Ten years after the Tsunami

On Boxing Day 2004, the news started to come through about a large earthquake in Indonesia, which generated a large tsunami which spread across the surrounding oceans.
There is no doubt going to be plenty of coverage of the anniversary of the event.
Over 200 000 people died as a result of the disaster.
Some useful resources include David Drake's collection of resources, which is a perfect place to start.
A new BBC video and some before and after series of images have also been released.

Other stories include the spread of debris around the world, and the way that the disaster led to a new warning system which means that people are now safer than ever.

The event was also a catalyst for change in my teaching, and opened up new ideas for the teaching of risk and hazards beyond the obvious change in the case studies that many schools used. The first week back at school included a range of assemblies and fund raising and the previous geography topics were abandoned as we dealt with students' curiosity and concern about the background to the event.

Latterly, we have talked about the event, and used the film 'The Impossible'.

The Telegraph has released an interactive explaining how events unfolded.

Coming in 2015... for all lovers of the Tundra...

Tour de Yorkshire

After the excitement and build up to the grand depart and first stages of this year's Tour de France, there is now a new cycle race that is going to be based in Yorkshire.
Here's the details from 'Welcome to Yorkshire'.

Excitement is building after the key locations were announced that will host a start or finish line for the first ever Tour de Yorkshire international cycle race.
Bridlington, Leeds, Scarborough, Selby, Wakefield and York will all host a prestigious start or finish of the new UCI-approved 2.1 Europe Tour race.
The race, which will be held on 1-3 May (Friday to Sunday), is expected to become a flagship cycling event in the UK in 2015 and an outstanding cycle race in the international calendar, including the participation of top international teams. It will be broadcast live on national TV and throughout Europe.
The full route details, including what role these key locations will play, will be revealed on January 21st, on the 100 days to go to the race.
The Tour de Yorkshire is a new race being held by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY), supported by British Cycling.
A recent independent report found the Grand Départ of the Tour de France generated over £100m for the Yorkshire economy and we are confident this new race will further raise the profile of our county and attract visitors - helping businesses big and small.
A mass sportive with several distances will be held on day three (3 May). The Tour de Yorkshire Ride is the unique opportunity for sportive riders in the UK to experience the Tour de France legacy and to pave the way for the pro riders. The sportive will take place on the same day and roads as the 3rd and final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire pro ride. Some of the riders and roads used were also in action at the Yorkshire Grand Départ 2014. Three distances and a women only Cycletta will also be available. For more information click here.
Keep up to date at www.letouryorkshire.com and on Twitter @letouryorkshire

Norfolk Festival of Nature 2015

Taking place at Gresham's School in February 2015
I'm getting tickets for several of these events.

Details of the events and booking information here.

Some really fascinating sessions, particularly:

The Spirit of Place
Patrick Barkham and Matthew Oates

The concept of Spirit of Place offers a new paradigm for our relationship with special places, and for nature conservation.  In essence, it involves a formal process for determining what is unique, distinctive and cherished about a place, from which short Spirit of Place statements can be derived.  This approach may help us to appreciate places more – and relate to them, and nature, more clearly. 

Patrick Barkham was born in 1975 in Norfolk and was educated at Cambridge University. He is a Natural History writer for the Guardian where he has worked for the last 10 years, reporting on everything from the Iraq War to climate change. His first book, The Butterfly Isles, was shortlisted for the 2011 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prize. His most recent book, Badgerlands, was hailed by Chris Packham as "a most read for all Britain's naturalists" and was shortlisted for the 2014 RSL Ondaatje Prize, the inaugural Wainwright Prize for Nature and Travel Writing and the East Anglian Book Awards. His next book, Coastlines, will be published by Granta Books in April 2015, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the National Trust's campaign to save the British coast. He is about to embark on two new books, one about children and nature and another about the obscure islands of Britain.

Quotidian geography...

Something I'm going to return to in the New Year.... the geographies of the everyday... and the idea of noticing.... and mindfulness....

of or occurring every day; daily

They have been explored by Alexandra Horowitz in her book 'On Looking', where she takes a walk around a city block with a range of people with different skills, such as a naturalist, a geologist, an artist and an urban sociologist. What do they 'notice' that she doesn't ?

