If refugees were a country...

They would apparently be the 11th largest.
Article from the UN, with quotes from Ban Ki Moon.

29th of February.. how will you spend your extra day?

I haven't taught on many February 29ths…. the previous one I was not teaching at the time, and others have been weekends, so it's rare…

Are you doing anything special for the 29th of February?

This site could be a game changer...

And it's a Change Gamer...

A really useful site exploring some of the ways that gaming can be used n the classroom.

It's the work of Mike Farley, who is also a geographer, which is a bonus. Plenty of the games that are featured on the site have a geographical connection.

From the site:

ChangeGamer promotes the use of digital games to study themes such as energy, climate change, natural disasters, the environment, economics, politics, history and science.  The main function of ChangeGamer is to find high-quality games, and to create student activities for each of those games.  The vast majority of games are free, browser-based, and playable on a number of different platforms (e.g. PC, Mac, Chromebook, etc.).  All of the posted activities are free and have been tested in middle and high school classrooms (Gr.7-12). We have created answer keys for a number of the student activities where applicable - if you are a teacher and require any of these email us through the contact page using your school email address.

One game I'm really interested to get stuck into is FireWatch by Campo Santo games.

I have quite a few of the games that are featured on this site on my various devices.

What are your favourite educational games?

Atlas for a Changing Climate

A really useful StoryMap from ESRI UK....
It shows the power of these tools, which I have been using for a number of projects...
Looking forward to the appearance of the new StoryMap Cascade tool later in the year...

An erratic video....

Presented by Jamie Woodward, author of a VSI to 'The Ice Age'...
Memories of Mr. Stone and trips to Norber in the early 1990s with 6th formers....

Cambridge University Press

The 'A' level book I've been editing and co-writing along with a fine group of geographers for the last year is now on the Cambridge University Press website….

Feel free to pre-order a copy or three :)

Oundle lectures

If you're within reasonable distance of Oundle, there are some interesting lectures being put on for Climate Week at the school. These are suitable for older students particularly.

Contact via the email on the poster below if you are interested in attending….

Thought for the Day

"Education without either meaning or excitement is impossible. I longed for the outdoors, leaving only a small part of my conscious self to pay attention to schoolwork".
Ansel Adams

Practical Pedagogies 2016

I was due to present at the first running of this event last year, but was unable to go as it clashed with my trip to Iceland, and return to full-time teaching, so had to pull out.

Russel Tarr has pulled together another excellent programme of events which will take place in the first week of November, and this time I can make it.
I will be presenting at Practical Pedagogies 2016.

The full programme is HERE.

My session is called 'The Power of Geographical Information', and is described below:
The Power of ‘Where’: Geographical Information in the curriculum

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.
Nicholas Crane, President of the Royal Geographical Society

Geographers are interested in spatial patterns, and the growing availability of, often real-time, location based information brings new depth to teaching geography. Students don’t only consume this information, but they also produce it themselves, and it is also used after natural disasters to aid the relief effort.

The workshop will explore how this renewed focus on the ‘where’ can bring new ideas to teach familiar topics, but also broaden these activities into other curriculum areas. It will include ideas from several ERASMUS-funded projects, a resource on transport geographies, a project for the British Red Cross and work completed in the classroom by pupils.

You’ll leave the session with some practical pedagogical resources to adopt and adapt, and ideas for personal innovation, as well as introducing some free tools and mobile apps.

Matt Podbury has shared some of the other Geography names who will be presenting at the event over on his fine GeographyPods site.

I've been to Hull and back...

Yesterday was my annual trip up through the Lincolnshire Wolds to Hull. I trained as a teacher there and completed my PGCE, which I started 30 years ago this year, with teaching placements in Withernsea and Bransholme.
Sunny day, and after lunch, worked with this year's cohort of PGCE colleagues exploring curriculum planning and a few ideas for sprinkling technology on top. A pleasure to revisit Hull, and took the chance to drive past the house where I lived 30 years ago. Next year, the city will become the UK's City of Culture - there'll be more of this over on my Cultural Geography blog.

