Still to see this, but have heard good things about it...

A nation of shopkeepers

Down to the Victoria and Albert museum yesterday on a stunning blue sky morning in London and wanted to see Barnaby Barford's Tower of Babel.
Here's the background to the installation...

The Tower of Babel is a richly-layered work that tells an array of stories about our capital city, our society and economy, and ourselves as consumers. Standing an imposing six metres tall, it is made up of 3000 individual bone china buildings, each between 10 and 13 cm high and each depicting a real London shop. Barford cycled over 1000 miles during the making of The Tower, visiting every postcode in London and photographing well over 6000 shops in the process. These photographs were used to produce the ceramic transfers that have been fired onto the shops, making each shop a unique work of art in its own right.
At The Tower’s base, the shops are derelict, closed-down and boarded-up. Then, as we start to ascend, we find chicken shops, pound shops, and bookies. Climb further and we encounter specialist retailers of all descriptions, chic boutiques and artisan food stores that cater for the aspirational consumer’s every need. Nearing the top, the shops become ever-more exclusive, until finally we reach the pinnacle with London’s fine art galleries and auction houses, where goods are sold at eye-watering prices.
We loved the piece, and the very geographical nature of the subject matter, and also the link to the bid-rent curve and other geographical theories relating to the location of retail activity.
We may even have a go at making our own version for Ely.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Car Free Day in Paris

Apparently today is a Car Free day in Paris. I wonder how it's going ?

Via this article.

Cloud Appreciation Society Conference

I spent Saturday this week down at the Royal Geographical Society in London, for the first Cloud Appreciation Society Conference.

The society has been going for 10 years now, and I was an early member. I went with my colleague Claire, a fellow cloud geek.

There was an article on Gavin Pretor-Pinney: the founder in the Telegraph a few days ago, providing some background on the society.

There was an eclectic array of speakers and musical interludes, and I will be posting more details on some of the individual sessions over the next week or so when I have time. There was also news of an update to the Cloud Spotter iPhone app.

Here's the short video that kicked off the conference.

Cloud Appreciation Society - Somerset Aspirations from Wayfarer Media Ltd on Vimeo.

A short film Wayfarer made for Gavin Pretor-Pinney's brilliantly named 'Cloud Appreciation Society.'

Debut screening at the CAS's conference at the Royal Geographical Society on September 26th, 2015.

Graphs as Art

I came across the work of Jill Pelto ( @Glaciogenicart ) recently. A number of graphs of environmental impact, which have been turned into art... a decline in glacier ice, and the number of forest fires the first that I saw... I love projects like this.

New from Simon Jones

Simon Jones has produced a range of high quality materials to support teachers in promoting the subject, and teaching enquiry based lessons over the last few years.
His latest set of resources is a series of posters.

Click for biggery

You can download the whole set, and make a donation if you want, to support Simon's work. They'll be going up in my classroom next week.

Squam Lake

Hans Rosling's latest programme

A new programme by Hans Rosling.
Don't Panic - how to end poverty in 15 years.

The legendary statistical showman Professor Hans Rosling returns with a feast of facts and figures as he examines the extraordinary target the world commits to this week - to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide. In the week the United Nations presents its new goals for global development, Don't Panic - How to End Poverty in 15 Years looks at the number one goal for the world: eradicating, for the first time in human history, what is called extreme poverty - the condition of almost a billion people, currently measured as those living on less than $1.25 a day.

Rosling uses holographic projection technology to wield his iconic bubble graphs and income mountains to present an upbeat assessment of our ability to achieve that goal by 2030. Eye-opening, funny and data-packed performances make Rosling one of the world's most sought-after and influential speakers. He brings to life the global challenge, interweaving powerful statistics with dramatic human stories from Africa and Asia. In Malawi, the rains have failed as Dunstar and Jenet harvest their maize. How many hunger months will they face when it runs out? In Cambodia, Srey Mao is about to give birth to twins but one is upside-down. She's had to borrow money to pay the medical bills. Might this happy event throw her family back into extreme poverty?

