Olympics Body Matching...

There have been a few nice infographics relating to the Olympics.

There are some Olympic rings / data comparisons.

I also like the BBC's athlete comparison website where you put in height and weight and see who you match with.
I matched with a Greek long jumper...

Urban Geography Fieldwork

The day of the Olympics opening was also the date when a new website was launched offering opportunities for fieldwork in the East end of London, associated with the Olympics Park and the associated regeneration....
A number of familiar names offer a range of options for visiting teachers and students, and at reasonable prices too...
Having accompanied John Widdowson with a full day visit by a school group a few months before the start of the games, I can vouch for the quality of the experience, and the associated materials...

Visit the website HERE for more details on how to book a session.

Dan Raven Ellison at the National Geographic....

A great video of Dan talking about Guerrilla Geography....

Dan speaking up for Geography - SUFG

Richard Long's Road Graffiti

Have blogged several times about the work of Richard Long and the connection with landscapes.

The recent Olympics cycling road race around Box Hill has a few other geographical connections, such as the Olympics geocaches that had been hidden by Sam Atkins and pupils at the Priory School, Portsmouth.

Came across this video of the artwork being made: Road Graffiti, which is inspired by the graffiti written on the roads during the Tour de France.
Also has connections with other artworks made by Long.

The Story of Change

New from Annie Leonard, creator of 'The Story of Stuff', 'The Story of Bottled Water' and various other resources is 'The Story of Change'.

How built-up is Britain ?

Thanks to Anne Greaves for the lead to this article on the BBC News site.
It lead me to a document called the National Ecosystem Assessment.

This provides a summary of the various elements that make up the landscape of England, including both rural and urban elements.

This relates to the idea of ECOSYSTEM SERVICES.
These are the benefits that nature brings.
They fall into 4 categories, as shown below:

From the report:

Ecosystem services are the benefits provided by ecosystems that contribute to making human life both possible and worth living. Examples of ecosystem services include products such as food and water, regulation of floods, soil erosion and disease outbreaks, and non-material benefits such as recreational and spiritual benefits in natural areas. The term ‘services’ is usually used to encompass the tangible and intangible benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems, which are sometimes separated into ‘goods’ and ‘services’. 

Some ecosystem services involve the direct provision of material and non-material goods to people and depend on the presence of particular species of plants and animals, for example, food, timber, and medicines. Other ecosystem services arise directly or indirectly from the functioning of ecosystem processes. For example, the service of formation of soils and soil fertility that sustains crop and livestock production depends on the ecosystem processes of decomposition and nutrient cycling by soil micro-organisms.

Some scientists have advocated a stricter definition of ecosystem services as only the components of nature that are directly enjoyed, consumed, or used in order to maintain or enhance human well-being. Such an approach can be useful when it comes to ecosystem service accounting and economic valuation. This is because some ecosystem services (e.g. food provision) can be quantified in units that are easily comprehensible by policy makers and the general public. Other services, for example, those that support and regulate the production levels of crops and other harvested goods, are more difficult to quantify. If a definition based on accounting is applied too strictly there is a risk that ecosystem service assessment could be biased toward services that are easily quantifiable, but with inadequate consideration of the most critical ones for human well-being.

Since ecosystem services are defined in terms of their benefits to people it should be recognised that ecosystem services are context dependent, that is, the same feature of an ecosystem can be considered an ecosystem service by one group of people but not valued by another group.  

One of the sections of the report that was most reported was the very small percentage of the UK that is actually urbanised...

Going to refer to this for my workshop at the SAGT festival at the end of October....

It's a useful way of assessing the changes that take place in a landscape.

56.1 million...

That's the population of the UK (England and Wales) in 2011 according to the first release of Census data from last year's count.
The Office for National Statistics released a batch of data on Monday this week, and there were some interesting points to be gleaned from it.

There's also been some discussion over the veracity of the data that was used.
Plenty of useful articles have already been produced in various places.

This BBC article picks out five interesting trends in the data...

Thanks to Lee for the comment below...

Ice Age 4

This is worth seeing if you get the chance... We enjoyed it !

An interesting article in the Guardian looking at the scientific background to the story...

Londinium MMXII

Is underway..
Here's Danny Boyle's notes on the event...

