Thought for the Day

"I follow it, I'm an observer on it, but I don't want to tweet because it's too time-consuming, but it's a very fascinating new space. The press don't quite describe it right. It isn't just about a little comment of 140 characters, it's much more than that because it's noticeboards: people post something, it takes you to another person, it moves along. It's very, very new and fascinating."
David Hockney on Twitter in The Guardian
I have tickets for the show for later in the year, and very much looking forward to it.

Further Polar resources on Discovering the Arctic

Thanks to Steve Brace of the RGS-IBG for an e-mail to let me know that there are now some further resources on the Discovering the Arctic website in addition to the SWIPA permafrost resources that I authored, and told you about recently.

There are now new resources on the North West / North East passages  and also two new sections on geopolitics and impact of change on Greenland

These would all be very useful materials for anyone studying the poles...

Leeds Curriculum Presentation

Over to Leeds for a keynote at the Leeds Geography Conference.

Thanks to colleagues at the event for their input.

We were thinking about the nature of the choices that determine the geography curriculum that is taught at schools. About how our interests are reflected in the curriculum. About the way that student experiences are enabled. About whether to start the process of change now or wait to hear what emerges. About the extent of prescription there is likely to be....

Here is the result of the post it notes that we filled in with the things that we wanted to keep, along with the number of people who said them:

Less physical / human and more interconnected units.
Globalisation x 5
Climate Change x 4
Energy Futures x 5
Mapskills x 5
Studies of Place x 3
Hazards x 5
Ecosystems / Natural Environment
Population x 4
Coastal Environments x 3
Migration x 5
Urban Issues
Setting the local geography to the school
Urban regeneration x 3
Atmosphere and Oceans
Environmental Change - Geomorphology
Geology and Human interactions
Food Issues
Mapskills inc GIS x 2
World Geography to locate future case studies
Local Landscapes x 2
Place: Yorkshire
Europe: EU Issues
Fieldwork Enquiry
Trade & Interrelationships
Natural Environment
Resources and Sustainability 
Conservation of wildlife, nature and indigenous people
Current issues in the world that are linked to geography
Geography using ICT

Here's an electronic version of the presentation that I used...
The [new] Geography Curriculum for Leeds
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.

Thanks to Garth for the invitation, and for the plug for the blog...

Winter Landscape...

Out early on today to brave the ice and mist to take some photos...
This was the second image that I worked on with a programme called Flare for Mac. This was a processed image. Going to try and bring out the trees and rooks that were in the background a little in another version.

Click for bigger version

Image: Alan Parkinson

Teaching Geography - Spring 2012

My copy of Teaching Geography arrived today.
You can also now download it from the GA website if you are a subscriber.
The focus for this issue is the  London Olympics...

Also good articles by Fred Martin and Ruth Totterdell on the curriculum and what makes a good geography lesson.

Thought for the Day

"the average British citizen is enjoined to spend their hard-earned income in 'ecofriendly' ways, even as they are simultaneously encouraged to holiday abroad, consume ever more imported commodities, and aspire to the lifestyles of the rich-and-famous"

Noel Castree (2009) - from 'Feelbad Britain'

Geography a 'soft' subject....

Make your mind up... a few months back it was one of the more rigorous and valuable ones...

Telegraph article

Thanks to Eylan Ezekiel for tipoff via Twitter

Better GCSE grades

As some colleagues will know, I have been writing a book for Badger Publishing on raising GCSE grades.
This will contain a series of sections which will support students during the GCSE Geography course and beyond.

I have set up a new blog to support those who purchase the book.

This follows my blog to support my KS3 Toolkit book: "Look at it this Way" - which is still available from the GA Shop....

Save outdoor learning centres - e-petition link...

Sign the e-petition

Free GIS training at Ordnance Survey HQ

If you're able to get to Southampton for a twilight session there is a good opportunity for you....

This is an opportunity for secondary school teachers to attend a free GIS training event on 6 February.
The event will be run at Ordnance Survey’s head office and will start at 4pm and run through until approximately 7pm.

The training will use QGIS, which is an open source software package, which is free to download.

If you would like more details, or would like to register to attend the course, please reply to

Places are limited, so please reply as soon as possible.