Available to watch for some time...

Cloud Appreciation Society Conference

This coming Saturday, I will be down at the RGS-IBG for the first Cloud Appreciation Society Conference. There is a range of guest speakers and activities and opportunities for various workshops and talks and exhibitions to celebrate 10 years of the society. I was quite an early member.

The event runs through the day, and I'm looking forward to it. Will blog about it of course...
Anyone else going and want to meet up ?

Happy Equinox

Equinox today.... the official start of Autumn, and the turn towards darker mornings and evenings.
Out early on to Ely town centre, and noticed the shadow of the cathedral outside the Old Palace.
Quite enjoyed the picture I took...
View large for best effect...

New venue for GA Conference

Instead of the University of Derby, the 2016 GA conference will now take place at University Place at the University of Manchester.
This is a new venue, and has plenty of space, including a 1000 seat lecture theatre (should be enough room for me)

Details here, on the GA website.

Means we have to find a new venue for the Beermeet...

Another explorer option...

Eight years or so ago, we started our Mission:Explore journey...
There have been a fair few versions of similar books that I've come across since: Nowhere Guides, Crabman books and the various works of Keri Smith among them.

Today, I bought the latest option for interesting ethnographic fieldwork, which has been produced as the Spotters Guide to Modern Life. I bought it in Norwich, and it turns out that the author / illustrator is from the area.

There's a website to support the book which explains what it's all about, and some fun challenges, and quirky graphic presentation.

24 years ago today...

That was when Otzi the Ice Man was discovered by the Simons, on their way down from a day on the peaks.
There's a book about it, which I may have mentioned before...

Thanks to Jamie Woodward for the reminder

New corals resources coming soon

I've been writing resources with and for Jamie Buchanan Dunlop and Digital Explorer for some years now, going back probably five years. Some of them have been very successful, winning GA Silver Awards, and also nominations for other awards including ones at BETT.
I've just finished work on a new set of materials and suggestions for teaching about corals, based on the Coral Live expedition to Timor Leste that took place last year. There's a VIMEO video here.

These are going to be connected with units in the new GCSE Geography specs, one in particular which I'll report more on when they have been formally released.

Keep an eye out on the Digital Explorer website for these new materials, and while you're there check out the existing materials - they are excellent quality and

IAPS Geography Conference

If you are looking for a CPD event to come along to this term, I am only going to be doing one external event, and that is the IAPS Geography Conference in Oxford.

The days of two or three events a week are over now I'm back full time and leading KS2/3 Geography in my school and have no time for many days out during the year.

The event is on the 19th of November. My session is on Technology in Geography.

Geography: Teaching and Creating a Geography Rich Learning Environment

This course will look at the ‘learning energy’ stored in the classroom and how to balance pupils’ learning, the teacher and the use of technology. What different approaches can be used to develop geographical skills, understanding and their geographical knowledge? There will be sessions on technology in geography, assessment and assessing geographical learning and how enquiry and data collection can be used in both the classroom and through fieldwork.

Flic buttons on their way

Almost a year ago, I supported a Kickstarter project which promised to produce buttons which would link to specific applications on devices, so that the press of this button would trigger some sort of action...
The buttons are finally ready and the first batches are being posted out.
Looking forward to trying them out when they arrive and will tell you all about them here...

Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain came through Norfolk again today, as it did in 2010, 2011 and other years, including 2012 when it came through our village... Over to Reepham to see it come through, and we had a good vantage point to see the cyclists and all the vehicles that accompany it, and police the rolling road blocks. There was a small leading group, followed a few minutes later by the peloton. The rain stopped for us, which was good, and I grabbed quite a few decent pictures.

Edvald Boasson Hagen is in the lead, but Andre Greipel won the stage.

The final stage is tomorrow, in London.

We also got a souvenir, a bidon from a Wiggins team rider, complete with the last dregs of isotonic drink in it.
The region meanwhile benefitted from the extra income brought in by the race.

