Thought for the Day

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
Nelson Mandela

More from Detroit...

This is a follow up to an earlier blog post about the issues facing the city of Detroit.

There are many issues that face the city, and differing viewpoints.
This is going to be something that I keep an eye on over the next few years, and will try and work it into a writing project that I am going to be doing...
Excellent article from Guernica mag on the reporting of the city.

There are also links to the Geography of Food here

As with many recent posts I am indebted to @urbanphoto_blog on Twitter for the tipoff...


The Geocube was launched a while back, and I featured it at the time...

It's an engaging website which features, well, a cube...
Each of the 6 sides has 9 smaller squares in Rubik's style..
Each of the sides focusses on one area of geographical education, with 9 examples being provided...
The website would reward exploration, perhaps by students as much as by teachers...

I also have some templates on the way so that you can make your very own cardboard GeoCube...

Bottomfeeder and Shark's Fins

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of interest in all things fishy... and sustainable...
Image by Alan Parkinson

This was part of the FISH FIGHT campaign, initiated  by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. It has been a great success. The website, which takes a similar format to Hugh's earlier Landshare and Chicken campaigns, has a counter recording the number of people who have pledged to join the campaign. One of the main aspects of the campaign is against something called DISCARD.
Fishing boats are given a quota for certain species as part of the Common Fisheries Policy. If a fishing boat lands any fish of a particular species which takes them over this quota they are fined. This means that once a boat has caught its quota of haddock (for example),
According to The Guardian article here, there has been a resulting surge in demand for fish from sustainable courses, or from bycatch species.
Watch Hugh's short movie on discard:

Of course, my blogs have always been well ahead of the game.
Back in July 2008, I blogged about Taras Grescoe's book BOTTOMFEEDER.

This book features many of the issues that the FISH FIGHT campaign also covered, including the Shark Fin trade investigated by Gordon Ramsay.

Digital Worlds Web Demo

Sign up for a web demo of Digital Worlds
Following on from BETT last week...

Good to see that there was also mention of our partnership prominently on the ESRI stand

These will take place on the following dates:

1st Feb: 3.30pm
9th Feb: 3.30pm
10th Feb: 4pm

E-mail to book a place...

BETT 2011 2: The Ordnance Survey

The wallpaper on my iPhone is over a year old. I've kept it that long because I really like the image.
It's an image of me walking over the Lake District map that was the flooring of the OS stand at last year's BETT show.

I went down to the Ordnance Survey stand this year to pick up some leaflets and other materials for the GA stand (see the first BETT post for the reason why) and have a chat with the very obliging and friendly folks from the OS Education team.

Also had a go on the OS Open Space API mapping tool.
This is a nice tool for making use of the OS data to create a customised map for a location, so I made one based on the village where I live.

Finally, we discussed the launch of DIGIMAP, of which more later...

And then I took some photos of this year's wonderful Jurassic Coast flooring...

Curriculum change consultation

A new area has been added to the GA website to offer you the chance to have your say on the National Curriculum changes that are being proposed.

Don't forget to visit the actual consultation site

And if you have a Twitter client, add a column with the hashtag #ncr11 to follow some of the discussions.

Thanksgiving service for Rex Walford

Received details earlier in the week about the thanksgiving service for the life of Rex Walford.
This will take place in the magnificent surroundings of Ely Cathedral on the 16th of February.

The event is due to start at 3pm.

Image by Flickr user anthonychammond

Silent Snow

One of the findings of the recent trip to Salzburg (did I mention that ?) was a project which was connected with one my colleagues on the trip...
It's a documentary called Silent Snow (referencing the classic 'Silent Spring') and looks at the spread of toxic chemicals into the communities of circum-polar lands, and other locations, despite the chemicals being banned many years ago.
This is affecting their health.
DDT is banned in many countries, but is still being used in Africa.


The website has a link to a trailer for the film.

The Silent Snow project

The Silent Snow project aims to raise awareness of this problem and consists of both a short and a feature length documentary by Jan van den Berg, educational material for schools and this website. In the short film the subject is introduced by following two young girls in Greenland and the way in which they are confronted with the pollution of their environment.

