Tuesday, 31 May 2011

New Lonely Planet Guide to the UK

Every now and again this story re-emerges ...

The "Lonely Planet" guide to the UK is updated, and a description of various cities, aimed at potential visitors is produced. Not everyone is pleased with their description, and there are plenty of stories in the paper.
A few days ago, Twitter had "Lonely Planet" trending - the reason was the latest edition of the guide had been published...
A quick scan down the Twitter feed brought up a range of towns and their view represented in local papers...

e.g.

Sheffield Star discussed the relatively favourable description of Sheffield

Check out the Telegraph SUMMARY of the way that several towns were described - how easy is it to 'sum up' a town in a short paragraph...

Who are the winners and losers ?
Who are happiest with the way that they have been portrayed ?

Norfolk: my contribution

Jennifer Watts posted on her blog about a nice collaborative effort which she has set up...
She had just finished a book "50 writers on 50 states", where the USA was described in a range of different 'voices'... and thought that this might usefully be adapted for the UK, and ask lots of people to

If anyone is reading this and would like to get involved in writing a short chapter, around 3-5 A4 pages on a county they know well in the UK, please get in touch. Chapters could typically include things you value about the county: places, highlights, traditions, changes, features found in the county that maybe overlooked, or just how you feel about the county, what does it mean to you, and why?

I've volunteered to write the chapter on Norfolk.
I'll base some of it on the session that I put together for the GA Norfolk branch when I was the president of the Norfolk branch in 2010 - this had lots of ideas for teaching about Norfolk and the way that the county was described...

Monday, 30 May 2011

National Trust: Outdoors Books of the Year

Yesterday at the famous Hay Festival, the winners of the National Trust "best outdoors books" were announced, and the good news is that Mission:Explore is one of the eight winners.
There were hundreds of votes cast on the website, and it's great to be on the same sort of list as authors like Richard Mabey.

You now have no excuse not to check out Mission:Explore and get yourself copies of the books.

Another accolade for our creative approach to geography and exploration...
And we're working on the next book at the moment....

#liffisms

This came about from an earlier tweet about Douglas Adams and a discussion which meandered towards one of his books, written with John Lloyd and called "The Meaning of Liff".... A friend of mine had a copy, and the image to the right brought it all back to me when I took a look...
The book is available in full online...

It provides a range of terms which are connected up to place-names, to give a new 'meaning' to both...

I had a Twitter exchange with a few folks a few weeks ago, where we tried to come up with some new additions, and I thought that this might make a good context for writing about places: to create a new set of places linked to quirky things...

Needs a bit more work maybe...

Me at #TMBeyond

Just to prove I was there... not many pictures featuring me as yet... Don't forget to check (and add your pictures to), the #TMBeyond Flickr group particularly if I'm in them !

Apparently there's some video of me out there as well... will link to all of that here later...
Picture by Iain Hallahan

Royal Meteorological Society - resources to come...

The Royal Meterological Society offers a small number of Summer Internships each year: the chance to work with an expert to produce some teaching resources which will ultimately go on the METLINK website, which is their educational portal for teachers and students.

This year, I decided to apply for one of the internships to develop some ideas for using Google Earth as a way of teaching about the impact of weather systems. I heard a few weeks ago that I was successful in my application, and will be spending a dew days working with a university lecturer to inform the production of a number of classroom resources.
A good friend and excellent geographer was also successful too, so this year's resources will hopefully be up to the previous high standards, such as THIS EXAMPLE (PDF download)

I'm going to try to link my efforts to a range of other issues that I've been working on, particularly the link with food production...

One issue that has been in the news very much over the last few months is the potential impact of the dry weather on food prices in the UK.

On the 1st of June, the RMetS is starting its GREAT BRITISH WEATHER EXPERIMENT. Get involved in that, and look out for my resources on the MetLink site from about September 2011 onwards.....

Mongolia : "the land without fences"

An article in The Guardian on Mongolia provided interesting reading.
It describes the growth of a large squatter settlement on the edges of Ulan Bator, where the previously nomadic population have been persuaded / forced / chosen ?? to settle rather than carry on with their gers and lifestyle of camping on the huge open seas of grass that make up the majority of the country - a lifestyle which was featured in the BBC's Human Planet series to great impact.

Further texture to this possible context for learning was provided by a later tweet from @urbanphoto_blog on Twitter which lead me to this Daily Mail article... There are some amazing pictures of the city of Ordos, which has a wonderful central square with some bronze horse statues....

The article also introduced me to the term "tofu projects" or "tofu-dreg" projects: this refers to the rather rapid, poorly constructed buildings that are apparently being built in many locations in China. One person who opposes this is the (in)famous Chinese artist Ai WeiWei. I also remember a lecture by Iain Stewart where he highlighted the number of schools which collapsed during recent earthquakes in China, compared to other buildings...

Geography communities and CPD

I was over in Bristol earlier in the week and chatted to Mark Jones about a chapter that I am writing for a forthcoming Geography textbook for undergraduates and teachers. My contribution is a chapter on virtual communities and how geographers and the Geographical Association use them.

I've just been browsing a very useful literature review that was written by David Noble, and something I was guided to by Ollie Bray. (PDF download from the link)

Also interested in the work of Keri Facer and other colleagues who work in similar areas...

