Google Earth 7

On Monday, up in Aberdeen, I led a number of Google Earth training sessions for teachers from across the NE region. One of the things that I said was that Google Earth regularly update their software and add new features. I suggested signing up to the Google Sightseer Newsletter.

Thanks to Rich Allaway for the first tip-off to the fact that we are now at Google Earth 7.

New features and new imagery....

Look at it this Way: Somerset & beyond...

Updated - 7th November

I'm going to be heading down to Somerset for the Somerset Geography Conference. I'm doing a session on my KS3 Toolkit book on landscapes (with updates) and ideas about teaching about landscapes. This will include mentions of the White Cliffs of Dover, Ash dieback, Brave and other Pixar films, burger boxes, Google Earth and other things....

The conference has been developed with a lot of work from Noel Jenkins, who has put together a great line-up for the conference. Sadly, like the SAGT conference at the weekend (see separate blog post), Iain Stewart was unable to attend as he had been allowed permission to film in Turkmenistan, which apparently is rare, but had to be this week.

Don't forget that this award-winning Toolkit book has a blog to support it - as with many of my books, such as the Badger GCSE book which has its own blog HERE.

If you can't make that event, you now have the option to join me for a virtual Teachshare version of the same event, where I'll run through the event.

It's going to take place on the 6th of November: the day after the Somerset conference, and will be an online event starting at 6pm.

I'll also mention my new children's book 'The Ice Man' - order now for Christmas

The recording is now available to access. Viewing the recording via the link will also allow you to download the presentation that I used....

Thought for the Day

"The degree to which the contemporary world may be said to be 'urban' is not fully or accurately measured by the proportion of the total population living in cities. The influences which cities exert upon the social life of man are greater than the ratio of the urban population would indicate, for the city is not only in ever larger degrees the dwelling-place and workshop of modern man, but it is the initiating and controlling center of economic, political, and cultural life that has drawn the most remote parts of the world into its orbit and woven diverse areas, peoples, and activities into a cosmos."

Louis Wirth in "Urbanism as a Way of Life," 1937


Last chance to vote is today...

If you have a few moments, it would be great if you could vote for us for the Learning outside the Classroom Innovation award.

Click the link above to find out more about the award and the other nominees....
Voting closes at the end of tonight, and the award ceremony is next week.
Thanks so much :)

SAGT 2012 - Arrival and Awards

The first of a number of posts relating to the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers' Conference which I visited for the 7th time last weekend.
It was a long way from home - drove to Peterborough, train to Edinburgh then change at Waverley for Glasgow. Sounds straight forward, and would have been if not for delayed train to Edinburgh, the usual chaos at Waverley, and then a train failure followed by being packed on the slow train to Glasgow.

Arrived later than planned, which meant no sight-seeing, and met up with Ken Lacey from the Ordnance Survey, and popped out into town for food and Arran ale.

The following morning, the train to Crossmyloof followed by a short walk into Hutcheson's Grammar school. After saying hello to a fair few familiar faces, it was time to set up the room for my session.
Before that though, there was the SAGT awards.
There was good news here as two books that I edited for the GA, written by Bob Lang and Paul Cornish picked up an award from SAGT.

Bob Digby (current GA President) and myself with prize certificates - picture by David Rogers

E-book available in 50 countries

The e-Book on Extreme Environments that Richard Allaway and I produced earlier in the year is now available in 50 countries.

If you have an iPad 2 or better you can download it for FREE right now, as hundreds of people before you have already done.

Watch out for the next e-Book in the series in a few months.

Hurricane Sandy

Sandy has been pounding the eastern seaboard of the USA for a while now, and as I blog this it is continuing to approach New Jersey and Atlantic City.
Here's a few websites and resources which you might want to look at.
Remember the timing when teaching hurricanes - you need to teach them between April and October because they don't last into November... oh no, wait hang on...

Also, check the Guardian's page for a useful list of resources.

Kudos to David Drake for creating a Storify, with plenty of stories of the storm.

Google has produced a useful CRISIS map showing a range of information in the form of various layers, and there is a similar map on the Guardian World site.

Thanks to George Dailey for the tipoff to the NOAA image.

Thanks to Richard Treves for the lead to a very useful BBC page showing the comparative scale of the storm.

There's a million tweets and more on Twitter of course, with various hashtags....

Also, there's a useful reminder of the importance of checking that your information is

And finally, there's this list.

It's worth remembering that it has already been through the Caribbean, including a trip near Haiti, which caused devastating flooding to compound earlier problems.

There's plenty more of course, but here's some as a starter...

Norfolk Popcorn Company

Over to an Apple Day event last weekend, and came across Algy's Norfolk Popcorn, which it seems is made from corn grown locally at Bintree near Dereham.
A good example of local farm diversification.
It's certainly tasty stuff...
It also comes from well within the 30 km limit....

This means that it could come into the 30:30 diet suggested by the CPRE.

Review and interview in 'Geographical' magazine

The RGS-IBG's flagship journal 'Geographical' is now in its 84th volume....
The November issue has a touch of Mission Explore about it.
First of all, there's a rather good review of our Mission:Explore Food book, which suggests that 'every classroom should have a copy'.

There is also an excellent interview with Dan Raven Ellison.

Read an extra online bit that's not in the magazine here too for some interesting ideas about new geographies.

Available from all good newsagents...

Google Earth goodness

Over the years, I've worked several times with Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop, founder of Digital Explorer.
He has been involved with a range of projects involving Google Earth.

This week, two new sections are added to the website.

Google Earth Missions

Check out some interesting expedition resources too.