Centre for Cities report 2012

Plenty in the news today and yesterday about the varying fortunes of UK cities.
Some are doing well - others are struggling.

Which cities are doing well and which aren't ?

Students could be asked to research particular cities after first being asked whether they are going UP or DOWN in terms of their success at generating new employment and providing a good quality of life for their population.

The Centre for Cities report can be downloaded as a PDF  and act as a useful basis for some work in this area.

How is your local city doing ? Why not give it a health check ?

Thought for the Day

"Teachers who go out of their way to collaborate online tend to be creative, motivated people with high standards for their own performance — the type who would rather try something new than pull out the yellowed lesson plans they’ve been using for years."

from Washington Post, via Twitter...

Transition projects...

I am starting to think ahead for an event in March in Devon.
I am leading a day on transition between Primary and Secondary schools. I would be really interested in projects that you have heard about or have taken part in to support students when they move from primary (or middle) schools to senior schools - particularly from KS2 to KS3... If these are geographical in nature that would be even better!

What transition projects do you do with feeder primaries ??
To what extent do you know what goes on in geography lessons in  your feeder primary schools ?

I have some ideas based around exploration, and the preparation for the change as being a geographical expedition with some preparations... Mission:Explore will be making an appearance of course...
Other schools use the idea of a PASSPORT which students prepare and then take with them when they move. My son found this helpful when he moved to a new school.

Going to be looking at the PRIMARY CHAMPIONS Ning for some ideas and consulting with Primary colleagues, but please add a comment below or get in touch via my profile if you have a really good idea that you want to publicise....

Smurf Village

A village in Spain was painted blue to act as a location shoot for the new Smurfs Movie

Juzcar, inland from Malaga, was transformed six months ago when it was chosen as the set for The Smurfs 3D, becoming the world's first official Smurf Village.
Sony, which made the film, had promised to return the village to its original state, with homes painted in dazzling white, as is typical of southern Spain.

A few weeks ago, the inhabitants of the village voted to keep the village blue. as it had brought over 80 thousand visitors in.
This is an interesting example of rebranding. Also ties in with the issue of attracting tourists. There is a precedent of course in the coloured houses in Tobermory used in the CBBC programme Balamory, although to be fair they were there before the film crews arrived.

Here's an image of some of my son's Smurf collection - he loves them...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Thanks to Judith Roberts for the tip off to this...

UWB Wetlands game similar to Farmville

A find via Twitter.
UWB Wetlands is a game which has a similar feel and style to Farmville, but is aimed at teaching about wetlands conservation.

You will need to 'LIKE' the page on your Facebook page, and you can then start to play the game and build your own ecosystem.

iGCSE Geography books

Only 2 copies of the Teachers's Guide for the new iGCSE Geography book that I contributed to available on Amazon. Does that mean it's selling really quickly or they didn't have many in stock ?
Check it out anyway, along with the Student Book - it's really rather good...

On your bike...

A new option for exploring which PUBLIC TRANSPORT route would be best for you, from Google.
Check transport routes and get interesting mapping and data.

Audio description...

I watched some of the Human Planet DVD earlier in the week to prepare some materials on DESERTS, and accidentally put the AUDIO DESCRIPTION on.

I was watching a programme on Deserts, and had forgotten about that until it started to describe the scenes where there is no other soundtrack or voice over describing what was happening....

e.g. a long line of camels walks slowly across a sand dune, led by three men in blue clothing... the camera moves back and upwards to reveal a huge expanse of desert sands...

It occured to me that this might be an appropriate way for students to use a DVD. Rather than relating to the existing script, they need to explain what can be seen - which perhaps is the most useful reason for using a video of course...

Junior Mapmaker Award 2012

The UKHO Junior Mapmaker award is sponsored by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), in conjunction with the British Cartographic Society (BCS), to encourage the creative and graphic representation, by children, of their environment. The awards are given every two years and comprise a prize and certificate for the overall winner in each age group.
The theme for the 2012 competition is “My Voyage to Treasure Island”. This could be based on any stretch of water – from a lake to a trip across an imaginary ocean. The map or chart should represent the encounters of that day. It may be hand drawn or computer generated (to a maximum size of A3).

