GA Conference Report 20 - until next year....

The GA Conference in 2013 will take place at the University of Derby once again, with its large glass atrium...
I first visited the Derby Conference in 2007, when I presented on GIS (as it happens) using AEGIS, along with colleagues from the Secondary Committee of the GA.
This time round, I have been asked by Bob Digby, who will be President for the next conference, to put together ideas for some events which may form a 'strand' that runs through the conference.

We are planning to look at the technology, skills and connections that are likely to be needed by students and teachers in the future.

The call for sessions is now out on the GA website. If you have an idea for a session, contact Lucy Oxley.

Here's the details on 2013 from the GA website:

In 2013 the GA's Annual Conference will return to the University of Derby. The theme for this year's event will be 'Looking to the future'. I'd like to explain a little about how and why I chose this theme, and what conference delegates will be able to explore.
Geography teachers face challenging futures. Most teachers are secure about the part that geography can play in learning about the world, but what kind of world will our students live in? We make educated guesses about climate change and the world that our students could inhabit, but what about the kinds of work that they will do, or the environments in which that work will take place?
  • By 2014, it is likely that every child will study geography to age 16. How shall we excite students and give them a framework for looking at the world, in ways that will offer a legacy beyond their years at school?
  • Most of today's students are very skilled in handling 24-hour media and news, access to the internet and social networking sites. How should our work in the classroom respond to the challenges of fast-moving technologies?
  • Curriculum reviews by central government will result in changes to what is taught to children in schools. How should teachers respond to such changes?
I hope that the 2013 Annual Conference will help us look to the future in three key ways:
  • By providing a range of examples about ways in which geographers see the future using different perspectives drawn from the natural and human world.
  • By exploring ways in which classrooms of the future might approach ways of learning, whatever the content of the curriculum, and provide some concrete, positive and inspiring ideas that can be put into practice back in our places of work.
  • By evaluating ideas about how to exploit some of the new technologies for learning, for both teachers and students.
I'll look forward to seeing you in Derby and enjoying a conference which works towards these goals.
Bob Digby
GA Senior Vice President 2011–12

This marks the end of my round-up of posts from the GA Conference 2012 - I hope you enjoyed reading them - see you next year.

The blog as a book...

I used the BLOG BOOKER website to turn the Living Geography blog into a book. I did this before, but it was a while back. I opted for a 2 column layout as I imagined that it would be fairly large, and it turned out to be over 1000 pages long...

If you'd like a copy, get an e-mail address to me somehow: add a comment (I moderate them all, so I can get your address and then delete the comment before it's posted) or DM me via my Twitter account @GeoBlogs and I'll give you access to a shared Dropbox folder.

Thought for the Day

“The purpose of a statement of objectives is to indicate the kinds of changes in the student to be brought about so that the instructional activities can be planned and developed in a way likely to attain these objectives; that is to bring about these changes in studentsHence it is clear that a statement of objectives in terms of content headings…is not a satisfactory basis for guiding the further development of the curriculum. The most useful form for stating objectives is to express them in terms which identify both the kind of behavior to be developed in the student and the … area of life [within] which this behavior is to operate.”
Ralph Tyler

Via this rather interesting blog post....

UK Flooding

Plenty of flood alerts today, and plenty of flooded rivers... Water is spreading across many floodplains, and has found its way into the streets of many towns and villages.
Various cities are under threat of flooding once again.

I created a UK Flooding Twitter List....

Also for the time being I've embedded a Flood Alert widget in the right hand column of Living Geography. If you have a blog, or somewhere else to embed widgets like this, you can get the codes here.

Stay safe out there if you live in an area that is affected...

The Cube...

No, not that one...

This one is a new Google Maps game which I had a play with yesterday.
Works on Google Chrome browser.
It's a bit like one of those marble-labyrinth type games, but played on a Google maps landscape with 3D building as obstacles...
Here's a video which explains a little more.

Wait a few seconds for the game to load, and you are presented with a cube which can be moved around using the mouse or cursor keys. Steer the marble to its destination...

Wales Coastal Path opens....

Wales Coastal Path opens on the 5th of May.
All the maps and information you could need can be obtained from this page.
Over 1000km long.... here's the easy way to 'do it'....

National Photography Month

June 2012 is National Photography Month: the UK's first event of its kind to take place in the UK.
As Geographers are amongst those who use images the most in their teaching, it makes sense to plan ahead to do something in June around the theme of photography.
The reduction in cost of digital cameras means that most geography departments could afford to have a number of them available for use. I remember having to book one out days in advance to have it for one lesson a week...

The Colliers Green focus project has been encouraging students to take photographs in their lessons for some years now. I've seen the project in action a few times and it's a great
Here's one of the images I made when taking part in the Colliers Green workshop in a school in the Scottish Borders at the end of 2011....

Start planning now for a project which will involve your students in taking images...

You could start by ordering a free booklet MY SCHOOL IN FOCUS from the Colliers Green focus website.

Make it snappy...

When is a door not a door...

When it's an earthquake shelter... Thanks to John Sayers for tipoff to this...


OK, so you're visiting a school to watch a geography lesson.
Perhaps you have a clipboard.... what are you looking for ?
What's becoming clear is that you're probably looking for something that doesn't reflect the everyday experience of the students, and are also asking for something to happen during the short time that you are there that may in fact take many hours or days to happen.

