Olympics Park: E20

This is now featured on the Eastenders titles as of 1st of January 2012....

Moroccan mega-mall

Morocco had the opening of its first new mega-mall just before Christmas...
Good one for comparisons with retail outlets such as Westfield, and the impact of such a project...
Will it be a place that residents use, or tourists ?

Wonder if it's got a Gregg's....

Top 20 Tweeter Geographers

Lots of these lists around from time to time, but good to see yourself on the list when they emerge.

Produced by Creative Education.

Top 20 Tweeting Geographers


One of the projects which I am going to be involved with in 2012 is the digitalearth project, which has been co-ordinated by Karl Donert
The focus for this project is the educational use of GEO-MEDIA.

You can watch Karl talking about the project at the Media and Learning conference in Brussels earlier this year.
Watch the session as a VIDEO from 4pm onwards for the background, and download Karl's presentation.

I am currently drafting a paper for possible inclusion in the GI-Forum that is part of the project, and will be held in Salzburg in the first week of July 2012. I hope to be attending regardless of whether my paper is accepted.

Discovering Britain - now live for the start of 2012

I mentioned this website in a column I wrote for the TES earlier and it's good to see that it's now gone live ready for the new year.

It's a similar theme to the Walk the World site, but Discovering Britain is more about walks which are specific to a particular area.

As with Walk the World, this would be a useful context for producing a piece of work to introduce new students to an area perhaps, or to 'sell' the town where the school is based.

Could also consider setting up a new LANDSCAPE theme, or build on one that has already been developed.
One to watch in 2012.

Quarter of a million....

Over Christmas I passed quarter of a million page views on this blog...
Thanks for reading... tell your friends ! :)

See Africa Differently...

A tweet just before Christmas led me to a website which looks like it's going to have some interesting opportunities for studying Africa.

See Africa Differently has a series of blog posts related to aspects of life, and also some nice illustrations. Also follow @SeeAfrica on Twitter for more

The Hobbit - coming at the end of the year...

Part of my childhood... will be fascinating to see if Peter Jackson can pull this off as well....  and after that it's back to a 2nd Tin Tin movie, which my son is already awaiting eagerly...

If was an average homeless man, I'd be dead by now...

Social Inequality has been an ongoing theme on the Living Geography blog during 2011, particularly with respect to the work by Danny Dorling.

A BBC report released just before Christmas described the impact of homelessness on life expectancy. The average homeless man dies aged 47, rather than 77...

Also a report on homelessness in the USA.

Cheaper travel to Iceland from March 2012

In March 2012, Easy Jet adds a number of new routes to its networks.
One of them is of particular interest as it adds some new flights between Luton and Reykjavik.
Fares are from £59 for a return ticket to Keflavik airport including taxes, which makes this remarkable place even more accessible.

Check out my FLICKR set of my visit in 2010

Wondering about the possibility of setting up some sort of trip for geographers from my PLN during 2012...

Image: Alan Parkinson

ESRI ArcGIS Explorer Online

A useful PDF GUIDE to using the excellent ArcGIS Explorer Online tool.... (link leads to PDF download)
Have a good look at this during 2012.

There is also an excellent free SEMINAR to introduce you to its use on Smartphones and Tablets.
You'll need a FREE ESRI Global account to log in to this...

With thanks to Joseph Kerski.

National Curriculum Review

Follow the hashtag #nc11 for discussion on the new National Curriculum as we move through 2012.

This is the presentation I used for a recent VITAL CPD Teachshare

London Mapped...

The latest map from Ben Hennig published just before Christmas as a final map of the year.

Urban Story Walks


Urban Story Walks with the Geography Collective in 2012.

National Curriculum Delay

Michael Gove announced a delay in the National Curriculum reforms until 2014 for all subjects at the end of December, just after all schools had broken up for the holiday.
This apparently means that core and foundation subjects will all be changing at the same time, and it will be interesting to be involved in planning some of the changes for geography through the early part of 2012 as part of a GA group.

To read the full report of the Expert Panel, you can download your own copy from the Department for Education.
(Link will lead to a PDF download)

2012 - New Year, New Geography

Happy New Year

2012 promises to be an interesting year professionally, with a range of writing and other projects to take me well into April. I also have up to 12 books that I've been involved with in some way that are likely to be published this year.

I'm still available to work with a wide range of projects in the field of geography education. There are some options which might develop later in the year which I'm keeping an eye on too, and thanks to everyone who's employed me since September 2011, and those colleagues who've supported me in any way over the last six months which have certainly been 'interesting' times...