I'll be drafting the chapter over the summer - one of several things on my growing holiday "to do" list...

If anyone has other recommendations of similar work on tools for co-constructing the curriculum with colleagues, please let me know...

#TMBeyond - my presentation...

Here is the presentation that I had on my iPad during my workshops at TMBeyond. One half of the workshop was an introduction to my work with the Geographical Association, and the second was about Mission Explore and a chance to take part in some of the missions. There have been quite a few blog posts already about the event, with more to come. Check my earlier posts.
#TMBeyond
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.

Juliet Robertson of Creative Star Learning has just blogged about the OUTDOOR NUMERACY workshop that she organised, and there are also some good pictures that she took during the Mission Explore workshop. Here's a group of people taking a backwards walk with their clothes on back-to-front too... good effort !
Image: Juliet Robertson

Sunday, 29 May 2011

#TMBeyond - Review 2

If you have any photos from Teachmeet Beyond please add them to the Flickr group...
They're starting to appear (thanks for the all the ones that have been added so far)

Here's a SLIDESHOW...



Update: Now up to almost 100 pictures - thanks to those who have contributed...

Out of this world...

On Monday, I dropped into the British Library to catch their new exhibition on SCIENCE FICTION.
It is called "OUT OF THIS WORLD" and it is rather good, although quite a lot of the exhibits refer back very closely to this world: in particular there is strong theme of urbanism and the building of future cities.

One of the many authors that are featured in the exhibition is China Mieville, who has written a number of intriguing books on the future of cities and society.

I also made a few new discoveries, such as George Turner's "The Sea and Summer" which looks to be particularly interesting...

There's a good mix of material, including books, comics, artefacts, cultural 'stuff' such as a Tardis to please the Dr. Who fans, of which I am not one...
Was thinking about my own Science Fiction experiences: when I was younger I certainly read a lot: Isaac Asimov, Dune, Ringworld, Iain Banks' Culture novels (I remember reading 'Consider Phlebas' while on the bus heading for one of my first teaching jobs on the edge of Sheffield...)

A good review, with some images on the FORBIDDEN PLANET website, and another by the TELEGRAPH.

You can also CREATE A POSTCARD on the website....
There's a BLOG which provides more background on the development of the exhibition...

And if you're there for the exhibition, you may as well go up a flight of steps and visit the exhibition on the CENSUS, which includes an excellent

If you're catching a train from Euston, St. Pancras or King's Cross and have a while, go and see this exhibition...

If products could talk...

Thanks to @tracingpaper on Twitter for this tipoff...
The website of Alan Knight where he has the idea of getting the story of  products...
This could be applied to a number of geography contexts as well...

More to come on this as I explore further...

#TMBeyond - Review 1

Just arrived back home, and am unpacking my bags, and the rather large cardboard box with what's left of the materials for my workshops that I presented at the TeachMeet Beyond on Saturday morning this week - the 5th anniversary of the first Teachmeet....
Image by Alan Parkinson

#TMBeyond was organised mainly by Iain Hallahan but with a large supporting cast, including Cassie Law and Jen Deyenberg and took a lot of organisation as always, but had a great line-up of people attending and presenting, including me...
Iain talks about the journey to Teachmeet Beyond on his blog here.....
It was a long personal journey: 770 miles there and back, but an interesting journey with lots of landmarks on the way (more on that in a later blog post)
Search the Twitter tag #TMBeyond to get a flavour for the event.

The idea was to explore OUTDOOR EDUCATION and the traditional model of Teachmeets was altered. Normally there are 2 minute and 7 minute presentations, but here, the workshops lasted an hour. The more traditional element was dealt with the previous evening around the CAMPFIRE, which I am proud to have lit... someone had to strike the first match. See picture above...

I did 2 back-to-back workshops which lasted 1 hour each.
These involved the participants in an introduction to the work that I have been doing on the Action Plan for Geography, curriculum making, and some fieldwork activities based around the Mission Explore books.
My presentation combined some material from Dan Raven Ellison that he has used with hundreds of people around the country as a manifesto for "guerrilla geography"....

I will post a version of the presentation that I used in a later blog post, as well as more feedback and the story of the event. At the same time, Cassie Law was doing a workshop on practical outdoor activities, and
Kenny O Donnell has posted a video of me in action - I had Keynote on my iPad as technical support - luckily the video only lasts for 1 minute...

My pictures are going on my Flickr page. I've started a FLICKR group too. Please add your photos to this group if you have a Flickr account...

In the afternoon, Jen Deyenberg did a geocaching workshop, and Juliet Robertson looked at numeracy outdoors....
There was also a workshop from Kim McIntosh of the JOHN MUIR AWARD in the morning - which has some interesting parallels with some of our work...

More to come in future blog posts...
Big thanks to everyone involved...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Banning mobiles...

There's a lot of talk currently about the use of mobile phones in the classroom...

I liked this twist on the tale on Donald Clark's blog, which suggests a number of perfectly valid reasons why pens and pencils should be banned from the classroom....

Water brings problems...

Either too little... which is becoming a real problem for local farmers, although we've just had a few sharp showers (not nearly enough yet though...)

Image by Alan Parkinson - taken in a field close to home...

or too much (as in the case with the Mississippi floods that I blogged about earlier...)

