TED talk by Danny Dorling - now published

Global Learning Programme course

This looks good :)
Hope to see some of you there.

Cartoons to save lives

Via this BBC Media posting

UKEdChat Top Tweeters and Blogs

For the last 4 years or so, someone has kindly suggested that I am one of the top UK Tweeters, and LivingGeography has been suggested as one of the top UK blogs.
This is done by nominating people for a mention in the list that is curated by UKEdChat.

That's continued this year which is pleasing to see.

The latest report is in the December 2016 issue of UKEdChat, which is available to view from the app currently, but shortly from the website too.

You can also follow them on Twitter for more UK Education based news and updates.

A few other Geographers also getting a mention on the list.

The Fens - what do they mean to you?

I was interested in the way that the Fens are represented by people, as they are a man-made landscape. They produce a certain response to people.
In books like 'Waterland' by Graham Swift, they are referred to in particular ways, using particular language.
I asked people in my PLN to let me know what the Fens meant to them.
Some of them are local, and others aren't - some have family in the area, some live in the area...

This is a Wordle of the responses that I got from people:

Word Cloud generated by Worldle.net 
Or this Tagul Cloud

More to come on this as the unit develops...

Visualising the fetch

When teaching about coastal processes, we often need to explain what we mean by fetch: the distance of open water over which the wind can blow to create waves. This is a potential distance, which reflects the opportunities for waves to grow larger.

This ESRI web map by Ben Flanagan visualises the nearest land which can be reached from the UK, when travelling in all directions from the coastline.
It's also another good use of GIS to remind students of the value of this tool...

Thought for the Day

Via Geographical Imaginations Podcasting site... which is based in Salzburg - one of my favourite cities...

Earth: the magazine

I've got the first copy of this magazine, which is published by the BBC. It goes alongside the BBC Earth website.
It has a range of useful articles, in particular a good article on the changing lives of people living in the Arctic. There's good photography and other content.
I'm looking at getting a subscription for the Geography department.
Don't forget to catch up with Planet Earth 2 this weekend.

Chernobyl - 30 years on...

Back in 1986, the world watched as the Chernobyl nuclear incident took place, and a cloud of radioactive pollution headed northwards across Europe.

Simon Oakes, writing on the IB Facebook Group page reminded us that this remains in many ways a contemporary case study, as a huge construction project is just drawing to a finish to make a steel shield that will be positioned over the damaged reactor buildings to 'seal in' any future radiation.
This Financial Times article (answer a few questions to access) outlines the work, which is costing over a billion Euros.

As Simon say in his comments:
How many more global interactions can you get, than 40 countries helping fix a trans-boundary pollution problem that affected loads of countries? None more...

New Zealand Earthquake - eye-witness accounts and photos...

When the earthquake in New Zealand happened, on the 14th November, I was aware of it within a few seconds. My friend Simon, who lives in Wellington had been woken up by the quake (it was a couple of minutes after midnight) and added a message on Facebook saying:

"Holy crap, that was scary..."

The size of the earthquake was quickly upgraded to over 7...
Aftershocks kept coming, and Simon said he was in for a rocky night ahead, and had actually turned the GeoNet app off, as it was sending an alert so frequently. By the end of the next day there had been over 1000 aftershocks.

He posted a few images that started to appear, and some memes too, such as the ones below:

These included content from stuff, and also images from friends and other local media. These were not only useful to me, but also provided links through to other useful sources of images and information.

There is an excellent set of resources on the GA website, which was curated by Stephen Schwab, but I wanted to add a few other ideas
Here are some of Simon's images in a Flickr album - more to come I hope as Simon continues to explore the affected area.

I've also obtained a seismogram from our school seismometer showing the trace from the earthquake.

This is an earthquake that might well feature in quite a few geography lessons to come... particularly the dramatic sea level uplift near Kaikoura, which has fears over its future tourism income as the summer season is on the way...

A few IAPS CPD events coming up in 2017

A bit early perhaps, but it's always a good idea to get some dates in the diary for next year. I am going to be involved in a couple of IAPS events. The IAPS is an organisation that provides support for teachers in prep schools in particular: teaching KS1-3 and similar ages.
The two events will have a Geography focus.
Details are here… feel free to book a place sooner rather than later, as that will help ensure that the events go ahead as planned.

First is an event at King's Ely open to local schools of all persuasions...

Second is an event at Oakham School

I shall be presenting on our use of Geographical Information (a bit of my Practical Pedagogies presentation adapted for this group) and also reference to the GI Learner project.

Nowhere Island

Several years ago now I became a Citizen of NowhereIsland: a project by artist Alex Hartley.
A book about the project is now being published.
It's an interesting project on the notion of place and space and what makes a country…
There are also connections with Svalbard.
The project formed part of the Cultural events surrounding the London Olympics in 2012.
I was honoured to be part of another of these projects, as Explorer HQ worked on Discover:Explore as part of the Discovering Places project.