Join me on the 5th of January for the first of my VITAL Teachshares of the year. It's on the theme of New Year, New Geographies and you can join us HERE.

It'd be great to hear some of your #nyng New Year New Geography resolutions.

Here are some of my Geographical resolutions:
a) Complete all the projects I'm currently contracted to do to the very best of my ability and keep new ones coming in...
b) Secure a permanent part-time role that will give me a little financial security
c) Enjoy some European travels
e) Keep my daily Blipfoto journal going

I'll also be keeping Living Geography going as we head towards 4000 blog posts.... got a backlog of Christmas posts to catch up with. If you're reading this, why not click in the right hand column to FOLLOW the blog, or add the RSS feed to our reader.

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for posting a link to Google's review of 2011... What will 2012's big search strings be...
Might be a nice activity to write down 10 search strings and see which of them appear in 2012's review...

Normal service will be resumed in 2012

I'm going to take a couple of weeks away for Christmas (although I probably won't be able to resist blogging if something important happens between now and the 1st of January 2012.) or adding some updates below

I'm going to be doing one or two things over Christmas as well as enjoying the festive cheer

  • Writing a chunk of a GCSE book
  • 'Completing' a major resource pack for the Ordnance Survey
  • Planning out a Children's book I'm going to be writing later in the year
  • Preparing for CPD events in the New Year
  • Completing some Online Updates for Harper Collins
  • Edits and proofreading for 2 books I'm editing that are published in early 2012
  • Research and writing for a BBC project I'm involved in
  • Finishing some writing for Richard Allaway's site, and planning another bit of IB content
  • Adding new content to my Vital Geography Portal
  • Preparing some thoughts for new Curriculum consultation
  • Putting together some ideas for 2 chapters of Mission:Explore Food
On 1st of January I'll be back with various New Year thoughts...

Please join me on the 5th of January for my Teachshare on New Year New Geography

It'd be great to have your company at 7pm with your plans for the year ahead for New Year New Geography, and if you are tweeting your plans, please use the tag #nyng

Thanks to Rich Allaway for his early contribution to the tag.

Thanks to everyone who's employed me, worked with me and supported me during 2011, or visited this blog and contributed in some way.


Update 1
Met Office infographic on White Christmases...

Update 2
If you have some unwanted Christmas money, please help fund Mission:Explore Food.

Update 3
A great graphic on Christmas around the World from Spatial Analysis to round off a year of great maps.
Update 4
Good to see my Vital Geography Portal at 'number one' in the VITAL Christmas Newsletter's '12 Portals of Christmas' feature...


Up to Sheffield over the last few days to have some meetings with David Lambert and John Lyon - plenty of interesting things to come in 2012...

Also went out for the GA Christmas social, which started in Fagan's with Moonshine and copious quantities of food, then to the reborn Shakespeare's 

On Abbeydale Moonshine and Deception for most of the night, then finished with whisky at the Riverside.

Thanks to Lucy for keeping us organised...

Image: Alan Parkinson

10 reasons to use Mission:Explore

Here are 10 great reasons for visiting and using the Mission:Explore website.

If you're a teacher...

1. You can login to the site as a teacher and use it for free as a way of introducing students to the concept. Students can also log in individually. You can also get an account for your school, and turn your school into a CHALLENGER.
This requires a small investment in cash, but means that you can work with groups of students to create your own missions which could be useful for marketing the department / school etc.

2. You have the chance to enjoy a range of exciting MISSIONS as part of the school day. There are plenty of activities that you could carry out on the school grounds, or as part of a lesson for many subjects - these are not just for geographers....

3. Some wonderful ideas for homeworks. Instead of providing an identikit activity which you then see 30 copies of, why not set students a selection of tasks from a short list of missions, which will allow students to choose missions which develop their particular SKILLS or allow them to develop and achieve something that formal assessment wouldn't allow them to...

If you're a parent...

4. Do try this at home shows what can happen if you have a little fun with one (or more) of our missions with your kids.

5. Identify some missions that you could try to complete as a family, as a way of exploring your local area. Try to visit a part of your local village or neighbourhood that you have never been to before, take a route you've never been down before, get out the camera and start to take some images. As an example of this, you should use the Geography Awareness Week resources that we wrote for the National Geographic Education website in 2011

6. Allow your children to have a bit of flexibility with the way they spend their time, so that they can go "off the beaten track" and explore. Work through the BASIC TRAINING with them first so that they're prepared for everything... Remember that exploring is not just for the rich, or for grown-ups, and you don't have to catch a plane to do it either. As Michael Palin says on the home page of the new Discovering Britain website...

