Taking a festive break.... see you in 2013...

After  a busy year of blogging, I'm taking a break for the Christmas and New Year period.
There may be some circumstances under which I will return, as something majorly geographical could happen before the 1st of January, but if not, have a peaceful break everyone and look forward to blogging through 2013 with you....
Image shared under CC license by Flickr user calsidyRose

Nar Valley Way

The second of two stories about my village in the paper earlier this week...

The River Nar runs through my village.
There is a footpath that runs along the valley, and runs between King's Lynn and Gressenhall, near Dereham.

Some money has been put earmarked for improvements to this trail apparently, and this links with the work of the Norfolk Rivers Trust which I was aware of.

There is a management plan for the NAR, and I was made aware of it through my involvement with some work done by Sarah Taigel: a researcher from UEA. You can read more about her work HERE and get details on the Management plan HERE.

It's worth following a few relevant Twitter feeds here to, if you want to find out more about the rivers in the area.

ASDAN Geography Short Course - in association with the GA

ASDAN is a course which I used to run when I was teaching, although it was a while back when we operated the course. It was done to make more use of the form tutor time that we had, and offered the potential to provide an additional qualification for all students in Year 10 and 11. As a form tutor, I had to administer the scheme, and keep track of what students had completed.

The Geographical Association has now worked with ASDAN to put together a course which would have been much better for me to teach than the one I ended up doing.
It's a Geography Short Course with some interesting activities to complete.
You can download a sample of the pupil course book which gives you a flavour of the resource, which has some great images and ideas.

Wet, wet, wet...

A timely video from the Environment Agency Wales...


Do you have an About.Me page ?
Just updated mine ready for the new year, and there are some new features including embedding...

Final Google doodle ?

Applauding the Google logo today... lovely work....

Minecraft and Geography

Does this image mean anything to you ?

If not, then you've probably never heard of MINECRAFT: a game that has millions of players worldwide and is finding its way into lots of schools too.

My son LOVES Minecraft and has produced some amazing creations on the Pocket Edition that we have on the two tablets in the house. He and his sister play together in a creative world they have generated.

When I upgrade my computer in the New Year, we will put the full version on, and really start to explore the Minecraft Universe.

Recently, after a Twitter exchange with Claire Rafferty in Australia, I created a Google Doc and started to put together a summary document which could form the basis for Geography teachers to start to think about how they could use Minecraft in the Geography classroom... and also explore where it was being used in other parts of the curriculum, and also as an extra-curricular activity.

I discovered Stephen Reid, who I'd quoted in the document was interested in the project, and he was happy to get involved too. He runs a free Minecraft project for schools to get involved with the game. Check it out.

Finally, there seems to be a movie of the creation of Minecraft that has been produced, and the trailer can be seen here - my son will be interested in this:

I'll open the document up to scrutiny and publish it in various places in the New Year so that I can work on it over the Christmas period 
Get in touch if you have something you want to contribute...

Sebastiao Salgado

I've long been a fan of Sebastiao Salgado's photography, and used it quite often in my teaching.

There's an exhibition of the GENESIS project images - over 200 of them - at the Natural History Museum starting in April 2013 - I shall need to make sure that I get to that at some point when it is on.

Details HERE

Salgado's Genesis is the culmination of 8 years work exploring 32 countries. It is Salgado's 3rd long-term examination of global issues, following his previous acclaimed collections Workers and Migrations. 
The photographs in this exhibition capture some of the furthest corners of our world. They portray indigenous communities that continue to live in accordance with their ancestral traditions and cultures, and show rare insights into their lands and lives.

A mission for today...

It's wet out there. I've been collecting #rainwords on Twitter...
Do you have any to add ?

Here comes the sun....

The first of two mentions for my village in the local paper today.

The first relates to the planning application for a SOLAR FARM.
This is an alternative renewable energy proposal to WIND ENERGY, and one that students could perhaps get involved in assessing for its potential benefits and problems for the local landscape.

There were some objections to the plan which received approval today, but also some good points made in its favour of course.
You can read the application, which includes a full appraisal of the site in the document which is linked to later in this blogpost.

One of the factors that had to be considered is the impact on local drainage. I pass the proposed site occasionally - it is not on what could be called a main route - and it is sloping, but doesn't appear to have the same drainage issues as other fields which have received a lot of rainfall in recent months.

If you have suitable digital mapping software, you can visit the proposed site at TF 87517 20010.

According to this BBC NEWS article the scheme had been opposed by Litcham Parish Council which said it opposed the "industrialisation of a tranquil area".

Also in the EDP was a quote from a Litcham resident:

“In my view it would be criminal damage to desecrate [the countryside] in the manner proposed. The countryside is being eroded at an ever-increasing pace. There must be a better place than this.”

I'm going to explore this a little more with a view to turning it into a possible activity for a unit - an alternative to the usual wind farms perhaps.
Click here to download the planning proposal as a PDF (PDF download)

Are there any proposed solar farm developments near you ?

Geography style...