Noel's KS3 .. food for thought...

I am grateful to Noel Jenkins for sharing his work on curriculum planning at KS3
It is embedded below for you viewing, or you can visit Noel's Digital Geography site for this and much more...

I am also delighted to see a healthy chunk of landscapes in there, based on my KS3 Toolkit book 'Look at it this Way'.

Landscapes featured heavily in last night's Olympics opening ceremony, along with a healthy dose of Mike Oldfield, whose second album immortalised a landscape feature called Hergest Ridge.


Roadside Britain

My copy of 'Roadside Britain' by Sam Mellish arrived last week, and have enjoyed browsing it.

I'm interested in the peripheral places that lie alongside the main roads of the UK.

There are various writers like Iain Sinclair and Nick Papadimitrou (in 'Scarp') who explore these places (or are they examples of what Auge would call non-places)
Why not head out and explore your local lay-by....

Exploration is out there....

Teachit History now live... to join the Geography site...

Earlier this year I worked on the launch of a new resource download site for Geography.
Teachit Geography provides the opportunity for subscribers to access high quality resources, written by experienced teachers and geographers, and which have been checked for quality.

The Geography site has continued to develop since the launch, and has now been joined by Teachit History.

Why not check out both sites and see what they have to offer you.

RIGEO - a good summer read...

A new edition of RIGEO has been published. I've blogged about this online journal before.

This is the Review of International Geographical Education Online, and features a range of articles. Worth exploring and reading.

Have a great summer...

With apologies to Scottish etc. colleagues...

Taking a bit of a blog break for a while....
Hope the sun shines next week as forecast...

Still High and Dry ?

I've made a start on updating my flood lecture: High and Dry. This lecture was used for a few years while working at the Geographical Association.

The new version is called 'Still High and Dry ?'

The last few months have seen flooding in a number of locations, and this week has seen even more. There hasn't been one huge event, although some of the areas have been substantial and of course every household that is flooded is a tragedy. Flooding has been seen all over the country.
We also had our own bit of flood drama earlier in the week following a torrential thunderstorm in the village.

One of the things that I've done is produce a Twitter list of accounts that are related to UK Flooding.

You can find the list HERE. Follow the list, and you will have plenty of useful information into your feed whenever there's a flood alert.

If you have any good flood stories or images, please send them to me as I update the lecture and associated resources....

3d Geology app for Android...

There is now a 3D version of the iGeology app that will be familiar to regular readers of the blog.

It's available for Android and will paint a 3D Geology landscape over the actual landscape shown through the camera.... Very nice.
Get it from the BGS website or Google Play...

Unfortunately not compatible with the Nexus 7, so I'll have to commandeer my daughter's HTC...

Mission:Explore Lowestoft

Readers of the blog who live in Suffolk may already know about a project I've been working on for the last couple of months, and which finally launched this weekend.
The Lowestoft area now has a new Mission:Explore game which can be played by purchasing a special ticket.

Here is the release in the LOWESTOFT JOURNAL.
We were also featured in the EDP.

More details here from the official press release...

A new and exciting series of ‘family missions’ will be launched in Lowestoft this week.  ‘Mission:Explore Lowestoft’ aims to encourage families to explore the local area by completing treasure hunt style challenges which have been specifically designed around the 106 and 601 bus routes.   Being a bus passenger gives you a different view of the world  and ‘Mission:Explore Lowestoft’ provides the opportunity for families to visit parts of the town they wouldn’t ordinarily get to see, and learn some new and interesting facts about Lowestoft and its history along the way.
It’s really easy to take part. Families simply purchase a special £10 Mission:Explore day ticket from the bus driver at any bus stop along either the 106 or 601 routes, and in return will be given a ‘mission sheet’ containing various questions and challenges (or you can pick up the ‘mission sheets’ in advance from the tourist information centres or library).  Some of the questions and challenges can be answered on the bus journey itself, others will require you to leave the bus at certain stops and go and explore the local parks.

After completing the questions on either of the routes, you can submit your answers via the Mission:Explore website (www.missionexplore.net/reward/lowestoft) or at collection points within the tourist information centres or the library.   A prize draw will take place at the end of October 2012 for a range of prizes including digital cameras, binoculars and explorer book packs.