This GUARDIAN article explains more about the issue of food and the link with prices

This link to the importance of water is brought into focus when you consider this development: the planned Tiger Woods golf resort in Dubai...

The Guardian article makes excellent use of Maplecroft Maps, which have sort of been 'forgotten' a little perhaps in the various

Too much water is also a problem. Three Gorges Dam was in the news earlier this week due to problems which were perhaps inevitable...

From the 1st of June, you have a chance to take part in the Great British Weather Experiment.
You can make your own rain gauge using a 2 litre pop or water bottle following the instructions in this PDF

And the weather forecast for tomorrow is..... heavy rain....

#savecerrado

If you look at the ingredients in your cupboards, you will probably find a fair amount of SOYA

The CERRADO in Brazil is one area where deforestation is taking place in order to clear land for soya production. A WWF campaign is aimed at trying to reduce the deforestation that goes alongside the commercial production of soya.
There's also a Guardian film....

Follow the #savecerrado tag on Twitter for more - apparently WAITROSE have now signed up to the campaign...

Sustrans: National Cycle Network App

Mission:Explore is going to be working more closely with the SUSTRANS National Cycle network in the near future, following the GeoVation success last month.
Watch out for the development of our new project...

You can now download a free iPhone app which provides a range of information, mapping and guidance across the whole National Cycle Network....
There is a range of mapping including OS and Open Streetmap

Maps can also be viewed according to your location and then stored for viewing offline, which is a useful feature...
Worth installing !

Thought for the Day

"Much of life for most people, even at the heart of the first world, still consists of waiting in a bus-shelter with your shopping for a bus that never comes."

Doreen Massey

I dreamed of David again...

I blogged a few weeks ago about the success of David Rogers: the Chair of the GA's Secondary Committee in the Jamie Oliver Dream Teachers competition on YouTube...
You can watch his £10 000 winning video below - it's now been seen over 13000 times !



Also listen to him from earlier today on BBC Radio SOLENT - via Audioboo....

Listen!

David is off to Google London today for an awards ceremony so have a good day David....

Tornadoes...

There have been more devastating tornadoes in the American Mid-West over the last few days. Check out these images and other detail from National Geographic, which used the term STORMAGEDDON to describe the chaos in a number of communities.

For the latest news on these, but also other weather events that are significant but not necessarily on our news, I follow a few Twitter folks whose jobs take them into the danger zone...

First is James Reynolds @typhoonfury, who is currently tracking the development of Typhoon Songda: a huge storm which has been developing in the area of the Philippines...

Second is Jeff Gammons @weatherzine who works in the USA

Thirdly is Jim Edds @ExtremeStorms who works in a similar field to Jeff, and chases storms and produces amazing images and video resources.

Finally, here's a video via NASA which shows the last few days of storm-generating weather in the region...

Are Tornadoes becoming more common ?  Discuss....

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Fire Severity Mapping

Thanks to my colleague John Lyon for working on some new GIS resources with me last week in preparation for the final courses in the first tranche of ESRI / GA courses. These have now been concluded, but we will be running more ESRI / GA courses in the new academic year.

Fire Severity Index mapping was the focus for the work, with an eye to the recent stories on the news about fires on the upland moorlands of England. Although fires might not form part of most KS3 curricula, they do appear on many exam specs, and also come into the area of natural hazards. For some schools, this might actually be a more common hazards than the hurricanes or tornadoes that do appear on the schemes of work.

Natural England has some FIRE SEVERITY MAPS where you can explore your own area and see the risk, and how it might change over time. Firefighters were hoping for rain to dampen down the fires...

A related exercise in the Peak District is on our website: Peak Practice.

As the warm, dry weather continues, many areas remain on high alert....

Thought for the Day

"I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well".
Alexander the Great

AEGIS: An Educational Geographic Information System

AEGIS 3 is An Educational GIS, (hence the name) which will be familiar to many readers of this blog. I purchased it for use in my school, although it was 'aegis' before I got round to using it...

It has been developed by the Advisory Unit, specifically for use in schools, and has the advantage of being used in lots of schools, where teachers have been developing resources for use with the package, so there are plenty of materials available online, which have been shared by users.

What makes it easy to use is the recognisable screen 'format', which is a word document / A4 worksheet which helps to create distinctive activities which can be completed by students, or developed as appropriate.


Students can work with the sheets easily, to develop their GIS skills in a progression. The software is sent on a disc with license documents, and there are also modules for bringing in OS Mastermap data and also GOAD plans...

In the last few years, there has been a lot of activity from the Advisory Unit who has worked in association with Helen Young (creator of the GeographyGeek website)
They have produced two particularly useful resources for teachers who are new to the software, and want support introducing it for use with pupils.
I shall introduce and talk about those in another blog post as I shall be blogging regularly about AEGIS and its use in the classroom.

I am grateful to Diana Freeman from the Advisory Unit for her previous support in various ways. She very kindly provided software and support (along with Helen Young, Paula Cooper and Tom Bramald from Geomatics) for a double workshop that I led at the GA Conference in 2007 (before I joined the GA staff....)
Materials from this can still be downloaded from the GA website:
(details but not hyperlinks below...)

