Yukon Landform Atlas

Thanks to Bob Lang for the tipoff.

Author copies of new GCSE OCR B textbook arrived today

It's now just over two and a half years since I went to a meeting at the offices of Hodder down in London, to start the process of writing a set of textbooks and support materials for the then-as-yet-written OCR GCSE Geography specifications for first teaching from September 2016.
The authoring team of Jo Payne, Jo Debens and myself were joined by Simon Ross, and we had the editing talents of David Rogers helping to steer the project, as well as Ruth Murphy from Hodder and numerous editors and other publishing professionals at various points during the project. Earlier today, the postman brought me a package, and I finally held the results of hundreds of hours of effort in my hand.

I wrote quite a few chapters in the end, and also helped to create the digital support materials, and the answers to all the various activities that have been included in the book. These all form part of the support materials that are available.

More details about the books are here, where you can find out about the various options for ordering. There are various options for discounts and inspection copies if you look at various sections of the website.

Thanks to all those who helped me with writing the books in various ways, including Ian Ward, Bryan Ledgard, Mark Brandon and Richard Allaway for the use of their images in my chapters. I managed to get quite a lot of my own pictures in, which was nice.

If you're teaching OCR specification for GCSE, please consider making our book(s) your set text. Order plenty just in case… It would be a pity for it not to sell a lot after all that effort...

Google Daydream

At the end of last week, I picked up a class set of VR headsets that I need to assemble and find a storage box for over in the Geography room. They came from Hong Kong and cost just a couple of pounds each. I also need a bag of googly eyes to stick on the front of them...

I'm preparing a unit called Virtual Geographies, which looks at the use of this technology and hopefully gets the students involved in a range of activities.

Just signed up to be notified about the next stage in Google Cardboard development: Google Daydream, which is apparently coming in Autumn 2016, and features an improved headset with some sort of remote control switch, judging by the image below:

Image copyright Google: https://vr.google.com/daydream/ 

Image of VR headsets by Alan Parkinson

Chartico - easy bar graphs

Thanks to Joe Dale for the tipoff to CHARTICO, which allows you to make your own bar chart very quickly and then export it as a JPEG. Click on the number to change it. Click on the end bar to add another. Click on a bar to change colour. Save as a JPEG or Pinterest it, or share via social media. Good for graphs for Controlled Assessments or other uses...


Here's a Hans Rosling video to start off this blog post…

Have you seen the new version of the BUBBLES chart?

Have you also seen the MOUNTAIN chart as a way to visualise development data?

Scotland the… boring?

I've mentioned this idea before… take the TripAdvisor or other comments on similar sites relating to well known tourist places, and then ask students to identify them…
Buzzfeed has created a range of vintage ads featuring comments on TripAdvisor relating to familiar Scottish landmarks and mountains….

There was also the campaign I blogged about earlier in the year where there were alternative names for UK landmarks produced by Chinese visitors.

Tweet of the Day

Thought for the Day

"Borders? I have never seen one, but I have heard they exist in the minds of some people."
Thor Heyerdahl 

New GeoCapabilities StoryMap of vignettes

I've been working for over a year on the GeoCapabilities project, and can now share the updated StoryMap of vignettes: ideas of classroom practice and the thinking behind them, shared by project members… with more to come…

More to come on the project's new website.
There's a meeting coming up in Athens which I'm sadly unable to attend….

Florent Chavouet

One of the main things I get out of using Twitter is tip-offs to interesting sounding resources and books. Thanks to my publisher friend, So Shan Au, I heard earlier today of the graphic work of Florent Chavouet.

Florent Chavouet is an illustrator who spent 6 months in Tokyo and went out to draw the neighbourhood, and in so doing bring a Japanese city to life. Armed with this, and some of the wonderful 4K time lapse / walkthroughs of places like Shibuya, we should be able to explore these cities with the students next year. I'd like to revisit some of the cities work that I wrote last summer with a younger audience. I also provided a lot of urban ideas for Geography all the Way....

He also produced a remarkably detailed book on the Japanese island of Manabeshima.

