VITAL Apps Teachshare

Last night I hosted a VITAL CPD Teachshare on 'Apps'

Thanks to the colleagues who came along to the session, and in particular to John Sayers who shared some of the many apps that he makes use of in the classroom.

Here's a basic version of the presentation that I used - Slideshare seems to have added a few extra 7pms...

A replay of the session can be seen HERE. The session lasted for around an hour.


VITAL Teachshares are part of the VITAL CPD Portals.

John will be adding some details on the apps that he mentioned to his blog. The link is in the presentation.

The next Teachshare will be on December 18th and features Jamie Buchanan Dunlop.

Ocean Acidification

A useful GOOGLE EARTH TOUR which explores the issue of ocean acidification, something which I have been involved with writing about for the Digital Explorer website (see other recent posts)

It was created and shared at a recent conference.

Shipping News

I enjoyed reading this post from the SOME LANDSCAPES blog, which is on my blog reading list...

It mentions the descriptions of the landscape used in E Annie Proulx's classic 'The Shipping News'.

If nothing else, it stirred me from my seat to find it on my bookshelves, and consider re-reading it. I read it when it first came out, which I now see was nearly 10 years ago !

Supersized Earth

This programme was proving quite a popular one with folks on Twitter...
I was out when I was on, but have caught up on iPlayer...

The first issue was about buildings, and had a related theme of urban change. I learnt that Lincoln Cathedral used to be the tallest building on the planet. There was also an excellent scene with the Burj Khalifa. Eye-popping....

Tonight is about more large structures, including Chinese bridges, and the theme of movement....

Details here
I shall be watching...

Here's the presenter Dallas Campbell talking about the series.

Digimap for Schools twilight courses

There is a series of twilight training sessions being run by colleagues from the Ordnance Survey to introduce teachers to the Digimap for Schools web mapping service.

Darren Bailey and Ken Lacey from Ordnance Survey have hit the road with a series of free geography teacher training events for schools around the country. Terrible weather did not prevent almost everyone reaching the first two venues in Worcester and Ross on Wye where teachers enjoyed the chance of hands-on time with Digimaps for Schools.
“Digimap looks amazing“
“Great for Key Stage 2”
“Lovely to have resources and instructions to take home”
Each two hour sessions is run by Darren or Ken and most start at 4pm. Training is hosted by a lead school who invite primary and secondary geography teachers from around the area to come along. Some courses are completely full, but if you are a geography teacher in the following areas it may be worth asking Darren if there are any spare places. Dates are as follows:
05/12/2012      Frome                          BA11 4JF
12/12/2012      Bury                            BL9 0TS
07/01/2013      Chipping Norton        OX7 5DY
08/01/2013      St Ives                         PE27 6RR
09/01/2013      Leicester                      LE4 0FJ
15/01/2013      Bromley                      BR2 8HZ
16/01/2013      Sevenoaks                 TN15 7RD
17/01/2013      Watford                       WD18 0AE
22/01/2013      Alfreton                       DE55 1AE
23/01/2013      Lincoln                        LN1 3SP
Would your school be interested in hosting a training session in the future?  If you think you can get 20 or more geography teachers together, and can provide a suitable IT room, contact Darren Bailey at the Ordnance Survey to find out more.

Thought for the Day

"The built environment can be more beautiful than nature and we shouldn't obsess about the fact that the only landscapes that are beautiful are open - sometimes buildings are better."

Planning Minister Nick Boles quoted here.

See also HERE....

Geography matters....


My VITAL Geography portal provided the featured tip this week: a video introducing the use of ArcGIS Explorer Online to teach about GIS.

Why not tweet a tip for others to try today and use the hashtag #whynottrywednesday for a chance to win a subscription to a VITAL portal

More award potential...

Congratulations to Jamie and the team at Digital Explorer.

The new resource area has been shortlisted for a BETT Award for Secondary Digital content.
I've contributed materials for Frozen Oceans, Sustainable Fishing and the Google SeaView Survey.

Last year the TWIG films that I contributed Geography teaching materials for were victorious in this category...
Fingers crossed for January 2013

Spread a little 'appiness...

I shall be hosting another VITAL CPD Teachshare on Thursday this week....

Spread a little 'appiness is the name of the session, which starts at 7pm. It will look at the use of apps in the classroom and beyond. A lot of teachers are making use of these apps in teaching, and also on fieldwork. There are hundreds of thousands of apps, and the chance to get some free software which performs a particular task well is one that a lot of teachers are taking.

There's also the chance to connect with learners using AirPlay mirroring - indeed many teachers are using an iPad instead of an IWB... The cost is a lot less of course and the result is something more adaptable... and you can play Angry Birds on it...

Remember that I have also mentioned previously my experiences at the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning event at Preston Montford Field Centre.

Don't forget that there are hundreds of resources, tips, videos and blogs over on my VITAL Geography portal. Thousands of teachers are already enjoying the benefits of subscription to the portals. Head over there now to find all the details you need on how to subscribe to the portals now (and continuing into 2013)

Image: John Sayers

True grit....