Download: Introductory PowerPoint Presentation (838k)
Download: Derby Map (JPEG, 100k)
Download: Recording Sheet (Word, 170k)
Download: Using Aegis3 for Fieldwork (Word, 48k)
Download: Using GIS for Fieldwork (Word, 273k)
Download: GA Mag GIS Supplement Taster (PDF, 58k)
Download: GIS: One Small Step (Word, 33k)
Download: 'Talk the talk: Mapping mobile phone masts with GIS' Teaching Geographysubscribers only



The presentation I used on that day is available below - still of some use after all those years - whatever happened to all those SPC colleagues :)
I am now grateful for Diana Freeman once again, as she is one of the strands that I blogged about a few days ago with regards to my current plans from September.

From September 2011, or earlier if required, I will be available to offer training on GIS with AEGIS with you and your colleagues. If you have purchased AEGIS and you'd like to have a day or half-day training, we can organise that for you if you contact the Advisory Unit.
I hope to see some of you in 2011-12...

That is not the only GIS training that I will be doing next year, and information on where and when I shall be working will appear in the right hand column of this blog in the section "Where will Mister P be..." - more on the ESRI / GA courses for next year to appear as plans develop...

Learning Zone: National Library of Scotland

Thanks to Derek Robertson for the tip-off to these resources
A LEARNING ZONE from the NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND
I like the GREAT ESCAPES idea for tourist guide writing for primary pupils based on the work of John Murray.

OECD Better Life Index

Thanks to Victoria Ellis for the tip-off to the OECD Better Life Index

Would be good for explorations of inequality and quality of life.
What is nice is that the interface uses flowers to represent each country, and these are re-ordered based on decisions that are made about a number of selected indicators.
What do you value the most and which country performs the best when you 'program' the website with these choices ?
Depending on your priorities, some countries will "perform" better than others....

Teachers TV videos..

...are now available to view on the TEACHERS MEDIA page

Here's the video that I mentioned during my session at UWE yesterday

It's the Great Storm, but told from the perspective of the storm...
It was made with Paul Hardaker of the Royal Meteorological Society of which more later...

Free to stream at the moment...

Open Farm Sunday

12th June is OPEN FARM SUNDAY.
This is a chance for you to visit a farm near you. I'll be going to mine :)

GA Ning

The GA virtual professional network is now creeping towards 2000 members...

Remember to join, but also to contribute - add a profile image, start a discussion, ask a question, share some photos, join a group. I'd rather have 200 active members than 2000 who join but just lurk..
It's another way to get support for your development as a teacher, and also generate 'evidence' of your involvement with other colleagues.

Mississippi Flooding

I have not been blogging too much about this as there have been too many other natural disasters of late, and it was perhaps time to redress the balance with a range of more positive stories.
However, the flood surge continues, and it's a reminder of the impacts of attempting to manage a major river system.
It was also brought back into my mind as I've just edited a piece of writing about the river, which mentioned the balance between management and letting the river behave naturally. FEMA: the Federal Emergency Management Agency is co-ordinating some of the work.

American news agencies and networks are calling this THE FLOOD OF THE CENTURY in their coverage.
As always with geography, there are connections...
The impact of the floods reaches out across the Atlantic, and one teleconnection is the possible impact on the price of certain global food commodities.

The issue with the Mississippi is that it drains a large part of the USA, and is a complex system with lots of major tributaries which all contribute water to the main channel.
There has been controversy for days over the breaching of barriers in an attempt to save urban areas, which has resulted in farmland being flooded.

Some urban areas, particularly a small town of Cairo, Illinois was thought by many to be perhaps worth less than the farmland that was sacrificed to save it, particularly by the farmers whose land was flooded. Could form the basis for some interesting discussions about the 'value' of landscape.

A few sample resources:
Flooding in Vicksburg (CNN)
Louisiana evacuees flee their homes (CNN)
Useful explanation of river crests and the need for spillways (CNN)
The river gives and the river takes away (CNN)
Some useful images of signs put up in flooded communities -evidence of a spirit of resilience (CNN)

And unfortunately, the forecast is for more rain in the Mississippi catchment (although that's not surprising given its size..)


Here's a YouTube clip....




Meanwhile, tornadoes continue to make the news in other parts of the USA, notable by their frequency and size...

Bristol

A busy day yesterday over to Bristol and the University of the West of  England for a session with the PGCE group of Mark Jones.

One of the activities was to think about the "effective geography teacher"....

Here are some of the suggestions from the PGCE colleagues:

Effective (geography) teachers...

- ask interesting questions
- set clear objectives
- create a calm, purposeful atmosphere
- are creative
- are enthusiastic
- know their students
- make the students want to ask questions about geography
- have an ability to use humour to develop relationships and increase enjoyment
- are fair
- are consistent in their behaviour management
- choose relevant topics and activities
- are up to date with their subject knowledge
- link global issues to students' lives
- allow students to discuss views and opinions on the topics being taught
- are flexible
- use local events to increase relevance
- are organised
- make things relevant
- can link concepts together
- are passionate about geography
- personalise learning for the students
- are likeable
- set realistic goals
- are friendly
- have a calm manner
- have a presence
- encourage students to look from different perspectives
- have a sense of humour
- can banter
- can incorporate various aspects of the world into one subject
- make links between different topics
- are approachable...

