are still to negotiate the terms of the deal...

Cold Christmas...

And so the big chill continues...
This morning was another freezing start, with fog in places, and the trees coated in hoar frost, which then fell from the trees during the day, but persisted in some places until the sun set.
The full moon added to the magic as well...

The Guardian added a nice INTERACTIVE MAP to the website...

I should imagine that many teachers will start the Spring Term 2011 with a look back at the geographical implications of the big freeze.

Keep an eye on the newspaper front pages and wordle them to uncover the common themes...

  • Sprout shortages due to the freezing weather
  • Transport chaos which led to fuel shortages
  • Hospitals struggling for staff, and blood stocks running low due to donor sessions being cancelled
  • Sports fixtures cancelled
  • Queues around St. Pancras for trains
  • Ice on frozen lakes
  • Skating in the Fens
Have just created a new Twitter feed @FrozenUK where I'll put any stories relating to the freeze that teachers might find useful...

Contact us...

A new addition to the GA website is to be found on the top left of the main page, where you will find a picture of the SOLLY STREET road sign.

This will take you to a new contact form, where you can choose an appropriate way to get in touch.



As with all developments and features like this, it is funded by GA membership.
Make sure that your GA membership is up to date for 2011.

A tale of two Bostons

There are two places featured in this blogpost: both called Boston.

The first is Boston in Lincolnshire.
This small town is home to the Boston Stump.
I've been there about 4 times: twice when driving the school minibus to take teams to sports fixtures (though that was when I first started teaching and before I got a life...) and the other 2 were when the A47 was closed and I had to take a detour through the town.
Boston has a large percentage of residents who have moved into the town from other locations, and this has changed the character of the town.

This downloadable PDF from Refugee Support has a lot of fascinating detail on the influx, and would make an excellent resource for a group that was studying the impact of migration on a community.

The second Boston is in the United States of America.
This BOSTON GLOBE article describes a similar influx of migrants to this city, which has created a dramatic shift in the town's structure....

Good for population, cultural and urban geography investigations...

There are some amazing additional mapping resources that I discovered from this link:



Check out and follow the URBAN PHOTO BLOG Twitter stream for more useful links like these...

Energy

Followed up a few leads today while researching some final materials for a writing project which involved an exploration of ENERGY themes.
Came across a community website ENERGY SHARE (a spin off from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's LANDSHARE website) which provides details of localised energy schemes: good for case studies for those who need to explore ideas of renewable energy and sustainability...

The Llangattock Green Valleys scheme caught my eye as being a good example of an actual scheme which is underway in Powys.
The site provides details of the project, mapping etc.
A very useful resource.

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Early this morning, I was crunching up the frozen lane to the top of the hill to try to capture the lunar eclipse. The light was a little too bright to see the totality, but got some other reasonable shots...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Education White Paper

Had an interesting discussion at the last Geography Flash meeting about the possible changes to the Geography Curriculum in 2012, and the introduction of the English Baccalaureate.
More to come in the New Year...

Terra Incognita

I'm always on the lookout for map -related items, as I'm preparing for a few map-related things early in the New Year.
There was a really interesting post on the intriguingly named "Time to eat the dogs" blog earlier this week, that I found via Twitter and something else (as is often the way...)

The post is about the idea of 'terra incognita': this is a phrase that was once used on maps, but these days there are no unknown places... or are there ?
Gerald Zhang Schmidt suggests that the blank spaces are cultural rather than physical.

"...one can no longer go out to many places where no tourist has tread before. In fact, because of globalization, the traveler feels as if she has seen the world already, and while many places are still fun to visit (if exotic enough), there is nothing truly new."

Fits with the Taras Grescoe book "The End of Elsewhere", which I have blogged about before...

He goes on to explore the sort of thinking that led us at the Geography Collective to create Mission:Explore:

"How well do you know the people and paths in your community or the species that dwell in your own backyard?"

A final link from Gerald is his interest in the cultural significance of  chilli peppers... geography and food combined...

20 Park Drive...

That's not an address...