Here's a potential project for you to consider as we move into winter... could be a homework task, or relate to a display / bulletin board on the classroom wall...
Several counties now have a Twitter feed to let residents know about the overnight state of the roads and the state of their gritting teams. Here are a few examples....


Does your county have a Twitter feed ? 

It would be worth keeping an eye on these as any snow forecasts emerge, and see what progress is being made in ensuring that the roads stay clear. After all, we wouldn't want to have a snow day and miss out on valuable learning time would we ??

Image: Alan Parkinson - available under CC license - Snettisham Primary School, 2009

World Cup 2014

The World Cup will be held in Brazil in 2014.
This week, there have been some posters released for the various host cities.
This would make a good geography-art crossover project.
You can view them on this FACEBOOK page.
I like the Sao Paulo one the best....

Young Geographer of the Year (YGOTY) Awards announced

The annual competition held by the Royal Geographical Society has come to an end, and the results have been announced.
The results and the winning schools are here, well done to all who entered, particularly the winners.

Well done also to Leanne Milner from Beauchamp College, Oadby, Leicestershire who won the prestigious Rex Walford award for her teaching resources on an Olympic torch relay activity.

Steve Brace, Head of Education at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “I am delighted with the quality of entries this year, and was particularly impressed to see our young geographers providing such insightful and knowledgeable information links between their local area and Olympic and Paralympic participating nations, and how they influence the geography.”

Flood Visualisation

A longer post is in preparation but it's all hands to another writing project for the next few days. Here's a quick data visualisation movie that popped into my Facebook page just now...

Anything to report ?

I had an idea for a little project earlier in the week....
Neil Valentine, a teacher from Edinburgh tweeted his old school geography report when he was in Year 9 (or Year 3 as it was back in 1992.... when things were simpler...)

Neil's report, reproduced with permission

I asked my parents to hunt out my old school reports which I knew they had kept. I have them from my secondary school - I seem to have been quite a good student throughout, although by the time I got to 'O' level there were a few concerns (although I still got an 'A')

By the time I got to 'A' level I was quite into playing snooker and table tennis (rock and roll) and my performance seems to have gone downhill.
47% in the mock ?
So, here comes the sharing bit - do you have any of your old geography reports ? 
Do geography teachers have good geography reports ?
Please share them somehow, or add as a comment below....


Thanks to those colleagues who have already been in touch via Twitter.
There's some geography teachers out there who did amazingly well in their exams... in some cases getting full marks...

Thanks also to those who told me that they hadn't got their school reports, but had fond memories of the 'old style' school reports which tended to be more honest and concise...

Primary Geography Champion

Earlier this week, Paula Owens made me an offer that I couldn't refuse. I was asked if I wanted to become one of the GA's Primary Geography Champions.
The Geography Champions network grew out of the work carried out for the Action Plan for Geography, and I was present at the first meeting of the champions, at the RGS-IBG as I set up the NING to support their work.
There are some amazing colleagues who are Geography Champions, and I've enjoyed working with them on a range of projects over the years, as well as supporting the development of the NING.

There are now over 1400 members of the Geography Champions NING.
It has a search function which will allow you to find existing materials and resources.

I've set up my group on the Ning, and have called it Mid-Norfolk and Surrounding Area.

I'd like to make an offer to any Primary schools that are in the area within 30 miles of Litcham in Norfolk. Let me know if I can support the development of geography within your school, or come and speak at an assembly about my book 'The Ice Man'... 
Also happy to head across the border into Suffolk or Cambridgeshire if appropriate...

If you live close to the North Norfolk coast, please contact my other Champion colleague Nell Seal.

The Isle of Sheppey - a quick visit...

Earlier this week, I visited the fabled Isle of Sheppey: 'Kent's Treasure Island' according to the local tourist agency... although Jeremy Clarkson had some different views earlier in the year.
I went by train to Ebbsfleet and was picked up by my former GA colleague Paula, who proceeded to give me a tour of the island, interrupted by torrential rainfall and strong winds.

We started in Queenborough which is the first place many visitors will arrive in, and went on from there to Blue Town, where we had a swift half before going along the north coast through Sheerness and Minster, then through Eastchurch. There were certainly lots of caravans on the island and we passed lots of examples of recent change: some for the better, and some for the worse in terms of economic, social and environmental changes. It was good to be travelling with someone who had lived there for a long time and could contextualise what I was seeing as a first time visitor....
Lots of connections with work on teaching about Place (Noel Jenkins came to the fore here a few days ago...)

There was a range of coastal scenery, and also some quirky elements, such as the concrete garden ornament factory which had an amazing range, and the lady in her dressing gown in the main street. We then headed on towards Warden where I realised why Paula was driving a Freelander, as we left the main roads and headed beyond the reach of the Google Street View car, up the side of the cliff...