I was taken by the opening section, 'Amateur Eyes', which you can read below...

On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz by Simon and Schuster

 One question is: what would a geographer have noticed on these walks ?

Hey Jude.... and the FabLab four...

Down in London yesterday working on a project with some folks from INTEL and Helen Steer from Explorer HQ.
This is an extension of the DISTANCE project that we worked on last year which has a focus on the 'internet of things' and sustainable cities.

One of the resources we worked on related to the use of weather data and the way that they could be used to explore different aspects of the weather: ranging from everyday weather with KS2 to the impacts of extreme events with GCSE students. My role was in the creation of curriculum contexts for learning, integrating the technology and the data that is produced by weather stations. This idea of data being generated by, and informing our daily lives is connected with the whole smart cities work that INTEL is involved in through ICRI. 

We identified the St. Jude's storm as being worthy of our attention. As it was in October 2013, it was relatively recent, and there were also a range of news coverage, hype in the media, and also analysis of the storm. We needed some archive data to compare with the present data from the weather sensors that we are using for the project.

Many thanks to Simon Collins from Reigate Grammar School for coming up trumps with his weather data from the school weather station.

This is available online in a live feed here, and is also one of the stations on the Weather Underground network, which means that the data can be 'scraped' for use in other applications.

Thanks to Simon for sending a detailed set of data from the period either side of the storm itself.
He has also produced this very useful and detailed explanation of the storm.

We then went over to INTEL's FABLAB space in the city.
This had a row of 3D printers which were busy extruding Christmas trees and other interesting 3D objects. Interested to see how these might be used within the school. I wonder whether there are plans to get one - perhaps we already have one...

We worked with the impressive folks there, some of whom we worked with on the previous project: David from Sciencescope, Greg: an INTEL design technologist, Duncan: an engineer and project manager who drives the projects on with a research focus, and Jason, who was working on software and the way that the Arduino boards from the sensor kits we are making can 'talk' to the internet.

It was impressive to see the opportunities for technology being integrated into the curriculum, and discussions on design and prototyping... It's rare for teachers to see how multi-billion pound industries 'work' and have the chance to work with some very talented people with very different backgrounds... an exciting project.

You can see the results of our work on the INTEL stand at BETT 2015 in January. Pop over and see what we've been up to....

Earthwatch UK Student Expeditions Programme 2015

Via Paul Baker

Earthwatch are delighted to announce the launch of our UK Student Expeditions Programme for 2015. During 2015 we will be supporting 3 teams of up to 14 students to join Earthwatch expeditions. The Expeditions for 2015 will be Climate and Landscape Change in the Borneo Rainforest (2 teams) and Butterflies and Bees in the Indian Himalayas. Both these projects are established Earthwatch research projects, but we will be offering tailored, facilitated and escorted teams for UK students during July and August

Each team will be joined by a male and female facilitator who will accompany the students from airport to project and back. Students will join a full programme of research activities, as well as sessions, workshops and visits developed specifically for these teams.

More details about the 2 projects can be found in the leaflets.
This programme has had an amazing impact on those students who have joined the teams over the last two years.

Borneo Leaflet

Borneo Leaflet FY15

India Leaflet

nQuire It

Thanks to my colleague Marc Hawes for passing on details of this interesting project.
It's a Citizen science style project which involves completing missions based on particular activities in the environment....
It's apparently currently under development, and has been put together by people from the Open University.
Some details below from the ABOUT page:
Our aim is to help you explore your world by joining and creating scientific missions. We have three types of mission on nQuire-it:
  1. Win-it missions set challenges with prizes for the winners. Each challenge needs a creative response. Some missions involve science experiments, e.g., ‘Suggest an astronomy observation using the Open University’s PIRATE remotely-controlled telescope'. Others tackle everyday problems, e.g., ‘Propose an imaginative way to attract bumblebees to gardens’.
  2. Sense-it missions make use of the Sense-it mobile app to collect and share data using smartphone sensors (e.g., accelerometer, gyroscope, light, sound). For example, ‘What is the fastest lift?’. The Sense-it app can be found in Play Store here.
  3. Spot-it missions allow you to capture images and spot things around us, such as strange signs and unusual uses of English.
You can select any of these missions and start creating your own Win-it, Sense-it or Spot-it mission. Then Quire-it software is open source and anyone can join or create missions for free. You can invite other people to join your missions by using your Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts. The most successful missions will get the chance to win prizes such as money rewards, vouchers or even to have your observation made on the PIRATE telescope in Mallorca!
The nQuire-it platform has been designed as part of the project nQuire: Young Citizen Inquiry a research and development project funded by Nominet Trust and coordinated by The Open University in collaboration with the Sheffield UTC.
For more details on the nQuire-it project, please contact Professor Mike Sharples, The Open University, at mike.sharples@open.ac.uk.

