Rob's blog....

Good to see another geography blog, this time from Rob Morris of Shrewsbury School.
Check out what he has to say.
Good to see Living Geography gets a mention...

Games Based Learning

A useful guide to Games Based Learning from Futurelab.
Click to download as a PDF

Mentions several people I've been lucky enough to meet and work with...

GA Curriculum Consultation - now closed

Thanks to all those who responded...

From the Field: Extreme Tourism and Energy Security and Governance

The From the Field project has been developed by the RGS-IBG in association with the Goldmith's Company.

They are working with geography researchers and educators to translate the research that is going on in locations across the world that is being done by PhD researchers and other academics in the field, so that it can be used in KS4 and 5 classrooms. The other aim of the project is to inspire young people to consider doing geographical research as a way of seeing the world.

Materials are starting to become available for a range of projects. One that will be familiar to those colleagues who used the BBC's Human Planet has a focus on the ice river of Chadar in Zanskar.

It explores Extreme Tourism, and has been developed for KS4 students. It is a rather splendid resource and well worth checking out.

The next one to mention I'm pleased to say was a resource that I was involved in producing.
This was in association with Ralitsa Hiteva, a PhD researcher from Manchester University.
She has been exploring Energy Security and has visited Bulgaria and a range of other locations during her work.
These have been developed into a resource for Key Stage 5 pupils - check them out....

Watch out for the second of the two resources that I have contributed to this project, which will be appearing in the next couple of weeks.
I worked with researcher Rose Wilcox from the University of Hull who was exploring moorland regeneration in the Peak District National Park.

I am grateful to Steve Brace for his support in offering me these projects back in the summer.

Citizenship Test

Citizenship has often been linked with geography, as there are some overlaps in areas such as identity, immigration, cultural geographies, environmental themes etc...

The UK Citizenship test features a range of questions which those who want to stay in the UK on a long-term basis have to become familiar with.Some of the information quickly dates, and that is one of the challenges.

The Telegraph posted a sample set of questions a few weeks ago.

Twitter hashtag #RealCitizenshipTest then took on the theme and, as expected, created an irreverent alternative set of questions...

Speaking of Citizenship, public thanks to Graeme Eyre of the Anglo European School for his help with a Citizenship query earlier in the year, your help was much appreciated.

Fungus Foray

A trip over to Kelling Heath in North Norfolk yesterday morning for a few hours in the crisp sunshine.
Wandered through the woodlands looking for fungi in the company of someone who was able to identify them. We came across about twenty or thirty different kinds, some of which were edible.

A nice way to expand my horizons and give my eyes a break from a screen for a few hours....
OK, back to work !

Image: Alan Parkinson

Well, that's my money worries solved...

Just got this e-mail through...

After losing my job at the GA finances have been a little tight, so this is perfect timing...

My name is PHILIP PAUL Principal Attorney Stride Finance Consult and Legal Services United Kingdom  A Legal  Financial Consultancy Firm with Corporate Clientele including but not limiting to National Westminster Bank Plc (Natwest) United Kingdom, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) London Barclays Bank Lloyds TSB Plc London Federal Reserve Bank New York etc
We undertake Legal Representation and Financial Consultancy Services to Financial Institution and Government Bodies
In the course of auditing our client s Beneficiary s Files Late last month  we realised that your $10 000 000 00 (Ten Million United States Dollars Only) has been left unattended due to poor representation by you. We are ready to help you recover this funds to any account of your choice.
Lastly, be reminded that on receipt of your response, we shall discuss on the procedure
Kindly consider and oblige
Thank you in anticipation
Sincerely yours
Principal Attorney
Stride Finance Consult and Legal Services
United Kingdom

It's genuine, right ?

BBC Population Infographic

BBC Population Infographic

This is an excellent web page which puts you in your (population) place...

iPhone 4S

OK... so last Saturday morning I was woken at 7.20 by a delivery. Any annoyance at the early time was soon dispelled by the discovery that it was my new iPhone 4S....

The old 3S has gone into service as an iPod touch-alike. I've started to explore the new features and over the last week have been setting up my phone with the key apps, and exploring the many new features.
One particular feature is the addition of iCloud, where most of my apps are now waiting to be called down when they are needed.
I also liked the Photostream, which means that any picture I take with my iPhone appears a short while later on my iPad - I can see some potential uses there...

Anyone else identified some great new educational apps or features ?
Will be posting regularly as I get to grips with this new computer that has appeared in my life...

Keeping crabs in Cromer

Over to Cromer at the weekend on a crisp day.
Noticed variations on this poster in almost every shop in the town...
It seems that the business premises that process the Cromer crab (you'll pass them just up the hill from the town) may be closing. Crabs are synonymous with the town, and when some friends visit we have to go and buy several crabs for them to take home. Regular readers of the blog will know that I have posted many times on the link between foods and particular places, as examples of cultural geography.

Other posters included a white crab on a red background, saying Keep it Cromer
The particular poster in the picture is from the Unite union.
Image: Alan Parkinson

London Mapping Festival

As part of the London Mapping Festival, there is an event taking place at the Emirates Stadium on the 1st of December.
The MAPPING SHOW is free to attend.

There are a range of presentations on the day.

You also have a chance to book a free school workshop: "The Power of Geography" which is being presented by the Geography Collective's Daniel Raven Ellison.