Google Earth Resources are all located on one main page now...

There's also the main Google Earth section on the new Tech channel

I'm running a few events in the next week involving Google Earth and other free GIS-style software, and this is a great reminder of what you can do with the software.

GeoBritain Map

Thanks to John Lyon for the tipoff.
GeoBritain map from the BGS is an interactive map which allows the addition of 'layers' of points which relate to specific geological themes and ideas.
These include geological holiday destinations, landslides and GeoParks

Verite Timeline

Go to the Pandora Books website and you'll see a rather nice timeline of some of the most popular children's books and when they were published...

I used the old INSPECT ELEMENT trick to look at the code that was being used there, and discovered that it was made using a free timeline generator.

The Timeline Verite plugin for WordPress

This is something that might be worth further investigation...

Half a million views...

The blog has now passed half a million views...
Thanks to everyone who's visited, and particularly to those who follow regularly...

Language of Landscape

A reminder of a resource which I wrote while working for the Geographical Association.
It was written in association with Natural England, and was sent out with the Ordnance Survey's Free Maps for Schools (in what turned out to be the final year that paper maps were available)
You can still download the booklet although the link to the cards that went with it seems to have disappeared... I'll see what I can find out...

TES - small piece on the Olympic / Paralympic legacy

A small piece I wrote was featured in the TES on Friday...

Read it online HERE

Watch out for more in the next few weeks...

100th Tour de France

The route of the 100th Tour de France was revealed today...
It is a hilly route, and includes Mont Ventoux.... and Alpe d'Huez....twice....
Also a stage quite close to Geneva... which gives me an idea...
See previous blog posts for the link between the tour and the geography of France...

Chapeau  !!

If Carlsberg did geography departments...

They'd be almost as good as Priory Geography...
Check out their awesome Cookbook...

Garage or drive - the results are in...

I've been working on some materials for EDINA for use with their new OS MapStream product for the last few days.
One of the tasks focuses on the issue of off-road parking, which is a problem in some cities.
There are obviously environmental and aesthetic consequences to this, which change the nature of neighbourhoods where it happens on a large scale.

There is also an issue with some developers building garages to the smallest specification they can, in order to save costs on materials. As some cars are bigger than the average, some cars apparently won't actually fit in garages - or they go in but you can't open the doors...

I asked my Twitter network what they did....
Of 15 people who had a garage, only 1 person parked their car in it (and they live in New Zealand), the others parked it on their drive or the street (with a fairly even split as to where...)

Of 7 people with no garage, they were mostly parked on the street or in communal parking areas as they were flat dwellers, with a few using a drive.
Several people owned more than one car.

Indian Study visit - August 2013

Do you have plans for August 2013 ?

If not, you might consider a visit to INDIA, organised by Ben King and the folks at SANGAM.

Details are HERE.

(August 16th-28th 2013)
Teachers from all phases of education are invited to visit Southern India to:
 Increase their first-hand experience of a different country and culture, including visits to a variety of different schools
 Experience a wide range of environments, including the rapidly developing city of Bangalore and the surrounding rural landscape
 Enrich many curriculum subjects, particularly Geography, History, Art, RE, Music & Food Technology
 Strengthen the global dimension within their schools and gather resources to enrich teaching and learning.

What will this visit offer?
Our main objective is to enable a group of no more than 10 teachers to learn at first-hand about this  very different and rapidly developing country, with its range of cultural practices.  Unique professional development opportunities and a wide choice of activities will immerse participants in the local environment as they gather relevant learning and resources to enhance teaching and learning for years to come.
What would we do, exactly?
That depends on the group’s objectives.  The visits are carefully structured to suit the curriculum needs and particular interests of the group members; for example, some may choose to gather material for a case study of an Indian village, the rapidly changing city of Bangalore, or the environmental issue of water.  There will be opportunities to discover Indian music, art, dance, cookery and story.  We could visit temples to understand more about Hinduism and Indian village rituals.  We could visit a wide range of schools, local markets, farms, temples, and the ancient city of Mysore, plus study local wildlife; and most people choose to shop for artefacts and resources for their school.  Photographic opportunities abound in this region of India.
Where, in Southern India?
We will stay at “Sangam”, a small residential education centre on the edge of the village of Silvepura, 25 km north of Bangalore.
Find 13 06 55.00N, 77 30 09.75E in Google Earth/Maps.
Food and water is locally sourced and prepared on site.
Who will lead this visit?
The group leader will be Ben King, Head of Year 7, Head of Learning to Learn and Teacher of Geography at a school in Torbay, Devon.  He visited Sangam in February 2007 with 9 other teachers.  In India the visit will be hosted and led by Imogen and Kiran Sahi, both teachers, who live and work at Sangam.  Alongside founding and running Sangam, Imogen is an Education training consultant for the British Council, and Kiran is consultant design faculty at a local Institute of Art.
How much will it cost?
£600 will cover all costs in India (accommodation, food, study packs, travel, and admin.)  The airfare is currently around £550-£600.  You will also need a visa (£39), some vaccinations, and travel insurance.
What to do if you are interested.
 Please visit Look at “Next teacher study visits 2013” and read more.  See in particular the “further information” about this particular visit, and also read about previous visits.
 Download the document, “How to join the visit” which gives details of timings.
 Download an application form, and post to Ben King by Friday February 15th 2013 at the latest.
Applications will be reviewed as per received, and appropriate applications will be given places on a first-come basis.
 Attend the essential preparation session, where you will share objectives, and hear full information and advice about travel, health and cultural issues.