Makes a change from the usual Elf-yourself video that is traditional at this time of year...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

International Migrants Day

It's International Migrants Day today...
Perhaps one to put in the diary for next year. There were some famous folks who had to travel a long distance over the Christmas period who will be celebrated next week after all...

Here's the message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Every moment, around the world, people leave their countries in search of a safer or better life. Globally, more than 214 million people are on the move. Many flee difficult conditions only to face even greater struggles, including human rights violations, poverty and discrimination. But these migrants have more than fear and uncertainty; they also possess hopes, courage and the resolve to build a better life. With the right support, they can contribute to society’s progress.
Migration is a global issue that is rightly attracting more and more global attention. Next year, the United Nations General Assembly will hold its second High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, giving Member States and their partners a chance to discuss practical measures to facilitate labour mobility, foster sustainable development and protect the rights of migrants, especially women and girls.
Attention to the rights of migrants is especially important at this time of global economic and financial distress. As budgets tighten, we are seeing austerity measures that discriminate against migrant workers, xenophobic rhetoric that encourages violence against irregular migrants, and proposed immigration laws that allow the police to profile migrants with impunity. During economic downturns, it is worth remembering that whole sectors of the economy depend on migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs help to create jobs.
When migration policies are developed without attention to vulnerability, marginalization and discrimination, millions of migrants become cheap, disposable labour, the scapegoats for failed economic and social policies, and even casualties in an ill-defined war against “illegal migration.”
As human mobility becomes more complex, and the journeys taken by many migrants more perilous, it becomes all the more urgent to forge national policy responses that address migration based on human rights principles.
In the lead-up to the High-level Dialogue, I hope that Member States will approach human rights as a central issue in migration governance; at the national level I encourage them to take such measures as decriminalizing irregular migration, setting up effective alternatives to immigration detention, and ensuring that the functions of public service providers such as nurses or teachers are kept strictly separate from those of the immigration authorities. I also hope participants will duly consider the issue of migration in the context of the post-2015 global development agenda.
On this International Migrants Day, I call on States to ratify and implement all instruments on this issue. And I encourage all people to help foster a principled, practical and creative discussion on how we can ensure the protection of the rights of all migrants, wherever they are and whatever their status.
Ban Ki-moon

Thanks to the @AtlasbyCollins twitter feed for the tipoff here...

The price of Christmas Dinner

A nice interactive image of changing prices on the BBC website.
Which ingredients have changed in price, and why ?

Thanks to Jon Wolton for the tipoff

Join Jamie and I at 7pm tonight... for tales from the Great Barrier Reef

Many thanks to Jamie for the excellent description of the work of the Catlin Seaview Survey that he gave last night...

A set of notes will be made available shortly, or check my Twitter feed for a stream of live tweets from the talk.


The repeat can be viewed by clicking the link HERE.
One correction to the slide above is that it refers to the CATLIN Seaview Survey of which Google is a partner.

The presentation that Jamie used is below:

Atlas of Urban Expansion

The Atlas of Urban Expansion has been produced by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in the USA.

As well as the main maps, text and illustrations which form part of the resource, there are also some useful GIS materials.

The site describes itself as follows:

Massive urbanization, accompanied by the rapid expansion of cities and metropolitan regions and the sprawling growth of megacities the world over, is one of the most important transformations of our planet. Much of this explosive growth has been unplanned. Cities in developing countries have been unprepared for absorbing the many millions of the rural poor that are still crowding into informal settlements. These cities are now scheduled to double their urban population in the next thirty years, and possibly triple the land area. And while in industrialized countries the great transformation into an urban society is largely completed, there are growing concerns about continuing low-density sprawl and its deleterious environmental consequences - the effects on carbon emissions, energy use, and the loss of prime agricultural lands. Urban expansion, in short, is now a global concern.
The Atlas of Urban Expansion provides the geographic and quantitative dimensions of urban expansion and its key attributes in cities the world over. The data and images are available for free downloading, for scholars, public officials, planners, those engaged in international development, and concerned citizens. The global empirical evidence presented here is critical for an intelligent discussion of plans and policies to manage urban expansion everywhere.
One particularly important element of the resource is the area of FREE GIS DOWNLOADS.
These are files in various formats, including ESRI Shapefiles which have been zipped up. There are maps and other resources which relate to a total of over 100 cities around the world.
There is also a section of GOOGLE EARTH materials which would be of use to anyone exploring urban areas, with data on over 3000 cities !

Chasing Ice...

Chasing Ice is a film I've been following the progress of for several months now. There was an early trailer which I blogged about, and the story of the film is interesting. A series of cameras were placed in remote locations overlooking areas of ice, and the time-lapse footage they captured shows the rapid rate at which some of the world's ice masses are disappearing. It all started in Iceland...

The filmmakers travelled all over the world and left the cameras secured in some of the world's harshest environments. The cameras were left in place for 3 years, with a picture taken every hour during the hours of daylight. It also seems that it has been shortlisted for an Oscar.
I'm going to try to get tickets for the showing at the Cambridge Arts Cinema. I used to go to the cinema often when I was younger, as I was a real film buff through my twenties and thirties... I mostly get to see cartoons these days...

