Global Learning Programme CPD

The Global Learning Programme has been underway for many months now, and there has been lots of activity across the UK.

The next stage of the programme involves a range of CPD events. Angus Willson is leading one on School Improvement through Global Learning.
I am developing a new course, which will run in June and July.
It will involve a range of web tools to support learning about places, and involve the development of a new unit called 'Global Village'

Details are on the GA website, where you can also book a place.
I hope to see some of you there...

Importance of knowing where places are

Durham Geography conference tweets from Paula Owens earlier today...

Session from Leszek Iwaskow , Chief HMI for Geography
Lots of interesting thoughts and confirmations...

New resource for Geography teacher mentors

At the GTE Conference in January 2013, I heard about the work that was underway on a new area of the Geographical Association's website.

This was being led by Andrea Tapsfield and colleagues on the GA's Teacher Education Special Interest Group.

The background was that with an increasing number of teachers being mentored within schools as part of their training, alongside the needs of NQTs who would need continuing support. There has been considerable effort to prepare a range of materials on all aspects of the task of MENTORING colleagues since then.

The area of the website is now live.

You will find that it is useful for any teacher, not just those who are mentoring others, or being mentored. This is a wonderful addition to the GA website.

There are resources for FIELDWORK for example - dig deeply and you will find some really important resources here.

iPad Apps

Thanks to Paul Berry for sharing his Premier League of apps - to fit on one screen of an iPad

Climate change infographic

The Impact of Climate Change on Development Efforts
Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Thought for the Day

Like other sciences, geography provides analytical skills, precision, the ability to collect and process important amounts of quantitative and qualitative data, to synthesize and communicate results, both verbally and visually. More than other sciences, geography also provides spatial data visualisation skills (mapping and sketching), emphasis the capacity to read and communicate multiple dimensions of a problem to a range of partners, develops design and creativity skills as well as decision-making and good understanding of group and individual psychologies.

Crafty Explorers - the next leg...

A great post by Daniel Raven Ellison summing up the huge effort that he, Helen and the team have made on the Crafty Explorers project since the start of the year.

Some details on the project for you, taken from Dan's blog:

Over the last few months I have been working with an outstanding team on Crafty Explorers, an innovative project to improve the health of children aged 5 and below. A response to the Knee High Project design challenge that is run by the Design Council and funded by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, Crafty Explorers is a friendly and affordable place for families to make clay creatures.

The pop-up shop that we opened to trial our ideas in Nunhead (Southwark, south London) was a massive success. Parents reported that we were having a positive influence on the physical and mental health of their children, as well as helping them to connect with nature and learn new skills. Many families came back several times over the six weeks that we were open and a few visited us daily for periods. This is high street, popular and engaging “learning outside the classroom” and “fieldwork” that we have linked to local schools, but is independent of them.

The pilot shop is now closed, but the project lives on. This week we present our research, ideas and plans to the Knee High Project panels. With a blend of skill, hard work and luck we may just get through to the next stage of the design challenge. This will give us some added support to help bring Crafty Explorers to the next level.

Fingers crossed for the next stage of the challenge...

ESRI UK Conference

Just reading about this event in June, which is FREE for ESRI UK customers.

The ESRI UK User Conference takes place in London.

There will apparently be some Education-relevant sessions, and also information on using ArcGIS Online. The focus is on GIS use in various industries, so there would also be a lot to learn about how GIS is used professionally.
I may be in London that day so may try to go along if I am able.

iPads in the Classroom

Preparing some materials for a trip over to Worcestershire next month. I have access to up to 16 iPads if required: a mixture of full size and mini...

How do you use iPads / tablets in your geography classroom ?

How would you use them, if you currently don't have access to them ?

Will share the materials I put together in a few weeks time.

Image: Alan Parkinson - iPad booking system on school iSAMS\

Update - 30/3
Thanks to Charlotte Lemaitre for sharing this link to her presentation on iPad use

GA Tyne and Wear Branch

Tickets booked for a trip up to the GA's Tyne and Wear branch in the first week of my Easter holidays.
I'm going to be talking about technology in Geography to the 3rd year Geography in Education students at Northumbria University earlier in the day too.

The event will take place in Newcastle, and starts at 5pm on the 2nd of April 2014

Any queries please email Cath White -

Send ALL my friends to school

After a hectic term, which included an ISI inspection of the school (of which more to come), I am now on a much needed Easter 'break' which involves more than a little work as always...
I'm very fortunate to work where I do, in a school with awesome students and supportive colleagues, and to have this view earlier today as I sat in the end of term service...

