A lot of teachers are preparing for 29 days of writing… and #bloguary

A reminder that for the last 8 years, this blog has hosted the results of

and will carry on doing that for the foreseeable future…

Happy blogging and thanks for sending this one towards the 1.9 million visitor mark by reading this and other posts...

GI-Learner project update

We are now a few months into the GI Learner project.

It has been funding by the ERASMUS programme, which replaced the Comenius funding that enabled teachers to connect with other colleagues around the world.

We are meeting in Ely next week, and I look forward to sharing the progress that has been made on the project. We may also have a website shortly where we can share some of the ideas that we have for teaching about GI with students.

How deep is the ocean really….

This has been doing the rounds on social media…

Posted by Uncle Awesome on Friday, 29 January 2016

Mud and Landskipping

I've tried to cut back on the number of books that I buy - but it's hard, as it's one of the great pleasures in life. In the last couple of weeks I've bought three and carefully put a few back on the shelves of Topping Books earlier in the week as well (although I'll be back I'm sure)

This piece on the Independent on mud is a good one, by Anna Pavord.

Anna's latest book is called LANDSKIPPING. It explores the way that the landscape has been written about, painted and explored by generations of artists and other people. There are some personal travels and details in there as well, although the weather meant that Anna didn't really get as connected with the Norfolk Coast as she might otherwise have done. This goes into my extended library of books about the landscape and the way that people have been involved in its creation over the centuries.

A really beautiful and thought provoking book.

Guerrilla Cartography Food Atlas

I was reminded of this splendid resource tonight while working on some writing for a project which I have to have ready for Monday (along with a rather large pile of other things…)
I've been at it most of the day today, and this blogpost is a slight break from that.
I've been finishing off some power points on teaching about FOOD for the Hodder textbook project (will blog more about that tomorrow)

The Food Atlas was produced by Guerrilla Cartography, and we shared a few of our images from the splendid Mission:Explore Food for the project, and I also supported the original crowd funded stage.

Click the link to download as an 85Mb PDF

Thought for the Day

I'll be doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend with my son......

Computing Festival at King's Ely - a chance to come and take part...

Colleagues at my school are putting on a Computing Festival in association with INTEL, and there may be still chance for you to join us.

Here are the details from the school's website.

It is a free workshop designed for teachers and students to explore computing using INTEL powered tablets on Friday 26 February in the Hayward Theatre at King’s Ely.

We have teamed up with the Tablet Academy and Intel to provide an exciting and innovative Computing Festival for schools in the local area. These events are FREE for schools to book but we only have enough places to accept 10 schools during the day. You are welcome to book your place on a first come first served basis.
You are most welcome to bring a group of 5 pupils accompanied by one or more teachers/support staff to attend the event.  The ideal audience is Primary Years 5/6 and Secondary Years 7/8. The workshop will involve 6 activities. Students will work in groups of 5 and spend 20 minutes on each activity collecting data as they take part. Please feel free to send just a member of staff to observe the activities if pupils are unable to join them at such short notice.
What is the Computing Festival all about?
The Computing Festival is a workshop designed for teachers and students to explore computing in a fun and engaging way using Intel powered mobile devices as a tool to facilitate learning.

Who is the Festival aimed for?
The Computing Festival is aimed for pupils and staff at KS2 or 3 in schools. Both pupils and staff will engage in the activities and it is an opportunity for staff to see how to use tablets in a teaching and learning environment.

What sort of activities will I expect to see on the day?
The activities will cover a mix of Computing activities from programming your own games controller, programming a lego robot around an obstacle course, measuring objects using the tablet camera, green screen, and Minecraft in Education. These events were trialled with schools in the summer term and proved very popular. In order to get an appreciation of the day please follow this link to a video and website outlining the Computing day itself.  www.tablet-academy.com/intel 

The Sessions
There are two sessions that you can attend, a morning or an afternoon one. It is suitable to bring a group of 5 pupils in the morning and a different 5 for the afternoon session.
AM Session – 09:00 – 11:30
PM Session  – 12:30 – 15:00

If you would like to attend this free event, please can you confirm the names of the pupils who will be attending each session, the name of the member of staff who will accompany them and email marchawes@kingsely.org by 5th February 2016.