In the feature length documentary a young Inuit woman travels around the world looking for the causes of this pollution. As such the film highlights not only the consequences in the polar region, but also the causes and dilemmas, such as the use of DDT against malaria in Africa. This film will premiere in February 2011 in Nairobi at a conference organized by UNEP. 

This would also connect with this impressive student project on climate change:


Latest Teaching Geography now online....

The latest issue of Teaching Geography is now available for subscribers to download from the GA website.

There are plenty of articles which were of interest to me - in fact this is one of the most interesting issues for a while.
Particularly liked: David Hicks and his sustainability challenge, and Nicola Walshe's work on Agenda 21
Also Bob Lang's article on Gapminder, and Fred Martin's work on the London Olympic Stadium using Digital Worlds.

Also interesting to see the new Aegis project book for schools being advertised.

Robert Macfarlane on landscapes...

Another beautiful piece of writing (with some wonderful images too) from Richard Macfarlane.
This one is related to some paintings in the Tate gallery

GA Internship

Congratulations to Stephanie Milton, who has been awarded this year's GA Internship.
We look forward to welcoming her to Solly Street later in the year.

Cool video of teachers using Mission:Explore

Play Association Tower Hamlets in London asked us to run a workshop all about Mission:Explore. This is some of what happened when we handed out the children's book and iPhone app.


Flooding in Google Earth

Thanks to the Google Earth Blog for this article.

It describes some work by Richard Treves from Southampton University, who I met at the AGI event in Stratford upon Avon, and who is doing a workshop at the GA conference in April.

It's a technique for showing areas flooded to a particular depth in Google Earth. Nice when there are 3D buildings involved too, as the example shows...

FACE - Bill Bailey

I attend the meetings of the Education Working Group of FACE: Farming and Countryside Education.
I blogged recently about their project to connect farmers with teachers via Twitter.

They have just announced a new supporter in the shape of Bill Bailey.

Some like it hot...

A project which has aimed to collect as many VOLCANO WEBCAMS as possible.

Thanks to my colleague Paula Owens for flagging this up.

Here's a link to the ETNA webcams for example...

Mapping London's Surnames

Another excellent map from the prolific James Cheshire looks at the distribution of surnames in London.
Available to view at the SPATIAL ANALYSIS blog.

A larger version is available on request...
Lovely to see so many interesting maps being made available to geographers, in addition to the 'usual' ones...

BETT 2011 1: The Geographical Association

Spent Friday of the week before last (apologies for the backblog of posts...) at the annual BETT show, which I worked out is the 8th year I've been.
I've usually been there working for someone: for 2 years it was The Guardian, one year was with the DfE for the National Strategies launch, one year was research-led for the original 'GeoBlogs' project which gave me my online identity...
For the last three years, I've been on the Geographical Association stand, which has moved around over the years, but usually been somewhere on the balcony off the main hall.
This year, we had a bit of a problem because the courier managed to lose ALL of our materials for the stand. We sent some replacements and they lost those as well !
So we basically had very little to show people, and filled the table with leaflets for our strategic partner: ESRI UK, our friends at the Ordnance Survey, and the nice people from the Advisory Unit and Wild Knowledge.
This meant a slightly unsatisfactory show experience for us. I enjoyed spending the day with Kate Russell.

This is the first of 8 posts on BETT which I shall post over the next week as time permits...


As a preview to the forthcoming posts about my recent trip to Salzburg, please find below a Flickr slideshow of the first lot of images I have added to Flickr. More to come once I've had the chance to tidy a few of them up and choose my favourites.
One of the highlights was the amazing Alpine panorama as the plane took off for the return to Stansted....

Mapping Twitter Followers

Various tools have come around to map your Twitter followers.
One of the latest is MAP MY FOLLOWERS / FOLLOWING.
This produces an embeddable map to show the stated location of people you follow / who follow you.
Here's the distribution of people who follow me - quite UK-centric...

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tipoff...

The King is Dead...

Wonderful new album by The Decemberists...
Available on Spotify...
Also got a copy on CD for the car...
This kicks off the musical year nicely...

Human Planet

This new BBC programme has been attracting a lot of attention.
This week's programme is on the theme of DESERTS, and the ways that humans have adapted to the extremes of temperature and water availability.