Not everyone around the world is so fortunate however, and for the last few years around this time, I've been reminding people of the SEND MY FRIEND to school projects which have been running for some time now.

This year's project has just launched, so this is my annual reminder that there is a range of useful resources to download from the site for those exploring every child's right to go to school, and the importance of education for all.

TV presenter and Paralympian Ade Adepitan introduces the campaign DVD ( ) - part of a free pack with colour case study posters and a Teachers Guide – available for all schools that sign up –  ( . Through Ade’s eyes pupils learn about the barriers to education for children with disabilities, and gives a step-by-step guide on how to take part in this year’s campaign.
We meet 11 year-old Lucy from Kenya in the film and on one of the colour posters; she has polio and has never been to school. Her life is explored in the Real life stories ( in resources tailored for both KS1 and KS 2/3.
Assembly Power Points have been created to explain the promise world leaders made in 2000 on Education for All and what we can do to help children like Difasi. Education and Disability fact sheets are also tailored for KS1 and KS2/3 and look at the many challenges for disabled children trying to get an education and what can be done to address these.
There are some great learning materials specifically for Primary pupils including the Sensory bag which encourages them to experience the world around them and learn how they use all their senses and the 5W’s which pupils are invited to choose a real life story and answer the What, Why, Who, Where and When questions.
For Secondary pupils the activities of Circles of Influence and a how to write an Inspiring letter to their MP will introduce them to political literacy and explain how they can be part of the democratic process.

The local shop...

An interesting story in 'The Telegraph' which explores one option for villages which are losing their services: an automated village shop, which has apparently been installed in Ashbourne.

A useful addition to work on rural services - links with a Chapter in my book with John Widdowson.

102 years ago today...

‘Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of our tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write any more. 

R. Scott.

Last Entry

For God’s sake look after our people.’


It's become traditional over the last few years for Geographers to get together for a beer (or other beverage) at the GA's Annual Conference.

Ewan Laurie and I would like to invite you to join us for geo-conversation over a beer (or beverage of your preference) at this year's event, which is held in Guildford.
Thanks to Richard Allaway for the poster, and Tom Morgan Jones for the illustration...
See you there...

Athens 1: Journey and arrival

Up early last Friday for the train to Gatwick Airport. The weather was fine, but my head was down finishing off a presentation that I was going to lead at the 1st European Summit of the School on Cloud.

This was held at Doukas School in Athens.

After checking in and hanging around for a while, it was off for a long flight to Athens, heading over the Alps and then down the Dalmatian coast. Good service on Aegean airlines. Landed in Athens ahead of time, and got the metro into the centre, where I then navigated the labyrinth of streets to my hotel.
After an initial room was rejected, I ended up with a room on the higher floors, which had a marvellous view across the city.
That evening we went out to a local restaurant to enjoy a meal of Greek salads, a platter of grilled meats, dessert and coffee, with plenty of jugs of red wine... A great welcome...
Some of my photos here, that were taken during the event.


Not got room for a full OS map ?
MiniMap is an interesting idea for a personalised map centred on an area of your choice which is waterproof and folds down to a manageable size.

Digimap for Schools adds historic maps

Digimap for Schools is a map streaming service which has featured here on the blog for many years. I've been involved in writing the educational materials for the service, which offers the chance to stream maps from the OS Mastermap level upwards

New features are being added to the service over time, and this week a major (and much requested) new addition was made.

This morning (24th March) a new version of Digimap for Schools was released with the exciting new addition of historic maps. These beautiful Ordnance Survey maps published between 1895 and 1899 as the Revised New Series in England and Wales and the 2nd Edition in Scotland, provide an additional rich learning resource and context for exploring how the landscape has changed in the last 120 years.
To view a historic map of your school, street or anywhere in Great Britain, use thenew historic map slider (beside the pan arrows) to fade the current OS map and reveal the historic map underneath.
For help on getting started with historic maps, take a look at the video available in theHow to view historic maps help page.
The historic maps have been scanned from original paper maps and made available courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.

Go to the mapping now, and zoom into the area that you are interested in (the slider will not be active at the top levels of zoom) and then slide to the left to go back a century or more....

You can judge a book by its cover

Contacted by an American publisher to ask permission to use this image on the front cover of a book which is set in the Fens.

Global Learning Course

A course that I've put together as part of the Global Learning Programme is now live on the GLP website.
It's called 'Using free web tools to strengthen global knowledge'.

You can read about it, and apply HERE.

Schools involved in the project can use CREDITS to come along.

There'll be plenty of new resources created specially for the course, including a whole new scheme of work, called  'Our Global Village'.
It'd be good to see some of you there...