Group leader: Ben King, Head of Year 7, Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Brixham, Devon  TQ5 0LN. E-mail:


The new Michael Palin series starts tomorrow (Wednesday 24th October). He is exploring BRAZIL, a country he hasn't previously visited, and one which is about to come under the spotlight of the world's attention as we move towards the World Cup and the Olympics.
It's a country I taught for a good many years, mainly as it featured in the textbook series that were prevalent in the late 1980s and followed by the Brazil 2000 series and also several videos on the Amazon rainforest. This was not perhaps the best teaching ever I'd be the first to admit. It omitted much that is interesting about the country, although given the scale of it it's hardly surprising.

Palin has 4 programmes, which have been organised by region, starting with the NE where the country first began to take its modern form with the arrival of the European settlers - not the best news for the indigenous peoples it could be argued, or for the millions of African slaves who were transported there to transform the area.

There is plenty of scope for extending the experience beyond watching the show.

This article explores the possible gentrification of the favelas by arrivals from Portugal.

The Guardian at the weekend had a travel feature.
The article features a rough itinerary of some of the places that Palin visited, and also has some details on how to visit them. This could become the basis for a Google Earth tour of locations which ties in with environmental change, or the rapid rate of change in the country's economy.

Image courtesy of the CC licensed image gallery kindly shared here

In what ways are you planning to use Palin's new series in the classroom ?

Got a ticket in the post this morning for Michael's December lecture at the RGS-IBG - which is nice :)

Tweeting Teachers Tube Map

A rather splendid image created by Pete Jones: @Pekabelo on Twitter
Go HERE for the Dropbox link to download a large copy - apparently I'm on the final version somewhere :)


The internet is great for stuff like this...

On the day that the Ceefax service is confined to history, it becomes a web client for showing your tweets: on page 140 of course...
Readers of a certain age will have no idea what I'm talking about... but I remember Blue Suede Views and waiting for an age for the numbers to count back round again...
Nice work by Jonathan Cresswell.

Hirsch on Radio 4

Between 2008 and 2011, my day job was linked to curriculum development.

If you've been following the GA's curriculum consultation, you'll know that you've got until the end of the week to take part and give your thoughts on the curriculum.

I strongly suggest that you read the GA's ideas about knowledge, and the format that we have put together on the National Curriculum Review group to begin to think about the nature of the geography curriculum that may emerge in 2013, and be taught from 2014.

Whatever your school's circumstances, there will still be a need to decide on what is to be taught...

Michael Gove is interested in core knowledge, and this has a connection with cultural literacy.

This RADIO 4 programme looks at the work of E.D Hirsch, and the influence on the people who are currently running the Department for Education.
E.D. (Eric Donald) Hirsch is someone that I came across some years ago now when working at the Geographical Association, when we were putting together the GA's manifesto 'a different view' and also the various consultations that we have been involved with.

Hirsch says that we all need cultural literacy in order to operate effectively as citizens
This is 'the shared intellectual currency of a society'...
Schools need to deliver these facts in a highly organised, structured way.
What are the 'right' facts ? Who decides what they are ?

Hirsch created a compendium of knowledge, and lists of knowledge for particular grades within the school system. He argues for a  content-led curriculum, and a quite prescriptive approach to introducing the main contexts for learning. Without this knowledge, are some students 'excluded from conversations' because they have no basis for their participation - which could be a factor of their home background ?
Fran Abrams talks to Nick Gibb who has lots of Hirsch's books in his office 'full of post it notes', and criticises the History KS3 curriculum because of the emphasis on skills.
He mentions a few examples of observations from the classroom, but forgets something...

The plural of 'anecdote' is not data.
One issue with this, as I have blogged about previously, is the nature of knowledge, and the way that changes. You also have the ubiquitous nature of 'answers' but the need for good 'questions' - which means there needs to be geographical enquiry.

The programme looks at the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. Nick Gibb is similarly scathing of this, and the way that the teaching is supposed to be organised so that teachers are imparting the knowledge in more creative ways.

I shall be up at the SAGT conference yet again at the weekend, and will be supporting teachers with the possible use of GIS and mapping for National 4 and 5 qualifications.

Several things that are mentioned by Sir Michael Barber are particularly important from my point of view: school management and the support of parents are vital, and are outside of the control of classroom teachers to a large extent...

I am grateful to Simon Renshaw, co-chair of the GA's Secondary Committee for tipping me off about the programme. Some of the other programmes in the series look similarly useful...


I'm a big fan of Colin Meloy: songwriter of the 'Decemberists'. Now it seems he's moved into children's books and while in Heffers on Saturday for a Mission:Explore Food promotional event I saw his first book: 'Wildwood' - illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis. So had to buy it, and started it last night - a young boy being carried off by crows into the Impenetrable Wilderness... liking it so far...
And of course there are several great maps in it, which always a bonus....

Geography Camp - just over a month to go...

It's just over a month to the Geography Camp.
We've got over 20 people now booked for the event, and don't worry, we won't be camping in tents.... although it will be an 'intense' weekend... We're stopping in Gradbach, Derbyshire.
We have space for some more people still.
There's a packed programme of events.
For all the details of the event, go HERE.

I'm going to be doing a session on the curriculum...

If you're interested in the influences that shaped the government's thinking on the curriculum, check out this BBC Radio 4 programme on Listen Again...

Build your own geo-cube

Ben Hennig has created yet another really nice map resource.
This is a template for a cube which is based on one of Ben's population cartograms. 
Print it out and assemble it...

Don't be square... make your own cube now !

Image: Ben Hennig - shared under CC license - see Ben's post for more details on usage....