You can download some useful STILLS for use in the classroom too....
Watch a trailer for the film below to get a taster:

Chasing Ice Trailer from milkhaus on Vimeo.

I may have a go at producing some teacher resources to go along with the film. I can see that there would be a benefit in putting on special education showings of the film which had a pack of materials for teachers to take away. There may be an option to contact your local cinema and suggest this, particularly if there are small independent cinemas within your home town.

I previously worked with a film company to produce a set of educational materials for a film produced by Werner Herzog in Antarctica.
The film was called "Encounters at the End of the World" 
Encounters at the End of the World - PDF Download of materials from the GA website

Last orders on Christmas books...

Today is the last day to order on Amazon for guaranteed Christmas delivery.
Here are a few suggestions for you...

First of all, there's 'The Ice Man', which is reviewed by a young Raven Ellison below as being 'sick' :)

The People's Songs

The People's Songs is a new series, which is due to start on BBC Radio 2 in January 2013.
The idea behind the series is that it will feature 50 songs which reflect the changing issues of importance through the last century.
There is a range of programmes, which will go around the songs, based on themes which tell the story of modern Britain.
There are opportunities for people to suggest which songs relate to particular themes.

This may work better for staff than for young people as they may have a more extensive cultural library of moments that connect with particular music, although I may be doing students a disservice here....

There are several possible connections with the geography curriculum:
- Population change - immigration - arrival and departure
- Cultural changes
- Urban / rural themes and issues 
- Unemployment and economic change...
- Environmental themes

If we take some of the key themes that might feature in the programmes, and ask them to identify a possibly playlist for the programme, or show some videos via YouTube or songs via Spotify and analyse the lyrics.
There are some classic songs of course such as 'Ghost Town' by the Specials...

This would work well as an extended project with a group.
I would also recommend doing something perhaps with 'A' level groups to suggest some items, or record a message. Special bonus points to anyone who is featured on the programme...

Ghent and back...

For the last few days I have been in Ghent, Belgium for the first meeting of a new EU-funded project.
The city is really interesting, and I had the chance to explore plenty of it, as well as visiting 4 excellent restaurants... and one brewery...
Great shopping and Christmas window displays too.
On the way back, I had a quick race around Brussels on the trail of TinTin...
Check out the pics in my Flickr slideshow above...
More on the meeting and project to come...

I-USE Statistics in Education

As I write this, I am sat in a meeting to launch a new European project.

The project is called I-USE.

The context is a simple, but important one.
It's about making sense of a world of data...

Statistical literacy is becoming increasingly important. This includes an element of information literacy, but also digital literacy.

Students (and teachers) are now living in a society that demands evidence-based arguments and decisions. While the world is changing rapidly with respect to the prevalence and use of statistics, the curriculum in schools and the approaches teachers adopt tend to be slow to respond to such changes. Therefore creating meaningful, innovative teacher training plays a crucial role in developing statistical thought processes.

Using statistics provides simple yet instant information on the matter it centres on. Modern computer-based visualisations create a vivid presentation of collected and organized data through the use of figures, charts, living and interactive diagrams and graphs, which helps lead to more critical analyses of information. 

Teachers do not always consider new forms of visualising statistical information as part of curriculum courses as they are not explicitly mentioned. As a result, in some secondary schools, many students don’t have an opportunity to learn to work with statistics and computer-based visualisations. 
Therefore, despite the fact that statistics offers powerful tools for information analysis and interpretation, many students are unable to extract meaning from the data and information they are presented with. 

The dilemma is that as more data becomes readily available and the tools for visualising and analysing the data become more sophisticated, the ability to produce useful information from the analyses is outpacing the capacity to use the knowledge productively.

The project will support teachers and learners to explore a world data and create meaning....

It connects with the EU's Digital Agenda 2020 and the INSPIRE directive.

It also links to the release of data which others can use.

One example of this is the ROAD ACCIDENT MAP which has been made available. I feature on that one...
You can follow the progress of the I-USE project on a range of social media strands.
These are now live...

Twitter feed @StatsinEdu
Blog: I use Stats in Edu

Image: Alan Parkinson

Triptico Plus

I'm a big fan of Triptico, as I've blogged about previously. David Riley has been working to develop the app further...

The new app has now been launched, and you can upload to Triptico Plus with extra apps and Cloud storage for all your creations...
This costs £15 for a year.
I have downloaded the app, and will report back on my use of it, and some thoughts once I get the chance to have a good look at it :)

New GA course for IB Geography

A new course for 2013 - Richard Allaway of Geography all the Way fame amongst (many) other things, will be coming over to London in June to run a course for the Geographical Association.
The course is called 'Developing a Curriculum for IB Diploma Programme Geography'

Course overview

This course will bring International Baccalaureate DP Geography teachers together with the aim of discussing and sharing ideas about structuring, resourcing and delivering the 240 hours of teaching necessary for the higher level course. You will leave with fresh ideas, plans for the new academic year and access to a range of online resources.