Pinterest board experiment: Fieldwork pins...

Follow GeoBlogs's board Fieldwork on Pinterest. Seems to have worked... If you use Pinterest, use this WIDGET BUILDER to direct people to it via your blog.

'A' level Fieldwork

Just a final sweep round of resources I may have missed, and came across this useful site for A2 Skills.

6th Form Fieldwork Survey

Final preparations for a course I'm leading in London on Thursday this week on fieldwork and technologies... Adding in the last minute changes and updates from various locations...

Your responses to the survey below would be appreciated if you have a moment, and have experience of 6th form fieldwork.

Thought for the Day

In the rich world, each of us consumes or uses 30 or more animals a year (the bulk – 52 of the 59 billion – are chickens). We don’t, in the nutritional sense, need these animals to feed us – certainly not in those numbers. Yet, in order to eat them at an acceptable price we have to imprison them, alter them genetically and chemically, and kill them. 
Alex Renton

Via the Guardian - preparing for Geography of Food


Illustreets is a new way to explore your local area and assess it. Useful for explorations related to demographic data.


So when did Eyjafjallajokull erupt ?

Via Google Trends...

Extreme Environments

One of the things about being a prolific blogger is that things you write disappear off the main section of the blog quite quickly.
I thought it was worth reminding you of something that I created a while back with the guy on the left here...

A couple of years ago, Richard Allaway and I created an eBook on Extreme Environments.

It is perfect for revision, and as we come closer to REVISION SEASON you may want to download it, as thousands of other people have already done.

Now available in over 50 countries...

It's an Urban Jungle out there...

Thanks to Keir Clarke (yet again) for the tipoff to this awesome Street View app: Urban Jungle, which 'fills' the image with jungle creepers and other effects.
Here's the street I live in as I've never seen it, or perhaps in a few hundred years when humans are no longer around and nature has reclaimed it...

Are you a Geo-Educator ?

Join the Geo Educator community of National Geographic.

Street View scenes...

I like the mixture of people amongst the 400+ that I follow on Twitter. It ensures that I get lots of interesting ideas coming into my Twitter feed.

Rob Bircher has recently been sharing a range of scenes where he has taken an extract from a (usually fairly famous) book, and shared the location as shown on StreetView. I can see this working for other circumstances too, and may try it with students... Might work for landscapes quite nicely as well...

Follow the Frog

Via John Sayers

For more related material on the Rainforest Alliance, head to COSTA FOR SCHOOLS, which I helped to create: I wrote the educational materials.

Will feature in Endangered Biomes unit for Year 9

Stand by your beds...

I've been quite quiet on here this last week and a bit, because the school has been going through an inspection. We have inspections by ISI, which seems to me to be a better system than OFSTED in that the majority of inspectors are working teachers and senior leaders in the same sort of schools as the ones they inspect. There is a professional dialogue following observations rather than lesson grading, and a whole range of interviews and book scrutiny.

It will be about three weeks until we know the final result of the visit, but it was certainly a very intensive and thorough look at all the schools procedures. My new colleagues certainly rose to the challenge, but this was not about necessarily putting on a show, but celebrating what we already knew was good about the school...

And now for a lie-in....


A few weeks ago, I took delivery of a Sphero 2.0
This is described as a robot - smart toy - game system.

I've been thinking about the possible uses in Geography, and will be working on these ideas during the next term, when I may have a little more time for such thoughts..

There aren't too many resources out there so far, as it's a relatively new thing, but there are some good reviews of its potential, and it is being used to teach coding in the Little Miss Geek classes described here.

Our school's Geography Ambassadors will be exploring its use. One of them has a Sphero of their own, so we can take a look at that.

Here's an introductory video to show you what Sphero is.... I have an updated version to the one that is featured in the video.

And here's a Google Document which contains my thinking so far...
This will be updated as I (and my students) spend more time with Sphero... wait for changes to be 'rolled out'....

Sphero 2.0 from Sphero on Vimeo.