A taster ‘mission’ was handed out at the Airshow, with a great response from family members of all ages. 

‘Mission:Explore Lowestoft’ forms part of the ‘Lowestoft Local Links’ project which aims to get more people walking, cycling and using public transport for trips within the town.  Both First Group and Anglian Bus who run bus services across Lowestoft are fully supportive of the project, and have offered discounted family day tickets to encourage local people and visitors to take part.  

Digital Explorer Update

I received the latest Digital Explorer update yesterday.
They've certainly been busy, and there's some interesting things coming up.

The first is a new project related to the work of the Catlin Seaview Survey which is taking place off the coast of Australia.
Jamie from Digital Explorer will be heading out there at the end of the year as part of the project, which is a great opportunity, as he is offering to do free live chats with some of the scientists.
Book a slot with Jamie....
He has previously spoken live to students from the sea ice off the northern coast of Canada

Coral Reefs and threatened ocean ecosystems like this form part of the Oceans unit of Edexcel 'B' and also the iGCSE specifications.

The second is a final chance to take part in one of Digital Explorer's OCEANS ACADEMY weekends. You'll join some top marine scientists to explore ways of teaching about the oceans.

Go HERE to apply for one of the places on the course. There are 12 places. All costs are met apart from travel to the venue and personal clothing. Full details are available by clicking the link.

If you want to see how much fun it is, my Flickr set from when I went along is included below:

Looking forward to working with the Digital Explorer gang in the Autumn term - it's always a pleasure !

Sign up to receive the newsletter too in order to stay informed of what they're up to....

Keep taking the tablets.. : Nexus 7 Update 1

On Wednesday this week, my Google Nexus 7 tablet was delivered.

I went for the 8Gb model, as I don't intend to fill it full of music and pictures: I have other devices for that.
I already have an iPad, although my son ensures that I hardly get a look in on that.
I wanted to explore the possibilities of Android, although a lot of the apps in the store are for phones rather than for tablets...

I discovered a user forum which has potential to be useful in time.

One of the other things I discovered when browsing for apps was that quite a few of them were not compatible with the Nexus 7 (that may change in time I suppose)
These included some I would have expected to be such as BBC iPlayer.....

There has already been a lot of chat and I've been browsing various postings, Twitter feeds etc to see what the craic is.
I'm trying to decide on the best app to write notes when I'm offline and away from WIFI.

15 best apps posting is useful, and led me to a few things that I downloaded.

First apps I've added to the device are as follows:

  • Amazon Kindle - downloaded some of the books I've previously purchased for the summer...
  • Astrid Tasks / To Do List
  • BBC News
  • Camera Launcher - will produce panoramas and also shoot video... not great quality but better than nothing...
  • Dropbox (also synced the device so that any screenshots I take go there...)
  • Evernote
  • Flipboard
  • Google Drive
  • London 2012
  • Spotify - essential...
  • TuneIn Radio

These are in alphabetical order as that's how they are displayed on the screen.

So, the screen is great, sound is good. Google Earth looks cool, and the GMail app works really smoothly. I like the little notification chime for that as well...
I need to get myself a case, and I'm still getting used to the size of it. Works well with the stylus pen that I use with the iPad.

I'll be using the tablet over the summer.... and will report back during the next six weeks some more geographical uses of it...

The oldest town...

Not in terms of the town itself, but its population, according to the release from the Census 2011 is Christchurch in Dorset.

There's a useful Guardian article which has a chat with someone who opened up a nightclub recently... Reminds me of a classic exercise in Waugh which looked at population structure in a town, and the issues with an imbalance in the population...

Students could usefully explore statistics like this, and what this might actually 'look like'.... Take a Street View tour of the town - can you see any evidence of an elderly population trend ?

Geography Geek is back...

Helen has changed hosts, so the GeographyGeek website is now back up and running as normal...
Head over there to get some last minute inspiration, or add it to your summer 'to do' list....

Mission:Explore Food

Are you ready to play with your food ?
Books were delivered to GCHQ (Geography Collective Headquarters) in London earlier today.
Looking tasty...