Some of these things cropped up several times, particularly the need to be up-to-date, creative, fair and enthusiastic...

Thanks very much for the contributions on the day...
Don't forget to check my SLIDESHARE account for various versions of the presentation that I used...

Very best wishes to all the UWE PGCE group (and to all other new geography teachers) for the interview season, and for the start of your new careers...

Watch out for some GA CPD events that I will be involved in next year, which will be specifically for NQT colleagues and other teachers.


And keep an eye out for the NQT TIPS book that will be coming soon - my contribution is available to read by clicking the link...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

My new working tapestry...

When the last new secondary curriculum was introduced, the main image/concept was of a series of strands that began to meet and merge together over time. These formed the "big picture" of the curriculum...
Each subject had its part to play....
Without any, the big picture couldn't be seen as clearly...

Earlier this year, the big picture of my career was blocked by dark clouds...


Image by Flickr user incurable_hippie and Creative Commons licensed - thanks :)

My life from September 1st has now started to take shape as various threads begin to merge together. Each of these threads is a different small project that will involve me in producing something, and in return will provide some income for me. There have been a few broken threads, and a few that didn't quite lead where they were supposed to. Some of them are of better quality than others, and I think there are some new threads that will still appear. One task will be to weave the threads together to make something that is permanent and produces a new, and exciting 'big picture'. Very many thanks to those who have already played their part - I shall be telling you more about those projects in the next few months...

There's still a long way to go, but I'm starting to feel cautiously optimistic that in the short term I'll be able to do a range of consultancy, professional development and writing jobs, while I keep an eye out for the right teaching / management / consultancy job.

So, if you fancy adding another 'thread' to the tapestry, please get in touch...


Global Billboard

I've been 'mourning' the disappearance of the wonderful GRACENOTE MUSIC MAP website, which I blogged about in 2007 and used numerous times before it vanished. I even contacted Gracenote, but got no joy...
Thanks to Keir Clarke for telling me about GLOBAL BILLBOARD.
Instead of the Gracenote map (which used data gathered when people ripped CDs), this uses favourites and plays on the LAST FM music service. It shows the top 5 artists and tracks.
In some countries the numbers are really small as a result (which was not a problem with Gracenote) and the numbers of records are too small. There also isn't the same local authenticity when visiting countries where the local bands were more popular before. There are also some inconsistencies...

Still, it's a useful additional tool for exploring the apparent cultural globalisation of some music acts...

GI

GI is Geographical Information...

Ordnance Survey has published a useful resource which looks at the use of GI
A guide to using GI...

The European Atlas of Flooding is another useful resource which links to the idea of GI and links to flooding...

Project FOSTER...

This was one of those discoveries where the journey was important, as I followed a range of links, which came via a request for some help from a GA member. I ended up on the website of Project FOSTER.

Project FOSTER is an NERC funded project which explores flood management and resilience.


PROJECT FOSTER

There are resources and other useful information for those exploring flood management with senior students...

Ten years after Douglas Adams

Last week, I noticed that Douglas Adams started trending on Twitter. The reason was the 10th anniversary of his death.

I'm of a generation to completely appreciate what Douglas Adams did, and the importance of his legacy...

At school, I would bring in cassette tapes of the "Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" taped off the radio, and talk about it with school friends. When invigilating exams, I used to wear a large "Don't Panic" badge, which had come from my Hitch Hiker's Guide PC game (see image of the box opposite...)
I still remember the start of the game which said "It is dark", and you couldn't progress until you realised that the reason it was dark was that you hadn't opened your eyes yet...

The relevance of the number 42 and the symbolism of the bypass still remain, and I could probably quote big chunks of the book if required. Dirk Gently, another Douglas Adams creation is currently showing on BBC, and one of the great (geographical) themes of these books were "the interconnectedness of everything..."

The "Towel Day" event continues worldwide every year too.

His work with Mark Carwardine on "Last Chance to See", which was recently re-visited with Stephen Fry, a friend of Douglas Adams, who shared his enthusiasm for new technology, was also excellent.

Also his writings on technology and the benefits that it would bring to society are still relevant, as they show his thinking about the likely future impact, and the role of the internet. He produced some wonderful work on the value of social media, which he would have been a particular advocate of I'm sure...

One of this other projects was a book called "The Meaning of Liff", and there will be a blog post on that theme shortly (I have a backlog to catch up on...)

Thingvellir

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to go to Iceland and stroll along Thingvellir: the gap between the tectonic plates along the Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Now there is a marvellous photo set in the Daily Mail...
Awe and wonder...

Alex's over-dubs...

Earlier in the week, I was in Sheffield for a RUSH concert (I may have mentioned it at the time...)
They played a track called 'Marathon' from the album 'Power Windows' which was recorded at AIR STUDIOS on Montserrat. The band's guitarist, Alex Lifeson, recorded his guitar parts there.
Montserrat was then subject to a major volcanic eruption, which rumbled on for several years, and resulted in the evacuation of large part of the island.

A visit by a photographer to the studios provided a sad reminder of the impact of the eruption on the southern half of the island.

