Friday, 31 August 2012

Smart Notebook app for iPad

One of the things I miss about teaching is not having my Smartboard. I've often thought of buying one for the house, perhaps I'll put it on the landing...
I miss not being able to see webpages and other images at 8 x 6 foot scale, and having everything at my finger tips - although my iPad gets close to surpassing that experience.
And now the Smartboard Notebook app comes to iPad, which means that I can produce activities which are compatible for the Smartboard and share them from my iPad.
Just installed it, and haven't had the time to check it out properly yet as  I have a book manuscript to finish editing, but will get back to it shortly and post my thoughts here.

Spanish Wild fires...


Some specs feature wildfires, and they are topic which don't always get a lot of attention.

A lot of UK tourists are currently in the Marbella area and are coming face to face with a major natural hazard, as fires which are blazing in the area head towards the town.

As this Guardian article explains:

Several thousand people have been evacuated after a huge wildfire raging out of control in southern Spain reached the edge of the tourist resort of Marbella on the Costa del Sol, Spanish authorities say.
The fire broke out near the port city of Malaga late on Thursday and raced westward, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures.

As always, a search for 'Marbella' on Twitter reveals a range of tweets including news feeds (local and international), messages from local people and visitors, and also some Twitpics and Videos, such as this one from Alex Barrera which gives a sense for the wind and the flames.... dramatic stuff !

Out in hardback tomorrow...

Get your orders in...


UK Temperature Changes

Via Twitter - CarbonBrief... Using MetOffice maps... Warming since 1961...
You really should be on Twitter - this is just one of about 20 useful items that I've read today already....

Thursday, 30 August 2012

UN World Heritage Sites

There are almost 1000 places around the world which are classed as World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO co-ordinates the LIST OF SITES.

Google's WORLD WONDERS project explores a handful of these sites, with plans to extend further in time. I worked on some of the educational materials for this website.

You can order a large poster map of the sites with additional information for just €2
I ordered several and they are rather good, and great value...

Each year, there is a meeting to discuss sites which are at risk, or which have stopped being at risk. The most recent one made a series of changes to the list as always. These changes are worth exploring. What are the criteria for making the list ?

Put together a bid for your home town to become a World Heritage site...

Thorvaldseyri - new Visitor Centre

When I visited Iceland in October 2010, we visited the farm just below the main fissure that opened up at Eyjafjalajokull.

The farm was covered with ash to a great depth, and GPS had to be used to reinstate the field boundaries and paths once the eruption had stopped. Crops were damaged, and there were ongoing problems with ash for some years afterwards. When we visited, all the windows were still taped up and the farmer's wife said that she still had to wash endlessly because of the ash getting into the house through the smallest gap whenever the wind blew strongly.

There was a small exhibition in the garage at the time, and we had a talk while learning against the farmer's car. There is now a purpose-built visitor centre at the farm, as you can see on the new website.

One for those sections on the (longer term) benefits of tectonic activity.

Here's a picture of mine from just along the south coast from there....

Thanks to Discover the World for the tipoff / reminder....

Bottom image: Alan Parkinson


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Iceland Volcano Live special

A special programme with Kate Humble...
It's on this Thursday on BBC2 at 9pm.
The Radio Times description.


It 2010, the ash cloud from an unpronounceable Icelandic volcano brought Europe to a standstill. In this Volcano Live special, Kate Humble heads for the source of the ash to ask whether we should now be preparing for more of the same.
On her journey Kate meets the scientists monitoring the country's most dangerous volcanoes, and investigates the biggest eruptions in Iceland's past - including a catastrophic 18th-century event that killed thousands in Iceland and also appears to have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people across Britain and Europe.
In 2010, it became clear that Britain is well within the reach of big Icelandic eruptions. To help prepare for the next one, what can we learn from the people who live right alongside them?


Image by Alan Parkinson - tephra and other debris from Eyjafjallajokull area...

Mission:Explore Food Launch Event

If you can be in London this coming Saturday, you will have the chance to get involved in a launch event for Mission:Explore Food.
It's a special world map mission.