Also part of the festival is our GEOGRAPHY CAMP.

Geography Forum on the VITAL Portal now OPEN

Thanks to those colleagues who have signed up for the VITAL Geography Portal. Numbers of subscribers for the various subject portals are encouraging at this early stage, and further new ideas are being added all the time.
I've just been starting some discussions over on the new GEOGRAPHY FORUM.

On the main Geography PORTAL page, scroll down to the section called COLLABORATION, and you'll be able to click through. Feel free to add a new discussion point, or add a suggestions to the ones that I have started.

Remember that you can sign up for a free 30 day trial, or subscribe to up to 3 portals for just £5 - great, low cost, good value access to a range of new materials.
My next online Teachshare session will be held on the 8th of November, and will be on the theme of maps and literacy.

BBC Frozen Planet

The BBC Frozen Planet starts this week - don't forget to tune in tomorrow.
First episode: To the Ends of the Earth

I've just got the book at a bargain price, and the series looks spectacular... book's rather cool too...

Also head over to the OU PAGE to order a free poster for your classroom.

Mine arrived 2 days after ordering. Great service and a fabulous poster...

Oceans in the Curriculum

Coming soon to a classroom near you... hopefully very near...

If you think that OCEANS should feature more in the curriculum there's an e-petition to sign HERE.

Watershed Landscape

A quick blog post on a day spent racing to meet a writing deadline, which I fear may now slip into tomorrow....

Just came across an excellent site on the Pennine landscapes...

WATERSHED LANDSCAPE has a focus on the Pennines near Bradford, just North of the area of the Peak District that I am working on. As the site makes clear, these regions are "rarer than rainforests"..

The site also has a very useful bank of materials for teaching about LANDSCAPES which piqued my interest. Also the WILDLIFE guides and information.

I liked the ideas for using GPS and other geographical tools.

Also materials for Environmental and Land Based Diploma.

There are also links to some useful videos, such as this one:

Somerset Geography Conference

Noel Jenkins was involved in the organisation of a conference for geography teachers in Somerset recently, and the resources from the event have now very kindly been shared.

If you head over to the SOMERSET GEOGRAPHERS posterous blog, you will find details of the sessions that Noel and others produced for the delegates. Some fabulous ideas there...

Vital Geography Portal - 2 weeks old

It's now just under 2 weeks since the launch of the VITAL Geography Portal that I'm managing.
I've run 2 Teachshares, and added a range of content to the portal which include some video guides to key geography websites.
There's plenty more to come between now and Christmas, and hopefully next week there'll be the chance to ask questions and have discussions on the new Geography Forum space.

I will be leading 2 further Teachshares in November, and will post details here at the end of the month....

Come over and say hello....

Thought for the Day

Definition of a village:
"a small group of houses, none of which can get pizza delivered"
Guy Browning

Up over 200 000 page views on the blog...

"Thanks for coming..."

Oceans Academy

I was unfortunately unable to attend the first Oceans Academy, which is taking place this weekend near Southampton, involving the Ocean Ambassadors.
Especially sad to miss what looked like being a marvellous trip on a sailing ship. Thanks to David Rogers for tweeting pictures and updates from the day. Weather was great too by the look of it.
The Oceans Digital Explorer website will host the resources that I've been involved in producing. They will go live shortly.

Don't forget to look for opportunities to teach about the world's oceans...

Umka ??

Thanks to Rob Chambers for sending a link through to a Daily Express article on the planned city of UMKA, which will apparently be built under a dome in the Arctic.
This intrigued me, as I'm currently writing about the changing fortunes of cities in the far North, but a few searches haven't provided much more information at the moment, apart from this article.

The geopolitics of the Arctic are certainly an interesting topic...

By the seaside

Over to the coast at Cromer yesterday on a crisp sunny day...

 Felbrigg Hall walled garden
Groyne on Cromer beach

Images: Alan Parkinson

Australian Draft Curriculum

It's not just in the UK that the curriculum is being reviewed. I have mentioned the Australian review before. The draft of the new Australian National Curriculum is now available. Plenty of work being done by ACARA and other Australian colleagues. Will be interesting to see what the comments are. The document is over 100 pages long, and there seems to be quite a lot of material there...

Click here to download as a PDF

Geography is a structured way of exploring, analysing and explaining the characteristics of the places that make up our world, through perspectives based on the concepts of place, space and environment.
A study of geography develops students’ curiosity and wonder about the diversity of the world’s places and their peoples, cultures and environments. Students examine why places have their particular environmental and human characteristics, explore the similarities and differences between them, investigate their significance and meanings to people, explain how they change over time, and evaluate their futures. 

Good to see some mention of the impact of technology too:

In addition, the draft Australian Curriculum: Geography provides opportunities for students to enhance their information and communication technology competence by exploring the effects of these technologies on places, on the location of economic activities and on people’s lives, and to understand the geographical changes produced by the increasing use of technology

Geographical enquiry (or inquiry) featured in Y1 and 2

Also like the BIG IDEA that each Year has, although it means it's quite a lot to focus on...
These include

Year 1: Not everywhere is the same
Year 2: Links to our world
Year 3&4: How we live

Year 5: Weather and activities
Year 6: Going Global

Heading into Secondary 

Year 7: Environmental Resources
Starts with a unit on the importance of water (clearly an important issue for Australia)
Why people live where they do

Year 8: Landscapes - (always a good focus for work... I like the section on: "appreciating that some societies do not separate landscape and culture", which again is an important element of Australian culture)

Personal and Community Geographies 
A major area for overlap with the work of the GA and the Geography Collective here - the title sounds good, but some of the content here is a little dry...
What it could do with is a bit of a MISSIONEXPLORE twist of course, although when my colleague Dan Ellison contacted members of the AGTA they weren't overly receptive...

