Touching the Tide

Thanks to Simon Williams for sending me this link...

Touching the Tide is a coastal partnership in Suffolk.
Thanks for Simon Williams for passing through details.
It covers an area of the Suffolk coast near Bawdsey, and its Martello tower.

Many years ago now, we followed the LINES OF DEFENCE project, which was in the same area near the Bawdsey tower.
Just checked and it's 10 years ago now that students and I followed the slow decline of the flags - also impressive on a parents' Options evening..

The next Lucy

If you tune in to ITV evening news most evenings, once the bulletin is over, the weather will be presented by Lucy Verasamy.
Some years ago, I taught Lucy 'A' level Geography, including meteorology. She later featured in 'Teaching Geography', and I visited her when she was working for Sky.

The BBC is now offering people the chance to take part in training to be a BBC Weather Presenter.
This involves a good opportunity for anyone who fancies themselves in front of the camera.... I can just see Daniel Raven Ellison presenting the weather actually...

OSIRIS Geography Conference

Just under a month to the OSIRIS Geography conference, where you will have the chance to see Bob Digby, Professor Mary Biddulph, David Holmes and ... er... me, talking about geography, enquiry and the new curriculum...
Some keynotes and then a choice of workshops...

Investigating London - a new scheme of work

Paul Turner has shared a very creative scheme of work which uses a range of mapping tools and enquiry fieldwork approaches to investigate inequality across the city of London. It is based on the book 'The 32 Stops' by Danny Dorling, which has featured on this blog before, and is an excellent read if you haven't already come across it.

The work is attractively produced, and shared on Dropbox. The materials have been created using Google Drive, and Paul is keen for any comments that you may have to be added.
Go HERE to view and download the materials.

This is part of a longer term plan from Paul to share more of his material in this way... Sharing is definitely caring, and these are well thought out and accessible materials which, with a little adaptation could be used for other large cities too.

Oceans in the new 'A' levels...

News from OCR today about a focus on the Oceans (and some other 'new' topics too) in their new draft specifications, which should finally be able to be downloaded from the awarding body websites tomorrow.

From the press release:

From migrant trafficking and piracy, to rising sea levels and sustainable fishing, the breadth and depth of the ocean will be explored by students in a new Geography A Level.  

For the first time, a new ‘Exploring Oceans’ option, part of exam board OCR’s draft Geography A Level, will offer students the chance to take a more rounded look at oceans through a balanced combination of physical and human geography. Subject to Ofqual accreditation, the new A Level will be introduced into classrooms from September 2016.
OCR has introduced the oceans topic as part of a new ‘Geographical Debates’ section of the A Level.  As well as exploring the secrets of the seas – from ownership of polar ice caps to subterranean fossil fuels – students will also be able to study other major global geographical debates including Climate Change, the Future of Food, Disease Dilemmas and Hazardous Earth. 
Through case studies on these debates, A Level students will have the opportunity to make sense of topical events happening in the world around them, such as the Nepal earthquake, the Ebola outbreak and migrancy in the Mediterranean.

Mark Smith, Subject Specialist for Geography at OCR, said: “With the chance to explore topics like 21st century piracy, pandemics and plastic pollution, there has never been a more exciting time to study geography at school. Our new specification aims to bring to life the intrinsic links between physical and human geography, giving students a greater understanding of the challenging events they hear about on the news every day.”

These, and other topics were covered in an article in today's Telegraph.

I'm all ready for the Ocean with my latest purchase...

Don't forget more Oceans ideas in the Guardian last week.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Fake Snapchat generator

I don't use Snapchat, I believe it's a young people's thing they do with photos... :)
You can create your own fake Snapchat images here.
One to add to the list of 'generator' type things...

30 Days Wild

I have my pack... do you have yours ?
Starting on the 1st of June

Another Geography blog to check out...

Check out the work of Will Tuft, who has been sharing some ideas from his classroom for both KS3 and KS4.
A range of interesting and engaging posts so far.

42 years ago today....

ESRI UK User Conference 2015

Down to London for the ESRI UK Annual Conference for users on Tuesday this week. It's the first time I've attended. This is the biggest GIS event in the UK.

Around 2500 delegates were at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, opposite Westminster Abbey. I met up with Mark from OCR en route, and we chatted as we made our way through the city and walked down to the venue.