Join us in London this Saturday to create a world map of food. This will be no normal map though. Explorers who take part will be challenged to harvest food from London's diverse communities, gathering food to represent each of the world's (disputed) nations. The food itself will then be shaped into a giant map of the world, attempting to show where in the world London's food is produced. 

To make this massive map we need lots of people to explore London and to find foods that represent nearly 200 countries and we'd love you to join us. It will not only be an opportunity to create a great map, but to see London in new ways and talk to people with a diverse range of perspectives on food in the capital.


  • 10:00-11:00 Meet in the Cafe at Stanfords Travel in Covent Garden to accept your mission(s). Try and arrive for 9am if you can. We'll give you a tiny budget!
  • 11:00-14:00 Explore London to gather together your international harvest. Our Mission:Explore basecamp will offer remote support.
  • 14:00-15:00 Arrive at the Mission:Explore basecamp (location TBA) to help make the map.
  • 15:00+ We'll share the harvest between us and then go for a drink!
 
Over the course of the day we'll be tweeting through @MissionExplore, so follow us on Twitter to know what's going on. 

Isaac

Check the ESRI Hurricane and Cyclone disaster map, which is constantly updated, and is currently showing the track of Isaac and associated media.

Don't forget that you can also add a WEATHER layer to Google Earth...

Isaac is over two hundred miles wide at present, and travelling at around 10 miles an hour towards New Orleans....
Search the blog for other posts on hurricanes...


Monday, 27 August 2012

Second Homes

This week it's all hands to the pumps to finish a book for the Geographical Association on Enquiry Based Fieldwork, co-written with John Widdowson.
Part of the book explains how the use of Google Forms for questionnaires can be effective.

Here's a sample form that I created to collect views about SECOND HOME ownership and to show how easy it is to create a questionnaire in just a few minutes. It's not a perfect example, because that's part of the chapter too....

The book is due out in 2013 and you can buy a copy then of course.

If you had a minute or two to fill it in that would be appreciated, so that I can include some examples of how the data that is collected via the form can then be analysed. I'd rather have responses from real people such as yourselves.... assuming you are real :)


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Fancy a CPD course in Salzburg ?

Salzburg - February 2013

DigitalEarth: GeoMedia and Citizenship

You can get your expenses (travel, accommodation etc. but not cover) for this course covered by COMENIUS funding.

I shall be leading several days of the course - which lasts for a week. It will be a repeat of a course which I am leading at the end of September (the deadline for getting funding for that course has passed)

You'll need to apply promptly and the links to the relevant forms are available from the EuroGeography webpage linked to above. Look forward to seeing some of you there...

Image: Alan Parkinson - taken on previous visit

"It's an interesting place to be. I recommend it."

So said Neil Armstrong, who sadly died yesterday, referring of course to the moon.

I've just taken my copy of Michael Light's "Full Moon" off the shelves. Awesome photography from NASA missions. Was taken by this one showing a picture by Charles Duke of a family photograph, taken during the Apollo 16 mission of 1972. Connecting the familiar and the unfamiliar.

I have a memory of the Apollo landing of July 20th 1969. I was sat with my parents in a brown velour swivel chair in our living room... the actual first steps on the moon were around 4am UK time so I don't reckon I watched that. I remember James Burke's involvement in the TV coverage...

A real Mission of Exploration...

BBC interview with Jerry Brotton

An interview with Jerry Brotton, author of the book: A History of the World in Twelve Maps

Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society.

BBC video link - may not work outside the UK

Looks like an interesting book...

Torrential rain

Over to Wimpole Hall and Home Farm yesterday (the one used in National Trust's MyFarm experiment which I have previously blogged about...

A great place to visit with the family and some friends. The cafe at Home Farm is particularly recommended.

On the way back, we encountered an amazing thunderstorm near Ely.

It turned out that the same storm (or one that was connected with a batch of storms spreading through the area) was causing havoc in nearby Cambridge, where part of the library roof collapsed and the Grand Arcade shopping centre had to be closed because of a stream running through it.