Year 9: Biomes and Food Security
Again, food security a major world issue...
Navigating global connections

Year 10: Environmental Challenges and geography
Global well-being

Senior Secondary
1. The changing biophysical cover of the Earth
2. Sustaining places
3. Environmental risk management
4. A world in the making

Good to see a GA publication in the references by Fred Martin
Martin, F (2006), e-geography: Using ICT in quality geography, Geographical Association, Sheffield.

Big Draw

My wife organised the Big Draw event at the school where she teaches (and I used to teach at) yesterday. A huge roll of paper was donated by Palm Paper, and students (and some staff) from across the school community took part in creating a huge representation of the school, with details from the building and the architectural features, as well as the Royal monarchs whose large portraits hang in the school hall... It was a fabulous piece of work, and these images don't really do it justice. I am currently making a video of the event...

Great ShakeOut

Don't forget to take part in the Great Shake Out later today, and perhaps do it tomorrow in your geography lessons. Did anyone do it today ?

Thanks once again to Richard Allaway for the official Great Shakeout T-shirt that he sent me earlier in the year....

Will Self on the Rural...

An interesting feature by Will Self.

There are plenty of things here that Geographers would recognise of course. One recurring theme here is that there are few places that have escaped the hand of man... Landscape as palimpsest is a recurring theme in the work that I do with colleagues.

Climate Change and Migration

A new report from Foresight

Download the report as a PDF

John Snow's Cholera Map Redux

One of the earliest examples of GIS-style data/map analysis that was carried out was done by John Snow in London during a cholera outbreak in 1854.
You can now recreate the outbreak with a new interactive produced using the ArcGIS ONLINE EXPLORER tool, which is rather wonderful....

Tour de France route

The route of the 2012 Tour de France was released yesterday...

Wonder about going over on the ferry for the Boulogne finish ? (presume they'll be a tad busy...)

Or just how close to Rich Allaway's house the Swiss legs are...

Update: Very close....

Teachshare 2: Curriculum Making for KS3 (and 2 probably)

Join me at 7pm tonight online for a brief introduction to CURRICULUM MAKING.
I will talk for about 15-20 minutes, followed by some discussion on the role of teachers in designing the curriculum.

Small guide here

You can do some READING UP in advance if you have the time...

Also scroll down the blog for the link through to a replay of last week's event...

Cambridge CPD Session

Thanks to those colleagues who joined me in Cambridge last week for a session at the Leys School, just off the Fen Causeway.
Here's the slides for the session that I did on 'Making a Difference in the Classroom' (some of them anyway...) - fonts have gone a little weird on my machine...
Check out SLIDESHARE for more associated documents.

Thanks to Claire Kyndt from the King's School, Ely for sharing her 7 billionth person project resource

It was good to get back on the CPD trail after a few months 'off', and hope to see more people at Norwich School on the 3rd of November

Danny Dorling in 'The Guardian'

A good piece with associated materials by Martin Wainwright on Danny Dorling in Monday's Guardian.

Get the data

Read the article...

Move to Rotherham...

NO 2

I was due to play a significant role in this event at the O2 in late November. Sadly it is now no longer taking place due to insufficient bookings with just over a month to go...
Hopefully something similar will be put on in 2012...
Keep following the blog and any news will appear here.

London as a World City

I hope you recognise this lady...
(Image credit: BBC)

Doreen Massey is Professor Emerita of Geography from the Open University, and also an Honorary Vice President of the Geographical Association.

BBC WORLD SERVICE: a 45 minute long podcast on changes in a globalised world is a useful resource to explore the changing relationships that are developing in the 21st Century

Thanks also to Doreen for helping out so wonderfully with Mission:Explore at the GA Conference in 2010

Via Danny Nicholson

Thought for the Day

"Where other cities are like fried eggs, with a discernible neat logic of 'centre' and 'outside', London is an enormous dish of scrambled that the yolks and the white...ended up unevenly distributed across the plate"
Paul Richardson: 'Cornucopia'


A new find just now while researching some materials on Favelas for some teaching materials.

The FAVELISSUES blog has a range of writing by different authors.
Some excellent images and other information on favelas for those exploring these spontaneous settlements and their politics, geography and history.

Ocean acidification

We're just putting the finishing touches to a set of resources for the WORLD's OCEANS over at Digital Explorer. They are launching later this week, with two special weekends down on the South Coast...


Blog Action Day

I have taken part in Blog Action Day each time that it has taken place.
This year's is on the theme of FOOD.

I have been doing a lot of writing on the theme of FOOD....
There have been some new discoveries today via my Twitter feed, which always gives me 'food for thought'.
The first is a useful infographic from the New York Times to demonstrate that fast food isn't necessarily cheap food. The geographies of convenience are included in the New Economic Foundation's 'An Inconvenient Sandwich'.