Delegate reviews of similar courses

'It was fantastic, questions answered and more!'
'Spot on - directly relevant to the course. Excellent communicator!'


Registration fees include all course materials, refreshments and lunch.
GA Personal/Group/Concessionary Member: £180
New Member Package*: £279
Non-member: £300
*Includes course fee and one year's GA membership for your school.

Aims and outcomes

  • Consider the 'perfect' IB DP lesson - does it include links to the syllabus, a bit of Theory of Knowledge, some geographical skills, exam practice and even some enjoyment?
  • Look at the teaching of the IB DP Geography course's higher level content - Global Interactions.
  • Review how we are supporting students throughout the duration of the course by coaching their exam technique, linking the content together, trying to get them to think more like geographers and IB students and discussing where the Internal Assessment fits in.
  • Find out about some of the online tools that can be used to support IB DP Geography students.

Course programme

09.00-09.30  Coffee and registration
09.30-11.00  Session 1 - a lesson
What does a 'perfect' DP lesson look like? Thinking about developing textbook resources into engaging lessons tailored to your students' needs.
11.00-11.15  Refreshment break
11.15-12.45  Session 2 - a unit
Focusing on the Global Interactions higher level content. Case studies, approaches, helping your students to be 'higher level' and coaching their extended response writing skills.
12.45-13.30  Lunch
13.30-15.30  Session 3 - the whole course
Supporting students during their 240 hours of DP Geography. Using online tools to help encourage reading and geographical thinking for these busy students.
15.30  Close

Course presenter

Richard Allaway, Teacher of Humanities and IB DP Geography at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations. Author of geographyalltheway.com

Project Wild Thing

Was following this Kickstarter project, which secured full funding earlier this week. I look forward to seeing the result.
Here's one reason why projects like this matter...

Good to see that they reference MISSION EXPLORE here in the ideas for how to get outside too, which is a bonus.
This could be part of a New Year resolution.
You really should get out more....

Census 2011

The latest data release from the 2011 Census was today.
Here's the information on INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION for example in video form.

Follow ONS on Twitter to keep up with the information on this and future releases of data.

Noel's Sketch-Up Tricks...

A new post on Digital Geography from Noel Jenkins...

Great ideas for simplifying the use of Sketch-Up models in the classroom.

GA Study Tour to Ethiopia 2013

The GA runs an annual study tour.

In 2013, the destination is Ethiopia.

You can read more details about the tour on the GA website


As a geographer it is likely that you have taught about and are fascinated by the wonderful, diverse and complex country that is Ethiopia. The 2013 Study Tour could be your opportunity to pay a visit to and develop your understanding of the country. We are proposing to take a group of geographers to Ethiopia from 31 July to 18 August 2013.


The itinerary is currently being planned and is likely to include most of the following:
  • Addis Ababa - including museums (choice of Lucy Museum, University Museum and Derg Museum). We may also visit the site of old slums next to the very grand Sheraton Addis Hotel where people have been relocated to condos on the edge of town with very limited access to jobs in the city.
  • Bahir Dar - the source of the Blue Nile.
  • Gondar - visit the Castle, Debre Berhan Selassie Church and examples of local NGO projects.
  • Lalibella - amazing rock hewn churches.
  • Tesfa community tourism project - either as a day trip en route to Lalibella or as part of a fuller experience trekking in the Tigray Mountains. See the Tesfa Tours website to find out more.
  • The Rift Valley to the south of Addis - including a visit to lakes in Awassa or Debre Zeit.
  • The Bale Mountains - home of the Ethiopian wolf

I was reading about Ethiopia at the weekend, and about an amazing walking project of Paul Salopek.

He intends to walk from Ethiopia, the cradle of humanity and retrace the path taken by humans as they have spread to colonise the world. A long stroll....

Teachers getting better...

A thought for the day first of all...

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.” 
Dylan Wiliam

followed by a blogpost by geography teacher Paul Sturtivant to kick off your Monday musings....

Winter Explorer Badge

Earn your Winter Explorer badge on Mission:Explore.

A range of winter-themed missions which can be carried out over the Christmas period.

Submit your answers and earn the points, and you have a chance to win a free copy of Mission:Explore Food...


This looks interesting. May form part of my Christmas reading...

Nearly a year on....

Almost a year ago, on the 1st of January 2012, I was on the beach at Cromer and took this picture below:

It was the first entry of my Blipfoto 365.

Blipfoto is a photo-sharing site which encourages photographers to post a picture a day - just one - the picture has to be taken on the day to which it is allocated, which could provide a little pressure, but also provides an incentive to take a decent picture, or to use the various tools in an app like Snapseed (which is apparently free now) or the filters within the Blipfoto iPhone app to edit it.