We kept going in the car as we were in a queue of steady traffic, which crawled along at about 20 mph in 2nd gear, splashing through the puddles. Steadily more hazards went on as people pulled over as the rainfall got more intense and lightning flashed around us... the hail piled up at the side of the road in drifts like snow, and we crossed over into Norfolk, where the rainfall gradually eased off... Scary stuff....

Image: Alan Parkinson

Friday, 24 August 2012

New on iBookstore for IB Geography

For the last few months, Richard Allaway and I have been working away on plans for a series of eBooks for IB Geography.

We have been getting to grips with the iBook Author tool on the Mac, and have produced the first of what will be a series of books for the International Baccalaureate Geography course. We told you about it earlier in the week, and there's been a lot of interest in the book so far. Use the link down the right hand column to get your copy.

Image: Richard Allaway and I in the Swiss Alps, above Chamonix.

Exam results analysis from the GA

If you can bear to read any more about exam results after the upset and stories of the last few days, you can get an analysis of the GCSE and 'A level Geography results from the GA website. You can also access reports from previous years. These may be helpful for comparison purposes.

These are really useful and interesting reports, and as always have been produced with remarkable speed.

While you're on the GA website, you can also now download free sample chapters from Mission:Explore Food too.
They're in PDF format.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Thought for the day...


Mission:Explore Lowestoft

Just received copies of the leaflets that Helen Steer of the Geography Collective produced to accompany our Mission:Explore Lowestoft project, which is running through the summer.
They are included with special Mission:Explore Family tickets on selected bus routes through Lowestoft.

Enter your answers into collection boxes at the Tourist Information Centre or library in Lowestoft, or online, for the chance to win some great prizes.

Look out for local publicity if you're in the area, or visit the Mission:Explore website for more details.

Don't just be a passenger - be an explorer !

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

It's Desperate... Dan...

The Dandy faces closure.

In fact it's going to have one final print edition on its 75th anniversary in December.

My son has a subscription to the comic, and is quite upset that the comic is ending, but is somewhat happier that it will continue online....
It's been part of our cultural heritage for three quarters of a century.

My favourite strip is Mr. Meecher, the uncool teacher. Any resemblance to me is purely coincidental...

What are your favourite Dandy characters from past or present vintages of the comic ?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Google River View and Cycle Closer to Nature

This Daily Telegraph article describes a  project to map the towpaths and rivers of the UK.
This will produce a Google Street View-like result.

I have just finished a project which was part of the Mission:Explore range of challengers, and related to the use of cycle paths in the major cities of the UK. The missions are produced in association with ARLA and SUSTRANS.

If you visit the MISSION:EXPLORE website you will see a range of badges called Cycle Explorers under the badge of CYCLE CLOSER TO NATURE.
They have been produced for a number of cities.


Image: Urban graffiti under a bridge in Leeds, by Alan Parkinson

Simply get on your bike and start exploring nature by doing the challenges assigned to each badge. Unlock 1,000 points and earn at least one Cycle Explorer badge to be entered into a prize draw. You could win a Nintendo 3DS, an underwater camera, Mission:Explore Food books, badges, posters or one of our mystery prizes.

You have until the 30th of September 2012 to enter the competition...

New in the TES

A nice piece on mapping in the classroom by Paula Owens, with whom I created the resources to accompany the Digimap for Schools service.

Extreme Environments eBook on iBookstore

As I briefly mentioned last week, the first in a proposed sequence of books by Richard Allaway and I hit the 'virtual shelves' of the iBookstore at the weekend.
The first book, which is available for free, is available by following this link.

It's a revision guide for the IB Extreme Environments, although it would have some relevance for anyone teaching a range of extreme environment topics, including deserts and mountains...

Watch out for the next few books coming soon....
Please add a rating and review if you get a copy

Geography of Minecraft


My son has spent a lot of time this summer getting to grips with the pocket edition of Minecraft. He doesn't usually play the Survival Mode of the game, where you have to defend yourself against zombies or other attackers.
He concentrates on the Creation mode of the game, where you place blocks and other elements to construct buildings, landscapes and other features...