Here's another blogger's useful post on Blog Action Day.
Food is heavily featured on the GA website on the ONLINE CPD page.
Don't forget to donate, as I have, to the work of the WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME, which is working in the Horn of Africa.

Update: thanks to Victoria for spotting the 'deliberate' spelling mistake in an earlier version of this post

New Thames Crossing

This TFL announcement had me checking the date at first.

It seems that there really is going to be a new Thames crossing, which will involve a cable car system. The crossing will be open in time for the London Olympics, and will then (presumably) be a permanent addition to the city's infrastructure.
Check it out here...

DK Quiz

I like the way that Google Ads picks up some of the contents of the blog and then chooses appropriate ads. A great example of that at the moment.

The main Google Ad is for the DK Quiz that I blogged about yesterday. I wrote some of the Geography Quizzes.
Even more interesting is that the question that's shown in the ad above is one that I wrote :)

Check out the Quizzes to find out the answer.
And please click the GOOGLE AD to get there... I get a few pence which all helps towards hosting fees for my shared web content...

Blog Action Day tomorrow... Food

Regular readers will know that I have been writing about food for some time now...
Tomorrow is BLOG ACTION DAY and I shall be posting some ideas from the materials that I have been writing recently. If you've got a blog, then join in...

I am proud to take part in Blog Action Day Oct 16, 2011

Blood in the Mobile

A new film which explores the issue of rare earth metals and the way that they are extracted in certain locations in West Africa.
These minerals are vital for the manufacture of many electronic devices.

Blood in the Mobile is a documentary film which explores the injustices involved in the mining of minerals in the Congo.

Thanks to Danny O'C for the tipoff to this GUARDIAN article which looks at the ethics of some of the products around the home...

Teachshare No. 1

We are up and running with Teachshares on the Geography Portal.

The RECORDING is here....

Presentation on Slideshare too
Free GIS in the Classroom

View more presentations from GeoBlogs

Join me on Wednesday at 7pm for a session on Curriculum Making....

Dorling Kindersley Quiz site

Earlier in the year, I completed a nice project for Dorling Kindersley.
I was asked to write a series of quizzes, and to provide sets of 20 questions around a theme, with 4 possible answers to each question. They have now been put online at the DK QUIZ website. 
Play the quizzes to earn points, and login to save these points and have them added to your totals to move you up the leaderboard.
Good to see some of the quizzes I wrote amongst the most popular at the time of writing...

Head over there and play some of the Geography quizzes, or tell your students about the site.

Vital Geography Teachshare 1: Free GIS tools

I will be running my first VITAL Teachshare TONIGHT

It's on 'FREE GIS TOOLS for the Geography Classroom' and introduces the basics of GIS followed by 3 suggested websites which can be used to produce GIS-style work with students.

If you'd like to join me, you'll need to click this link just before 7pm

This will load up Elluminate on your machine which may take a few minutes....

For those who haven't been to an online session before, you'll be able to hear and see me going through a presentation and then have a chance to discuss things. You can ask question and I might ask you to click some icons to participate... You'll get the hang of it...

We should be finished by 7.45, but you can of course feel free to join later and leave earlier if you like: that's the 'benefit' of online sessions like this. Slides and links will be on Slideshare after the event.

If you haven't already done so, head over to VITAL and sign up for a free trial for the Geography portal too...

Check out the other subject portals too. For just five quid you can subscribe to 3 of them until March 2012 and access videos, forums, resources, Top Tips and other content.

Next session is Wednesday October 2011 at 7pm - Curriculum Making in Geography

If you'd like to see a replay of the session, FOLLOW THIS LINK - not sure of the speed at which it will play, and the sound is not perfect (which may have been my fault...)
Also need to practice getting the presentation properly on the screen....

Thanks very much for those colleagues who joined me, and asked questions....

VITAL GEOGRAPHY PORTAL now open for business


Very keenly priced and hopefully useful. Take out a TRIAL and join me on Wednesday night for a Teachshare on Free GIS for the classroom...

iPhone 4S

Thanks to good timing on the date that my phone contract expires, I've just been able to order this....
Will let you know how I use it for geographical reasons of course...
Can already see the 8MP Pixel and HD video recording will come in useful for fieldwork and resource creation...

First Class Landscapes

I'm always up for new stamps, especially when they are geographical in nature.

Some new Royal Mail stamps are out later this week.

They are the first in a set of 26 stamps, which cover famous places from A - Z

Which A-Z would you choose ? 

A = Angel of the North                      
B = Blackpool Tower
C = Carrick-a-Rede
D = Downing Street
E = Edinburgh Castle
F = Forth Railway Bridge
G = Glastonbury Tor
H = Harlech Castle
I = Ironbridge
J = Jodrell Bank
K = Kursaal (Southend)
L = Lindisfarne Priory

Fits very nicely with Lesson 6 of my GA toolkit book: "Look at it this Way"

Support for the new Curriculum...

From the TES last week.

The importance of the support that is given at times of curriculum change can't be overstated. Teachers already feel under pressure from existing work, without the extra demands that this will impose on them.