If you follow the link to the picture, you can click on the name of a month, or the arrows and numbers to select any day in the year and see what picture I took - it's a good record of some of the places I've visited...
I did a POSTEROUS 365 the previous year, so wondering what to do for my 365 in 2013....

Geography Camp Follow up 2: Gaming with Jana

One of the people that I met at the Geography Camp last weekend was Jana Wendler.
She is currently doing a PhD at the University of Manchester.
Jana is exploring the way that people make use of public space, and one use they make of it is for gaming of various kinds.
Her blog is here
Also linked through to this book (you can read some of it online...) - connects with the word ludic, which is linked to play and matches the Mission:Explore approach...

At the camp she showed us how some simple props could be used to explore game development. She started with a bag of bottle tops and challenged us to come up with some ideas for using them in the game. Within a few minutes we had at least 10 different games to explore, which made use of the location we were in.
Plenty more to explore here...

Discovering Iceland with Discover the World and Mission:Explore

I've spent quite a lot of the last few weeks working on a project which we announced a month or so ago.
The Geography Collective is working with Discover the World. The travel company has a school travel arm, a well as offering a range of adventure travel holidays.
The missions have headed off to Helen and Tom to be designed up and have the illustrations added in, before we start the edits and drafting and fleshing out some sections.
The plan is that they will be available for schools booking to go to Iceland with Discover the World in 2013.

There's a rather fabulous range of Iceland videos on VIMEO and just found a new one...
Thanks to Anne Greaves

Fragments of Iceland from Lea et Nicolas Features on Vimeo.

While doing research for the booklet, I've been finding out ever more about the country, which will make its way onto my (secretish) Niceland Iceland blog eventually. This will be added to over the next few months as we work on the final booklet.
  • If an Icelandic horse leaves the country it can never return, and no horses are allowed into Iceland
  • The amazing ice lagoon at Jokulsarlon is less than 80 years old...
  • Icelanders are listed by their first names in the telephone book (assuming such a thing still exists)
The latest December e-mailer newsletter from Discover the World has 5 sample missions to whet your appetite for the final booklet 

Learning Spaces

One of the members of the Geography Collective is Juliet Robertson of Creative Star learning...
She has been working in the area of outdoor education for some years. She has a book coming out next year distilling her thoughts on outdoor learning, and this will be packed full of ideas for learning outside the classroom. There is plenty here on learning spaces...
I was reminded of a tweet which I was directed to by Summer Howarth: an educator from Australia who is in my Twitter network.

She linked to a useful post which suggests some alternative ways of organising students so as to create some alternative learning spaces. These could take place within an existing classroom, but the aim is to change the dynamic of learning...

One of the interesting aspects of putting groups of people together is used by the British Schools Expedition Society (BSES)
Their groups are called 'fires'. My niece went on the Peruvian Andes expedition of Summer 2011, and the larger group was arranged into smaller teams. The size was such that it could sit comfortably around a campfire...

What arrangements of students could you create, and what spaces for them to gather in could be developed at your current school ?
What difference could this make to the way that you teach particular topics ?

  • Campfire situations are characterised by communication flowing from one to many, requiring a space that can accommodate a certain number of people in a group situation, where everybody can focus on the person talking or presenting.
  • The watering hole is a place where people come and go, and a learning environment where you can gather in groups of different sizes. A watering hole is a place of exchanging communication, flowing back and forth. The watering hole areas are typically placed where you naturally would go, and where you maybe bump into somebody or something.
  • Show-off situations are situations where one person communicates towards the rest of the world, showing what he or she can do or has done, thus requiring a physical space for display and exhibition.
  • In the cave, communication flows within oneself, requiring a physical frame that furthers seclusion and contemplation.
  • Lastly, the laboratories are places where the students can acquire hands-on experiences, working physically and practically with projects in a societal and experimental context. The laboratories inspire students and teachers alike, enlarging the learning experience and inspiring teachers to use different tactile approaches.
I always had the desks in rows myself... ;)

Music and Landscapes

From the excellent LANDSCAPISM blog from 2011 comes a useful list of landscape-based music.
There are some useful pieces of music and other soundscapes.

The work of Chris Watson features heavily, which is not surprising.
Chris Watson's music is available on Spotify, and there are a few albums of his on there - well worth listening to. I was interested to see a collaboration with Robert MacFarlane that he did recently.

You can listen to this via the embedded player here:

I have a few ideas of my own which I've come across during 2012. I'll add them to a future blogpost.

Try the Landscape of Music too - interesting map concept...

Image: Winter Sky, Alan Parkinson

Google Mapping

An interesting Guardian article about the efforts of Google to update their maps.
Some useful links here too, including this image.

Geography Camp follow up 1

A few things after Geography Camp (see previous posts)
As people who attended find their way back to their 'day jobs' it will be interesting to see how the camp begins to influence them...