Follow up from the day
There is a website built around the day which includes plenty of teacher resources as well as links to an online shop where you can purchase items that were used on the day so you can repeat this in your school at a later day.
We look forward to welcoming you to our school for an exciting Intel Computing Festival!

I'll be popping in during the day too.

CILT resource going up....

I'm liaising with Milan from the Geographical Association at the moment, as he's starting to build the CILT resource that I worked on last year.
Here's a CILT video on the importance of logistics.
Come and see the lecture at the GA Conference in April.

Wolfram Alpha

Every now and again I'm reminded that not everybody has heard of Wolfram Alpha… useful for so many subjects and queries…

Out to the coast

Later this year, am leading a field trip to the Norfolk coast…
Out to Weybourne earlier to recce a possible site for visiting...

Last few days of voting

Voting for these awards is now open, and you can apparently vote for this LivingGeography blog to win in the education category if you had a mind to…
Click the picture below to be taken to the voting page.
Voting is open from 4th to 26th January 2016 - thanks if you vote for me - I have no expectation of winning, but you've got to be in in to win it… Over 6000 posts on the blog can't be wrong :)

Only GeoConnect

This week, there was the grand final of ONLY CONNECT, which was written up in 'The Guardian'. I loved this description of the difference between Only Connect and other quiz shows:

Participants were asked what linked Uralic, Slide Mountain, Paleo-Tethys and Panthalassa. They were offhandedly presented with a series of backward portmanteaux as if the concept of this alone wasn’t enough to throw the majority of the population into weeping fits of frustration. They were expected to complete a sequence based on both the atomic number of noble gases and the British-language derivation of their names. Meanwhile, on The Chase, Bradley Walsh says the word “gusset” out loud and then makes a fart sound with his mouth.

At the GA Conference in April 2016, I'm going to be presenting a special geographical version of the quiz, with the usual rounds.

I am seeking 6 'contestants' who would like to come and have a go at my geographical game show.

I'd also appreciate anyone who was able to volunteer to help out with the scoring and running the various media and screens and sounds that I'll need to make it work… hopefully...

This is a first-come first-served opportunity, but if you wanted to get together a few other people and let me know that you had a team that would be great too.

I'll also be hoping for an audience, and of course you can all play along to, as I'll give you some score cards that you can use to write down your answers.

This is on the Saturday afternoon, and would make a good end to your GA conference 2016 experience

If you want to get involved drop me an e-mail, or contact via @GeoBlogs on Twitter...

Morning bimble

Earlier this week we finally had one of the winter mornings I'd been waiting for for months: crisp, clear and frosty. I'm normally teaching for these now I'm back full time, and so I took the opportunity to walk up to the Cathedral and do a few shots on my phone (ironically I'd left my brand new camera at home…)

Click for biggery

Also, if you're up early over the next few weeks, look out for this planetary alignment.. it's been cloudy so far but fingers crossed for next week.

Marking music tonight...

Love Christina's voice, and the tone on the keyboards…

What to look for in Winter

I loved this piece by Helen MacDonald in the New Statesman, on the power of the Ladybird book of the same name. I had a copy of this book when younger, and there is great nostalgia to be had from browsing through Ladybird books.
This particular book provides memories of childhood winters gone by… one where nature played a much stronger role.
It was illustrated by the wonderful Charles Tunnicliffe.

Been there…. done that….

Time for Geography

A new blog has been started for Geography teachers, and no it's NOT one of mine...
Time for Geography has been put together by the three Parkers: Rob, Tim and Howard.
It's a nice looking site, and promises a range of resources including videos and exam support materials.

You can also follow the @timeforgeog Twitter feed. There is also a Facebook page that you can like for updates.

I look forward to seeing how the site develops...

Ben Hennig at Berkhamsted

There's a chance to see the wonderful Ben Hennig (and his cartograms) as he is speaking at the GA's branch at Berkhamsted school later this week. It's free to attend the event.