Having set myself a challenge of not buying many more books ahead of Christmas, I succumbed today to a new book, which was given an excellent review in today's 'Guardian'.
It's a book called 'Vertical', and is about the changing nature of our cities, and how their 'verticality' (if there is such a word) reinforces some of the aspects of inequality which we are familiar with.
It's been written by Professor Stephen Graham from Newcastle University, who describes himself as a 'geography geek'.

He describes the impact of seeing the first satellite images from Landsat.
“They were amazing for a teenage geography geek like me,” he says. “I would get the images and overlay them onto local maps to work out where places were. Ever since I’ve been pretty much obsessed with satellites.” 

It can currently be obtained at half price direct from Verso Books, complete with a free eBook for your Kindle.

Check out the work of the Global Urban Research Unit.

GeoCapabilities - a new video

Made by Kelly Butler from the GeoCapabilities project.

It's about the use of Curriculum artefacts in teaching.
Published on the same day as a seminar down at UCL, which I'll hopefully find out about from those who are there...

Hodder Tectonics Conference

Down to London yesterday with 18 students for a Hodder Geography conference. It's the first time I've attended one of these events and was interested to see how it worked.

We headed down on the train and underground to Victoria, and into the Apollo Victoria Theatre, which was set up for Wicked later that evening. Bright blue sunshine and plenty of redevelopment in the area around the station. There were apparently around 1500 students and teachers attending the event.
It was good to see Helen from Discover the World was there (and also the Simon Ross video shown during the lunch break)

We arrived just in time for the start once we had registered, with Sue Warn, who set up the day with an introduction to Plate Tectonics. This was followed by talks from Dr. Martin Degg and Professor Fiona Tweed, who both spoke very well, and set out their stories clearly, and then lunch.
Met a few colleagues, although not as many as I'd hoped.
After lunch it was time for Professor Iain Stewart, and then David Redfern, before we started the journey home.

The day was useful I think. There was some variability in the presentations, and some repetition of the content. I was interested that there weren't more exam questions and 'model answers' being shown taking shape, or guidance on how to use the information the students were provided with, or the differences between the old and new specifications (there were a few mentions of this, but perhaps needed a teacher input perhaps even to work with some students through an example? perhaps to break up the format of the day)
Sometimes the presenters said "you can discuss that back in school" for example.
Some slides weren't best designed for presenting in this large venue, and there was also a bit of 'reading' the slides going on.
I made most of my notes while there were images being presented which were being explained with additional content not shown in the notes... and have quite a few websites and new ideas to follow up, such as the Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction.

A useful pack of notes and slide thumbnails was provided, and our students took plenty of notes, and enjoyed the experience overall. Sue Warn kept the event running to time and was a firm and good natured host keeping the mood focussed on the work which was impressive.

This is a useful experience for 6th formers who need to be immersed in particular topics - I guess this would work with other topics, perhaps a Changing Places event or similar topic which people are unsure of.... and I also wondered about the people who might be invited to speak at events like that... 

Minecraft - a gimmick?

This is a good piece by Stephen Reid being interviewed on Radio 4's Today programme.
He talks about the role of Minecraft in Education.
I was at Stephen's session at Practical Pedagogies a few weeks ago where he talked through various options for gaming.
Not everybody agrees, notably Tom Bennett, and there were lots of blog posts surrounding this issue a week or so back.

Now 3D Virtual Reality

I've worked with Jamie Buchanan Dunlop on a range of resources, and he's been quite pro-active in supporting teachers using data from a range of expeditions that he has led.

There are now some new 3D VR images that Jamie has been involved in producing.
More detail here.

Field Studies Council courses in association with Discover the World

Down to London today to a Hodder Hazards Conference, and met Helen from Discover the World again. We've bumped into each other at lots of events over the years.
She told me that Discover the World Education and the Field Studies Council have joined forces to offer courses for the new specifications, in the awesome surroundings of Iceland.

Discover the World Education is proud to work in partnership with the Field Studies Council (FSC) to offer a brand new, exclusive range of geography and science fieldwork opportunities in Iceland.
From October 2017, you can choose from a range of fieldwork courses designed, developed and delivered by FSC tutors which will engage your students via experiential learning and which directly support the new geography and science specifications being taught from September 2016.
Students will have the opportunity to develop investigative and practical skills and to evaluate and analyse their data, improving critical thinking skills and helping to fulfil the new requirements for practical work.
The Courses
The FSC fieldwork courses each last between two and four hours, depending on your requirements, and have been designed to be easily incorporated into a typical geography or science itinerary, providing additional educational value and allowing you to further enhance your students’ experience.
The courses are available exclusively to groups who book a Discover the World school trip, and are available in autumn 2017 and spring 2018 at a number of sites across Iceland.
15 – 26 October 2017 
3 – 12 April 2018
Horticultural University of Iceland, Hveragerdi
Hveragerdi Geothermal Park, Hveragerdi
Reykjanes peninsula
Reykjavik city

If you book on a Discover the World trip, you can now take a course along the way...