Discover Geography - coming in April

A brand new exciting resources website created for geography teachers by Discover the World Education and the Geographical Association to be launched by April 14th.
The site will be developed over the coming years. Initially, we will be offering you resources relating to Iceland. Later in 2014 you will find material on Norway, Azores and China. In early 2015 we plan to develop resources relating to Italy and beyond.
It doesn’t stop there; other benefits and features include:
  • Free access for teaching professionals
  • Opportunity to share your own resources and to receive payment for your work. 
  • Enter your students into the Outstanding Geography Student Award to be in with a chance of winning a school trip abroad.
  • Regular geographical news feeds and geography debates relating to Discover the World Education destinations.
  • Information on free and discounted continuous professional development courses for teachers.
  • Teacher forum allowing you to share ideas, ask questions and make suggestions on existing and future resources.
  • Opportunity to win a trip to Iceland for the best teacher contributions.
  • Includes the multi award winning Discover the World Education study aids featuring Eyjafjallajokull, Solheimajokull and tourism in Hardanger, Norway.
  • Includes the award winning Mission:Explore Iceland resources

Risky Places Survey

At the risk of pushing my luck.... here's another survey to help me with a Year 9 lesson later in the week... All responses gratefully received...

Flower Survey results

For those who responded to my flower survey, and who might be interested, these were the responses

Many thanks to the 82 people who responded to the survey...

Cardiff Case Studies

I've blogged about this resource before, but it's developing nicely.

Cardiff Case Studies are created by colleagues at the University of Cardiff, and designed for 'A' level students (although students lower down the school may find them of value). More materials are being added over time, so pop back regularly to see what is new.

They are arranged in three groups:

- Human Geography
- Physical Geography
- Research Methods

There's also an interesting sounding event in June, where the new resources will also be shared for the first time (PDF download)

Map face

My wife is a talented artist and teacher, and trained at one of the best art schools there is....
Here's something she created for her students as a visual for her latest project.
It's based on a picture of my daughter.
It's really rather great, and I wonder whether we could do something similar with old maps with the students...
Anyone done anything like this ?

Eddie who ?

Hard at work and needing a lift... so it's a quick spot of Eddie Jobson.... one of my favourite musicians for over 30 years...

Facebook Story

Post by Facebook Stories.

A Japanese boat that survived the 2011 tsunami and a two-year journey across the Pacific Ocean has become a symbol of hope for the city of Rikuzentakata and led to an important connection between the students of two distant but similar towns.

Where was it made ?

Check out this excellent website which merges art and geography. You'll be aware of my interest in mapping and interesting projects and this one explores the origin of all the things that Jenny 'consumed' on the 1st of April 2013

Perfect for Geography of my Stuff investigations...

Read more about Jenny here.

It's worth looking at her excellent INFRASTRUCTURE project for example on Satellite Landscapes.

Arms wide open...

A really nice feature on the BBC News website about the statue of Christ which watches over Rio de Janeiro, and will no doubt feature on the telly quite a bit during the summer...

Which other cities have such a dramatic and public statue as their iconic landmark ?

DISTANCE - we've come a long way...

Distance stands for:
Demonstrating the Internet of School Things: a National collaborative experience

It's a project that I've been involved with along with a group of partners including INTEL, Sciencescope, CASA at UCL and the Open University.
Helen and Tom from Explorer HQ have worked with me to produce some exciting ideas, supported by Mark, Dan, Paul and other colleagues from Explorer HQ on the technical side.

We've been working to create educational materials for the schools involved in the Pilot, and ultimately schools all over the country.
Click the Resources tab on the website, and you will find that you can see some of these...
They would be useful to adapt even without access to the kit that the schools had.

The website has developed tremendously since the start of the project...

Follow Apps > Dashboard to see some of the live data feeds from the project.


Would quite like to see this film. Fascinating stories and wonderful images...

WATERMARK - Trailer from Flowers Gallery on Vimeo.

Small Boxes

I've had a few requests about the small boxes that we used for our CITY in a box, or LANDSCAPE in a box style challenges with students. You can of course create your own by printing off a box net on card, or scale it up and use food packaging or shoe boxes, but these little boxes are nicely made, and fold up neatly into the preferred box... There's a small charge per box, but it might be something that you prefer rather than creating your own.
Check out the WEBSITE for the details on the various types that are available. We used THESE.

Curriculum Making in the sun...

Courses that will run in Vidigueiras in Altentejo, Portugal through 2014 and 2015 are being finalised...
I will be one of the main trainers on these courses.
Come and learn about curriculum making, engage with teachers from other EU countries, and experience the culture of the area, and the historic cities of Evora and Beja.
Details on the poster below...


Spent the first hour of yesterday's school day in the splendour of Ely Cathedral for the Eucharist of Ash Wednesday.
Here's a picture I took while there...

Music from Peter Gabriel's Last Temptation of Christ - recently added to Spotify...

Traditionally, people either give something up, or take something new up for Lent.
What are your plans ?

World Book Day

What are you reading today ?

Geographies of the Great War...

Somebody was asking recently about any geographical resources related to the Great War.  