That evening, after a major squall which had closed the main bridge, we headed over to the Ferry House Inn in Harty on the south coast of the island, at the end of a long road through the marshes. It was a quiet evening with a few pints of Bombardier and some fine food in front of the log burner...

A Flickr set of my images from my visit can be seen below, starting with the food - a nice seared bream followed by cheesecake....

A dark drive home was followed by my first taste of Breton whisky (Armorik), followed by a few glasses of Tobermory...
The following day dawned bright and breezy and it was out to Shellness to take a walk along the beach  past the private hamlet at the end of a rather bumpy road. We wandered along to the end of the island, and back along the beach, followed by tea and tiny cakes in Brambledown.

I have to say I enjoyed Sheppey, and it's always good to take out another one of the UK"s extremities that I hadn't visited before...

Skyfall - 007 James Bond ideas...

Out to see Skyfall: the latest Bond movie a few weekends ago.

Here are 007 ideas (do you see what I did there ?) for teaching about James Bond and Geography....

1. There's an Atlantic Cities post which introduces the map of Bond locations.
The James Bond map - research some of the locations here - add the Skyfall locations
Could you add the locations from the latest movie here, or work out where those are on a map ?

2. There's been a great deal of James Bond merchandising, such as Coca Cola..

You may also have noticed that Q uses a Sony Vaio.... I presume Sony paid for that particular 'product placement'.... (either that or Q can't afford an Apple Mac....)

Can you come up with James Bond / geography products that could have been placed in the movie, or some geographical merchandise ?
Perhaps some 'I've been to Skyfall' postcards...

3. The James Bond promotional game which I mentioned in a previous post - useful for getting students onto Google Earth and trying some of the tools... The competition element is closed but you can still play for fun (or for learning....)

4. Why not design an HQ for a James Bond villain on Google Earth. Noel Jenkins has previously planned an activity similar to this which made use of Google Earth's submarine imagery (don't forget this) to plan the location for an underwater lair....
You could also use Google/Trimble SketchUp to build your lair. Remember that there's plenty of advice on how to use SketchUp at the Google Teacher Institute site.

Spoiler alert !
5. One of the plot lines features the London Underground. There are some tense scenes as Bond pushes through overcrowded platforms heaving with people, and yet is able to move through the carriages inside and open all the connecting doors... (don't forget to suspend disbelief...)
Research the other 'lost' or hidden stations on the London Underground
Perhaps produce a 'Bond' line for the Underground. The tube map has previously been used to add artists, teachers, bands and a huge range of other cultural elements.... The Great Bear, for example, by Simon Patterson.

Perhaps there could be a tube line with the bond girls, or the villains, or the cars/gadgets/gimmicks in each film...
"A return to Pussy Galore please..."
Get hold of a blank London map for this - there are several online.
Perhaps this could be an opportunity for urban regeneration too, with the closed stations reopened for some new use....

There was also a map of London at the centre of a key scene in the film, when 'Q' decodes a virus planted by the main villain of the film.

6. A useful set of images and captions from Klaus Dodds. The full article about the geopolitics of Bond is here.

Geography is critical to the James Bond series. When Ian Fleming invented the superspy James Bond he did so writing at his home Goldeneye in Jamaica. Having been a wartime naval spy, Fleming was eager to convey a strong sense of intrigue and excitement. Bond could not have any old mission. He had to be seen to be travelling to interesting and indeed exotic places that most of his western readers could only have dreamt about.

Is that still possible in the days of global travel ? Perhaps that's why familiar locations are re-presented in the latest film ?

7. I was a little stuck for the 7th idea, so I put out a tweet to ask for suggestions from my network...

Here are some of the excellent suggestions which I hadn't thought of, and which were in some cases better than the ones I had...

- create a map of the countries that James Bond has visited - this could be done using the Big Huge Labs Map Maker perhaps
- could then compare this map with staff at the school or students from a group - who has travelled the most like Bond ? (perhaps Miss Map-a-penny)
- explore James Bond Island - also called Khao Phing Kan 
- create a list of the key information that people who have never seen a James Bond film should know to ensure that their critical literacy is brought up to date (a la E.D Hirsch)
- explore locations used in earlier films such as the oilfields of Baku in Azerbaijan - how have they changed since they were featured in the film
- investigate different ice roads e.g. Ice Road Truckers - where are rivers used as roads ?
- what is James Bond's carbon footprint ? how could it be reduced ?
- explore Glo-Bond-isation - the spread of the travels, but also the franchise...

Thanks to the following Tweeters for responding to my request for help:
@Annefgreaves @Anguswillson @mapsinter @go_geo @mrjmutton @primageographer @eslweb

Finally, thanks to Oli Mould for sending through a link to an island off the coast of Japan which formed the main location for a crucial scene in the film with the villain. The amazing island is called 'Battleship Island' because of the way it looks (see the image below) or Hashima.
One for the Urban explorers....

