We made it....

Will be happening...

Thanks everyone for your support....

Final chance to fund MISSION EXPLORE FOOD

Please 'pre-order' a copy by supporting the production of MISSION EXPLORE FOOD.
This is the FINAL DAY to fund us.
If we don't get just over a thousand pounds by 11 tonight we don't get the funding to make what will be a superb book for young and old alike...

Changing China One Child Slogans

China's One Child Policy has been in place for some decades now.
It has been enforced with the aid of posters and slogans which have, over the years, had messages which were less than 'touch feely'...
Now it seems, according to this BBC News report that the messages will be a little 'softer'....

If anyone's Pinterested....

I'm now on Pinterest...

Follow Me on Pinterest

It's like an online Pinboard.
Still getting used to it, but I have a Firefox extension at the moment to add my pins. There is also an iPhone app, which I will install too...

You can follow me by clicking the button down the right hand column of the site.
I shall add images to 3 boards which relate to Geographical Stuff, Cultural Stuff and Tunes....

Taking the pulse of the High Street

Geography fieldwork needs to keep pace with the changes that are taking place in the real world, as well as in education.
I am going to be involved in a nice project later in the year involving fieldwork.
What about updating urban fieldwork ?
One way to do this perhaps is to put the work in the context of taking a health check of the local  High St.
How resilient is it ?
What signs are there that it is declining ?
A recent British Retail Consortium report suggested that the High Street is not in a good state. Footfall is down.

Footfall can be calculated using a simple hand held clicker at locations for a period of time.
There's a CLICK COUNTER app for the iPhone which records the clicks and produces some visual indication of the rate of clicks as well..

A Google Doc could be created, and cards made with the QR Code linking through and these could be placed in the location, made into a poster which explains what it is all about...

More fieldwork links to come shortly....

New Martyn Bennett album....

Good news today about a new compilation of remastered Martyn Bennett music. Martyn sadly died in 2005, but I've been playing his music for over a decade and it still sounds as fresh as when I first heard it...

New Digimap for Schools group on the GA NING

A new group has been added to the GA NING for those who subscribe to (or are interested in subscribing to) the OS Digimap for Schools service.
This is a subscription based service, and offers OS mapping at all scales for students and teachers in schools.
During the first part of 2012, Paula Owens and I worked on a new pack of teaching materials for Primary and Secondary Geography. This includes almost 70 resources, which will take students through a range of mapskills from Early Years and Primary through to GCSE controlled assessments...

If you JOIN THE GROUP, you will then get the latest news on the service. There are the monthly MYSTERY MAPS and also the links through to the forthcoming pack...
If you have any questions on the service this can also be the place to ask them...

You should also follow DIGIMAP4SCHOOLS on Twitter to get the latest news about the service, including

EFL / EAL resources

I spent quite some time earlier in 2011 preparing materials for an EFL / EAL event in Poland.

There was a range of materials produced, which I will hopefully be making more use of in 2012 as well, and sharing via various projects.

Google Translate is being used by some colleagues, and it's been interesting to see how they are using it to translate instruction sheets and key vocabulary.

There are also some apps which are useful for translation, and providing key phrases for some of the languages which colleagues might be encountering in lessons. I notice that commercial packs of key words are starting to appear, so there is obviously a demand for this sort of thing.

I also did some work on EAL, for the extension of the Secondary Geography Handbook. Couldn't find an obvious link to the page just now, but will add the resource here when I find it...

How do you support the EAL students in your geography class ?

Image: Alan Parkinson

Marathon Man

My colleague at the GA John Lyon is running the London Marathon again, for Map Action.

Map Action feature in the book on 'GIS made Easy' that I edited, that will be published in April 2012.

MapAction provides a mapping information service at the scene of any major disaster. Using techniques including geographical positioning systems (GPS), satellite communications, geographical information systems (GIS), and personal observation, MapAction produce maps depicting the dynamic situation. These are freely distributed to relief agencies.

Head over to John's JUST GIVING page to make a donation.....

Map Action works in areas where there have been natural disasters which create problems for identifying locations and routes for aid.
Here are some images of places where they have worked recently...

Stop Stealing Dreams

While working at the GA, I worked on the GA's manifesto: 'a different view'

Now Seth Godin, who has worked on a number of useful books has shared his manifesto for education and the way that schools should be organised.

Stop Stealing Dreams - can be downloaded or viewed in various formats....
Well worth a few minutes of your time...


Spent a fair bit of the last week wandering the timber clad University of Klagenfurt as part of an EU project called digitalearth.eu, which I have blogged before (and will again)
Good to be home for a while to get on with some writing projects for a while before the next lot of travelling...