We went to the education room and there were a range of exhibitors present, including the OS, Edina, the Royal Geographical Society and the Geographical Association.
Downstairs and upstairs were other exhibitors, although I missed out on the I love GIS badges which I saw tweeted. There was also a chance to play on the amazing Urban Observatory installation.

After plenty of coffee and pastries and chat, it was down for the first plenary session, where there were over 1000 people in the audience. As I arrived a short while before it started, I managed to bag a front row seat, which was nice... There were some impressive features displayed, including a live demonstration of 3D Mapping and geofencing, which included real time plotting. There's an interesting article here on the background to the technology of the location of things. There was also a talk from Walking with the Wounded on their expeditions.

After the plenary, it was back up to the Education area to meet up with lots of teachers who I've worked with over the years, and hear some excellent sessions.
I particularly liked the session from Raphael Heath, where he talked about the work that he has done, and also launched his Ash Cloud Apocalypse project.
Raphael is picking up the OS award that I won back in 2008 at the start of June. He shared his use of Geo Forms, and I have since had a play with those to create one for a session that I'm running in June.

I also enjoyed watching the session from Garry Simmons on his use of StoryMaps. He also shared an Extreme Weather presentation for 6 extreme places. Plenty more on his Twitter feed too.

After the 3 education workshops, I then went for a quick drink with Richard Allaway, who had flown over from Geneva for the day especially to attend. Always good to catch up...
This meant that we missed the final closing plenary where Raphael Heath was awarded a special community award for the GIS World Record 

The sound of an eruption

Via @geogeducator on Twitter...
Mount Redoubt in Alaska.

Digital Explorer Oceans Academy

The XL Catlin Oceans Academy for Teachers is returning 10th-11th October 2015.
Based in and around Southampton and Hamble, this popular, free weekend training course aims to support UK Geography and Science educators to teach the ocean topics in the curriculum.

Led by experienced scientists and educators who've taken part in polar, coral and UK based marine expeditions, the course will bring new ideas and perspectives to topics such as extreme environments, food webs, adaptation, ecology and climate change. Participants will also be introduced to new teaching techniques such as using immersive multimedia, carrying out hands-on experiments and how to captivate pupils whilst learning outside the classroom.
The XL Catlin Oceans Academy is open to all primary and secondary teachers of Science and Geography based in the UK. We aim to find teachers who have a passion for oceans and experiential learning techniques from the real world. We are also looking for those who will be able to share their knowledge and experiences with teachers in local INSET networks, to enable the content and techniques to be disseminated more widely. In exchange for an atypical and explorative weekend, we require that each winner link up with teachers from at least four other schools following the training.
For more information and to apply visit: - first come, first served....
I took part in the Oceans Academy in March 2012. I had a great time: sailing on a tall ship, a rather fine full English in the Yacht club, talks from marine experts, putting up tents in a blast freezer and a few pints of fine ale.... the actual activities you will take part in may be a little different....
I recommend you apply early...
Image: Alan Parkinson

How to make an attractive city...

Short video by Alain de Botton for the School of Life....

Mark Beaumont smashes another record...

It's been a few years now since I first heard of Mark Beaumont. It was 2007, and he was attempting to break the World Record for cycling solo around the world. As a former pupil of the High School of Dundee, his journey was being shadowed and blogged by his former geography teacher Val Vannet, and when she was unable to do a few weeks while on holiday I took over and tracked Mark through SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Mark ended up smashing the world record. I created a powerful assembly piece to fund raise, and put some of the pictures from the trip to the Rush track 'Ghost Rider'...

Since then Mark has had a lot of amazing adventures, and has travelled the world. He cycled from N to S through the Americas: climbing Denali and Aconcagua as well...

His most recent challenge was a solo cycle from Cairo to Cape Town: 10 000km through Africa - although as I pointed out, it was downhill most of the way as he was heading south...
Earlier this week, Mark completed the journey, and once again smashed the record: taking 42 days when the previous record was 59...
Expect a book and search through the tweets and website for more details on this trip. It's an interesting way in to finding out about the diversity of landscape in Africa.

Posted by Mark Beaumont on Thursday, 21 May 2015

Donovan Hohn: Moby Duck...