There are 4 age categories (7 to 9; 10 to 11; 12 to 14 and 15 to 16 years – ages at 21 July 2012), with an overall winner chosen from each category:

The closing date for entries is 21 July 2012.

Full details, including the entry form can be found at by following the ‘Awards’ link.

Thanks to Richard Carpenter for adding details of the competition to the GA NING.

Ghost Wood

One of the missions in the pack that I produced for the National Geographic Education materials for the US Geography Awareness Week explores the idea of the suburbs which, so the saying goes, is "where they chop the trees down, then name the streets after them..."

The GHOST WOOD mission is the mission in question. Why not give it a go ?

Wet the baby's head...

An interesting tale for those looking for useful stories related to flooding.

The town of Gloucester has reported an unexpected consequence of flooding that happened in 2007...

Baby boom 4 years on has created a problem for local primary schools. A useful secondary effect of the floods ?

Would be a good investigation - were the floods really the cause or are there other demographic reasons for the rise in births in the area that is mentioned ? What other theories can students come up with ?

Hazard Map

A nice global hazard map.

Interesting to see the reporting of the 'vehicle accident' off the Italian coast...

iBooks 2 and iBook Author

Some interesting posts over the last few days on the Apple announcement earlier this week. There are various issues with the licensing, and the tie-in with Apple relating to any documents that are created with the iBooks Author app. It's not quite what I anticipated. I've installed the iBooks Author app and will have a play.

Kudos also to Ciaran McCormack who very quickly came up with a useful video guide.

Technology made Easy is currently hosting a very useful 20 minute run through of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author with (appropriately enough) a geography book example !
Well worth watching if you fancy having a go at making your own books available....

If I'd had a fiver to place on someone to have done something with this first it would have been on Noel Jenkins, and sure enough, here's Noel's first thoughts on the use of the tool.

Frozen Oceans in the TES

The Times Educational Supplement featured the frozen oceans resources that I wrote for the Catlin Arctic Survey funded OCEANS website produced by Digital Explorer today. The resources for KS3 and GCSE were then added to and produced by Jamie Buchanan Dunlop.

Head over there if you haven't already and download the materials...

Olympics Venues

A reminder that not all of the Olympics is being held in London. A useful map of the area of sea off the coast of Portland that will host the sailing events...

Fancy having Michael Palin as your boss ? *

A rather nice job appeared on the the RGS-IBG website today.
School's Programme Manager

It includes various elements of the job that I did at the Geographical Association, although it includes various different schemes and projects that I wasn't involved with, and a different emphasis.

If I was still in the classroom and looking for a new challenge and opportunity to use my skills, and could make it to Kensington every day, I'd definitely go for this job. Which is why I won't be, because I'm not, and I can't...
I look forward to working in some way with whoever does get the job though....
Good luck if you're thinking of applying - these are interesting times for Geography....

* = sort of.... 

The post has appeared because Kate Amis is stepping down from the role she has held for some years. Kate has done a fantastic job and I wish her the very best...

SOLO Taxonomy for Geographers...

Thanks to John Sayers for volunteering to join me to present a VITAL CPD Teachshare on the 9th of February at 7pm.
It's on the use of: SOLO, which stands for Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes.
It really asks students to place their understanding of work on a scale of 1-5, depending on their ability to make sense of connections. It's a useful technique for discussing progression.

So, although I'll be talking SOLO, I won't be on my own....

A reminder that you can still subscribe to the VITAL CPD GEOGRAPHY portal for a very low price - if you go to the pub tonight and buy a pint and a packet of pork scratchings it'll probably cost you more than a subscription would.... although admittedly they'll taste better....

Oceans Academy - March 17th & 18th

Come and join me in March at the Digital Explorer Oceans Academy.
This is another chance to experience a free weekend of ocean-related fun...

Here's the mailing that I got earlier today.

Oceans Academy opens again!