"some of the world's most varied, spectacular and accessible landscape is only a strong pair of boots away." - or a pair of trainers....

If you're a student

7. Sign Up for the site. Our community offers two different types of experience depending on your age. For those of you over the age of 13, you will be able to
Why not join a TEAM and work your way up the Leaderboard....

8. Have fun with one of our Mission:Explore books.
The missions were written by teachers and other geographers, but the contents of the books were chosen by students from a list of the ones that they liked the best, because they are the best people to choose. You can also visit our SHOP and make sure that you're wearing appropriate M:E branded clothing while you're exploring to keep you safe...

9. Try to earn more REWARDS than your friends.

If you're human...

10. Keep an eye out for Mission:Explore Food, which is coming during 2012. The money to crowd-source the book is coming in steadily and we are hoping to launch it at the Hay Festival later in 2012. (A reminder here that Mission:Explore was a National Trust / Hay Festival Outdoor Book of the Year 2011)

We're currently a featured project on Please Fund Us. Check out the benefits that you will get for supporting us at one of several levels...

Children of all ages have an appetite for thirst for exploration, adventure and challenge. And the world around them, while not without its dangers, is full of wonder, surprise and delight. Yet all too often, we grown-ups let fear and anxiety get the better of us, and get in the way of giving children a taste of freedom. So hats off to the Geography Collective for taking a stand against the cotton wool culture and doing their bit to expand the horizons of childhood. 
Tim Gill, author of 'No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society'
A tweet from @SchoolDuggery when I woke up today linked to Daily Telegraph, which suggested that  there will be a delay of about a year in the introduction of the new National Curriculum. Will be interesting to see what is announced on Monday....

From the Field Resource on Moorland Ecology

I worked on a range of projects for the Royal Geographical Society a few months back, and the final pieces of the project that I contributed have now gone live on the RGS website.

They were part of the Goldsmith's funded FROM THE FIELD project.

The latest module which I contributed was for the KS4 series, and is on the theme of MOORLAND ECOLOGY. It explores the process of moorland regeneration, and its link with the ecology that is needed to make the regrowth productive.

It's worth remembering that all the resources from the Geography Teaching Today website have now been migrated to either the RGS or the GA websites, depending on which organisation was responsible for producing the original content.

If you're after the excellent KS3 RESOURCES they are available here on the RGS website.

If you're after the FIELDWORK resources they're here on the RGS website.

Thanks to Rose Wilcox, PhD researcher from the University of Hull for her guidance and support on the From the Field project and images, and thanks to John Lyon for the images that he contributed to the project as well.

Renewable Wind Turbines

Thanks to Tom Stamp @OrielTom for the tip-off via Twitter to this story on wind turbines.

The energy that wind turbines generate is, of course, renewable energy.
Image: Fenland Wind Turbines by Alan Parkinson

However, the blades of the turbines need to be particularly strong, so they are made from a composite material which, it turns out, cannot be recycled.

This report, which would need to be used in association with other reports and materials, talks about a problem facing Denmark, and other countries which rely heavily on wind power.

The blog has a particular viewpoint on climate change, judging by the blogroll and previous posts, and this needs to be borne in mind, but the story is certainly worth exploring further, as it throws a new light on the term 'renewable energy'.

Foo Fighters 'rock' Auckland

New Zealand is a seismically active country. It is prone to regular earthquakes such as the two which hit the city of Christchurch in recent years. Friends who live in Wellington always put any tremors on their Facebook page, and there are lots of regular quakes.
Thanks to Dave Grohl and his bandmates there were quite a few extra in the Auckland area earlier this week.

The band FOO FIGHTERS played a gig in Auckland on the 13th of December to 50 000 fans, and their excitement during the songs was registered on local seismometers. There were apparently regular tremors which coincided with the songs.

There is a report HERE which describes the impact of the fans enjoyment of the concert.

There is a SEISMOGRAPH trace here along with another report.

Play a FOO FIGHTERS video showing the crowd jumping up and down as a starter point perhaps for a lesson exploring the day to day movement of the plates in New Zealand. Apparently tremors were also felt during the recent Rugby World Cup final.

This reminded me of the WORLD JUMP DAY event that took place (or not) in 2006. I still have my t-shirt from the event - perhaps it's worth something for rarity value.

Cultural Regeneration of Sheffield

Thanks to Svenja Timmins for the tip-off to this 2006 resource via Twitter.
Useful for Urban regeneration and cultural rebranding.

