Uganda Marathon

Best of luck to four colleagues of mine who have headed off to Uganda to take part in the Uganda Marathon.
They include my Geographer colleague Claire Kyndt.
They are going to be running different distances in the awesome countryside of Uganda, and they have already raised over £10 000 for the charity.
You can follow Uganda Marathon on Twitter @ugandamarathon and Facebook page.

This is one of the charities that the runners are going to be supporting.

Best of luck to all the athletes - have an amazing time.
Still time to support them with a few quid as well if you wanted to.

Here are the team on the equator...

"Maps are having a moment"

Re-reading the interview with Joe Smith in the Geographical magazine where he gives some of his thoughts as he takes over as the Director of the Royal Geographical Society.

Here is a quote from the Q and A

One of the things is the fact that maps are having a real moment! How can we combine enthusiasm for citizen-generated knowledge together with digital capabilities to re-invent what maps could mean for people. 
With plenty of concern currently about data being shared without users’ knowledge we could open up more positive thinking about how digital and social media could be put to work for society. 
What new maps are there to be made with the powerful new interactive media that are emerging? Geography as a discipline, and the RGS-IBG could be a real pioneer in this field.

Fairtrade Footballs

Came across this video recently when revamping a unit on Geography and Sport. It's a good watch.
I wonder where the balls for the World Cup will have been made?

Playing Fair: The Story of Fairtrade Footballs from Fairtrade Schools on Vimeo.
How are footballs made? And what do footballs have to do with Fairtrade?

To find out, we go to Sialkot in northern Pakistan to see the production process first-hand. We speak to stitchers and workers in two factories who talk about the difference that Fairtrade has made to their lives.

Thank you to Bala Sport for helping us to tell the story of Fairtrade footballs.

You can buy Fairtrade footballs at Bala Sport (

For more about Fairtrade Schools, visit

Written and produced by the Fairtrade Schools team
Directed by Jon Bilbrough
UK filming by Jon Bilbrough
Filming in Pakistan by Irfan Mirza
Presented by Frankie Vu
Visuals by Simon Hurdle, Whitestone Media
Music by Jon Bilbrough

ESRI Community Analyst tool - a first play...

This is newish, and was revealed to some people at the ESRI UK Conference down in London (have attended several times in the past, but was unable to get there this year due to teaching commitments)

Thanks to the ESRI UK Education Team for this resource.
It explains how to get the Community Analyst up and running which requires a few stages, and you will need to have administrative privileges on your (FREE!!) school account.

It allows the user to produce infographics from data.
Added the licenses to my profile, which is the first step. Follow the videos here...

I've then logged in using the waffle to the right hand side of the screen, near my profile name.

Decided to make an infographic of Birmingham, as it is the city my son is studying as his Case Study city for the Edexcel 'A' GCSE Geography paper.

Created a new project and then chose 'Make a new map from Data' > Colour Coded Maps > and then chose Income

I chose the housing with the lowest income bracket.

I chose one area and selected it, and then chose Infographic from the pop up options

I also changed the area to county level, and then produced this infographic for Norfolk...

Going to have a play with the COMPARISON tool next....

Well worth giving it a go if you have a free ArcGIS Online account.

Thanks to Jason Sawle for a bit of a steer when I got stuck.

Teaching Geography Summer 2018 Issue

The Summer 2018 issue of 'Teaching Geography' is now available to download by subscribers, and the hard copies will be coming shortly into schools if they haven't already.

There is plenty of interest in this issue, with plenty of articles by friends, and some very useful additional online resources. A great Ben Hennig cartogram on the cover, including an article inside too on the relaunch of Worldmapper. Darren Bailey talks about the tools in Digimap for Schools.
There's an excellent article on Place from Eleanor Rawling, and Aiden Hesslewood (one of this year's RGS-IBG Ordnance Survey Award winners) talks about planning for teaching Global Governance in the new 'A' level specifications.

There's a look at BRITICE project I've blogged about elsewhere, and Fred Martin finishes with a look at how geography teaching has been influenced by a range of external factors, including the positive influence of the Action Plan for Geography and a mention for Guerrilla Geography and Mission:Explore work.

Another excellent issue edited by Mel Norman.

If you don't currently take this journal, you can add it to your GA subscription and then access back issues of all previous issues. 


Earlier this week, students sat the first paper of the new GCSEs.