Tutor2U Pack

Norfolk Chalk Streams

Spending the afternoon doing some writing about the river that flows through the village where I live, and which I can follow along a long distance footpath. It's part of a network of rivers which drain central Norfolk and head towards the Wash.
Here's a short film on the chalk streams of Norfolk, narrated by Stephen Fry.

Ice Flow - the game

Ordered this for our Year 8s to have a go at in the Autumn term this year as part of our new schemes, and planning for Geography Explorers club.

It's linked with the idea of Ice flows in the Bering Strait, and is a strategy game which can be played within an hour apparently.

It arrived quite promptly, and I'll have a go and let you know how it goes...

Practical Pedagogies - tickets nearly sold out

Tickets for Practical Pedagogies 2016 (all 250 of them) are rapidly selling out, so act fast if you want to see me and some of the other presenters down in Toulouse in November this year.

We do like to be beside the seaside...

Thanks to all who responded with their favourite UK Seaside Resort to a vote that I added to various social media at the weekend.
I asked for the favourite UK resort and some words to explain why.

The 'winner' of the popular vote from the 93 people who replied was Brighton

'Runners-up' were Southwold, Cromer and Whitby.

Hopefully over half term, we'll get the chance to visit some of them.

Here's a word cloud of the reasons why they were the favourites - as voted by adults... I'm going to ask the students next and see what they say....

For those interested in the full list of resorts and reasons, here are they below. 
Apologies for anyone who may have been missed off the list as I had three or four streams of responses to collate.

Map of Ocean Plastics

A useful map for our Year 8s to explore this month, as there is a focus on this as part of their exam. This is a new map showing ocean plastics.
The scale of ocean plastics is remarkable and worrying...

See the map here.

This went down very well with Year 8 today who were well immersed in the problems of ocean plastics...

Edward Thomas country...

You will know if you are are a regular reader of LivingGeography that I am very much into writers on landscape and place, particularly where they go deep and immerse themselves in it...

My GeoLibrary project has hundreds of landscape-related books on the shelves.

I've  got hundreds of books on this theme on my actual shelves, and more are added every month, and others taken out of the library. 2016 has been a bumper book-buying year so far it seems.
One of my favourite authors is George Mackay Brown, and I have a whole shelf of virtually all his books, and remember fondly being in bed one night many years ago and my late colleague Tim Steer rang up from Stromness to say that he'd just come back from a night fishing trip hauling lobster pots, in a scene that could have come straight out of one of George's books, to tell me that he'd found me copies of George's books that I'd been after...

One of the other authors on my list is Edward Thomas, and I have a copy of the Little Toller edition of his 'South Country' book, describing his home area, which was published posthumously.
I discovered while visiting Bedales School last week that I was in Steep where Edward Thomas lived, and about which he wrote. There was a little guide to the local area which I was able to download, but actually discovered that I was close to his house. I went up to the Shoulder of Mutton to find a memorial stone, and also a church where there are some memorial windows.
Edward Thomas wrote poetry and other prose in the run up to, and during the First World War period, and was killed at the Battle of Arras.

Here are a few pictures of my walk around the area, including the interpretive sign that led me to some of the sights.

'A' level course in Manchester… my favourite price

Geography teachers are invited to a one day workshop at the University of Manchester on 24th June, 2016 to support the launch of the new A-Level Geography Syllabus.

Parallel lectures run by Geography@Manchester researchers will deliver the core Geography of space and place theory, the carbon cycle and arid land Geography, the areas of the new syllabus which are perhaps less familiar to some teachers. 

In the afternoon, teachers are invited to a round-table discussion to consider how to translate the new learning to the classroom, in turn generating tangible lesson ideas.

The workshop will be opened by Professor Martin Evans who led the new A-Level consultancy on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society.

This workshop is FREE to attend.

Please book your place by 20th June and indicate which of the three workshops you would like to attend by choosing the relevant ticket.