First of all, there are some great photos by Matt in the Hayfield Geography Flickr set. Good to see that people managed to get to Lud's Church too, which is a wonderfully atmospheric place.
I particularly liked the woodland scene, complete with icy moon which had been created from found objects. Lovely work and something that could be adapted and used in other locations

Image: Matthew Johnson

Also, Alex (@scholaforis) mentioned a link to the importance of outdoor learning.
If you are in or around Cheshire, why not check out Wacky Woods and opportunities for visits linked to CPD.

Fancy spending a week in Bruges in May ?

You can apply for a Comenius Grant to attend the iGUESS2 course that is taking place in Bruges in May 2013
Details of the course are below if you are unfamiliar with iGUESS2

Download the details as a PDF by clicking here

The deadline has sadly passed to join me in Salzburg in February 2013, but there will be other opportunities...

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is software that is already widely used in all sorts of businesses such as industry and public services and they  are rapidly emerging in several aspects of society and still gaining importance (examples are GPS and digital maps). In order to offer students the best opportunities to succeed in our future society, the iGuess partners decided to join forces to create a course. All project partners add their own specific expertise to the iGuess consortium.
Hence, the expertise gathered in the project covers a broad, unique, range of fields.
If you complete our course, you will be issued an educational GIS Certificate, to which licenses for
GIS software will be linked.  
Besides  your newly acquired GIS skills,  you will  take home the necessary software to be able to develop your own exercises and use them in your classroom.
Check our website: www.iguess.eu

Course programme:
Day 1: Introduction and basics of spatial thinking and GIS learning.
Day 2: GIS exercises, in several subjects and applied to several European countries, such as
researching and mapping black stork nests,  industrial zones, genetically modified crops,
earthquakes and seismic activity.
Day 3: Fieldwork with GPS: exercises to collect and process geo-data.
Day 4: Didactical guidelines for preparation and development of own exercise. Start of workshop:
elaborating your own exercise
Day 5: Workshop and peer presentation of your own exercises.
Date of course:
Monday 6 to Friday 10 May 2013, Bruges, Belgium
Sunday and Saturday are travel days!

Book news.... 2 of 2

Earlier this year I wrote a chapter of a book for Routledge, which was published earlier this week.

Details are available HERE.

Debates in Geography Education encourages student and practising teachers to engage with and reflect on key issues, concepts and debates in their specialist subject teaching. It aims to enable geography teachers to reach their own informed judgements and argue their point of view with deeper theoretical knowledge and understanding.
Expert editors and contributors provide a balance of experience and perspectives and offer international, historical and policy contexts, evidence informed classroom debates and a glimpse of the subject’s expanding horizons.
Debates considered include:
  • what constitutes knowledge in geography?
  • constructing the curriculum;
  • how do we link assessment to making progress in geography?
  • the contribution of fieldwork and outdoor experiences;
  • technology and media;
  • how we use Geographical Information;
  • how geography contributes to ‘global learning’;
  • sustainable development and geography education.
The comprehensive, rigorous coverage of these key issues, together with carefully annotated selected further reading, reflective questions and a range of specific web-based resources, will help support shape your own research and writing. Debates in Geography Education is a source of knowledge, experience and debate that will be essential reading for all students studying at Masters level, practising teachers who want to develop a better understanding of the issues that shape their practice, and Education Studies students considering in-depth subject teaching.
I'm in good company with the other authors, which is a real 'who's who' of Geography education.... and then there's me...
Introduction: geography education, questions and choices. David Lambert and Mark Jones
Section One: Policy debates 1. What is geography’s place in the primary school curriculum? Fran Martin 2. What is KS3 for? John Hopkin 3.What is geography’s place in post 14 education? David Gardner 
Section Two: ‘Classroom’ debates 4. What constitutes knowledge in geography? Roger Firth 5. How do we understand conceptual development in school geography? Clare Brooks 6. What is the rightful place of physical geography? Duncan Hawley 7. Whatever happened to the enquiry approach in geography? Jane Ferretti 8. What is personalised learning in geography? Mark Jones 9. Where is the curriculum created? Mary Biddulph 10. How do we link assessment to making progress in geography? Paul Weeden 11. Examining geography: what geography is examined in schools and colleges? Bob Digby 12. How is the learning of skills articulated in the geography curriculum? Phil Wood 13. What is the contribution of fieldwork to school geography? Alan Kinder 14. How has technology impacted on the teaching of geography and geography teachers? Alan Parkinson 15. Geographical information (GI) – how could it be used? Mary Fargher 16. How does geography contribute to ‘employability’? John Lyon 17. How do we deal with controversial issues in a ‘relevant’ school geography? David Mitchell 18. What does geography contribute to global learning? Alex Standish 19. How does Education for Sustainable Development relate to geography education? Maggie Smith 
Section Three: Subject debates 20. What do we mean by thinking geographicallyJohn Morgan 21. Does geography adapt to changing times? Charles Rawding 22. Can geography cross ‘the divide’? Graham Butt and Gemma Collins 23. What do we know about concept formation and making progress in learning geography? Liz Taylor

Thanks to Mark Jones and David Lambert for their help with the writing of my chapter...