We have been finishing our look at the Geography of our Stuff by exploring the fate of the plastic waste that leaves our houses.
We managed to have a 'conversation' with Donovan Hohn, author of 'Moby Duck' using Twitter, and he answered a few questions. We used the hashtag #duckspillage, which is perhaps the first time it's been used.
You can follow the conversation over on our @KingsElyGeog twitter feed (why not follow us while you're there...)

Stamen Maps

I've featured these many times before....
You can make your own images and maps....

Gold Blend ?

I've been giving some thought to teaching and learning over the last few weeks. This is partly as a result of some personal changes for the year ahead, which I've blogged about: a new job as Head of Geography from September in the Junior school where I work, and some other changes within the department (in fact we all have a new job from September....)

One of the approaches that seems to be gaining some interest (and not just recently) is blended learning: which is basically using technology alongside more 'traditional' approaches to learning... something I've been doing since - well, 1988 when I started teaching...

The Head of the Senior school where I work, who is also going to be leading our more global activity in the years ahead, wrote this book on the connections that are being made in schools, links to Bring your own Device (BYOD) policies, and other planning issues.

Classroom in the Cloud is the book, written by Alex McGrath and is worth a look for anyone involved in implementing new approaches to learning across the school...

Ash Cloud Apocalypse

Last year, we took part in the first GIS World Record attempt that was co-ordinated by Raphael Heath.

Raphael Heath is planning his 2nd World GIS activity.

The technology of ArcGIS Online has moved on in the last year, and there is now the appearance of the GeoForm (of which more to come later)
This year, the focus is on an Ash Cloud apocalypse.

Between 16 to 20 November get your Geography students involved with a local disaster risk mapping activity. Are you ready for the Ash Cloud Apocalypse. Could you survive? Know your risks!

This is the launch video... more to come on this later in the year....

New basemaps in ArcGIS Online

For those of you who are interested in developing your use of ArcGIS Online, a few new items of interest.
Some new base maps have now been added to ArcGIS Online
You'll need an institutional subscription to see them...

You can see that alongside Watercolour Stamen maps are also ORDNANCE SURVEY maps.

A further development that shows the power of this tool.

Also this week I have been exploring with GeoForms.
These are forms which can be created to connect with a particular feature service layer of the ArcGIS Online platform.... Fill in the form on your device of choice and the data is added to the map in the relevant place...

This is going to use a few apps.

Unique, and beautiful...

A month or two ago, I was using my favourite Watercolour filter tool by Stamen maps to produce some maps for an event I was talking at.
I'm also a fan of the Toner map for creating basic black and white maps which are good for colouring in.

I then came across the Map is Art website on Facebook, and their website.
I like their tagline of 'a passion for place' and 'design you own'
This is the work of Trip Wolfskehl and colleagues.

They use the Stamen mapping to create fabrics and other items which are completely bespoke. I got into a conversation with Trip and we discussed maps and various other things and went to and fro with the design before I was happy with it, and a few weeks later I received some rather wonderful things in the post... and became possibly one of the first in the UK to own a tie (and scarf present for my wife, but don't tell her yet....)
The tie is of my school's location with the grounds, and the cathedral... to wear for special events...

The products are of a very good quality, but are not cheap.... I managed to get a bit of a deal because, well, because I'm a famous geographer... ;)

Stamen Watercolour maps are now available as a base layer in ArcGIS Online for institutional subscribers - for more on OS maps and ESRI ArcGIS, see my next post, which is a review of the ESRI UK Annual Conference.

Data on tourism in Iceland

Iceland is a place that has been in the news a great deal in the last few months...

Richard Ayoade visited a few weeks ago too on Channel 4's 'Travel Man' and I liked his description of the Blue Lagoon...

The Icelandic tourist board has released a report on Tourism in Iceland figures. Well worth reading - download as a PDF - useful for developing Iceland as a tourist case study, which is something I'm going to be doing over the next six months...

Geo blogs.... get it ?

Some years ago, I produced a list of Geography blogs for the GA website. It was an updated version of a list that was originally put together by Pauline Wright via the SLN geography forum.