For two more useful Montserrat links
a) check out Noel Jenkins' "OFSTED busting" simulation lesson
b) see the Leeds GA Branch webpage for two recent presentations on volcanic activity on the island

The impact of the volcano are still ongoing years after it started erupting: another reminder of how long tectonic hazards can persist (here, for example is a diary of some of the after effects of the Christchurch earthquake)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

http://www.isanicelandicvolcanoerupting.com/

YES

I've started BLIPPING...

Not content with the 8 blogs that I post at, and my Posterous 365 image project, I've also started a BLIPFOTO journal, inspired by my colleague Wendy's excellent VIEWPOINT journal.

I've just got a couple of images there at the moment, but those will be added to as the year progresses... Going to try to use them for some "proper" photos taken with my DSLR, and maybe even processed a little...
Check it out...

geoblogs's Blipfoto journal

Geography Geek

Not mentioned Helen Young's blog for a while, but here you go...

It is at GEOGRAPHY GEEK - although I'm sure that regular readers of this blog will be aware of Helen's efforts here.
She has kindly shared a huge range of materials for geographers: schemes of work, lesson ideas, one of lessons with resources, and a large section of materials for users of the AEGIS GIS package (of which more shortly...)
Well worth a(nother) visit !!

Aurasma App

Just downloaded the Aurasma app... It's FREE...
It allows you to create what are called ANYWHEREs - these are images which you take of objects. You can then 'attach' a video to the image, so that if you point your phone at it...


Just taken some images and made a short video and will give it a go and tell you how it goes...

The Land of Me

Earlier this week, I discovered that I'd won a copy of THE LAND OF ME: the animated storybook / story telling software that I've been admiring for a while.
I think it has a lot of potential for developing some geographical skills with primary pupils.
Now I'll have the chance to find out when I install it, and ask my son to explore it and report back...

Will let you know how we get on...

Thanks to @mumrablog.... and @hello_madeinme

Friday, 20 May 2011

On the beach...

Just back from an evening on the North Norfolk coast... great light... nice beer... so-so pub meal...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Hamburger Infographic...

Budget Planner - Mint.com

3D Google Street View

Thanks to a tweet from Claire O' Gallagher


Just dug out my 3D glasses - see opposite....


Open a map in Google Maps and zoom into street view by dragging the yellow pegman onto the streets outlined in blue.
Right click on the resulting image, and choose
3D MODE ON and then go full screen...

The image will turn into a 3D version, which works reasonably well for me...


Thursday, 19 May 2011

The A303



Read about the programme on the A303, which is on BBC4 on the 19th of May (watch on iPlayer)

Cutting Edge Geography workshop: a review...

I was unable to attend the Leeds GA Branch full day workshop on the 7th of May

Fortunately, Victoria Ellis my colleague from the GA's Secondary Phase Committee attended the event and very kindly wrote a review for me. Here, with Victoria's permission is her review of the day, which apparently had the best selection of biscuits of any CPD that she'd attended...


“My morning began with a lovely drive up into the Dales. Lectures all took place in the grand entrance hall of the school.

First up, after some brief introductions, was Graham Clarke talking about health geography. He presented lots of maps and some interesting patterns, including some less commonly seen ones e.g. hospitalisation due to asthma in New York, spina bifida in the UK and missing teeth in children in the UK.  He also talked a lot about accessibility issues in terms of health care provision, and the use of GIS to locate 'stop smoking' clinics in Leeds
Next up was Nancy Worth, who talked about 'life-course geographies' - some work that she had done as part of her PhD looking at people's perceptions of whether or not they were adults, and interviews about when they felt that they would be adults and how adulthood was defined: lots that was very interesting, and just as several of us were looking at each other about to ask 'where's the geography?' she said "..and so you're probably thinking, very interesting, but is this really geography?" and then went on to talk about spatial patterns, sense of place, where young people 'hang out', etc..  There were a couple of discussion points about whether the ideas that she was talking about and the ways that she tries to introduce theories such as social constructivism to undergraduate students had a place in the school curriculum, and various comments about the philosophical, conceptual and psycho-geographical stuff that a lot of us do at KS3 that we can't do higher up because of exam board constraints.

Lunch, laid on by a bakery in Skipton, included a table full of pizza slices, cold meats, quiches and salads, followed by strawberry pavlova.
Clare Woulds then talked about Researchers in Residence ,which I hadn't heard about but which sounds fantastic.  She talked about the programme in general, and then about her involvement with it, and a bit about her work: biology and nutrient cycling around hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean. Lots of people (me included) said afterwards that they wanted her job!

There was then a choice of workshops - one about health with Myles Gould, one about fieldwork with Sarah Jones from Malham FSC, and the one I went to which was GIS with Andy Newing.  There was a name-check for the GIS resources on the GA site) Andy showed UMapper and GeoClip - both seem very straightforward and far easier to use than other GIS things I've played with in the past.

A fascinating lecture followed from Jurgen Neuburg, whose introduction was "By the time I've finished this sentence, and from my name, you'll realise I'm German, so don't expect any humour, and don't mention the war!" which set the tone for the whole talk (which was very humorous and easy to listen to).  He explained about the work he does monitoring Soufriere Hills volcano. He was followed by David Alcock who talked about the fieldtrip that he'd been able to take to Montserrat with students, and the impact.