OFSTED have apparently been asked to consider (as perhaps they always did anyway) the exent to which the lesson they are seeing is 'typical' of the experience of the students, in addition to the other things they're looking for.

From the TES forum:

It will be virtually impossible to achieve outstanding under the new framework and with no-notice inspections. A lot of schools are in for a reality check with Ofsted looking for 'typicality' and checking with students that what they're seeing is not just for show.

A few Fridays ago in the TES, there was a useful read from the head of OFSTED, as reported HERE

This is not going to encourage teachers to take the longer view, plan involved enquiries, take pedagogical risks or (as the feedback from the delegates at the GIS event that I ran earlier in the week made clear) risk doing a lesson where the technology is not guaranteed to work. This will further curtail any efforts to change what happens in the classroom. Typical...

Dark Skies

One of the many benefits of living in rural Norfolk is the clarity of the night skies....
This BBC NEWS report said that light pollution is a growing issue.
The local paper also explored this recently, saying that fewer and fewer places are free from light pollution.

Thankfully, I live in one of those dark areas on the map below, which was produced by the fine organisation that is the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England)

Marathon des Sables

The London Marathon is obviously a major undertaking, but there is a harder marathon....

The Marathon des Sables.

This is one of the most gruelling events in the world of sport.
It is an endurance race through the Sahara desert, which involves competitors exploring the desert sands and route-finding for many days...


There is a good YouTube clip which gives a flavour for the race, and also provides some useful background in the form of statistics and other information...

Just finished writing something on this as a context for learning...
Certainly helps cover a whole range of topics, and is an alternative to the 'usual' geography case studies...

ArcGIS Explorer Online

or AGXO as it's also known...

Can I advise you to take a look at this tool to see what is possible, as ESRI moves towards 'cloud based' GIS.
At Thursday's ESRI / GA course in London we explored this tool in the afternoon as an alternative to DigitalWorlds if there happened to be a need for a 'Plan B' due to other technical issues. This is able to make use of the shapefiles (or sub-sets of them) which come with the programme, or have been obtained from the OS Open Data release.

Here's one of the delegate feedback forms from the event, which was matched by the others..

Watch this space for the latest news on any planned events to follow up...
Watch this space for more on this exciting development too...

Fits nicely alongside other mapping solutions such as Digimap for Schools.

A reminder here of Graeme Eyre's work on MAPPING Migration which uses the tool.

You can also check out Joseph Kerski's slides from his GA Conference Workshop, which was done using ArcGis Explorer Online

GA Conference Report 19 - Follow up....

Anne Greaves has been busy since the conference putting the resources from the conference on the GA website.
They form a wonderful resource to dip into for those who are interested in finding out what they missed, because even if you attended the conference (and if not, why not) you can't go to ALL the lectures.

Just been browsing through the sessions and getting lots of cool new ideas...

GA Conference Report 18 - History Heroes

As I was packing up getting ready for leaving the conference, Paul Baker pressed two resources into my hand: two packs of History Heroes Cards.

History Heroes are cards which can be used in various ways. The EXPLORERS pack has a good range of polar and other explorers..

GA Conference Report 17 - Notes and Queries

While in Manchester I picked up a copy of the Notes and Queries resource produced by the GA's Independent Schools' Special Interest Group.

I hope to be attending, and speaking at the conference of the ISSIG in Oxford in February 2013 - details will appear here when I get them.

The resource contains some useful articles from teachers and other educators, on themes such as mobile learning and GIS.

Use the link above to request a copy to be e-mailed to you by Paul Baker.

My reading for today...

Fragile Earth app

The FRAGILE EARTH app has been developed from the book of the same name. It contains some before or after images which can be swiped between...

I think on this occasion I would rather have the book from which it was adapted, although it's a lot bulkier than an iPad....
The App is £1.99 for iPad until the end of today

50 things booklet...

'The Guardian' had a copy of the National Trust's 50 Things free today...
Quite a 'Mission:Explore' feel to the way that some of the tasks are described, and 'risk-assessed' and then spaces available to record the results of completing the challenges...

Critical Geographies

Fancy making your head hurt with some 'hard' geography ?
Download 'Critical Geographies' which features chapters by Doreen Massey, David Harvey and other academic geographers...
Available free in PDF format 

10 reasons to study Geography poster

A free poster that can be downloaded from the BOARDWORKS website.

The World's Billionaires...

Where are the world's billionaires ?

A useful resource which shows the growth in the number of Chinese billionaires... Some useful mapping.
Good for Global Inequality...

Bringing home the bacon - preview image from M:E Food

A preview illustration by Tom Morgan-Jones from Mission:Explore Food - coming June 2012....

GA Conference Report 16 - digitalearth Session

After lunch and some time spent on the stand and a great many meetings, it was up to the room to set up the room for the presentation on Geo-media which I was leading. We had around 80-90 delegates, which was a good 15% or so of the delegates at the conference in our session, which was great - thanks to all who came...


We shared some copies of the leaflet we had produced, which we had created with the help of Tim Favier, and finalised in the meeting at Klagenfurt University earlier in the year.