New guidance on subject content for AS and A2 Geography

Following a consultation process, new 'AS' and 'A level' Subject content has been released.

I was familiar with quite a lot of this as I serve on the OCR Subject Consultative Forum, and we had a number of very useful presentations at recent meetings.

Nick Gibb's speech is here, where he announced the new content for a range of subjects, including Geography.

By giving university academics a leading role, we are making sure that these qualifications will provide students with the skills and knowledge needed for progression to undergraduate study. I am grateful to ALCAB for their expert advice, and I am accepting their recommendations... in geography, content has been updated to reflect the approaches to geography taken by universities and geographical organisations, with a better balance between physical and human geography

The new specifications developed from this content will be taught for the first time from September 2016

Download the subject content here (PDF download link)

Some thoughts on the new content to come later... already plenty of people on Twitter giving their view.


The Geographical Association have put up a very useful page very quickly, impressive.

The RGS-IBG have also been quick in providing a statement on their position

The new A Level, to be taught from September 2016, builds in good progression from content at GCSE, and is relevant both to students who end their geographical studies at A Level and to those who pursue studies at university in geography and a range of other subjects.
The Society strongly supports the introduction of an independent investigation at A Level, which will develop students’ fieldwork and geographical skills as well as help prepare them for progression on to higher education. The identification of a ‘minimum requirement’ for fieldwork at AS and A Level will strengthen fieldwork in many schools. 


I was interested to read Martyn Reah's post from earlier this month on the theme of wellbeing.

In my long career I've been through a few very low points (not recently it has to be said) but I've been on the receiving end of years of negativity from senior colleagues (and that's as much as I'm saying here) and been passed over for promotion several times.... I'm now in a school where I'm supported and given freedom to teach as I want, take pedagogical risks, and choose the content to a large extent.

Martyn Reah’s original post, which has reached hundreds of teachers now was the starting point, and I wanted to support a fellow blogger, an activity I've been doing for over a decade now. It’s about the idea of well-being and thinking of ourselves a little more. I have to say that my well-being comes from immersing myself in the subject that I teach.
Part of #teacher5aday is to share what we do under five hashtags, which we are going to do in the New Year.
Connecting is what I spend my time doing, and which I’ve spent years developing as a support network, and also as a source of income through those times when I was made redundant and wondered what direction my life would take. I enjoy the inspiration that comes from my social media feeds and blogging, and don’t see it as an imposition.
Having said that I also like to #disconnect when possible: my travelling essentials include noise-cancelling headphones, and time to read in peace and quiet is my biggest luxury. So I would say that the need to #disconnect is vital too. I was interested in a number of articles a few months ago about introverted teachers. I need quiet time after a busy school day. Spotify helps me to connect with new music and audiobooks. The New Year will be a time to explore 
I’m not going to start posting how many kilometres I’ve run, or get stuck into a training regime at the gym. I don’t do a lot of physical activity.
My main exercise these days is walking, particularly exploring new places. I love the fact that I visit a lot of new (and familiar) places, and will spend as much time as I can pounding the streets, exploring interesting looking streets, and testing my internal navigation systems. Next year I’m going to be visiting a few cities for the first time, like Budapest, and returning to others, like Helsinki and Evora, and look forward to expanding my mental map of them.
I’ve always been the sort of person who notices too much, and finds it hard to stop noticing. I'm going to notice a few new things that matter I hope.
All the projects that I do are learning experiences. This year alone, I’ve worked with Ben Hennig - who showed me the effort that goes into creating a cartogram, colleagues at school - particularly Claire my HoD – who taught me a lot about teaching, GeoCapabilities project colleagues who include two of the very few Professors of Geography Education (David Lambert and Sirpa Tani) and my Explorer HQ colleagues who always inspire. Just this week, David North of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust lifted the lid on the management of the Cley reserve for me.
Next March, I’m going to be listening to Robert MacFarlane talk about landscape, and I’m also going to be writing a lot of chapters for a new GCSE textbook.
I never stop learning, and my bedside chest has a large pile of books waiting to be read over Christmas and into the New Year.
I volunteer and serve on the Geographical Association’s Secondary Committee, and will be doing some GA branch lectures next year. Every year, I answer hundreds of e-mails asking for help with resources or some professional issue.
I’m going to be volunteering some time to support the Norfolk Wildlife Trust develop their educational offering to local schools and adults.
I’ve also done some work with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society this year on the Betsey Project, and am currently working on some website materials before handing it over to the RSGS to maintain. 