FSC & Controlled Assessment

Writing some resources for Mapping and Controlled Assessment today. This is a nice video from the FSC

Teachmeet at BETT

I will be in London for the Friday and Saturday of BETT this year...
I'll also be working at the Outdoors Show which is next door for Mission:Explore

On the Friday night is the 'traditional' Teachmeet 
It's Friday the 13th as well...

Tickets for teachers are now available, and will go fast I should imagine...

Good to see that David Rogers has signed up - hope there are lots more geographers there too..

Changes to GCSEs

On the DfE website earlier today

The independent exams watchdog Ofqual has today confirmed short-term reforms to current GCSEs from September 2012.
It follows plans outlined in last year's White Paper to return exams to the end of each course and stop the culture of re-sits. The changes also mean that students will once again be marked on the accuracy of their spelling, punctuation and use of grammar in GCSEs in key subjects.
The reforms effectively end modular GCSEs. They were introduced widely from 2009 but Coalition Ministers believe they have encouraged teaching to the test and prevented young people achieving a full understanding of the whole subject.
The Government is planning to make longer-term changes to GCSE syllabuses and exam requirements to reflect the new National Curriculum - focusing on the essential knowledge in key subjects and in-depth study.
Under the proposals:
  • Students starting two-year GCSE courses starting in September 2012 will have to sit their exams at the end of the course in summer 2014.
  • Pupils will no longer be able to re-sit individual unit exams in order to boost their marks – although they may retake the whole GCSE exam. Students will, however, be given an early opportunity to resit maths, English and English Language GCSEs every November because these are key subjects needed to progress to further study or employment.
  • Students will be marked on the accuracy of spelling, punctuation and grammar and their use of specialist terms. In the first instance, these will be those subjects that involve extended writing - English Literature, geography, history and religious studies. Five per cent of total marks in these subjects will be for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Marks assessing written communication skills already exist in English and English Language. The changes will affect externally assessed units from September 2012.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:
We are taking urgent action to restore confidence in GCSEs – the next step in our overhaul of the wider exam system.
We want to break the constant treadmill of exams and retakes throughout students’ GCSE courses - school shouldn’t be a dreary trudge from one test to the next. Sitting and passing modules has become the be-all and end-all, instead of achieving a real, lasting understanding and love of a subject. Students shouldn’t be continually cramming to pass the next exam or re-sitting the same test again and again simply to boost their mark – then forgetting it all by moving onto the next module immediately.


Get your own copy here...

ESRI ArcGIS Explorer

ESRI's free ArcGIS Explorer has been mentioned here before

The ability to create a map using POSTCODES is an extra feature which will be of particular interest to students as it enables them to create a map very simply.
I will produce a guide to how to do this over Christmas...

ESRI have also produced a FREE ONLINE COURSE called :
Teaching with GIS: an introduction to using GIS in the Classroom

You'll need to register (FREE) for an ESRI GLOBAL ACCOUNT, which will allow you to login to the course.

This is a tool which I think will be a good solution for many teachers wanting to make use of ESRI mapping, and there is also a useful National Geographic base map layer which can be added.

The ArcGIS Explorer Online was used to produce a presentation as part of the GA's ongoing involvement in the development of the new KS3 Geography Curriculum.

100 years ago today

Have you heard of the following people ?

Olav Bjaaland
Helmer Hanssen
Sverre Hassel
Oscar Wisting

It's likely the answer will be 'No'... although I may be doing you an injustice...

The 4 men were accompanied by Roald Amundsen, and on this day, 100 years ago, they arrived at the South Pole, ahead of Robert Falcon Scott and his companions.
There will be a great deal of coverage of the anniversary of Scott's arrival and subsequent death as we move into 2012.

This was a remarkable achievement given the nature of the environment, and the available technology. Amundsen had designed quite a lot of the items of equipment that he used, and made use of his experience travelling in the Arctic.

Visit the Discovering Antarctica website for more on this part of the world.

Thanks to Mike McSharry for directing me to the BING home page for today, which is rather wonderful and does mention Amundsen...

Teachshare on Revision

I did my final VITAL Teachshare before Christmas last night.

You can WATCH A RECORDING by following the link. Thanks to those colleagues who were able to join me...

We talked about ideas for supporting revision, which starts by making the teaching memorable. We referred to a collaborative document by Tony Cassidy and also demonstrated Triptico.
Revision Teachshare
View more presentations from GeoBlogs

Don't forget to visit my VITAL Geography Portal and take out a trial subscription or full subscription.
The next Teachshare will be on the 5th of January 2012

Saving the High Street ? The Portas Review

Regular readers of the blog will know that I have an interest in the changing fortunes of town centres and have written various posts on Clone Towns, Rebranding and other projects to revitalise town centres as they face competition from out of town retail parks and the rise of online shopping.