Check the YouTube channel to see the video in lots of different languages..

These are going to be used to publicise the importance of geo-media and geo-information.

The session was delivered with the help of John Lyon from the Geographical Association (who discovered later that he had norovirus at the time, so was understandably feeling a little rough - luckily I didn't shake his hand), and Michael Solem of the Association of American Geographers.

The materials from the session were added to the GA Conference pages - Scroll down to Lecture Plus 5

Check out the new AAG resource: The Geographic Advantage HERE.

Leeds PsychoGeography lecture

Next Tuesday I shall be heading up to Leeds University to do a lecture for the Leeds PsychoGeography group. I shall be talking about the origins of Mission:Explore and the Guerrilla Geography approach....
All welcome...
Thanks to Tina Richardson for persisting with finally getting me to come up....

The data is your oyster....

At the GA Conference 2012, I presented a session for the project on the importance of geo-media and geo-information.

One of the points that we make as part of the project is that students are producers of data themselves, as well as users of data in the classroom. Even if they have very little technology, they will still generate a lot of geo-referenced data via their mobile phone.
Many thousands of students live, and go to school in London. They will use public transport to make their journey to school.

OYSTER CARDS are a way to reduce the cost of travel in and around London. I have had one for a few years as a way of reducing the cost of trips to the capital, and also for those extra trips which are beyond the scope of train tickets I might have bought. It's very handy.
However, each time the card is used, information is captured.

Any passengers on buses or the tube will also feature on a number of CCTV cameras, as will anyone who goes into shops.

Students should be aware of the extent to which their daily lives generate data for other people to use.
They are producers as well as consumers...

Rural Communities

Different rural areas have different challenges, but they all have communities which are changing in response to changing demographics and economic change.
I have just started researching this theme for a book that I'm preparing, and there is plenty of scope here for further explorations, which I shall be doing...

Pub as the Hub is one theme I shall explore.

There are some useful resources and links which provide further information on this initiative. I shall try to explore other rural communities.

In today's EDP was an article on local foods using CPRE's research into local 'food webs'.

If anyone has good examples of villages which are thriving / not-so-thriving, please get in touch...

Update: Thanks to Danny O'Callaghan for getting in touch - anyone else ?

Mary Portas

Pilots of Mary Portas' idea of Town Teams are beginning to get a step nearer.

Local towns have been among those bidding for some of the available money to develop their town centres.
Towns need support if they are to compete against the changes to the way that we shop.

I saw this article this morning and thought that might be one way to inject a little fun into the High Street.

Shops could be renamed with punny or imaginative names - an alternative way of rebranding the High Street perhaps ?

Can anyone come up with some other examples from their own towns ?
Good ones that I've seen are Balti Towers in Derby, and Sam & Ella's Sandwich Bar in Sheffield.

Also reminded of the old favourite SHOP HORROR website which I've blogged before.

Leeds Green Space

Struggling to find much of it along the Sustrans Routes close to the city centre....
Here's nature reclaiming a space...

Leeds - Liverpool

A day yesterday cycling along the Aire valley towpath for MISSION EXPLORE.
The aim is to create another badge for cycling similar to the YORK CYCLE EXPLORER badge which went up on the website recently.
This time it's based on LEEDS, which seems to have less opportunity for greenspace than  York based on this exploration...

Today it was along the TRANS-PENNINE TRAIL, but rain has currently stopped play, so blogging this from the cafe of the ROYAL ARMOURIES.

Interestingly the BARRACUDA content filter that is used for the public wifi wouldn't let me have access to Mission Explore because it comes under the category of 'game playing', which is evil right ?

And I didn't go all the way from Leeds to Liverpool by the way, although my bottom thinks we did....

Green Day Climate Change Pack

Check out the GREEN DAY Climate Change Pack...

Green Day is an event that helps to make schools sustainable. This is the third edition of the popular activity kit, produced by SEEd member, CABE (Campaign for Architecture and the Built Environment), providing ideas and resources for holding a school 'green day', making it a sustainable place in which to learn and play. It will inspire pupils the whole school school to learn about climate change and how it relates to the buildings and spaces around them, both on 'Green Days' and throughout the year.

Following Patrick Leigh Fermor

Thanks to the Chatwin News Twitter stream, I discovered the blog of Nick Hunt
He is following in the footsteps of the author of some of the best travel books ever written.
After the Woods and the Water.
A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water describe a Europe that no longer exists, written by Patrick Leigh Fermor, who sadly died quite recently without finishing the journey to Constantinople (as it was then)
Nick is trying to find out what is left, and has been travelling for months, as Fermor did.
A great undertaking...
I perhaps need to get a grant to do something similar...

VITAL CPD Portals - special offer...

As regular readers will know, I have been managing the OU's VITAL CPD portal since October 2011, and am due to carry on through until 2013.
You can access an individual portal for just £10, which gives access to all the content, and associated support.

A SPECIAL OFFER is now available, aimed at schools rather than individuals / departments.

The more portals that are subscribed to, the bigger the saving...

At a time when CPD budgets are under pressure, this is a good way of keeping up to date in a wide range of curriculum subjects...

Your school can save a lot of money with bulk subscriptions. Why not pass details of this to your SLT or person in charge of staff development...