GA Study Tour to Russia 2015

Details of the latest GA Study Tour have now been released, and if I had £2000 spare, I'd be signing up.
It's a 2 week long tour of Russia.

It includes the following:
  • The Russian Geographical Society and the geography of St. Petersburg
  • Preservation of historic cities and World Heritage sites, including Hermitage, Petergof, Alexandria and Petrodvorets
  • The Leningrad blockade and the geography of a city’s survival in the Second World War
  • The historic Mariinskaya Water Way system and Losev’s Rapids
  • Valaam Island and the monastery- the role of the Orthodox Church in Russia. Monastic farming and the local soils
  • The geomorphology of Lake Lagoda
  • Woodcarving decorative art and a master class by KronidGogolev
  • Geology and tourism - visit to abandoned marble quarries and waterfalls at Ruskeala, Lake Ristiyarvi
  • Tour of Kizhi Island including World Heritage site of KizhiPogost
  • Medical geography - Martial Water Resort
  • Industrial geography - ore and copper smelting plants
  • Kivach Reserve and waterfall. The negative effects of building the Girvass Dam
  • Boat travel to Solovetsky Islands in White Sea - history and architecture of monastery
  • Eco-dozor and their work to protect the ecological path “Babylon” in Kandalaksha
  • Polar Botanical Gardens and MGU Scientific Field Study Institute.Geological museum – “Apatity”
  • Olenegorsk, Lovozero Village - reindeer farming in former Kolhoz. History and culture of the Sami
  • Management of Ukrainian immigrants at Regional Headquarters in Murmansk
  • Visit to Nuclear Power Icebreaker “Lenin”
  • School 9 in Murmansk and their WW2 Project.
  • Marine Museum and WW2 Convoy
  • Transport geography – the rail journey from Murmansk to St Petersburg
The tour will explore the physical geography of the region through visits to world famous glacial areas including Valaam, Kizhi and Solovki islands, the Ladoga, Onega and Lovozero lakes and the tundra landscape. The region’s economic activity in primary and secondary sectors will be examined through visits to a marble quarry, a historical geological mining site near Sortavala, the fish canning industry, and a hydroelectric station. There will be opportunities to meet representatives of the local indigenous population and to learn about their cultural and economic activities. From another perspective, the region provides numerous examples of the impact of major historical events upon physical features and human activity, illustrating how human activities have interacted with natural systems, for example the Leningrad Siege and the Arctic convoys of the Second World War, and the construction of the White Sea - Baltic Canal using labour from the GULAG in the pre-war Stalinist period. The Tour will also visit major cities in the region, including St. Petersburg (the former imperial capital), Petrozavodsk (capital of the Republic of Karelia), Kirovsk (located at the spurs of the Khibiny Mountains), Apatity (a city named after the local abundance of apatite used in production of phosphorus mineral fertilizers), and Murmansk (the largest city north of the Arctic circle). Northwest Russia is a vast territory and our visit will meet the interests of geography educators through its variety of themes.