It is expected to be the most radical overhaul of the national curriculum since its introduction nearly a quarter of a century ago, ushering in a completely new approach to deciding what is taught in the classroom. But this week it emerged that there is unlikely to be any money to pay for training, or any official guidance to help teachers adapt to and thrive in the new climate.

When the Coalition government announced there would be a review of the curriculum, we said that this would be the case. There will be no CfBT Mark 2, for those who remember the support that was available in 2007 during the last curriculum change. As a Regional Subject adviser at the time I (hopefully) provided some useful ideas and support. This is the time to start building a Personal Learning Network

In 2012, Dave Holmes and I will be leading a CPD session in Central London on the theme of developing a PLN in Geography.

Blackpool's regeneration - you must be joking...

Saw this on the news earlier and I really liked it.... good graphic quality to it.

The Blackpool Comedy carpet was designed by artist Gordon Young

Although it's called a carpet it's made from concrete, which is just as well as it was wet when Ken Dodd officially opened it...
It's part of the regeneration of Blackpool's promenade....

Graham Cain, Blackpool Council's cabinet member for tourism and culture, said: "This magnificent work is all part of the continuing regeneration of Blackpool. It's a truly unique work of accessible public art at one of our resort's most famous locations.
"There's already a huge amount of interest in the carpet and I'm looking forward to seeing people enjoy it once it's officially open."
It apparently cost £14 million, and has been described as "our Angel of the North, but horizontal..."

Fossil fuels / energy resource

Fossil Fuels: 300 years in 300 seconds Thanks to Miles Golland on Twitter for tipoff...

Pumpkin Interactive

Pumpkin is a video production company that has made videos in association with the Geographical Association for some time.
You can purchase the DVDs from the GA shop.

They have now launched a new service called Pumpkin Interactive
Click on GEOGRAPHY to see the Geography Videos.
Click the image to see a short preview of each movie...

A few quotes from me on there too....

Follow @LikePumpkin and check the tweets.

Visit the website now for a 10% discount code to use online.

Join the Tashtastic Geographers

November is also Movember: when men who are men grow moustaches.... Cue Spongebob Movie..

This year, Richard Allaway, who can grow a mean 'tache, has set up a special group.


I've joined the team.

If you'd like to donate to me or the team, visit my MO SPACE page

3000 up....

I started this blog back in May 2008, when I heard that I would be joining the Geographical Association.
This is the 3000th post.
A lot of geography has gone under the bridge since then.... I've blogged about all my work and travels in the UK and parts of Europe, the changing geography curriculum, endless weblinks and webtools. I've posted images, resources and CPD-tips and hopefully told the story of a life spent "living geography..."

I hope you've found the blog useful: recently had 1400 page views of the blog in one day (although I'm not sure they were all interested in geography to be fair)
I'll carry on putting my thoughts and events here now that I'm a freelance geographer. Having written over 10 000 blog posts since coming across this wonderful activity back in 2002-3, I'm not about to stop...

Frozen Planet

New BBC Frozen Planet trailer via @jamiebd
Looks pretty, er, cool....

The best job in the world ?

Have been writing some materials for the Royal Meteorological Society Summer Internship. They're taking longer than I'd hoped, but are taking shape.

They are on the theme of the weather and how it impacts on food production.

This recent GUARDIAN ARTICLE has added a bit of useful additional context for it.
This is a stand-out quote:

"The UK is one of the most erratic, changeable places on Earth when it comes to weather."

As part of the work I've been investigating the infamous barbeque summer prediction of last year, and the effect on staycationing...

This led me to a GUARDIAN article which explored the origins of the quote, and had a good audio clip of some people's reaction, including the comment that led to the title of this blog post: it seems that weather forecasters have the best job in the world, because they can get things wrong everyday and still keep their job...

Also going to use Weatherspark to explore this aspect of the weather, and the link with Food.

I am grateful to Professor Andy Challinor from Leeds University for the discussion that we had about the planned resource earlier this week.

One World Many Stories

One World Many Stories is a resource to help celebrate the one billion downloads of Google Earth that have now taken place.

The new 'F' word...

 Warning: contains Bono... ;)

Interesting labelling here.... coming in 2012

Dramatic cliff-fall video

This video has been mentioned by quite a few people over last few days.

Here's the description from the person who uploaded the clip to YouTube...

The failure occurred at about 5pm on Friday 23rd September 2011. It took place on the North Coast of Cornwall. There were only a few people watching, with about the same number of inquisitive seals in the water! There were lots of 'small' failures just before the main event. This appears to be a progressive failure, the frequency and size of the smaller failures increased until the inevitable happened. The sound was incredible, those cliffs are about 150-200ft high. I'd been chatting to the couple mentioned in the clip only a few minutes before the footage was taken. They can just be seen walking away in the distance; the path had been fenced off and diverted, so they were quite safe. An amazing sight, and credit to R who took the video, I still can't stop revisiting it! Thanks again for all the comments, who says Geology isn't an exciting subject?!. Oh, & finally.... I'm happy to report that no seals or humans were hurt in the filming of this clip! ACSM(93)

Kenya's Flying Vegetables

Just been doing some more resources on Food and Health.

This resource: Kenya's Flying Vegetables has been produced for the Africa Research Institute

It is written by Kenyan farmer James Gikunju Muuru and deconstructs the relationship between farmers and the world economy, exploring the decisions about which food to buy when visiting the supermarket. It is featured in Oxfam's 'Fair Miles' booklet.