Main Content Inline Small
Our third and final teacher training session about the oceans will be taking place over 17th-18th March and the competition to find gritty, enthusiastic and curious teachers is once again open! 
Geography and science teachers can apply online until 26th February - if a two-day expenses-paid weekend away with marine biologists, sailors and oceanographers on the English Riviera isn't enough to convince you, this is what teachers said of the last training sessions in October:
"Very interactive which was great. Good balance of strong scientific base and ways of bringing the ideas to life in a simple way. Realise now I could link oceans to many other modules."
- Dan Waistell, Magdalen College School, Brackley
"Great fun, good mix of science, geography and good plain enjoyment! Didn’t know how reliant terrestrial ecology is on ocean ecology."
- Simon Jordan, Plymouth College
Apply now to join me and the crew in March....
Read about what David Rogers thought of the experience on his blog...

Protected planet

A nice mapping site, called PROTECTED PLANET which allows students to explore protected areas. It covers the world, but will probably start by showing the area that you are living in. You can SEARCH for a place. Useful for exploring landscapes which need protection, and various management issues.

A rather nice map allows you to zoom down to the local level to identify specific protected areas and the nature of their protection.

This shows the SSSI which is a few minutes walk from my house, and a good place to find fungi. Here's an image taken on a recent walk...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Isle of Ely... or I love Ely...

Fresh back from a great day working with colleagues at the King's School, Ely which is a holder of our Secondary Geography Quality Mark.
Claire Kyndt, who co-ordinates the local network for support had invited me along.

Many thanks also to Paula Owens for sharing the slides that I used for the first half of my presentation, which ended up taking a bit longer than planned due to my eagerness, and some good discussions with the Primary delegates at the network meeting.

Thanks to Claire and colleagues for lunch too. As always, if there was anything you need from me after the event, please get in touch.
Potted version of presentation to be available shortly on my SLIDESHARE page...

Maps 101

Thanks to Rob Burn for sending me a log-in and details for the MAPS 101 site.

This is an American site which includes a range of resources for students and teachers.
It offers a huge range of materials for a range of subjects, including Geography.

A free trial is available on request.
Clicking through the main screen brings you to the resources, which are organised by category. There are plenty of ideas to explore.
I'm sorry I've not had time to do a proper look, or a proper review, but I shall return to this in a week or so when things calm down a little....

This means Waugh ?...*

When I started teaching, in 1988, GCSEs had recently been brought in, followed three years later by the 'brown' National Curriculum with its hundreds of attainment targets.
At the time of these changes, a geography teacher named David Waugh teamed up with other colleagues, notably Tony Bushell, to write a series of books which took these targets and turned them into double page spreads. They were colourful and engaging books, with some activities that were accessible to most, and they sold in their hundreds of thousands, if not millions. I used them, and the GCSE versions regularly for the next 15 years.

Go into most geography departments and you'll see these books, or later editions and additions to the series in use, along with the photocopiable sheets that were added to the series, and activities to offer stretch and support.

Later today, Apple are expected to announce tools that will enable individuals to self-publish much more easily, and create a book in the same way as Garageband allows a novice to create music...

If this means that teachers are more able to produce their own e-books, that could potentially challenge the traditional publishers. This may be an interesting time, especially as we move towards further curriculum change, and tie this in with teacher professional development and the growing use of social media to collaborate on projects.
I floated an idea on Twiitter last night as to whether there were colleagues who would like to collaborate on a book in this way, and had an encouraging response.

We'll see what happens about 3pm today....

* = this assumes several things - first that Apple aren't announcing something else instead.... and second that this is how you pronounce David's name... apologies in advance if both of those assumptions are wrong...


OK, so the announcement wasn't quite as earth-shattering as expected, there are limits to the formats and availability, and tie-ins with certain publishing firms seem to be well underway...

And David's name is pronounced 'woff' apparently....
Apart from that...

RGS-IBG Gap Scholars

Each year, the RGS-IBG supports a few young geographers by making them Gap Scholars.

This year's cohort have recently been announced on the RGS-IBG website.
I met Daniel Evans, one of this year's group last week and we chatted about what he was planning to do and how I might be able to help support his aim of producing resources for people to use in UK schools to support learning about Alaska and glacial environments.
Some of the scholars have blogs which would be worth following as their journeys continue over the year ahead.


Several websites have sections blacked out today in protest at the SOPA bill.

Here's Wikipedia for example...

Which is all very well, but how am I supposed to get any work done ?  ;)

About me...

Just update my About Me page.... a page... about me...