A rare CPD event this year...

Where heaven meets hell

A link via Follow the Things website
Where Heaven Meets Hell Official Trailer from Sasha Friedlander on Vimeo.

Thought for the Day

Interesting Telegraph article with Ray Mears who had this to say:

The city is a wild place. There are sycamore trees in all these back gardens pushing down walls; there are sparrowhawks; there is wildlife here. The city is just a temporary transformation of a wild landscape. Don't feel that you are in one place and that nirvana is somewhere else. It's there around you all the time, if you look for it.

You click, we pick...

… and similar slogans appear on a growing fleet of vans which is criss-crossing the Norfolk countryside delivering people's online grocery orders.
When we first moved into our village, our postcode drew a blank in terms of deliveries, but we could now get our shopping delivered by any of the main supermarket chains for a small additional charge, or we could wait to be tempted by discounts on our first order, or free delivery options.
I've been thinking about using this as a context for some work, to tie in with our Year 7 unit on Food, which has already encompassed all sorts of interesting discussions, and there was an article in the Guardian today which has helped me make my mind up to put something together. It also ties in with the ideas behind the CILT resources that I authored, and which have now gone live on the website.

How green is online shopping?
Is it preferable to have a small van delivering to lots of houses rather than lots of individual cars heading to the store?
What about the packaging involved in getting items to customers?

More to come on this as the resources get developed...

Planning event organised by GA Cambridge branch

May be of interest to teachers who are in the area and can make the meeting next week.

Queen Mary University of London CPD

A free CPD event for teachers who can get a Wednesday afternoon free... and get to East London... which will help with the Changing Places topic of the new 'A' level...
Organised by Queen Mary University of London.
You need to go here to book a place...

New Spec choice made...

For those of you who are interested, we have been discussing the new specifications for our geography department to follow from September 2016. I have been involved in the writing and editing of books for GCSE and 'A' level Geography.

The GCSE books that I've been working on are now in the Hodder catalogue, and are for OCR 'A' and 'B'.

We will be following the OCR 'B' specification at my school for GCSE. This is 'the same one' that we currently teach, so there will be less changes perhaps than if we moved to another spec. It also means that we may be using the textbook that I helped to write.

For 'A' level, we currently follow the AQA spec, but we are moving to the Edexcel Spec from September. I started the Edexcel NING back in 2007, prior to a previous specification change, and it is still available here, and has a good following, and well over 4000 members, who I hope will get involved with sharing some ideas and resources for the new specification.

If you are after an AQA book for 'A' level, I worked on this one here: co-writing and then series editing this book…

This will be available later in the year, and details of it are on the CUP website. I shall also be involved in the support materials which will go along with the book, and am looking forward to seeing that on desks around the country as well.

Finally, the #geogshare dropbox is filling up, and we've actually had to split it. Thanks to everyone who's contributed.

Here's some of the changes, as outlined by CUP....

GA Conference Beermeet 2016

We now have a poster and confirmed venue for the GA Conference Beermeet...
See you there....

South Pole basemap on ArcGIS Online

Users of ArcGIS Online can now have South Pole imagery as their basemap thanks to a new addition to the list.

Richard Lloyd Parry on the Tsunami

Thanks to Jon Wolton for the lead to this atmospheric and powerful piece on the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami - an event which has changed Japan forever in many ways.
It was published in the London Review of Books back in 2013

It is well worth reading.
Here's a short extract:

In describing the landscapes of war, we often speak of ‘total’ devastation. But even the most intense aerial bombing leaves walls and foundations of burned-out buildings, as well as parks and woods, roads and tracks, fields and cemeteries. The tsunami spared nothing, and achieved feats of surreal juxtaposition that no mere explosion could match. It plucked forests up by their roots and scattered them miles inland. It peeled the macadam off the roads and cast it hither and thither in buckled ribbons. It stripped houses to their foundations, and lifted cars, lorries, ships and corpses onto the tops of tall buildings. 