Here's one of my favourite photos with a bit of post-processing...
Some more on my Flickr set of my trip

Image: Alan Parkinson, CC licensed

No more Grouply...

A few years back, when NING started charging, a few of the awarding body networks moved to GROUPLY.
Now it seems that was only a temporary lease of life as GROUPLY is no more...
This sadly means the end of the online communities for AQA 'B' and Edexcel 'A' GCSE Geography.

Thanks to all those who have contributed...


This is well worth reading...

A post by NQT Max Rayner on his first experience of OFSTED, and the triumph of the tick box over common sense... Really well written, particularly the dialogue with the inspector...

Doubtless the inspector who graded him has a much more useful, reflective teacher blog by which they support colleagues ?? Thought not...

Anyway, they've gone now, so Max can carry on teaching enjoyable geography lessons...

Brighton Rocks...

Presentation used today for the Joint Practice Development Day for Brighton schools.

A really good day with geographers getting together at Cardinal Newman Catholic High School...

Any questions from the delegates - please get in touch...
Here's the site on the Olympics disruption that I mentioned... more visualisation opportunities
Get ahead of the Games...

There is going to be some SERIOUS disruption for some people, which I don't think they realise yet...

Klagenfurt images...

First 'rough cut' of images from the recent visit to Austria for the digitalearth.eu meeting... awesome time...

A new Lake Nyos ?

When teaching 'A' level tectonic hazards, one of the case studies that I used was of Lake Nyos in Cameroon. This was a lake which hid a deadly secret: an accumulation of carbon dioxide, which was released one night by a disturbance in the waters. The carbon dioxide (being heavier than air, and also invisible) rolled down the side of the mountain and into villages where people were killed in their beds....

Now Lake Kivu close to the volcano of Nyiragongo is showing signs of doing something similar.

The difference here is that there are plans to turn the accumulation of gas into an unusual power source...
Read to discover more...

Social Media Conference

This is going to be a rather splendid event which is taking place on the 30th of March.
It's a free conference hosted by the International School of Toulouse....

I am on a family break at the time otherwise I would definitely be there....

AEGIS Fieldwork poster...

Thanks to Diana Freeman for getting in touch and telling me about  a new resource for those who subscribe (or are interested in subscribing to) AEGIS for their GIS needs.
There is now a series of short video tutorials which can be viewed.

You can also request a download of a useful poster which could be used with GCSE groups to set up the idea of a geographical enquiry in the fieldwork.
A QR code on the poster links through to the videos.

New on the GA website

University undergraduates talk about studying Geography at university.
Video and audio from 3 different universities....


1976 was the year of the great British drought. I have already blogged about this before, but that was in June and now I'm blogging about it in February !

It comes against the backdrop of my forthcoming trip to Switzerland to run workshops on water scarcity, and the announcement earlier this week that the area officially in drought was extended beyond the existing areas, which had included West Norfolk to cover a lot of the SE. I remember teaching about the need for infrastructure and a national water grid probably twenty years ago, but the logistics and expense would of course be fairly substantial.

Thanks to various tweets and links I came across some good resources:

A clip from MACE: the media archive for Central England
Clip with standpipes and other resources - good 70s fashions

A useful clip from the Guardian Archive report

What are your memories of 1976 ? Please add them here...

Coming later in the year...

...the latest Pixar film... storytelling and creativity at its best...

Google Docs into ArcGIS Online Explorer

Thanks to Jason Sawle for passing on this tip earlier today from the ArcGIS blog...

Controlled Assessment vs IGCSE

Thanks to David Holmes for sharing this presentation on Slideshare....

Oh I do like to be beside the Wothersee (side)

Woke up to a foggy Karinthian dawn...
A few hours later, the sun had burnt through the mist.
Unfortunately, I was chairing the first of two days of digitalearth meetings, so we looked at the sun through the window for most of the day...
Fortunately.... the meetings went very well and I saw lots of interesting new ideas, and then took a walk down to the Wothersee, which was frozen...
Took many pictures which will go on my Flickr page when I return... apologies that this iPhone shot is "on a wonk"....
Took a walk out on the frozen lake too, which was of course fully risk assessed.

Landscape in a Box

Occasionally I have a good idea that persists. Landscapes in a Box is one of those and I am grateful to Noel Jenkins for sharing the love (and the acknowledgement) in this rather wonderful VIMEO video.


Landscape in a Box from Noel Jenkins on Vimeo.

Click through to the site to watch it in biggery... it's awesome !!