A fairly awesome itinerary and perfect introduction to a country that is new to many and appears on new curriculum documents...

Thought for the Day

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”
Muriel Rukeyser (1913–1980)

New British Antarctic Territory Stamps

Came across this stamps via a tweet from the British Antarctic Territory twitter feed
I love the way this sheet is laid out with the food web overlaid.
Fits with my 'First Class Landscapes' activity from my KS3 toolkit book.

An idea I'm going to develop further...

LondonMapper resources coming soon...

Earlier in the year, I was awarded an Innovative Geography Teaching grant by the Royal Geographical Society to produce some resources based on the LondonMapper website. This is a project from Ben Hennig and Danny Dorling, and is built on the earlier success of their Worldmapper site.

At the same time, I was asked to produce a set of materials for the RGS on the theme of Mapping London for KS3 Geography. They are now live on the RGS website and act as a nice complementary resource to the new LondonMapper ones.
The full LondonMapper website section will be live shortly, but in the meantime here's a sneak preview of one of the resources...

Cley futures

Yesterday, I went over to Cley next the Sea, a short drive north from where I live to the North Norfolk Coast. I met with David North, who wrote the excellent 'Elements of the North Norfolk Coast' to discuss some ideas for the new Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre which is due to open in 2015. A new community Education officer has been appointed, and we discussed some ideas for using the new centre with local schools, and an adult audience.

David took me on a tour round the reserve, and helped me to identify some of the many bird species that were spending some time there. He showed me the new area of Pope's Marsh, and the impact of the Storm surge in December 2013, and the tragic helicopter crash on the shingle ridge. I learned a huge amount about the management of water across the marsh, plans for the new area of marsh, lead shot pollution in ponds, the idea of the 'Living Coast' and the new shingle ridges. We stood on the shingle beach, visited the hides to look at widgeon and marsh harriers, and saw hundreds of Pink-footed geese flying over. A really nice way to spend the first Monday of my holidays, and talk about how I can continue to support the developments in 2015.

Images by Alan Parkinson

FSC resources on ArcGIS Online

Thanks to Liz Earley of the FSC for sharing some work that has been done on GIS and the ArcGIS Collector App at the FSC. The FSC has had a lot of training and development work and it's interesting to see what they've done. One of the outcomes has been a series of short training videos.

She has produced a menu to the resources using a StoryMap which is a great way of formatting the materials like this.
Nice work...

Christmas present to myself...

With the bit of extra cash I get from people at this time of year: my birthday and Christmas both fall in the next few weeks, I've decided to go for this camera as an alternative to the GoPro that I was considering...

The peculiar curved tube ends on a f/2.8 aperture 146° wide-angle lens, with a Sony-made 16MP 1/2.3" CMOS sensor behind it. HTC has equipped the Re camera with a standard and wide angle option setting for images - both in the maximum 4:3 aspect ratio at 16MP.
The Re camera can capture FullHD videos at 30fps as well as 720p at the same framerate. It can also do slo-mo 720p at 120fps. Here go the highlights.

Key features

  • 16MP 1/2.3" CMOS sensor, f/2.8 aperture scratch-resistant lens
  • 146° ultra wide angle capture
  • 1080p@30fps and 720p@120fps video capture
  • Configurable timelapse capture and slow-mo footage
  • IP57 rating for dust and water resistance
  • Standard °" tripod mount
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Built-in speaker
  • HTC Re app works on Android and iOS
The frame rate is not as good as the GoPro at the higher quality (although I don't necessarily have the equipment to take advantage of that anyway), but the image MP rate is higher... and there's an SD card slot for extra storage. The WiFi upload to Dropbox is also a great feature... and the fact that it's water and dust resistant is good for the outdoors usage I'm planning to put it to....
It's also a bit cheaper than the GoPro at £120....

It should arrive later this week, and I plan to test it on my trip up to North Yorkshire in a few weeks time....

Digital Explorer's Coral Oceans Live...

A new fun animation from Digital Explorer ahead of their Coral Oceans Live event in 2015...
Get involved!