Image: Daniel Raven Ellison

Summer Reading

One for the beach....
Available here

Recce App

This is a rather superb app. It is ostensibly a navigation app for visitors to, and residents of London.
It has rendered the city as a Sim City like visualisation, complete with moving vehicles
Zoom in, rotate the view and then pull the search window in from the right, or add other layers such as the availability of 'Boris bikes' from the docking stations. Watch the London Eye rotate, and The Shard rise above the city...
I love the graphics, and it is also a useful app for London and exploring the city.

Currently free on the App Store, and quite a chunky one at over 100 Mb.

New toy for the summer...

Just arrived.... Will tell you more about it later...

Join me at 7pm tonight...

...for the last TEACHSHARE of this academic year...
On the VITAL Geography PORTAL....
Geography Debrief
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.

For those who were unable to attend, slides are above....

I am grateful to Andy Knill for the suggestions for future topics:

SOLO Taxonomy Pt. 2
GCSE Specification changes
KS3 changes - once they are announced...
Connecting Departments

The next scheduled Teachshare is in September 
I shall be joined by Paul Cornish, who is currently in Madagascar...

Stop me and buy one...

From earliest childhood, I remember the sound of the ice-cream van as it moved around the estate near Rotherham where I lived, stopping every few hundred yards. There were a number of tunes that were played, depending on the van.
One of my favourite stories, which I still tell, is a friend whose parents told him that when the music was playing it meant that they'd run out of ice-cream...

There was an interesting article in the Times last week about ice cream vans.
It was about the 'demise of the ice-cream van' and had the clever headline of 'The End of the Ice Age'.

This would make another useful exploration of cultural geographical change.
What's behind the decline in the number of ice cream vans on the streets ?
Is it competition from the supermarkets ?
Is it the changing demographics of communities, or the fact that fewer children play outdoors, and even notice the ice cream van coming past... (there are lots of regulations on how long and how often they can play their chimes...)

The article is behind the Times paywall...

In Mission:Explore Food we explored a range of foods - just been through it and found a mission which involves making ice cream - here's part of the relevant page..
The actual book is out in early September, and is available to pre-order on Amazon...
An e-book version is already available too.

Finally, here's a wonderful pic of a lonely ice cream van on the beach at Whitby by Bryan Ledgard

Image: copyright Bryan Ledgard


I was interested to read about the town of Monmouth.
The town has added a wi-fi network throughout the town, and has also been putting QR codes around the place which link through to articles about the buildings they are placed on.
This is helped by the town-wide wi-fi. I've been in a few places which had large scale wi-fi available: Geneva city centre had it, Brighton beaches have it, and so does large parts of Jedburgh where I stopped en route to the Scottish Borders a while back.
Monmouth is calling itself Wikiville

Daily Mail article and ITV News article has a bit more detail.

I suppose any town could do something similar with a little co-ordination.
Start with your own school. Does it have a Wikipedia entry ? Is it up to date ?
Why not create one....


I liked this blog post on Dave Fawcett's 'My Learning Journey' blog.
It describes the importance of curiosity....

I like the posters which contain part of a question.... One to explore further...

Australian Bushfire Resource

A really nice resource has been created and shared by the Geography Teachers' Association of Victoria.

Thanks to Rob Marchetto for the link via Twitter.... You really must get an account if you haven't already as I wouldn't have found about this resource without being involved...

It's not just for Australian students though.... there's a chance to explore wild fires in some of the exam specifications, and it also makes for a compelling unit for KS3. I've been reading 'Fire Season' in the last few weeks and this certainly makes it onto my shortlist for possible new curriculum contexts for the new curriculum, particularly as this 100+ page resource does all the planning for me....

Click this link to download a PDF of the resource.

An excellent resource !

Mission:Explore at Latitude

Some nice Instagram images from Daniel Raven Ellison from the Mission:Explore offering at the Latitude Festival.
We parked up our spaceship and worked with hundreds of people over the weekend....

Don't forget to pre-order Mission:Explore Food

Urban Environments

One of my (many) projects between now and the start of the new academic year is to write materials for a new unit for IB Geography on the Geography all the Way website.
Work is underway and units are all started in draft.
They will start to appear on the site from mid-September all being well...

End of year debrief...

Don't forget to join me at 7pm tomorrow night for a VITAL CPD Teachshare to look back on the academic year, and ahead to the next one....