We thought the OCR B paper was fair. A few interesting variations from the usual structure of the paper, and less emphasis on some aspects of the specification than we might have expected.

Worth reading a couple of articles by teachers on the new GCSEs to get some other perspectives.

There is a TES piece here by Mark Enser.

There is a temptation to see the specification as a long checklist and to base the curriculum on simply working our way through it and making sure we get to the end in time for the exam. The issue with this approach is that it ignores the links between topics that you see when you look back at the exam paperSecond is a piece by Jennifer Monk on her blog. Read that here.

Some interesting comments in both.
Tony Cassidy reminded us to have some perspective on our own involvement in students' GCSE performance...
Geography was also the subject of several articles this week: in the Times there was a story of how middle class students are apparently drawn to the subject, and the Telegraph did a fairly lazy piece on the subject too - why does every mention of Geography resort to mentions of 'colouring in' still?

It's also worth having a look on Twitter immediately after the paper ends too, as the memes and comments flow from students who have just sat the paper - just search on terms such as #edexcelgeography to see them (works for all awarding bodies and subjects too for the next month or so)

Best of luck to all students and teachers who are still to sit the other two papers. And that goes for parents supporting students too - have just spent a couple of hours with my son going through his urban case studies for Paper 2....

Our Place

I've been very much enjoying the new Mark Cocker book on the UK's Wildlife. It's more than that of course: it's a memoir and also a meditation on landscape and our influence on it - much of which includes places with which I am familiar.

It starts on the Norfolk Coast, near Wells next the Sea, but also takes in a range of other places which are familiar to me up and down the country.

There's an excellent New Statesman piece here, with a review of the book and more.

Recommended read, and one of the great aspects of half term is time to spend time with a good book...

30 Days Wild

We've got our pack, and are all set to go wild in June for 30 Days Wild.
The pack has now arrived in school again.
It's created in association with the Wildlife Trusts. I've been a proud member of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust for many years now.

Sign up here to get yours and get outside through June.

Started today...


Here's a useful video for those of you who want to investigate the story of Otzi. 
I know a book about him.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a way of exploring whether terms are in the public eye, and lots of people are searching for them. The appearance of certain news stories can be tracked by looking for them on the Google Trends search. They show how certain events grabbed attention, or how certain words or trends appeared and fluctuated over time.
Here's an example for the Eyjafjallajokull eruption... Worldwide mentions since 2004...

The results can also be shared in different ways, including embedding them.
Here's Brexit

TMGeography Icons - academic keynote announced

June 23rd sees the first running of the Teachmeet GeographyIcons event at the University of Birmingham.
I've unaccountably been asked to do the teacher keynote, and will be sharing some ideas ahead of my Practical Pedagogies session in November, on the theme of narratives. I've done a LOT of thinking about this session and changed my mind at least three times already...

I've been tearing apart my KS3 Scheme of Work, and putting in a series of narratives and stories, and extracts from texts and whole books, and I will be talking about how I will use these to develop some work previously done based around my Ice Man book and the Scholastic version of 'Touching the Void' (more elsewhere on the blog on that)

I'll also be asking those involved to take part in a few small acts of activism during the session. I've asked about 50 people who I consider to be amongst my 'icons': people who I have worked with, or who have supported me over the years, to send a message or provocation to the assembled teachers so it is not just my voice that is heard...  Thanks to those who have already sent ideas and thoughts too. More on this to come nearer the time.
Expect to get involved in several Mentimeter polls as well...

The academic keynote has just been announced as Dr. Phil Jones, who is a Cultural Geographer from the University of Birmingham and does some interesting work. I look forward to hearing what he has to say. He can be followed on Twitter @philjonesgeog

You may not know but I also have a Cultural Geography blog that I started back in 2007, when I was teaching the OCR Pilot GCSE Geography. Check it out.

Less than a month to go now.

GA Magazine and special commemorative booklet

The Summer 2018 GA Magazine is available to view for those who subscribe. You can get copies by joining the GA.
There is a useful illustrated summary of the GA Conference.
There is also a commemorative booklet which came with it to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the association.

Tiny foldable cities

Orbital video...

45 years ago...

It's 45 years since the original release of Tubular Bells...
A new instalment is due soon from the maestro.
I've been listening to it regularly for over 40 years...
Here's a 2003 remix which I like.