Somalian Famine and #hoacrisis

Just spent some time working on a resource for Geography all the Way which looks at the current famine crisis in the Horn of Africa.

As usual, there are several Twitter feeds and hashtags which provide some up-to-date information on the issues if you follow them. These are frequently updated, and provide the latest stories from 'on-the-ground'
at the places where the famine is biting.

#hoacrisis is a useful hashtag

Twitter users
@LydiaWamala - aid worker on the ground
@WFPVAM - analysis of food security and vulnerability

The Horn of Africa weather update might seem less than important, but obviously the weather dictates the jobs that farmers can do. The predictions for heavier than normal rains are also creating some cause for concern - it sees that almost any scenario is going to produce a problem.

Don't forget that you can donate to support the work of the World Food Programme.

Also a recent notification that BLOG ACTION DAY is also coinciding with WORLD FOOD DAY, so there's lots more to come on this topic.

Here's to Dan Raven Ellison....

These words have been repeated many times over the last few days since the sad death of Steve Jobs.

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." 
They're taken from the Apple 'Think Different' ad of 1997.

We've just created something new over at Mission:Explore Net

It's not an iPhone or an iPad, it's just a website, but it's a pretty cool one, and it helps young people to explore their surroundings and develop an appreciation of a whole range of geographical skills. It's free to use and has been going down really well with everyone in the UK who's tried it out.

My friend and fellow collective member Dan thought that it might be something that geography colleagues in Australia would like, so he sent an e-mail to some people over there who'd put their e-mail addresses up on a website for their association, letting them know that the website was now live.

Australian colleagues are going through the same curriculum changes as in the UK, and have been looking to the UK for some advice. I've blogged about these changes several times over the last few years.
The ACARA consultation is ongoing and has referenced the work of the GA and 'a different view' as a major influence. Curriculum change is ongoing in New Zealand too.

Dan got this e-mail reply from an Australian colleague:

 I believe this to be an unsolicited email with no indication as to how or why it has been sent to my email address and there is no option to unsubscribe. I wish to bring to your attention the following:

An anti-spam bill was introduced to Australian Federal parliament in September 2003 that makes it a civil offence to use address harvesting software to construct distribution lists of recipients or a list built in this way. Any unsolicited commercial emails must contain accurate information about the origin of the mail and provide a means for recipient to opt out. The regulation applies to email, SMS, MMS, and instant messaging. The regulation applies regardless of where (which country) the email originated from or in which country the eMarketing company resides.

I will be referring your email to the relevant Australian authorities and advising all other Australian geography organisations to stay well clear of the website you are promoting

This is a FREE website which offers the chance to add a bit of creativity to the geography curriculum mix. There are links to FREE materials for Geography Awareness Week. The e-mails were sent to professional colleagues. This person is apparently now going to advise "all other Australian geography organisations to stay well clear of the website".... - a bit of an over-reaction possibly.
If I had a similar response to all the unsolicited e-mails I received I'd be much the poorer - both financially and professionally.

Here's to the crazy ones...
The ones who just click delete when an e-mail that's not relevant drops in their in-box.
Here's to all the MISSION EXPLORERS....
Here's to Dan Raven Ellison.

Wonderful inking by Tom Morgan Jones

Follow the Things

I've been following Follow the Things for some years now as it took shape thanks to the efforts of Ian Cook and colleagues.
The idea is that you can explore the links between consumer products and the places that they were manufactured. The links between these locations provide useful material for looking at interdependence and globalisation.
There are also links with trade justice and inequality.

There are some additional, and useful links which have since appeared in various locations, and which I have incorporated into a draft of a possible new resource.

Follow @followthethings on Twitter

Controlled Assessment 'damaged children's education'

An OFQUAL report published today, and covered in this Daily Telegraph article has confirmed what a large number of Geography teachers already knew: that Controlled Assessment is NOT a good idea...

Fortunately, I escaped having to organise CA in my own school, but working with many teachers over the last few years has reminded me many times of the endless headaches organising, monitoring and scrutinising the assessments. Fieldwork trips have become quick dashes to grab as much information as possible, and have perhaps been moulded with the various levels of 'control' in mind. Access to computer rooms and the need to monitor internet access have occupied time and created additional stress. Students have not necessarily benefited from the change.
All of this has taken time: the thing that is perhaps in shortest supply in most teachers' lives (despite what some of the people adding comments to the Telegraph article have said...)

“The amount of time taken up in each subject by controlled assessment, meant a narrowing of teaching, and fewer opportunities for activities such as off-site trips that deepen students’ understanding and interest,” the study said.
“In several subjects the loss of teaching and learning time was the single biggest drawback to controlled assessment.”
Geography is described as one of those subjects that has been affected the most.

Click the link HERE to download a PDF copy of the report, which was produced by Ipsos Mori.

Vital Geography Portal - the countdown to launch...

I'm excited to be starting a new part-time post working for the Open University's VITAL CPD programme next week. A series of subject specific portals have started to open, and next week sees the launch of the Geography Portal, which I shall be managing.

As part of the launch, I shall be leading a Teachshare next Wednesday at 7pm (there will be 2 of these each month, sometimes more)

The subject will be FREE GIS FOR THE GEOGRAPHY CLASSROOM and I will show 3 websites which can be used to carry out GIS type work in the geography department.