Another new blog...

This time it's the blog of the Arthur Terry School Geography department...
A good start to what I hope will be another really useful Geography blog...

Already some excellent ideas shared on creativity, QWC and the GA Conference...

Earth Day

Google's blooming flowers logo to celebrate Earth Day...

Earthquake Grab Bag

This was on the BBC News site this week.
A really useful image to use with students in lessons exploring preparations for tectonic hazards. Individual interventions and preparations are important of course, as well as the larger scale preparations which include the regular earthquake drills.
The diagram shows the useful contents of a bag which could be handy in Japanese homes to grab and run once the earth starts to shake....
Because it will carry on shaking for sure...

The website has a link to advice from the British Embassy for UK nationals....

Discover the World... with me...

Just been confirmed as being involved in a free course that is being organised by the travel company Discover the World.

This is taking place at their HQ in Banstead on the 3rd of July.

I will be presenting sessions along with the rather excellent Simon Ross, whose mapskills and hazard books were a staple of my teaching.

Go HERE to find out more details, and how to express an interest in coming along. I'd like to see you there, but places are limited...

GA Conference Report 15 - STARS programme

I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Boehm from the USA during the morning. Thanks to Mary Biddulph for the introduction.

Dick told me about the STARS programme. This is aimed at developing teachers in the USA, but has some scope to be used in the UK too.

The website is at GOTEACH.

You can find out more about the programme by visiting the website.
I liked the video materials and supporting resources for both Teachers and Students on the following themes so far:

  • Globalisation
  • Watersheds
  • Agriculture and Water

Many students of geography assert that there is no subject that has done more to broaden their intellectual outlook and to deepen their appreciation of nature and life generally than has the study of geography.”
—William James Sutherland, from The Teaching of Geography

We chatted about a few possibilities for developing something together in the future. We need to do more to connect educators across the Atlantic...

“Geography is the study of people, places, and environments, and how they interact. Good geography in our schools, however, requires good geography teachers.”—Dick Boehm

GA Conference Report 14 - new GA books

Below is a picture of myself with the authors of two new GA books which were launched at the GA Conference.
I was the SERIES EDITOR for these books.

Image copyright: Bryan Ledgard / Geographical Association - source

On the left is Paul Cornish, who wrote the book: "Multimedia Lessons made Easy" and on the right is Bob Lang, who wrote "GIS made Easy". Not sure who the bloke in the middle is....

They are both available from the GA Shop.

Remember that there is free P&P and extra discounts for GA members...

GA Conference Report 13 - TeachIt Geography

TeachIt have been in existence for some years producing resources for English teachers. They had a stand at the GA conference right next to the Mission:Explore stand.

One of the projects that I have been involved with is the preparations for the launch of TEACH IT GEOGRAPHY.

We have been sourcing, editing and approving hundreds of resources which subscribers to the site will be able to download. The idea is that most of them can be used immediately, as opposed to some of my other work which is aimed more at teachers producing their own resources. There is obviously a need for both methods of supporting teachers. What is nice about TeachIt is that the resources are all created and shared by practising teachers and educators, and come with supporting notes. There are also other features of the site, such as interactive tools for the classroom.

If you'd like to submit some of your own resources, then get in touch and I'll put you in touch with Chris and Katie at TeachIt, with whom I have been working for over 6 months now.

The site will launch in May, and I will tell you more nearer the time...

Twig Human Geography - coming soon

Earlier in the year I worked on a project for TWIG Science Films.
The company has since won two significant awards: the Best Secondary Content award at the BETT Show 2012, and also an ERA award at the Education Show.
In both cases, the project also pushed other projects that I'd contributed to in some way into second place.

Which was fine...

The HUMAN GEOGRAPHY videos will shortly be made available.

You can already head over to the website and download the learning materials to accompany the films, which I produced.

Flooding in a drought...

A reminder of the capricious nature of the British weather, and the workings of the water cycle...
Pocklington in North Yorkshire suffered from flash flooding two days ago...
A YouTube video which is worth looking at here explains the difference between a trend, and variations...

We are in the middle of a drier trend.... we can still have some very wet individual days...

GA Conference Report 12 - GeoPacks CD

I had lunch on Friday of the conference with the legend that is Bryan Ledgard, and also Rick Cope. Oh, and later with John and Val Vannet (it was a long lunch), plus a chat to Helen Nurton...

Rick is still teaching, and has also found time to produce a great many useful resources including the rather splendid Coastal Manager for GeoPacks.

One of the great things that Rick does is to share free resources each month for teachers who sign up to the service.

Sign up at the GEOPACKS website and you will get a chance for monthly inspiration. If you haven't already done it, do it now....

At the conference I picked up a free CD which contains all 20 interactive resources that have been produced so far... Excellent stuff...

Teachmeet East 3

Free on the 19th of May ? 
(unfortunately I'm not...)
Head over to Norwich for Teachmeet East 2012

Triptico Teachshare

Thanks to David Riley, who created Triptico for giving up an hour on Thursday evening to talk about the web tool as part of the VITAL CPD Teachshare series.