Interestingly, a week or so ago while moderating the Secondary Geography Quality Mark entries, we had an amazing video made by a student at a school in Hong Kong included as part of the evidence, where he used Minecraft to explain the different phases of a river as it developed. It was an awesome piece of work!

I've started to explore some other possible uses of Minecraft for Geography. 
Does anyone use it in the classroom ?

I followed @jokay on Twitter. He was involved in a Minecraft Teachmeet that the great Derek Robertson organised. He is also involved in the Massively Minecraft WIKI.

My son says that he particularly likes Minecraft because 'you can make anything you want...'.
He made an Olympic Stadium and other buildings such as a fish and chip shop.

The Minecraft WIKI offers a range of resources.
It seems that players often tend to focus on one particular aspect of the game, as my son is doing.

The Massively Minecraft website is a focus for those interested in the tool.

Thanks to Lee Burns for pointing me in the direction of some of this help.

Iceland CPD for NQTs and PGCE students


Discover the World has teamed up with the Geographical Association to plan a 4-day course for PGCE colleagues and NQTs in South Iceland.
The aim is to introduce colleagues to the awesome landscape of Iceland, and also take part in workshops, led by David Rogers, author of the GA Silver Award winning Eyjafjallajokull study pack.

Download the details here as a PDF


Here's an image of Thingvellir that I took when I was last there...

GA members get a discount on the price of the course by the way...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Flight Radar 24 now with aircraft view...

I like FlightRadar 24 and used it at the time of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption to show how the airspace cleared as the ash cloud spread.
If you visit the site you can see the aircraft currently in the air over several parts of the world, including UK airspace.

However, there is also a new feature at the bottom of the left hand column. This enables you, via Google Earth plugin, to 'see' the plane flying over the landscape that is beneath it as shown on Google Earth.....

Nice...

Thanks to the Google Earth Blog for the tipoff to this new feature...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Water Lilies

Quite like this shot I took at the weekend at Marle Place in Kent....
Click for biggery...

New GA CPD courses for 2012-13

The latest GA courses for the new academic year have now been published and are on the GA WEBSITE.

The courses in red are the ones I am leading. Look forward to seeing some of you there...

You can download further information and a course flyer from the links. Feel free to use these with colleagues.

Leading urban fieldwork

For primary teachers and geography subject leaders
London - Tuesday 16 October 2012
Manchester - Monday 22 October 2012
Price: From £150

Primary geography for the non-specialist

For non-specialist primary teachers, including those who may be taking on the subject responsibility within their school
Birmingham - Wednesday 17 October 2012
London - Wednesday 7 November 2012
Price: From £150

Leading a successful geography department

For current and aspiring secondary geography subject leaders
Birmingham - Thursday 18 October 2012
London - Friday 19 October 2012
Price: From £160

Google Earth and beyond: free online GIS

For secondary geography teachers
Leeds - Thursday 18 October 2012
London - Thursday 25 October 2012
Price: From £160

Planning for Ofsted with the Quality Mark Self Evaluation Form

For secondary and post-16 geography teachers and subject leaders
London - Tuesday 23 October 2012
Birmingham - Friday 30 November 2012
Price: From £160

NQT Conference: Making a difference in the classroom

For secondary geography NQTs
York - Thursday 8 November 2012
London - Thursday 15 November 2012
Price: From £160

Outstanding teaching and learning in primary geography

For primary teachers and subject co-ordinators
Manchester - Monday 28 January 2013
York - Monday 4 March 2013
London - Friday 15 March 2013
Price: From £150

Managing safe and effective fieldwork for IGCSE geography

For secondary geography teachers involved in delivering the new IGCSE
Leeds - Monday 4 February 2013
London - Tuesday 5 February 2013
Price: From £160

Being Ofsted ready with the PGQM

For primary geography subject leaders, middle leaders and head teachers
London - Tuesday 5 March 2013
Nottingham - Monday 11 March 2013
Price: From £150

Fieldwork and new technologies

For post-16 geography teachers
Birmingham - Thursday 7 March 2013
London - Thursday 14 March 2013
Price: From £160

    Leading through primary geography

    For primary teachers and geography subject leaders
    Birmingham - Friday 3 May 2013
    London - Wednesday 15 May 2013
    Price: From £150

    Saturday, 18 August 2012

    450 000 page views

    Thanks to all those who have paid a visit....