Map-reading on the decline ?

A report in today's Daily Telegraph has been getting a little bit of attention...

I spent quite a bit of time earlier in the year putting together a teaching package for Digimap for Schools, and I suppose the message of that was the need for mapskills is still strong, and there are still times when a proper OS paper map is the best thing to have with you... like most of the time to be honest.

Interesting quote:

Ordnance Survey says sales of its paper maps have dropped by 25 per cent since 2005, to 2.1 million last year. Over the same period, mountain rescue incidents in England and Wales have increased by 52 per cent, to 1,054 in 2011.

VITAL Geography Portal

Spending the morning so far adding new content to the VITAL GEOGRAPHY PORTAL that I am currently managing.
If you're not aware, you can subscribe to the portal for just a few pounds, which makes it a great way of accessing new CPD / ideas / resources. There is a forum on the portal too, and it would be good to have some discussions going on there (although I'm aware there are other 'rooms' where those discussions are taking place already).

If you want a taster, why not check out the VITAL TEACHSHARE ON SOLO TAXONOMY that John Sayers and I presented on the 9th of this month. Looking at the tracking information it seems that a LOT of people have been taking a look at this.

World Water Day

World Water Day is on the 22nd of March.
I discovered that earlier in the week, when I booked in a GIS session in a school in Peterborough and was checking the dates.
There are some useful resources on the website which accompanies WORLD WATER DAY. 
Links through to some useful short animations on the water that we all EAT.
Water should perhaps form part of the curriculum a little more than it does currently.

We've also seen the term PEAK WATER - following Peak Oil, Peak Food, Peak Population ?

You can also join the World Water Day Flickr Group and post your pictures of water use.

A few other water resources that I'll put here (partly so that I can always find them again)

Joseph Bergen's VISUALISATION is a superb tool for comparing the water use in various countries, and also against various different aspects of the use.

There's also a rather splendid NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC map which shows water footprints.
There are figures and graphics for a range of crops and also particular watersheds of rivers.

This was part of a National Geographic feature, for which we wrote a series of FRESHWATER missions in Mission:Explore style.

There is also the ongoing situation relating to water in the SE and the chance of a drought. This will fit in with the idea of WATER SCARCITY. I discovered yesterday that there are some speed restrictions on the railway line between King's Lynn and King's Cross which are due to the ground shrinking as a result of low levels of rainfall for the last few years. I'm preparing to queue up at standpipes this summer if we don't have a lot of rain....

300 000

Been watching the analytics count up to this for a few days now, and I am pleased to announce that I've just passed 300 000 views on this blog (one of 10 that I currently run...)
Thanks for popping by and reading... hope you've found it useful... Keep coming back as I'm just getting started...

Writing Tools

Thanks to Jen Deyenberg for the tipoff to these tools which might help students with their geographical writing.
From Read Write Think

There are some great student interactives which are meant to support students with their writing. They will also be of great help to geographers planning particular

The CUBE CREATOR appeals to me a lot - produce a cube on a theme - enter the questions and answers and it produces a net which you can print out and assemble.
The ESSAY WRITER was good too for longer pieces of writing.

New GeoVation challenge - neighbourhoods

Over the last few years, the Geography Collective have enjoyed success in the GeoVation challenge, an opportunity for groups to get funding for a geographical innovation using OS mapping.

The latest challenge is on the theme of NEIGHBOURHOODS. There is over one hundred thousand pounds available for projects which are aimed at supporting the improvement of neighbourhoods.
Got an idea ? Enter here... You've got to be in it to win it.

The British Weather

A great deal of time has been spent in the last couple of weeks discussing the recent cold snap which hit Europe and extended into the UK.
We had the country's coldest temperatures in Norfolk for two night's running, and there was certainly a bitterness about the cold when opening the door. The snow has finally disappeared.

A recent BBC magazine article discussed the possibility of 'selling' Britain's weather and writing a slogan to make the most of it.
Reminded me of a session on 'mythconceptions' of Scotland by Val Vannet.

GCSE Revision Questionnaire

A nice way to ease you back into the new half term... All answers welcome: from teachers and students. Add your e-mail in the location box as well to enter prize draw to win a copy of my KS3 Toolkit book. Thanks to the 65 people who've already filled it in - I'd like to get it up to 200.

Maps of the World Poll

Have you ever wondered that Great Britain is in the middle of all the world maps ?
Of course, you might say that it belongs there...
Now Maps of the World have produced a nice infographic to coincide with a poll asking whether people think that Britain should remain in the centre of not.
Useful information and perhaps a useful context for a piece of persuasive writing by students...