I learned a lot about some of the features of the tool that I didn't previously know, and also how teachers were making good use of it. It was good to hear from David about the genesis of the tool, and how he hoped that teachers would make use of it in creative ways. For example, in Word Magnets you can change the colours and size of magnets, and also save lists so that they can be used in more than one tool. Also adding magnets which are two words is easier when the board has already been created...

He also shared some of the feedback from users and the way that they were using the tools. For example:

Some ideas for using just the first of the many tools: WORD MAGNETS.
  • Taking a register
  • Adding students to groups
  • Ordering
  • Keywords lists for a plenary activity
  • Mystery magnets: change the background of the magnet to the same as the text - pupils choose a questions without knowing what they are letting themselves in for...
  • Adding diagrams or images of places as a background
  • Producing Cloze activities with missing words to use
  • Seating plans
  • Also make magnets so that they are letters, and can then do anagrams
  • Lesson objectives or outcomes

You can see and hear a recording of the last half an hour of the Teachshare by clicking this link.

Apologies, I forgot to press RECORD at the start, and only remembered part of the way through....

Also because of the APPLICATION SHARING you will not get the full benefit of the tool, for that you need to DOWNLOAD IT

A reminder also of Kristian Still's efforts to produce an online repository of Triptico activities.

GA Conference Report 11 - Olympics Kit

It was great to have a chat with Ian Cook from Follow the Things at the GA Conference.
On the same day, there were further stories about the places that were producing the merchandise, and also the Stella McCartney-designed kit for the athletes.

I am also really impressed with the work of students to follow the coinage in our pockets that we use to buy these items.

I am currently producing a Google Document which I shall share online, which provides an alternative view on the Olympics. This was added to by my recent visits, and the discovery of some excellent, slightly more 'critical' sites.

Happisburgh Update

Happisburgh has been used by many colleagues, including myself, over the years as an example of rapid coastal erosion and problems of coastal management.

A few days ago, demolition started on several of the properties on Beach Road

This EDP article provides all the information that you need to know.

Happisburgh is used as the example in our ESRI / GA courses, so you may want to update your case study details.

The first house apparently only took 30 minutes to knock down.... update here..

Jason Sawle from ESRI did a session last weekend at the GA Conference on this area. A reminder that geography is always changing...

England in Particular

This is a superb geography book... although it doesn't say that on the cover...

Worth hunting out  a cheap copy - they had a big pile in a bargain book shop chain the other week...

Great Water Infographic

Browse more infographics.

Added to the list of contents for my workshops in Geneva in 3 weeks time (cripes...)

GA Conference Report 12 - Day 2 starts...

Up early on Day 2 of the conference - breakfast at the hotel, then short walk over to the conference venue.
I was due to take part in the workshop that was presented by Andrew Lee on mobile devices, but unfortunately missed the start and didn't want to erupt. I also had some time spent on the Mission Explore stand.

I had several meetings in the early part of the day, and will share the outcomes of those in future posts. There are exciting prospects of working with various publishers over the next year. I also met to discuss a book that I am definitely writing: on fieldwork in geography.
This will explore the use of apps...

Came across this post earlier today, which would be good for those exploring forests for their fieldwork...

John Lyon running the London Marathon.

The London Marathon is on Sunday.
Watch out for the athletic stride of John Lyon, the GA's Programme Director, who is running the marathon for the charity MapAction.

I've been involved with MapAction for some time and when they asked me at late notice to run the London Marathon on their behalf I must say I was deeply honoured. The work they do is so important in saving lives and minimising suffering in humanitarian emergencies. We often teach about disasters in geography and we mustn't forget that it is real people who are suffering - often in their thousands. Since 2002, MapAction’s highly-skilled volunteers have responded to 32 disasters worldwide, including earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, cyclones and conflict-related crises. As an immediate response, they help to get aid delivered quickly and effectively to those most in need, but as a long-term measure they also help to prepare vulnerable communities for the impact of disasters before they strike. So.. I'm running again. It's the least I can do and I hope you will sponsor me. If you do that's brilliant... Thanks on behalf of everyone who you help.

If you want to support John, go to his JUST GIVING page and let him have a donation...
Every little helps...

Word of the Week...

Word of the Week is just one of the features of the VITAL Geography Portal which I manage.
You can check it out and subscribe for just £10....

Here are the entries so far (A-G), some of which will shortly be archived...
The locations are the locations of images of each feature which appear on the portal page.

Gryke - the name for the gap between the blocks (clints) on a limestone pavement
Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales
Fen - a tract of low-lying, marshy land, often drained by humans. Especially refers to the region around the Wash in Eastern England, with areas of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire
The Cambridgeshire Fens
Erg - In the Sahara, that part of the desert whose surface is covered in sand (as opposed to the Hammada or rocky uplands, which have been swept clear of sand by the wind
Erg Chebbi, Morocco
Dirt  cone - a conical accumulation of detritus on a glacier surface - may be up to 2m in height and is often ice cored
Solheimajokull Glacier, Iceland - the black ash is from the Eyjafjallajokull eruption
Crepuscular rays: Rays of sunlight which shine through breaks in heavy cloud, also sometimes called Jacob's ladder and often seen at dawn or dusk
Lincolnshire Fens

Beach cusp: an accumulation of shingle on a beach which leads to regular scallop shaped indentations at the front of the beach.
Runswick Bay, East Yorkshire

Aretefrom the French - a sharp mountain ridge, often formed by the erosion of two adjoining corrie glaciers. A peak with three aretes radiating from its summit is called a pyramidal peak or horn (the Matterhorn is one of the best examples)
Coir' a' Ghrunnda, Isle of Skye.