Perhaps the Sandy Island that was in the news was actually the hideout for a villain who then moved it as he'd been discovered ?

Feel free to add further ideas below as comments....

It's been suggested that we should also mention issues of gender, morality and inequality, particularly in the nature of the relationships that exist between the characters. Does James Bond always act appropriately ?

Hill figures...

There are many hill figures dotted around the UK. I've been up to quite a few of them, including the famous Cerne Abbas giant with his well you know.

The Digimap for Schools blog has a nice idea for students: to design their own hill figure using the annotation tools in Digimap for Schools.

Check it out and have a go yourself...

 Image: Uffington White Horse, Alan Parkinson

Jamie down under...

Over the last few years, I've done a lot of work with Jamie Buchanan Dunlop of Digital Explorer
The latest project has taken Jamie to Australia to do some work on resources for the Google Seaview Survey.
One of the things that you can do to get involved in Jamie's journey, for example, is to explore the resources that we have already created.

If you LIKE the Digital Explorer Facebook page you can also access galleries of Jamie's images, including pictures of his journey down under

Here's one that was taken earlier this week... Jamie about to head out on the shallow reef survey

For Primary age students, you should also check out the recently published GA Primary toolkit book which looks at Australia.

Head over to the Digital Explorer SeaView / Oceans page to see more of the resources that we have already created and get a taste of the ones that are to come...
They are going to be fairly awesome....

PG - a quarter of a century later...

In 1987, I went to Birmingham to see Peter Gabriel tour his album 'So'. It was a fairly awesome concert, with good company. I'd qualified as a teacher and was about to start applying for jobs... a few weeks later I was in the classroom....

Over the years I've seen PG quite a few more times....

Fast forward twenty five years and Peter Gabriel has just released the dates of his 'Back to Front' tour, where he will return to 'So'....
...and I'll be sat in the front block of seats in the brand new Hydro in Glasgow, which hasn't even been built yet (let's hope it's finished on time...)

It'll be a great prelude to the SAGT Conference in Perth 2 days later...

GA Conference 2013 and Beermeet

I'm all booked up for the Geographical Association Conference 2013

I'm going to be doing a few things:
- a workshop with Tony Cassidy and John Sayers called 'Two (hundred) heads are better than one'
- a workshop on apps in geography with Katy Shipman, under the auspices of the GA Secondary Phase Committee
- a field visit which will give folks the chance to experience Mission:Explore on the university campus

I'll also be at the public lecture and GA awards ceremony...

One additional social opportunity takes place on the Friday night of conference.
It's the GeoBeerMeet.
This year it's being held at the Brunswick Inn, which is down by the railway station, near the hotel where many of the delegates will be staying.
Hope to see some of you there....

Effective Geography teachers...

There are lots of things that go to make an effective geography teacher.
Possibly attending GA CPD sessions is one of them...
At the York NQT conference, 2 weeks ago, I asked the delegates to suggest what it was they thought made an effective geography teacher.... this is what they came up with.... their suggestions were also mirrored at the London event last week...

Wordle: Effective teachers
Click for larger image 
Made using WORDLE

Gambia - a little extra ?

How about a spot of winter sun combined with geography ?

One of the destinations that I used to teach about, and which is popular with people from the UK is the Gambia. It's a country that has featured in various resources that I used to use related to the impact of tourism in less developed countries. It's also an area that Primary colleagues may focus on, as this Global Eye resource demonstrates.
I also used the Pumpkin DVD looking at youthful populations which was filmed there.

I was contacted by two former teachers: Alan Hutchison and Tony Rea, who have recently formed a company called Gambia-Extra which specialises in bespoke group visits to The Gambia, including geography targeted visits. 

Please take a look at their website or email to discuss possibilities if you'd like to find out more.
If you do contact them, please let them know that you saw the details on Living Geography :)

World Watch

Data visualisation is a trend that has been growing over the last year or so.

There has been a growth in sources of data visualisations too, particularly those involving data from social media such as Twitter. The Guardian's Datablog has also made a good effort to release data so that other users can make use of it to create their own visualisations, and tools such as Mapcite allow Excel data to be mapped.

This book, published by Collins in September 2012 is available from Amazon for around £9.

It has over 100 pages of visuals on a range of geographical themes, arranged in sections. They are mostly on human themes, but include some physical topics. A lot of them are based around mapping. There's also a useful section on the Millennium Development Goals (something which is relevant to many 'A' level specifications) and some World Statistics.

A copy or three of this book would make a useful resource for a GCSE or 'A' level classroom.

The diagrams make excellent discussion starters, and could also form the basis for critical analysis of the data that has been used to create them.

BTEC Environmental Sustainability Questionnaire

Do you teach the BTEC Level 3 Course on Environmental Sustainability? 

The GA's Post 16 & HE Phase Committee is currently seeking feedback from teachers on the course's content and its suitability for students in preparation for FE, HE and the workplace. If you teach this course and would like to share your thoughts, please complete a short questionnaire on the GA website.