Primary Geography Quality Mark

Last Friday it was over on the train from an overnight stay in York to Sheffield and GA HQ.
It was quiet in the office with so many people out on holidays, or project work.
Good to meet up with Primary colleagues Paula Owens and Wendy North as well as fellow moderators Dick Palfrey, Greg Cracknell and Arthur Kelly and administrator Julie Beattie.
We were moderating half of the portfolios for this year's tranche of Primary Geography Quality Mark applications.
The process is very rigorous, with each application being looked at for between 2 and 3 hours, with notes made on each, and the evidence that has been provided being used to fill in a matrix which has a series of sections to consider. We are looking for the 'story' of how the school has changed its offering of geography by going through the process.
Is there geography strong across most areas of the school ? This could potentially be a Bronze QM school. Is geography strong across the whole school at all key stages ? This could be a Silver QM school. Is the school strong in all those things, and also shares its practice with schools in the surrounding area ? If so, that could be a Gold QM school.

We looked at some excellent applications, some of which were seen by three or four different people or paired up, so that we were secure in our thinking, particular for those applications which were on the border between two of the award levels. There were lots of discussions and thoughts about the process and how to improve all aspects of it. It was good to chat and talk with people who I don't often get the chance to work with.

Those schools which applied will be informed some time this week if they have been successful.

It's worth mentioning that all GA members can have access to the VLE for the Primary and Secondary Geography Quality Mark. Useful for those who are, or who are thinking of, applying for one of the GA's Quality Marks....

I will be back in Sheffield in the first week of August for 2 days moderating the Secondary Geography Quality Mark applications for 2012....


A nice day funded by Tesco vouchers to local reserve, which was the location for the BBC's Springwatch programme for several years...

Nexus 7

OK Google... where is it ? Or more importantly, any communication in the last two weeks to update me on the current state... Thought I'd make this using a Google tool...

Census 2011

I'm grateful to Ian Allan for the heads-up that the first release of estimates from the Census 2011 will be released on Monday....
Having a sweepstake on the UK population.... nearest wins a Ginsters pasty...

Green Food Project

A new report which was commissioned by DEFRA has been published this week: the Green Food Project.

Leo Hickman has been discussing the outcomes from the report over on The Guardian website.

The report investigates "how Britain's entire food system must change to keep food affordable without destroying nature, at a time of soaring world population growth".

There are some useful additional links in the debate on Leo's page, which include a report from the British Retail Consortium. (link leads to PDF download)

The report has a focus on North and NW Norfolk for part of it. It describes some of the issues that farmers face in this area. There was a focus on the report in the EDP.

World Population Day 2012

World Population Day is today...

Stonehenge work finally starts

The long-delayed work to divert the road away from the stones of STONEHENGE has finally got under way, according to a BBC report. A memorial has been moved to enable the work to start at a key junction.

A new VISITOR CENTRE will be part of the plan to change the visitor experience.

One of the definitive pieces of work on this was done by Noel Jenkins some years ago - check it out you young 'uns who haven't seen it....

Mission:Explore in the SW

Just caught up with Philip Anderson's work with Mission:Explore which was shared with the SW Digital Educator's Conference in Plymouth in early June.
Cool video...

Latest free GeoPacks resource

One of the nice things to pop into my inbox each month is the latest free resource produced by Rick Cope.
He produces software and other support for GeoPacks.

The latest activity is described as follows:

This month's digital resource looks at how to describe man-made landscapes shown on Ordnance Survey maps. This is featuring increasingly in GCSE programmes of study with the emphasis being on the context of the location rather than just the skills of reading a map.
To this end I have included a number of popular themes... urban zones (CBD, Inner City and Outer Suburbs), Suburbanisation (a Suburbanised Village), industrial Landscapes (the port of Avonmouth) and the Rural/Urban Fringe (an Out-of-Town Shopping Centre). The tasks vary in style. One allows the user to describe the feature shown on one map in an interactive 'cloze' exercise, the second one involves comparing two contrasting areas. It is also possible to print the task so they can be done 'on paper' if you wish or, if finished, as a record of both the approach and the answers.