Ray Mears

I've been watching Ray Mears' TV series for many years, and always admired his commitment to immersing himself in the societies that he visits, who live in the environments within which he practices his "bushcraft".
On Thursday this week, I went to Ely Cathedral to see him speaking at an event organised by the wonderful Topping Books of Ely.
I sat in the south transept, where I sit for school services, and had a good view as Ray talked through a range of themes, including some details on his new book, which is shown opposite.
As Ray was talking, I was making lots of notes. What I've added below is based on those notes, so they are not to be taken as verbatim what Ray said, although sometimes they were....

- Ray was clear on the value of reading, and in particular talked about his chance encounter with a book called "The Forest People" by Colin Turnbull, describing his travels to the Mbuti pygmies in the Belgian Congo
- he talked about attending a seminar on planning an expedition to the rainforest at the Royal Geographical Society at the age of 15 and "the door of possibility opened"
- he described how, if you are willing to learn, you need to find the best person to teach you, and shared stories of some of the people who taught him, particularly relating to mycologists...
- he said that he was more interested in the uses of things sometimes than the things themselves
- he described his school, which had time for people, and where students were encouraged to read, in particular the training he had in Judo as a mental discipline
- he described photography as his diary
- his book describes travels in the Northern Boreal Forest, the largest land biome, which contains a third of the world's trees
- he talked about Lars Fält, who he'd worked with, who trained the Swedes for their National Service - buschcraft went beyond survival skills
- what makes us human is that we can make fire
- he described what to do when meeting a bear (don't look it in the eyes apparently)
- an important one this: Ray was asked what he was planning to do next, and he said that he wasn't ready to talk about it because he was still learning it, and when you're learning something new it takes some time before you want to talk about it... a message for us in schools perhaps?
- he was asked about Outdoor education, and said that he felt some people were given the role of leaders too early, before they had enough experience - when going outside, there was a constant risk assessment being done, and experience allows you to foresee potential problems before they happen - this maturity enables you to adapt to new circumstances...
- Britain is his favourite place in the world, for the variety of landscapes in such a small area
- He talked about the Northern peoples having "kinship with the land" (the importance of place)
- Advice on what to take on expeditions: pack what you think you need and throw out anything you come back with having not used, and slowly narrow down to the things you really need - and in terms of luxury, the best luxury of all is travelling light...

It was good to see that several staff, but more importantly some of our King's Ely Geographers attended the talk.
Ray ended the night by signing copies of his book - there was a very long queue of people waiting to see him.
I would definitely recommend that if Ray is talking in your area that you go along and see him.

He said a whole lot more that I haven't mentioned...

And finally, towards the end of his talk, Ray talked about the "interconnectedness" of the world, particularly as nature doesn't recognise geo-political boundaries...

"I do think of myself as a global citizen"...

A new mapp of the Fenns...

I've been consulting with the school archivist for a few months ahead of a unit on "The Fens". She told me she had been working on a new map of the Fens, and this has now been published. It contains a series of sheets of maps, which can be connected together, a CD copy of the materials, and a book which gives the details of the map's creation, along with biographies of the businessmen and others who funded the expensive project. The focus is on irrigation, and the way that the Fen is drained and brought into production, and reduces the risk of flooding in an area that has seen a great deal of change over the centuries.

There's a British Library blog post on the map here....

I'll be sharing more on this as the unit starts to come together over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here's another chance to see my poem on the Fens, which was 'commended' in the 2016 Fenland Read Poetry Competition

British Red Cross Resource

Available here, downloaded hundreds of times already... Nice to get a mention from a geoscience 'god' :)

Tourism Slogans from around the world

The website FamilyBreaksFinder has produced an interesting map and associated word cloud which collates the tourist slogans from countries around the world, and explores what words and messages are used to put across the main essence of a country to potential visitors.
The choice of words is interesting. A range of images are also associated with the words of course when ads are produced.

The UK's slogan has changed a few times, and there are also separate slogans for Scotland, Wales etc. used from time to time. The #OMGB site doesn't seem to think there's much of interest in the East of England sadly...
There is a source list of the slogans and websites HERE which would perhaps be of use to those teaching Travel and Tourism related courses.

Image: Copyright FamilyBreaksFinder website

Urbanisation, migration and the future metropolis

Thanks to Geoff Riley via the AQA 'A' Level Facebook group for this link. A useful lecture for 'A' level students exploring inequality in urban areas.