Coffee will be served with registration from 9.30am in the Foyer of the Humanities Bridgeford Street Building.
Friday, 24 June 2016 from 09:30 to 15:00 
Humanities Bridgeford Street, Ground Floor Foyer, University of Manchester

Mission:Explore National Parks launch party

We are having a launch party for our Mission:Explore National Parks book which we've been working on. Next week, we are taking over a space at the OS GeoVation Hub in London, which is well worth visiting to see…
We're going to launch our new book… possibly defenestrated from an upper floor…
A few tickets are available here if you'd like to join us.

Join the Mission:Explore team and National Parks UK as we celebrate the arrival of our latest children's book with bubbles and nibbles. 
Mission:Explore National Parks challenges children to become extreme explorers, natural navigators and wildlife watchers with 49 illustrated missions that dare you to (re)discover our National Parks.
“Mission:Explore is cool, exciting and just plain fun!” National Geographic
“Mission:Explore is like bringing along a nanny with endless patience and a James Bond fixation.” The Sunday Times

Bedales BACs

Ten years ago or so, Bedales school in Hampshire decided to move away from offering GCSEs to its students.
The idea was that GCSEs weren't offering the same challenge as could be offered by their own course, and so they developed their own courses: the Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs)

These course were bespoke to the students at Bedales, and provided the opportunity to make the most of their location.
Earlier this year, Paul Turner joined the school as Head of Geography, and started to overhaul the GEOGRAPHY courses with the support of Jackie and other colleagues. You can download the details on these courses as a PDF from HERE.

Earlier this week I headed down to take a look at these courses in action, which was a fascinating few days and I'm grateful to Paul for inviting me and for his colleagues for making me so welcome.

I found lots of fascinating work being produced, and a course which offered a great deal of innovation and lovely student outcomes.

World Development Indicators 2016

The latest edition has now been published. This is always an interesting resource, as it shows progress across the world in the last year in meeting or working towards certain development goals.

Download, or read online as an ISSUU document.

One important change is there is no longer a distinction between developing and developed countries in the report as has previously been the case.

In WDI 2016, there is no longer a distinction between developing countries (defined in previous editions as low- and middle-income countries) and developed countries (previously high-income countries). Regional groupings (such as “East Asia”) are now based on geographical coverage rather than a sub-set of countries that were previously referred to as developing. In some occasional cases, where data availability or context have dictated it, we’ve excluded high income from some charts or tables, and we’ve indicated that in the footnotes.
Two implications of this change are that a new aggregate for North America has been included in tables, and aggregates for Europe and Central Asia include countries of the European Union.
The work of Hans Rosling has to be part of the reason for this change, and a recognition that such divisions are increasingly harder to make.

The data are available in a wide range of formats too:

All the data in World Development Indicators is available completely free of charge, as part of the World Bank’s Open Data Initiative. A complete list of tools to access, explore, and interact with WDI 2016 are available at  http://data.worldbank.org/wdi and include:

Micro:Bit and Geography

I've borrowed a BBC Micro:bit.
Every Year 7 is getting a copy of this new, tiny bit of technology, which is plug and play and which offers to help students explore the ideas behind coding.

There are plenty of resources out there for starting to use Python to code with it.

Does anyone have any Geography related ideas for how to get stuck into this little piece of technology?

Thanks to Glyn Rogers, for sending me some links to some resources for Micro:Bits.

This National Geographic page provides some ideas. 

The device features 25 LED lights and two programmable buttons, which can be used in game-play or to skip through tracks in a playlist. It also features an on-board compass to track the direction of the wearer.
Each micro:bit comes with a USB, cable and battery holder. 
To programme a micro:bit, kids simply need to connect it to their computer and add some simple lines of code to create the device they want.
The hope is that all those computer science skills might inspire a new generation of avid game developers, super software programmers and wacky website builders. Your BBC micro:bit could be where it all starts...

I also came across the iPhone app which was developed by Sciencescope iPhone App, which was developed by Sciencescope who I previously worked with on the DISTANCE project. Search top left to see more about this project.

Also found the FREE Hodder / Microsoft GETTING STARTED for Teachers Guide as a PDF download.

Also noted that there is a compass built in to the Micro:Bit... (see diagram opposite)

What is a Case Study?