Urban Growth Explorer

Another of the outcomes from the ESRI UK Annual Conference was awareness of the Urban Growth Explorer tool
This was developed in association with the National Library of Scotland, who have previously released a huge tranche of historic maps, which have been released and made available through various interactive tools.
This uses a swipe tool to explore the changes in the growth of key cities. Another similar tool here.

It's also worth remembering that there are some similar tools in Digimap for Schools - here's a short video explaining how that can work too...

Regional disposable income mapping

A new tool from the Office for National Statistics.
It explores changes in disposable income.
This is a useful map to use alongside some other data to explore changes in areas, or decisions made over the location of certain industries.

Everyone would gather..

Everyone would gather

On the twenty fourth of May
Sitting in the sand
To watch the fireworks display
Dancing fires on the beach
Singing songs together
Though it’s just a memory
Some memories last forever
Neil Peart

Jersey Royals and PDO status

It's Jersey Royal season again, and time for one of my favourite foods to come back on sale for a month or so.
The potatoes have been grown on the islands for 140 years, and have a particular flavour all of their own. 

They have Protected Designation of Origin status (OS Map)

Check out the other foods which have Protected Designation of Origin status in the UK. There are a few of them. How many of them can you name before you check the list?

Responsible Tourism: some case studies

Responsible Tourism has a focus on the people who live in a place, and not on the tourists themselves. It is about reducing the impact on the environment, although there are some who suggest that the impact of tourism is greater than people believe.
For the last few month's I've been working to update some resources for TUI: they are called the Better World Detectives, and are for KS2 (keep an eye out for some resources for older students which will be appearing before too long)
I'll let you know when the final versions appear in the next week or so...

The stories from Venice a few weeks ago, with the installation of some turnstiles to try to reduce overcrowding at certain points, suggest that the residents of Venice are being sidelined in favour of tourists. They are being priced out of their own home town, which is being overrun every day by a growing tide of tourists.
Barcelona has seen similar protests. There is also a concern about the impact of Air BnB (which I shall return to later)
PEUAT is a Spanish scheme which aims to tackle one of the issues.
Read about it here. It's a Special Tourist Accommodation plan.

Barcelona is the city where this plan is being introduced

Another scheme encourages businesses to source the food that they serve to tourists from local producers rather than relying in imported food.
Fethiye is one of those...

Get Outside Champion Blogs #3 - Jen and Sim Benson

Jen and Sim Benson are the third of the fellow OS GetOutside Champions that I'm featuring here on LivingGeography. Jen wasn't at the Champions launch, but I shared a table with Sim, and we did the treasure hunt activity together. Jen and Sim spend rather a lot more time outside than I do, and are also a little fitter...
They blog about all things outdoors, including fitness, adventure and outdoor activities, and share their photography too.

They have just had a new book published, which is called An Adventurer's Guide to Britain.

Here's a description of the book, which looks like it would be worth seeking out to get some ideas for the summer to come.

This exciting, inspiring and informative guide is perfect for anyone who loves a challenge and an adventure. There are soaring ridgelines to run, exciting river descents to swim, secret coves to explore by boat, and achievable interesting scrambles, all in stunning locations.
Each of the 150 featured adventures, which are arranged by geographical region, has been carefully chosen for being exhilarating, achievable by any reasonably active person, and as safe as possible. You'll be taken on a tour of the country and discovering where to do things you never thought possible in the UK – exploring the caves and creeks of Cornwall by kayak, sleeping under the stars surrounded by the towering mountains of the Cuillin Ridge, or swimming in the faery pools at Glen Brittle on Skye.

The Adventurer's Guide to Britain puts together some of the very best experiences from the different worlds of adventure sport, to create the ultimate outdoor bible for those who love getting outside, challenging themselves and exploring beautiful Britain

BritIce Posters - on their way to a school near you...

BRITICE posters have been packed up and are on their way to schools. There's a free poster for every secondary school in the UK apparently.
They look excellent.
This is the next stage in the development of this very useful tool for teachers and academics, which I've used a few times (and also recommended to FSC colleagues when we visited earlier in the month)

There's the actual ESRI Web app map here too to explore further.

Useful for those exploring glacial landscapes in the UK.

125th Anniversary of the founding of the Geographical Association

A special lunch is taking place today in Oxford... my invitation must have been lost in the post...

Mapping Google Doodle

Today's Google Doodle celebrates Abraham Ortelius, a cartographer who was significant in the development of the modern atlas.