In just the last three months there's also been a kit for creating your own labelled pictures and cloze exercises, an exploration of the 1953 Storm Surge on the East coast of England, and an exploration of coastal landforms.

Register for FREE to receive the monthly updates.

The Summer Rains....

A useful video shared by The Telegraph....


A new source of Polygons for mapping from an Open Source project called MapIt

There's a GLOBAL site and a UK one.

Enter your post code to identify polygons in your local area which can then be exported in various formats including KML...

Also check out new updates to the MAP CHANNELS site and also the TRAIL CHART API if you don't mind a bit of coding...

Teach WJEC 'B' Geography Spec at GCSE ?

Tom Biebrach has created a Google Doc for a collaborative sharing of Case Study examples.
Head over there now and enter the places that you currently use as your Case Studies to add to the collaborative document....

Volcano Live

This programme starts tonight on BBC2 at 9 o' clock, and runs for the next four nights. 
Plenty of advance information and buzz in the press today and various other places.
The Independent has a story from someone who has been lucky enough to take part in the latest tourist attraction on Iceland: a descent into the crater of Thrihnukagigur, which last erupted around 4000 years ago. I blogged about this a while back. Looks amazing....

The BBC is asking the question What is it like to be a volcanologist ?

On Twitter you can follow @BBCVolcanoLIVE, @KateHumble, @Profiainstewart for more (presumably) over the course of the programme.

A preview in The Telegraph.

There are some clips here on the programme's iPlayer page.

Why not join in the fun by making your own 3D volcano model for the night. You can download and print off this template from the British Geological Survey and have fun making your own volcano live, just like the one on the right....

If you have a question, you can also e-mail the team  - you might get a moment of glory when yours is picked - send it to volcanolive@bbc.co.uk

You'll lava lot of fun watching it, I pumice....


Watch the replay of last night's episode HERE

Also head to the Discover the World site to download the GA Silver Award winning Eyjafjallajokull Study Pack...

Mission:Explore says 'children need more field trips'...

In fact we've been saying it for years....

And now it seems that Michael Palin agrees.... ;)

In a speech to the Princes Teaching Institute later this week he will apparently repeat the need for geography to remain an important part of the curriculum, and to include plenty of learning outside the classroom...
Seriously though, it's important that this message gets out there, and Michael Palin has the public profile that not everyone has...

"Geography itself is such a wide-ranging subject. It's really about the study of the surface of the Earth, it's relative to every single thing we do, what we eat, what transport we take to work, where we live, what houses are made of. It's an issue that directly relates to what we know of the Earth."

Norfolk network meeting - when was your last network meeting ?

Over to a local school on Thursday this week for a network meeting organised by Rob Lodge. Rob has been organising these meetings for Norfolk teachers for many years, and they are always useful, so it was good to be able to go along and share some of my recent work, and also have a 20 minute journey to an event rather than one of three or four hours.

There was plenty of interest in the meeting, some of which may form a separate blog post. It was good to meet colleagues new and old, and also have the chance to wish a happy retirement to John, who I've known for many years.

There was some good sharing at the event, which had a range of activities. Some of you may be thinking of organising a local network meeting at your school ? This could be themed around a particular issue, or perhaps based on the Teachmeet style of event with short inputs from everyone. This could be cheap twilight CPD, or a more organised city-wide event. Over the last few years I've been fortunate to be invited to work with a number of events where all the geography teachers from a particular area were gathered in one place for a day.

I think it's vital that teachers meet face to face around a table where possible. In this age of competition and league tables, collaboration is more important than ever, particularly given the slow removal of advisory support.
Here's what we did at the network meeting so that you might get some ideas for organising your own.

Tea and coffee and biscuits on arrival. I put out a display of GA publications and other bits, and there were some freebies for everyone: a Digital Explorer mug, GeographyalltheWay pen, Mission:Explore bookmark etc.

We started by pairing up with somebody we didn't know and sharing something geographical that had happened to us that week, and I shared a picture of my daughter holding the Olympic torch, and the geographical connections that the Olympics has, as exemplified in my Londinium MMXII document, for those who haven't yet seen it.
We then told the other delegates about the person we'd just been talking to, and what their geographical connection was.