This will be held via the Elluminate service. The link to join the event is HERE.
It's a little like a FLASH meeting or ADOBE connect, for those who are familiar with those.

The cost of accessing up to 3 of the subject-specific portals between now and the end of March 2012 is just five pounds, which has to be a bargain considering the geography-specific support that the portal will offer....

I shall be doing the following each month:
- holding at least 2 Teachshare meetings
- posting Top Tips for Geography teachers, which will include resources and other tip-offs
- a moderated Geography forum, where you can join in discussions on pedagogy and curriculum topics
- producing 4 x 10 minute video guides to a particular website or technique that would be useful in the geography classroom
- keeping up to date with the geography news

There will also be other Geography features added over time...

Hope to see you there next week !

"We want cake, and tea..."

Those familiar with the film Withnail and I will know what comes next...

CAKE is the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange

It's built around an interactive ESRI map, which has a range of case studies.

What is the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE)?
CAKE is a free, innovative, online resource created to help you navigate the world of climate change adaptation (how we prepare for and respond to climate change). Climate change is dramatically altering and affecting natural systems, human communities, and built environments. Managers, scientists, planners, conservation practitioners, and others are grappling with the realities of climate change in their daily work. CAKE, launched in July 2010, was built to support organizations, agencies, and individuals interested and/or engaged in climate change adaptation by providing a venue for open access information exchange between professionals. The primary goals of CAKE are to:
  • Build an innovative community of practice around climate change adaptation;
  • Facilitate the identification and development of best practices; and
  • Connect practitioners to share knowledge and strategies.
CAKE includes Case Studies of on-the-ground adaptation efforts, a Virtual Library of useful resources to support adaptation action, a Directory of individuals and organizations rich with adaptation knowledge, a Tools section full of useful online resources for adaptation action, and a Community section with an expert advice column and more. CAKE is a useful and effective resource because it presents valuable content on climate change adaptation in an approachable format that enables users to quickly access information and contribute as desired. The ultimate goal of CAKE is to create a living knowledge exchange among a growing, interactive community of people concerned about climate change adaptation.
Why focus on adaptation specifically?
The two approaches to addressing climate change are mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation efforts decrease the rate and extent of climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or the enhancement of carbon uptake and storage. Adaptation efforts either minimize the negative effects or exploit potential opportunities of climate change. These are not choices to be weighed against each other – both are necessary responses to the challenge of climate change. However, since climate change has already progressed to the point where some effects are unavoidable, adaptation serves as an insurance policy to protect ourselves and our investments from global impacts. For more information on the basics of climate change and adaptation and links to more information, check out the Don’t Panic page.

One billion downloads of Google Earth

Here's a video to celebrate...

Retro graphics

Can remember these well from the 1970s... Cultural memories... now live

I've just completed my first mission on the relaunched Mission which is now live in BETA
It's called the DEAD EASY MISSION
Come and login and find out what it involves...
It's worth it to go and see Tom Morgan Jones' latest wonderful illustrations...

Just going to do some missions at home...

Coincidentally my EARTH SANDWICH Mission Explore t-shirt arrived today - it's cool.

Why not order your own MISSION EXPLORE shirt to wear while completing the MISSION EXPLORE missions ?

Also available in Australia...

Spaces on Ocean Training Days - book now !

Oceans Teacher Training

Main Content Inline Small
Unique.. fun.. inspirational.. practical.. probably a bit messy.. and ultimately pretty important.
We're down to the last few spaces - if mucking about in mudflats, pretending to be Arctic scientists and sailing a pilot cutter (this year's fastest overall in the Tall Ships Race) sounds like your cup of tea, send in an application before Sunday night (9th)!
The training will take place over a choice of two sessions: 
Sat 22nd & Sun 23 October or Fri 28th & Sat 29th October,
and will enable teachers to confidently implement oceans learning into the classroom, through National Curriculum topics, for example using ocean-based case studies instead of land-based. 
[de] Oceans provides schools with a well-rounded resource programme on oceans learning, including an Ambassador programme and soon-to-be-released classroom resources on the Frozen Oceans.
As Arthur C. Clarke put it:
"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean."
The Digital Explorer Oceans site is now live... Education Pack coming soon...

GA Autumn Journals

Available to download from GA website by subscribers

Plenty on Curriculum and Knowledge here for all those following the curriculum debate...

Erosion of Childhood letter...

I am one of 200 'experts' (I use that term advisedly) to sign a letter that was published in the Daily Telegraph at the end of September on the lack of outdoor play for many children...
Here it is:

Five years ago, your newspaper published a letter signed by more than 100 experts, arguing that children’s well-being and mental health were being adversely affected by modern technological and commercial culture. Since then, several high-profile reports on the state of childhood in Britain have agreed that our children are suffering from a relentless diet of "too much, too soon" – with Unicef finding Britain to have the lowest levels of children’s well-being in the developed world, and Britain coming out near the top of international league tables on almost all indicators of teenage distress and disaffection.
Although parents are deeply concerned about this issue, the erosion of childhood in Britain has continued apace since 2006. Our children are subjected to increasing commercial pressures, they begin formal education earlier than the European norm, and they spend ever more time indoors with screen-based technology, rather than in outdoor activity. The time has come to move from awareness to action. We call on all organisations and individuals concerned about the erosion of childhood to come together to achieve the following: public information campaigns about children’s developmental needs, what constitutes "quality childcare", and the dangers of a consumerist screen-based life-style; the establishment of a genuinely play-based curriculum in nurseries and primary schools up to the age of six, free from the downward pressure of formal learning, tests and targets; community-based initiatives to ensure that children’s outdoor play and connection to nature are encouraged, supported and resourced within every local neighbourhood, and the banning of all forms of marketing directed at children up to at least age seven.
It is everyone’s responsibility to challenge policy-making and cultural developments that entice children into growing up too quickly – and to protect their right to be healthy and joyful natural learners. Top-down, political approaches to change always have their limitations, no matter how well-intentioned. It is only by coming together as a unifying voice from the grass roots, therefore, that we can hope to interrupt the erosion of childhood, and find a more human way to nurture and empower all our children.

You can read the letter and see the other signatories here...

I think it's worth saying that I would say you can have both outdoor play and screen time. My son benefits hugely from time spent on the iPad which helps his creative and communication side wonderfully. Some of these 'addictive computer games' also have real value used in an educational context - I have seen the benefits of games based learning. I didn't sign up to get rid of computers - goodness knows I spend long enough each day staring at them...

It's also interesting to read the numerous comments below the article which as always veer from one extreme view to another (with some in the middle)

Thanks to Dan for sending the link - I had forgotten all about that...

Thought for the Day

One former solicitor who had retrained as a teacher said she had found a "profound lack of respect by senior staff and parents for the quality and quantity of work undertaken by teachers". "I have never before worked in a workplace where I have not been treated as a professional," she said. "My every move is monitored and I am not trusted to do the job I have trained and gained qualifications to do. "It has had a great impact on my self-confidence … As a solicitor I was trusted to do my job once I had the necessary qualifications and experience."

from The Guardian

Subject Knowledge Update: Globalisation

The RGS-IBG hold regular subject updates for topics that are of relevance to 'A' level topics in particular.

I mentioned a previous one on water, and will actually be leading one in 2012 on the theme of the Polar regions (of which more to come later...)

There will be a subject update on the theme of Globalisation held in Manchester on the 5th of December 2011. This will be useful for those who would find it difficult travelling to London.

Subject Knowledge Updates are a series of evening sessions each focusing on a different theme, covering the basic information for teaching that topic and providing up to date case study material and resources. The next session in this series looks at Globalisation.
The DfE Schools White Paper 2010 The importance of Teaching highlights a need for subject knowledge to be included in CPD: “It is also vital that we give teachers the opportunity to deepen their subject
knowledge and renew the passion which brought them into the classroom”.

This Globalisation Subject Knowledge Update will:
 Provide up to date and new case study material and information.
 Give an overview of the key facts and information that should be highlighted when teaching 
 Help teachers who have not taught globalisation for a while, or never studied it, to teach it 
effectively and confidently.
 Provide some resources and case studies for you to take away for use at KS3, KS4 and KS5.
 Encourage enthusiasm to teach globalisation and give ideas of how to link it with other topics and 

About the session
Globalisation is now a core element for some of the new geography A-level Specifications and the
International Baccalaureate diploma course. It is increasingly a highly popular A2 option for those boards
where it is not a compulsory topic. But thanks to the fast-changing nature of global interactions, it is
difficult for students and teachers to always keep up to date with their facts and case studies. Some new
course text books published in 2008 do not mention the Credit Crunch for instance, yet this is a crucial new development that some experts have even called ‘de-globalisation.’  Effective globalisation teaching for higher grades also requires that students can make good use of important concepts – such as networks, flows, interconnectedness – and that they also have a good understanding of the politics, and not just the economics, of globalisation. This session will provide experienced and newer geography teachers with an opportunity to up-date their globalisation knowledge. Specific themes covered will include TNCs updates, cultural globalisation (glocalisation), global politics, ICT and global interactions (mobiles, Facebook, BlackBerry, etc.), diaspora, global production networks and Credit Crunch geography.
About the presenter
Dr Simon Oakes is an A-level Principal Examiner and Chief Examiner for IB Diploma Programme geography.He currently teaches at Bancroft’s School in Essex and is an experienced undergraduate lecture. He has been the lead writer of the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘Geography in the News’ website since 2003, authoring more than 120 articles. Simon is an Associate Editor of Geography Review magazine and is the author of Phillip Allan’s new Globalisation text book and a co-author of several key A-level and GCSE course guides. His doctoral research examined the growth of information technology global networks viewed from a rural perspective. Post-doctoral research includes work on flood hazard management for the Environmental Agency / Defra and climate change curriculum development with DCSF.

Venue:  Xaverian Sixth Form College, Lower Park Road, Victoria Park, Manchester, M14 5RB
Time: 5pm – 7pm (registration from 4.30pm for a prompt start). Refreshments will be available.
Format: 90mins lecture style followed by 30mins of discussion and questions.
There are 20 places available on this course.
Please note: this course is for teachers only.
Members (School Members / Fellows / ECT Members / Young Geographers) £30 inc VAT
Non Members £40 inc VAT

Contact Claire Wheeler for more details