Long before we were able to map the world and put it online, Abraham Ortelius made a lasting impact by collecting the latest information from scientists, geographers, and cartographers and transforming it into what the world now knows as the modern day atlas.

The atlas, titled Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), was first published on this day in 1570 and is significant for a couple reasons. Within these pages, we see the first evidence of someone imagining continental drift - the theory that continents were joined together before drifting apart to their present day positions. Flipping through the pages, you may also notice a sea monster or two in the water - these mythical creatures were a subject of fascination in Ortelius’ generation, and often appeared alongside the ever changing landscapes of the atlas maps.

As every atlas is an aggregation of many maps, Ortelius was also one of the first cartographers to consistently add sources and names to the creators of the original maps, as evidenced by the first map pictured in today’s animated Doodle. Adding his fellow scientists’ names to the atlas wasn’t just a professional courtesy - Ortelius was known for corresponding with prominent scientists and humanists from all over Europe, a practice that yielded much insight into the great thinkers of his time.

Source of information above

Impossible Burger

An excellent article in 'New Scientist' last week explored the rise in plant based alternatives to meat, to reduce the environmental impact of our diet.

The Impossible Burger is made from plants: pea protein, with added ingredients such as beetroot to give the 'bloody' effect of a decently cooked burger.

They are proving popular, and the article outlines the development of the company.
Follow them on Twitter, and you will see that there are several other companies who are developing alternative meats.

Sanctuary III - there's an education metaphor here somewhere...

But even if there isn't, enjoy it anyway...
Building something from small steps incrementally, with expert timing and a lifetime of practice...

Live video feed from Hawaii

May end by the time you click the link or see this post...
Happening right now - wonder how long this eruption might last?
Also this news story about someone being injured by lava splatter.

Jo Atherton's coastal art

Jo's work via Flotsam weaving is excellent and I have shared it here before as one of many artists who take inspiration from some specific aspect of the landscape. Jo works with found objects, including beachcombed objects and plastic.
Read about her work on Atlas Obscura, which also has some awesome images of projects that she has completed.

Her own website also contains more information on her work, which takes inspiration from the SW Coastlines in particular.

Jo is also writing Fifty Things (which tells the stories of a number of objects found along the British coastline)
A recent Moorlog entry was found on the coast between Weybourne and Sheringham in North Norfolk: an area I know well.


Madagascan Vanilla is an important ingredient of quality vanilla ice cream. Cheaper ice creams use extract or flavourings, which haven't necessarily come into contact with the contents of the magic black bean..

Which makes vanilla one of the most expensive flavours of ice-cream.
Some other companies are also affected. Lush, which makes bath bombs and other products has switched suppliers because of problems in Uganda where it used to source its ingredients. A reminder of the hidden cost of some commodities.

Which other crops are going to spiral in cost in the (near) future?

Image: Madagascan Vanilla copyright Lush

Uganda Marathon

I have four colleagues who are running the Uganda Marathon in a few weeks time, including fellow Geographer Claire Kyndt. You can read more about the actual event here.
We have been using this as our main fund-raising activity within school. We've raised around £10 000 so far, which is fantastic.
The funds will support various community projects.
The town of Masaka is waiting to welcome the runners.
I've been following their progress, and the preparations for the marathon for almost a year now, and been receiving their

One of the projects that is supported is the Masaka recycling project, and a recent e-mail update provided some very interesting information on this project.
This concentrates on recycling plastics.

Less than 2 years ago, if you were to go for a run around the beautiful hills and dirt paths of the villages around rural Masaka, it would have been impossible to find a route that didn't take you past heaped piles of burning plastic bottles and unrecycled waste. In fact, much of the marathon route was littered with burning rubbish and plastic.

The Masaka recycling initiative was created to combat this. It was started by Andy Bownds, a UK resident of Masaka and the community and partnerships manager for The Uganda Marathon.

The initiative works in different ways to put a value on plastic waste, to incentivise the community to clear up their town and recycle the plastic.

A couple of ways that they do this are:
  • Buying plastic from locals, this has created a labour force that is actively clearing up plastic from Masaka.
  • Spreading the word, and teaching organisations about upcycling. Upcycled bottles can be used instead of many other materials to create essential tools & equipment that would otherwise need to be bought. The MRI are teaching organisations to upcycle, which places a value on plastic as it becomes a construction material.

Upcycling has increasingly become a big part of the work of The Uganda Marathon as last year we launched and pioneered our upcycling program. During race week, runners worked with their chosen community project to build tools & equipment out of upcycled plastic.