Check out the HUMAN PLANET EXPLORER for more resources.

For example, here's Bruce Parry walking a mile for water in the desert heat... One of many clips that you can embed in blogs etc...

How healthy is your High Street ?

Thanks to Rob Morris of Shrewsbury School, for the tip-off to this resource via the Edexcel NING.
If you are teaching about urban regeneration or related topics, this is an excellent basis for an activity that could be done either on a quick field visit, or virtually using Street View or an image file...

A simple new health check to help local business people spot early signs of decline in their High Street was launched in November by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills  .
The ‘Healthy High Street’ guide is the first of its kind: a practical aid to help local businesses, councils and community organisations spot the early warning signs and prevent further degeneration.
The guide was produced with the help of business organisations, high street traders and town centre managers and is based on their real life experiences. It includes tips such as how to check on whether an area is attractive to customers, whether there are good parking and public transport facilities and looking at the variety of shops on offer. It then helps them to work together to draw up an action plan for what needs to change to rejuvenate the area and put that plan into action.
Business Minister Mark Prisk said:
”There are almost 5,400 streets called ‘High Street’ in the country, but we recognise that some of these have faced real problems: empty shops, vandalism and loss of customers. Much of this could have been averted if they had spotted the signs early enough and if local people – chambers, town centre businesses and local authorities – had joined together to take appropriate action.
“My colleagues and I are committed to tackling these challenges head on. After all, our high streets need to be centres for economic growth as we move towards the recovery.
“This practical new guide is the first to identify indicators of future decline. Its healthcheck approach make it easier to assess the true state of a local high street, evaluate the risks and take real steps, such as establishing a Business Improvement District, and turn an area around.
“As the new local enterprise partnerships develop, the successes in a particular area can then be shared so that other high streets can benefit from their experiences, with the sort of local action that is at the heart of the Government’s Big Society agenda.”
The guide should provide some good activity for students on the need to rebrand!!!

The CHECKLIST DOCUMENT is available to download as PDF by CLICKING THE LINK

Facebook Demographics

Just been on Slideshare to upload a presentation from yesterday at UEA: if you were in the group yesterday, it's there now...

Came across this on the home page on the demographics of Facebook - how does this compare with other 'nations' ?

Children's Map Competition

The Barbara Petchenik Children's Map Competition is a bi-annual international mapping competition.

The theme of this year's competition is "Living in a Globalised World"
Entrants must be under the age of 16

Barbara Petchenik children’s world map competition
The Barbara Petchenik Award was created by the International Cartographic Association in 1993 as a memorial for Barbara Petchenik, a past Vice president of the ICA and cartographer who worked through her life with maps related to children. The aim of the contest is to promote the creative representation of the world in graphic form by children.

We would like to invite any school in the UK to submit entries for this competition.  Six winners will be selected by a set of judges and submitted to the ICA for entry into the International Competition.  Esri UK are delighted to be sponsoring this UK competition.

The ICA nations will collect maps based on the theme Living in a Globalised World, produced by children under 16 years of age. The judging will focus on three main criteria:
  • a recognisable message
  • cartographic content
  • the quality of execution

In other words judges will be looking for
  • a recognisable connection between the form, shape, and use of cartographic elements which creatively address the Competition's theme
  • a recognisable image of all or a large portion of the world in which the shapes and relative locations of land masses and oceans are as correct as can reasonably be expected for the child's age and within the context of the "system of projection" used
  • appropriate cartographic elements such as symbols, colours, names and labels, etc., which help address the Competition's theme: - clarity and legibility of the point, line and area symbols appropriate to the media of expression, whether on paper or other surfaces, whether drawn or made up of indigenous materials

Please note the judges’ decision is final.

UK entries will be judged by a panel of cartographic experts appointed by the British Cartographic Society (BCS).  The best six entries will each receive a prize sponsored by Esri UK and will be entered in the international competition.  Any participant agrees that his/her representation may be reproduced by the BCS in appropriate publications or scanned for publication on its website without consultation or copyright fees.

How to enter
Please send in your entries for attention of Angela Baker at the following address:
Childrens Map Competition
Esri (UK)
Millennium House
65 Walton Street
HP21 7QG

This year, ESRI UK, the GA's strategic partners are co-ordinating the UK entries, which must be in by Monday 7th of March.