I noticed that it was getting a little out of date, so at the start of the year, I went through all the links and sent through an updated version to the GA. This has now been updated by Milan. It has removed blogs that weren't updated or had disappeared, and mentioned when they were last updated if it's been a while. That information was collected at the start of the year, so there may have been some changes.

Blogging has been one of my major 'contributions', for what it's worth, to the Geography community.
My online persona is GeoBlogs (which is a bad pun on Joe Bloggs...) and grew from an RGS innovative teaching grant I got in 2003-4 to fund a blogging project. I wrote about it for 'Teaching Geography' back in 2004... one of my first involvements with the GA.

I currently run 9 blogs which are regularly updated, and have a new one about to launch for our Iceland trip in November from King's Ely.

If I've missed your blog off the list, get in touch, and I'll collate another update for sending through at the end of the Summer term....

GA Conference 2015 - 19 - end of the review

OK, so this is the last of 19 posts reviewing the 2015 GA Conference and what I got up to...

As in previous years, this event remains a highlight of the year, and I recommend it to any geography educators.
Hopefully there will be a Teachmeet again in 2016.

Next year's conference is on the theme of connections. 

Contact Lucy Oxley at the GA if you would like to offer something at the conference in the next month or so, as the programme will start to be filled in after that...
My HoD Claire and I enjoyed presenting, and we'll (hopefully) be back again.

Richard Allaway and I have already sorted the Beermeet venue too...

To read the previous posts in the series, search top left for #gaconf15 and they'll appear...
Materials from conference sessions are appearing here. Danny Dorling's keynote is now up there for example as a PDF file.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Creative ideas for teaching about Oceans

A piece in the Guardian Teacher Network that was published today.

It offers ideas from 3 teachers about how they teach about the oceans. Good to see that the work of my colleague Claire Kyndt and I, and our pupils at King's Ely, gets a mention.

You are what you eat project

Alan Parkinson, geography teacher at King’s Ely in Cambridgeshire, taught oceans as part of a year 7 unit. He introduced the “you are what you eat” project to teach about food issues and sustainable resourcing.
Students were introduced to the various methods used to catch fish and their effect on the environment. They constructed models of trawlers with string to visualise the impact on the sea floor, and investigated more sustainable alternatives, such as farming fish like sea bass and tilapia.
Using paper plates and cardboard cut-outs, the children made fish and chips dishes with messages written on them. Each fish explained why it was threatened, whether by overfishing or pollution, while the chips were labelled with ideas for helping the fish to survive, such as introducing no-catch zones.
Students were then asked to create an eco-friendly menu. They had to select three meals and, using their new knowledge, ensure each delicacy was sustainable, for example, using locally sourced ingredients and avoiding overfished species such as cod and haddock. They linked up with the food technology department, and some groups were allowed to cook their dishes.
The key idea of the unit is to show how human activity effects the environment. The unit also helps students develop their inquiry skills, using digital mapping to source and locate suppliers of fish.
Parkinson says the variety of different activities involved in this project went down well with students. “From making the menus, the students started to see how decisions we make on a daily basis have an impact on other people and other places. It helped them appreciate the understanding of sustainability, and explore ideas like seasonality, animal welfare and food miles.”

GA Conference - 18 - Leo Houlding lecture

This was one of my personal highlights from the conference. A splendid lecture, and accompanying resources.

Leo Houlding described an expedition that he made to Antarctica, to climb an incredible peak...

Notes that I took, which have been tidied up, are available to view below.

Keep an eye out for some resources linked to his planned 2016 expedition...

ESRI UK Conference

I'm off here tomorrow....

There's a stronger  Education strand to the conference this time round, with talks from three or four people who have been doing some very interesting work with ArcGIS Online and StoryMaps, notably Raphael Heath who was behind the World record GIS in Schools event that I took part in last year.

Already planned to meet up with quite a lot of people that I know and am looking forward to making connections with some people from industry who may be interested to get into schools, or fund some educational materials...

The event has its own app, and I like how they have added challenges to encourage delegates to use it. Will be reporting on my day tomorrow....

Bones of Brave Ships

I've just downloaded the high quality files of the tracks on Suns of the Tundra's Bones of Brave Ships.
I supported the Kickstarter campaign to get it made.
The lead guitarist is Simon Oakes.
It tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition, and the boat trip to South Georgia in the James Caird.
It's got stonking artwork and some splendid instrumental tracks, which are all synched to the classic 'South' film by Hurley.