UK Blog Awards

Thanks to those people who've apparently nominated me for the Education category here. I won't win of course, but it's nice to know that people are reading and appreciating what I put here… Voting starts in December apparently.

Teachmeet at the RGS - Part 3

Was great to see Daniel Raven Ellison for a coffee and catch-up before we wandered up to the RGS Teachmeet.
He's been doing work with CISCO and he brought his EEG headset that he's been wearing as he walks across all the cities and National Parks in the country. I was hoping to catch up with some of the Twitter teachers that I've 'talked to' virtually but not face to face.
Leading the event from the front and keeping the timings going meant I didn't have as much time for that as I hoped, and also had to leave before the end, so missed the last couple of presentations. If you follow the link to the Dropbox here, you can access most of the presentations.

There were a few more elements that you can read about in previous posts on the blog.
Hopefully the event will run again next year, and I can enjoy a slightly less stressful evening just listening to other people presenting… although I probably won't be able to help myself offering a presentation...
I'm sure David Rogers has it in mind to run again.

The next Teachmeet I'll be attending will be the GA Conference Teachmeet which will be at the GA Conference, before the Beermeet.
Booked my hotel yesterday and already looking forward to it.

I've also had confirmation already of 2 workshops that I'll be presenting on the Friday of conference.

New Zealand Earthquake - a new resource

Nice work by Stephen Schwab to react quite quickly to the New Zealand earthquake on Monday this week. He has put together a range of materials and links for the GA website.
I will be following this up with some ideas of my own.
One resource that stands out has been produced by Stuff, a New Zealand site which I've used many times before.
It's an interactive resource called The Mountains Moved.

Practical Pedagogies - Post 10 - The day after Practical Pedagogies

After a night on the ale, it was time for a day of R and R… not rest and recuperation but rain and ruins…
I was up quite early the day after the pub crawl before, and feeling OK as I’d stopped just after midnight. Looking at social media it was clear that other delegates hadn’t stopped quite as early, and were in fact still out at 3am...

The weather forecast sadly precluded a trip up to the Pyrenees and the Cirque du Gavarnie, which was the original plan, and it was time for Plan B. I wandered into town and did a little browsing in some of the shops that were open. Was due to meet with Matt from GeographyPods and Richard from GeographyalltheWay, and it was back to the Capitole square, and  Le Florida and sat outside as the market set up, and had a good breakfast to set us up for the day.
We then headed out of town, and down the péage towards Narbonne and the Mediterranean. Although there was the odd glimpse of the sun, there was a greater amount of cloud.
We headed for Carcassonne: a world-famous site, which was apparently almost demolished in the last century as it had fallen into disrepair. Even now, there were quite a few parts which were in disrepair, and markers on the walls to monitor subsidence of some of the towers.
The views across the landscape would have been more impressive without the clouds; the Pyrenees were invisible sadly. The medieval walls and towers were picturesque.

We explored the city, before heading into a restaurant for French Onion Soup and other local delicacies, and then the Basilica and other parts of the city before heading back to Toulouse – there was a rugby match on, and Matt dodged through the traffic back to my hotel, where I bought some food for the evening in case the weather didn’t improve.
In the end, I at least ‘got the value’ out of my budget hotel room and its wifi as I spent the evening working and watching UK TV on the FilmonTV App (recommended for overseas travel)

New Food Security Resource Update

Back in 2010, while working for the Geographical Association, I wrote quite a few resources for the GA website, including one on Food Security.

I have just finished refreshing it with new content and resources for the new specifications, and filtered in some content from a separate CPD course on the Geography of Food.
See the resource here (on the GA website).

Angus arriving shortly...

The first named storm of the season arrives in a few hours: Storm Angus.

Practical Pedagogies - Post 9 - Day 2 pm and evening

After lunch, it was time for the final afternoon of Pedagogies, and time for more discussions with colleagues.
I went to the first half of a Minecraft session presented by Stephen Reid, which gave loads of ideas for using gaming. There were a few new ideas which I came across related to gaming which I will try this term.
At the end of the day, it was back into the main hall for the final plenary session from Ewan McIntosh, and the drawing of the raffle, before the coach journey back to town. The weather was a bit grey but was staying dry for the evening. I went back to the hotel, and changed, and had some food. I then made my way into the town centre via a meandering route navigating by memory, and finding new areas that I hadn't walked down before. It was good to add a new city to my mental map. It was time from Practical pubagogies, and a 'pub crawl'.

As a pub crawl it wasn’t the most successful ever, as we stayed in the same pub all night. It was a terrific bar on the Rue Pargaminières called La Tireuse.