Precious Snowflakes

Thanks for tipoff to this article in the Telegraph.

It describes another trend in China that has arisen out of the One Child Policy.

You may be familiar with the idea of 'Little Emperors': the only children who are sometimes spoiled or indulged as parents only have one child to lavish their attention on.

The 'precious snowflakes' are the children who, in a similar way, have been so molly-coddled that they are unable to cope with much stress in their lives.

A fascinating quote at the end of the article:

"The first generation of single children have already been deprived of having brothers and sisters. The second generation is even worse: they do not have cousins, uncles or aunts either. Some of them face being entirely alone when they grow up and their parents pass away. Think how lonely they will be."

One to explore further perhaps...

Our man in Mongolia... is called Hamish...

Back in 2008, while leading one of the first sets of events I did after joining the Geographical Association I was presenting in London when I noticed that one of the delegates was on his mobile phone while I was talking...
It turned out of course that he was on Twitter saying some nice things about the session...
He was Hamish Reid, and since then he has been doing some teaching and also a lot of travelling in South America amongst other places.
And now it turns out that Hamish is in Mongolia, currently in Ulaanbaatar or UB as it is called. He's there to work on a new project.

The OYU TOLGOI project is a major resources undertaking which is going to dramatically increase the economic development of the country.

It's going to be useful to have a new place to explore in the next few months via Hamish's photos and words, and some judicious research. I'm going to try to put it into some sort of format for schools to make use of.

Here, for example is one of the first images from the blog: this would make a useful image for one of those 'Where in the World' quizzes...

Image: Hamish Reid

Follow @HamishReid on Twitter and Hamish's blog: Our Man in Mongolia

New Discovering the Arctic module...

At the end of last year, I completed some projects for the Royal Geographical Society, one of which was to author a new unit for the Discovering the Arctic website.

My unit is related to the materials produced by SWIPA.
(Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic

Click the image at the bottom of the home page to go to the materials

The attention of the world is on the opposite hemisphere today, but I hope you get the chance to check these out over the next few days.
Thanks to the designers who made sense of my notes and scribbles and have put together what I hope you find a really useful set of activities and questions...

100 years ago today...

"Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale."

Mission Explore Food

Some of the missions from our new book are up on our Crowd Funding site.
Head over and support us...

We explore geography wherever it might be hiding....

UEA Geographers

Spent most of the day at University of East Anglia today...
Worked with PGCE Geographers: a good group of 19 colleagues. After chatting about curriculum making we had some chance to try it.
The theme was FOOD, and the TASK provided some possible contexts for learning, and some of the tools that could be used.

Thanks also to digitalexplorer for the mugs, which they all took away, along with details on the free OCEANS resources.....

I was pleased with the suggestions on an activity relating to food.
In half an hour we came up with the following ideas (apologies if I've forgotten any of them, which I think I have...)

  • Researching food items and exploring their origins
  • The water that we eat: the water that is involved in food production
  • Top Trumps cards which follow the water etc in food - students creating the card sets
  • Unit of work on Innocent Smoothies, which involved a range of activities including looking at the social responsibility 
  • Fast food geographies - exploring their sustainability - using the corporate social responsibility and other claims, packaging etc. - also a possible look at the siting of a fast food restaurant that is more sustainable than the others
  • Fairtrade and other food projects and campaigns
  • Exploring foods from other countries - and a 'Follow the Things' style exploration
  • Identifying Food miles
  • Comparing production : life cycle style analysis comparing tomatoes grown in different places, and adding in the additional costs

Thanks also to those who Tweeted back with the details on their lunch.

Coincidentally, we talked about FOOD geographies and I found this story when I got home.
I wonder whether this would be a claim to investigate, as well as the impact of this trend, if it is true on people's health and the environment.

Best wishes to all of you for your teaching careers, and the next two terms in particular, and thanks to Nick Gee for the invitation. Hope to see some of you at the GA Conference in April.


Booked flights last night for an International Baccalaureate conference that I am involved in during May in Geneva, which Richard Allaway is involved in organising...

After the main event, Richard has promised to take me up to the Aiguille du Midi... I'm already getting very excited about that ! Also intrigued to be flying out of London City airport... Hoping for a good view on take-off...

