One Small Step

Thanks to Ben King for leading me to this lovely short film, which has been Oscar nominated, although I want Bao to win.
Resilience and perseverance...

One Small Step from TAIKO Studios on Vimeo.

Real World Geography

Real World Geography is a new set of resources, which has been developed for the new Junior Cycle Geography in Ireland.

Written by experienced authors Peter Lydon and Tara Fitzharris, Real World Geography is fully aligned to the new specification and provides essential planning and assessment supports for the new Junior Cycle.
Each topic's stimulating content focuses on developing students Junior Cycle key skills alongside developing students' Geoskills and Geoliteracy.
There has been a lot of interest in the new series, and Folens have gone all out to support this curriculum change with a very comprehensive series of support materials, including digital materials, a teacher guide and a complete student handbook to accompany the materials in the textbook.

I've been interested in the position of Geography in Ireland for several years now, since I met quite a few Irish colleagues at an Erasmus course that I was running at Salzburg University back in my freelance days.

One of the authors: Peter Lydon, is a great advocate for geography in Ireland, and this letter of his makes a claim for the subject retaining its place in the curriculum.

I got hold of inspection copies of the books thanks to Folens and Peter Lydon. There is a Workbook and also a Teacher's Guide.

My KS2 colleague: Martin Bramley and I were very impressed by the book's contents and the support materials and have bought a set for teaching this year.

We will share some of the outcomes from this work as they emerge.

UKEdChat educators to follow

I would share this, but I'm not in it, so I won't...

Banana Skin

An excellent little film from OS #GetOutside Champion Jessie Leong.

It's hard to imagine Hong Kong anything other than a vibrant metropolis. Yet what would happen if you were to hop on the underground train and get away from it all? 'Banana Skin' asks the viewer to reflect on issues of cultural identity and how climbing outdoors can be a means of finding sanctuary on one of Hong Kong's many hidden islands. A film by Jessie Leong Entered for the BMC TV Women In Adventure film competition 2019. #WAF19 Find out more about the competition:

Fashion and Globalisation

A new video from the excellent Time for Geography explores the fabric trade in London and its global connections.

Video Summary
• What is globalisation?

• How have trade and migration made London a global city?

• Why do migrants come to live and work in particular parts of London?

• How is this transforming city streets, cultures and economies?

In this video, we team up with human geographer Dr Will Monteith (Queen Mary University of London), to answer these questions by investigating the geography of the fabric trade in East London.
Attributions and Acknowledgements

Written and developed by: William Monteith, Kate Amis, Rob Parker, Harriet Ridley, Simon Ross, Tim Parker

Videography by: Oliver Draper, Rob Parker

Pick the bones out of that...

Holocaust Memorial Day

Tomorrow at school, we will join with the Senior school in commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day.
We will be remembering all those killed during the Second World War.
Auschwitz has been sharing some of their materials today, to help young people understand the scale of the atrocities.

Check out the panorama.

I have been listening to the music of Rush for many years (around 40) and the bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee's parents were interned there. He spoke about that earlier this week. His mum and dad were in Auschwitz before being separated and sent to Bergen Belsen and Dachau respectively.

Watch the interview here.

Red Sector A is a song which was written by Neil Peart, but taken from the story of Geddy's parents.
A live version can be viewed here. I saw this performed live several times during the 1980s and it's a powerful and emotive piece.

An extract from the lyrics gives an idea of the connection with Geddy's parents and their daily choices to walk either left or right.

I hear the sound of gunfire at the prison gate
Are the liberators here, do I hope or do I fear?
For my father and my brother, it's too late
But I must help my mother stand up straight
Are we the last ones left alive?
Are we the only human beings to survive?

This is such a powerful story, and one which must be told and remembered for the rest of time.

Subject association involvement - share your experiences please

Jo Coles has put together a questionnaire on the extent to which geography teachers are involved with the GA and the RGS-IBG.

Fill it in here please - will only take a moment...

All entries welcome.

Mark Steel's in Town - and doing some cultural Geography...

Mark Steel has been touring the country for quite a few years now, doing his 'In Town' shows. He does a lot of research, and wanders around the town, and then does a show where he gently explores some of the local culture, including quotes from bulletin boards and online discussions. A sort of cultural geography / sense of place type approach to a comedy show.

King's Lynn was the subject of a recent show.
As a resident of the town for ten years, and having spent twenty years working there and teaching a few thousand of its residents, I know all the references here, and was amused to hear someone shout out "this is West Norfolk" when Mark referred to King's Lynn as being in North Norfolk... as he pointed out - if you go North from Lynn you end up in the sea, so that must make it fairly north within the county... also plenty on the rabbits of Hardwick Roundabout and a passable accent...