My wife's great uncle was a big smoker, and we have an old suitcase stuffed with the cigarette cards that used to come in each pack.
I've shared some images of some of the cards before, but here are a few that I came across just now while tidying my desk area to prepare for a few days of writing to meet a deadline.
They are of counties of the UK, and include some information on the back, a map, and a principal economic activity... These are all, of course, consigned to history...
Wonder if students could be asked to bring these up to date: what would you choose as the main activity in Hampshire these days ? Presumably not sheep-rearing...

The Cartographer - iPhone app



This looks very cool - thanks to Kenny for the tipoff...

Keep Britain Tidy goes greener...

...or at least the logo does.
The campaign to KEEP BRITAIN TIDY  has had a bit of an overhaul, and the logo has gone all green...
The new message is to "love where you live"...

Tom's Greenpeace work...

Tom Morgan Jones is the genius illustrator behind the images that make up the visual impact of Mission:Explore the book and Mission:Explore London the iPhone app, as well as the spin off special Festival and National Geographic missions.
His artwork can also be seen on the blog, and on his personal website too...

Now Tom has had his artwork turned into a resource that can be downloaded from the GREENPEACE website.
One for all the family to play this Christmas-tide...

Exercise Watermark

The Environment Agency have announced a major event to take place in March 2011
Exercise Watermark

This is a test of both professional responses, but also the extent to which communities can increase their resilience.
I've had a quick look but not a lot on how schools might be able to get involved (I'm thinking of the very successful ShakeOut programme in California here)
Will take a look and see whether I can add  a little geographical spin to the exercise.
Watch out for more in early 2011...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Primary Geographer name change

Starting in January 2011
A name change for Primary Geographer - a small but significant one...

Subscribe to Primary Geography for 2011....



Wiltshire AST

Thanks to Rich Allaway for the link to a useful looking collection of resources which have been produced by the team of Wiltshire ASTs.
There is a very useful Geography section, which was put together by David Drake and colleagues.
Check it out...

WILTSHIRE AST

A new North-South divide ?

Graphic from today's Daily Mail..

Nativity 2.0

I like this creative recreation of the nativity using Web technology...
An ad, as with a few other viral things this year...

Friday, 17 December 2010

Qatar 2022

Via this website.

This is some way off yet, but some interesting information is emerging (though I wouldn't start planning lessons right now...)
Qatar is planning to build a number of new stadia, and renovate some existing ones. It is the smallest nation ever to host a World Cup in terms of population and area.

One problem facing the players is likely to be the weather conditions, which are fairly extreme...

Qatar 2022 is certainly going to be a very different tournament...


Global Dependency Explorer

A new resource tipoff which came via an article in the GUARDIAN newspaper.

Just started exploring it, and it's going to take a bit of time to get used to it.
A graphical interface shows the relationships between countries in terms of the goods that they import and export.

Global Dependency Explorer needs GOOGLE CHROME to work..

Fight back against the clones

One way to do it would be to vote for your favourite SMALL SHOPS which are holding their own against the big boys...

Also came across some useful data just now while searching for something else.This is an ESRI shapefile which shows the location of the 4 main supermarket chains' stores...
For those of you with GIS...

Check it out !

Thought for the day

I have just been reading some deserts resources.... they're a bit dry.... (#geographychristmascrackerjoke)

"The top 20cm of soil is all that stands between us and extinction"

Luc Gnacadja
UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

New in 2011

Watch out for a few new products in the GA Shop in early 2011.
There are some new books for various age groups and key stages.
There is also an OPTIONS pack which includes leaflets and postcards (proud to have one of my pictures being featured on one of the postcards)
There is also some FIELDWORK equipment...

The Ning's the thing...

Nings have developed nicely since I first saw them in 2006-7...
At the time, I was teaching geography and the 'A' level specifications were being reviewed.
I set up a NING to support my 'A' level teaching, and to share resources and discussions relating to the work that was being carried out. Another NING was made private to my students, so that work within school could be developed further. I also created other networks for colleagues.
That first main NING now has over 2200 members !

At the 2008 Scottish Learning Festival, I attended my first teachmeet, and presented on Nings in a short 7 minute presentation slot.