    Friday, 17 August 2012

    New on iBooks - the new book by Allaway and Parkinson

    Richard Allaway and I are pleased to announce the arrival of a new book for IB Extreme Environments for revision.
    The book is free, as it is a taster for a forthcoming series of books on all the major IB topics which will be published through the coming year.
    You'll need an iPad with iBooks to view the interactive publication.

    Thursday, 16 August 2012

    Welcome to my American visitors

    This week I noticed something about my visitor statistics....

    There's been a steady growth in the number of people coming from the United States, and for the first time, according to Google Analytics there are now more regular visitors from the USA than from the UK to the LivingGeography blog.

    This is quite interesting. If you're visiting from the USA please let me know what you're finding most useful. Perhaps it was the National Geographic Education Geography Awareness Week materials for 2011 which I co-wrote that brought you here ?

    The 2012 materials are now live on the website by the way .... a blog post on those coming up soon ...

    I'm always more than happy to pop over the Atlantic and work with geography educators.... If you can think of a way to make it happen, get in touch :)

    Oh, and welcome to all visitors from whatever country you're from. People from well over 100 countries have visited the blog...

    Wednesday, 15 August 2012

    Partly Cloudy...

    That's not the current weather, but it's the name of my current weather app of choice...

    Turns the weather data into a nice visualisation...
    Local weather earlier in the first image, plus the details on what is displayed in the second image.
    69p from the App Store.

    The designer also created the cool VirtualWater app...

    Other weather apps I own:

    • Weather - standard app
    • Met Office
    • Living Earth HD
    • Weather Doodle
    • The North Face Snow Report

    What's your favourite weather app ?

    Tuesday, 14 August 2012

    ManEater....

    If you are visiting Lowestoft over the summer, or live there, and catch a bus on the 106 or 601 bus routes, you can take part in a new Mission:Explore set of challenges that I was involved in creating along with Helen Steer, for a chance to win some great prizes.
    Ask for a special Mission:Explore ticket to get one of our great maps and be an explorer, not just a passenger...
    For more information, check HERE.

    Sadly, I have to say that the ideas I came up with are not all as good as this genius idea by Daniel Disselkøen which is awesome...  



    Thanks to So-Shan Au for the tip-off to the VIMEO film...

    SAGT - book early

    SAGT Conference this year will be held at Hutcheson's School, Glasgow.

    My good friend Val Vannet is President of the SAGT for the next three years.
    I will be presenting a workshop in association with EDINA on the work that I did for Digimap for Schools.
    Here's the description in the programme.

    Writing on the Map Alan Parkinson 
    Using OS Digimap for Schools to help guide global citizens.
    This hands-on session will make use of materials produced in 2012 for subscribers to the Ordnance Survey’s map service, operated by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh. Digimap for Schools won the Geographical Association’s Gold Award in 2011.Alan was the author of a major Secondary resource pack for Digimap for Schools, and will investigate ways to use OS mapping of Scotland to encourage an enquiry approach to teaching about the landscape, and students’ place within it. Understanding the earth starts by understanding our own place. There will also be an opportunity to learn about other GIS-style activities to bring maps to life.
    If Geography means ‘writing the earth’ then a lot of that writing should be done on maps…Delegates will leave with a pack of ready-to-use materials and plenty of ideas and tools to take this type of work further.