Geography Geek resources

Thanks to Helen Young for the Christmas Quiz that has played out in classrooms across the country. Now it's time for the final week of term for many, and Helen has shared another resource she's created: this time it's on the theme of a White Christmas and is a 'proper' lesson and everything!

Down London...

A great weekend in London... Culture and urbanism...
First up, out to the O2 for the War of the Worlds live... an album I had back in 1978 !
A full house, and we had great seats booked a year ago... a really great show...
Into central London and braved Fortnum and Masons, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, and then a meal in Covent Garden.
Sunday morning we walked along the Thames from Vauxhall, past the clubbers emerging from an all-nighter at Lightbox under the arches, Tate Modern, Westminster and the London Eye. The Southbank Christmas Market was setting up...

A pause at Gabriel's Wharf, where there was a sand sculptor at work... Past Oxo Tower and Coin Street: a classic Geography case study from the past.

Past the Undercroft: a celebrated skate park, which was threatened with removal recently as part of a proposed redevelopment plan.

And a finish at the Tate Modern, where I went to this interesting exhibition of images and artefacts of conflict over the last century....

A good way to kick off the Christmas break....

Alentejo again...

Earlier this year, I went out to Portugal to talk about a possible project that I was going to be involved in. Although the project hasn't yet received the funding, we were able to plan out some courses for teachers, and the first one of these is now set to run in April next year with delegates from a number of EU countries heading for Alentejo for 10 days...
There are opportunities for teachers from the EU to apply for funding to come on these courses, and I shall share the details of how you can do that once the new set of courses for 2015-16 becomes available....

Image: Alan Parkinson

GA Conference Teachmeet

This year, there will be a Teachmeet at the GA Conference.

It was something I discussed while working at the GA, in fact it formed part of my interview, but there was never the momentum to move things forward (and I was busy enough at the Conferences without organising something else too), so it's great to hear that this year, there will be a teachmeet, which is being organised by David Rogers, and supported by Discover the World Education.

Details are available on the Teachmeet page. You can sign up to present here too.
The theme is 'Making an Impact' to match the overall theme of the conference....

I've put myself down for a 7 minute slot called 'The day I met Bernard Clark....'

It's Christmas and you are a Geographer...

A Week of Geography! from Simon Jones

I have this on my classroom wall as printed coloured sheets, and each morning, I update the day in my HotBoard so that I am ready for the day...

But over Christmas, we'll be at home and won't have that option, so I had the idea of starting a collaborative presentation, with lots of reasons as to why and how we can carry on doing Geography even though we're not at school...

I've started it off with the first slide and embedded the presentation below.

You can feel free to add a slide to it with another way that you can be a Geographer at Christmas...

Here's a new EDIT LINK if the above doesn't quite work for you...


Image: Karl Donert

Final update post from last week's GeoCapabilities project meeting in Brussels.

We are working to update our website, and produce some of the materials for teachers to extend their thinking on the idea of 'curriculum making' and the wider benefits of learning the subject. This will be one of my major projects into 2015.
We're also going to be represented at this event in Budapest later in the year....

The process will be reported in brief here as the year progresses....

European Translator

One of the sites which went down very well at the GeoCapabilities meeting that I attended last week in Brussels was an EU translation site from James Trimble.
Part of his vital resource for Geographers, the UK Data Explorer site.

This has a very good map which is used to display the translation of any word you choose into the various European languages.

My Finnish colleague was impressed at the accuracy of the map, given the complexity and nuances of the language in particular...


OFSTED Annual report came out today, and a few stories came my way. Nothing specifically geographical yet, but relevant for any geographer.

Some interesting comments on the East of England though, which has had quite a focus of attention this year. Some counties are quite low down the list of those areas where secondary students are in a school that is good or outstanding. Interesting to see the position of Cambridgeshire, where I teach, and how it's changed.
Also this comment on the (obvious) importance of leadership and teaching...

OFSTED is, for all state schools, an inevitable aspect of teaching, but I hope the negative comments at a time when all colleagues are reaching for the end of term and a chance to recharge aren't taken to heart...

Some new GA resource reminders...

The GA runs an annual Study Tour - this year the destination was China.