With Year 12 exams over this week, it won't be long until it's the GCSE students' turn in the exam room.
We talk about case studies all the time in Geography, but what is a case study?

Students often ask about case studies and sometimes give them undue importance when it comes to their revision too - they are important for some questions but the majority of questions require a more synoptic view the further up the school you go.
There are also what are referred to as located examples on many exam papers.
These are like case studies but not quite as involved. One area that I focus on is that ideas are put in context, and this usually involves an element of location if the question is asking about how a particular place connects with the theme that is being studied.

There are a few definitions of case studies then.

An important element for me is context.
A good case study should include the following elements:

- location, perhaps including some sort of map
- description - connected with some key geographical themes
- opportunities and challenges connected with a particular process
- a decision to be made which may change the place in the future
- a few statistics to reinforce knowledge of the case study and make it stand out from any other place that could have been chosen

e.g. if it was a look at the St. Ives decision in the referendum to ban second homes in the town, the students would be expected to know a range of things:
- where St. Ives is located (an inset map of Cornwall and St. Ives location perhaps)
- a sketch map with some major features of the coastline at that point, the Tate Gallery etc.
- some data on the impact of second home ownership - whether that was positive or negative - on social, economic and environmental themes
-a look to the future, and perhaps the impact of the proposed changes in home ownership

There is also the discussion over the age of certain case studies as well. The famous eruption of Mt. St. Helens dates from 1980 (the anniversary was this week - in fact today 36 years ago...) but there are current rumblings and earthquakes which suggest the volcano may be coming back to life...
Back in the days of the CfBT support for the previous new curriculum, when we moved towards concepts and other interesting ideas, I did a session where I used a Rick Astley song to sum up the way that some teachers clung onto case studies that were perhaps past their sell by date.

Here's a template from Jo Payne that I've used in the past to help capture case study content.

Rivers of London

Been interested in reading this book series by Ben Aaronovitch, and today I started reading the graphic novelisation, which has started interestingly.

Any other Geography-related graphic novels out there? 2000AD and Megacity One for urbanisation perhaps?

Sleipnir from Vaavud

New toy for this week is a wind meter that works with my smartphone (and maybe yours too....)

CPRE Book coming in June...

And here's a related tweet...

New OCR Geography textbooks...

Thanks to a tweet, I then heard of another new book which I was involved with, which will be coming out next week: the OCR 'B' Geography book produced by Hodder Geography.

Empty Classroom Day

It's definitely been a week for "new stuff".

I've been spending time supporting Year 12 students with their exams and the usual full-time teaching lark, and in between I keep getting e-mails about new "stuff" that I've helped with.

The first thing that I'm going to blog about is a new resource for the Empty Classroom Day.

Empty Classroom Day is on the 17th of June, and we will be taking part at King's Ely.

At Mission:Explore, we've been working on some books for the Outdoor Library for this project, along with PROJECT DIRT.

Download the book above for a special set of Mission:Explore missions...

The Story of a Spoon

Linked to the idea of ocean plastics and the amount of plastics in the oceans.

Refer to the idea of "single-use items"....

ESRI UK Annual Conference 2 - Rivers StoryMap and data...

Another StoryMap, this time made by the Eden Rivers Trust. Another reminder of how awesome this resource can be.

ESRI UK Annual Conference 2016 - OCR StoryMap

I was supposed to be at this event, but ended up at Bedales as it was an irresistible offer, and I wasn't able to have as many days out of work.
Here's one of the resources that was shared at the event, and made by OCR Geography.... I shall be making something similar for the GCSE fieldwork next year....

My last 2 days...

Thanks to Paul Turner, Jackie Sueref and colleagues and students at Bedales School for the last two days which have been very interesting. An excellent experience.

Fancy a laugh?

Search Twitter for 

Warning some content NSFW...

Go to sleep....

This is directed at anyone doing a Geography exam tomorrow.... get some sleep - wake refreshed, have some breakfast.... and smash it... (as you young people say apparently)

Danny Dorling at TedxExeter

Where is East Anglia?