A geographical delight.... Available on Spotify too...

30 Days Wild

I'm taking part in the 30 Days Wild campaign in June....
It's being organised by Wildlife Trusts across the country.

I'm a member of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust - I hope you're a member of your local trust too....

The 30 Days Wild campaign involves people doing a small 'random act of wildness' each day of the month.
There's a slight whiff of Mission:Explore about some of the suggested challenges.... 

I have an hour commute to work, which means 2 hours each day are spent in the car. I often break my journey to take photos, or explore a road I've never driven down before... I've taken quite a lot of the routes but not them all...
Join the 3000+ people (and counting) who are taking part.
Sign up to get a wallchart, badge and an excuse to take part in a Random Act of Wildness.....

My students will be getting involved too... they just don't know it yet....


I have an idea for a project involving commuting teachers too, but more on that when I get some time to develop it further......

Rosario, Argentina

This is a little challenge and experiment.

Here's a city that I know nothing about, but which I'd like to know more about.
I've chosen it after a conversation with Alex Schafran from the University of Leeds as a city that has a lot of interest... and is 'comparable' with Leeds apparently in several ways...

I've already been in touch with Chris Prettejohn, who teaches Geography out in Argentina (although of course that doesn't mean he knows about every city in the country just because he lives there, though he does know a decent barbecue when he sees one!) He put me on to the city's website here.

I've started a Google Doc...

If you visit you should be able to edit it... I'm keen to see whether anything gets added....

Teachmeet at the Royal Geographical Society

After successfully lobbying for a Teachmeet at the GA Conference in April, David Rogers has now secured another prestigious location for a Teachmeet: the Royal Geographical Society.
It will take place on November the 4th, and the sign-up page is already open.

I'll be in Iceland at the time, but might Viber in to talk about what I've been getting up to...

Rex Walford Award 2015

The Rex Walford Award is now available for new(ish) teachers to apply for once again.

It is offered by the Royal Geographical Society in conjunction with their Young Geographer of the Year competition.

The Rex Walford Award is for trainees or teachers who have just started their careers, including students enrolled on a PGCE, Teach First and Schools Direct alongside NQTs and colleagues at a similar stage in their careers.
Linked to the Young Geographer of the Year competition, this years’ Rex Walford Award asks entrants to produce a short scheme of work, covering at least three lessons that focuses on the question ‘Why does Antarctica matter?’ The Society welcomes innovative and effective approaches to engaging students with this question and would also be interested to see examples of students’ work that has resulted from the lessons.
The deadline for all entries is 5pm on Friday 16th October 2015.

The 2014 winner of the award was Becki Quigley. At the time she was a recently qualified teacher at the McAuley Catholic Voluntary Academy in Doncaster. Her innovative scheme of work encouraged her students to think about the ways geography can help their lives; from keeping up with the news and examining the world's major problems, to helping their school become more environmentally friendly.

Becki's resources are now available for you to download from the RGS website.

Finally, for those who aren't familiar with Rex Walford, you can read this piece here. At the time of Rex's untimely death I was working at the GA and it was a great shock to all at Solly Street. A book of condolences was opened, and rapidly filled.

Rex's memorial service was held at Ely Cathedral, and over 1000 people attended. I am fortunate to go to the cathedral every week for school services, and I remember him often when sat in the South Transept.

I was also privileged to be at Wolfson College, Cambridge in the Old Library in April 2011, representing the Geographical Association at a remembrance party for Rex Walford.
MikeYounger, the retiring Head of Education faculty spoke about Rex and his many achievements. In particular, the need for geography to be engaging, critical and enquiring. I wrote about my memories of Rex here.

I was particularly struck with the words of Wendy Walford at the event, as she spoke about the 'tyranny of the question': the way that Rex really did seize every moment, with his boundless energy and inquisitiveness and would always ask "what have you achieved today", which seems like a reasonable question to ask at the end of each day, and to have in mind as the day progresses....

So, what have you achieved today ?

Current listening...