Book news... 1 of 2

Good news from my co-author Richard Allaway that a new improved version 1.1 of our eBook has been approved and is available to download from the iTunes eBook store if you have an iPad2 or above.

We're coming to the end of a year where I've published more than ever before, including a few solo books as well as collaborative projects.
A reminder that books I published earlier in the year are still available:

another one that I wrote for the GA on fieldwork with John Widdowson is being edited and will be published in 2013...

There were also 2 books that I edited which won an SAGT award in October this year.

The next post also describes a contribution to a book that was published this week...

Black Marble - City Lights

Via Flickr 
Images created by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

Now available in Google Maps too....

Electric Forest

Over to Thetford Forest last night - a short drive from home - for Electric Forest: the 2nd time that the forest has been lit up in a special trail, with extra music and sound effects.

Transforming a familiar landscape with lights and sound.

It was a great event, with some interesting installations and sounds, and the rain held off until we arrived back home. There was also a roaring fire to sit by, food and hot chocolate (or mulled wine) at the end.

Got some reasonable photos too...


Just tried out TYPOEFFECTS.
Chucked it a picture of me in the Alps and some words and this was the result.
Took a while to render on my aging Acer, but may work faster for you - don't expect an instant result, but it's worth waiting for...
Click for biggery


Professor David Lambert, my former boss has written an interesting blog post relating to the forthcoming change in the curriculum.

It's on the IoE blog. I tried to get David blogging while working for the GA, and he wrote an occasional blog with John Morgan.
The blog post makes some interesting points about curriculum change and the role of knowledge.
The GA's report on its recent consultation about the curriculum is out shortly.

There's a useful link to a website which has the CORE KNOWLEDGE sequence.

Alan in New Zealand....

This idea came to me just now.
I was searching for an image of me for a background to a slide, and this image popped up.
I wondered why for a second then realised that my name: ALAN is contained within the name 'ZeALANd' in New Zealand.

I started wondering whether there were other names hidden in the names of countries or cities.

Can you find and suggest any other 'placenames' ?

Perhaps this could be set as an alternative homework activity. If nothing else, it will get students looking at an atlas...

Differentiation and Inclusion

Useful presentation by David Drake: AST from Wiltshire - check out some more of David's work HERE on Slideshare. Check out the flooding lesson example at the end...

London's Periodic Table

A compelling visualisation of data about London from Ollie O'Brien.
Based on the City Dashboard that I have previously blogged about.
Can you / your students work out what the different sections of the diagram are showing ?
What other data do you think could be added / removed ?

Nice :)

Image: snapshot from Ollie O'Brien's Periodic Table of London

Geography Camp Follow Up 1: The World Class

One of the people that I met on the Geography Camp at the weekend was Anne Fousse

She runs a small company called THE WORLD CLASS, which provides an interactive workshop offering for Primary Schools.
Anne is based in North London, and schools there can get the lowest rates for the workshops that she offers, but she will also travel to other areas.
Plenty of interesting map-related activities to engage children with the wider world....

World Soil Day

This VIMEO video is well worth watching. It describes the importance of SOIL: a material which is not always fully appreciated.

When I did my geography degree years ago I spent a lot of time working on soil. We did a lot of lab work, testing Atterberg limits (whatever they were) and a range of other soil related matters. Plenty on mass movements and peat sedimentation as well.

World Soil Day is tomorrow, part of Global Soil Week

Don't forget the MySoil app too to find out what is underneath your feet.
Why not take a trip out into the school grounds tomorrow and explore the soil stories that you can find...

WorldClim - Global Climate Database

Came across this while working on another project, and following a link from a GIS HELP community. 

WORLDCLIM offers a range of climate data that can be downloaded for those who have the software (and ability) to explore sophisticated data sets about changing climates. May be of use to somebody who reads this blog.


Every year, reports of avalanches throughout Scotland are collated by SAIS
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service produces a report.

I've been exploring this as a possible context for schools to use the Digimap for Schools service and OS MapStream. Students could explore the locations where the avalanches occurred and relate the risk to the landscape.
They could also use the WEATHERSPARK website to go to the location and explore the weather conditions that there were in the days leading up to the avalanche - when did the snow fall ? was there a warming trend ? was the wind from a particular direction ?

The report for 2012 is available here.

It is available as a PDF download

Thanks to Ollie Bray for the original link to the resource

Shingle Shells

Bought a cask of Adnams winter ale today ready for Christmas.

It was only when I got it home that I realised the festive significance of the name - I'd bought it because it sounded geographical !