Visit the GA NING to download full instructions... (WORD DOCUMENT)


Off to Salzburg on Thursday to take part in meetings as part of the EU funded DIGITALEARTH GIS project.

Image shared under Creative Commons by Flickr user @Steve

Flying from Stansted into the city, and then several days of meetings.
There will be some free time so if you have any recommendations for things to do, please let me know. I already have some suggestions from my Twitter followers, which involve various interesting things.
If anyone knows the city and has any other "must see" activities let me know.
Staying here if that helps - not really got an idea of where that is at the moment :)

Open Data and Open Space

Last week, I went onto the OS Open Data website to download the MERIDIAN 2 set of shapefile data: one of several that are available from the download area.
This is a free download, and is just over 200Mb in size.
It contains a range of shapefiles which have information on a range of map information.
There are transport routes of various kinds, rivers and lakes and various boundaries.
This enables teachers who have access to a GIS package that can handle this format of data to do location-specific queries and other work.

This is part of the Ordnance Survey's release of data that has been part of a major year for the organisation in 2010, which has included moving headquarters.

The OPEN DATA initiative has been added to by the OPEN SPACE API mapping tool, which has added the possibility of making some wonderful maps using Ordnance Survey's data, which can then be embedded into a website, or elsewhere...

The OS BLOG provides some examples of people who are using it...

There is a very nice WEB MAP BUILDER TOOL, which is now available for use at the Open Space site.
I will post an example of how to use this as part of my BETT series that will appear on the blog over the next week or so...

It was good to meet the OS team at BETT 2011

Images copyright: Ordnance Survey

And a final image to finish. Here's me inspecting the Jurassic Coast flooring that was one of the big attractions of BETT once again. Last year was the Lake District...

Image by Ken Lacey

Beijing Lottery

Yet another inspiration from the wonderful GOOD magazine Twitter feed...

The story relates to Beijing.
The city has a major problem with traffic congestion, which is down to the remarkable rate at which car ownership has increased in recent years.

You could start by playing this NPR clip.
It lasts for about 4 minutes (a transcript is available on the page too....)

This is going to be my starter activity for a half day with the PGCE colleagues at the University of East Anglia next week.

How would you reduce the number of cars on the roads ?
One solution is a lottery....

More on this after my session on Tuesday....

More changes to GA website

There have been further additional changes to the GA website.... and not just the addition of a new FLOODING section responding to the floods in Brisbane, Rio de Janeiro, Sri Lanka and many other areas (and torrential rain falling in Scotland and the NW this weekend...)

This is what one of the new changes looks like. If you mouse over any of the headings on the top navigation bar, you will now see a large drop-down box appear, which will provide information about what that will connect you with, and links to all the main sections. This means that almost all the sections of the website are now just a mouse gesture and click away...

Don't forget that you can now comment on most of the pages on the website as well. If you scroll to the bottom of any page, you will see the form that you need to fill in. If you do not log in, these comments will be sent to the web admin for approval, and you will be labelled as a Guest. If you log in, you can change your profile and an image will then appear next to your comments....
The PROFILE option is part of the new members page which appears when you log in to the website. Here's mine, complete with profile image...

You can also comment on purchases that you have made from the GA shop.

'What if...there were no borders ?'

That is the title of an event being organised by Act Global.

It's taking place on January 25th at the Royal Commonwealth Society, London from 6-8.30pm.

Are national borders meaningful? In an increasingly globalised world, we rely on goods and information moving 'freely' across borders. However, due to global inequalities, freedom of movement is a luxury for most people. In the world that we live in today, is it right that a banana moves more freely than a person? Is it fair to restrict movement of people? And to what extent is it actually possible?
Act Global Talks offer a space for teachers and NGOs to think, talk and come up with solutions to global issues of migration. The talks are being filmed and will be available after the event, along with a series of lessons and accompanying resources, which examine the causes and effects of migration, alongside critical connections and solutions.

Speakers include Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Director, the Royal Commonwealth Society; Ian Gordon, Professor of Human Geography, LSE; James Hampshire, Lecturer of Politics, Sussex Centre for Migration Research and Nathalie Rothschild, Commissioning Editor, Spiked. There will also be the opportunity to hear from organisations who actively engage young people in global issues, including iceandfire theatre company and education charity WORLDwrite. 