We then did a speed-dating activity where each person got to meet the other delegates and swap an idea that they'd been working on recently.
I showed what I'd been doing with Rory's Story Cubes and the idea of story cubes generally....

I picked up ideas on: a unit on researching using the Internet which looked really useful and came complete with a worked example and peer-marking sheet, some work on the 'mantle of the expert' (as featured in the Oops book I blogged about recently), a set of cards with key words and connectives to encourage sentence construction (a manual version of David Riley's Triptico 'Word Magnets' resource), an activity with slides which had limits on slides/words etc, an idea of dialogue between two pupils where one of them has to knock on a door and persuade the other to support their campaign (this came with an activity based on the Malaria no more campaign), a memory challenge with associated card sort, and one colleague had posted a series of videos of geography songs and I then realised I was in the presence of Mr. Sims ! (see  earlier blogpost)

One of the ideas I liked best was to go to a sports shop and buy some Captain's Armbands. They're currently £1.50 at Sports Direct. If you're teaching in a school with sport's mad boys in particular, there is a great sense of the need to perform if pulling on the armband, and leading others...

Rob then talked through the new OFSTED framework from September. We were split into groups to discuss the 'geographical implications' of the new judgements. What would 'Good geography' look like and how could it contribute to a whole school judgement ?
Schools that had recently had OFSTED inspections (of which there were three) shared their experiences and observations. There was mention of the need for multicultural developments, better use of LSAs, an appreciation that 'behaviour' didn't just refer to disruption, the need for marking to become a dialogue with an appreciation that students had responded to comments, and the importance of developing independent learning.

There was also mention of the importance of data, with Rob's old classic that it's like underwear: 'what it shows is interesting, what it hides is vital'.

We then had an input from a guest speaker, and someone who was a real expert in what she was talking about. The session was on Literacy and the Global Dimension, and was led by Fran Nantongwe, Outreach Co-ordinator from NEAD, Norwich.

I have blogged about NEAD before, having done some work for them in my time. In fact I wrote a supporting letter for the Paul Hamlyn funded project that Fran is currently working on, while working at the GA.

What was particularly good was that Fran was not a geographer, but was discussing issues which are relevant to all geographers. As Graham Butt has said before in his work on literacy in geography, all geography teachers are also literacy teachers.
Fran provided some really useful suggestions on tackling poor literacy.
She took us through an activity with a geographical focus, on the Sichuan Earthquake of 2010, and provided a range of nice ways to target literacy while keeping the geography angle.

We were then joined by Katy Jones from the Norfolk branch of CPRE, to tell us of an excellent opportunity for Norfolk schools to take part in a photographic competition with the theme of 'Norfolk: a changing landscape'.

I then did a quick update on the work of the GA's National Curriculum Review group, and talked about the use of apps to support fieldwork.
Colleagues then continued to discuss ideas for the coming year, and do some planning. 
I had to leave at this point to collect my son from school, but it was a really useful day, and nice to be involved from a different perspective.

I am grateful to Rob for the organisation, Tom and colleagues at Neatherd for hosting and all colleagues who attended.

So, when is your next network meeting ?
Why not organise one ready to kickstart the new academic year ?

The Forgotten Space

Thanks to Twitter I was reminded of this documentary.
The Forgotten Space explores the world's oceans, and the huge vessels that sail them, driving the process of globalisation.

The Forgotten Space follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains and trucks, listening to workers, engineers, planners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. We visit displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China, whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle. And in Bilbao, we discover the most sophisticated expression of the belief that the maritime economy, and the sea itself, is somehow obsolete.
A range of materials is used: descriptive documentary, interviews, archive stills and footage, clips from old movies. The result is an essayistic, visual documentary about one of the most important processes that affects us today. The Forgotten Space is based on Sekula’s Fish Story, seeking to understand and describe the contemporary maritime world in relation to the complex symbolic legacy of the sea.

The Forgotten Space Trailer from The Forgotten Space on Vimeo.

More on this in a future blog post...

Geography Debrief on the Vital Geography Portal

Repeat posting as the date approaches...

A VITAL Teachshare is scheduled to take place on Tuesday the 17th of July.

Come along and take a look back at the year that has just been. I will be sharing some of the work that I've been doing since September, when I started the current freelance portfolio stage of my geographical career.
It's a chance to share success stories and highlights, and perhaps look ahead to the New academic year, and share plans for the summer.