Tuesday 19 January 2016, 7pm Centenary Theatre, Berkhamsted School
Dr Benjamin Hennig: Visualisations of the Anthropocene –   investigating humanity’s impact on the Earth

Ben Hennig joined Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment in September 2013 as a senior research fellow. He works on spatial data analysis and geovisualisation. His research interests include social and spatial inequalities, humanity's impact on Earth, global sustainability and new concepts for the visualisation of these issues. Ben was educated at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. After working as a research assistant and departmental lecturer in human and urban geography at the Urban and Social Geography Working Group of the Department of Geography, University of Cologne (Germany) he joined the Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group at the University of Sheffield (UK) in 2008 where he completed his PhD in 2011 as part of the Worldmapper project with research on visualising the social dimensions of our planet. He then worked as a research assistant and then as a senior research fellow at the Department of Geography in Sheffield before he joined the University of Oxford. Further information about his work can be found on his personal website: www.viewsoftheworld.net

All lectures are held in the Centenary Theatre of Berkhamsted School (Kings Campus), Kings Road, Berkhamsted, HP4 3BG. Entry is free.

I worked with Ben on a number of projects, including the LondonMapper project - check that out.....

Image created by Benjamin D. Hennig. You are free use the material under Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Nice work by Rob Chambers

Plenty of ideas for using technology to support learning and curriculum development…

David Bowie inspired Geography resources

Paula Owens has created a set of Primary resources (which could also find a place in the secondary classroom) inspired by the lyrics of one of David Bowie's most famous songs. Check them out on the GA website.

Secondary resources are also now available...

The Fens / Venn - via Facebook and the Psychogeographical Commission

This appealed to me - not least as I spend every week day in term time next to the 'ship of the Fens'...

Here's a picture of the Fens I took earlier....

Worth following the Psychogeographical Commission feed... 

English Dialect App

While driving home yesterday I was listening to an interview on BBC Radio Norfolk with one of the people behind the English Dialects app. They were explaining the way that it works, by listening to particular words and how they are pronounced, and also the emphasis on vowels, along with local dialect words. There are a few of these in the quiz, such as the choice of word for a 'splinter' of wood that might get stuck under your skin... is that called a spell where you're from?
There's a Telegraph article on the app here.

I had a go and submitted my answers and location - it was not too accurate, but then I've spent half my life in Yorkshire and (just over) half in Norfolk - which are two quite different dialects... and have a sort of neither one nor the other accent...
Interesting to try with students perhaps if you have airplay...

Nick Crane letter on the power of Geography...

Geography is an academically robust subject which spans the social and physical sciences and promotes a lifelong interest and fascination in how the world works. It is part of the academic group of English Baccalaureate GCSE subjects and the Russell Group of universities has recognised A Level geography as one of their preferred ‘facilitating subjects’; which supports an application into a wide range of undergraduate courses. The knowledge and transferable skills that geographers gain from their degree studies are highly relevant to the workplace and I am delighted to say that geography graduates experience some of the lowest levels of graduate unemployment

Nick Crane has followed the lead of previous RGS-IBG Presidents and written a letter around about Options time explaining the power and significance of studying Geography.
It can be downloaded as a PDF from this link.

Share this with Year 9 and Year 11 students...

629 wards

There are 629 wards in London, and as part of the campaign to have the city declared as a National Park city, this photographic project by Steve Pocock is attempting to get a picture of an open space in each one of them. The collage as it currently stands is shown below. Visit the map, especially if you can contribute an image...

Visit the London National Park City website to find out more about the project.

New year, new camera...

Arrived today and looking very fine…. now I just need the rain to stop so I can go and try it out...

UK Blog Awards

Voting for these awards is now open, and you can apparently vote for this LivingGeography blog to win in the education category if you had a mind to…
Click the picture below to be taken to the voting page.
Voting is open from 4th to 26th January 2016 - thanks if you vote for me - I have no expectation of winning, but you've got to be in in to win it...

Discussions re. new GCSE specifications

Over the weekend there was a query about whether there was a place where discussions were taking place about the new GCSE specifications.

Most of these are now accredited: 5 out of the 7 specifications have gained OFQUAL accreditation.

One possible place that we could use to have these discussions is the GA Ning.
I set this up when working for the GA, and it is now just short of 3000 members.

I've set up a group on the NING, and started 7 discussions: one for each of the new GCSE specifications.
If you have a question about the new specs, or want to share which one you've chosen, this could be a place to start having those discussions.

An alternative place to have those discussions would be over at the SLN Geography Forum. 
This is still active, and continues to provide support for teachers.