When I joined the GA, I took NINGs with me, and the GA's online professional network was born, as was the now thriving PRIMARY CHAMPIONS Ning, which is closing in on the round figure of 1000 members

Earlier this month, the pre-release materials for the January 2011 Edexcel exam was released, and there was an immediate response:

Over 20 new members joined the network
Over 100 members joined a group to discuss the new pre-release material and others joined related groups
There were over 100 contributions to discussions about the materials, particularly on the tectonics hazards question, which has now had almost 50 replies and contributions..

Plenty of helpful ideas and resources being shared for the benefit of all members...

So come and join a NING near you...

Word Lens - one for field trips...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Dell dead ?

Bad news a couple of days ago when my laptop refused to boot up...
No power despite 2 power leads and 2 batteries.
Have had a LOT of use out of the machine, but even so, would have hoped for it to have been a little more robust...
So it's currently in various pieces in a computer shop in Swaffham and I'm scratching around for a laptop...
Fingers crossed it'll be repaired...

In the meantime I'm just browsing the Apple Store...

Have your say...

A new feature was added to the GA website yesterday, following discussions by the Website Editorial Board earlier in the year, and some great work by the web team.
You can now  JOIN THE CONVERSATION..
As a GA member, when you log in you will be able to add a comment to any page of the website and, if you have purchased an item from the GA shop, you can also add a STAR RATING and a comment. This will let us develop more of a community feel to the website (non GA members will have to wait for their comment to be moderated) and if you are logged in you can add an image to your profile.
I have added a comment to the page which contains my WINTER TEACHING IDEAS, so feel free to take a look at that and add your own thoughts...


The snow is falling again outside the window as I press PUBLISH POST...

Duck, cover & hold

Public thanks to Rich Allaway for his very kind pre-Christmas gift, pictured below...
I shall  be certain to wear it at suitable events...
A gentleman and a scholar...

Monday, 13 December 2010

Farther Christmas

....that's the rather excellent headline on a piece in The Sun about the distance that your Christmas meal may have travelled...
Of course that won't be news to any geography teachers in the room...
An old Christmas classic, similar to some of those in the GA's list of WINTERY LESSON IDEAS.

Thesiger at 100

The BBC has an excellent photo slideshow of images to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sir Wilfred Thesiger.
Don't forget to catch a Radio 4 programme on his life too on listen again

Global Warming Video

New to me... Might be of use to someone...

Sweatshops

A perennial story about the sourcing of clothes by High Street stores.

Do they use sweatshops to produce clothes at such cheap prices ?

Should consumers be aware of this and shop accordingly ? Are the stories 'true' ?

Geography of a $10 note

An intriguing story which followed a $10 note between the people who handled it, and therefore travelled through the USA telling a story of financial uncertainty, as well as the individual stories of the people whose hands it passed through.

Russel Tarr suggested that this could be turned into a Google Earth tour to explore the actual geography of the places mentioned, and allow students to explore a small part of this huge country, starting at the geographical centre of the country.

UK mapped through social relationships

An intriguing story in the various media over the weekend about a project to map the UK through social relationships. This looked particularly at landline phone-calls... remember those ?



Well worth following the SPATIAL ANALYSIS blog for more interesting mapping stories.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Geography in the TES

A fairly geography- heavy edition of the TES on Friday, which is nice....
On the front cover was a trail for the content within...

Inside was a full page on the speech that Professor David Lambert of the GA made at the SSAT Conference a few weeks ago.

Some very useful clarifications of points made during his speech.

There was then an excellent letter by Tony Cassidy supporting geographers, with the context that Geography is a subject "fit for a King".... indeed !

Also a useful article on the interdisciplinary power of geography.

Commodification of food

A useful article by Joan Bakewell on the commodification of food (and bottled water)

Paul Cornish Google Earth Resource

Rather wonderful...

Merry Christmas (Island)

There's an island where it's Christmas every day of the year...
Christmas Island.


It's the subject of the latest of my posts on the Hodder Geography nest. I'm blogging through the month of December with my #geoadvent.
Pop along and see what I've been writing about...