Thought for the Day

The amount of carbon dioxide that is given off per pound of beef is, in fact, greater [than burning a gallon of gasoline].
Denis Hayes
 | environmental activist and author

LondonMapper - resources now up

In 2014, I was awarded my 4th (ish) Innovative Geography Teaching award / grant from the Royal Geographical Society, to work with the wonderful Ben Hennig on a project using Census data.
The idea was to make this data accessible and linked to some resources.
Here's the description of the 2 grants awarded last year:

2014 Innovative Geography Teaching Grant recipients

 Alan Parkinson (King's Ely School) and Dr Benjamin Hennig (Oxford University). 'LondonMapper: exploring a World city through Census Data'. By focusing on London, this project will provide a context which has national relevance, but is on a more manageable scale. It will provide a framework for using Census data and a range of visually stunning maps to support imaginative enquiry work, which will also extend students’ critical thinking as they explore the sprawling city of London.

 Paul Turner (Sevenoaks School) and Dr Adam Dennett (University College London). 'CENTRISt (CENsus teaching ThRough gIS)'. A scheme of work will be developed for sixth form students, which will allow them to learn new quantitative analysis and GIS skills through exploring the 2011 Census data, while also engaging with wider substantive and increasingly important themes such as the North / South Divide in the UK or widening inequalities between London / the South East and the rest of the UK at a variety of spatial scales.

Details of the grants are here - I recommend that you apply the next time they are offered.
It's money to fund something in your school....

LondonMapper is a relatively new site, with cartography from Ben Hennig.
The scheme of work and resources offer 4 sessions looking at the city of London: past, present and future.

It's also linked with the MAPPING LONDON materials that I wrote for the RGS as part of their Rediscovering London's Geography.

Did I mentioned that this won a Silver Award at the GA conference - my 4th (ish) too....

Petri (fied)

Here's an idea I've been developing... along the idea of the Landscape in a Box.
My wife is an Art educator, and works with groups from Early Years up to Adults, in several local Primary and Secondary schools in Norfolk.
We have a local 'scrap store' which is based in Reepham, Norfolk.
It is called SCRAP BOX, and is in an industrial unit which you would drive past if you didn't know it was there...
It's a veritable treasure trove for crafty and creative types. From their website:

Mini-Scrapbox has a wide variety of resources :

• Paper, Folders, Coloured Card, Tubing, Calendars, Wallpaper etc
• Fabrics: large selection, various sizes, patterns, textures and colours.
• Zips, Reels of Cotton and Wool, Foam, Wood, Plastic
• Paint brushes and rollers
• We can get one of a thing or 1,000, and regularly obtain fresh resources to stimulate experimentation

Play is:
sticking, cutting, drawing, designing, folding… in fact whatever you want play to be.

Play is important to everyone:
• Young people learn through it.
• Older people share their play experiences with younger people.

Mini-scrapbox provides:
Material resources at low cost enabling play to happen;
1) affordably
2) experimentally, participating with others
3) indoors and outdoors

A recent purchase was a lot of petri dishes. This is how my wife used them: filled with small objects for close observational drawing, and of course to protect the contents.
My idea was to grow a culture... but of course a culture in geographical terms, like a miniature representation of cultural globalisation, or the culture of a country, or a learning culture for a school.
How would you use a petri dish for creative geography ?
I've already since seen being used stacked to show contour patterns, for example...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Class Tools - new Breaking News feature....

Russel Tarr has added a new generator to his Class Tools suite for teachers.
Make your own BREAKING NEWS style News graphics.
Here's one I made earlier....

Iqaluit on Street View

One of my jobs for the last month has been to finalise the latest chapters of the GCSE textbook that I am creating chapters for. This has led me to lots of new resources (and revisiting some older ones as well)

As part of my reading, I came across the street view images that have been produced for the remote town of Iqaluit, which is the main town in the Canadian province of Nunavut.
The images give a feeling for what life might be like in this place, and the town makes a good example of a location which is adapting to the new 'North' and the impact of climate change.

Should Mt. Everest be left unclimbed from now on?

In 1953, when Hillary and Tenzing descended from the ascent of Everest, a young James Morris was waiting to greet them, and managed to get the news back to the UK.
Now Jan Morris, she has written this fascinating piece in the New Statesman.
She suggests that given the avalanche that hit in 2014, and the 2nd avalanche triggered by the Nepal Earthquake in 2015, which killed and injured so many Sherpas and climbers, that perhaps the time is right to stop people climbing the peak.
This would make a great debate topic... as part of a unit on mountains, or risk, or landscapes...