    Download the programme and booking form from the SAGT website. It's only £60 for non-SAGT members and £35 for members (membership for a year costs £35)

    Will also be good to catch up with Bob Digby (President of the GA from September), Steve Brace (RGS), Jamie Buchanan Dunlop (Digital Explorer) and Iain Stewart (off the telly) who are among the presenters, and of course plenty of Scottish teacher friends...

    I will then be moving up via Dundee to Aberdeen to lead a day's CPD the following Monday...

    Google Earth Olympics Venue Tour idea...

    Richard Treves has shared a nice idea for keeping that Olympic/Paralympic spirit alive when you return to school...
    It's an idea for using the Touring and Historical slider features of Google Earth to explore the Olympic Park.
    Check it out HERE.
    One to consider for the first few weeks back and Geography 'Boot camp' skills activities before getting stuck into the meat of the curriculum that you have planned...
    It's perhaps not too early to start thinking about future major sporting events which might gain from a post-Olympics interest in such things...
    How about:

    Little Printer...

    I signed up for updates about this little device when I first heard about it...
    A mini-printer with a very cool design which produces a customised newspaper from feeds that you set up.

    At £199 it's outside my budget but if anyone from @BERGCloud is reading I'm happy to trial one and write about its potential for the UK educational market....

    Summer reading...


    A good book about a family spending a year living in Iceland - cultural adjustment and more... I can visualise quite a few of the locations having visited Reykjavik and had several wanders...

    Monday, 13 August 2012

    Where's Alan ?

    Most popular baby names 2011 according to the ONS


    Image copyright: ONS

    Reflecting cultural changes and popular celebrities ?

    10 Geographic ideas that changed the world

    Via Seth Dixon
    An interesting looking book which identifies ten ideas that 'changed the world'. If you are interested, the ten ideas are summarised here...

    They are:

    1. The map
    2. The weather map
    3. GIS 
    4. Human adjustment of physical systems e.g. flood management
    5. Water balance 
    6. Human transformation of the earth
    7. Interdependence
    8. Central Place Theory
    9. Megalopolis
    10. A sense of place

    Do you agree with these ?
    What else has geography given the world ?

    Updates
    Thanks to Lindy for the comment.... see below...
    Also Bob Digby has suggested inequality as one of the big ideas that geography has contributed...

    http://oceaniaeuropeamericasafricaasia.tumblr.com



    The 5 Olympics rings visualised according to various statistics...

    Interestingly it seems that there wasn't an intention to match particular colours and rings to particular parts of the world...

    Prior to 1951, the official handbook stated that each colour corresponded to a particular continent: blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Australia and Oceania and red for America (North and South considered as a single continent); this was removed because there was no evidence that Coubertin had intended it (the quote above was probably an afterthought).
    Wikipedia


    Thanks to Mark Ollis for the tipoff to this interesting site.


    Sunday, 12 August 2012

    By the seaside...

    Just writing about exploring coastal processes for a forthcoming book, and sourcing a few images.

    I really like this one that I took on Blackpool Sands in Devon a week or so ago.
    Life in the swash zone.
    What can students measure and enquire into at this scale ?
    How does what happens here impact on the wider scale of the beach as a whole, and the communities that are protected by it ?
    Click for biggery... 
    Image: Alan Parkinson

    Thinglink

    You may notice something different about the image of the Hastings fishing shed below.
    Move your mouse over it, and you will see there is a small red circle on the section of the image that says 'Fish for Sale'. This section of the image has had a THINGLINK attached.
    Click the link and you will be taken to the webpage where the nef report on fish dependence that I referred to can be downloaded from.

    Thinglink allows tagging of images which lead through to a webpage or other link. It's an easy way to make images interactive by adding hotspots.

    I have added a THINGLINK widget to LivingGeography which means that I can now tag any images on the blog with links to relevant websites which means images can be labelled appropriately.

    To find out more about THINGLINK and sign up for a free account, visit the website.

    Plenty more fish in the sea ?

    Not really....

    I have spent the last few days working on some resources for a project with the splendid folks from Digital Explorer.