The laconic bar man coped with the bar being taken over by 80+ thirsty teachers. I was on the Saison Dupont, followed by SAS Pils, and ended up talking to many new and old friends. A lovely evening, before walking home in the rain, and meeting some new female friends in Minime once again on the way... reflecting on one of the highlights of the year.
Image:Matt Podbury and I in La Tireuse

Starbucks StoryMap

A few months ago, I finished some work for COSTA and created a StoryMap to connect with the work. Here's another one, that was produced to tell the story of Starbucks.
Another example of the power of StoryMaps.

Hoping to head out to see this today

Taking students to cheer on the Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge team...
Managed to see them - look out for us on the one show tonight - students from King's Ely...

Practical Pedagogies - Post 8 - Day 2 of the conference - a Geographical morning

-->There was a geographical theme to the morning of the 2nd day for me. We had breakfast again – a little rushed, and then out to get the bus to conference, arriving after 8 having travelled through the rush hour traffic again. The day was a little brighter too. Coffee to kick off the day as we set up our rooms for the workshops.
Richard Allaway was first up on the second day for me.
He had brought a whole range of VR toys for delegates to play with. Richard Allaway shared his work at Conisbrough Castle: an old haunt of mine. There was Google Cardboard as well as a range of headsets and options for accessing, and creating VR content.
You can read about his work on his site here.

Including seeing the presentation on Google Slides....

This was a good session, and interesting to see a range of experiences of VR so far.

From that it was straight through next door and set up for my own session. I've previously shared the link to my presentation. I enjoyed the session, although it was a little short, either that or I over ran...

--> I was pleased to read this feedback from one of the people who attended my session:

"Absolute highlight of the conference for me. Left with loads of new ideas and resources to use in my lessons. A hugely engaging speaker and a brilliant presentation"... very kind!

David Rogers then led a session which was based on his work in his school – some of which was familiar to me having heard David speak before, but it was getting a good reception from the large group who came to see him, and included his famous post-it note Curiosity glasses.

Matt Podbury had already done his session on Reactive Geography previously. This involved a range of fabulous ideas which I could immediately see a use for.

Matt’s site is already an essential stopping off point for me on a regular basis, and we use quite a lot of his materials at King’s Ely.
He is planning some new updates for the changed IB specifications at different levels which are emerging soon. Richard Allaway was also preparing to lead some of the training on these units.

It was then time for lunch after a wonderful morning of Geography goodness.

Images: Matt Podbury

Practical Pedagogies - Post 7 - Granularity

One of the fascinating displays in the main reception area and corridors was the display using grains of rice to visualise numbers.

I didn’t get round to making my own display, although I had a few ideas for what that might include.

It is helpful to visualise the scale of some world events and enable comparisons.

Each grain of rice – 0.02g was representing 1 person.

For small numbers, the grains could be counted our, for others they were weighed. Rice and scales were provided.
Rice is also relatively cheap to buy in bulk, and all that is needed are a few cheap sets of electronic scales – will check in Tiger when I head there.

There are more pictures of the displays in my Flickr album from the conference.

Image: Alan Parkinson, click for biggery

Google Earth VR

Thanks to Richard Treves once again for the tipoff to this new development…
The image quality looks excellent, although you'll need a specific bit of technology to enjoy it at the moment… and it's not an iPhone and a bit of cardboard… you'll need a Vive.
Here's an article on the technology...

Ireland and the world...

Susan Pike shared this earlier... Liam Neeson 'selling' the importance of Ireland to the world... so that they might be chosen to host a future sporting competition...

Google Expeditions - a million explorers....

British Council Rising Sea Levels Debate

Thanks to colleague Lorraine Oldham for the tipoff to a British Council organised debate on sea levels.


Thanks to Richard Treves for the introduction to this.
It formed part of his presentation at the RGS Teachmeet (of which more in recent posts)

Here's an example:

British Library Maps Exhibition

The British Library is currently hosting an exhibition of maps and mapping called Drawing the Line.

I visited earlier this week, en route to the Royal Geographical Society.
There is a catalogue of the exhibition which I'd like for Christmas please :)

There is a range of mapping items from a Weetabix atlas (which I remember getting multiple copies of when I was a new teacher) to an atlas which is one of the few known to be hand-drawn by Gerhard Mercator.