What a Wonderful World

A nice homework task idea.
Students create their own version of this, choosing images and adding their own voice over....

New Curriculum Making Resource on GA website

I've been talking about Curriculum Making for a long time, and now there's a chance for you to read about what I've been 'running on about' (to use a local expression...)
Visit the GA website and read about the process of curriculum making and what it can do for you and the students you teach...

GeoBeerMeet Goody Bags

If you're reading this and you're able to help, please get in touch.
We're keen to put together some take-aways for those educators who join us for GeoBeerMeet at the GA Conference.

I like this picture...

Digital image edited with Snapseed App on iPad....
Image: Alan Parkinson

Enjoying getting back into photography again...

Holiday reading...

Hoping it's a return to form... started well with a trip to Sheppey...

What are your memorable holiday experiences that didn't quite match up to expectations and where were you at the time ?

More awards news....

I've been involved with a fair few award type things over the years, and won a few in my time, including that one I never mention...
Had a BAFTA nomination for some work on the RGS-IBG Discovering Antarctica website.
Also BETT awards for other projects I worked on.
And now, the Digital Explorer Frozen Oceans resource (for which I wrote KS3 and GCSE Geography materials) has been shortlisted for a BERA award....

You also have a short time left to book your place to join me on the OCEANS ACADEMY....

Get your GA Membership Certificate

You can now access and print a membership certificate for your professional development file / threshold application / PGCE / GTP folder etc. needs by logging in to the GA website, and choosing to Print a Certificate from the Members' page...
I just printed mine... because I could...

Snowdon App

Another example to show that no matter how fast you run, you can't always stay ahead of the game for long....
A few weeks ago, I finished a project for the Ordnance Survey which was to write a resource pack for the Digimap for Schools service.
One of the activities was based on the mountain peak of Snowdon, and explored the use of mapping by those who visit the peak, and the connection with the local mountain rescue team.

There was also mention of the use of other mapping.
And now, according to this BBC report, the SNOWDON APP is made real.
Have downloaded it and it would make a great addition to the apps on a phone for geography teachers.

Thought for the Day

“It’s called social media for a reason – it’s social – not professional!” - Discuss

Via New Teachers Blog

Learning Spy on SOLO Taxonomy

David Didau has a very useful blog called 'The Learning Spy'
He runs an English faculty, and has a range of useful posts on his blog which are well worth browsing through - was intrigued by the technique for using target grades in particular.
A recent blog posting provides a useful guide to SOLO Taxonomy, which I recently discussed with John Sayers as part of my VITAL CPD work.

Check out this rather good introduction to SOLO taxonomy.

NQT Geography Blog

Have mentioned Ed Fraser's blog before but it's now taking shape nicely with new content and a great look.

Olympics Souvenirs

There have been a few interesting stories relating to the Olympics

We added the story on possible transport issues. There's also the issue of the impact that it might have on internet access apparently. A Dispatches programme tonight explores the issues of ticketing. Below is an image from the Mail which shows the origin of Olympics souvenirs - made in England ? er, no....


Why not set students the task of visualising this data....


I blogged recently about the conference that I am involved in later in the year in Geneva.
My workshops are on the theme of Water Scarcity.
I've started to drag some documents into a folder in lieu of actually preparing something...

Did you know that we're in the UN Decade of Water for Life, for example....

Here's Jeff Brenman's masterly 'Thirst' presentation

A few useful links too:

Water use rising faster than population rise ?

Water issues in the Himalayas

Going to explore water in the food that we eat, and also refer to the relative values of different liquids, and musing on why water isn't the most expensive...

Practical Pages

A day for some small discoveries today...

Some nice practical sheets by Nadene, an American home-schooler.

I like the accordion book of rivers template. Reminds me of Tony's pop-up creations....

A Valentine's Rose....

Why not buy this for a colleague....
Roses are red....

America's Poor

One of the aspects of many GCSE specifications that needs a slightly more critical eye is the use of the terms  MEDC & LEDC. These are not nuanced enough to describe the diversity of experience of people' living in different countries - there are billionaires in Abidjan and homeless in New York.
PANORAMA on BBC tonight explores the growth of tented cities in the USA where the homeless are living,

In some respects the residents of Dharavi and other similar settlements in other parts of the world are 'better off.' They have developed community support networks and, in some cases, have better service provision and a range of informal employment opportunities.

Places like Pinella's Hope (a tented city in Florida) have developed - check the articles in The Tampa Bay Times with an interactive map by following the link...

Grammy Winner

OK, so there's lots of coverage of Adele, but here's another more important Grammy Winner...