The educators who went on the trip have produced a range of resources from the trip.
They include materials on the city of Dalian, a port from which many of the goods that are loaded onto container ships ready for supplying the EU set off on their journey.

There's also a link on the home page currently to the online course that I wrote for the Global Learning Programme, which is called 'Exploring our Global Village'.

RGS Study day for A2 students

At the start of last week, I was down to London. Around 250 ‘A’ level students and their teachers converged on the RGS-IBG on Monday for an A2 Study Day.
Steve Brace introduced the day, by sharing some possible definitions of geography, including one aimed at ‘the language of landscapes’. He also stressed the growing demand for places on undergraduate geography courses , and the need for good exam grades, as well as a personal choice of how to spend the next three years of students’ lives. He also shared some information on the future employability of geographers.
The day was set out as a series of workshops, on exam-based themes, which ran several times during the day.

We had lectures from a number of folks including David Holmes, Simon Oakes and Alasdair Pinkerton.
Plenty of interest, and also good to bump into a few geography chums down there.
There is another event in the New Year, and we are planning to go back for other future events of this kind. For details of events like this, visit the RGS-IBG page.

There are also events for teachers of course.

Robert MacFarlane

I've followed Robert MacFarlane's work for years, since the publication of 'Mountains of the Mind'.

At the SAGT Conference in 2013, my session was based on a walk he took in the Cairngorms, and the influence of Nan Shepherd.

I was delighted to hear that he recently signed a letter that went into the Evening Standard to support our proposal for a Greater London National Park.

Robert's latest book will be published in March.
It's called 'Landmarks'. I've just got a ticket to hear him talk about his book, and other things at the University of East Anglia in the same week.

A few images of people with review copies on Twitter... Can't wait to read this as it sounds like it's even closer to my interests in landscape, topography and cultural-physical connections than ever...

Google Trends

I remember this tool every now and again, and am reminded of its usefulness. Google Trends displays the frequency of searches for particular terms on Google.
These go back to 2004, so there are now around ten years worth of data to use, so it is good for assessing recent events and trends.
Here's the global searches for the term 'Eyjafjallajokull' showing little interest in the volcano until March 2010.

One useful additional feature (as shown above) is that the trend graphs that have been created so that they can be embedded into webpages.

Useful to be able to search by country, time period, imagery etc.

Add more than one search term to compare the 'interest' in those terms over time...

World Ecosystems StoryMap

Yet another excellent example of how ESRI StoryMaps can bring a subject to life...

GeoCapabilities - show us your TACCLE

As part of the GeoCapabilities meeting I attended a few weeks ago, we were kindly hosted by the good folks at GO! 
This is a technology 'agency' which supports teachers working in Flanders, and is based in Brussels. We were very kindly given the use of a meeting room, which was part of their flexible and modern premises by the canal to the NW of the city centre. A good walk through the impressive area near the Gare du Nord.
We had an interesting meeting with some of the team at GO!

The website has some useful links and ideas, but one particular project that would be of note for UK colleagues is TACCLE. This includes a series of resources and face to face events on the theme of resourcing using technology.

You can also download a series of useful help guides

These include a guide for STEM and also one that will be useful for PRIMARY colleagues.

Well worth a look...

Rory's Story Cubes - new sets...

Just ordered the new Mix sets of Rory's Story Cubes...

When they arrive, that will bring to nine the number of sets that I have, which provides a huge range of combinations for story telling...
I like the look of the MEDIC set, for adding in some stories related to disasters, or health... and the intergalactic set looks... out of this world... and the Score set will add in some sport options.

Urban Expansion Infographic


A useful diagram - click for biggery...

Geography Revision resource from Simon Jones

Another nicely designed resource from Simon Jones as we move towards mock season, and the last six months of GCSE courses for students (including my daughter...)

GeoCapabilities 2 - Brussels meeting and Online platforms

The last few days of last week were spent in Brussels for a meeting related to the GeoCapabilities project that I've got involved in...
It's a project which explores the impact that learning Geography has on students beyond the skills and knowledge that are gained.
How does it help add something to their life 'capabilities' or 'capacities'... what does it enable them to do? How can we plan a curriculum so that it provides opportunities for these capabilities to be developed ?
GeoCapabilities is an EU wide project and involves teachers from all over the EU.