An interesting piece from the BBC which explores different definitions of East Anglia.
It has a number of maps based on different potential areas which lie within it.
Some people include Cambridgeshire for example and others don't.
I live in Norfolk which is definitely 'in'....
Could also be used as a discussion question relating to other areas.
And also consider the marketing of the region by Visit East Anglia and similar ideas.

Looking for Science and Computing teachers for a new Digital Explorer resource

Digital Explorer

Get involved!

We have an exciting new submarine-based STEM programme in the pipeline and we’re looking for KS2 and KS3 Science and Computing teachers to be part of developing the education resources. The one day workshops will be held at the Royal Geographical Society, London and we’ll pay £100 plus travel expenses* for your time. 
Submarine STEM Design workshop on 26/27 May 10am – 4pm
Creative session to frame lesson concepts and ideas based on deep sea submersible exploration.
Submarine STEM Development workshop on 1 July 10am – 4pm
Development session to create draft resources and ideas for multimedia resources.
Please indicate which session you would like to attend with a brief bio and your interest in the programme using the button below. Note that the May session will be held on either 26 or 27 May, so if you are able to attend on either date, please make this clear.

British Red Cross Nepal Resource

A reminder of the sign up page so that you can get some details on the British Red Cross resource that I have been working on for some months now and which is now in draft format, and with the designers who are currently working it up into the finished product - the first drafts came back to me yesterday with some great improvements and it's going to be great.
Sign up here.

I'm following up some of the links that was sent to me by Rachel Hay.
One of the links that I was sent was to the site of Heather Geluk who is a climber and traveller. She was in Nepal at the time of the earthquake, and helped out with a range of charitable work.

GA Conference 2017 - want to be involved?

Every year, I'm asked by people in October or so about how they can get involved in the GA conference by offering a lecture or some other session.... by which time it's too late.

Lucy is already putting the next conference together and if you'd like to offer a session, you need to get in touch with her by the end of June.

New Daniel Raven Ellison Bitesize movies..

I like these... they're appearing on the BBC website.
Here's one on Fieldwork for younger students...

Build it and they will come - new from the GA

A new resource for KS3-4 has been shared by the Geographical Association.
The resources have been produced in association with the Home Building Federation Ltd.

These key stage 3-4 resources from the Home Builders Federation Ltd, written in partnership with the Geographical Association, address a number of pressing issues through engaging enquiry questions that explore how population distributions have changed across the UK, why we need new houses, how builders meet local needs and what we mean by sustainable communities. They are accompanied by a range of up to date case studies that explore these issues in their local contexts and help to show how these issues are tackled in the UK.


Lesson 1: Why do we need new homes?
Lesson 2: How have populations changed across the UK?
Lesson 3: How do planners meet local needs?
Lesson 4: What is a sustainable community?
Lesson 5: Does the Bath Riverside development encourage sustainable communities?
Lesson 6: How do councils make decisions about where to build homes?
Lesson 7: How does South Oxfordshire plan to meet the housing need
Lesson 8: Where should we build the new homes? Decision-making exercise
Lesson 9: Building homes in challenging environments
Lesson 10: How can we make new homes more energy efficient

Thought for the Day

“Learning how to be a good reader is what makes you a writer"
Zadie Smith

A few places left on our GIS Day

Still a chance to join me at my school for a GIS Day.
It will be free of charge.
Details below. Get in touch to reserve a place.

Migration into Boston - a focus for Newsnight

Newsnight last night came from Boston in Lincolnshire, where there's been a large amount of immigration of workers from the EU, and has been in the news several times as an 'example' of a place that has changed as a result. Have those changes been positive or not, and how has the current make-up of the town reflected previous patterns of employment?
There's a useful BBC news article HERE.

Or, for the next month you can watch the programme HERE - watch from around 7'40" in to see the section which relates to the BBC news article.
Useful for Year 10-13 to watch in particular.

ESRI and Globalisation

A really useful piece on the changing nature of globalisation from ESRI.