Listen to the show here.

Some more clips and bits from previous series here, and I guess you could find out whether he'd been to your local area, and search BBC Sounds for more.

GIS Questionnaire

Anthony Bennett of Internet Geography has created a survey to explore how teachers are using GIS in their classroom. If you are (or aren't) using GIS in your classroom, let him know by taking a minute or so.
Visit here to answer the questions.

Farming Media

Noticed a Tony Juniper tweet in my feed earlier showing an ad used by Riverford Organics.

Look at this Morrison's ad:

What images and language are used?

Look at the Riverford ad below now:

Or watch this

Land of the Free

New Killers video directed by Spike Lee

Lyrics here.

Palm Oil Gifs

Via Osocio again...

Maps, Minds and Storytelling

First of a series of ESRI StoryMaps on the power of storytelling.
This is by Allen Carroll, Program Manager for Storytelling at Esri.

Plastic video for use by Year 8

Via my top 3 site Osocio

Also check out this StoryMap of the top 5 plastic polluting rivers


Migrants have been in the news a lot in recent months, with the migrant caravan moving up through Mexico from Honduras and other Central American countries.

Read this item and consider the language used by Sajid Javid.

This video from the Migration Observatory is worth your time to watch.
It's one of several useful resources on their website.
There are also some stories in the new Malala book, which I shall blog about next week.

Google Earth Studio

I was invited to Google Earth Studio a few weeks ago, but just had a moment to take a look.
You need to request an invite and wait to be approved. This can take a while.

You will be able to access the STUDIO area - using Chrome.

Not sure what it can do? Watch this showreel...

I'm going to have a go at making some when I get a moment.

There is a series of Tutorial videos available in the Tutorials area.

Follow the links down the left hand side for all the relevant information.

I started with the Basics video - narrated by John Bailey I think... This introduces you to the basics of producing an animation: there are two areas to the screen, and you can animate sections to produce a completed video.

The second video explores easing animations, including curving paths and other effects to make your animations nice and smooth.

The final video explores Multi-camera views

Tokyo Bousai

Tokyo Bousai is an initiative which I've used for some time in my teaching as an example of how to educate cities in the risks that they face and get prepared. It took place in 2015, as part of the plans to prepare the populace of Tokyo to face the potential impacts of an earthquake which is very likely to happen at some point due to the city's seismic history.
The idea of Predicting, Planning and Preparing is one that is included in the OCR B GCSE Geography specification.
Tokyo is a risky city. The Lloyds City Risk Index is a website which shares the work of Lloyds insurers.

This article describes the creation of the Tokyo Bousai book, which was published and sent out to all households in the city - over 7 million copies.

7.5 million copies of the book were distributed to houses in Tokyo. The book is packaged in a sturdy cardboard box, and comes with additional material such as a sticker.

I headed for eBay a couple of years ago, and bought a copy, which is most excellent. There aren't any
Tokyo Bousai is a manga style comic book.
The idea is that a book can be read even when the power is down, unlike a website.
This fits in to the idea of risk mitigation, and is a low-tech addition to other initiatives to make residents of the city aware of their risk, and how to reduce it.

Check out the Metropolitan Disaster Management Map site.

There are quite a few apps on the app store which relate to disaster risk mitigation.
The Bousai project has its origins in the OLIVE project, which was set up after the 2011 Sendai Earthquake.
The creators of this website developed a range of other projects.
Following the advice that they were given, they aggregated this into a new kit called the SECOND AID kit.
This included a comic book style information booklet which is similar to those which can be seen in the Bousai book.

And don't forget the Minim+Aid disaster kit which I blogged earlier in the week.

Image source:

My new favourite video...

Until the next one... New album out soon...

They haven't inherited the Earth yet, but have reached subglacial lakes in Antarctica apparently according to this report from last week's news.

"It's like hell..."

Australia is moving towards the end of a second week of baking temperatures, and no respite in sight...
An overnight temperature record was broken this week too.

It wouldn't be my favourite thing if I was over there, and it's starting to have some serious impacts in terms of melting roads and tyres, health issues for vulnerable groups and pressure on water resources and food production.
Could it be a sign of things to come?

Spice Girls shirts..

The Spice Girls are doing some concerts this year, which sold out very quickly, and they will look to make millions from selling merchandise such as T-shirts.
So I guess they will carefully select factories where workers are paid a fair wage.