Thanks to Claire Rafferty for the link....

TEXTER is a nice text experiment.

It offers the chance to paint with words...
So, for example, here's a section of a poem called 'Where go the Boats ?' by Robert Louis Stevenson
You can also change the word and colour and other parameters several times on the same drawing.

Would allow you to paint a landscape in words.... Green 'Field', blue 'Sky' etc....
I could see a creative project here for a geography homework...

Good timing for my session at the Somerset Geography Conference on the 5th of November.
Further details HERE.

Cuillin Ridge - a request...

The Cuillin Ridge on the isle of Skye

Please watch the Flickr slideshow below and lob me 5-10 words to describe the landscape that you're seeing and how it makes you feel, or what it makes you think of...
Add them in the comments or tweet them to me with the tag #cuillingeo 

I have lots of memories of this area from my youth, when I used to do a lot more climbing and hill-walking.
Here's a picture taken by my friend Simon H, who now lives in Wellington, New Zealand, of me along with Mark and sherpa Caz climbing Sgurr Dearg on the way to conquering the Inaccessible Pinnacle in (or around) 1991. It looks like I'm unfit and exhausted, but actually I'm just admiring the gabbro...

Outstanding in your field(work) - again...

In a recent Teachshare for my VITAL CPD work I chatted about fieldwork.

Prior to the event, I asked people for their memories of school fieldtrips and the events that happened as well as the places they visited.
Fieldtrips are often one of the most memorable aspects of time spent studing geography, and there was a range of replies in my Twitter feed.
You can watch a replay of the Teachshare by following the link here - you'll be prompted to download a copy of my presentation.

First of all thanks to the people who took the time to tweet their fieldwork memories. In no particular order (as they say) they were:

Sue Hall
Rob Morris
Andy Black
The Long Eaton School Geography Department
Tony Cassidy
Jenny Mansell
Anne Greaves
Digimap for Schools
Angus Willson
Dan Friess
Indra Persaud
Ian Addison
Jane Kilpatrick
Andy Day
David Marshall
Sue Hall
Lucy Wickins
Paul Berry
Ben Featherstone

And where did these fine folks go ?
Here are the destinations that were mentioned (geographers get around)

Mt. Vesuvius
Loch Morlich
Ainsdale Dunes
Yorkshire Dales
Brecon Beacons
Dulnain Bridge
Spurn Head - several mentions of this place
South Devon
Flamborough Head
North Norfolk coast
County Down
Country Antrim
Garron Point
Hong Kong
The Gower
Arran: Lochranza
Cadair Idris
Holme Moss
Lake District
Old Harry Rocks
Sayer’s Croft

And finally, the activities that people got up to:

Digging through soil
Dropping oranges into rivers
Stranded on Spurn Head as the tide came in...
Relaxing on the beach in 70s style...
Karst scenery
Roche moutonnees
Minibus breaking down
Bid rent theory
Seeing the place full of Geography students
Getting a sore neck from counting the floors of skyscrapers in Hong Kong
Being left alone by teachers 
Vodka hangovers
Climbing Vesuvius
Enforced ten mile walks
Exploring kettle holes
Falling into streams
Fieldwork in the snow
Encountering teachers in pubs
Temperature measurements in a Mini in sub-zero temperatures
Studying peat moorland erosion
Laying a toilet roll trail to the nearest pub
Field sketches foiling amorous couples
Chucking pebbles in the sea
Seeing a gold eagle
Getting stuck up a cliff
Working in the sand dunes but not being allowed on the beach
Catching spiders and mucking about in rivers
Measuring limpet concentrations
Getting sunburnt
Beach transects against the tide

Thanks to all who replied, and apologies to anyone whose tweet went by the wayside somewhere....

And finally, the previous Teachshare, I talked to Paul Cornish about his visit to Madagascar.
This is some awesome fieldtrip video...

Thought for the Day

Knowledge without action is just storage

from the #BDO Twitter stream...

Operation Iceberg

Don't forget...

Food: an Atlas

Kickstarter is a website which allows people to back projects / crowdsource the funding for a project. We funded our Mission:Explore Food book in this way.

I've funded this project.

The atlas is due to have a section produced by the Geography Collective.

There are 4 days to go to the deadline and the team are very close to securing the funding, which is great news.

I like this....

Via Twitter - can't remember who gave me the link to this now...

Village Life

This is the label of a beer brewed at the local Beeston Brewery, which is a few miles from where I live... It's rather nice.
If you look at the label on the bottle, what aspects of village life do you think might be missing ?

What would be on a geographically accurate 'village life' label ?

Atlas by Collins - now in the App store...

The Atlas by Collins is now available for download at a promotional price of £6.99
The app needs an iPhone 4 or above, and an iPad 2 or above (sadly my first generation iPad was unable to run the app)

This is a 'proper' app, by which I mean a lot of time and effort has gone into making it look and feel right on the devices it is designed for, as well as potentially replace a paper-based product. Collins are famous for producing the 'Times Atlas of the World' which is perhaps the definitive atlas, and so any new product has to retain that pedigree.
It's also a proper app in term of its size. You'll need over 600 Mb of space as well as processing power.

The app is designed to be used offline for maximum flexibility, but also has an option to go online and fetch further Google imagery if the user zooms-in past the maximum scale that the app already has pre-loaded. This makes it a useful resource to have on a library iPad for example, or as a suite/folder of apps for the Geography classroom.
A compass icon is used to identify specific locations - tapping information when this is located over a particular place brings up a range of detail for about 200 000 locations, which goes beyond what would be possible in a paper based product.