Go HERE to fill in the questionnaire.

Shopping list...

A little creative homework idea which came to me this morning....
I was writing down the items I needed to get from the village shop, and the first two items I wrote down were:

... and I was reminded of this place....

What other shopping-list ingredients can you combine in an order so that they spell out place names, particularly well-known ones.... ??
Please add as comments 

Image: CC licensed by Flickr user Katherine H

2012 Edublogs Award

The nominations are now open for the 2012 Edublogs awards.
The closing date for nominations is the 26th of November, so you only have a week to vote....

There's some great geography blogs out there.... ahem.... :)

Into the Top Ten...

Good to see that the Extreme Environments eBook that Richard Allaway and I produced is in the Top 10 Free Downloads on iTunes for Education.

If you haven't already seen it, take a look....

Update 20/11
And now we're featured in 'What's Hot' :)
Thanks to all for downloading the book

Geological Society resource

The Geological Society has produced a useful interactive resource to explain the idea behind the movement of plates, and the importance of Plate Tectonics.

There's plenty of useful guidance here along with mapping, images and teachers' notes.

A good resource for students to use for independent research, or to explore for homework...

1643 visitors....

I had 1643 visitors to the blog yesterday, which is about double my average number of visits...
You're all very welcome - hope it wasn't a one-off visit, and just interested in what brought so many people here...

GA Google Earth courses to be repeated...

The Google Earth and beyond courses that I have been running for the GA are to be repeated next year.
For full details visit the GA website.

The dates are:

Birmingham - Thursday 23 May 2013
London - Thursday 20 June 2013

They will feature a larger dollop of ArcGIS Explorer Online as I am going to be doing some work with ESRI UK in the next few months.

There is also going to be more integration with GE Graph as I've had a chance to develop that a little further since the first iteration of the courses....

Book now to secure a place...

David Didau 2 minute lesson plan

I like this idea....
Some simple questions to ask...

1. What did students learn last lesson and how will it relate to this lesson?
2. Which students do you need to consider in this particular lesson?
3. What will students do the moment they arrive?
4. What do you want students to learn and what activities will they undertake in order to learn it?
5. How will you (and they) know if they have made progress?

An updated version of this post has been produced since I blogged about it

Earthquake: stress released but also building up...

Christchurch in New Zealand was affected by several earthquakes within a few months, the second major one being in February 2011.
There were many casualties and large parts of the city were badly damaged, and the cathedral collapsed.
The city is now a transitional city, which is trying to rebuild, as well as rethink its layout and reduce it's future susceptibility as far as possible. It has lost a lot of its population, who have moved out and away, although anywhere in New Zealand is potentially at risk of further tremors.
There has been some controversy over the zoning and compensation being paid to people living in particular parts of the city.

An earthquake results from the release of stress in the ground, but there has also been increased stress after the earthquake... not necessarily in the rocks, but in the people who now live in a city which is still recovering, and waiting for the ground to shake again.
The STUFF site is one of the best places to go for information about current events in New Zealand.

There are some interesting stories which could be used to get students thinking geographically.
For example here's a story about dentists worried about a rise in dental damage from people grinding their teeth...
Or the story of Twinkle Toes

London 2012 Field Trip Ideas

A rather useful section of the GA's website offers a range of options for the area around the Olympics 2012. If you teach in a school which is within a reasonable distance of the park, you really should try to get over there as soon as possible while the post-Olympic interest continues...
A nice piece of work, and very useful advice, including some associated resources...

The world according to....

What is this a map of ?

This article, discovered by John Sayers, provides the answer...

Still a way to go...

Sound around you

Sound around You is a project of the University of Salford

It's an iPhone app which allows you to record sounds in particular locations. These are linked to Google Street View, using the location tracking on your phone.

The idea is that you can add to this collaborative project. The uploads that have already been made sit on a Google Map.
Click to explore the uploads that others have made. Sounds can also be downloaded as mp3 files so that you could build up a sound library of different environments quite nicely.

Why not record and upload some sounds in and around your school ?

I like the way that the microphone stop and start button rotate round, so that you can direct the microphone at features that you are trying to record. Sounds can also be rated against a range of factors, and this information appears alongside the sound. I tried it out in London yesterday (more on that in a future blog post) and it works really nicely....

Thanks once again to Keir Clarke for the original tipoff on Google Maps Mania

Turn of the tide...

Got this book out of the library at the weekend...

'The Turn of the Tide: North Norfolk's Saltmarsh Coast is edited by Ian Scott and contains about twenty short essays on different aspects of the coastline.
This makes excellent source material for possible geography contexts....

There were some particularly good chapters on environmental change, second home ownership and changing coastal communities.
May be worth ordering in to your local library.

Get a copy of this while you're at it too...

The Ice Man

Author copies arrived today.... now published and available in the warehouse. Apparently the books were delayed because of a typhoon between China and Southampton.