This was also part of the 'A' level specification that I used to teach, and some ancient resources from the Cambridge Urban Field Day that we used to run are available via the link.
I also started a Flickr Group called The Disappearing High Street some years ago, and several kind photographers have contributed their images to join mine.

Mary Portas, who has featured in a number of recent TV programmes looking at changing the fortunes of retail businesses, was asked earlier in the year to explore the ways that the fortunes of the High Street could be turned round. The report was published this morning....

There is also a free KS3 resource that you can obtain from the Harper Collins website that I wrote on the changes that have taken place in the High Street: "Shop, or they start to drop". This would sit well with the report, and also the diagram opposite, which is taken from the report.
While you're there, why not subscribe to the other monthly online updates which I'm writing ?

What is important is that they are 'vital and viable'.

The report is now live on Mary Portas' website, or click here to download as a PDF (1.9 Mb)

There are 28 ideas to explore with students, who can research them, and suggest how successful they might be in your local town centre.

Right, I'm off to Tesco Extra....

Japanese Tsunami area on Street View

Thanks to Andy Knill for passing on this information...

Back in July, we announced our initiative to digitally archive the areas of Northeastern Japan affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Today, we’re making good on that promise—after driving more than 44,000 kilometers through the affected regions, 360-degree panoramic imagery of those areas is now available through the Street View feature in Google Maps. The images can also be viewed via a special website called “Build the Memory,” where you can easily compare before and after shots of the towns changed by these events.

A virtual tour via Street View profoundly illustrates how much these natural disasters have transformed these communities. If you start inland and venture out toward the coast, you’ll see the idyllic countryside change dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean. In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces.

Students could be taken to a location that is just outside the area affected by the Tsunami, and be asked to continue 'driving' along the road. At what point do the images start to change....

They could also be given the name of one of the towns that was affected.
This would sit alongside the remarkable footage that was shown in the Channel 4 programme a few days ago, which at the time of writing is still available on 4OD.

The MEMORIES FOR THE FUTURE project that is referred to is well worth visiting.

Alphabet Maps of the UK

A map which came to me last night via Twitter

It shows the different patterns of place names based on the first letter of their name. Lots of Zs down in Cornwall...

Join me tomorrow evening at 7pm

For a VITAL Teachshare on Revision Ideas join me at 7pm...
Come along and share some of the things you do...
I'll even bring the virtual mince pies...

Inside the Earth

Thanks to Karl Donert for the tip-off to this nice BBC resource: a collection of materials to allow you to explore INSIDE THE EARTH....

New 'A' level Humanities course

OCR are planning a new Humanities course.
This will be for first teaching from September 2012...
Anyone thinking of offering it ?

New Year, New Geography

My first VITAL Teachshare of 2012 will take place on the 5th of January at 7pm.
You can join in by following the link HERE

I had the idea of using a hashtag to try to gather together people's geographical resolutions for things that they were planning to do in 2012....

The hashtag is #nyng

These could relate to a series of areas which are listed below, or indeed another area that falls under the category of 'new geography'...

- Teaching a year group for the first time
- Teaching a GCSE / GCE specification for the first time
- Starting, or hoping to start, a new job in a new school
- Visiting a new part of the country, or visiting a whole new country
- Starting a blog, or 365 project, or a new Twitter or Facebook account for the geography department

Here are a few of my #nyng offerings...

a) Starting a new 365 project - content as yet to be decided...
b) Presenting at BETT for the first time
c) Visiting Switzerland for the first time - to present at an IB Geog conference

Feel free to Tweet with this hashtag or add them to blogposts and we can identify some of the areas that colleagues are planning to develop during 2012, and follow up some of the stories later in the year...

Whether you're a PGCE or NQT colleague, or an experienced teacher, it's important to try new things as often as possible, and to try risky things too...

GA Stoke Branch Crime Lecture in January

The next lecture of the North Staffs branch of the GA is The geography of Crime by Dr Tim Hall, University of Gloucester. This will take place at Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke on Trent, on Wednesday 18th January 2012 at 7.30pm. 

Full details here http://www.sln.org.uk/geography/north_staffs_ga.htm

Put it in your diaries....

New Year, New Geography.....

GA Curriculum Consultation - report published today

For several months earlier in the year, geography teachers and others involved in education were asked to contribute to a curriculum consultation organised by the Geographical Association.

The full report is now available to download online from the GA website.