Remember that you can subscribe to the OU Vital Geography Portal and other subject portals for a low price and get access to a range of materials and opportunities.

Click the link to get more information about the event, and to join it on the day...

Local ale...

Just finished a nice glass of 'The Dry Road': an India Pale Ale which is brewed by the Beeston Brewery.
This is brewed a couple of miles from where I live, and the Brewery's website provides some useful information which would allow this to be used as an example of small scale sustainable industry in rural areas.
Do more villages need industries like this ?
What other small scale industries could add to the economy of rural life ?

Operation Iceberg

I was reading about this project last week. The plan is to follow an iceberg through its journey from calving in Greenland to eventual melting.
I was even more interested about it when I realised that two of my favourite geographers were involved in the education angle of the project: Kenny O' Donnell and Helen Young.
Filming starts shortly in the Arctic and the programmes are scheduled to be broadcast in September.
You can follow Helen Czerski, an oceanographer who is involved in the project on Twitter, along with Chris Packham.

The project comes 100 years after an iceberg caused the demise of the 'Titanic'...

The image above is from my former colleague Chris Dixon who was fortunate enough to visit Antarctica at the end of last year, as part of his 'reward' to himself when he retired....

Image: Chris Dixon - click for biggery...

Mr. Sims: Geography rocks

At an event last week, I met up with Mr. Sims, star of the Geography Rocks songs on YouTube and also on his own Bandcamp website.

Writing music is a great way of encouraging students to explain something in a concise and creative way.

Here's an example on the Demographic Transition Model. You can embed the songs, listen to them, or even part with the small sum of one English pound to download them in various formats.

War on Terror: the app...

The rather wonderful illustrations in the Mission:Explore books and web resources are produced by Tom Morgan-Jones.
Before he joined the Geography Collective as its resident inker, Tom was (and still is) involved with Terror Bull Games, who produced the 'controversial' board game 'War on Terror'.
War on Terror the app is now available to download from the app store...

Here are my (overdue) thoughts...
The app has some groovy music and intro. There's a handy tutorial which takes you through the game play the first time round. This was useful for me, as I'd never played the game myself, although I'd seen it on various folks' shelves.
It's also been a while since I played a strategy game like Risk or Diplomacy.

The music and graphics were pretty cool and I was into the game fairly quickly.
There is an irreverence about the game that makes it very likeable. It's a game that surprises with every turn, and is certainly a step up from Angry Birds.
One to pass the time if you're waiting for a tram in the rain...

Thought for the Day

"Everyone is an explorer. How could you possibly live your life looking at a door and not opening it?" 
Robert Ballard

Fire Season

Currently reading this book. It's really rather good. Had my eye on it for a while when in hardback, but I love the cover of the paperback edition. It's about a year spent as a lookout in New Mexico, working to spot wildfires before they reach a point where they threaten the forests which cloak the many mountain ranges in that area, and neighbouring states.

There has been a changing relationship between the US Forestry Service and these wildfires. For a long time, any fire was seen as something to be tackled at all costs.
There was then a realisation that fire was important for the long-term health of the forest. After all, wildfires started by lightning would have been burning unchecked through the forests for thousands of years before humans were on the scene to put them out. A fire allows the climax vegetation to re-establish itself, plant succession to take place, and new growth to replace the old.

It's also a book about dealing with spending weeks on end alone (although the author does have his dog with him) staring out at endless ranges of hills.

ESRI have produced a map which would be useful for those teaching about wildfires. These are included in some exam specifications.
You can explore a range of data using the layers on the map.

A useful video via the National Geographic Education Team

A lot of people may need this document today...

Available from the Environment Agency website.

(Click the link to start a PDF download)

iPhone apps for Fieldwork

There are almost as many lists of useful apps as there are apps, but I was impressed by this poster of ideas for 20 iPhone apps for FIELDWORK that was shared earlier by Paul Turner. Paul is the editor of the Geographical Times newspaper, and he was also one of the delegates at the Discover the World CPD event that I ran earlier in the week (see recent blogposts)
Nice work !
There were a few apps here that were new to me, so I'll be having a little explore later.....