GA Conference Programme now online

Available to download: the programme for the GA Conference 2016.
It's going to be an epic conference. A few things of note… for those planning to go.

Book by early next week to get the early bird rate and save £10 a day….

I'll be missing the Association at Work day, but aim to make it in time for the public lecture, the awards and the wine reception, which is taking place at Manchester Museum (which is always a chance to mingle with folks you haven't seen for a year and catch up with old friends)

This starts with the usual touch choice. A few sessions that I've pencilled in… but everything might change…

Emma Johns and other GA Secondary Committee colleagues doing a workshop called "Changing the subject", focussing on changes that are coming in 2016. I may get involved a little here…

Calvin Clarke on making connections to tackle inequality - I met Calvin while presenting at the SAGT
GIS with Digimap, presented by Darren Bailey
John Lyon presenting on approches to plate tectonics
A reception celebrating the GA's history during lunchtime

Then my next involvement:

1.50-2.40 - Lecture 7 - suitable for all Key Stages
Enquiring into Logistics: a new resource
A lecture by me on the new CILT resource that I've written, which gets its official launch at the conference 

(I clash with other workshops by Garry Simmons, David Rogers and Simon Ross which I would otherwise probably be heading to)

A tough choice follows, between Richard Allaway talking about social media in the classroom, or Nick Crane talking about Coast. There's also Stephen Schwab from the SPC on cross-phase fieldwork.

May crash the International Rendezvous for some wine…

We will also be holding an SPC Geography Grapevine event - time and location TBC, but Tom Morgan Jones has kindly provided some inking for us… a networking event for new and aspiring HoDs to talk through stuff over a glass of wine...

I'm then probably heading for Shelley Monk's session on Creative Case Studies for OCR, although I'm tempted by James Riley's session. James is Head of Geog at the Perse School, our 'near neighbours' at King's Ely, and David Rogers' session on connecting Primary and Secondary (as my role is KS2/3 coordination)
There's also a session by Iain Palot based on the I-USE project I was involved in during 2011-14

The day finishes on a high note with a lecture by my colleague Claire Kyndt: Head of Learning Development at King's Ely.

Lecture 16: KS2-3
Curious connections: curating a geographical museum

It'll then be off to the GA Conference Teachmeet and then the Beermeet - details to be confirmed, but probably the same pub as last time...


I'm not going to be able to get too stuck into the Beermeet as I am presenting again today, although at the end of the day...
The day starts with another packed session. I may go to see Andy Knill talking about how he has used the John Muir Award, or maybe the AQA session.
There is a mobile device session being organised by Sophie Wilson which I may go to.
Alice Baker, a PGCE student at UCL is presenting on GIS in the classroom.

The Rex Walford Lecture is being given by Liz Taylor this year, who is always a pleasure to listen to. She is looking at past, present and future geographies.

There is also a lecture by my GeoCapabilities colleague Elina Särkelä from Vikki Teacher Training School of Helsinki University in Finland.

After lunch, I will probably see Charlotte Exton's Teacher to Teacher session on how to teach post-16 as a new teacher.

There is then another GeoCapabilities related lecture, with Richard Bustin from City of London Freemen's School, who is talking about his research for his PhD

This is a busy session as it clashes with Jo Debens on creative ideas for teaching about the UK (a big focus of the new GCSEs)
There's also Paul Turner talking about his GIS project with CASA on the Census. This was one of two projects to gain an Innovative Geography Teaching Award from the RGS-IBG last year, the other was given to me to work with Ben Hennig on the LondonMapper project. This also clashes with my next commitment:

Duncan Hawley will be leading a Geocapabilities workshop, which I shall be contributing to. This will be a trial also for some of the materials we will then use in a workshop at the GI Forum in Salzburg in July.

I shall probably dip out of the last bit of that to go and prepare for my final session of the day, and one which is a bit of an experiment.
You have the choice to go and see Emma Rawlings Smith talking about teaching about PLACE, a theme also being tackled by Sharon Witt at the same time, or Paul Berry on maps.

However, you can also come along and end the conference with a bit of an experiment that I am presenting. It's a Geographical version of the fiendish quiz ONLY CONNECT, which we are calling Only GeoConnect.