The Spice Girls have previously had t-shirts made though, and these were not apparently made in such a fashion...
This Guardian article from today provides some information on where they were alleged to have been made

The factory is said to have 'inhuman conditions' for workers.

From the article:
A spokesman for the Spice Girls said they were “deeply shocked and appalled” and would personally fund an investigation into the factory’s working conditions. Comic Relief said the charity was “shocked and concerned”.

This follow up will be interesting to add - put together with this report and a few other items, you have the making of an investigation into the story of our stuff...

Malala: We are displaced

New in my departmental library this week was this book - the new one from Malala, featuring stories of migrants.

I've just seen that this was also Radio 4's Book of the Week, which means that there are a number of stories that can be listened to. They describe the stories of migrants in different circumstances. 
Might make a sequence for an older form group to listen to, as well as an effective geography resource.


Thanks to Carl Lee for the tipoff to this Washington Post digital project which explores the border between Mexico and the USA.
Scroll down to follow the route of the border, and read all about its variations and different geographies.

The Great North Wood

As I've always said, I should stay of Twitter not because it's bad for my concentration or work, but because it's bad for my wallet.
Darran Anderson put me on to this graphic novel, which tells the story of the history of The Great North Wood, which is a story of change and psychogeography, as the wood becomes the London suburbs.
It's created by Tim Bird.
Twitter here.
Website here.

Other people have also explored this area.

Here's the original Tweet that sent me to the book shop...

I'm also keen to track down copies of the sequence called 'Grey Area'.

When taking a look at some past media on Tweets to find out a little more, I came across an illustration which I recognised as the village of Wickersley near Rotherham where I grew up, and it looks like that will be included in Tim's next comic, which I shall keep an eye out for...

Mystery Object - Post #3 - the answer....

For those who have been following the Mystery Object being revealed over the Christmas break, here's the answer as to what it is.

It's a portable disaster kit, which can be worn at all times, as nobody will know when an earthquake is going to happen.
Each of the cylindrical sections reveals something which would be useful following a natural disaster.
It can be hung up, or worn, and grabbed when needed. A useful case study addition for the preparation, prediction and planning section of GCSE specs.

Read out more about the Minim+Aid here.

Here's full details of the contents of each section

The Seafront

Reading about this book, which I now desire.

It's been compiled by Allan Brodie and is published by English Heritage.

It's a bit pricy, but is about one of my favourite subjects, so I'll see whether I can find a copy.

Walkers - crisp packet recycling scheme launched

One of the ongoing debates is about the recyclability of food packaging.

Walkers has a crisp recycling scheme which has now apparently started, partly as a result of criticism over the number of packets they sell, and the fact that they weren't recyclable. Crisps are a product which require quite sophisticated packaging to keep them.... crisp.

What other recycling schemes have been introduced since the start of 2018?

Image: Alan Parkinson

Mission Adventure (or Mission:Explore)

Over the years since we created our award winning Mission:Explore books, we have seen a number of 'similar' projects which included the National Trust's list of 50 things to do.

Royal British Legion has launched a new version now. I've not taken a look, but this may be of interest to some of the blog readers.

Libby App

I came across a reference to this app last week and have used it every day since. If you have a library card you need to enter your card details into the app and hopefully your library service is accessible from the app. I know that not all areas of the country are featured. I am lucky that in Norfolk, a library card lets you borrow and return books to and from any Norfolk library, and not just in your own particular town. The Forum in Norwich is a wonderful library with a massive range of books and other media, and I can access that via this app and download up to 6 books to the app and onto my phone.

My journeys to and from work this week were accompanied by Alan Garner's 'The Owl Service', and I now have 'Stig of the Dump' lined up for next week.

Brexit approaching...

This is an interesting site giving some perspectives on the place of people within a Changing Europe...

Me and EUrope.

GIS in Schools

Grace Healy has a piece in the latest issue of IMPACT: the journal of the Chartered College of Teaching.
The majority of each issue can be read online, which for me negated some of the benefits of membership, as the journal was one of the few tangible 'benefits' of membership.

This issue is on the theme of Ed-tech: education technology.

Grace's piece, written with Nicola Walshe, is on the use of GIS.

Nicola has previously done quite a lot of work on GIS, and I've been to speak to Homerton students when she was the tutor there, about my use of technology in the classroom.

Read the GIS piece here, or follow the earlier link to access all the open access pieces from this issue. There's a piece by David Rogers on the cloud and CPD, and one by the wonderful Steve Bunce too, but you'll need to be a member to read those...
Another Geographer, Katharine Hutchinson is also featured in a piece on the use of technology to support revision.