2012’s route through Norfolk and Suffolk saw around 150,000 people line the roadside, and the 2011 and 2012 races brought a boost of over £3 million to the economies of both counties. 

Paul Smyth, Chairman of the Communities Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “In previous years the Tour of Britain has brought significant economic investment into Norfolk and proved to be a hugely popular event, so the race returning to the county is welcome news. 

“We are the only east of England stage and as well as giving a boost to Norfolk's profile and businesses, it may also lead to increased cycling among residents, with consequent health benefits." 

(Source: Norfolk County Council)

Image: Alan Parkinson, more on my Flickr page

UPDATE - could this be Sir Brad discarding the bidon that we found?

Hommage A Eberhard Weber

CD arrived today with music from a special concert to honour the bassist Eberhard Weber. He played on many albums that I own with Jan Garbarek, but also with Kate Bush and many others. I remember seeing him at Norwich Art Centre playing solo bass: setting down textures and then improvising over them... or as he said "playing with himself"....
There's an awesome half hour piece composed by Pat Metheny... and a lovely Jan solo... this was a nice way to end a busy and frantic week at work...


Went to Bruges last week for a project meeting.... more to come over the next 3 years.
To find out more, visit the @GILearner Twitter page.

Here are some images that I took while in the city....

A Place to Departure

Thanks to Maps Mania for another tipoff to an intriguing map related site.
This refers to a project called A Place to Departure

The installation has touch sensitive panels, and uses them in an intriguing way.
A Place to departure is an installation that allows people to interact remotely with each other by touch.
There were 2 windows: one in Beijing, China, and another in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The installations were apparently made only of glass and wood, but if you touched the equivalent point in the glass in Beijing and other person touch the same point in São Paulo simultaneously they would both feel that an interaction happened with a subtle vibration in the glass.

You can also download a location based generative pattern for your own location.
Here's the one for my school

GA CPD courses

The 2015-16 range of GA CPD courses is now up on the website.
After 6 years of involvement in running some of these courses, I'm taking a back seat to concentrate on teaching again, but these are well worth looking at if you want some quality CPD this year.
There are some new courses, and some new venues, so take a look.

Geography in the News

Thanks to Glyn Rogers for the tipoff to a set of online 'magazines' with links to plenty of resources for a wide range of geographical topics. They have been produced by the DfES Wales.
Click the Cymraeg tag to turn them into Welsh.
The most recent resources is on the risk of coastal flooding in Wales and contains a range of documents which have been nicely put together.

Day one...

First day of term today... a little pen portrait of what that involved for me and my form group and classes... a good day.

  • Alarm at 6 - fog draped in the hollows - sun rising as I leave the house
  • Drive 45 miles - tea in an insulated mug and a banana
  • Arrive at school just after 7 - drive over to senior school to pick up books and stationery
  • Set up form room for the day - printing documents and chatting to colleagues - mug of hot chocolate
  • Meeting form, and welcoming new students 
  • School assembly - messages about the new school year, expectations and warm welcomes to new staff and students
  • Walk over to Cathedral for service to start the new year - Ely Cathedral girls' choir singing and prefects and heads of house recognised - Principal's welcome referencing the refugee crisis and travels to Kigali, hymns
  • Back to school for break - cake and coffee to celebrate colleague's wedding over the summer
  • Time with form - planners, timetables, almanacks, clubs - sorting issues and events to come later in the week: capsize drills, photos and future trips
  • Lunchtime - over for meal and chat with colleagues
  • Resource preparation, Dropbox management and filling in teacher planner
  • E-mails - discussions on meeting with parent later in the week
  • Staff photo taken
  • Form time - final details - students sorting music arrangements
  • Year 12 students doing ALIS tests
  • Students heading off for sport in the afternoon
  • Over to Senior school - chat to colleagues
  • Year 9 lesson on conflicts, using images from the summer, and first homework of the year set
  • Back to Junior school to tidy desk and collect materials to work on tonight
  • Drive 45 miles home
  • Evening preparing for tomorrow, answering student e-mails, preparing work for absent students and new colleagues, plus watching Tour of Britain and 'Only Connect'
So just an average day really, and I'm sure many had days that were far busier.