This year, we are doing something bigger! With the help of the Masaka Recycling Initiative, we are planning something that will both clear up Masaka and help the community projects make vital tools & equipment.

Best of luck to all the runners, particularly those from King's Ely.

The Long Dark

I've added a few blog posts over the years on the link between Geography and Games. I have a large pile of boardgames in my office which are used occasionally, and some of which I still have to play properly as I haven't had the opportunity yet.
I've got quite a few STEAM games on my account, including Never Alone and Firewatch.
I prefer games with a bit of intensity, and where the setting and the sense of place created in the game is an integral part of the game.
The Long Dark is a new STEAM game which is getting very good reviews.

Here's the premise:

What is it? A survival game set in the Canadian wilderness.
Expect to pay £27/$35
Developer Hinterland Studio
Publisher In-house
Reviewed on GTX 1080, Intel i5-6600K, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer None
Link Official site
A geomagnetic anomaly has plunged the world into darkness and rendered all technology useless, including the plane you were flying over the vast, frozen wilds of Canada. You awake surrounded by flames and wreckage—badly injured and freezing to death—and find yourself in a battle to survive in one of the most inhospitable corners of the planet. It’s a hell of a place to spend the apocalypse, and death lingers around every corner of this deadly, wintry expanse.

I came across it via a Robert MacFarlane tweet which had a lovely description of the game which was written by Ewan Wilson, and referenced Nan Shepherd and Caspar David Friedrich as influences for the visuals, which means it ties in quite nicely with some of the ideas in the resource I've been developing with Peter Knight from Keele University.

Also connects with the idea of place.

More on this to come over the summer, when I get a chance to play some of these games... It beats Fortnite...

John Muir Award

Those who read the blog regularly will know of my involvement with the John Muir Trust, through the creation of a book in our Mission:Explore series, which can be purchased or downloaded in several languages.
I've been taking a look at the John Muir Award and considering whether to offer it to students as an additional element of their studies.
This could include involvement in a number of citizen science projects. There are plenty linked to biodiversity...

2011-2020 has been declared the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity which serves to support the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and promote its overall vision of living in harmony with nature. Its goal is to mainstream biodiversity at different levels. Each day counts. The actions taken by individuals, stakeholders and governments are important steps, one building on the other, towards protecting the life support systems that not only ensure human well-being, but support the rich variety of life on this planet. There are many ways to get involved, not just through surveys.

Country Risk Profiles

Another project which has involved Axis Maps

A country risk register document can be downloaded here as a PDF - excellent for Global Hazards topics.

These types of documents are produced for insurance companies such as Munich Re.

Arctic Tourism: Iceland under pressure

An interesting website which explores the growing pressures on Iceland. It's written by Ellis Quinn, who writes on the Eye on the Arctic website.

When most people think of Arctic economic development, things like resource extraction are usually first to mind. But northern regions and chambers of commerce are increasingly touting tourism as a key economic tool.

It’s seen as an industry that creates jobs for a variety of education levels, promotes small-scale entrepreneurship, reinforces and promotes local cultures, and creates the sustainable development lacking in many of the expensive and hard-to-get-to regions of the North; whether the remote Indigenous communities of Arctic Canada and Greenland, or the villages of Finnish Lapland and northern Russia.

But tourism is far from the benign industry it’s often made out to be.

As Iceland has discovered, mass tourism in the North can have social and environmental impacts as profound as those of the mining or drilling industries.

Yet successive governments did nothing to prepare for any of it. Instead, Instagram and Justin Bieber inadvertently ended up doing most of Iceland’s tourism planning for them.

Now, not everyone is sure they’re happy with the results.

Hunstanton Cliffs

We'll be using this drone footage of Hunstanton Cliffs tomorrow - thanks to parent Martyn Fordham for shooting the film and letting us use it

Hunstanton Cliffs from Alan Parkinson on Vimeo.
Drone footage filmed by Martyn Fordham, and shared under CC license for use in RGS-IBG Data Skills in Geography resource.

Thought for the Day

Maps are [also] great for showing us what our eyes can’t see. They help visualize the mysteries beneath the surface of things.
Douglas Gayeton

From the introduction to the Guerrilla Cartography 'Atlas of Water' 

We're doomed*

“Our continuing uneconomic growth makes us complicit in a process that is triggering an ecological catastrophe for our children and generations beyond them. They will justifiably sit in judgement on our failure to have prevented its devastating consequences knowing that we chose to look the other way.”