Food for Thought and other Stuff

Just started teaching my annual unit on food called Food for Thought (formerly known as 'You are what you eat'

Thanks to Caiti Walter for sharing a great scheme of work and resources online, which I have taken, used and adapted sections from, to beef up the existing lessons.  There is also a link with the geographies of consumption, which means that some of the unit is also going in to my Year 8 planning. Download it from TES here.

The original Geography of my Stuff unit formed part of the RGS's Geography Teaching Today website, which was active during the Action Plan for Geography.
It has now been shifted to the new RGS-IBG website, and mostly can be viewed and downloaded from this page.

Diet's Carbon Calculator is a useful new resource which looks at the environmental impacts of our diets, using a 'footprint' approach.

And also, it goes without saying that you should take a look at Matt Podbury's website.

Digimap for Schools Webinars for the new term

Follow the links here to sign up for a Digimap for Schools webinar.

We have scheduled some webinars over the next month. Why not get some ideas for the new term?

These are free sessions which last for 30 minutes. You don't need any special equipment to take part, just a computer or tablet with speakers.Select any webinar title below to book a place.

Hope to see you there! 

Getting Started: Thursday 24th Jan, 3:45-4.15pm

Ideas for primary teaching: Tuesday 29th Jan, 3:45-4.15pm

Customising maps: Tuesday 5th  Feb, 3:45-4.15pm

Getting started with Digimap for Schools

Have you recently subscribed your school to Digimap for Schools? Are you wondering how to get started with viewing maps and using the various tools available? This webinar will provide an introduction to the service and show how to the get the best out of your subscription.

In this webinar you will learn:

• About the different maps available in Digimap for Schools
• How to search for locations
• How to navigate and change scale to view different maps
• How to view a map key
• How to measure distances and areas
• About the annotation tools
• How to save maps and create printable maps

Ideas for Primary Teaching with Digimap for Schools

Learn about different ways to use Digimap for Schools to teach primary numeracy, literacy, Geography, History and map skills

  • local area
  • map directions
  • map symbols
  • map scale and measuring distances
  • games with mapping
  • Using historic maps

Customising Maps with DFS

Digimap for Schools allows users to customise their maps, adding photographs, annotations measurements, buffers and text to their maps.  

We will look at:

• Using buffer tools
• Introducing GIS
• Point files
• How to create a map key
• How Digimap for School can fulfil NEA at GCSE

Factfulness - some more work from last term...

Common Craft videos are straightforward videos which show people's hands in the frame, and are often made with paper cut outs.
I challenged my groups to make videos in this style to show a particular element of the book, and they produced some excellent responses, some of which I will share when I get a moment.

Remember, as Hans says:

“Factfulness, like a healthy diet and regular exercise, can and should become part of your daily life” 


“a vision par excellence of our synthetic ‘modern nature’– produced by assemblage and entanglement rather than purity and distinction”. Contained within Friend’s photographs are “hard questions […] about what kinds of landscape one might wish either to pass through or to live in; about what versions of ‘modern nature’ might be worth fighting for, and why.”

Robert MacFarlane

An interesting and edgy take on the zone between the urban and rural.

These edgelands have been written about in numerous other books before now, including the work of Marion Shoard, and a book, also called 'Edgelands' by Michael Simmons-Roberts and Paul Farley, along with Iain Sinclair's 'London Orbital'.

These are manipulated images by Roger Friend, who refers to the "septic" rather than the sceptred isle....

“We romanticise the landscape, we think of it as pastoral, beautiful, like a painting by Constable, a place where you go and sit down and have a picnic,” he explains. “But actually that’s more fake than what the Bastard Countryside is for me; that’s the truer representation of the British landscape.”

The images are collected in an excellent-looking book called 'Bastard Countryside' by Roger Friend.
Like all books on landscape (it seems) it has an introduction by Robert MacFarlane.

It's also a way in to the Huck Magazine website, and @huckmagazine Twitter feed which has a range of excellent articles and features which could be called Cultural Geography. There are many excellent stories such as this one on migrants.

Ernest Magazine - Issue 8

The latest 'Ernest' magazine is out. I have enjoyed reading issues of this journal for some time now, and also got several colleagues interested in it so that they have bought their own copies.

There are always interesting stories and ads in each issue, and it is worth hunting out the back issues too.

I picked up quite a few ideas for future teaching as well.

Check it out, or look out for a copy.

Plenty of landscape ideas.

GI Learner Project concluded

2019 is the first year for many (going back to 2008 at least) that I will not be involved in any ERASMUS+ projects - unless we get a late request to be involved in someone's project as a partner.