Lecture 30 - Only (Geo) Connect - a real test of thinking skills...

Come along and test your Geographical lateral thinking skills.
There'll be the usual 4 rounds:
- Making Connections
- Sequences
- Connecting Wall
- Missing vowels

You can be in the audience….
I'll also be looking for 6 people to take part as competitors in the two teams, and possibly a volunteer or two to help with the running of the event as it's going to be a bit of a coordination job to present and keep up with the various multiple screens and sound effects and timing it's going to need…
I'll share how you can get involved nearer the time, but if you have a burning desire to get involved (I might even dress as Victoria Coren Mitchell for the occasion) then let me know…

Do you see the connection with the Making Connections conference theme? See what I did there?

Digital Downham

Every weekday, I drive from my home in a small Norfolk village, through woodland and farmland and past Breckland pine rows, and the Swaffham turbines, and then head towards RAF Marham, and the town of Downham Market. On the way, I pass the old airfield at Bexwell, before joining the A10.

On BBC Radio Norfolk in early December, as I was driving into work, there was a report on the changes that are due to take place on this airfield if permissions and funding all fall into place as planned.
There are plans to create a digital hub for the East of England, which would create thousands of jobs, and also opportunities for thousands of new skilled digital media graduates.
There are a few articles here on the proposed £300 million scheme.

BBC News article
An article on the reception at the House of Commons when it was launched.

The EDP has some further information too.

Lynn News has an article last week which also connects with the need to improve infrastructure at the Ely junction, which is also on my commute. This needs to be improved in order to facilitate better train services to and from London.

And this also connects with the proposed Ely southern bypass road, which I've blogged about before and would be controversial as it potentially affects the view towards the cathedral from Stuntney which is a classic view of one of England's most beautiful buildings.

Next week, the journeys start again for the new term...

Image made using Digimap for Schools / historical layer swipe tool….

Bob Digby on film...

At last year's GA Conference, Bob Digby's session on Assessing the Enquiry Process was filmed and recorded, and is now available on YouTube. This would be a valuable 'watch' for all Heads of Geography who want to start thinking about the way they assess students...
Part 1

Part 2


Part 3

We will be taking these ideas into account when planning our new Norfolk Coast assessment.

The Changing Arctic - a useful interactive resource

The Arctic is currently experiencing record high temperatures this winter…

It's an area which is undergoing dramatic change, and this interactive site allows the visitor to explore some of these changes, and the connections between them…

Nepal Earthquake Storify

#sharegeography with #geogshare

A New Year brings with it new challenges and opportunities.

2016 brings new specifications for GCSE and ‘A’ level first teaching, alongside the last year of the existing specifications. The creation of resources for these new specifications will result in thousands of teachers duplicating effort. Local and world events will inevitably take place, which will stimulate teachers into producing resources to help students understand them.

Following a suggestion by Tony Cassidy that we could share our resources to reduce this duplication, we have come up with a range of ways to contribute to a new initiative called #geogshare which mirrors similar projects run by other subject teacher communities.

There are (at least) three ways that you can get involved in #geogshare.

1. Twitter / Blogs

Post a link to a resource, or a blogpost where a resource has been shared

Use the hashtag #geogshare when you post it, so that a search will bring it up, and they can also be storified from week to week, and shared here.


Drag and drop a resource or two into the box on this page:


You'll need to DM on Twitter or e-mail for the password

This will send your resources automatically to the 3rd (and perhaps the preferred and most sustainable) option.


A GEOGRAPHY DROPBOX has been set up at:


again, e-mail myself or Tony Cassidy, or DM us on Twitter to be added to this folder...

This will give you access to the folder, and the ability to edit and add materials, as well as download copies for yourself.

You will find a series of folders, which you can place materials into to help organisation.

There is a link to a Google Doc, which can also be viewed here

https://goo.gl/N7n1UM where you can place details of the resources that you are adding, which will allow you to search for relevant resources as the Dropbox (hopefully) starts to fill up.

We would like to suggest that you post one resource a month, but feel free to post more frequently (perhaps once a week) if you feel able.

Perhaps you could add ‘contribute to #geogshare’ to your New Years resolutions.

Another year for standing on the shoulders of giants.