Britishness for people living abroad

An interesting BBC Magazine article which explores the views that people from outside the UK have about us.
There are a number of illustrated essays on particular places.

CPRE report on threatened UK countryside

The CPRE has just relased report looking at the potential threats to the UK countryside posted by the new "localism" bill and the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Some useful maps and diagrams.

Young Geographer of the Year

The focus for this year's Young Geographer of the Year competition, organised by the RGS-IBG has been announced.

The Young Geographer of the Year (YGOTY) competition is run in conjunction with Geographical magazine. It began in 2000 and has become a regular feature in many schools' calendars.

2012: What are the connections between your local area and the 206 Olympic and Paralympic participating nations and how do they influence the geography of your local area?

The 2012 Young Geographer of the Year competition draws its inspiration from the Society’s ‘Walk the World’ project, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Walk the World invites people to explore their local connections to the 206 Olympic and Paralympic participating nations. The question we are asking young geographers to answer this year is:
'What are the connections between your local area and the 206 Olympic and Paralympic participating nations and how do they influence the geography of your local area?'
We would prefer you to explore and explain a small number of your most interesting or unusual connections (for example, at least five), rather than listing every connection you can find. It is not a competition to find the most connections.

Pupils in the three youngest categories (nine to 11, 12 to 14 and 14 to 16) should answer this question using an annotated diagram or map (no larger than A3 in size).  Students in the 16 to 18 category should answer this question through a 1,500 word essay which can include illustrations. 

As well as individual entries, this year we are also encouraging teachers to run their own semi-finals, before sending their top 10 local winners into the national competition. This will allow teachers to recognise, across the respective categories, their students’ best answers and we will provide certificates for your local winners.  

Further details for YGOTY and the Rex Walford award for teaceher resources will be posted on the webpage linked to at the top of the page shortly, including application forms, entry rules and requirements and details of how to submit your entries.

The closing date for YGOTY and the Rex Walford award is 5 October 2012. Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony at the Society on 23 November 2012.

Get your thinking caps on now !

Mobile Learning

A video that's worth a few minutes of your time...

SOLO Taxonomy

Join me at 7pm tonight for a session on Solo Taxonomy with John Sayers...
So although I'll be talking SOLO, I won't be on my own...

UPDATE Link to recording is available HERE Allow the room to download - needs JAVA and then press the play button at the bottom of the window and listen. I sound rather weird... Thanks to John Sayers and to everyone who came along...

GCSE Geography Revision

I'd like your help if possible...
One of my current projects is a book which is intended to support students getting better grades at GCSE Geography. It will be published later in the year.
An element of 'getting better grades' is appropriate preparation for the written examination which comes at the end of the course.
The use of web tools can help with revision, and also other aspects of the teaching of the course.
With that in mind, as an example in the book, I have produced a Google Form to gather information, to show how it can be used to produce real data that can then be displayed and visualised.

The form is embedded below, and I would be really grateful if you could spend a few minutes filling it in, and if you find yourself in a room with some computers and a GCSE group to ask them to spend a few minutes filling it in too. It would be really great to get hundreds of responses that can then be shared to give a snapshot of the current thoughts on GCSE REVISION

Alternatively direct your students to this web address: http://bit.ly/gcserevision

You can fill the form in your browser by following this link, which can also be shared with colleagues....

It would be great to see hundreds of people filling this in, both staff and students.

Thanks in advance for your help.

If you are a teacher, please add your e-mail address into the final box along with your location, and I'll enter you into a prize draw which I shall draw on the 1st of April and one person (or maybe more than one if I'm feeling flush) will win a copy of my KS3 Toolkit book "Look at it this Way" (whether they want it or not...)

What the Dickens ?

Two hundred years ago, Charles Dickens was born...

There is a lot of geography in the pages of Dickens, and a lot of strangely named characters too. I was going to do a big production number but have been up against a deadline for my latest book manuscript and also planning some important forthcoming CPD days that I'm leading that are not my 'usual' thing, and also a 5 day trip to Austria which I need to get on top of...

Suffice to say that Dickens had a lot to say about social inequality, urban change and the impact of changing demographics.
He also used the weather as a way of setting a mood - perhaps the fogs of London.

There were also descriptions of industrial landscapes in the Black Country, and the way that they had an impact on the people who lived amongst them.
He had things to say about the nature of education and the Gradgrind 'curriculum'...

Will perhaps return to this when I get more time - one to go with some other writing I have underway on the link between landscape and film locations, and the landscape and art.

Any favourite Dickens scenes that include a spot of geography ?