The seven thematic globes, which include Physical, Political and Satellite, will be added to in the future. Each globe has a range of layers which can be laid over the globe to visualise a data set e.g. population density or the location of a particular biome. Users can swipe between globes and layers to cross-reference data, or choose to display places according to particular indicators. This would enable enquiry tasks to be set up, although at present only one layer can be added at a time.

One major advantage is that amendments to the atlas - the world isn't a static place of course - can be added to future updates of the app. This is obviously something that would not be possible in a paper atlas, which can quickly go out of date. Geography matters.... Boundaries change.... New countries are created.

Display mirroring, or use of the Reflection app (which I have blogged about previously) would enable the atlas to be displayed, and to be used via an IWB or data projector. I actually found that the atlas was perhaps easier to use on the iPhone than on the iPad, although this is obviously a matter of personal preference. The globes certainly look impressive, floating in space and look as if they are sitting there waiting to be manipulated and used. They invite further exploration.
The navigation is intuitive and crisp, and a brief tutorial with labelled screenshots is available for first time users.

Check out this rather nice video which introduces the app...

The app is set to grow with further globes and functionality over time, so this is a resource with longevity built in. Further layers, perhaps with added granularity would be worthwhile, as would the ability to view more than one layer at a time and swipe between them.

There is also a range of supporting material on the website.

A range of How To videos shows the operation of the major features of the app. Some materials for education with ideas to support its introduction into the classroom would be useful perhaps. The app is designed for a range of users, but offers the potential to provide young learners with an atlas that they will enjoy exploring.

Disclaimer: as mentioned in a previous post, I have had a free evaluation copy of this app for the last month...

Jerry's Map revisited...

You may remember a post I wrote just over a year ago about the amazing map produced by Jerry Gretzinger.

He has been working on the map for decades, using a system which sets him daily challenges from a specially designed deck of cards..
I even own my very own piece of Jerry's map

I got in touch with Jerry and he very kindly answered a few questions for a feature that we put in an issue of the GA magazine.

The map is currently on display as part of an exhibition at the Massachusetts MOCA.... Looks fairly awesome...

Read more here.

Having a flutter...

Just installed this on my MacBook...
Now I can control my Spotify with gestures... palm up to pause and play, and thumbs left and right to move forward or backwards through a playlist..
Coming soon are more gestures, and the chance to control more software and apps...
Free to download from the Mac App store...

Who is your friend ?

A nice bit of Facebook 'friends' mapping...
Which countries are the most 'friendly' with others ?
Choose a country to see where the connections are made...
Can you guess who Brazil, Australia or the USA's 'friends' are before you click on them, for example ??

Thanks to Karl Donert for the tipoff...

What colour is a glacier ?

What color is a glacier? from Allen Pope on Vimeo.

Via @spatialanalysis and @PopePolar

Alan Kinder on Twitter

Good to see that Alan Kinder is now on Twitter, tweeting about his work at the GA...

How to be outstanding in your field(work)

Thanks to the colleagues who joined me for last night's VITAL CPD Teachshare on fieldwork in Geography
The spine presentation I used is here...

There were some interesting discussions, and a few things to follow up on after the event, particularly an idea about teachers undertaking personal fieldwork in order to be able to communicate more effectively about places they are teaching about....

You can also watch and listen to the replay here. For some reason my presentation didn't display during the Teachshare itself...

A few things that I mentioned during the session:

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning project

Previous Teachshare with Paul Cornish and his Madagascar fieldtrip (link to PREZI)

We also mentioned the Coach's Eye and Comic Life apps for fieldwork.

Worth reminding you of Paul Turner's nice poster image too for more fieldwork apps....

Micromort, not Voldemort's cousin...

Researching RISK and came across the micromort...

A micromort is a one in a million chance....

What are the chances of that ?

Take Molly's Quiz and feed a child..

For World Food Day

Watch this video and take the quiz - 3 simple questions to answer...
You can feed a child...

It's worth perhaps doing a quick 5-10 minute starter today...
Ask students to follow up three leads from the #worldfoodday feed on Twitter, and then 'feed'back to the class...

Hugh F-W on Food - for World Food Day

Food narratives....
Don't forget that it's WORLD FOOD DAY on the 16th of October 2012 (today, if you're reading this on the day it was posted...)

You can get free CC licensed versions of chapters from Mission:Explore Food here...

Hugh has done a lot to promote sustainable fishing with his FISH FIGHT website - don't forget the resource I produced with Digital Explorer on this topic. You need to download this booklet if you haven't already...

Other food resources I've written are on the GA website under Online CPD.

There are also plenty of food related resources and stories out there...
The Guardian talks about the growing number of children who arrive in school hungry, and there is also growing use of FOOD BANKS.
The Trussell Trust (who feature in the GA have reported that over 100 000 people have used them in the last six months).
The Guardian Datablog has data on the use of Food Banks
Check out CSI Food too on food fakery...

Finally, make sure that you have your copy of MISSION:EXPLORE FOOD - you can get it from Guardian Books, Eye Books or MA

The Great Storm of 1987 - 25 years on...

Twenty five years ago today, people across the south of England were waking up to scenes of devastation, assuming they had managed to get any sleep.
The great storm of 1987 cut across the southern counties of the UK.
I've already posted about Michael Fish's (in)famous forecast, which even featured in the Opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

The Guardian has an interactive map. This shows the storm track and some key facts about the event.

There is an interesting discussion to be had about whether this was, in the longer term, a benefit in terms of tree health and conservation by changing the methods of management.
It's similar to the arguments in 'Fire Season', which I read over the summer, which describes the change in attitude towards fighting forest fires.
Locally, in Norfolk, there was damage to places like Blickling Hall gardens, where several hundred trees were toppled. They were replanted with 365 trees...