Image from here: courtesy of Christmas Island Tourist Association

An open letter to Michael Gove.

Published in the Mail on Sunday...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Underground underwater....

A map that has been on the LONDONIST and a few other places.
It shows what might happen if flooding happens in London on Sea in 2100

Well worth a look...


Update:
The charity Practical Action, who produced the altered tube map referred to above have also released a set of excellent images on their FLICKR account, which would make useful starter images for an activity based on the map. Also has the original Tube map in the set...



Sweat the Small Stuff...

Discovered when researching current writing project...
Why not get students to make their own videos with more UK-specific stats ?


From GOOD magazine... a very useful web resource...

The Autocomplete map of America

This has been going around the Internet (as these things do) for a day or so...
It's a map of America which is apparently labelled up with the suggestions made by Google's AUTO COMPLETE search option, once you start typing in the name of the states. Click to make it go a bit bigger...
I thought that it might be good to have a go with some UK counties or towns...

Amaztype...

Was reminded of this site earlier today - remember using it yonks ago...
It pulls in products from Amazon to create words that you type in...
So WORLD MUSIC for example....

Type in CHRISTMAS and choose MUSIC and it makes the word CHRISTMAS out of CDs...
Click on one, and it zooms in to show details of that particular product...
An intriguing way of potentially searching for products...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Red Cross Photo Quiz

If you're after an end of term news quiz, you should make your way over to the RED CROSS website, where they have provided a well thought out, and nicely presented set of questions.
There are 6 rounds, and the answers are also provided.

They can be downloaded in two versions as powerpoints to use in the classroom.
Thanks to Nadia for telling me about this resource.

There's also a nice set of WINTER WEATHER activities, which would go well with the ones from the GA website.

It's that time of year again...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Chucking birds at pigs...

Interesting article in The Guardian on the phenomenon that is ANGRY BIRDS.
This is about the power of gaming.

Nice link with a project that I'm currently working on with Anne Greaves at the GA, which will hopefully emerge in 2011...

Been reading a lot of related literature on the use of games in the classroom including the work of the Consolarium (LTS), a report by Ruben Puentedura (thanks to Doug Belshaw for the lead there), Ollie Bray at #fote10, Futurelab and others...
Games are not just for Christmas...

BETT 2011

The Geographical Association will be present once again at BETT 2011.
We will be in the Subject Association area, as we have been for the last few years.

Me on the Ordnance Survey's wonderful stand at this year's show, picture by Ken Lacey of the OS.

The GA stand is there on all 4 days of the show, and you're very welcome to come and meet us on stand N31-A (up on the balcony) on any day.
I shall be there on the FRIDAY of the show (the 14th of January)

Gingko Maps

Free digital maps, made available under a Creative Commons license at GINGKO maps.

Here's a nice image of ANTARCTICA for example...
The images can be downloaded and used e.g. for webpages, homework, presentations or posters. The graphic files in jpeg format (.jpg, .jpeg) comply with the popular office suites, like Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint) and OpenOffice, graphics software (like Adobe Photoshop and GIMP) and incorporated in webpages display in most webbrowsers.
The maps are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License and are distributed for free and without restrictions. All maps can be used, adapted and redistributed. The only required condition of the license is to cite and link to the GinkgoMaps project.

Iconka

Was after some icons at the weekend, and used the ICONFINDER site to find some...

Led me to the excellent ICONKA website, where I found some great icons and graphics...
Check it out...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Eco-house design

Courtesy of Peter Firmin, who along with Oliver Postgate created the glory that was Noggin the Nog (and Bagpuss, the Clangers, Pogle's Wood etc....)

Visit the DRAGON'S FRIENDLY SOCIETY shop to buy all sorts of Smallfilms merchandise, including this print....

A good image starter for considering eco-friendly / sustainable building design...

Image copyright by Peter Firmin (my wife went to art college with his daughter Emily you know... as in Emily from the titles of Bagpuss...)

Infinite City

Another tip off via Twitter...

The INFINITE CITY is an article about a new book by Rebecca Solnit, who we like a lot at the Geography Collective.

It's an 'atlas of San Francisco', but not the usual type...