An interesting article by Patrick Barkham describing a meeting with social scientist Mayer Hillman on our failure to think in the long-term, and take decisive action in time to prevent climate change affecting billions of people.

* maybe

Gapminder Mountain Chart

Available for use, and embedding....

Will form part of my Factfulness Scheme of Work - see previous blog posts...

New Town Utopia

This film is getting a lot of love at the moment, and is also due to get some cinema screenings.

Bill Gates loves Dollar Street

I've been tinkering with my Factfulness Scheme of Work as time permits. You can still request to get involved by getting in touch and I'll make you an editor.

Bill Gates is a big fan of Factfulness book as well.
And he's a big fan of the Dollar Street website.

All of these feature in the scheme. 
Powerpoints are now taking shape, and some other documents to come as time permits. Will be ready for teaching after half term I hope.

GA Conference 2018 - Post #20 of 20 - Looking ahead to Manchester

See plenty of you there.
Thanks for reading this review of the conference...

Image: Alan Parkinson 

GA Conference 2018 - Post #19 - Things that looked interesting but which I didn't get to....

As always at the GA Conference, there are lots of parallel sessions, where there can be up to ten or more workshops, debates or lectures at the same time.
A few things that I didn't get to see, but which sounded excellent.

Amy Todd from Layers of London was there to show the progress so far on their map, and that session looked useful for those interested in GIS style tools and the way they can be used to capture the stories of places.

I also missed Sharon Witt's latest blockbuster session for Primary (and beyond)  called Thinkspots.
This was based on the character Eric from a Shaun Tan picture book. Sharon very kindly sent me her presentation, which is awesome, and included some major input from Steve Rawlinson, who is also awesome. Sharon kindly sent me her slides though, so will be considering what I can take from the workshop for my own work.

I didn't get to see the whole of Margaret Robert's session on Controversial Issues in GCSE Geography, but I had seen an earlier version of the talk, and I also had a chance to catch up with Margaret, who was on the interview panel when I got my job at the GA (a very scary proposition at the time, but she is so supportive of course)
Margaret was also very interested in the way that we had 'represented' certain key ideas in the textbooks that we worked on, and was interested to read the book. We chatted as I showed her the book, and she gave them her seal of approval.
As always, Margaret's session was, for many, the highlight of their conference.

For another review of the conference, check out Steve Rackley's blogs, which tell the story of the conference in 3 instalments. He was back from a recent period in the USA and shared the story in his own particular style. H also shared this image, one of a few of me at this year's conference, along with Dan, whose lecture was very well received.

There was also a session on displays from Mr. Sherlock which is something I will mine for a CPD session I'm leading later in the year.
If you missed any of the sessions at the GA Conference (in fact, if you also missed previous years' conferences), you can get quite a few of the sessions from the GA Conference Session Downloads page.
Here's a reminder of my Teachmeet presentation.
GA Magazine subscribers will be able to read a full conference report, complete with selected tweets in the Summer issue, which should be arriving in the mail this week if it hasn't already. I get a mention there, which is always nice...


Nukemaps is an ineractive map visualisation by Alex Wellerstein which allows you to drop a nuclear bomb, in various sizes on your local area, and see what the impact might be... May be of use to someone... I've shared it before (it's been around since 2012), but nuclear issues have been in the news quite a lot recently...

Thinking like a Geographer

A reminder of this excellent little video which shows the importance of Thinking like a Geographer... and popped up in my Twitter feed yesterday - great fun!

Water and Food Atlases from the Guerrilla Cartographers

A few years back, we contributed some of our Mission:Explore Food book to the Guerrilla Cartographers who were putting together their Food Atlas.

This is available to download as a rather large PDF file.
They have now released their new WATER Atlas a chunky 100Mb PDF (hard copies can also be purchased)
Visit the website and go to the ATLASES tab to download them (they can also be ordered as a hard copy)

Would have been useful for my ECOLINT Running on Empty workshop as well.

Google Earth Tour Creator

A new tool from Google, which has been trialled by a few folks. It's the Tour Creator.
Apparently it's easy to make 3D tours from my computer, so let's see...

For an early look, and a link to some examples, Richard Treves has been quick off the mark, and posted here.