SOLO Taxonomy in Geography

SOLO Taxonomy stands for Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes
it is an increasingly popular way to discuss student progress through an enquiry, or over a period of time as a unit develops.

John Sayers will be joining me for an OU Teachshare on SOLO Taxonomy on Thursday the 9th of February at 7pm.
Follow THIS LINK to join us from 7 o' clock - allow about 5 minutes for your computer to be prepared for the session as the meeting room is 'loaded'.

You can also subscribe to my Geography portal for less than the price of a pint.... and as we know from recent Government advice you should cut down on your drinking a bit...

North of Ipswich

Michael Palin will be in Norwich in a couple of weeks time as part of his tour of the regions.

Thursday 23 February 2012 from 7pm-9pm
An evening with the President (Norwich)

A special evening for Fellows and Members. There will be a brief update on the Society followed by a talk from Michael Palin and plenty of time to chat over wine and nibbles afterwards.

VenueThe Hostry, Norwich Cathedral, Norwich, NR1 4EH.

Tickets: This event is open to all our Fellows and Members in the East Anglia region (and one guest). Tickets: Maximum of two per RGS-IBG Member, £5 each with all proceeds going towards the Society's charitable activities. Places are limited and need to be booked in advance.

Please contact the Events Office to make your booking on 020 7591 3100. (The Events Office is open 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday).

With best wishes
Events Office

I would definitely have been there, but will be in Klagenfurt in Austria working instead.

And I hope you appreciated the geographical reference in the title of the blog post. I'm wasted here to be honest....

Pick a Homework

Nice work by Mr. Banks

A homework pick-a-matic....


Reminded yesterday of the simple usefulness of webcams...
This is not going to list lots of webcams in the UK, there are plenty of those elsewhere.
I simply found one webcam: in the centre of Leek, Staffordshire, which updated each minute.
I then took a screenshot every hour or so during today, to see whether the promised snow was turning up there.
Check FLICKR for the images that I took as screenshots.

Rex Walford Memorial Lecture - April 2012

The Rex Walford Memorial Lecture

The GA is proud to sponsor the first Rex Walford Memorial Lecture which will become a regular feature of the GA Annual Conference. It is aimed at trainee teachers and NQTs, taking its cue from Rex's remarkable contribution to geography education in the UK.
An idea of how highly regarded Rex was can be gained from these testimonials and memories. What we read about is a man of unquenchable enthusiasm and optimism, and a very gifted teacher. We hope the annual Rex Walford Memorial Lecture will inspire you and remind us all what can be achieved through innovative and imaginative geography teaching.
The Rex Walford Memorial Lecture is designed for new teachers but is of course open to all. 
Saturday 14 April, 09.00-09.50 PGCE/NQT event 'Finding our place: a world of meaning'.

iGCSE Revision

An edited version of a presentation I was due to give tomorrow at an iGCSE Revision event in Oxford which the snow looks like forcing me to cancel...
Thanks to Andy Leeder for some slide elements which I borrowed from a session he ran at the Suffolk Geography Conference.

Snow and ice still on roads and lots of minor accidents. Wife's school closed.
Here's my little Chevy - it's not heading for any levee today...
Update 2
Thanks to Rob Morris for posting a picture of Gareth Hughes doing my bit instead... you can tell I'm not there as there are some empty seats... ;)

Growth threat to rural Norfolk

Out to get the Saturday papers yesterday. and the banner outside the Post Office was talking about the threat of growth to rural Norfolk. The relationship between rural and urban is an important one to explore in geography, and the story here relates to a CPRE report which is due out on  Monday which I was alerted to via their Twitter feed.
Going to explore this as a way in to using GIS for enquiry learning for the courses I'm developing with ESRI.
Will make use of the data from various sources.


Woke to a dump of snow in the village... Not going anywhere in a hurry...
I was watching a webcam in Leek yesterday as a place that I reckoned might get some snow, and it did. My Flickr account has a series of images taken from the webcam, and some RainToday shots as well.
Some nice work being done by various teachers too.

Earth Art

This idea has featured here before, but always good to see creative work by Year 7s, and Noel Jenkins has just posted his latest work involving Google Earth and the Big Huge Labs motivator poster creator.

Why not vote for your favourite ?
...and then have a go at this with one of your groups...

Here comes the snow....