Heading South

A couple of south Polar links today.
First of all, a free app on the island of South Georgia, developed by the University of Dundee
This is available to download from the App store. Has some nice panoramic images and other resources.

The second will happen tomorrow: the 17th of January: the centenary of the date when Robert Falcon Scott and his colleagues reached the South Pole...

Open Street Map

...already has the wreck of the Costa Concordia marked on it... The power and speed of response of collaborative mapping...

The latest worry, as well as finding any remaining survivors as soon as possible, is the possible environmental damage that may result...

BETTer than ever ? 3

After Teachmeet (more in the next blog post) it was back to my hotel room, which was just 15 minutes away from the show, and quite a strange one. Had an OK night's sleep and took the opportunity to have breakfast in my room, before setting off to find a very bright but chilly morning.
Would have been nice to have time for a wander and some photography, but at least got this image of a row of bikes near to Olympia...

Inside for a coffee and a listen in to the kick-off of the Dell Education ThinkTank....

Over to say hi to the ESRI UK guys to meet with Jason who I'd spotted earlier, then up to Gallery Room 2 to set up for my seminar (see earlier post)

It was good to be able to talk about the link between Mission:Explore and the curriculum. It's a pity there were some empty seats.
It turned out at the end of the session that there were lots of international visitors who had come along to my talk - thanks for hanging around at the end of the talk.

I'll be in touch....

VITAL TeachShare on Thursday 18th of January

The latest of my VITAL Online Teachshares will be introducing some of the ideas in my Digimap for Schools education pack, and showing the pack...

It is on Thursday the 18th of January at 7pm.

Please join me by clicking THIS LINK

BETTer than ever ? 2

Michael Gove opened the BETT show this year...

He had a few words for geographers in his speech:
"Technology can be integrated and embedded across the whole curriculum. In geography lessons, for example, pupils could access the specialised software and tools used by professional geographers, allowing them to tackle more challenging and interesting work..."

Which begs the question as to what these specialised software and tools are, and also to challenge the suggestion that there isn't "challenging and interesting work" going on already by geography teachers and students.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, I spent 2 days at the BETT show this year.
This post will talk about some of the stalls that I visited which were of a geographical nature, and could perhaps offer some of the tools that were mentioned....

Ordnance Survey were at the stand, and were joined this year by colleagues from Edina and Digimap for Schools: a subscription-based service which allows all staff and students at a school to access maps at a number of scales for the whole of the UK.
I have been working on an education pack of materials for Digimap for Schools. This will be available shortly.

ESRI UK has also been at the show for many years. This time round they were giving away very useful books with maps and data that could be used with school students, and also demonstrating the latest tools that were added to the free ArcGIS Explorer Online tool.
I am continuing to run the ESRI / GA GIS courses at locations around the country. The next one will be in London on the 26th of January.
Stratalogica: produced by Herff Jones, who are based in Chicago.
I visited the stand near the end of Friday and had a good chat with Don. I'd been put in touch with Stratalogica by Eylan Ezekiel, and have been exploring the tool. My current writing commitments mean that I have not had as much time as I want to explore the mapping tool, that is built around the Google API. This has a great deal of potential, and I shall get back to it in a month or so, when my current book projects are finished for the time being.
It was good to hear from Don that he had been invited to present on the Google stand at BETT.

Thanks to Don for the chat on the stand, and also for the spare beer voucher at the Teachmeet, which I made good use of. Thanks also for the invitation to the BETT Awards dinner, which I was sadly unable to take up due to the timing.
You can request a 14 day free trial of Stratalogica....

The Twig folks had a great stand up next to the Gallery Bar, where the two halls meet. They were also showing a series of Digital content which had won them the "best secondary digital content". As it happens they have lots of new GEOGRAPHY content, and I wrote the teaching materials to support the films (and it was a bit of a project too !!) 

I had a quick look at some of the larger stands too, but didn't see anything particularly new.

More on Teachmeet at BETT in the next blogpost...

BETTer than ever ? 1

This is the first in a series of posts relating to the BETT show, which I attended on Friday and Saturday of this week.