Practical Pedagogies Early Bird

A chance to come along to Cologne in November and see my presentation on pedagogies of narratives. If you're quick you can also do it for a bit less, as "Early Bird" prices end at the end of May.

There are over 100 presentations, plus keynotes and social events... and Cologne is a wonderful city to explore in between time...

Factfulness: a collaborative scheme of work for KS3

How about preparing students for their GCSE studies properly, by ensuring that they approach the topics with a fact-based world view.
I've started a collaborative Google Drive document, and it would be great to have lots of people adding to it and suggesting some activities or lessons which could be added, so that it becomes a block of lessons introducing some of the ideas that are outlined in the book.

The set text for this suggested scheme of work is Factfulness, available in 24 languages, and published in the UK in April in Hardback.
Here are the three authors explaining why they wrote the book.

To get involved, you need to go to the resource here to take a look, and then request to be given editorial rights, and I will approve you.

You can then start adding your own ideas....

Good to get some interest from Anna herself...

New William Atkins book out soon, with a focus on deserts

One of the best books of 2015 was 'The Moor' which was William Atkins' exploration of 'the English wilderness', with stories of moors including the North Yorkshire Moors. I read it while on holiday over the New Year period in a lodge in the forests inland from Whitby as the snow fell outside.
His newest book changes the focus to the world's deserts.

Description from Faber and Faber
For all the desert's dreamlike beauty, to travel here was not just to pitch yourself into oblivion: it was to grind away at yourself until nothing was left. It was to aspire to the condition of sand.

One third of the earth's land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable. What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history? From the prophets of the Bible to Marco Polo, Lawrence of Arabia to Gertrude Bell, travellers have often seen deserts as cursed places to be avoided, or crossed as quickly as possible. But for those whose call deserts home, the 'hideous blanks' described by explorers are rich in resources and significance.

Travelling to five continents over three years, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. His journey takes him to the Arabian Peninsula's Empty Quarter and Australia's nuclear-test grounds; the dry Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and 'sand seas' of China's volatile north-west; the contested borderlands of Arizona and the riotous Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert; and the ancient monasteries of Egypt's Eastern Desert. Along the way, Atkins illuminates the people, history, topography, and symbolism of these remarkable but often troubled places.

Reviving the illustrious British tradition of travel writing, The Immeasurable World is destined to become a classic of desert literature.

I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this.

BBC Teach - some new Geography resources

It's been a while since the BBC released some new school Geography videos. There used to be a lot more TV content of course back in the day, and Dan Raven Ellison produced a number of videos for the Bitesize product a few years ago, not all of which seem to have made it online yet.
Six (or currently 5 it seems, as one has disappeared) new videos have been added, and they are presented by students.

There are some Secondary videos for Geography here in the main section of BBC's Education materials.
There is a play list of 6 (when the other one comes back) called The Big Issues.

There's a video on Fracking, and one on building in the Green Belt, one on the Congestion Charge and one on Rewilding.
I used this one today, with Josh from North Norfolk presenting:
Properties affected by Coastal Erosion - should they be protected? - this is based on the village of Happisburgh in Norfolk.

Worth a watch for sure....


I've been exploring the issue of Ocean Plastics, and students will be putting together some ideas for how to tackle this issue within the school.
While shopping recently, I came across this product, which is packaged in a different type of packaging to the usual PET bottle.
The lid, however, seems to be made of plastic?
The website provides further information on the packaging and the product.

AQUAPAX carton strength is from renewable FSC timber sources
By weight, AQUAPAX contains at least 62% plant-based material 


What other packaging options could there be for portable water?

Seneca Learning

"No one was ever wise by chance"
Seneca the Younger 4BC-65AD
My son has started using it for last minute revision for Science in particular, as it breaks the huge amount of content down into manageable chunks. Visuals and short answers are asked, and scores are kept. Progress through the unit is recorded.
Worth a look for revision certainly.
There are some Geography materials there, but not for all the specifications as yet.

GI Learner Teacher Conference - still chance to attend - grants available...

At the GA Conference, I was involved in a workshop at the conference sharing some of the outcomes from our GI Learner ERASMUS project. Thanks to those who came along to the workshop.
Here's Karl Donert and Luc Zwartjes finalising things...

Check out the materials here.