They are designed to make the reader think anew about the city of San Francisco—its history, natural habitat, economic function, political values—and, by extension, about the way we all imagine the places we live in. "A city," Solnit writes in her introduction, "is a particular kind of place, perhaps best described as many worlds in one place; it compounds many versions without reconciling them." 


Ordinary maps show only the physical infrastructure that these "many worlds" share—streets, rivers, monuments. 


The maps in Infinite City, on the other hand, treat the physical city as a blank slate, on which many different experiences can be overwritten, like texts on a palimpsest.


Exciting urban geography...
Sounds like a fascinating book !!

From a glacier's perspective...

A new blog discovery, which has a range of tremendous examples for those doing glaciation, or after potential 'evidence' for climate change is From a Glacier's perspective , which has a range of useful resources on the "health" of the world's glaciers...

There are plenty of examples for those studying COLD ENVIRONMENTS... (i.e. most of us at the moment)

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without them...

Sprouts...
What are your views on them ?

It may depend on your childhood experiences of them, and the way that they were prepared.

Sprout growers are facing some problems at the moment. There is a small window just before Christmas when the sprouts have to be harvested, so that they can be processed.
For many producers, the temperature has been so low that the sprouts are frozen, and are likely to remain so until next week.
Frozen sprouts are damaged by machinery if it is used to harvest them, and they also rot quickly if they are not properly thawed out, and the flavour and smell are impaired if they are frozen to the core. They are currently having to be cut in stalks, and then thawed out, which adds extra costs, which may well be passed on to the consumer.

I see a lot of sprouts as I drive through Lincolnshire: the East coast is one area where they are grown, and this has been hard hit by the snow and freezing temperatures. This newspaper article talks to the major grower in East Yorkshire, who supplies Morrisons with a third of their sprouts, and has been unable to harvest his sprouts.

I've started a TWTPOLL - please feel free to go HERE and fill in your views on whether you like sprouts...
At the time of posting, the current state of play is shown below:


Sprouts are part of our culture, and part of our farming landscape.
A sprout is not just for Christmas....

Image by Alan Parkinson

Monday, 6 December 2010

Event Cancellation: North Staffs GA Branch

Unfortunately, the bad weather and fairly dodgy road conditions has caused me to postpone a few events in the last 10 days, bringing my UK tour to a pre-Christmas halt...

The latest casualty of the snow is unfortunately the GA North Staffs Branch meeting that was going to be held at Staffordshire University's Stoke-on-Trent site this Wednesday...
The roads are too bad, and have just been listening to various people's 4 hour plus horror stories of their journeys home...

Apologies for those who were planning to come, some of whom have already been in touch. I'll try and see you in 2011...
Stay safe...

Fog...

Today in 1952, people in London woke up to find the world a grey-green place.
I woke up to freezing fog, which has lasted almost all day...
There had been cold weather for some weeks, and coal fires had been stoked up to keep out the chill. In Battersea and Bankside, further coal was being burned to power the city. The air over the city was becalmed. High pressure meant little or no winds.
The smog which formed was blamed for thousands  of deaths, and contributed to calls for environmental legislation which led to the Clean Air Act.
To read more visit my HODDER BLOG posts...

London has often been associated with fog. Charles Dickens mentioned the fog in the opening chapter of 'Bleak House'.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.



Stay safe out there tonight... the weather's turning bad again in places...


That very nice Big Ben icon was from the very talented ICONKA folk...

David Mitchell on Weather forecasts..

David Mitchell writes a column in the Observer.
This weekend, he has written an entertaining piece on the weather forecast.
Written in his usual exasperated-but-erudite-rant style...

Cycling to Hong Kong

After I was involved in blogging Mark Beaumont's Around the World Cycle adventure, here is news of another pair of cyclists who are planning an epic trip, and which could provide a useful context for some curriculum content.

Hong Kong Cycle will take place in 2011.
Jon Lee and Micheil Gordon will do the riding - taking the ferry to Dieppe and then cycling for the next ten months or so

They are raising money for the charity WATER AID.
More to come on this into 2011....