What would you have as your geographical  WORDS OF THE WEEK for the remaining letters of the alphabet ?
A chance for you to get your favourite geography phrase in there - if you have a picture that I could use then so much the better :)

Also, watch out for some new Teachshares coming soon for discussing some of the key themes of geography education as we enter the Summer term...

Relight my fire

I had a chat with my dad about this at the weekend: the relighting of the blast furnace on Teesside.
He was a steelworker in Sheffield for over 45 years.
There are few people left with the expertise to resurrect a blast furnace. Does this signal a return to some more 'traditional' industries ?

I like the look of this....

 A new attraction for visitors to Iceland....

A bit pricey though !!

Mapply - London as a video game...

I like the look of this gaming engine trial, which lets you move through London in 3D...
Lots of potential there...
Thanks to So-Shan for the tipoff...

UPDATED May 2012
Thanks for the comments below to say that there are some updates.
Also follow @Mapplydev on Twitter for the latest news...

GA Conference Report 10 - Follow the Things

'Follow the Things' is one of my favourite projects, and it was great to see that all the delegates to the GA Conference received a Follow the Things bag on their arrival...
I first met Ian Cook when he was involved in the original project meeting of the Young People's Geographies project. He was sharing his ideas of how consumer goods had a story, and that story could be traced back to the origins. These also uncovered some of the connections between 

I was pleased to find a 'Follow the Things' ladybird was loitering on the Mission:Explore stand when I arrived.

Good to have a long chat with Ian Cook too on the first day of the conference...

Coming soon: more posts about my 2nd day at the conference...

Why not go to the Silver Award winning Mission:Explore website where you can see some  missions written in association with Follow the Things.

And remember that conference details of the sessions are going up on the GA website.

Londinium MXXII

I was interested to read the ongoing issues with the licensing of the London 2012 games, and the issues with using that phrase if you are a commercial business.

Yesterday., I went down to explore the Olympics Park (or the bit that you can get to) with author and urban geographer John Widdowson. John lives locally and has been working with school groups in and around the area for some years. If you would like to discuss taking a group of students down to the area, I can recommend John's expertise and resources. E-mail John here....

Images: Alan Parkinson

Here's a slideshow of the images that I put on Flickr...

Here's an alternative view of the Olympic Park via Mapply...

I am currently preparing a resource which offers ideas for a more 'critical' look at the Olympic legacy, inspired by Noel Jenkins...
More to come soon...

New Robert Macfarlane in June

Another book to add to the list...

If this is anything like Robert's other books this will be superb....

GA Conference Report 9 - Geography Awareness Week

The theme of this year's conference was Geographies of Difference and that was the theme of Fran Martin's Presidential Lecture.

Geographies of Difference is also the theme of the Geography Awareness Week for 2012. I became aware of the theme earlier in the year, as I was asked to write a section of the teacher booklet.
This is now available to download from the GA website (link goes to a PDF download - 6.1 Mb)

I wrote a section on differences in access to technology, which starts as below....

Don't forget the pack for the US version for 2011, which was written by Dan Raven Ellison and myself.

This year's UK event runs from the 25th to the 29th of June.... what are you planning ?

VITAL Triptico Teachshare

Don't forget that 7pm on Thursday the 19th is the date of my VITAL Teachshare with David Riley: the creator of Triptico. A teachshare is an online session. Log in and you will be able to see and hear (and contribute to) the session.
Follow the link above to join in on the day...

If you are going to join us David suggests that you have downloaded the TRIPTICO tool in advance, and perhaps had a quick look at what it has to offer. You will find that it downloads along with Adobe Air...

GA Conference Report 8 - as seen on Flickr...

Bryan Ledgard was doing his usual excellent job at the GA Conference going round all the events and taking images.

A set of over 170 images has now gone up.

It was good to see that I appear on a reassuring number of these images - maybe because I was involved in so many things while I was there...

GA Conference Report 7 - GA Awards and Wine Reception

After the digitalearth meeting, it was back to my hotel to check in and change.
Had an interesting view of Piccadilly Station from my room, although I wasn't in it for very long.
Back over to the conference venue, and just missed the start of the public lecture and loitered by the door as the awards began.

Mission:Explore won a Silver Award from the Geographical Association.

Wonderful to be associated with this, along with The Workshop.

Also, the RGS-IBG  From the Field project won a Silver Award.
I wrote two of the units for this project (see earlier blog posts on From the Field - using the search)

Special congratulations to Duncan Hawley for his special GA award for his work this year, and also to Helen Martin for her work.
I was also very pleased that Richard Bustin won an award for his excellent ThirdSpace article which I have used on various occasions.

After the awards and photo-call it was over to the wine reception, where I had a good chat with many friends. Helen and I from the Geography Collective chatting to Val Vannet, SAGT President (who had given the fraternal greetings earlier) and John Vannet. I shall be doing a presentation on Digimap for Schools (of which more in a future post) at the SAGT Conference in October.