If you went back to school today, I hope you had a good start to your year. You can read about what I get up to here, and over on my teaching blog.

Teachmeet for Cambridgeshire Geographers

Via the Cambridge and District GA Branch

Event: Cambridge and District Branch of the Geographical Association CPD event
Differentiation and other issues in Geography – sharing good practice” 
Venue: Soham Village College
Cost: free
Date: Wednesday 23 September 2015
Time: 4.30pm Registration for a 5pm start.  The event will finish at approximately 7 p.m.  Refreshments will be provided.  Signing up to take place by Friday 11 September 2015.

Offers to give a 5 minute presentation on differentiation or other subject related issues are welcomed (please contact me on jhill@witchfordvc.co.uk regarding this).  A presentation could take the format of work that your students have completed, findings from projects or it could be ideas for activities and related resources. 

Do bring a colleague - they don’t have to be Geographers.  There will be opportunities for networking during the event.

An “Eventbrite” invitation will be sent out nearer the time.

Mr Jim. Hill
Head of Geography
Witchford Village College
Manor Road

GI Learner start up meeting

For the next 3 years, I am going to be involved in a project with a number of EU partners (schools, universities and other partners) called GI-LEARNER. I am co-ordinating the involvement of my school, who is a partner in the project.

I've mentioned the project previously, but am currently in Bruges for the start-up meeting, where we have been discussing the practicalities of setting up the various events, activities, research and resource creation that is going to occupy us for the next few years, along with around 100 students of ages from 7-13.

Partner representatives exploring Bruges

The partners involved are:

Four schools

Sint-Lodewijkscollege, Bruges, Belgium 

King’s Ely, Cambridgeshire

Bundesoberstufenrealgymnasium Salzburg, Nonntal, Austria 

Liceul Teoretic "Dimitrie Cantemir" Iasi, Romania

Two universities

Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain 

Universiteit Gent, Gent, Belgium

European Association of Geographers  (EuroGeo)

You can follow our Twitter feed here: @GILearner where we will be sharing more information on our project and how it develops.

Watch out for the #gilearner hashtag too.

The school is also involved in the MOOS project, and the attractive website for this project is here.

Save the Children

This video has been going viral in a number of locations. It's one of several new migration resources which will be used in many schools in the next few weeks.

OS on Timeshift

The Ordnance Survey is approaching a significant birthday, and a programme on its history will be shown next Wednesday: the 9th of September.
A few short clips are already available on the programme page to give a taster for the programme, which looks rather good.
Here's one of them:

For over 200 years, Ordnance Survey has mapped every square mile of the British Isles, capturing not just the contours and geography of our nation, but of our lives. Originally intended for military use, OS maps were used during wartime to help locate enemy positions. In peacetime, they helped people discover and explore the countryside.

Today, the large fold-out paper maps, used by generations of ramblers, scouts and weekend adventurers, represent just a small part of the OS output. As Ordnance Survey adjusts to the digital age, Timeshift looks back to tell the story of a quintessentially British institution.

A few years ago, I was involved in curating material for the Historiana website: a major EU project which ended up winning various awards. One of the galleries that I organised material for, was a special gallery on the history of the Ordnance Survey. I had contact with the
The materials that I curated are not yet on the site, which is a pity, but they provide a lot of detail on how the OS developed from its military origins.

SAGT Conference 2015

I'm going to miss the SAGT Conference this year for only the 2nd time in the last 10 years, and on those other 8 occasions I've presented a session or seminar of some kind...
I shall be getting ready for heading out to Iceland, so I have a good excuse.
The programme and booking form has now gone live on the SAGT website. There's a lecture from cyclist and traveller Mark Beaumont, and some interesting workshops and a 'hotspots' session with 'speed-dating' / table discussions on some hot topics.
The venue is the North Inch community campus in Perth. This is the third year at this venue. The first time it was held there, I got a medal... but I don't like to talk about it.
I hope to be back in 2016.