I shall not produce a summary, as there is one available from the website too, but will give my thoughts on the possibilities for how a new curriculum might be shaped from these suggestions over the next month or so.
The report was compiled by Andrea Tapsfield and David Lambert, who have done an excellent job of navigating through the many suggestions from GA members and other interested parties.

Frozen Planet

Frozen Planet has finished, but you can still catch up with the programmes via iPlayer.

A good way to use some of the final week of term - ice and snow is very Christmassy after all...

BETT 2012... just over a month away...

A few tweets earlier from @tomhenzley, reminded me that it's just over a month to my BETT 2012 LEARN LIVE SEMINAR...

I shall be joined by the wonderful Dan Raven Ellison for the session.

It is going to take place on Saturday the 14th of January 2012 between 11.30 and 12.15 in Gallery Room 2 

Title: Mission Explore - creative curriculum design through fieldwork


Explore ideas for playful learning inside and outside the classroom using the Mission:Explore resource. This is a cross-curricular approach, which involves exploration, creativity and learning using quirky 'missions'. Mobile learning will be explored and demonstrated.

The 'Mission:Explore' books and apps are an approach to learning called 'guerrilla geography'. They were designed for young people to carry out 'playful research' to investigate their local area. This approach has developed to embrace other areas including fieldwork, curriculum development, literacy, collaborative work and practical action. The workshop will be a 'training session' in the approach and an introduction to the missions in the books and apps. A free website offers over 10,000 missions across the UK. The Geography collective are also working with the Cultural Olympiad and have worked with school and university students in many locations around the UK. Come and have your eyes opened to the geography around you.

Lots of other familiar names from my Twitter stream will also be leading seminars over the course of the BETT show (the final one at Olympia) and I hope to bump into lots of friends old and new.
I'll also be popping in to the OS and ESRI stands on the day, possibly doing some sort of presentation ont the latter (and maybe the former, as a project I'm working on might be ready by then...)
Let me know if you're going to be at BETT and you want to talk about anything, or talk about me possibly working with you in some way...

The Geography Collective and Mission Explore will also be at the OUTDOORS SHOW that weekend, and I'll be doing something there too on the Friday and the Sunday either side of BETT.

A good way to kick off what looks like being an interesting 2012 !

VITAL Teachshares

As you may know, I've been working for the Open University as part of their VITAL programme.

I've so far run 5 of these sessions. Each one lasts between 30 and 60 minutes depending on the degree of interaction with the participants.

You can watch replays of most of the sessions by clicking on the links below:

Free GIS in the Geography Classroom

Customising Placemarks in Google Earth

Writing on the Map

Creative Assessments in Geography

My 6th Teachshare is coming up next Tuesday: the 13th of December....
I'm going to be exploring some options for revision strategies.
Do you have any favourites ?
Get in touch and let me know your favourites...

There are more Teachshares coming up in January too... Start thinking about your geographical resolutions...

Storycubes the 3rd

My set of Voyages cubes arrived yesterday... plenty of options for more 'writing the earth'...

IKEA Urbanism

Some interesting ideas relating to the future for the Olympics park, via an earlier Tweet.
An entire IKEA neighbourhood is planned.

IKEA Urbanism

A Wonderful World

Shown at the end of the final episode of Frozen Planet...

Thought for the Day

Travel in its purest form requires no certain destination, no fixed itinerary, no advance reservation and no return ticket, for you are trying to launch yourself onto the haphazard drift of things, and put yourself in the way of whatever changes the journey may throw up.

Jonathan Raban, from the excellent 'Driving Home'

Bright Eyes... burning like fire...

If you're of a certain age... let's say 47... you'll remember going to the pictures to see a cartoon called 'Watership Down', based on a bank called Richard Adams. It came out in 1978 and triggered mass-weeping... It featured the story of a group of rabbits escaping the destruction of their warren.

Richard Adams is amongst those leading a campaign to prevent thousands of homes from being built on Sandleford Warren, which was the real life inspiration for the book.
Story is featured in this Daily Mail article.

This could feed in to a context for exploring a number of issues:
- countryside management
- urban-rural inter-relationships
- planning and the localism bill
- greenfield and brownfield developments, and green-belt
- affordable housing

New on Posterous Spaces

You can now embed Tweets in Posterous spaces...

Thanks to Kenny for the tipoff...
Had a trial on the NQT Geography blog and it worked perfectly...

VITAL Teachshares

As you may know, I've been working for the Open University as part of their VITAL programme.

I've so far run 5 of these sessions. Each one lasts between 30 and 60 minutes depending on the degree of interaction with the participants.