The panel discussion will be chaired by Sarah Spencer CBE, Deputy Director, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford (COMPAS).

Act Global connects teachers and students in taking action on global poverty-related issues. The project is run jointly by the Citizenship Foundation and Relief International UK. The Citizenship Foundation is an independent education and participation charity that aims to encourage and enable citizens to engage in democratic society. Relief International is a humanitarian non-profit agency that provides emergency relief, rehabilitation, development assistance, and programme services to vulnerable communities worldwide. 

Get your FREE TICKET here.


Detroit was mentioned in a number of online postings just before Christmas, particularly in relation to some dramatic images taken by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. It was also featured in an intriguing SLIDESHARE presentation that I came across...

This introduced some interesting geographical potential for the city..

The city has been losing population, and may have dropped to around 800 000 from a figure closer to 2 million back in the 1950s. Mayor Dave Bing has some ambitious plans for the city, and I'm going to follow how these develop.

The plans involve the razing of large areas of the city to the ground, and consolidation into a smaller area.There is also a suggestion that the large derelict areas may prove to be attractive to film-makers as film-sets, perhaps for films set in some dystopian future...

Motor town has come a long way, and there are some bumpy roads ahead, but some intriguing plans too...
Will make a fascinating case study of 'extreme urban regeneration'... Or you could always dig out the Kitty Murphy video on Glasgow GEAR scheme ;)

What's clear is that these abandoned buildings all have a story to tell: a city is more than just buildings, and there are many other changes which relate to these empty buildings.

UPDATE - 24th January: Via @urbanphoto_blog on Twitter, there is a very interesting article which describes the unease that the author feels about the use of such 'disaster porn'. The article is HERE, and there is also a link through to another article from the same source: The New Republic , which explores the plan to save what it calls 'America's Greatest Disaster' : THE DETROIT PROJECT.

Mission:Explore at the Outdoors Show

Here's Dan at the Outdoors Show at EXCEL on Thursday of this week..
He's talking about MISSION:EXPLORE.... Watch out for the TWO NEW Mission:Explore books coming out later in the year...

If you'd like to partner with us, or find out more about having missions written in your area, or getting us into your school, get in touch !!

The Dandy

My son gets The Dandy every week. This week's issue of Mr. Meecher has him teaching a funny geography lesson...

A new leaf...

Advertising campaign for the new Nissan LEAF has started and is engaging...
This is rather an expensive car, even with the £5000 Government subsidy that is available towards its purchase.
There's a reason for that though...
At the end of the day, the car needs to be plugged into the wall (via a special charging socket that needs to be installed at home) and the following morning it's ready to go again. This is a zero emission, electric vehicle.

One interesting phrase that is used is autonomy: this is basically the range of the car, before it has to be recharged. This will vary according to a number of fairly obvious factors.

Sustainable transport is a key issue in many GCSE specifications, and has also been included in  many KS3 courses around the country.

Students could be asked to consider the benefits of the car compared to a traditional petrol engine, and research the overall costs of ownership over the lifetime of the car.

I am happy to take a trial test drive and feedback if Nissan are reading this...
I think geographers around the world would be interested to hear more about the potential benefits of this type of vehicle.

China deserts

China is suffering some major desertification issues.

This was also a major issue for ICELAND, when I visited recently (more to come on that soon as resources are developed...)

A reminder that deserts aren't always sand, oases and camels...

It's a small world...

Just to prove it...
A recent one day international between New Zealand and Pakistan
A 6 is hit into the crowd, and the person who catches the ball is.... a former colleague !!

Thought for the Day

“Super-imposing digital technologies on to existing pedagogical practices is like asking the man with a red flag who used to walk in front of the motor car to start jogging”

Lord David Puttnam, at Learning without Frontiers conference earlier in the week


Earlier this week, in our GA staff meeting, we were watching the Toowoomba Flooding video on YouTube...
This has now been viewed almost 3 million times...