    The resources will be published shortly, and are on the theme of sustainable fishing.

    nef's dependency report has been produced - click here to download as a PDF

    On July 7th, the EU basically 'runs out' of fish that have been (or can be) caught in EU waters, and begins to deplete the stocks from oceans in other parts of the world...

    The EEA have produced this map and data sheet providing plenty more information on the fisheries that are being overfished i.e. being fished beyond their sustainable biological limit.

    Coincidentally, the GUARDIAN produced a video looking at the work of a fisherman called John Griffin (my brother in law has the same name, but it's not him) who fishes out of Hastings.



     Image: Alan Parkinson - fishing sheds on the Stade at Hastings

    Plenty more fish in the sea ? Possibly not....

    Quality...

    Last week was the annual moderation for applications to receive the GA's Secondary Geography Quality Mark.
    You can see which schools have previously gained the award on the GA website.

    This is a process which takes schools around a year to go through, and is an opportunity for the entire department to reflect on what is being done well, and provide evidence that it is offering a quality geography education, and that staff are undertaking appropriate professional development.

    Schools applying for the award have access to a VLE which provides a growing range of examples of quality geography, as well as the forms that help create a portfolio of evidence. The choice of evidence is important.

    This year, we had over 40 entries to moderate over a two day period. These fell into several categories:
    - schools that were applying for SGQM for the first time
    - schools that had gained SGQM and wanted to go for Centre of Excellence status (CoE)
    - schools that were applying for CoE for the first time
    - schools that had previously gained the SGQM or CoE and needed to re-accredit their status as three years had passed since they first gained the award

    I always enjoy the process although it is mentally and physically challenging. Schools spend many hours putting together the application and it is important that they are all read, and assessed carefully against the criteria that are used. The team that moderates the quality marks have been involved with the process from the start, and we now have a good sense for what we are expecting to see, but every year  we are impressed with the quality and innovation that we see in the applications. This year was no exception with some of the best folders that we have ever seen. There are many times when we say to each other "I'd like to work in this school!"

    Schools that have applied will hear shortly how they have done, and receive their certificates. 
    The sooner you start your application for 2013 the better...

    Matt 2012

    Thanks David Rogers for posting the link to the latest 2012 update of the classic Dancing Matt videos...
    Watch below and then take a look at the associated journal and maps...
    Coreogeography....

    In other news...

    While the attention of the world (and particularly the UK) media has been on London and the amazing successes of Team GB, there have been other events happening elsewhere in the world and (as always) not all of those have been good news stories.

    A number of sizeables earthquakes have hit an area of northern Iran, with over 200 confirmed deaths.
    Forest fires have forced thousands to leave their homes in Tenerife, Canary Islands
    There is concern about the amount of Arctic Sea Ice, which is even less than expected.
    Manila has suffered from devastating floods which have put a large percentage of the city underwater.
    Volcanoes have erupted in New Zealand
    The Mars Curiosity lander has started to explore the geography and landscape of Mars.

    What other stories have we missed in the last two and a bit weeks...

    Meanwhile don't forget to check out my Londinium MMXII document, which is updated now for stories during (and after the games)

    Roll on Rio 2016...


    Wednesday, 8 August 2012

    More schools switching to 'tougher' iGCSE

    According to this article in the Daily Telegraph.

    If you are switching to iGCSE Geography, don't forget to buy the Harper Collins textbook and teachers' guide which I co-wrote.

    Available from the GA Shop: textbook and teachers' guide.

    Tuesday, 7 August 2012

    Getting to grips: Nexus 7 - Update 2

    I've had the Nexus 7 a few weeks now, though for 2 of those I was on holiday...

    I like the way the tablet switches on with the animated X - seems to boot up faster than my iPad (no. 1 vintage) and also charges faster. The battery life is excellent - I haven't used it to watch many films yet though - not that interested in the Transformers movie that came with it. I bought a nice case from Amazon which produces a device about the size of a small format paperback book, and slips into large pockets, and exterior pocket on my main rucksack. It's also a good screen size for the Kindle app, and a slightly less shiny screen than the iPad for reading outside / on trains etc.