Then Paul Norman, talking about the census. There was lots of interesting stuff about the census, how it's evolved, how the information is used, and some of the patterns that he has identified through his use of contemporary census data.

I learnt/saw/thought about something new in every one of the sessions. All in all, an excellent day.”

The Leeds GA Branch website is at: http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/corporate/ga
The presentations from Cutting Edge Geography can be downloaded from this website.

Thanks Victoria...

SLN

I've not been as regular a visitor to the SLN Geography Forum over the last few years as I was for the previous five.
While working for the GA I thought I'd let GA colleagues provide the 'official' responses to the issues that cropped up there, but have started to go back and dip my toe in the water...
Thanks to SLNers for their supportive comments in the last few weeks, particularly to Chris Durbin for his helpful e-mail from Hong Kong.

I was reminded on my return of the wonderful collaborative efforts coordinated by Katharine Hutchinson, which resulted in several UPLOAD DAYS where people shared resources.
A folder full of loads of useful materials can be accessed by following this link to the 4SHARED folder where the resources are kept.

Did you have lunch today ?

World Food Programme video...
School meals are really important...
How many of the students you teach went without a meal at school today ?

Ethnic breakdown mapping

From The Guardian today comes a useful mapping tool, which looks at the ethnic breakdown for the various districts of the UK.

What is clear is that apart from a very few urban centres of population there are few areas that have a high proportion of non-white British populations.
The mapping uses Google Fusion Tables which I really HAVE to spend some time getting to learn...
Here's the data for the region where I live...
Check out your own region...

More helpings of food...

GA subscribers to Teaching Geography have the chance to use a really well put together unit of work which has been written by Suzie Farmer.
It is called "Planning for Progression: making sense of famine and feast" and explores issues of food production.
There are downloadable documents on the GA website which accompany the article.

BBC report earlier this week looked at the contents of an FAO report also identified the shocking figure that a third of the world's food is wasted...

Image: Alan Parkinson


Click to download Tim Hess's excellent GA Conference presentation on the water that is involved in food production too.

http://geography.org.uk/download/GA_Conf11Hess.pdf (PDF download)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Did you see the one that got away ?


The reason for the heading is a story that was in the Guardian at the end of last week.

The EU is apparently planning to pay fishermen to catch PLASTIC....

There has been quite a lot on this blog about the links between plastic bottles, and the large ocean gyres that gather the waste into them as giant garbage patches.

As the article says:
Our seas are awash with plastic bottles, bags, nappies, discarded fishing nets, ropes and thousands of other bits and pieces – the flotsam of modern life. By 2008, the latest year for which I have a figure, 260m tonnes of plastics were made using 8% of global oil production in raw materials and energy. The curve of production over time bends upwards like a cliff face, increasing by 9% per year. The stark reality of this ever-steepening upward climb is that more plastic was made in the first 10 years of this century than all of the plastic ever created up to the year 2000.


This would make an excellent discussion stimulus, related to issues such as environmental awareness and sustainability.

Image by Alan Parkinson

Download this blog...

The contents of this blog, up until last week are now available as an 1800 page PDF download. Fill your boots...

Living Geography.pdf

The Action Plan for Geography - final report...

I've spent a very large part of the last three years of my life involved in the second phase of the Action Plan for Geography.
This was a DfE funded project which has run for the last 5 years, and ended last month. It led to the funding of a great number of events and the production of training materials and other support for geographers.
It has also produced a huge volume of free resources for geography teachers to support them through the last five years of curriculum change, including the Geography Teaching Today website.

The final evaluation report to the DfE is something that we've been working on for some time now, and it recently became available, as a summary of what has been achieved.


You can see more information about the Action Plan and outcomes at the GA's WEBSITE.


Some copies of the final report have been printed, but you can download your own PDF version by clicking the link (PDF download)

As for some of the project team, myself included, we are going to be moving on to pastures new....


If you have a use for someone with the expertise and project-management skills built up while working on a multi-million pound educational project of this type, please get in touch...

Project Ocean

Thanks to @HodderGeography for link to Selfridge's PROJECT OCEAN website.

Looks at the choice of SUSTAINABLE fish - there's also an iPhone app if that's of interest to you..

I like the fishy graphics on the Project Ocean website: here's a fish that you may recognise - or not....

Project Based Learning

A really useful set of templates to download and print off for students to keep them organised when planning more extended project based units of work...

Thanks to Rob Marchetto for the tipoff via Twitter.

Food Climate Research Network

Via @tracingpaper on Twitter - thanks Nick


The Food Climate Research Network website gathers together a range of information related to the impact of food production on climate change. One interesting resource is a report called COOKING UP A STORM. This is described as follows:


This report sets out what we know about the food system’s contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Taking a life cycle perspective, it looks at how these emissions arise, both by life cycle stage (from plough to plate to bin) and by food type. It then explores the flip side of the coin: the global impact of a changing climate on how we grow, distribute, produce and consume food. We follow this with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of and challenges for the life cycle analysis methodology upon which the report has drawn.


There was a previous resource with that name: a unit that I wrote for our Geography of Food CPD unit on the GA website.

Teachers TV videos starting to appear on TES Connect

The top 20 most popular videos on Teachers TV have now appeared on the TES Connect website, with more to come soon...
Here's the most popular Geography one (the videos can be embedded...)