New GA Cold-weather resources

There has been a new addition to the GA website today in time for the festive season. The first falls of snow came a little early this year, but we have put together a geo-advent of ideas for you to savour...

There are 25 ideas to use in the run-up to the end of term, and into the new year, focussing on the winter weather and some seasonal elements. It's the most wonderful time of the year...


Thanks to Tom Barrett for starting the #uksnowdepth map, to Helen Nurton for her classic "articifial or real Christmas tree" mystery, and the pupils and staff at Micklands Primary School, and to my colleague Anne Greaves for putting the page together.

If you had additional ideas, please get in touch with Anne via the website, or add them as comments here.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Saving the Arctic

A really intriguing article arrived earlier this week via Twitter.
It describes a proposal to save the Arctic by building a barrage across the Bering Straits.

The projects is called the DIOMEDE CROSSROADS. 
The name comes from the islands in the middle of the straits, which will be familiar to those geography teachers who have perhaps used Michael Palin's journeys in the classroom, as he started his FULL CIRCLE journey there...

The aim is to reduce the impact of rising temperatures on Arctic sea ice.

This would be a particular large scale example of a 'technological fix'....

New IB Geography course from the GA...

The International Baccalaureate is being considered by a growing number of teachers as an alternative to more traditional courses.

IB Geography - Reflecting on the 'new' syllabus
This CPD course will help Post-16 teachers, both new and experienced, reflect upon the demands of the IB geography diploma programme.

The 'new' 2009–2017 syllabus will have completed its first cycle in the summer of 2011 and this one-day course will provide an excellent opportunity for teachers to reflect upon the first cycle and make plans for the next.

London - Friday 24 June 2011

Further details and online booking are available on the GA website

The course tutor is Richard Allaway, creator of the rather wonderful GEOGRAPHY ALL THE WAY website.

Google Earth 6

A new version of Google Earth was released recently GOOGLE EARTH 6...
It includes millions of 3D trees, and other improvements, including better integration with Google Street View



Go to the AMAZON for example, and you can wander the jungle and explore some of the tree species in the rainforest... I'm sure we can come up with some ideas for using this in the geography classroom :)


And don't forget my Innovative Geography Teaching funded project from back in 2005...

Extreme shopping...

I liked this (via @MrGeog on Twitter)....

The impact of location and transport costs on grocery prices in Nunavut... All prices in dollars.



Led me to various other videos, some with added swearing, with lots of prices that could be compared with those back home...
Using a currency converter to convert from dollar pricing...

How can people possibly afford these prices ?
One answer is the NORTHERN ALLOWANCE which is paid at variable rates to people living (and working ?) in the area...
You can see the various amounts of allowance that are paid in the PDF for 2010/11 that you can download from THIS PAGE

The big freeze hasn't quite caused prices to rise that high yet thank goodness...

Friday, 3 December 2010

Farming is the next big thing for twittering classes...

Farming is the next big thing for twittering classes
With thanks to Janet Hickinbottom from FACE for sending this information through...


Twitter is a social networking website which allows its users to send and read other users’ messages called ‘tweets’. It lets you send a 140 character long message which can be read by anyone but only directly by followers. It was launched in 2006 and since then its growth has been exponential.
Many question what Twitter is for. For some, it is a way of following people who they are interested in – the most popular being Stephen Fry. As a result it has developed a reputation for being trite and insubstantial. However, its immediacy means that it is also a way of hearing news as it happens and increasinly, a way of following topics or asking questions of like-minded people.
Some farmers are beginning to use twitter as a way of communicating with each other and the general public. Despite being popular amonst young people, it has not commonly been used in schools where it has been viewed with great suspicion and its use prevented.
Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) decided that it would be interesting to develop a project that brought farmers and pupils together through Twitter. Having discussed the idea with Alan Parkinson from the Geographical Association an invitation to participate was sent out to farmers and teachers.  A group was formed on Twitter which was exclusive to those signing up to the project. Once the farmers and teachers were briefed, a two week slot was set up when pupils would be able to ask questions which the farmers would try to answer. As a pilot, the brief was left open-ended so that we could learn from what worked and what do not work.
There was a slow start to the conversations due to many schools having issues to resolve so that the majority of the first week was spent with the farmers posting comments about their daily life. This in itself was an interesting development. When schools did start to participate, the questions started to appear in ever increasing numbers and the farmers began to reply. The questions varied from how to become a farmer to which aspects of farming were more profitable .
When the twittering had ended, the farmers and teachers were asked their views about the pilot project. Some farmers and teachers had initial problems with the technology but the general view was that it became easier to use Twitter with practice. Unfortunately, some teachers were prevented from participating because they could not resolve e-safety issues in their schools. Maybe the successful use of Twitter for educational purposes by other schools will result in a re-examination of attitudes towards this technology.
 The farmers were impressed by the intelligent and thought provoking questions asked by pupils. It was seen by teachers as having great potential for teaching and learning. They thought it was a good way to introduce agriculture as a topic and increase pupil involvement in class. Pupils were very enthusiastic to be using Twitter and were very excited when they had immediate responses from the farmers.