The Centenary of the start of World War I will be marked by a whole host of history-based programmes, magazines, books, educational materials and events and trips to the area where the trenches and main battles were located.

But what about the geography of the War?
How did geographies play a part in the conflict?

I've created a Google Drive document which is embedded below. Please get in touch via Twitter or Comment or other method if you'd like to be added as a contributor to this document, and you'll be able to edit and add your own ideas to what I hope will be a collaborative resource...

 This is only a working draft as a starting point and is far from finished...

There's plenty more that could be added e.g. countries, maps, poetry and model making...

I look forward to seeing your ideas...

Pole of Cold back home...

The Pole of Cold team arrived home a few days ago, following their epic trip to Siberia and Oymyakon the 'Pole of Cold'. 
They experienced countries across Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, then on into Russia, for several weeks, all in the comfort of their specially equipped Land Rover.
Along the way, they created over 100 podcasts, sent almost 1000 tweets, and drove over 35 000 km (almost equivalent to driving around the world...)
Here's a picture of the team, which was posted on their Facebook page when they arrived back in the UK.

I was privileged to be asked to write some education materials for the trip, which are now hosted on the RGS-IBG website.

If you'd like to hear Felicity Aston, one of the team, talk about the expedition, you need to head down to the RGS on Monday the 19th of May, for one of the regular Monday night lectures.

You'll need to be an RGS-IBG member (or have one as a friend).  I shall try to go along if at all possible.


This was available on Sunday for just £1 for the Kindle version. I hope you caught my Tweets alerting you to this. Interested to see what it says...

Coastal Erosion - a story to research...

Now listening...

Too much to do, but this is keeping me going for a while longer... One of the better moments in this new album... Oldfield albums with songs are always a little disappointing when compared to the heyday, but some great guitar work at least...

We're all Storytellers

We're all Storytellers
An ad which was shown during the Oscars last night... Narratives are important in geography.
The narration is by Andrew Stanton, director of Wall-E.

School in the Cloud

I'm heading to Athens in 3 weeks time to lead a workshop on the cloud and apps...
It's slowly taking shape, and I'm using inspiration from a range of colleagues both real and virtual. I got a few further ideas over the weekend, from a conference that was taking place in Dublin, and also from some Australian colleagues...

How are you using Cloud-based applications in your teaching ?

I'd be happy to receive any suggestions for other great Cloud-based resources that you think I should know about, particularly if you've used them in the classroom...

Any uses of Google Docs, Linoit, Triptico Cloud etc. ??

Young Geographer of the Year competition

The theme for this year's competition, run by the Royal Geographical Society, in association with 'Geographical' magazine is now available:

How can Geography help you ?

Details of how to enter are HERE

Pupils are asked to relate the value of geography to a number of different settings. The significance of both human and physical geography could be considered at a variety of different levels.  Pupils should demonstrate how geography can support their everyday lives, improve their understanding of the world’s people, places and environments and help to prepare them for life beyond school.
We want to hear how geography, be it the knowledge young people learn, the understanding they gain, or skills they develop, helps them in different aspects of their lives. This help might be at many different levels:
  • At school
  • At home with your family
  • When you travel and go on holidays
  • When you think about current events at home or abroad
  • Whether it will help you with further study, perhaps at university
  • Or lead to a particular career you would like to do
We are interested in answers which might look at both the serious and the fun sides of geography and particularly want to see how entrants can relate the value of geography to a number of different settings.  We welcome applications which, as appropriate for the age range, recognise the value of both human and physical geography. 
For the all categories appropriate and accurate geographical vocabulary should be used and we will provide additional credit for entries which use primary data collected by the student, alongside
secondary data.
The competition has four categories: 9-11(Key Stage Two), 11-14 (Key Stage Three), 14-16 (GCSE) and 16-18 (A Level students).

If you're a new teacher, you can also submit some resources on the same theme for the Rex Walford Award.
Download guidelines here (PDF)

Social media spuds..

Look forward to buying these when they come into the shops in March (and I don't mean the town in Cambridgeshire)
Update: interesting that this is one of the most viewed posts in recent months... and it's a picture of some potato shapes... :)

The Ouse Washes

On my commute to school, I pass through the Ouse Washes. 

These are a managed landscape, which have a special atmosphere to them. Over the last few weeks there has been a focus on flooding in other parts of the country, but here in this very low lying area, great efforts have been made to manage surface water.

They are a perfect habitat for birds and also a wildlife reserve.

How much do you take note of the landscape you pass through on your journey to school ?
As the nights draw out, I'm going to be taking the various turnings off the main roads that I take and explore the communities that I've been driving close to for the last few months...