Kent Online has a special feature. Kent was particularly badly hit by the storm.
An interactive graphic shows images of some of the damage.

At the time, I was living in Rotherham, and wasn't affected by the storm....


At the Geography Collective we like badges....

Badges are at the heart of our DISCOVER EXPLORE site for example. Illustrations as always by the wonderful Tom Morgan-Jones - here are two of the badges that you can earn if you visit the site, and the Great Glen of Scotland.

This week, I heard about Class Badges.
Badges for education are not completely new, and I know that Mozilla have been developing something along those lines called Open Badges.
There have been a number of events around these developments, which I haven't been able to attend unfortunately.

I registered for the site and will have a play...
Here's a video which explains how the badges work...

Well done to Ben Hennig

Regular readers of the blog will know that I regularly feature the work of Ben Hennig, a researcher at the University of Sheffield who has produced a great many of the maps that have been associated with Worldmapper and the recent work of Danny Dorling.
These cartograms are amazing visualisations of complex data sets, and also rather beautiful.
I heard today via Twitter (naturally) that Ben is due to receive a prestigious award in Berlin next month for the quality of his contribution to geographical understanding. It also comes with a nice wodge of cash, which is nice.
Here's the press release for more information...

Via Tony Cassidy...

This looks fun... I might give it a go.
In the 'Metro' today.

25 years ago today...

Michael Fish did his (in)famous weather forecast....

Here's an update...

Pending zero....

Phew... just had a bit of a catch-up and cleared all the pending blog posts that were in draft. Apologies for the furry of posts over the last 24 hours...
I've now cleared the decks and ready for the next month which involves the usual range of events, travelling, teacher support, VITAL Teachshares, conferences, book launches, Geography Collective madness and lonely days on my landing staring at too many screens...
That's Living Geography...
Thanks for reading.

Salzburg digitalearth course - 5 of 5

The final of five posts on the digitalearth course I led in Salzburg in September 2012
After 5 days in Salzburg, it was an early start on the final morning to get a taxi to the airport in the rain to catch a surprisingly busy flight to Dusseldorf and start the journey home...

My Flickr slideshow of the event is here.

My thanks to all involved in the organisation, particularly Karl and Michaela, and to those colleagues who came along for the course.

A reminder that you could join me on the next one of these courses by going here, and filling in the forms.
You could be in Salzburg with me next February.....

Salzburg digitalearth course - 4 of 5

Day 3
Day 3 was a day spent out in the field and enjoying being in the beautiful city of Salzburg and the surrounding area. We were also trying to find some images for the photo competition that I had set up, with 5 categories for images, as well as a chance to try out some MISSION EXPLORE approaches.
We had a Salzburg card, which gave us unlimited access to a range of activities and destinations.
After an early breakfast, we caught the bus out to the end of the line at the base of the Untersberg and it was straight onto a cable car to the summit.
We thought we might miss the cable car, but the bus driver put his foot down and we lurched into the car park and ran into the gondola...

This peak can be seen from the city, and we'd been looking at it all week, so it was good to head up there at a good rate of knots. Some good swinging as we passed the support towers as well.
This meant that we had the peak to ourselves for about half an hour before the 2nd cable car of the day came up. In summer this area is apparently heaving, and I could believe it. There were views in all directions, including down into Berchtesgarden, where Hitler had a summer residence. And of course, amazing views past the moraines and glacial uplands and down across the outwash plain where Salzburg sits.

Image: Alan Parkinson - a little processing with Snapseed...

We went up to the summit and had a wander, and also a hot chocolate in summit cafe, before catching a cable car back down to the base station.
Check my FLICKR set for more pictures from the summit.

We caught the bus back into the centre, and I chatted to Karl Donert about further opportunities within the EU for training.  By now we were fairly hungry and it was up to the Stadt Alm where we had a good view of the city for lunch. After lunch, we had free time to explore and work up some ideas for the following two days. I made good use of the card, and went to the citadel, Mozart's house, modern art museum and numerous other places, as well as doing some souvenir shopping. I've now spent about 10 days in Salzburg and feel like I know the central area of the city and the old town and surrounding streets really well... It's a nice place to be.

That evening, after some food and a final wander, I packed ready for an early start the following morning. I went down to the bar and discovered a few of the Portuguese delegates were having a crafty Stiegl (the local beer) so joined them and chatted about numerous topics. This is one of the other great benefits of EU / Comenius events such as this - the chance to talk to practitioners from different countries and education systems, not just other schools or key stages.

Also had a chance for a beer with Luc from Belgium, who had just flown in to take over from me for the next two days....

WorldStat and statistical literacy

WORLDSTAT is a website which allows users to explore a range of statistical information.

Its subtitle is 'statistics for a fact based education' and it is aimed at offering users with up-to-date statistics to allow them to make sense of the world.