This would make a useful video to show in the classroom as it has a high impact value. There is an obvious growing sense of astonishment at the power of the water, nervous laughter, and no swearing... The benefits of having a high vantage point are obvious. The sad underlying story, of course, is that many cars that were washed away (not necessarily the ones on the video clip) could have held people who are now missing. The clip has echoes of Boscastle.

The following morning, we put together some resources for the Australian floods, which included this video.
There were also links to a range of other useful online sources of information.

The resources have now gone live on the GA website, and you can visit by CLICKING THE LINK

It's worth pointing out that there are other FLOODING resources on the GA website, and also that there are several other parts of the world which are currently undergoing major flooding, which has in some cases resulted in many more fatalities, but which is not getting quite the same media attention back here in the UK.

And finally, when I went to pick up today's Independent: which has a large image on the front page and several pages of features inside, I noticed this banner ad for the local paper...
Which reminds us that local news will always look for a local 'angle'...
Visit Will Tuft's blog for more from an English geography teacher living down under...

GIS resource

This is a nice Spanish GIS video, which has English voiceover and subtitles...

A useful resource, with some nice examples of the power of mapping and locational data...

Old travel posters

Thanks to @hoddergeography for the tip-off to an evocative set of images...

BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY has a Flickr set of beautiful old travel posters...
Here's a couple of examples, there are many more by following the link...

Mitre Peak, New Zealand...
I'll get here one day - as featured in my KS3 Toolkit book: "Look at it this Way"....

I also really like this Joseph Binder image of Austria. Made even better by the fact that next week I fly out to Salzburg for 4 days to work on a European-wide GIS project.

Images made available under Creative Commons license...

League Tables

Plenty of discussion today following the launch of the new Secondary School League Tables including information on the proposed English Baccalaureate. Plenty over to Twitter too using various hashtags...
The Guardian's DATA BLOG has useful mapping and images to allow people to explore the data and the patterns.

A late Christmas present...

You deserve to get one of these for yourself, or your wife or husband or partner, or a friend, or as a prize....just buy one...

Now available from the GA's online merchandise store...

iPhone 3G / 3GS case, which has been given a GA makeover...
Show your support for Geography and the GA wherever you go, and protect your iPhone at the same time..

Can't wait for mine to arrive :)

Plastic bag Monster

A giant PLASTIC BAG MONSTER was created in Ljubljana recently....

We have been making a slightly smaller one, and here's the result of our labours for those who wanted to see it..


Post-Christmas diets...

There are no doubt lots of people currently in the first week of a post-Christmas diet. (I know a few people who are, and I'm not one of them...)

A lot of food is wasted all year round of course, but there is a particular problem around Christmas when we overpurchase and overindulge - throwing away over 200 000 tonnes of food...

This is also linked to the bad weather that we had recently. In many towns, there hasn't been a bin collection for some weeks due to the bad weather and the Christmas break.In some streets, there are disparities in collections where they lie on a boundary between local authorities.

(Some good cartoons by following that link too)

Food is a major household expense, and we could be saving lots of money. Tristam Stuart's book 'WASTE' develops the theme that was started in my work on the Geographies of Food. The website has a range of images to stimulate discussion about our food supply arrangements - are they sustainable ?

Eye on the Arctic

My favourite new blog find (and also available on Twitter @eyeonthearctic)

Eye on the Arctic also scores with its tag line... "views from up North", and we're not talking Rotherham...
There's plenty of intriguing stuff there at the moment:

Snow being collected in Helsinki over winter months to act as air conditioning in the summer
Tourists visiting calving glaciers in Greenland
Wind turbines and reindeer...

Check it out if you are studying or teaching the circumpolar regions of the world... an important area in the next few decades...

Thought for the Day

"..we all need to recall that the GA is not a 'them' tucked away in a lofty eyrie in Sheffield, but an 'us'... the health and survival of the Association depends directly on our own willingness to lift our sights beyond the immediate and parochial, to become involved in committees and working groups, to support local branch activity, and to participate in turning the purposes of the Association towards positive and practical ends..."

Rex Walford, from his GA Presidential address "Geography and the Future" - 1984

Changes in London's Congestion Charging Zone

I hope you've all signed up for the Harper Collins Geography Update e-mails.
This will allow you to get a copy of an excellent case study of the London cycle hire scheme - as written by me ;)

As is the nature of all printed materials, they go out of date, and one role of this blog is to be as up-to-date as possible.