Image: Alan Parkinson

Geography Camp - 5 of 5

As I left the Geography Camp, the afternoon sessions were about to get underway, with some body explorations, massage, freewill, guerrilla geography and plenty more... I also missed out on the late night wide games in the local woods.This last post is the start of what will be a longer term reflection on what came out of the weekend.
A few things that I took away:

a) the importance of getting out of your comfort zone now and again and talking to people who aren't involved in geography education, as well as those who are...
b) some plans for Christmas, after a long conversation with Steve Bunce, which touched on a whole range of topics, from gaming to cheap cider...
c) some interesting leads to follow up on with some possible further projects to develop into 2013
d) a copy of Mission:Explore Food which my son claimed for his bedroom
e) my winning pub-quiz glow stick which was still glowing two days later

Here's a report from one of the Geography Camp participants describing some bits of the camp that I had to miss:

Matthew Minns, dressed as a dinosaur, engaged everyone with some public philosophy.. challenging them to think about freedom, freewill and boundaries, before Christina Greenland, a Dance Movement Therapist, led the group through a creative and deep session on intuitive movement, introducing the idea of 'arrival' in movement, exploring our inner-landscapes and thinking about the social, political and environmental layers that make us who we are, before going outside the move in the woods as the sun set and the moon lifted...

Rebecca Leever, Massage Therapist, gave a short and poetic talk linking science, art, body and landscape through the sense of touch. Talking about our bodies as maps, the workshop ended with everyone sharing fantastic hand massages. 

The evening session included sharing by Anthony Barlow on ideas for derive exploration in primary schools, Emily Nash on craftivism (craft-activism) and then Daniel Raven-Ellison on guerrilla geography days in 2013. 

After dinner we invented a Vampire-based outdoor wide game that involved torches  glow sticks, evade and capture.

On Sunday morning Dr Jess Allen shared her beautiful psychogeographical installation film on relationships with windfarms in Wales and talked about activist walking. She was followed by Anne Fousse (https://twitter.com/WorldClass1) who showed us a stunning curation of creative and exciting maps, something she does professionally in schools.

The camp ended with Daniel Raven-Ellison presenting Mission:Explore and how it can be used to inspire and support curious, creative, critical and active geography-based explorations and initiatives in school and beyond

Thanks once again to all who came... we're already thinking about the next camp. Come and join us.
Subscribe to the Geography Collective blog.

Weather 2012

A useful video summary of 2012's weather  from the BBC.

It's all about the jet stream once again....
Handy for my 'Still High and Dry' lecture tour...

GA Conference Programme available...

The programme for the 2013 GA Conference can now be downloaded from the GA website.

It outlines the events that will take place on each day of conference. A more detailed version similar to the one in the conference handbook will appear in 2013.

I had a quick look and jotted down a possible route through the conference for me....
One problem (although it's a good one to have) is that there are so many good sessions that there are some clashes and I can't see everything that I would like to.


Arrival - I'm staying at the main hotel as organised by the University of Derby by the railway station.
I'll probably pop into the Association at Work session, to say hello to a few people and grab some lunch.
Public lecture: this is being given by Dame Ellen MacArthur
GA awards: I have a few things which are in for awards, so will go along to see how I did :)
Wine reception - more chats with colleagues
SPC meal and beers (to be confirmed)


An early start for a lecture by Jamie Buchanan Dunlop on the World's oceans which will have lots of updates on the recent trip that Jamie made to the Great Barrier Reef (as blogged about here on Living Geography)

Bob Digby's Presidential Lecture - as someone who was so interested in the preparations for the Olympics it's no surprise that this will be the theme of Bob's lecture...

Ian Cook's session is on at the same time, and would like to have seen that.
There's also an interesting lecture by Rita Gardner, Director of the RGS-IBG

11.45-12.35 is an SPC workshop which I shall go and support and help out in

2.55-3.45 - Katy Shipman and I will be doing a workshop on apps in the classroom
4.30-5.20 - Tony Cassidy, John Sayers and I will be doing a workshop on collaborative projects, including Geography SOLO, Radical geography and something from me
5.35 - 6.25 - Emma Rawling Smith is doing a session which I shall go and support

That evening is the GeoBeerMeet down by the Railway Station - details in previous blog posts - organised by Richard Allaway who is also doing several sessions which mostly clash with mine :)


9 - 9.50: Karl Donert and Michaela Lindner-Fally talk about a project I've been involved in
10 - 11: Keynote lecture on the rapidly changing Arctic
11.45 - 12.35: I'll be leading a Mission:Explore Fieldtrip opportunity....
1.15 - 2: As a newly appointed Primary Champion I'll go along to the Primary reception

There's a few other things to squeeze in there and no doubt meeting lots of friends, and also people who I've worked with/for and created resources for over the years...
Looking forward to it already...

An extra feature of this year's conference is the Young Geographer's strand, where teachers can bring up to six students to take part in some special events. Visit the GA website for more details.

Geography Camp - 4 of 5

The final session before lunch was handed over to me. I had about 15 minutes to talk through some ideas for connecting the work of the Geography Collective, and others in the group, with the forthcoming changes to the curriculum. What are the reasons for the proposed changes and what should those reasons be ?
I referred to the work of my former boss: Professor David Lambert, and his talk of curriculum artefacts.
My presentation is embedded below...

The plan is to try to put together a draft M:E Curriculum which we can share around the time of the new curriculum announcements to provide a possible alternative path for colleagues to explore.
I'll mention more in my final Geography Camp post...