The first item in the exhibition is also a copy of 'The Map that Came to Life', which I've written about numerous times before as being an influence on me being a teacher having read it lots of times when I was younger.
The second item in the exhibition was a large copy of a Ben Hennig's Anthropocene cartogram, which was getting a lot of attention.
The floor was covered with contours and other map-related patterns which also spread across the seating and walls, and there was also a section with an idealised map of a town. There were sections on maps for war and peace, and also maps in fantasy, as well as trade and commerce and communications.
Not all of the exhibits were as successful as other, and some didn't really capture my interest - "has it got a map on it? - yes - stick it on the wall then", and there weren't many maps that had the impact of scale or being particularly exquisite. Most of the maps were also ink on paper, rather than some of the multi-media or textural maps that could have been included, although it is a library exhibition after all.
The final section was one of the highlights, with a few great maps. The first of these was Harry Beck's original sketch as part of his work on the London Underground tube map. The second was a map of Mordor, drawn on graph paper by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was great to see the hand-drawn contour lines and lettering, and he'd drawn it on 2mm graph paper so that he could work out the scale of the distances travelled by characters so that the story hung together. There was also a copy of a map made by Marie Tharp of the oceans - one of my geo-heroes.

The final map formed part of the research notebook of one of the compilers of the first Lonely Planet guide, of South America. Looking closely revealed that he was less than enamoured of the places he visited describing one as a 'dump' and saying of another that there was 'f*** all there'... a few more of those pages would have been good to see...
Overall, this is an excellent exhibition, and one that is well worth seeing if you are down in London over the next few months.
There's also a good range of merchandise: books, stationery, bags and other stuff...

Google - Beyond the Map

Why not visit a Favela with a new Google immersive tour, which I was made aware of by Richard Treves.
Richard was kind enough to come and speak at the RGS Teachmeet too... more about his presentation in a future blog post.

Practical Pedagogies - Post 6 - A bespoke cartogram

Thanks to Ben Hennig for producing a special bespoke map of the Practical Pedagogies delegates and their country of origin. He was kind enough to send me a spreadsheet in advance of the event. I used data from Russel Tarr, and the workshop leaders' biographies to identify the country where they were travelling from, and passed that to Ben, who produced the map below.

It had its world premiere during my workshop at the conference, which I've posted previously.

Teachmeet at the RGS - Post 3 - My presentation

Teachmeet at the RGS - Part 2

Here's Alice Griffiths' presentation from the Teachmeet at the RGS

Practical Pedagogies - Post 5 - Image Slideshow

Some of the images I took during the few days of the conference in Toulouse.

Practical Pedagogies - Post 4 - The Ice Man

One of the highlights for me of visiting the International School of Toulouse was connected to a project developed by Russel Tarr and Matt Podbury.
It was based on a book I wrote and had published by Collins some years ago called 'The Ice Man' and based on the discovery of Ötzi the Ice Man. There was a huge display right outside the classroom.

See the resources and the unit that Matt created here.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Practical Pedagogies - Post 3 - Day 1 of the conference

We were up early on the first morning as the free bus out to Colomiers and the IST was setting off at 7am. I had breakfast with Claire, at her hotel, and we then caught the first coach. Busy, but quiet as everyone was still half asleep. The weather was a little overcast, which wasn't ideal.
The alternative was a taxi ride at €50 (or €30 with Uber)
The rush hour traffic started to build, but we were heading against the greatest flow, so made good time, and arrived earlier than planned, giving us time to explore, and settle in with a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits.
One of the first things that I noticed with respect to the International School of Toulouse (our near the Airbus plant) was the quality of the display material that was everywhere – more on that in later posts.

We went in for the first keynote and heard Ewan McIntosh talk about his work with companies large and small.
There was an introduction to design thinking.
I also had a chance to  chat to quite a few friends who I’d known for a while via social media, but never met face to face. 
These were across the key stage and subject spectrum, which was good to do now and again.
The morning involved a session with Russel Tarr on Edu-preneurship, and one on Global Learning with Maree Whiteley, who had travelled all the way from Australia.
We had lunch with 2 History / Politics colleagues, and exchanged notes with my colleague Claire about the sessions we had both seen.
The afternoon saw further sessions and networking, and a light doze in the staffroom, before we got the bus back to the city.
Back to the hotel to relax and change and then walked into the town for the conference meal, which was included in the delegate fees.

The day ended at Le Florida. This was a restaurant off the main Capitole square, and a very swish one for me – I don’t get out much. I was sat on a table with my geography chums, and we enjoyed a good evening of sea bass and lots of wine. I didn't end up carrying on to the bars as others did, but headed back out along the main road, and wandered along new sections of the city, and met a number of ladies as the previous night...
Image by Leah Sharp - David Rogers, Matt Podbury, myself and Richard Allaway - Team Geography….

Practical Pedagogies - Post 2 - Exploring Toulouse

On arriving at the airport in bright sunshine, I met my colleague Claire, and we caught the airport shuttle bus to Matabiau station and then checked into our hotels. We met up later, and walked into the centre of town, heading towards the Capitole and some of the churches. The first stop was a beer and catch-up. Musee Augustins was the next stop, along with a little light shopping and browsing. The museum was excellent, and had a good mix of ancient and modern, and interesting architecture. We then headed for the river, and got some lunch. In the evening, we went out for a beer in an excellent bar, and then to a restaurant – good food and wine. My hotel was in an area called Minime, and as we walked back we had our first of many encounters with the local sex workers, who were in the area along the Canal du Midi.