New resource on the GA website

A new resource has just gone live on the Geographical Association's website. I wrote it, and it's turned out very nicely. A year or so ago, I was asked to write some materials on the theme of logistics and transport for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

The resources are designed for KS3 and can be seen here.

Since then I've been working with Shane Walton and other CILT colleagues to put together some materials which have now been made web-ready and went live earlier this week.
There are 8 units, which are connected with the 8 strands within which CILT operates.

Thanks to Milan from the GA for his work in getting the materials web-ready, to John Lyon for the original request.

To find out more about the resource come to my lecture at the GA Conference, where I will be talking about the resources.


Off to Snowdonia in March with the Y12 on their fieldwork experience to prepare them for their fieldwork paper, and also develop some of the ideas related to their physical geography aspect of the exam.
We are going to be heading for the Field Studies Council centre at Rhyd-y-Creuau

I am grateful to Emma Johns for sharing some materials in advance of our trip.

Image: Moel Siabod, Alan Parkinson

Are you getting old...

It seems I am.
Go here, and enter your birth date to be told lots of interesting detail about your date of birth and what's happened since then...

This looks a little worrying to me though, and made me feel quite old…

35 years ago this week...

Classic album. I used to use 'the Camera Eye' to explore urban environments with 6th formers… back in the day…

Migration: in and out...

A useful interactive map to show the countries of origin of immigrants, and where emigrants head to, for each country.
Produced by Migration Policy Institute

Trip Advisor comments

I'd thought of doing something with these Trip Advisor comments for a while now...

They are comments from people who have visited some of the iconic places, and then moaned about it.
Which place is this for example:

“Worst experience ever. Took my grandson to New York. One thing on his list was to see XXXXX Stood in a horrendous line to go through security and it was like a third world country. Plus, no place to sit on a terribly over packed ferry that listed to the right. Wasted a whole afternoon. Just go to the dock and throw your money in the water.”

Places - a new web map

Thanks to Keir Clarke for the tipoff to another excellent map. This time the focus is on PLACE NAMES. These provide a good connection to the landscape, and sometimes are a reminder of features which have since disappeared, or which were there when the settlement was first established.

e.g. ley means a clearing in the forest, and the map below shows the concentration of places with that ending....

I was born in a village in Yorkshire whose name ended in 'ley'

The Places map uses Open StreetMap

Explore the patterns of particular place-name endings. The map here is for places ending in the word 'ley'.

The Places map allows you to map the relative density of place-names in different countries around the world.
Using the application you can enter place-name prefixes or suffixes and view a map showing the geographic distribution of place-names containing those terms.

For example, in the UK we can enter the place-name suffixes of -thorpe and -thwaite to see where the Vikings settled in Britain.

If we take two more common town endings, such as -ford or -bridge we find that the geographic distribution of places with these endings is far more evenly spread across the UK than the ones which are based on linguistic connections with previous settlers. This second map shows the ending 'by', which is linked to the Norse arrivals in East Yorkshire and similar locations around York...

Back in the day, I used to do several lessons on placenames... perhaps with the new focus on the nature of places, and changing places they could come back again....

Arctic Live 2016

Jamie Buchanan Dunlop is heading back to Svalbard later this year, and will be leading more Arctic Live Skype sessions in classrooms around the world.
We took part a few years ago and it was excellent.