Sadly it's not one of the ones that I made....

What I bought at the supermarket...

For a food-related project I'm planning...
Everything I bought on my last trip to the supermarket.... (I went to Waitrose on this occasion, but normally go a lot more down-market...)


Could be used to explore issues like:

- sourcing: local or worldwide
- production methods: freedom foods, organic, Red Tractor, PGI
- packaging
- health: convenience or home cooking ingredients
- seasonality (they were bought in May... which of them are "out of season")

Other ideas, please add them below...

Oh, and I forgot the kitchen roll...

Harper Collins Online Update

Just looking at the second online update that I've written to support the Harper Collins KS3 Geography series that the Geographical Association are involved in producing. The third one is currently being produced, and these will continue to come to you regularly for the next THREE YEARS...
If you sign up to e-mail updates to keep you posted about the KS3 Geography series that is being written in association with GA colleagues, you'll have all the latest geography news and ideas for teaching it dropping straight into your inbox...
The second update is about the changing fortunes of the High Street....


Coincidentally, yesterday it was announced that Mary Portas would be leading a review on how to "save the high street" and revitalise town centres. Just five minutes before reading that, I'd been driving into the centre of Sheffield to the GA offices, and past a huge new Tesco Extra being built near the Wicker arches in an area that previously was dominated by steel and industrial workshops... although it will have a hot chicken counter I'm reliably informed...  This will, of course, ensure that new jobs are created, and was certainly good news for the mobile van which had obviously won the contract to supply the construction workers, who were queueing up for their bacon butties as I drove past...

There were a lot of tweets after this announcement essentially saving the government the time and (presumably) expense (and at a time of cutbacks too...) by summing up the cause of the decline in high street spending in 4 words: supermarkets and internet shopping... oh, and the fact that a lot of people are losing their jobs and everything costs more than it used to...

The Wayback Machine

Thanks to @JohnDavitt for this tipoff...


The Wayback Machine is part of the Web Archive project
It now has a time slider on it, so you can enter the URL of a website and then see how it changed through its history... Some interesting changes to the GA website, and also to GeographyPages.

London Tube Music

Via So-Shan Au
A great poster image of London Underground with MUSIC - limited edition available to purchase...
A good context for a project, and one of many similar projects that have taken Harry Beck's original map as their inspiration


GA Magazine Summer 2011

The latest issue of GA magazine is now available to download from the website, and the hard copies will be arriving in the post shortly.

It's another bumper issue featuring a review of the GA conference and awards, as well as the usual features. I liked the feature following the staff from one school as they visited the conference.

There was also a reminder of GA membership discounts, a tribute to Rex Walford, updates on Policy and CPD opportunities.

Webwatch has a range of useful ICT related finds as always.
There is also a nice illustrated piece on the 5th birthday celebrations for the GA's Primary Quality Mark.
Another excellent issue.

A century of waste...

Some amazing statistics related to the clean up from the Japanese tsnunami....
One that sticks with me is that the rubbish is equivalent to a century of normal waste...
They are running out of places for it to go...
Useful BBC article and VIDEO

Some useful maps here... - thanks to the BBC...
A useful list of NY TIMES infographics here

http://chrome.angrybirds.com/

If you don't have a smart phone and want to waste a few hours / days /weeks of your life, you can now play Angry Birds in your web browser....


Image by Shane Parker

Why not design some 'geographical' Angry Birds levels for them to destroy ? 

Dry

Droughts are a fact of life for many communities around the world. The definition varies according to location.
What is clear is that we have had one of the driest springs on record across large parts of the country (it must be said that some places have had near normal rainfall)

The last month or so has been very dry in East Anglia. I don't think a drop of rain has fallen in my village, and the fields around are being irrigated by sprays, and through large hose reels... Some crops seem to be doing very well still: rapeseed creates vivid patches of yellow...
Other crops are struggling, and we may soon see higher prices on some vegetables.
Farmland near West Lexham, Norfolk - image by Alan Parkinson

The Farmer's Weekly site outlines the nature of the problem: very little rainfall over large parts of Southern England.

More to come on this in the next few weeks, as the weather forecast is for it to continue being dry and hot....

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

South Downs National Park

You can download the files that make up the new South Downs National Park Authority education pack from the website.
The education pack was developed by the Geographical Association...
What you can't download is a lovely large map of the National Park which comes with the pack, along with a useful wallet sized leaflet, with additional information...
Here's a quick preview of the pack, which I made just now with the new free SUPER 8 app. I love the interface of this app, which has a little screen that you pull down when you want to watch a movie...

Monday, 16 May 2011

Digimap for Schools

Winner of the Geographical Association's GOLD award for 2011.

The Ordnance Survey's DIGIMAP for SCHOOLS  site allows access to Ordnance Survey mapping. This replaces the Free Maps for 11 Year olds scheme. You will need a user name and password to access the mapping.
  • Print off maps in A4 or A3 formats.
  • Zoom down to mastermap level - this allowed me to see that my house is still not marked on the map despite being about 18 months old.
There's plenty more on DIGIMAP in the latest digital copy of Mapping News, which is now available to download from the Ordnance Survey website.
It features an article by me on Digimap in the classroom.

Also get the latest GIS guide.