Image copyright: Bryan Ledgard / Geographical Association

From there it was through for pie and peas, then out for the GA Pub Walk.....
An entertaining evening ensued...

GA Conference Report 6 - David Lambert

David Lambert has been leading the GA as its Chief Executive for 10 years. He was the first person I saw on arriving at the Conference - on his way to the Association at Work meeting. Also saw him later on the Thursday evening at the GA Awards (more on those later)
He is stepping down from his role to focus on his Professorship at the Institute of Education.

I owe a great deal to David Lambert for his support over the years. I know that David will continue to be involved with the GA. The choice of replacement is a very important one.
Thanks to all of those who suggested that I'd be a good candidate :)

Details on the job are on the GA website for those of you who may be interested....

Walking Home

Looking forward to the new Simon Armitage book on the Pennine Way...

Google Geo-Teachers Institute

I had a chat with Ed Parsons a year ago in Reading about doing something else for geography teachers with the tools that Google produce than their existing support.
I haven't heard anything else since, but just picked up on this opportunity for geography teachers.

Make sure that you apply using the online application form HERE

Events are taking place in Dublin and London in June.

GA Conference Report 5 - Bob Digby and Derby 2013

Slightly ahead of myself here timewise, but during the lunchtime on Thursday I also had a long chat with Bob Digby, who will be GA President in 2012-13 about next year's GA Conference...
We discussed the theme which is about Geography Futures, and some possible workshops and lectures along that theme..
Will see you there, with some special guests...

New job at the RGS-IBG

New job has just gone up on the RGS-IBG website.

Part time Educational Resources Writer.

A great chance for someone to work with the RGS' unrivalled collections of images and artefacts, along with ongoing projects, and the Schools' pages.

GA Conference Report 4 - digitalearth

After a trip to the conference venue to catch up with colleagues, it was over to the Manchester Conference Centre to meet up with colleagues from the project.
I was pleased to finally meet up with Joseph Kerski, who has been doing amazing work over in the USA for many years with ESRI.
Also met Ian Cook from Follow the Things (of which more later) and had lunch with him and Nick Lapthorn of the FSC (of which more later)

Also met up with some of the members of SIG4 - the Special Interest Group that I have been involved with, and met some new colleagues who were involved with the group. is a project that I have been involved with since 2011, and will continue to be involved with. It is aimed at exemplifying and sharing good practice in the use of geo-media and geo-information.

We had (another) lunch, followed by 3 hours of meetings, which involved some wide ranging discussions, and also a chance to meet up with various other colleagues in the break. Plenty of good discussions and new connections being made. Ideas for future events and workshops being offered...

More on digitalearth and the lecture that we gave in a future post.

Now that's a headline...

With thanks to Mark Brandon...

GA Conference Report 3

A few things relating to Twitter and Personal Learning Networks (PLN)
As I mentioned in previous post from GA Conference, the #gaconf12 tag was much busier than the #gaconf11 one was....

Jennifer Watts did a session on Twitter for Teachers, which mentioned me a few times. I was hoping to get over to it, but a meeting over-ran...
Slideshare here is well worth looking at:

Thanks also to Angus Willson for a copy of his rather excellent PLN document. This is a 'course' in book form which was prepared earlier in the year. Lots of nice ideas and quotes.

You can get a copy for yourself in 2 formats:

  • a PDF for £5
  • a printed copy like that one I have for £10

David Holmes and I were due to do a workshop for Philip Allan, but it failed to get enough delegates for it to run.

GA Conference Report 2

I'll start with the journey to conference.
Drove to Peterborough and left the car, then two trains which took me to some familiar places...
One of them was Huddersfield, which was where I did my geography degree: worrying thing is that I started it 30 years ago this year...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Then it was over the Pennines and into Manchester Piccadilly, which has changed a lot, and was just a few minutes walk from the University where the conference was based. Followed the #gaconf12 tweets on the way, and good to see so many more people tweeting.
On the way, I spotted a giant bottle of Vimto...

The first person I saw was David Lambert, who was just arriving - more on David later....

Chat with some GA colleagues, and also met up with Kate Russell from SLN and Paul Baker, both of whom have been very supportive to me over the years.

Lucy, Dorcas and Anne from the GA were busy getting the conference venue ready - only a few of the exhibitors had arrived at this stage....

There was plenty more to come... keep reading for more from GA Conference 2012...

Triptico Session

You may have read my earlier blog posts about TRIPTICO
This is a downloadable tool which allows the creation of various types of interactive resource.

I am pleased to be able to announce a VITAL Geography Teachshare with David Riley, the creator of Triptico. I shall be co-presenting the event, which is on April 19th
This is advance warning to put into your diary as you won't want to miss it.

If you want a sneak preview of the latest tool that David has created, visit the THINK LINK page.

This fit in with the previous Teachshare on SOLO taxonomy, which is still available to view. Head over to the VITAL CPD area to view.... Click to visit, then click again to VIEW.

Good way to start the Summer term....

50 Things....

The National Trust's new project...

50 things to do before you're 11 and three-quarters...