So today is a day of anticipation....
We are told that snow is on the way... heading down across the country... Can see it coming across on Rain Today.
Do you already have snow ? 
As i've been writing this post, the snow has started to fall in Devon and Exeter (which is in Devon)

Plenty of geography in the preparations, and the impacts of the freezing weather on people.
Transport, Health, Crime, Water supply, Agriculture, Weather and Climate etc. can all be covered. 
One of the great memories from my degree was a project where we had to explore the impacts of cold weather on Huddersfield. It was done during the winter weather of course, for extra impact (I've talked before about the importance of timing when teaching certain topics)
We were able to speak to a range of people. We had letters back from others who wouldn't let us have a proper interview too.
We discovered that there was a stretch of road that had underground heating - it was a hill near the centre of Huddersfield - due to ice problems for buses.
The Health service told us about the impact on A&E admissions.
The Police said that certain types of crime were reduced because the criminals didn't want to go out as much, but also because snowfall would record people's footprints for example. This was back in the 80s, and I think those sorts of crimes have reduced in any case as the value of home electronics has reduced. We got into the control room of the bus and rail companies to see how they dealt with service disruptions. The best blag though was to get a tour inside Emley Moor TV mast. This is an amazing building, and a real landmark for miles around Huddersfield. The original mast was a metal structure and fell down due to ice accumulation in 1969.

A reminder to check out the GA's WINTER IDEAS which might come in handy for you - could also be useful for anyone who has a snow day on Monday.

Freezing winter weather is also affecting large parts of Europe with plenty of stories. Why not scan the front pages using Newseum. ?

If you use Twitter, why not screen capture various Tweets about the winter weather and then map them with students, if they are put down in chronological order, you can see how the snow moved across the country and discuss the role of a FRONT in affecting the weather.

Don't forget to add yourself to the #uksnow map too - by tweeting first part of your postcode and the rate of snowfall.

Wrap up warm folks.... and stay safe...
As I press PUBLISH, the snow is still over a hundred miles away....

Thought for the Day

“If I showed you a 30-second clip of a game between Manchester United and Manchester City and I said ‘Who won the game?’, you would say it’s ridiculous to try to predict the outcome of a 90-minute game on the basis of a 30-second clip, and that is what we are trying to do with Ofsted, isn’t it? Instead of saying a teacher is going to teach a kid for 200 hours, they are looking at 30 minutes.”

Professor Dylan Wiliam via TES

Sunnan Solar Lamp

Bought one of these in IKEA on Monday. It's a SUNNAN Solar lamp.
You take the solar panel out of the middle of the base and leave it outside in the sun. It charges up during the day and then provides a few hours of light after dark. Not left it out for long enough yet, plus it's winter so I doubt it works as well as it does in the summer.
For every one that IKEA sells, they donate another to UNICEF for use in communities where there is no access to electricity.
A nice example of simple technology making a difference. It gives me a warm glow... or perhaps that's just from the bulb...

New North Devon Explorer badge on Mission Explore

Dan Ellison was busy a while back exploring the wonderful North Devon countryside and in particular the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This was to put together a series of challenges which can be completed on the Mission Explorer website to earn the special badge.

How do snowflakes form ?

With snow forecast for some areas at the weekend - including Norfolk, although it's not looking like it at the moment - the sky is blue and the sun is shining, although it is bitterly cold out there. About to head out on the school run and going to wrap up warm !

I have been working with TWIG Science films in the last few months on their Human Geography films, and am also going to be working on some Earth Science materials for them in the next month or so. Their films won the best Secondary Digital content award at BETT.

Now there's a new free film to view which explains how snow forms. Check it out as an example, but remember that the picture quality of the films on the main site is even better.

Check out Twig as a possible addition to your geography department's resource bank.

Poverty to Prosperity

Discovered via the FSC website

Poverty to Prosperity

From Poverty to Prosperity (P2P) is a new development awareness project working in three EU countries plus Ghana. It seeks to address three challenges. Firstly, current development awareness for young people is not significantly changing behaviours and attitudes to the extent necessary to mobilise support for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's). Secondly, much development education is based on the needs of people in developing countries and fails to recognise the needs of young people in Europe. Thirdly, the quality of development education amongst the new member states is very weak, with little formal support for schools and teachers in the way of training, resources and programmes.

Check it out and click the links....

Philip Allan Course

Just over a month to the first of the courses that I am running for Philip Allan Updates.

Download a PDF of the courses...

David Holmes and I would love to see you in March in London...
I'll buy you a doughnut :)

F..F.. Freezing....

There's a chill in the air at the moment...
We are experiencing a bit of a cold snap which is, of course, the result of the current synoptic situation. You can watch a range of Met office videos explaining the situation.

Now would be a good time to explore these larger synoptic patterns, and ask the question, "Why is it so cold ?"
Of course, cold is relative.There are some places where this would be relatively balmy....
Also check out the possibility of snow over the next few days.
Now is the time to be teaching about these topics...
Wrap up warm everyone !