    There isn't a camera on the device, but there is an app which 'creates' one from the front-facing camera that is built-in. The quality isn't great, but good enough for what you might need given that I already have a DSLR and an iPhone with Hipstamatic and Snapseed installed if I want to take a photo and I generally have one of those with me at all times...

    I like the way that the three buttons at the bottom of the device screen work, with the apps being queued up and accessible or switched off, so that you can move between the active apps, and also switch off the ones you no longer need.

    I also like the Google Voice search, which also answers questions. For me, it works far better than SIRI, which I have never got on with, although it doesn't perform all the personal organisation tasks that SIRI is (apparently) capable of...

    Content can be transferred from a Mac by installing the app here - this allows for music etc. to be copied across, although I tend to use streaming services for music.


    Google Play store works well and apps are easy to find. Not sure yet what to spend my £15 credit of Google Play on yet, and still have it all intact.

    Spotify streaming works well and can also save files to play later. Not all the apps are available that are on iOS (obviously) but a little searching often provides a compromise or solution e.g. the TV CatchUp app is not available on Google Play, but can be downloaded directly from a website by temporarily changing the security settings and doing a direct download and install.
    Sound quality is good on my noise-cancelling headphones.

    Still looking for decent Twitter client - Tweetdeck works OK but not ideal due to screen layout and interface... any suggestions welcome...
    Update: trying Slices at the moment...
    Update 2: settled on Tweetcaster....

    I like the pull down menu from the top of the screen which brings you up to date with recent changes and activity on the device.

    The battery life is excellent. I've had the device on and off through the day and it lasted three days before needing charging. Obviously with more intensive use that would not last quite as long.
    I find the placement of the side buttons a little fiddly and have to reach around to find the one I want, especially when changing volume or doing a screenshot, but that's not a major issue.

    So far, very impressed, but I won't be giving up my iPad just yet...

    Update 3: Put Minecraft Pocket Edition on for my son - works well...

    Does anyone else have a Nexus 7 and have some ideas to add to this post ?

    New NING mobile interface

    Back in June 2007, I started the Edexcel 'A' level NING - the first subject specific support network using what was then a new platform in the UK.
    I also started a range of other NINGs and other geography colleagues filled in the gaps to provide support for most specifications. I also added this social media support to the Geographical Association when I joined them in 2008.
    The Edexcel NING is creeping towards a membership of 4000 - a remarkable figure...

    A new MOBILE INTERFACE has now been added, so that the NINGs are easier to read on mobile devices. I set up the Edexcel 'A' level NING interface earlier today.

    Tongariro...

    Mt. Tongariro in New Zealand has erupted for the first time in over a century.

    This Guardian article has some dramatic images.

    The Tongariro Crossing is one of the world's great walks, and a friend of mine in New Zealand has been preparing to walk it.

    The New Zealand Herald has some good coverage of the eruption, and some criticism of the early response.
    This story talks about the ash that is falling, and has links through to other video materials...

    Back from Devon...

    A few images from the summer break down in Devon....

    Made with Wordfoto App...


    Salcombe panorama - made with Dermandar app... click for bigger version...

    It's now back to the desk for a few weeks of hectic activity during which I have the following things to do:
    - finish writing my share of a book I'm jointly writing with John Widdowson
    - complete some work on an EU content curation project
    - write a set of materials for use with Edina's OS MapStream product, and continue to get to grips with QGIS...
    - prepare for a series of events in September, including a week training teachers in Salzburg, work with the FSC, Pearson, Enhancing Fieldwork Learning, VITAL and others...
    - catch up with work on my VITAL Geography portal to get it ready for the new academic year...
    - finish a Mission:Explore project in Leeds
    - try to complete a long overdue writing project for the RMetS
    - send the latest batch of writing to Richard Allaway for the GeographyalltheWay website

    Right.... down to it....
    Fortified with 2 new Mike Oldfield special edition albums on Spotify with live sets from the early 1980s which take me back as I saw those tours...