I've caught the #GeoBug - have you ?

Part of the resources that have been created for the National Geographic Education's materials for Geography Awareness Week.
Proud that the Geography Collective are once again involved in creating some of the resources that are being used around the United States.

Click this link to download a PDF of GeoBug stickers....

Logo was created by our very own Tom Morgan-Jones

Stoke Fleming

I'm delighted to have had some images of mine, taken on my 2012 visit to Devon used in a website for the village of Stoke Fleming.
Stoke Fleming is a village on the coast of Devon, close to Dartmouth. One of the famous nearby landmarks is Blackpool Sands. My images form the backgrounds to the web pages.
The images were taken from my Flickr page, and the creator of the website asked my permission to use them.
My images are Creative Commons licensed. Are you contributing your digital images for other colleagues to make use of ?

Movie Map

The locations of filming for the most popular 250 movies on the IMDB website.

A possible project for students to plot the locations in their own favourite movies (or other media)

No ordinary park

Thanks to Stephen Cook @StephenDCook on Twitter for the tipoff here...
It's a report in today's Evening Standard relating to the Olympic Park.

Free bus tours of the Olympic park are on offer as legacy chiefs address concerns that it will be shut for two years after the Games.
Starting next week, the tours will show people the £300 million building work at the 500-acre site.
It comes amid fears the park will lose its links with surrounding neighbourhoods during building work and become a “walled city”.
Further delays to the reopening of the Olympic stadium were confirmed last week and if West Ham is granted tenancy, the football club will not play its first match there until mid-2016.
The northern end of the park will open for a festival in July next year but the main public area, known as the South Plaza, will not open until spring 2014. During the 18-month building project people will be able to take the bus tours to see the new park take shape.
The tours — on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with some at weekends — begin on November 21 and run until the festival in July. London Legacy Development Corporation chief Dennis Hone said:  “There’s a lot of interest in what is happening to the park and we want people to know all about our great plans.
“This is especially important for those people living closest, who have lived with the ongoing construction on the site.

Go to this website to find out more...

You'll also find out lots more about the proposals for the park, which I have blogged about before. This has the potential to be a context for learning about regeneration (I'm trying to wean myself off the term 'case study') for decades to come...

No Ordinary Park from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Vimeo.

Another option for visiting the Olympic Park would be to consult with John Widdowson and colleagues at Urban Geography East London, who offer fieldwork support for the Olympic Park and surrounding area.

NYC Dark

NYC Dark
A rather cool video to add to the many which I have sourced from VIMEO
A useful starter for work on Superstorm Sandy perhaps...

NYC Dark from Already Alive on Vimeo.
Thanks to Urban Photo Blog for yet another tipoff...

"It's a different city when the lights are out".... 

Thanks to Matt Podbury for this useful Huffington Post article.
Looks at the impact of development on the coast on possible impacts...

World GIS Day 2012

It's tomorrow... what are you planning to do in your school or workplace ?
I'm going to be creating some new GIS resources for GIS Day.
In the past I've attended various events around the country, while working at the GA, and there's a wealth of activity out there.

Here's a video about the day, and why GIS matters:

I'm going to be using the day to continue working on some materials for the OS MapStream service. These will add to the materials that I already produced, with Paula Owens, for the Digimap for Schools service earlier in the year.

Find out more about OS MapStream HERE.

Whatever you get up to on World GIS Day, keep mapping !

Just added two new GA Online GIS / Google Earth / ArcGIS Explorer Online courses in May/June 2013 - details to be announced shortly....

Mapping Patagonia

I get a lot of requests to put stuff on the blog and not many get put on as they're not relevant - here's one that is.
It's a Kickstarter project to raise funds for a project by an organisation called MAPS FOR GOOD to map the Patagonia National Park.
There's some interesting detail here.

With the support of the team behind the Patagonia National Park Project, we will produce an interactive visual manifestation of the park and its conservation mission, accessible worldwide. Our goal is to tell the unusual story of the future park through compelling cartography combined with rich multimedia visual content and spoonfuls of educational information. Using the content we collect, combined with open-source data and crowd-sourced content, we will create a print map and guide to the park and an interactive web map complete with rich visual and educational content.
The benefits of our project will reach beyond Patagonia to conservationists and educators around the world. We're exploring the future of new-media cartography for conservation, communication, and education. 
Check out Conservación Patagónica's blog post about our project here
The project is close to achieving its financial target...

A glimpse into a bustling city....

Bring a geographical lens to bear on what life is like for people in cities around the world...

What is life like for a rickshaw owner in Bangalore....

FOR HIRE! – BANGALORE RICKSHAW from Xaver Xylophon on Vimeo.

A wonderful animation...
Plenty that you could do with this....
How would you use it ???