More from Eric Fischer

The latest Flickr visualisations from Eri Fischer, who has been featured on the blog several times before...

Ecolint Geography Conference 2012

Something I'm looking forward to later in the year is the Ecolint Geography Conference in Geneva, in May, co-organised by Richard Allaway.

I am going to be leading a workshop on water scarcity.
The event is being keynoted by Leo Hickman, journalist and editor from 'The Guardian'.
There is a general focus on climate change.

One element of my workshop will be based on a story that I picked up this morning via John Sayers.
It's about the theft of glacier ice from a glacier in Chile. I approve of the headline.
Lots of connections and thoughts stemming from this story, which connect nicely with the climate change theme of the other sessions.

Thought for the Day

"Psychogeographers are just Geographers who haven't taken their medicine" 
Jonathan Meades

Mike Oldfield rules the world...

Well, not quite...

When I was a young lad, the first album I bought was 'Tubular Bells'. It was my Uncle Steve who had a big black beard and long hair who used to play it when I visited my nan, and it was unlike anything I'd heard before... Even now, the 15/8 piano riff at the start gets me going...
I was intrigued by the recent ad for Virgin Money, which shows all the things that the Virgin empire has expanded to include. The global reach of Virgin was enabled by the obsessive hours spent in the recording studio out of hours doing endless overdubs of instruments....

Richard Branson's decision to expand from his mail order business into the record business, and his choice of the unconventional Oldfield as the first release on Virgin records is still one of the best decisions ever made...

"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station."

Hockney Landscapes

I am very much looking forward to this show, which is currently on at the Royal Academy and continues through until April. I have tickets for the show, which is selling out fast. Last time I remember this sort of advance booking was when we went to see the Terracotta warriors at the British Museum.

There are so many links that connect some of the projects that I have done over the years with this exhibition. I am married to an art teacher, so there's always been an element of crossover in my work.

I also like other artists who work in, and with, the landscape: Andy Goldsworthy, Hamish Fulton and Richard Long to name a few. I remember having a meeting at DEFRA a few years back, and there was a big Richard Long in the foyer, presumably belonging to the taxpayer, but not visible to most of them...

I remember when Hockney moved back to East Yorkshire, and started painting the trees at Warter. Now he is using the Brushes app on the iPad, which was one of the first I installed when I bought mine, though it's not been overly used since.The Guardian has a review type article, and there was a nice free supplement in the Times recently.

For those who want more on the link between landscape and art, it is perhas a good time to remind you about my KS3 Toolkit book: "Look at it this Way"...

MERLIN Infant Mortality Map

Thanks to Sandra Wickens on SLN for the tip-off to the map produced by the charity MERLIN.

MERLIN works to provide medical support in areas which need it in the less developed parts of the world.
They have produced an interactive map which shows an alternative view, and then provides the visitor with a series of dilemmas of the kind that the aid workers face.

Follow Urban Renaissance

If you are interested in the way that Japan is recovering from the tsunami, and the lessons learned for rebuilding cities and changing urban communities, follow Rethink Urban Japan or @cityrenaissance on Twitter.

You should also go and check out this GUARDIAN Immersive iPad app for Tokyo called Condition One.
It's a bit hefty though and needs a lot of room on your iPad to work correctly.

Jam today, jam tomorrow...

A new tool to identify the potential travel impacts of the Olympics on journeys that you make.
GET AHEAD OF THE GAMES will map the various potential disruptions to journeys.

I think you might be better off staying at home if you live in parts of London during the Olympics.

Plenty in the papers in the last few days about the potential impact on tourism, and the predictable hike in hotel prices in London during the games.

Ragnar Axelsson's images of a disappearing Arctic

These look like a wonderful set of images on the changing North which is disappearing as a result of changing climate patterns.

The INDEPENDENT article has a selection of the images.

The pictures of Narwhal hunters, icebergs, huskies and polar bears are the fruits of Axelsson’s 30-year obsession with the Arctic. The exhibition, titled The Last Days of the Arctic, is intended to portray the effects of climate change and to herald the region’s decline.
Axelsson, who travelled, lived and hunted with Inuit communities, intended to record “a society in its twilight”. Over the years, he found his excursions hampered by extreme changes to the landscape; tracks he once followed are now impassable, territories now deserted of animals, and so food.

Spring 2012 journals

Teaching Geography was mentioned last week. Subscribers can now download the Spring 2012 issues of Geography and Primary Geography from the GA website.