I met several of my fellow VITAL CPD colleagues, notably Joe Dale and (finally) Steve Bunce. Also geography colleagues, notably David Rogers, Graeme Eyre and Andy Knill.
The first post is to provide a reminder of the link to my presentation for the Lean Live seminar.

Thanks to Paul Heinrich of NAACE for chairing my session. Paul had earlier launched NAACE's new KS3 ICT curriculum which is worth a look...

The presentation also saw the launch of two new sets of missions with our partners GeoVation and the Ordnance Survey.
The GeoVation missions offer a chance to win money for the school by exploring a problem related to the idea of FOOD.

From the GeoVation blog:

During a presentation at the BETT Show on Saturday 14 January Alan Parkinson from Mission:Explore will start the GeoVation challenge badge-geovationwhich will ask children to identify a food related problem in their community, think of a solution and come up with a plan for executing it.The best plans that also make use of Ordnance Survey mapping can win a slice of funding to help turn them into a reality.  Children in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4 can enter by doing a series of three GeoVation missions on Mission:Explore to win a GeoVation badge and then completing and entry form.

The Ordnance Survey Missions are called SHARE THE VIEW. They are pinned to around 800 VIEWPOINTS all over the UK, and offer the chance to share your view - not necessarily just a picture of the view, but your impressions on the view...

I was pleased to be able to do the big official launch...

Finally, thanks to those people who came along to the seminar and said some kind words about it.

Special mentions to colleagues who spoke to me at the end: Louise, Gudny, Mervi, Dewang, Angela and Ricardo. I hope to be able to work with you at some point. I’ll be in touch in the next day or so via e-mail...

Further BETT posts will include more on the geographical stands which I enjoyed, and also the Teachmeet at BETT, as well as a sneak preview of what next year’s show might be like, as I took a trip over to ExCeL, which will be the venue for BETT next year.

Digimap Mystery Map and BETT opportunity

I have spent quite a lot of the last two weeks working on a resource pack for the OS Digimap service which won a Geographical Association Gold Award in 2011.
I am writing a Secondary Pack, which has a total of 35 activities and factsheets for KS3 and GCSE Geography. My GA colleague Paula Owens is writing a pack with a similar number of activities for Early Years and Primary pupils. Both of these will shortly be available for download to support subscribers of the service.

I shall be at the BETT Show tomorrow (Friday) afternoon at Olympia and Saturday, when I am doing a seminar about Mission:Explore.
If anyone wants to come and say hello and find out more about the Digimap for Schools Resource Pack that I am writing, you can hunt me out.
I shall be at the Ordnance Survey Stand, Grand Hall, E56 between 3pm and 4pm tomorrow....

I also have a ticket for tomorrow night's Teachmeet....

iGCSE textbooks

The Harper Collins textbooks I worked on for the iGCSE Specification are now published.
I received my copies from a nice FedEx man earlier today.

Feel free to order a copy or more from the Harper Collins website.

Google Doodle

Today's Google Doodle celebrates Nicholas Steno, a geologist, and as we know, geology is part of GEOGRAPHY !  :)

GeoBeer Meet

After the runaway success of last year's GeoBeerMeet at the GA Conference, advance notice is hereby given of this year's event, to be held on Friday the 13th of April....
Lovely work by Richard Allaway to design the posters....
Get the date in your diary now....

Littler Chef....

Little Chef has announced that it is closing quite a lot of its restaurants.

There has been various humorous banter today on Twitter, but this is not so funny for the 600 people who will lose their jobs.
Using your geographical knowledge can you identify (without looking) at the details, which restaurants might be in danger of closing. Think about the locations and the nature of the business. Who eats in Little Chef ? 

Possible relevant information: population demographics, traffic flows along roads they are built on, local connections e.g. hotels etc. / competition from other chains / regular custom rather than just passing trade...

Little Chef provides locations as a SAT NAV POI file.

There is also an element here of rebranding, as Heston Blumenthal spent some time a few years back working with Little Chef. One of the new restaurants is on the A303 on the way to Devon, and there's another one on the A64 near York.

Just as an aside, while having breakfast last year in Oxford the head of Little Chef who was featured in the Heston programmes was also in there having breakfast...

Ironically of course, the Little Chef serves an Olympic breakfast, which would be perfect for 2012....

Why Geography ?