Geocapabilities is one of the (quite a few) projects I'm currently involved in. It has been blogged about here several times before.
You can now download a very useful article / paper from the Taylor and Francis site which has been written by David Lambert, Michael Solem and Sirpa Tani, who I am working with on the project along with many other talented folks.

This article provides the theoretical underpinnings for an innovative international collaborative project in the field of geography education named GeoCapabilities. The project attempts to respond in new ways to enduring challenges facing geography teachers in schools. These include the need to find convincing expression of geography's contribution to the education of all young people and coping with the apparent divergence of geography in educational settings and its highly disparate expression as a research discipline in university departments. The project also hopes to contribute to the development of a framework for communicating the aims and purposes of geography in schools internationally, because here, too, there is great variety in definitions of national standards and even of disciplinary allegiances (including, e.g., the social studies, humanities, and biological sciences). GeoCapabilities does not seek to flatten such divergences, for one of geography's great strengths is its breadth. The long-term goal is to establish a secure platform for the international development of teachers’ capacities as creative and disciplined innovators. The project encourages teachers to think beyond program delivery and implementation and to embrace their role as the curriculum makers.

Coincidentally, David Lambert is picking up the Taylor and Francis award from the RGS-IBG the day after we return from Helsinki (or in my case, the same day as I'm hanging around for the following day...)


A few Fridays ago I led an hour-long whole staff CPD session on using Mission:Explore's new curriculum missions and badges to explore the school creatively.
Thanks to my colleagues for participating so positively, and also for sharing some of the things they produced, which are going up on the school website (no public access)
I liked this example of a photo-collage which was produced and shared by colleagues. Click for bigger version.

Visit the Mission:Explore site to see our new curriculum badges.

Details here...

Crowdsourced Webwatch issue

The latest issue of my Webwatch pages in GA Magazine, which I've been writing for a fair few years now was crowdsourced.
It's now been published and thanks to all those who sent me something for inclusion in the final article.
The people who made the final cut are listed below - all worth following on Twitter if you don't already.
Richard Allaway - @Richardallaway
Bob Lang - @Boblanggeog
Angharad Stone - @AngharadStone
Neil Cluclas - @stclun
Lizzie Crean - @LCreanGeog
Stephen Schwab - @schwabs52
Mr. Anderson and Miss Machin - @dukkhaboy and @Porthia18
David Holmes - @David905947
David Drake - @_DavidDrake
Alice Griffiths - @AliceLouseGrif
Raphael Heath - @RHSB_Geography

There's also some Twitter feeds to follow, an excellent suite of weather apps, and the wonderful Earth Primer app for iPads.

I'm always happy to receive suggestions for websites, apps and web tools that you've used in the classroom for inclusion in the feature...

Ordnance Survey Map Symbol Design competition

Just announced on the One Show apparently...
I was eating fish and chips at the time so missed it...

The One Show / Ordnance Survey Limited “On the Map” Design Competition

We are looking for something visual, original and eyecatching for our judging panel....

We have already run competitions to find the UK’s best chicken curry, chocolate brownies and home-made bread.

Now we want you to turn your hand to designing a map symbol, or several map symbols! We’re looking for your creative ideas in the following areas:

1) Vineyard
2) Skate Park
3) Caves
4) Toilet
5) Art Gallery
6) Electric Car Charging Point
7) Climbing Centre
8) Solar Farm
9) Kite Surfing
10) Ice Rink

All the details of how to enter are here on our website along with the terms and conditions. If you wish to enter a design for more than one category, please send each image in a separate email as your entry might not reach us if you attach multiple designs to one email. The competition is not open to professional graphic designers, map designers or professional cartographers.

Furthermore, as this is a competition for amateurs, entrants must declare any connection with commercial design when entering. Although this will not automatically exclude an entrant, the Organisers will consider any conflict of interest and reserves the right to exclude an entry on that basis.
Entrants are invited to submit a design for a map symbol for one or more of the specified categories listed above. Entries should be sent by email to the One Show email address

Entrants are required to send an image file of their design, no bigger than 10 megabytes. You can create your design on a computer or draw it by hand and send us a photograph of it. We are unable to accept PDF files, but you can submit JPEG, PNG and JIF file formats.