Image: Alan Parkinson, click for biggery...

Teachmeet at the RGS - Part 1

Yesterday was the second Teachmeet to be hosted at the Royal Geographical Society.
Although it was at the 'home of Geography' and had a Geography theme, it was open to anyone, and was well attended, although not all the original speakers and attendees were there for various reasons. The event took place in the Education Room at the RGS. If you would like to see the presentations from most of the speakers, they are in a Dropbox here.

When I was travelling there, I had an e-mail to say that David Rogers was unfortunately ill, and unable to attend, so I was asked to step in and keep the event running and organise all the speakers, keep the timings etc.
I'll write about the sessions a little more as we go through in a few more blog posts...

Here are details of the speakers and their presentations.

Dan Raven Ellison started off by talking about some of his recent (and past) projects, and his work on the Greater London National Park.

Andrew Boardman: 'What's the point of hexagons?'

Richard Maurice tried to distill teaching down to just 7 words, based on a book by Michael Pollan on Food Rules

Liz Bentley-Pattison explored some new ideas for fieldwork

Ben Crockett described how he supports people with their case study diagrams

I was up next, with a brief version of my Power of Geographical Information presentation that I had led in Toulouse last week. This one lasted 5 minutes rather than 50...

Ewan Laurie described how Google see the world

Alice Griffiths talked about Changing places, connected with the idea of play and children's literature

Richard Treves spoke about some of the work that he has been doing with Google and their tools for teachers.

and finally

Andrew Caffrey had been outside of the main room with a load of Google Cardboard headsets, and he spoke about Google Expeditions.

You can view the presentations by accessing this Dropbox folder.

Thanks to everyone who came along to listen, and to those who offered presentations. I look forward to the next one...

Remembrance Day Service

It was down to the cathedral today for the annual Remembrance Day service. I was asked to an event in Cambridge, but passed as it would have meant missing the service, which is an important part of the school calendar. The music was splendid at the moment, and was moving to hear the names of the fallen pupils and masters and choristers from King's being read out, and watch the petals falling from the Octagon Tower during the service.

Image: Alan Parkinson

World's Population on a 3D globe

3D World Population Globe

Visualises the world's population as spikes on a 3D globe.

Storify of RGS Teachmeet

The 2nd RGS hosted Geography Teachmeet was held on Wednesday the 9th of November.


Winderful is a good visualisation of how much of the UK's energy is being generated by wind energy at any one time. Take a look and see the turbine spin faster or slower depending on how much energy is coming from wind.

Piktochart and VGI

As part of my preparation for the Practical Pedagogies conference in Toulouse, where I will be mentioning a number of tools, I've just recently upgraded to Piktochart Pro as an educator, which costs $20 for a year.

I'm going to be exploring ideas related to the spatial information which is collected when you undertake a transaction online, or use a smart device. I'll be trying to turn the outcomes from my session into an infographic.
VGI is "volunteered geographical information" which you generate through your daily activities. This is not always understood by all consumers or users of apps.

In the UK, we have a TV series called 'Hunted', which takes this idea and uses it to track down members of the public who are on the run. Any use of cash points or smartphones quickly draws the hunters. They can also access CCTV cameras and other surveillance devices…

What information are you sharing about where you are?

Climate Change explained - by the Royal Society

A useful short video… worth a minute (or so) of your time...

Practical Pedagogies 2016 - Post 1 - Getting there...

I've already put up a few posts about the Practical Pedagogies event which took place in Toulouse for the first time last year, and was repeated this last few days. It's organised by Russel Tarr, who has spent an inordinate amount of time curating a huge event with over 100 workshops, and a keynote and closing session with Ewan McIntosh.
I was asked to present, and was delighted to share some of the work we do at King's Ely, and present on the Power of Geographical Imagination - scroll down for various links to my presentation, and let me know if you have further questions about that.

It was a long time coming, and was something to sustain me through the first half of the Autumn term - always a hectic time in school. The arrival of new specs for GCSE and 'A' level meant a lot of extra work. Flights were booked and hotels finalised, and presentation completed - a couple of day's work on that, and printing support materials and creating Dropbox for resource sharing.

I've been fortunate to travel widely in Europe over the last five or six years, and so it was good to be heading out of Stansted again - not so good to get up at 3.45am to get there in time for the flight to Toulouse. A crisp morning and slightly delayed departure as we got to the plane before the flight crew did - this was a new route that Ryan Air were flying, so it was not quite full, and had a good flight over listening to music and dozing...
We landed on schedule, and after passport control it was out into the sunshine of Toulouse....

To be continued....