You can watch replays of most of the sessions by clicking on the links below:

Free GIS in the Geography Classroom

Customising Placemarks in Google Earth

Writing on the Map

Creative Assessments in Geography

My 6th Teachshare is coming up next Tuesday: the 13th of December....
I'm going to be exploring some options for revision strategies.
Do you have any favourites ?
Get in touch and let me know your favourites...

There are

Stratalogica... a new mapping platform

Thanks to @eylanezekiel for leading me to Stratalogica.
Thanks also for the trial account so that I could explore the site and provide this review. You can request a 14 day free trial of your own from the Stratalogica site.
This is a mapping tool based on the Google Earth API, which offers a new option for exploring the world.

"The Learning is in the Layers" according to the strapline... and this makes the connection with GIS work.

There are several videos that you can watch to give a flavour for how the tool works, and plenty of information for first time users. There's also a GETTING STARTED TUTORIAL.

There is no limit to the number of maps you can have in the choosers. Use the Library to change the order in your choosers and for storing content you aren't using this week or this month. We hope you enjoy the new convenience.
The team is happy to see growing use of the StrataLogica Community. The community allows users to search for and discover content created by others. Found something you like? Copy it to your gallery, rate it and add comments, remix it and post it back to the community for others to edit and adapt to their curriculum. Herff Jones | Nystrom is also contributing custom views, lesson ideas and more for all to enjoy. Visit often to see what's new, and don't be shy about sharing.
Be sure you didn't miss these recent features:
Can you find the latest addition to the family of nations? Can you name its capital? What does it look like? What about Sudan, smaller than it used to be now that South Sudan is a separate country? Find out right now on StrataLogica.
We understand the importance of sharing and collaboration in a 21st century learning environment. Many of you who enjoy our sharing and collaboration features asked for the ability to share beyond your school or district. Educators can now share custom views, lessons and presentations using Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. Look for this option in the Action menu.
Users can view historical satellite and aerial imagery. Turn it on by opening your Tool Bar and activating it in Settings. Using historical imagery provides a great opportunity for teaching about then and now, change over time and more. Use it with the Dual-map Viewer for a powerful experience. All these new features are live and ready for you to use. We look forward to learning how they are helping improve your experience with StrataLogica. Be sure to share your feedback while on the site or tweet us @StrataLogica.

Stratalogica is based on the Google Earth API, and depending on your speed of connection, once you start the tool, you will see the base layer load up before it is cloaked in a layer of mapping. There is a range of options for you to add as additional layers, and these are increasing over time as users create new content and share it.

There is a range of base maps which can be added.

Follow Stratalogica on Twitter and you will also get speedy requests to questions.

I shall be posting more on this tool in the next week or so once I get the chance to have a proper play...

Children in need of...

A key idea in Geography is social inequality.
Danny Dorling of Sheffield University has written extensively on this theme, and his books are worth seeking out. He is also very generous with the data and images that go into his books.

We recently had the annual Children in Need event. Despite the general squeeze on household incomes which is affecting everyone except those who glibly say that we are "all in it together" the event raised a record £26 million.

This event raises money for projects helping children both at home and abroad. A recent tweet from Hannah Vaughan asked me my thoughts on teaching poverty to children who are potentially living in poverty.

In the average school (if there is such a thing...) there are likely to be many students whose family is beginning to see the effects of the current austerity measures through a combination of things: redundancy of a family member, rising costs of food and fuel or the impacts of previous purchases on credit cards or through other means.

Geography is a subject where these themes should be explored. One element of this discussion could be the way that poverty is defined and the variation in that definition from place to place. The poverty experienced by many people in the UK is shocking, but not in the context of the poverty facing hundreds of millions in other parts of the world.

The Global Rich List website is a useful first port of call. Put in a value which matches the pocket money of young people and see where they come on the list. A teacher starting out on the first point of the professional scale will be earning £ 21, 000, so where would that place them on the list ?

This NY Times article on the wealth gap was another recent addition via my PLN.

Poverty is relative....


One of the projects that is going to occupy me through December is the production of a GCSE book for a publisher. It's the biggest writing project I've done for a while, and will involve me plundering my stash of ideas and more.

This will be aimed at helping colleagues with their GCSE groups, and supporting them in teaching and supporting revision - the aim being to raise the grades of students.
There will be a series of sections which will include a range of options.

I'm also going to be including sections on blogging, visual organisers and other tools for supporting today's learners...

Santa's Carbon Footprint

Via @Treehugger - nice work by Ethical Ocean

Santa's Carbon Footprint Infographic
via Ethical Ocean - eco friendly products, fair trade and vegan shopping.