With globalization, everyday actions operate within and generate new geographic conditions in which things that are spatially distant are no longer temporally isolated but are instead very close. Communication technologies allow information to be transmitted and exchanged in real time. Because of this, everyone is directly or indirectly part of a globalized geographic reality.

Water Aid video

Thanks to Philip Anderson for the lead to this video, which looks to be a very useful resource for those teaching about aid and development…

The Fight for Beauty

Another book for the summer reading list, just seen in Topping books in Ely...

I like the fact that it includes some lines from Philip Larkin's poem: "Going, going"

And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There'll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.

Environmental playlist….

Still working on answers for questions in the OCR 'A' textbook for the teacher guide, and was reminded of this song: a wonderful environmental themed song (and also of playing it while driving through county Kerry with Caz, Julie and Joyce in the late 1980s…)

Look out any window
Look out any open door
Look out any window
To see what's going on
In the air around you

New earthquake resources on the GA website

Following the major earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, Stephen Schwab, a colleague of mine on the GA's Secondary Phase Committee, got to work producing a set of resources, which are now live on the GA website.

A cool glacier map...

So on one of the hottest days of the year so far, I'm indoors currently working on some answers for a textbook chapter on Glacial Environments and landscapes.
As part of the research for the answers, I came across the GLIMS Glacier Viewer map which has only been around since November 2015, and which allows access to the GLIMS database.
Zoom in and click on a glacier to get more detail on it.
It's pretty cool

Costa - a new resource on its way

Once I've got a few other bits and pieces completed, and various school  priorities for the next three weeks, my next resource will be for COSTA.

It's an update of a resource that I wrote in 2013 called COSTA FOR SCHOOLS, which is still available here. You can also request a useful coffee map for your classroom wall.

The new resource will broaden the ideas in the original resource, and expand into other areas of COSTAs sourcing of coffee and related geographical themes...

New Bruce and Mary

One of my favourite musicians for almost 30 years, and steeped in geography and a 'sense of place'…
New album coming in June which is great news…
Listen to a track here with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver

Throw in a new Mary Chapin Carpenter album and there's some great new music for the summer coming…

Happy 90th Birthday to Sir David Attenborough

An amazing career… and pleased to have had the chance to meet him at the Royal Geographical Society some years ago.

Thanks to Paula Owens for the tipoff to this video...

Early bird still available for Practical Pedagogies

Russel Tarr has pulled together another excellent programme of events which will take place in the first week of November, for the 2nd running of the event. I

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.

See you there?

A mountain to climb

The United Arab Emirates is apparently planning a rather large geo-engineering project. It is intending to build a new artificial mountain. 
The idea is that this will increase the amount of rainfall in the country.

I like the quote from the report that "building a mountain is not a simple thing"....


Shipmap is the latest in interactive maps to show the impact of GIS. It is similar in concept to Earth NullSchool.
It is a visually compelling site, which shows the movement of ships around the world, following the routes between the major container ports. Goes nicely with recent books by Rose George and Horatio Clare, and Rose's TED talk on this topic.

The site provides a visual representation of ship movements. It can be viewed or interrogated

Zoom into the map to follow specific routes around the tip of India for example, heading for the Suez Canal, or are there now ships taking the longer route as the cost of fuel has dropped?

First steps into research: time to bring back the BPRS ?

It was back to school for me three weeks ago, after the Easter break and I started the term with an INSET day. I led 2 x 45 minute workshops with groups of colleagues from different departments on ideas for using Twitter to support teaching and learning. The materials are below:

There are quite a few ideas and materials I've taken from other people to support that planning.
As part of the preparation for the sessions, I asked people on various networks for their ideas on what the best thing about Twitter was. I'll share the result of that shortly too.

One of the strands of the INSET day is for the recently established 'Teacher learning communities' to meet again, and to consider a small research project to run through the coming academic year. It is an initiative being led by my colleague Claire as part of her role leading Learning development in the school.
It got me thinking about my previous experience of research, in 2003, which was actually one of my first steps in moving beyond the classroom, and getting me to what I'm doing today.