The Congestion Charge in London changed in the first week of January.

The main changes are:
- a reduction in the size of the zone, with the reversal of the decision to extend the zone to the west of the central area
- an increase in the daily cost to £10

There is also a new Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD)
From the TfL site:

You can now register with us for the GVD, which will allow a 100 per cent discount from the Congestion Charge for cars that emit 100g/km or less of CO2 and that meet the Euro 5 standard for air quality. You will need to register with us for the discount and pay £10 a year per vehicle.

Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, it is anticipated that new electric and hybrid electric plug-in vehicles will be brought to market with significantly lower emission levels.  We'll monitor developments in the market and keep discount criteria under review, with the intention of reducing the discount levels to 80g/km or lower when the time is right.  The review of discount criteria will be carried out in 2012.

So now you know... happy motoring !

GA Magazine Spring 2011

The latest GA Magazine is now available to download from the GA website (hard copies will be on the way..)
Some interesting and useful contents as always:
- Pictorial report on the official opening of Solly Street
- Details on GA CPD opportunities
- Details on latest schools to be awarded the Primary and Secondary Geography Quality Mark
- Reports from the International Geography Olympiad in Taipei, the Atlantic Rising project, GA Study Tour in Poland and details of 2011's tour to Tanzania
- An overview of the review of the Primary Curriculum

The late Rex Walford can be seen on the front cover... in animated conversation as always... (see previous post)

Dr. Rex Walford - geographer...

Earlier this week, one of the first e-mails to be received by GA staff after the Christmas break was the sad news that Dr Rex Walford, OBE & President of the GA in 1983-4 was missing after a boat accident in the Thames over the Christmas period.

Rex was one of the most influential post-war geographers and few teachers will have been unaware of his work, or gone through their career without encountering his huge contribution to geography education.
Image copyright Bryan Ledgard - Rex and Fred Martin at the official opening of Solly Street

My first introduction was in the form of the idea of Games in Geography, guided by my PGCE tutor, the late Vincent Tidswell. As a gamer myself, I enjoyed developing some of my own variations on Rex's ideas, and remember the contributions that Rex made to Teaching Geography.
I met Rex numerous times as he visited Cambridge University PGCE colleagues who had their placement in my school through the 1990s.
More recently, we met again at Madingley Hall for the 2010 Geography Teacher Educators' Conference, where I was privileged to hear him talk through his involvement in the famous lecture series in the 1960s, and showed documents from his remarkable archive. He was also present at the recent official opening of Solly Street, and can be seen on the front cover of the most recent issue of GA Magazine. He was also one of the many influential faces from Geography's past (and future) who attended a recent seminar at the Institute of Education.
Yesterday, I went down into the GA warehouse, and read through the issues of Teaching Geography from the time of Rex's GA presidency. One of the articles was by Rex himself on the issue of Marking in geography, and contained useful advice, written back in 1984, which still holds true today...
Article by Rex from Teaching Geography, 1984

A brief message by Professor David Lambert has been added to the GA website - there will be a fuller remembrance in future GA journals and events.

You can comment on the message on the GA website if you want to add your own messages to remember Rex. There are already plenty of messages on the website.

I got out my copy of Geography in British Schools 1850-2000 today to re-read some sections....

The Faculty of Education at Cambridge is organising a book of recollections and reflections, to be presented to Wendy at an appropriate time in the future. Colleagues are most welcome to e-mail their contribution to either Judy Stevens ( or Susannah Lacon (, and i will then ensure that they are assembled appropriately.

With best wishes
Mike Younger
Head of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Walled world

Via @urbanphoto blog

A new Walled World: the latest Brandt line ?

Interesting discussion image

Could you be the 1000th ?

The number of people who are involved with the Geography Primary Champions NING has been slowly edging towards the 1000 mark as the Christmas season has come and gone...

If you are involved in Primary geography, perhaps as co-ordinator, or a teacher and you're not a member why not head over to the NING and sign up to join this valuable online community.

Things to watch in 2011...

I liked this..
Lots of 'geographical' food for thought in terms of possible developments during 2011...

