Monday, 23 December 2013

2013: another geographical year...

I recently sent off my log of activity for my Chartered Geographer (Teacher) status. I've been a Chartered Geographer since 2007. It involves a commitment to professional development. More details can be obtained from the Royal Geographical Society website.
As always, there's been plenty to report.

Here are a few highlights of the year.

January
Attended the GTE Conference - the Geography teacher educators' conference in a hotel in Hull. I met up with friends old and new that I'd worked with over the years, and talked about my projects.
I also met up with friends at the BETT Show in its new home at the ExCEL in London, and took the chance to do a little wandering after the event.
I then did a little European travelling, heading for Helsinki via Copenhagen. I did a brief presentation and had a meeting at the Finnish Board of Education, then headed on a cruise ship to Stockholm, breaking the ice through the Baltic, via Estonia. I then returned home via Dusseldorf.

February
Out to a snowy Salzburg University for 5 days, to run a GeoMedia course for Karl Donert. These courses are a real pleasure, and I've visited the city enough times now to know my way round it very well and feel comfortable there. I also took the chance to head for Munich and travel by train to the city, which was a wonderful treat.
This time round there were colleagues from two of the most impressive school geography departments in the country: Saltash and Cooper's Company and Coborn schools. There were also some colleagues from the Republic of Ireland, as well as several other European countries.

March
I ran events for OSIRIS and the Geographical Association at various venues around the country. Thanks to all the delegates who came out.
I also ran a Curriculum Hack Day in Portsmouth, with pupils from 8 schools. This was held on the Gun deck of HMS Warrior in the docks, and I worked with teachers and students to 'hack' the proposed KS3 document and come up with some new ideas.
I also headed down to rural Suffolk for the day. This was part of a Primary Geography Day organised by James Woolven, and was hosted by the West Stow Anglo Saxon village. The focus was on our work with Mission:Explore and fieldwork, and every delegate received a copy of Mission:Explore Food.

April
April brings the GA Conference - I was involved in two sessions, and ran a fieldtrip introducing people to Mission:Explore. It was another great conference. One of the sessions that I ran involved Tony Cassidy (a rare conference presenter) and John Sayers. With the other, I worked with SPC colleagues to run a workshop on Apps in Geography. 
Also picked up GA Silver award for work on the Frozen Oceans pack for Digital Explorer.
April sadly saw the end of my work running the Open University's VITAL portal. This had provided me with a regular income as well as being able to support colleagues in many different ways since October 2012. A pity that nothing has happened since the funding ended and JISC took over.
I also visited the city of Ghent for a meeting for an EU project, which was great fun, and meant meeting up with a number of interesting folks from around Europe.

May
I visited the UEA PGCE group towards the end of their year of training to send them off into their new career in a positive frame of mind - I hope. I also ran a few courses on the Future of Secondary Geography at a time when it was unsure as to what that would be. Some interesting discussions to be had.

I travelled to Bruges for the EuroGeo conference where I participated in a conference workshop and met up with friends from the I-USE project again.
June
Another set of new teachers, this time to Homerton College, Cambridge, and this year's PGCE group. I've been associated with Homerton and Liz Taylor for around 15 years now...
I ran courses for the GA on Google Earth and Free GIS. These courses have slowly evolved over the years I've been teaching them, but Google Earth remains a really useful tool for geographers.
I also went down to Charterhouse School to do a keynote for an Independent School's network event, followed the day after by a trip up to the Wakefield Geog Conference to do a keynote in a historic house on an island in the middle of a lake. 

July
A long journey down to do a keynote at the Cornwall Geography Network. It saw me spending a night in a room with a spectacular sea view and having a beach to myself.
I then headed to London and Birmingham to run courses for OSIRIS, speaking to a total of over 80 teachers over two days.
I also made the journey on one of the hottest days of the year, to the Drapers' Hall near the Gherkin, to do a session for the Princes’ Teaching Institute, where John Widdowson was my 'warm-up' man. A wonderful venue and an honour to be invited to speak.
I also saw a tour-de-force by Margaret Roberts at the Institute of Education, in a seminar organised by Professor David Lambert, where she discussed Powerful Knowledge with Michael Young.

August
Secondary Geography Quality Mark moderation occupied a slot of time during the month - this was a remarkable opportunity to peer into quality geography departments in the UK and abroad. A real privilege and as always I learned lots. I also made my annual trip down to Devon.

September
I kicked off the new academic year by heading to Hull University PGCE group to give my annual talk entitled 'I've been to Hull and back...' as that's where I trained as a teacher some decades previously. This was my only event of the month - I wanted to have a quiet term to get used to being back teaching.

October
Half term saw me make a trip up to the SAGT Conference. I've been visiting and speaking since 2005. This time round it was in Perth, and the night before was a reception at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. During the conference I was also very proud to receive the Joy Tivy Education Medal from the RSGS, presented by Professor Iain Stewart. 

November
A quiet month with my teaching taking priority as I established myself back in the classroom.

December

A few final courses on the Future of Geography, which was beginning to take shape a little, followed by a trip to talk about technology with PGCE colleagues at Homerton College, University of Cambridge.

During the year, I also visited a few towns to give lectures to GA branches, on the theme of the UK Floods, with thanks to Bob and Rob for their hospitality in North Staffordshire and over at Shrewsbury School.

I did a lot of writing through the year too. The 'Fieldwork through Enquiry' book that I wrote with John Widdowson won the SAGT Book Award at the conference, and we were also commended for our work on Mission:Explore Iceland (in association with Discover the World). I also worked on a new book called Mission:Explore Water which went through various incarnations and designs. I completed my 2nd children's book for Harper Collins, called 'Extreme Survival' 

I wrote a range of lesson materials with Helen Steer for a Technology Strategy Board funded project called DISTANCE. This is related to the 'Internet of Things': the idea that more things are now connected to the Internet and are making their way into schools. We are working with a set of Pilot schools, and will be sharing more resources into 2014. 

Finally, while in Bruges for an I-USE project meeting, I got a call from Claire at King's Ely, offering me the chance to return to the classroom, which I happily accepted, and in September I started back teaching Geography alongside my other freelance work.

2014 is already looking like an interesting year.... More on that later today in a blog post which will be a look ahead....
Then it'll be time for the customary Christmas blogging break...

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