Or buy Mission:Explore and you can do all these and more... :)

GA Conference Report 1

OK, so I'm back home after a hectic 2 days at the GA Conference.
The event is still going on, and I'm following remotely via Twitter and the #gaconf12 tag, which is MUCH busier this year than last year...
Another fantastic event organised by the wonderful Lucy Oxley, with the support of all at the GA. Good to meet former colleagues, friends, new colleagues and lots of potential future projects emerging...
I am going to be posting some of my personal highlights of the conference over the next week or so, depending on the time that I have available... There were many.

Thanks to all those that I had a chance to chat with...

See you all at Derby 2013.


For the next few days I will mostly be at the GA Conference in Manchester...
Plenty to come after (and possibly during) the event...

Disaster Planning Infographic

Thanks to Nina for passing this onto me. A useful graphic on disaster planning, but I really like the graphics of the different disasters...

IB Urban Environments

Started gathering ideas for some writing I am going to be doing for Richard Allaway's Geography all the Way website.

It will explore and cover the URBAN ENVIRONMENTS topic.

Here's a starter video which explores a day in the life of an urban resident through infographics....

Happy to receive ideas for creative images / videos and other material relating to these topics:

I. Urban Populations

Definition of urbanization and variation in global growth rates and patterns
Inward and outward movements affecting urban areas

Contribution of natural change to patterns of population density within urban areas

II. Urban Land-Use

Land-use models
Residential patterns in rich countries

Poverty and deprivation
Areas of economic activity

III. Urban stress

Environmental and social problems

IV. The Sustainable City

The city as a system
Sustainable city management strategies
Urban ecological footprint
Case-studies of specific sustainable strategies

An excellent opportunity for mid-career* teachers from the OS

An exciting opportunity for teachers who have been 'around' for a while...

A special 6 day course has been organised by the Ordnance Survey, along with the Goldsmith's company.

Science for Society Course: New Developments in Physical Geography 15th-20th July 2012

This course is designed for mid-career specialist geography teachers in secondary schools who are teaching GCSE / A level students.  The emphasis is on physical geography, providing an intensive immersion in new technology for data collection, analysis and modelling.  The course includes an introduction to new equipment for field and laboratory, and explores recent developments in remote sensing and GIS technologies, and their application to teaching. 

Full day visits to both Met Office and Ordnance Survey are included.

The course is provided by the Geography Department of the University of Southampton and Ordnance Survey in association with The Goldsmiths’ Company, under their Science for Society initiative. 

On Thursday 19th July delegates on this course will join all the teachers on the 2012 Science for Society courses for a Gala Dinner at Goldsmith’s Hall, London. 

Tuition, accommodation, food and travel during the course are all provided free of charge. Delegates must fund their own travel costs from home to Southampton University.

For more details, see the Ordnance Survey and Goldsmith's website, where you can download an application form.

This is certainly something which I would have applied for if I was teaching, and has the added bonus of being in the final week of term for most parts of the country, which means that it would be a reasonable time to take off school as a lot of schools would be running activity type days for part of that, so there would be less teaching time missed.

* (From the application form)

 You must be a teacher employed at a secondary school in Great Britain teaching GCSE/A level standard qualifications in geography. 
Mid-career teachers are expected to benefit most from this course, but there are no specific upper or lower age limits. 

The Carbon Map

This article in the Guardian led me to the Carbon Map last week.
It offers the chance to explore a range of Carbon related statistics.
Check it out....

A Bigger Picture...

Every tree is different.  Every single one. The branches, the forces in it; they are marvellously different. You are thrilled. This is the infinity of nature.
- Hockney

Down to London on Thursday last week for a family day.
The main plan was to visit the David Hockney exhibition - we had tickets booked several months ago. The exhibition gathers together some superb watercolours, alongside vibrant and exciting iPad images made with the app Brushes. I have the app on my iPad but not really made a lot of use of it yet.

On the way we had some other family adventures.
We saw the Easter eggs that had been collected together in Covent Garden. Quite a few GeoEggs - why not design your own...
We wandered through Trafalgar Square to see the Olympics 2012 Countdown Clock (naff) 
We had a cheeky look in Fortnum and Masons to see how the other half lives... nine quid for a tin of biscuits is how...
We went to the wonderful Tin Tin shop where my son spent the money that he had been saving for months on a range of merchandise and books - one happy boy, and great customer service !
We had a great lunch in Belgo Centraal. If you've never been it is highly recommended.... continued the Belgian theme started with Tin Tin.

The Royal Academy was heaving, and for me there should have been far fewer people in the exhibition at any one time - I thought that was the point of timed tickets. The shop was overstocked and it was impossible to see things. Inside the exhibition, and every room was packed so that it was a struggle to see any paintings. The room with the video was so full we couldn't even get in, so missed a chance to see the videos and other multimedia that was in there. I've been going to major art exhibitions for about 40 years, and have never been in one so crowded...
If people wanted a chance to get in without a timed ticket, perhaps they should have been early in morning, or later in the evening.

We then had to push our way through to get out of the building.

The FAQ on the RA website says:

Will the galleries be crowded?
  • We are limiting admission to the galleries in order to ensure the best possible viewing experience. The layout of the exhibition and the size of the works will also help in this respect.
My viewing experience was disappointing....

Also enjoyed the new Kings X station roof, although there was a power cut due to a large fire in East London so it wasn't lit up on the way back....