Green, yellow, black. They are the blood in the veins of Bangalore: the 450.000 rickshaws and their drivers. Knocked together from bits and pieces, decorated, ready for the junk heap or carefully maintained like antique cars, the vehicles are as charismatic as their owners, who brave the monstrous traffic of this metropolis daringly, sleepy, chattering or stoic, making sure the passanger's trip from A to B will be full of memorable experiences.
Based on days of riding around in rickshaws and drawings made locally, this animation captures the tough workaday life of a rickshaw driver, seen through the eyes of a European visitor.
Result of a one month trip to Bangalore, India as part of the project "The Law of the Market" at the University of Arts Berlin Weißensee, 2011

Thanks to Anne Greaves for the tipoff to this resource


Thanks to Richard Allaway for the tipoff to this, as he mentioned that he had supported this Kickstarter project.
SPLASHMAPS is a new project which aims to print maps onto fabric.
Why not take a look and consider backing the project yourself ?

A SplashMap is a map printed onto a fabric, and like its inspiration (the escape and evasion silk maps used in the second WW and distributed around the continent in Monopoly boxes) they are light-weight, durable, washable, wearable and ideal for the “real” outdoors of mud, wind, snow and rain… all the conditions that paper is not “cut-out” for. This is a fresh new market offering, never done before; uniquely based upon the best Ordnance Survey data and other Open Data Sources.  We are able to tailor these maps to be the most usable outdoor maps ever for walking, riding, cycling, eventing or anything you could do in the real outdoors.

Discover the World with Mission:Explore

Over the last few months, we've been working hard to put together a deal which will connect The Geography Collective, creators of Mission:Explore with Discover the World, the leading school travel company to destinations such as Iceland.
We're going to be writing missions which will be available for students and teachers who book a tour with Discover the World...

The first place that we've visited is one of the great places in the world: ICELAND.

I'm working with geography teacher John Sayers, and our editor and illustrator Helen and Tom, along with other Geography Collective colleagues, to put together a booklet which will available to all those schools that book a trip with Discover the World. It will contain missions, and ideas for linking the experience of visiting Iceland and completing the missions with the curriculum, and exam specifications.

We've created a whole load of missions which we're now editing down and preparing to be released into the wild in early 2013.

I'll let you know more about how things are developing with the project over the next couple of months, and look forward to seeing some of you soon on a windswept sandur, or cramponing over a crevasse-strewn glacier...

Alan Hubertsson (my special Iceland-Explorer name...)

The English Landscape

Imagine writing a recipe for the English Landscape. That's what I asked delegates down in Somerset at the start of the week. Here's a summary of the responses that I got on the day...

Green fields, rolling hills, trees, hedgerows, cows, sheep, tractors, listed buildings, landmarks, history, pubs, Olympic legacy, Jurassic coastline

Varied and suitable for all conditions, OS map, sandwiches, Swiss army knife, Fullers' Guide to Rural Pubs, dialect phrase books

Be prepared to travel through time, rural and urban, cold and hot

Serving suggestion
Cold, OS map, flask of tea, cheese, cream tea, bacon buttie

Recipe sheet is here... (for the Scottish landscape, but can be edited...)

Recipe for the Scottish Landscape from GeoBlogs

Here's one essential element, and suitable for today....

Image: Alan Parkinson

At the going down of the sun...

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning - 
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon

Ghosts of World War II

I've mentioned this project in a few events I've done recently as an example of how to blend the present and the past, and make use of Google technology to identify locations where events took place in the past.
The project is a number of sets of FLICKR images which overlay ghostly images from World War II onto present-day locations.

York NQT Conference

Spent the day in York yesterday: a bright and breezy day in the company of a group of NQT colleagues from Yorkshire and Cheshire.
There was lots of sharing and stories, and I enjoyed the day very much, despite a lack of wifi in the room. We had a small Mission:Explore wander along the river, past the famous King's Arms, and thought about possible activities that would go alongside some of the more traditional fieldwork.
There was a good lunch, with plenty of chicken kebabs....
It was interesting to hear about the various journeys that some of the delegates had been on before

As part of the day I did the usual shout-out to Twitter colleagues to say hello and to answer a question. The question this time was supplied by Kris, who wanted to know 'which country do you think it would take the longest to get to from the UK'.

Thanks to those who replied - we had responses from colleagues in Devon, Bath, Newcastle, Abu Dhabi, Melbourne Australia, Newport Pagnell, Bangkok and Birmingham

The answers they gave included
- Somewhere in the central Pacific
- deep underground in China
- Bhutan
- Antarctica (is it a country ?)
- Deep underwater
- the Cook Islands in the South Pacific
- New Zealand
- the Antipodes Islands
- Micronesia
- St. Helena
- Tristan da Cunha
- Tibetan plateau

A reminder that you can get a lot of additional support from the TES New Teachers page

Follow the Twitter feed too: @tesNewTeachers

Thanks once again to the delegates...

The event will run again next Thursday, the 15th of November in London. Ring Lucy Oxley at the GA if you'd like to join me.

Image: Alan Parkinson

What's your wifi called ?