Both farmers and teachers would have liked an opportunity to discuss the types of questions that were likely to be asked and when pupils were likely to be using Twitter to ensure that responses could be timely. It may be that if there were many schools wishing be involved a booking system would have to be used to prevent farmers being overwhelmed.


Everyone who was able to participate in the project has said that they would like to be involved again.
So what is Twitter for? The answer is whatever you would like it to be. FACE intends to build on this pilot project which has demonstrated the great educational potential for using social networking technologies as an exciting way to engage with young people in schools about food, farming and the countryside.

Notes:
Farming & Countryside Education (FACE) is an educational charity that helps young people learn about food and farming in a sustainable countryside.
www.face-online.org.uk

Russia 2018

Anyone want to buy some second-hand England 2018 geography resources ? Hardly used ?

An interesting resource is this movie below: the short movie used as part of the England bid.
Would be good to look at it for cultural / global references... - the power of the brand of some Premiership teams... What are the messages coming across ?




Or how about this one for showing the scale of football in terms of its economic importance to the country, and our culture ?



You can also see the bid  movies from the other countries on YouTube... Could be good for comparative work.

Rural Land Management and Flood Risk Reduction

Just been looking for some resources on 'resilience', and came across this high-level screencast by Professor Stuart Lane of Durham University.

Rural Land Management and Flood Risk Reduction from IHRR on Vimeo.


Useful for 'A' level geographers perhaps...
Another reminder of the wonder that is VIMEO...

The Weather: a great teaching idea...

New on the Teachers TV website is a 5 minute programme which gives an idea for teaching about the climate of the rainforest (or adaptable for other natural environments...)
Presented by Stephen Schwab, a member of the GA's Secondary Phase Committee..

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Putting your toe into the water...

A tweet led me on a journey over the last few days...

The original stimulus came via Dan Ellison, a fellow Geography Collective member, who happened to be at the Institute of Education working with some PGCE geographers at the time, introducing them to Mission:Explore.

The tweet was regarding an article in the Independent:

There was a shocking headline that "one in five children has never paddled in the sea".

Leaving aside the issues with a survey like this... they hadn't asked every child for example - there is still an issue here about the access to geographical experiences.
When I was small, we had our annual holiday to Skegness or Bridlington every summer: staying in relatives' caravans just outside Butlin's and having two weeks to build dams on the beach, go on the penny slot machines, stay up late and ride round on bikes. We didn't have a lot of money, but we at least had our taste of the seaside. There was an annual pilgrimage to the coast, which was shared with a lot of other families from South Yorkshire when the steelworks had their "stop weeks".

Why are so many children losing out on this experience ?
The article suggests that it is related to poverty, and quoted a survey carried out by "Save the Children"...

Earlier this year the charity concluded that 1.7 million children, or 13 per cent of them, live in severe poverty. Their parents earn little more than £12,000 a year and many of them live in overcrowded conditions, have to sleep on the floor and go without a winter overcoat.


This would make a sobering enquiry for students to discuss, and research in the run up to Christmas: a time of such conspicuous consumption.

Compare and contrast...