GeoCapabilities website is now up and we are also on Twitter +GeoCapabilities 2

One of the jobs that I have is to develop a series of courses online.

Have you taken part in any courses using online platforms ? 

Any thoughts you have on any of the platforms below would be appreciated - or let me know if I've missed a good one off the list...

Miles Richardson - thought for the day...

I like the message that is contained in this book...

Walk until the landscape suggests a place to stand

Where will you walk to this weekend, and where will you stand ?

This is available on Kindle now for just £1.95 (posted - 6th December 2014)

Pole of Cold book

Earlier in the year, as regular readers will know, I wrote the education resources for the Pole of Cold expedition, which was funded by the RGS-IBG.
The resources won the SAGT non-book Award in 2014.

Earlier this week, I received my signed copy of Felicity Aston's book of the journey: 'Chasing Winter'.
It's available via Amazon or directly from Felicity herself.
Nice to see I get a mention in the acknowledgements of the book...
A reminder that an earlier book by Felicity: 'Alone in Antarctica' was on sale last week for just 99p on Kindle, and I luckily grabbed one... It's an excellent book, telling the tale of her solo-crossing of Antarctica, and with some incredible moments....

Questia library

As part of the school's provision for students, the Senior school now has access to Questia Library, which is intended to support access to documents and books for students working at a high level, who may also need to do some research and cite particular documents.

There is a large Geography library of over 4000 items...
These include journals, books and other items.
This is a great addition to geography studies.

Does anyone use this ? 
Do you have any recommendations for any particular 'hidden gems' ?

Geography trip from the archive

Thanks to Joseph Kerski for posting this article on a field trip with a difference from 1955.

How do you get to school ?

I've got an exciting new writing project that I'm going to be working on in the New Year, which has a transport theme...
As part of this, I'm interested in how you get to work... what's your commute to work like ?

One of my Christmas reads is Iain Gateley's 'Rush Hour' - this explores the impact of commuting, and explores the history of why we live far away from where we live, as well as the psychology of the process. I'm looking forward to reading it...

If you have a moment, I'd love it if you could fill in this quick Google Form... it should take you a lot less time than the time it takes for you to get to work - unless you live on site of course...

World Soil Day

I know that you all knew that it's going to be World Soil Day on Friday.

Soils are one of the most important resources in the world, and one of the least studied and appreciated.
World Soil Day celebrates our soil, which takes thousands of years to produce but can be lost in a matter of hours...

Celebrate your local soil.

Global Learning Course - now online...

The Living Mountain

Last night, there was a programme on BBC Radio 4 which was presented by Robert MacFarlane.

It talked about the life and writing of Nan Shepherd, who wrote a book called 'The Living Mountain'. I used Nan Shepherd's book for the inspiration for a talk I gave at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers' conference in 2013. Search the blog for all the details...
Here's a description of the programme...

Nan Shepherd believed that it was 'a grand thing to get leave to live.' She did this by spending every minute she could in her beloved Cairngorms. In her 88-years, she covered thousands of miles on foot and became minutely aware of the rhythms of these wild places.

She collected her thoughts in 'The Living Mountain'. It's a remarkable love letter to these dramatic landscapes, but convinced that readers didn't want an "aimless, sensual exploration of the Cairngorms," Nan tucked the manuscript away in a drawer and left it there for 30-years.

Four years before she died, her book finally saw the light of day. At just 80-pages, it's small in size, but big in impact and has been described by The Guardian as "the finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain".

Robert Macfarlane agrees. He calls 'The Living Mountain' a "wry, beautiful hymn to 'living all the way through'". He thinks this book is hugely important as more and more of us experience less and less contact with the outside world; "We are, literally, losing touch." Nan's writing is the antithesis of this. She plunges readers right into the landscape.

Robert celebrates this intrepid literary spirit by embarking on an autumnal trip right into the heart of Nan's favourite wild places.

Do you have your certificate ?

I hope you took part in the recent GIS world-record project...

Remember to get your certificate if you took part in the event....