I've blogged this idea before some time ago....
If you go to the Waitrose supermarket in Hitchin, there is (or was when I visited) a wi-fi network which you can pick up outside the store entrance called 'Ken Dodd's dad's dog's dead'...
Which is a bit strange...

This BBC Magazine article has an interesting link to the way that people name their wifi networks. Sometimes the names are meant to convey a particular message.

There are many intersecting wi-fi networks in most urban areas, and if you open the network settings on your mobile device while walking through an area, or while travelling on a train or in the car, you'll often come across a range of options, often including things like 'Ben's iPhone' etc.
Why not go on a wi-fi hunt and see who can find the most interesting or unusual name ?
Ones that I've found include 'Mother Theresa', 'I like sausages' and 'Ferret fingers'....

What can you find ? Please add any good ones below as a comment, or perhaps your own wi-fi network has an unusual name ?

Bonus points for geographical discoveries...

Obar Dheathain

After the SAGT conference was over two weeks ago (see previous blog posts) it was out and onto a train to Aberdeen.
The early sunset meant the more spectacular elements of the journey were lost in the dark, as we moved through Stirling, Dunblane and Perth, and on towards the coast and Stonehaven, dozing and listening to music.
The following morning, I woke to a wet day, which affected our plans to explore too much.
I had a tour around Aberdeen, including a visit to 'Fittie' which had featured on the news a week earlier as it was full of sea foam, and also made it to Dunnottar Castle, on a dramatic headland near Stonehaven, which was the castle which influenced PIXAR when making the film 'Brave': the subject of my SAGT session.

The following day I ran two 3-hour sessions at Robert Gordon's College.

The focus was on the new qualifications for the Scottish curriculum. National 4 & 5 will replace Standard Grade and Intermediate 1 & 2. Higher and Advanced Higher will remain although there will be changes to them.

I have created a twitter feed for the National 5 Geography in particular: @Nat5Geography
Thanks to Liz (and Ian) Crisp for their hospitality, and also for organising the event that had brought me so far north...
I may well be back next year...

Image: Liz Crisp

White Cliffs of Dover

A few years ago I read (and blogged about) a book by Julian Baggini called 'Welcome to Everytown'. In it, he described spending a year in the postcode which apparently had the most 'average' characteristics of any postcode area.
It turned out to be the postcode where I was born and brought up, to the east of Rotherham.

Julian has now moved on to another place which has resonance for the people of England. He spent a week in August as writer-in-residence at the White Cliffs of Dover.
In an article for the Times, he talks about the various views that people have about the cliffs. Are they a supportive icon of Britishness, or a symbol of exclusion ?
What do they mean for different people ?
Julian has also written this piece in The Guardian which is worth reading.

Image by Flickr user HBarrison and shared under CC license, for which many thanks...

Breaking the mould...

One of the companies that I'm currently working with is ESRI UK.
It's good to see more cross-overs with projects as Mission Explore is featured in ESRI's Fall newsletter, with a nice article written by Daniel Edelson of the National Geographic Education team.

Some nice quotes:

There are a small number of people out there, however, who summon up very different images when they think about geography learning. Maybe they never experienced traditional geography education, or maybe they experienced it and have completely rejected it as a model for learning. They envision activities that feel both relevant and enjoyable. These are the people we need to find and listen to, because they don't think about improving geography education by incrementally improving traditional approaches. They think about completely new approaches to geography teaching and learning.
One place where you can find people like that is in the Geography Collective, a group of innovative thinkers in the United Kingdom. They describe themselves in the following way: "We are a collective of geography activists, teachers, therapists, academics, artists, and guerrillas. We've come together to encourage [young] people to see our world in new ways."
The Geography Collective is one of the most creative groups in geography education today, and every time I learn more about its work, I get more excited about it.....
I can't help feeling that truly creative approaches to geography learning are discouragingly few and far between right now. Too few people are even thinking about geography education, and those who are still focus too much on incremental improvements rather than entirely new approaches. We should take the Geography Collective members and others like them as inspiration. We must challenge ourselves to think more creatively and seek out and promote the creative ideas of others.

Thanks Daniel :)


Ashtag is a nicely named app which allows those who install it on their phone to get involved in the fight against the fungus which threatens to wipe out the native ash trees of the UK.

The disease is called Chalara Fraxinea.

I am old enough to remember the tremendous loss that was caused by Dutch Elm disease: there used to be a wonderful avenue of trees on the way from my childhood home into Rotherham which all had to be felled.

The ash fungus has been identified in Norfolk - some of the sightings have been quite close to my home.
One way that you can get involved is to take a look at the app, and make sure that you can identify an ash tree (first of all) and then know what to do.

There is a website where possible sightings can be reported if you don't happen to own a smartphone.

The website also has a useful YouTube video on how to identify the disease... Why not take a few minutes with a group to see whether there are any ash trees on your school campus....

The FSC have produced a free tree identification app which you can put on your smartphone or other device....