Flight Radar 24

Was reminded of this old favourite over the Christmas holidays

Flight Radar 24

Book published

During 2011, I spent a LOOOOONG time working on the framework and contents of an iGCSE Geography textbook and accompanying Teacher's Guide. I wrote the framework for the book, developed the concept, gave feedback on each page spread, suggested additional activities and generally shaped the final piece, alongside Barry the editor.
My contribution came under the heading of "In partnership with the Geographical Association", so my name isn't as prominent as it would have been otherwise on the Student Book, although my name does appear on the Teacher's Guide.

The authors did a great job and this will prove an excellent resource for those teaching Cambridge iGCSE Specification.
The book was published today, and is now available to purchase from the newly improved GA Shop !
I presume I'll get to see a copy at BETT on Friday on the Harper Collins stand....

Playing the symbols...

Just working on a resource and thought I'd ask for some ideas on what to include in one of the activities.

One activity is about designing new OS Map Symbols.

Can you suggest the things that should be marked on OS maps but aren't ?

I put this out on Twitter earlier and some suggestions were: coffee shops, electric car recycling points, recycling centres and McDonalds....

What would you add to the list ? 
Thanks to those who have responded so far on Twitter....

JSTOR Geography service for subscribers...

As I blogged recently, a new service for subscribers to the Geographical Association's journal 'GEOGRAPHY' was launched over the Christmas period. This allows subscribers to the journal to access a huge archive of back issues, which goes back in fact to the predecessor of that journal: 'Geographical Teacher', which was published from 1901 to 1926.

Users can now access copies of articles from over a century of journals to view on screen or download as a PDF.
Login to the web site, and look for the JSTOR image down the right hand column of the website.

Stuff for Free

While working for the GA, we made some connections with Healthy Planet who offer the chance to adopt a plot of land as a way of making the most of school fund-raising efforts.

Healthy Planet's latest project is Stuff for Free. - is launching next week

Having successfully launched 'Adopt land' online and 'Books for Free' in shopping areas all around the country, Healthy Planet is launching 'Stuff for Free' in a 17,000 sq ft warehouse in West London's Park Royal Industrial Estate (Acton). 
Your chance to declutter your home of things you don't want anymore but someone else will benefit from.

Redistributing is a vital step in promoting re-use and giving, taking or both during the post Xmas 'Stuff for Free' season is a great start to the new year.
Look forward to seeing the site when it launches next week...
Watch out for it being featured on BBC Breakfast

John Widdowson and London Fieldwork

Later in the year, I am going to be visiting the Olympics Park on several occasions, as part of a GA event, and also accompanying a school on a fieldwork visit so that I can get back in the swing of fieldwork and also bring myself up to date on this location, which will continue to attract interest beyond the end of the games.
I thought I'd pass on details of opportunities to visit the park with students and have tuition from author and all round good bloke John Widdowson....


There is a lot happening in east London this year around the London 2012 Games. The transformation of the Lea Valley into the Olympic Park, urban regeneration on a grand scale and the potential for sustainable development – all of them present a unique opportunity to investigate geography in action.

Of specific relevance to schools following the OCR A spec, is the opening of Westfield Stratford City, now the largest urban shopping centre in Europe. The centre will now allow supervised school groups to undertake shopping fieldwork investigations in and around the centre.

Two one-day programmes, designed to meet the requirements of OCR A controlled assessment titles are now on offer. If neither of these programmes suit, other days can be developed to meet your requirements.

Shopping in Stratford – an investigation to compare two neighbouring shopping centres – Stratford Town Centre and Westfield Stratford City. Students will find out how each shopping centre meets the needs of different groups of people and how peoples’ shopping experience might change in the 21st century.

Sustainable shopping? – an investigation at Westfield Stratford City into the extent it can be described as ‘environmentally-friendly’. Students will consider how it could be made more sustainable and, indeed, whether modern consumerism can ever be called sustainable.

Starting point – Stratford Station is easy to reach by rail or road
Times – Allow 6 hours - one-day programmes usually run from 10.00-4.00
Cost – Basic charge of £200 a day for a tutor with up to 30 students - transport, hire of venues and extra tutors will cost more.

For further information, contact John Widdowson