Many of the tables and graphs raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals in order for teachers and students to understand and monitor the progress towards a world free of poverty.
The impressive online database from the World Bank is a huge step forward in sharing development statistics worldwide. However, the site is so extensive that students and teachers might "get lost" in the maze of figures and facts.
This site focuses on themes we know are discussed in classrooms all over the world and provides easily accessible and pedagogically elaborated tables and graphs with relevant questions.
Development statistics becomes increasingly relevant during the latter years of second level education and our primary target therefore is aimed at second level students. Other levels are not excluded however, as all of us, young and old, should be concerned about "the state of the world" today, yesterday and tomorrow.
Under "Facts for Children" you can find data for younger students from around ten years of age and upwards.
The site provides tables, graphs and maps which illustrate the large global and regional disparities in standards of living and follow current trends and developments; some countries and regions are developing very fast and are closing historical gaps while others are growing more slowly and therefore fall behind. Disparities however, exist on local, national, regional and global levels.
The tables and figures are sometimes self-explanatory, but you must provide the analysis, conclusions and the sufficient critical thinking to explore the material fully. The world is changing rapidly and updated statistics might challenge our world views.
Statistical literacy is an important element of learning about how the world is represented.

Numbers can be interpreted in different ways, to suit us. In geography, they can also be used to provide misleading views about countries and their development, for example.

A BBC Magazine series of posts on statistical stories was referred to a while back. This looked at the way that we explore numbers. There's also the MORE OR LESS page.

An EU-funded project which I am going to be involved in started on the 1st of October, in association with the Geographical Association, for whom I will be 'working'. It will develop the WORLDSTAT resources and produce a range of additional classroom-based resources. We have a preliminary meeting at the University of Ghent soon to plan the project and work out the various.
More to come on LivingGeography as the project develops over the next few years...

Robot Flaneur

A flaneur is a wanderer: the term is linked to the idea of psychogeography....
The ROBOT FLANEUR wanders randomly through a city of your choice and displays Street View images...
Made by James Bridle
Explore the following cities:
San Francisco
Sao Paulo
Tokyo City

Via Urban Photo Blog on Twitter

I can think of lots of ways of using this to explore urban geography and comparisons between cities in different parts of the world...
A sort of slighty redacted and randomised version of MAPCRUNCH, my session starter of choice...

Salzburg digitalearth course - 3 of 5

Day 2
After the success of the first day it was good to be back in the ICT room, which was working nicely now. The WiFi was also working smoothly, which is always a bonus.
The weather was lovely once again: sunny and it was a delight to walk across the floodplain with the fortress perched on the hill, and into the University campus. This is based on a huge greenhouse, and there are plenty of wonderful views in all directions...

After setting up, I was able to catch the second half of a presentation on geo-media from Josef Strobl.
Josef is the head of the GIS centre there, which is a European centre of excellence in this area.

He has done more than most to publicise the importance of GIS and geo-media, and was particular interested in the importance of locational data that is produced by our device use.
It was an honour to meet Josef and hear what he had to say. Plenty of ideas generated for everyone in the room.
After Josef's session, it was coffee and some halva that had been brought by Karl.
Then we had some overdue presentations from the course delegates. This was due to have been done the previous day, but the technology hadn't been working as we'd wanted it, so now we heard from the other people on the course. This is always a useful time, as we hear some ideas from other countries and practitioners.

We heard about some fascinating stories of schools in rural Finland, and by the sea in the Algarve. There was plenty of work going on outdoors too, with geocaches and GPS.
One of the resources that I enjoyed hearing about was Hanna's use of a Finnish site called Liikkeelle.
This had an activity where students tracked their movements through the day, and produced a presentation on how they moved between different places and how they felt there.
Although the template was in Finnish, it was obvious how the activity worked, and I went to the site, and downloaded the template and adapted it to English. The instructions are on a Finnish PDF, which I will try to translate for a later post. We also heard again about the Finnish portal Paikkaoppi.

I talked about the importance of the gradual accumulation of minimal gains, something I'd picked up from Dave Brailsford of Team Sky. Each of these small ideas could potentially contribute to an improvement in the way that we worked.

We broke for lunch, and I had some food from the University canteen, which was still busy despite it not being term time.
I then talked about Geographical Enquiry and gave colleagues time to explore some of the sites that I had guided them too. In the afternoon, the temperatures were rising fast, and we did some further exploration, as well as having coffee on the roof...
Here's the view in a Dermandar panorama...

Click for biggery

Then it was into the centre of the city. We had a bit of a tour into some of the places that I had visited the previous days when I had arrived early: the Mirabell Gardens and beyond...
We also crossed the padlock bridge, which has plenty of 'love padlocks' on it... another idea that has spread around the world.

We then went for a meal at the Sternbrau which is one of the oldest restaurants in the city. There are some remarkable wooden panels and ancient pictures, and had rather good beer and Simo had a rather large pork knuckle, which turned into one of those 'you had to be there' moments...

Does this all sound rather good to you ?
Remember that you have a chance to join me for the 2nd running of this course.
It's in February 2013. Details HERE.

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase - 5 of 5

The EFL team have provided their own summary, complete with link to image galleries...

Other delegates have also been posting their images and other ideas from the weekend.
Thanks to Chris Thomson for a good set of images which shows the range of activities. See the earlier link to go through to Chris' FLICKR set.
I've already linked to David Rogers' blog post.

Check the DISSEMINATION page for more from the project...

I made a few possible connections during the event for further work into 2013 in this field(work) so it was worth the long journey over from Norfolk....

Finally, thanks to the EFL team of Derek, Julian, Brian, Katharine and Alice. I hope the rest of the project goes well and look forward to further outcomes from the project.

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase - 4 of 5 - Field Safari and Virtual Alps

One of the good things about attending the EFL Showcase event was the chance to share ideas for apps and other technologies.
Here's me showing colleagues from various universities some apps, including Freeze Paint and Dermandar...