Textbooks - not either or ... just a tool for teachers to use (or not)

I was scrolling through the many hundreds of tweets to come out of the 20+ new followers from Practical Pedagogies (of which much more in nearby posts) and came across a blog post on textbooks that included a familiar looking image.. two copies of the 'A' level book that was published in August this year, and represented two years of effort on the part of myself as editor and a large authoring team with decades of experience in both teaching and innovating in a range of school contexts...
It was written by Sam Blyth. She works for Canvas Learning Management System.
You can read it here.

It's called 'Beyond the textbook: inspiring the next generation'.
It includes these words:
For centuries the textbook has been the Primary learning tool in classrooms, but it’s universally agreed that even the most traditional institutions now need to deliver content in a way that better serves social, connected, millennials. I’ve seen first hand how harnessing technology to move ‘beyond the textbook’ can better engage and inspire students. Rather than ingesting often outdated material by rote - the ‘chalk and talk’ method
Universally agreed? - er, no...
'Chalk and talk' - who says chalk and talk goes with how you use texbooks
Deliver content - babies and post are delivered, not education... and the term 'content' is just plain wrong when used to describe the nuanced critical exploration of geographical themes, knowledge and concepts that go into the chapters I wrote in that textbook...

This bipolar - textbooks or digital argument forgets that textbooks are for most teachers facing a dramatic new specification change, the best way to reduce the dramatic workload that would be involved in resourcing a whole new 2 year course (at the same time as GCSEs have also changed...)
They are one resource that sit alongside a whole suite of digital support materials, and social media streams of additional content on blogs, Twitter and with Facebook networking and NING groups to connect the physical paper pages with live data... it's what I do every day in school - did I mention I also teach a full teaching timetable so am perhaps reasonably well qualified to talk about teaching and learning... I won't mention the shelf load of awards for innovative teaching I've been presented with by the pre-eminent geographical organisations, or the top ICT awards my school has won within the last year. My name is also on a forthcoming research paper exploring the use of Google Expeditions to improve the quality of student questioning... I'm about as techie and digital as it gets in geography...but I'm not prog, and I'm not trad... I'm just GeoBlogs - a teacher and geographer.

Had my textbooks not been pictured I wouldn't have bothered reading what is essentially an ad for the product that Canvas is trying to get into schools.

There is mention of AR, which is fun for a while, but I'm yet to see a whole 'A' Level Geography course available within AR that is proven to achieve better results than other teaching methods. The post also offers no specifics beyond a mention of Pokemon Go, which has already faded away .... and which in any case I was immediately involved in producing a Google Doc of guidance and ideas for teachers to use if they wanted to explore at the time it was all the rage...

Another quote from the piece:

Freedom from the textbook can also mean freedom from the classroom, allowing students to learn at their own pace, and in their own place.
Textbooks can be used outside of the classroom, and students can use them to learn at their own pace and in their own place - not all students have mobile devices, reliable internet and data plans, or the inclination to stare at a screen after a long day at school... they should be allowed to relax in the evenings. And to say that they can learn away from the school / classroom more effectively devalues the work that teachers do with students in the classroom as curriculum makers and highly qualified professionals. Plus, textbooks don't HAVE to be paper and ink... but that format is going to be around for a while yet.

I've spent the last few days at Practical Pedagogies working with over 200 educators. I was fortunate to see into Russel Tarr's classroom - he is one of the most innovative and digitally literate educators I have ever met. He has authored hundreds of digital tools, which are all free of charge for people to use around the world, and do you know what lines the shelves of his remarkably inspiring classroom? Textbooks... Hundreds of them... Which he uses to teach History... There's also a useful piece by David Rogers, who works with Microsoft and Google... and edits and write textbooks too.

One final point about that blog post. It featured an image of my textbooks. There was no credit given to the maker of that image. The image was made by Caroline Walton of Cambridge University Press, but her copyright on that image was not credited.

'Rant' over. Very uncharacteristic of me...
As you were....

Innovate my School have been in touch and have amended the post.
The image has been changed to a more generic and anonymised one.
I've also had an apology from James at Innovate my School, which was good of him to get in touch and act so promptly.

New 'A' level support groups

There has been a good rate of take-up for new support networks for the new specifications, particularly some of the Facebook groups.
There will be a list of these going up on the GA website shortly that I've been collating...

This has led to a number of teachers offering to host meetings at their schools. This is one related to the CUP textbook that I edited and co-wrote. The details of an event that is happening in the Bournemouth area are HERE - you'll need to request to join the group and see the relevant e-mail contacts.

Any heads of geography / representatives in Dorset interested in meeting at St Peter's School, Bournemouth?

Would like to gauge interest in meeting in Jan 2017 to discuss AQA A Level Geog and swap expertise. We also run OCR B GCSE if that helps.