There is a final meeting for the project in Ghent in June, and as part of that we are presenting some of the work, and working with teachers who attend the event. 
There is a one day conference on June the 15th

This will include a grant for those teachers who want to come along, and for teachers in the UK, and other countries outside of Belgium, there is a grant of €150 for attending, which should pay for transport and accommodation, as it's a 1 day event, so manageable from London in a single day for example, given the good train connection and the link with Eurostar.

Teachers are asked to pay €50 to secure a place, and once you attend the event, you will receive a payment of €150.

There are 20 grants available, and these are available on a first come, first served basis.... and there are still some available

See the details below for what you need to do if you want to join me in Ghent in June.

Final conference Ghent from GeoBlogs

Image: Alan Parkinson

Kilauea eruption - hotspot volcano - impact and response...

‘It was like when someone plays the bass really heavy, and you can feel the bass - you could really feel the power and the lava - the colour was unbelievable, and the sound was unbelievable’

I'm wary of the idea that a recent event might replace the case study which students have been taught by their teachers, although some of these may be a little dated, and not necessarily fully formed, so it could be useful. There have been some dramatic images and stories emerging from Hawaii in recent days, as the eruption has continued, and new houses are threatened as time passes. Is this the cost the people pay for living in such a beautiful place, shaped by the forces that are now acting against them?

Eruptions, Earthquakes and Emissions

This is an excellent Axis Maps visualisation of a huge amount of data for years of tectonic events.

You can view it here, and also change the map to a globe view instead, change the speed of the animation or download the data.

Technology use in Geography

Just caught up with a piece on Technology in Education which was published in the Spring 2018 issue of Public Schools Magazine. I sent in some information on how we use technology in the Geography department at King's Ely, and heard no more for a few months, but we were featured in the final article.
We feature on pp.42-3 if you want to read it online here. 
My colleague Dan Everest is featured earlier in the article too.

RGS-IBG Awards announced

The recipients of the 2018 Royal Geographical Society medals and awards were announced today.
As always, there are a few people of note: Paul Rose, who has led numerous expeditions and taken part in a lot of media work which has helped raise the profile of Geography is awarded the Founder's Medal. Andy Goldsworthy also receives an award for his art work which is very much meshed with the environment in which he has worked over the decades. There's also Hilary Geoghegan, who I've contacted a few times regarding cultural geography issues.

The Founder's medal has been awarded to some amazing notables in previous years, including David Attenborough, Jacques Cousteau, Freya Stark and Lady Franklin. A full list can be seen here.

Along with the academics and others who have won medals, of particular interest to me are the two teachers who will receive this year's Ordnance Survey award for excellence in secondary geography education.
This year, those teachers are Laura-Jayne Ward (who is @leading4geog on Twitter) who teaches in Coventry, and Aidan Hesslewood, a fellow member of the GA's Secondary Geography Quality Mark moderation team, and who founded the most excellent GeoLincs network and GA branch. My hearty congratulations to them both, and all those others who may have been nominated.

It's the twentieth anniversary of the OS Award, and 10 years since I was the proud recipient.  Those receiving awards will have a most splendid time at the RGS in June, and be very well looked after.

Factfulness: a collaborative Scheme of Work

Factfulness:KS3 Scheme of Work - a collaborative document

Factfulness was published in the UK in hardback in April 2018.
It was written by Hans Rosling, in association with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, of the Gapminder Foundation.
There are existing teaching resources for Gapminder:
The book says that there are 10 instincts which lead people to misinterpret the world, and these are explored and unpicked within its pages. They are also supplemented by a large selection of notes and accompanying references.

My idea to use the book, is that these chapters and misconceptions are turned into a Scheme of Work, so I have produced a Google Document, which you can visit HERE, or view below (may need to scroll a little as the embed isn't great...

These could become ten sessions (more open in terms of timing than lessons) as part of a scheme, that users could pick from - there is no compulsion to complete all ten. These will introduce the key misconceptions in the book, and also introduce some of the ideas in the GCSE Specifications of the main awarding bodies. I have put together a draft outline, with some possible Enquiry questions, a possible task as part of the session, some resources as a starter and some other notes where relevant.

All content here is in draft and open to amendments and re-sequencing etc.

Let me know if you'd like to contribute and I'll send you a link which means that you can edit the document.
Slideshows now taking shape too

Ola Rosling has made available all the slide decks from Hans’ talks here: 
 - these will become the main teaching resource perhaps, and save time producing further new slide decks, but the slides can be used, with proper attribution

Here's the Gapminder VIMEO channel as well.