4. Please include your name, a contact telephone number, and a brief description of your design in the body of your email.

5. Please specify which category you are entering your design for in the subject heading of your email. For example if you are submitting a design for an Ice Rink, please put “On the Map – Ice Rink” in the subject heading of your email. Failure to do this may result in your entry not reaching its appropriate judging category and being disqualified.

Entries may be submitted from Wednesday 13th May 2015. The entry window will close at midnight on Sunday 31st May 2015. Entries received after midnight onSunday 31st May 2015 will not be considered.

The designs will be passed over to the OS judging panel, which will consist of their expert map designers and independent judge, who shortlist the entries and will then select the winning design(s) based on the following criteria:

• Originality of design and quality of artwork
• Clarity of symbol – does it clearly represent the category?
• Suitability of design for reproduction on digital and printed maps

The name of the independent judge will be available on written request. The judges may choose up to a maximum of 10 winners for each category. However the Organisers reserve the right, in their absolute discretion, not to choose any winners for any category.

The winners will be notified by the week beginning the 21st June 2015. Competition results will be announced on the One Show on the 1st July 2015, although the Organisers reserve the right to change the date of this announcement. The winner(s) shall receive a bespoke OS map which features their map symbol.

So what are you waiting for? Go and get creative!

Thought for the Day

Tomorrow may be hell but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.
Neil Gaiman

Weapons of Reason

I've blogged about this here before a few times.
It's one of the finest resources I've come across for teaching the Arctic and used for a while. I love it...

Thanks to Jon Barker for posting the link on Twitter.

Send my Friend to School 2015

Send my Friend to School is an annual campaign which teaches 5-15 year olds about global education and how to become active global citizens through a wide range of free teaching resources? 
I've featured it here for the last few years now, and used the materials in my own classroom.

2015 is an incredibly important year for the campaign. It is the target year for universal primary education but 58 million children are still out of school and it is girls, children in conflict areas and children with disabilities that are missing out the most. At the current rate of progress, according to Send my Friend to School, it will be 2086 before every child worldwide gets an education and a chance for a bright future.

However, 2015 is also the year that could change 58 million children's futures. 

World leaders will gather this September in New York to decide the future of the world's children and create a new set of sustainable development goals (SDGs)

The Send My Friend to School campaign is asking young people in the UK to imagine that they were a world leader and tell politicians what crucial decisions they would make to get every child worldwide into school now.

With the election just over, this is a good time to continue the focus on active citizenship.

There are brand new resources for 2015: case studies, assembly power points, fact sheets, lesson plans and other resources available to schools and once again, you can order a free teachers pack to all schools who get involved, which includes stickers and a free DVD.

Watch this VIMEO film to see how important the campaign is:

Follow the campaign on Twitter: @sendmyfriend

Young Geographer of the Year Award

Young Geographer of the Year 2015

Why does Antarctica matter?

The question for this year’s Young Geographer of the Year competition coincides with the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, which aimed to complete the first crossing of Antarctica. Despite failing in his original plans and being stranded on pack ice for over a year, Shackleton and his men returned safely and the expedition is recognised as one of the most remarkable feats of leadership and endeavour.
This year’s competition is an opportunity for students to explore why Antarctica still matters today. This may be for a number of reasons, spanning:
  • Antarctica's world-leading science
  • The continent's unique biodiversity and landscapes
  • As a location which still inspires people with awe and wonder of the natural world
  • Antarctica's unique status as the only continent in the world without countries
  • Antarctica's governance by the Antarctic Treaty which promotes science, peaceful purposes, sets aside territorial claims and prevents military activity
Discovering Antarctica, developed in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, features a wealth of information about the distant, frozen wilderness of Antarctica.
The competition has four categories: Key Stage 2 (students aged 9-11), Key Stage 3 (students aged 11-14), Key Stage 4 or GCSE (students aged 14-16) and Key Stage 5 or A Level (students aged 16-18). The Society encourages schools to run their own local semi-finals before entering their top-placed entries into the national competition.

The deadline for all entries is 5pm on Friday 16th October 2015.

Details here