My research experience was through the Best Practice Research Scholarships, which were described in an evaluation report as follows:
The Best Practice Research Scholarship programme (BPRS) was one of a series of initiatives designed by the English Department for Educational Studies (DfES) between 2000 and 2003, to support teachers’ continuing professional development. Each year, around 1,000 Scholarships of up to £3,000 each, were awarded to serving classroom teachers to engage in supported, school‐focused research


I got involved in the scheme in its final year.
Here was the original information that I read in late 2002.
Best Practice Research Scholarship

1,000 Best Practice Research Scholarship (BPRS), each to the value of £2,500, are available from the DfES to support professional development

The application period is from XXX to XXX and following an assessment process, decisions will be announced in May, with one-year research projects beginning next September. Visit TeacherNet to download an application form, and see examples of completed applications and past research.

For application forms contact
or email bprs@XXXXXX

The summary of the evaluation report goes on to conclude that:

It is argued that for most teachers, the primary purpose of the projects was not to contribute to the public stock of knowledge but to improve practice within their own schools. The criteria for evaluating projects, it is argued, should therefore include their impact on teachers’ own professional development, on their teaching practice, on pupils, on parents, and on their colleagues. Evidence is presented to suggest that projects did indeed appear to have considerable impact on all of these factors though only in a minority of cases was the evidence considered to be robust. The paper goes on to raise questions about the problematic nature of quality in teachers’ research and the associated difficulties with ‘dissemination’. The paper concludes by exploring the different factors that might affect the success of teachers’ research including mentoring, finance and their occupational position within their school.

I was indeed one of those teachers who were concerned to inform my own professional development and practice. For that reason, I sought out somebody with a background in educational research, and that meant Liz Taylor. At the time, her office was not in the modern Homerton College building on Hills Road, but behind an anonymous door on a street in Cambridge. I remember travelling there with my idea for my research, and she very kindly and patiently took me through why my ideas were not very good... and how to improve them.
My title was: 
Improving use of the Internet in the Teaching of Geography

I also contacted my former undergraduate tutor Tim Burt, and visited Durham University to share my ideas with him as well.

The end product was a piece of research which was not exactly ground-breaking, but which got me to think about what I was doing in the classroom a little more. It also got me an invitation to attend a national conference on research in education, and I also wrote an article for a GA journal... and all of this led on to other things.

There is now a new focus on research, and a range of conferences for teachers to engage with...
It's an interesting time...

Edina Mapstream for Schools website updated...

A few years ago now, I wrote a whole suite of lessons for Edina's MapStream for Schools service. For those who don't know what this is, it's a streaming service for the Ordnance Survey's mapping. Unlike Digimap for Schools, which has a set of tools that come with it, this provides a stream of the maps themselves, which can then be visualised by another GIS tool, such as QGIS.

Check out the updated website… and the resources… and MapStream….

Mission:Explore National Parks - coming soon

Out soon in English and Welsh, the latest of our Explorer HQ books under the Mission:Explore name.
This is Mission:Explore National Parks, and involves the usual shenanigans of creative ideas for kids of all ages.
The books will be available for £5 from all National Park shops in England, Scotland and Wales. Here's a pile fresh back from the printers.

As always it's been wrangled by myself, Dan Raven Ellison and Mark Pearce, and shaped by Helen Steer, who skilfully blended all of our words with some inkings from the mighty Tom Morgan Jones.

Very proud to have been involved with this, and we also have two other projects which are freshly brewed and about to launch. Will tell all when I'm allowed to…

Watch this space for plenty more exciting Explorer HQ news soon….

Tonight's soundtrack...

Dune on the cover, and named after the Shamal wind, which blows through Iraq and neighbouring areas…
40 years old now, and my soundtrack for tonight's writing… Featuring the late Pierre Moerlen, one of the best musicians I ever saw playing live…

Australian Food Imports StoryMap

A reminder that it's not just the UK that imports food and has food miles… every country does to some extent…
Nice work here…

Practical Pedagogies - early bird booking available...

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. In fact I'm already booked for my flights, and my colleague Claire is coming along too, which is a bonus!
Just got to sort my accommodation now.

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.

See you there?