JWT: 100 Things to Watch in 2011

Did the earth move for you...

An earthquake occurred in NE England yesterday evening, centred around the Ripon area.
Plenty of twitter action to map and respond to.

Report on SKY NEWS.

As usual, if you felt something use the BGS online form to add your data.

A useful INTERACTIVE MAP has already been collated...


Interesting story on front page of The Guardian (and other newspapers) on the ending of a scheme in Spain which paid new parents 2500 euros (scheme was introduced in 2007 as a pro-natalist policy)
The scheme is ending because of public-spending cuts...
As the deadline approached (nominally, the end of 2010), Spanish mothers were apparently trying to have their babies so that they would qualify for the baby bonus...

A case study to connect the changes in finances with population policies...

Image by Flickr user Michael Sharman and made available under Creative Commons license

Montserrat recovering...

Via Victoria Ellis
An article from the BOSTON GLOBE on the slow recovery of the island of Montserrat from the impacts of ongoing volcanic activity which has been a regular case study in many geography classrooms...

And if you're teaching MONTSERRAT, don't forget Noel Jenkins' classic lesson activity resource.

A year's worth of consumption artist Katherine Hubbard..

There's also a great GOOD post on how to reduce plastic consumer waste...

Fits well with my Functional Skills National Strategy booklet...
Available for FREE DOWNLOAD (PDF)

New in January 2011

One to spend your Christmas book token on perhaps...

Camera for ipad

Thanks to @tonycassidy for the tipoff to this app: Camera for iPad by Headlight Software
It costs just 59p to purchase, and a copy is downloaded to both iPhone and iPad (so already we're into some fairly expensive technology... but that's already been paid for anyway...)

One issue with the iPad for some people is that it has no camera (yet ?)
This app connects the iPhone and iPad via wireless or Bluetooth so that whatever the camera on the iPhone sees can be viewed on iPad...

Works very well so far when I've tried it on wireless... Need to head out and try it with Bluetooth I think...

Whatever you look at with the iPhone can be seen on the iPad screen.
Images can be captured, and sent between the devices.

This would allow students to communicate with others in another location, which could be within the building or, subject to wireless reach, outside the building and elsewhere on the school campus.
Students could be cast in the role of explorers, or send back clues as to their location using images...
These images could involve students having to use evidence to identify places, jobs, geographical processes that are taking place etc.

Thinking of some other possible uses, and will try it with some PGCE colleagues later in the month...
Any other thoughts on how to make use of this interesting app ?

Update: Noticed the image is reversed...

Video in Geography

Have used video in my teaching quite a lot over the years.
Also went on a couple of courses run by Dan Raven Ellison in the time before I was working for the Geographical Association, and before the Geography Collective...

For a perspective on the use of video in geography, why not read Bradley Garrett's recent article, which is embedded below...
Perhaps 2011 will be the year when video plays a bigger part in your classroom ??
Videographic geographies: using digital video for geographic research

SLN Forum - still going strong

I don't visit the SLN Geography Forum as much as I used to...

That's not to say that it isn't providing great support (as it has always done) for geographers young and old...

There are also some good resources on the SLN HOME PAGE.
Claire Housecroft has contributed a nice mystery on the recent heavy snowfalls, for example...
If you need a ready made community to join, sign up to SLN for 2011

Curriculum Prescription...

We've had the prescription, now here's the prescription...
Bit of fun via the Prescription Maker (indulge me while I get the generator fix out of my system...)

IYC 2011

Apparently 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry, which as you know is a sub-branch of Geography... :)

GIS 45rpm

An image produced using the Vinyl Record Generator for a presentation I'm doing in Austria later this month...
One of many generators that are out there...

Quite like this FAKE GRAPH one as well....

Forest Fire Simulator in Google Maps

ForeFire is a forest fire simulator.

The idea is that you start a forest fire somewhere on the island of Corsica, and decide on the wind strength and direction. Watch how the fire spreads... and begin to think of appropriate management plans to contain it and to warn people who are threatened...
Would be useful for those doing a unit on Natural Hazards or hazard management...
Forest fires used to be included in the old 'A' level spec that I used to teach (in the days when they were called syllabuses...)

Thanks to Google Maps for (yet another) tip-off....