Digital Explorer is returning to the Arctic to take part in another research expedition. Students will have the opportunity to speak to Digital Explorer’s Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop at the NERC base on Svalbard about life and science in the frozen north and discover the secrets of this remote and extreme environment. Classes can also talk with Polar scientists Dr Helen Findlay, Dr Ceri Lewis and Dr Markus Frey in the UK about their experience of the Arctic and their research.
This lesson is part of the XL Catlin Oceans Education programme. Each Skype lesson will last for 30 minutes and will start with a short introduction by a member of the team followed by a Q&A session with your class. Each student in the class should prepare a non-Googleable question for the guest speaker in advance. Questions should be sent should be sent to info@digitalexplorer.com with the subject line Arctic Live!
Free accompanying resources, lesson plans and multimedia materials are available to download from http://oceans.digitalexplorer.com/resources/
You can also explore a range of multimedia resources at http://media.digitalexplorer.com/ by selecting the ‘Frozen Oceans’ themes.
Please note that while every effort will be made to accommodate each request, there are limited spaces available. Each lesson starts on the hour and half past the hour. If your country is not listed please contactinfo@digitalexplorer.com to book your lesson.

Sign up here 

Olaf builds a fold mountain...

In case you missed it…

'AS' Study Day

Down to London earlier in the week, to take students to the Royal Geographical Society for their 'AS' Study Day. We've been attending this for a few years now, and I've presented at previous events of this kind. Train from Ely then underground, and a walk up Exhibition Road to the RGS.

We had sessions from friends old and new: rivers, coasts, energy, population and migration, along with some exam technique guidance.

At the same time, we were able to take in the current exhibition that is in the entrance foyer, and also a special entrance area lined with maps and books.

Enduring Eye is an exhibition of Hurley's wonderful images from Shackleton's 'Endurance' expedition. These are wonderful images, which have been rescanned from the original source, and reveal the efforts that were made to rescue the crew of the Endurance after it sank.

Keep an eye out for other teacher and student events at the RGS...

Made arrangements for an event later in the year where I'm speaking, and working with teachers at the RGS...

TV location map

This map, created by Tim Ritz has been doing the rounds of social media this weekend, and now been picked up by a few newspapers too, who are sharing the map which shows where a large number of TV series have been filmed.
This is an area that I haven't yet developed, but has been on my list of 'units to develop at some point' for some time.
It would be interesting to try to work out which programmes have been filmed close to where you live. I live close to the Norfolk coast and also Swaffham, so we have 'Alan Partridge' connections, and also the Stephen Fry series 'Kingdom'.
Ely Cathedral is also regularly used for filming, recently the new version of 'Macbeth' was filmed there and the Cathedral can be seen in the film's trailer.
Act as a location scout and work out a suitable location to film a number of key scenes in a new movie, and provide the context and some requirements - a good way to use StreetView imagery and mapping perhaps...

Image: Copyright Tim Ritz - you can buy copies of it in different sizes here too.

Good to see the Detectorists getting a mention too...

This post and lots of others are over on my Cultural Geography blog if you weren't aware of that one...

London Planning Awards

Fingers crossed for tonight's London Planning Awards at City Hall.

The London National Park City project, which has been driven by Daniel Raven Ellison, but also involved Mission:Explore and lots of other partners and 'friends' is up for an award for the Best Conceptual Project.

Find out more about the project HERE.

Zika / Zica

There are always interesting stories emerging which have a connection with the work we are doing in Geography with students.

One story which emerged yesterday was of particular interest, as it connects ideas of globalisation, rebranding and disease.

One of the main global stories at the moment is the growing threat of the Zika virus. This is a growing problem in Brazil, which is preparing to host the Olympics later this year. The particular threat that is being reported is to pregnant women, but there are also some other stories relating to potential transmission in other ways, which might mean that it spreads into other areas of the Americas.

At the same time the Indian car company TATA has a new model of car which it is launching. Like the NANO model, it is a small car. The name that was chosen for it was Zica.

Zica is short for 'zippy car'...

Tata is now thinking of renaming this car, but has apparently come too late for an upcoming major trade show....
They've also paid Lionel Messi quite a lot for their marketing campaign already apparently.

I remember the Vauxhall NOVA which was similarly affected by the fact that its name meant something different in different languages....

Image source: please let me know if you want the image removed.