In January of this year, we had the classic image of the UK from above, covered with snow...
Image credit
Image courtesy of NASA, MODIS Rapid Response Team.


We now have another image to compare it with....
This one is from the University of Dundee's remote-sensing team, and was shared on the BBC Scotland website (with thanks to @geographicalmag on Twitter for bringing it to my attention)



Image credit
NEODAAS/University of Dundee - taken by TERRA satellite

Spot the difference ? 

Theme Park Geography

Just spending some time today considering the new Peppa Pig World, which is due to open in April 2011

This is as part of an idea for the new Digital Worlds GIS courses that we are running through into 2011.
GIS is often used for locating buildings such as supermarkets, taking into account a range of factors such as:

  • competition from other supermarkets
  • demographic profile of areas
  • transport routes and delivery costs 
  • site factors: size, accessibility
  • history of local opposition to developments / support for job creation
  • availability of grants due to existing regeneration plans etc...

With a theme park there are similar considerations that can be explored using GIS.


Visitors will presumably be bringing young children, so this is important demographically
Unless (and even if...) there is railway station nearby, the main form of transport used to travel to the theme park will be the car
Other similar attractions could be mapped, to identify possible competition
The site factors could be explored in terms of size, suitability, access etc.

Another new development due for 2011 is Nickelodeon Land, in Blackpool.

This could provide a good context for a curriculum unit, or even a cross-curricular project.

There is also a new Disneyland Paris app for iPhone / iPod touch, which would be useful for those studying this particular theme park with students.

David Lambert at the SSAT Conference #nc10

David Lambert gave a keynote lecture to the 2010 SSAT annual conference on Friday 26 November. 
He addressed round 1500 school leaders on the question: are subjects in crisis? 
Obviously he focussed on geography and made some positive remarks about the recent White Paper The Importance of Teaching and its intention to recentre the school curriculum on 'knowledge'.


You can see a video of David's lecture on the SSAT website (take a look at Dylan Wiliam's session while you're there....)

The slides that David used (you might want to listen to the presentation while watching the slides, or put them side by side on the screen...) are available via SLIDESHARE... and have been embedded below...
November 2010 SSAT Presentation

View more presentations from GeoBlogs.

If you're snowbound today & your school is closed take a look...
Think of it as a little impromptu CPD

Geography: the world subject, will take you into the world of work...

A nice article in The Independent today on the value of geography as a subject when it comes to finding a job.
You can read the original article HERE.
Some useful background to the slow growth in the popularity of geography and the quality of teaching (helped by the Action Plan for Geography potentially ?), and the letter from Michael Palin sent out by the RGS-IBG earlier in the year; also some quotes from people who have found their geography course useful...

Listen to Lucy Gosling, a geography graduate from East Anglia now assessing flood risks in new buildings with the Environment Agency."Today's new developments could be around for 100 years so we need to ensure they're sustainable in terms of flood risk, and geography's at the heart of this," she says.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The wrong kind of snow ?

Solly Street is the home of the Geographical Association.
Despite well over a foot of snow, the hardy staff at the GA made it to work this morning (although I was working from home myself...)
Here are a few pictures of Solly Street, taken by Ruth Totterdell on her intrepid journey through the snow this morning...


"The Wrong Kind of Snow" is also the title of the first of a series of daily blog posts that I'm writing for the HODDER GEOGRAPHY NEST in the run-up to Christmas. Check them out....


They are aimed at providing a #geoadvent resource for those teaching about wintry weather in the run up to Christmas. I imagine that many geography departments will be teaching about the snow and its impacts. This could well become a traditional part of the curriculum around this time of year. Plenty of curriculum making potential...

For example here's another very nice #geoadvent calendar on the theme of SUSTAINABILITY, based around a Worldmapper image.

The BBC has an interesting article on our relationship with snow.
There is also a good article on surviving the extreme cold in Siberia, including a remarkable demonstration of just how cold it is, which involves a pan of hot water.
Read the article and watch the video here.

If you have another geography story which is related to the month of December, please get in touch, or tweet it with the tag #geoadvent and we'll follow it up and feature the best ones in future blog posts...

World Aids Day