More posts

I've also now reached the figure of 3200 blog posts on this blog alone... probably done 10 000 over the years. They don't call me GeoBlogs for nothing. I deserve some sort of lifetime achievement award, or then again, perhaps I don't...

Where does Christmas come from ?

For many families, Christmas (or at least the decorations, toys, food and other items) come from Waltham Point: the main distribution warehouse for Sainsbury's stores in the SE.

Waltham Point lies next to the M25.

Some good images in the Sainsbury's article which provide a lot of useful geographical background for this as a possible thing to explore: the whole area of transport has a key link. Some years ago when I did my degree at Huddersfield, there was a new degree course on Geography and Transport.

This GUARDIAN ARTICLE also links the contracts for producing materials for DISNEY.

Mission:Explore Food - you can help make it happen

Last night at the Houses of Parliament, Mission:Explore came runner-up in the Educational Writers' Awards ceremony of the Society of Authors. Congratulations to the winner: 'Moon' by Stewart Ross.

We were described as having produced: 'A brave book which encourages children to explore the world around them, developing their curiosity, confidence and courage along the way…’
    We're now all set to do something bigger and better, and we are planning to produce a cookbook- but not the usual type of cookbook of course...

    Mission:Explore Food will be a 320 page exploration of all things 'foody' in our own Geography Collective style, and with the fabulous illustrations of Tom Morgan-Jones. For example, here's our take on the importance of eating locally sourced food...

    The funding for the book will hopefully come from crowd-sourcing, and we are using a website called PLEASE FUND US to co-ordinate this.
    If you are able to support us at certain levels, there are some nice rewards, such as books, posters, an invitation to our launch party, and even the chance to feature in the book yourself.

    Read more on the Geography Collective blog

    When you're ready, please head over to our PLEASE FUND US page. We need a good chunk of money to make this happen, although it's manageable if we take it one bite at a time.
    Look down the right hand side to see the options....

    Thanks in advance for your support and look forward to launching the book at the Hay Festival in 2012.

    Remember that Mission:Explore was a National Trust / Hay Festival Outdoors Book of the Year for 2011

    Album covers on Street View

    Google Street View can be used to locate many things: I use it to help me with a whole range of things from day to day...

    This GERMAN SITE has located the places that featured on a number of album covers.

    This activity is worth developing further.

    This fits with the Word Magazine Album Atlas.

    Which locations can you identify on Street View ??

    Frozen Planet - out on the 8th of December on DVD

    Teachshare on Assessment

    Join me at 7pm tonight HERE for a VITAL CPD Teachshare on Assessment in Geography.

    I'm going to talk through why assessment is needed, and also some ideas from Dylan Wiliam's latest book.

    Feel free to come along and listen in, or contribute your thoughts...


    If you missed this event, then please go to THIS LINK and you will be able to watch a recording and also get a prompt to download

    Inside the box...

    Thanks to Jack Marsh for sending me some examples of 'landscapes in a box'. Landscapes in a box is one of the ideas that seems to have gone down the best of the things that I've shared over the years. The basic idea is to create a landscape within a box, perhaps a burger box (but could also be a shoe box)

    This was featured in 'Teaching Geography' in 2009.

    Jack used the activity with his groups, and has sent me three excellent images of contrasting images from the students: an Antarctic scene, New York's Central Park, and Paris... Outstanding work !!

    If you've used Landscape in a Box, why not share your students' work too...

    Frosty start...

    Took some pics of my car covered in frost this morning...
    More on my Flickr page...

    Why study Geography ?

    A useful report from The Independent....

    "There has never been a more exciting time to study geography at university. It helps explain much of what is going on in the world right now, from climate change and the Arab Spring to globalization and natural disasters. Geographers have embraced new digital technologies and media in their field/laboratory work, making the knowledge and practical skills of the modern geographer very relevant to a wide range of employer needs. The employment stats for geography graduates are now better than for most other traditional academic subjects, so if you want to go places at university - and beyond - study geography.” 

    Martin Degg, head of geography and development studies at the University of Chester

    Culture: the latest Digital Explorer site

    I've been working with Jamie Buchanan Dunlop over the last few months, adding some new resources to the OCEANS DIGITAL EXPLORER website.

    The Digital Explorer empire is now expanding to CULTURAL matters, linking in with the idea of Citizenship and (as always) a link with real world exploration.

    Check out the new CULTURAL WEBSITE which has some superb resources.

    The FILMS and PHOTOS section looks like being an amazingly useful resource for exploring Citizenship issues.