Thanks to Chris Thomson for the image

There were a few things that I explored on Day 2 which came from work in universities.
The first was a series of smartphone related guides for fieldwork produced by Richard Stafford and colleagues.
These were written in HTML5

The second was a resource on the Alps which was a VIRTUAL ALPS.
This had been developed by Tim Stott and Kate Litherland from Liverpool John Moores University.
I've previously used some Swiss based resources for glaciation which made use of some similar materials.
The VIRTUAL ALPS resource is here.

One project for students could be for them to try to produce something similar for a different type of landscape.

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase - 3 of 5

Day 2 of the event started with breakfast, which was rather nice... The catering at FSC centres is always good, with home made food and friendly staff. Then it was over to the main room, where we were based for most of the day.
First up was a session on
This introduced a free video editing app called SPLICE. It works well on my iPhone....

I was up second, and talked about Mission Explore. My presentation is here for those who may not have seen it. Colleagues had some time during the day to have a go at some Missions specially written for Preston Montford.

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning - Mission Explore from GeoBlogs

During the session, David Rogers arrived, who was presenting about some of the work that he has been doing in his school. He's also a member of the collective.

Don't forget to vote for us for a Learning outside the Classroom award.

We then had some sessions on smart phones and virtual fieldtrips (see the next post)

David Rogers talked about some of the work he had been doing at Priory School.
The presentation that he used is shared here: along with his thoughts on the event....

We had time to create our digital stories, explore other technology such as hypsometers and further thoughts from Brian Whalley.
A really useful day.

Fieldwork Teachshare

Is there an app for that ?

Join me on the 16th of October for a VITAL CPD Teachshare on the theme of FIELDWORK.

"How to be Outstanding in your Field"....

We'll talk memorable trips, technology and apps, good locations for different types of work and other topics...

A reminder that you can subscribe to the portals for as little as £10...

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase - 2 of 5 - Day 1

Day 1 of the event started with lunch, then it was into a series of sessions relating to the use of technology in fieldwork (naturally) I only knew a few colleagues who were present, but that wasn't a problem as we had an ice-breaker where I met the people sat on my table. I had worked with Brian Whalley from Sheffield University the previous weekend, and exchanged e-mails with several other folks.
We had a session related to iPads and various uses outside the classroom.

There was a carousel where we explored 5 particular uses of iPads...

a) measuring tree height and other measurements, using hypsometers
b) identifying aquatic creatures, or other things in nature, using keys
c) using Fotobabble and Flickr to manipulate and geotag images
d) getting real time hydrograph data in the field - next to the River Severn
e) using data-loggers of various kinds

We then had some free time to explore the grounds, and pop to the bar.
In the evening, after a nice meal it was over to the bar for a few glasses of red, and an excellent post-prandial talk by Richard Spalding from UWE. He talked about some of the changing pedagogy that he had seen through his career, and personal experiences of fieldwork through that time, including a suggestion that the vehicle of choice for geography fieldwork should be the bicycle...

Don't forget my FLICKR photos from the event are in this set.
Thanks to Chris Thomson of JISC, who did a DIGITAL STORYTELLING session for this image of me checking out an iPhone app....
More to come in the next post....

National 5 Geography - new Twitter feed

Up to Scotland in two weeks time for the SAGT Conference. I'm doing a session using Digimap for Schools.
The context is the Disney Pixar film BRAVE.
The following monday I'm doing some INSET for teachers in Aberdeen.
This is on free GIS and related matters.
The context is the arrival of a new qualification for Scottish teachers, administered by SQA. It's the NATIONAL 5 GEOGRAPHY qualification, which is an examination course.

I've gone through all the resources which have so far been produced, and started a new TWITTER feed that I'll keep up during the next year, to support Scottish colleagues preparing to teach the new course. I believe some schools are already underway with it, and will keep an eye out for what has been produced.

The feed so far has links to all the supporting materials, and a few things that I have produced and put on Slideshare. I have also started three twitter LISTS to link to related accounts based on the information that SQA have provided about supportive sources of additional information for teachers planning resources.
There will also be some further materials added as I become aware of them...
Please sign up if you're going to be teaching this course, and let other colleagues know about it whether you're teaching the course or not...


Thanks to Philip Anderson for the link to this short ad by Water Aid...
Is diarrhoea funny ?

In the TES

I've written a few things for the Times Educational Supplement.
One of them was published today, on the theme of Geographies of Food. It came with a nice punning title too, which is always a bonus.
The article can be read HERE if you don't have the paper...
There are links to GA Online CPD, Mission Explore Food chapters and Oxfam's GROW campaign.

There's also a link here, with thanks to Madeleine from the RGS-IBG to the Presidential Address by Michael Palin that I referred to in the piece.
Click the link for a PDF download of the speech.

Gone with the Wind

Wind farms remain controversial. Locally in Norfolk, there are some issues with their siting, and in the past people have even taken their own life over plans to place them on farmland. Many views out to sea from places like Hunstanton and Sheringham now have added wind farms in them...

Met Office Wind Review for 2011 is available, which provides some very useful background on the nature of wind resources in the UK, and the way that they are being exploited.

Location of wind farms is one of the ways that teachers can make use of GIS software to explore a geographical theme.

What are your students' views on wind energy ?

Image: Alan Parkinson

GTE Conference 2013

The Geography Teacher Educators' Conference is an annual event. I've been to three of the last four events, and have always come away with something useful, as well as a chance to meet with those people who are running the PGCE and other training courses for young teachers. There are sessions on research in education as well as new thinking in teacher education.

The booking form is now on the GA website for the 2013 conference.
The event is taking place in Hull, on the 25th - 27th of January 2013

I'll be there for some or all of the event. Maybe see some of you there...

Madingley Hall, venue for the 2010 conference - image by Alan Parkinson