We have just finished the GI Learner project, in which my school was a partner, along with schools from Belgium, Austria, Romania and Spain, and several universities.

You can find out about the project here.

Also visit the main project website for all the information on what we achieved, which was substantial.

I also noticed this text in the application documents for this year's ERASMUS+ Call.

For British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of the relevant provisions of the grant agreement on termination.

I contacted the British Council, and they confirmed that UK partners will still have their payments made, so that they complete their intellectual outputs.

Here's the competencies that we produced - I've amended them for UK schools to make them a little more easy to use. There is more work to do here, and I have a plan for further developments within the UK.

Destination Art

Thanks to Darran Anderson for the tipoff to this site.

It is an article on This is Colossal, which is an essential site for creative ideas.

One of the aspects of city life we always look out for are public works of art, and others which are part of permanent collections.
There are occasional temporary installations of art and sculpture, sometimes place-specific.
The book provides details of all 500 pieces of art.

Image: Maman by Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim in Bilbao
Copyright: Alan Parkinson - shared under CC license

Nature's New Wild

Catch this on BBC2 tomorrow night, and keep an eye out for Daniel Raven Ellison

Karl Donert - GeoInspiration

Joseph Kerski's GeoInspiration column in Directions Magazine, features people who he has been inspired by over the years.

The latest column features Karl Donert, President of EuroGeo and someone I've had the privilege to work with for many years.

The article mentions some of the projects that we've worked on together, which have been amongst the most fulfilling part of my recent career as a geography educator. Karl mentions the GI Learner project in particular (and this was my most recent involvement too).

It finishes with a nice quote on the value of geography to bring people together.

"Geography should be seen as a uniting subject bringing experts together from many specialisations to make sense of the world. I believe it is good to specialise, but be able to see the bigger picture because of the broad range of skills we bring. So young professionals should be encouraged to live geography to the full, embrace all aspects and love your subject!”

Climate mapping and graphing tool

Thanks to @geteach for sharing an experiment that was made with Google Earth Engine Map.

It shows a map of average maximum temperatures and/or average precipitation in various years around the globe.
Change the year using the dropdown on the right hand side.

It shows whether there was an El Nino in that year.

Now for the really 'clever' part.
Click anywhere on the globe and it will redraw the climate graphs on the left hand side so that they show the average temperature and rainfall for that location.

Trash Island

I bought this book for my son for his birthday, as Wes Anderson is one of his favourite film directors and the film is a creative triumph. This book goes into the same detail as the prop makers in terms of explaining the huge effort that went into making the film. We got a good sense of that when we went to the exhibition of props that was on in London earlier in the year. An album of photos is available on Flickr here.

One of the key locations in the film is Trash Island.

This is a place where the trash is taken, including the dogs which are banished from the city.

Also worth watching this video on the making of the sushi scene in the film, which took a month to film!


I had this album when it first came out, but it has disappeared - perhaps loaned to someone and never returned. It seems to be unavailable now.
It's a truly great album which fuses traditional and contemporary music.
Have a listen to the track 'Play'.

I love this quote from the Martyn Bennett website too:

"Try and find those things that make us Scottish. They are not necessarily Tartan, but are no less colourful. They are in the sound of the kick drum, the bass line, the distortion, the punk guitar, the break-beat. Try and see the old ways in new surroundings. The folk tune of long ago can be heard above the constant traffic of urban life: hear it in the roughness of the fiddle, hear it in the sweetness of the chanter. They are just as valid now as any of our technology, nae, they are more valid than any of it. Hardland calls from the depths of a hard-beat urban underground, but it does so through the heart and beauty of a high land."

Ask the Geographer

A growing series of podcasts by subject experts.

Available on iTunes and Soundcloud

Time lapse of surface winds 2018

Created by Cameron Beccario using Earth Null School

 This animation shows a full, one year time lapse animation of surface winds from Jan 1, 2018 until Jan 1, 2019, over the North Atlantic. 
The data come from the National Weather Service's GFS numerical weather model ( 
Blue colors represent slower winds. Greens and yellows are faster winds. 
Streamlines show the direction of the wind in each frame of the animation. This is one of the first 4K time lapse animations generated from The animation took 48 hours to render as 3,000 individual frames encoded to video. 
 Notice how a few hurricanes appear in July but then August is quiet, only for things to really pick up in September. Also notice how fall and winter bring massive storm systems to the upper North Atlantic (Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, the UK, Norway).

North Norfolk

Pre-Christmas trip to a caravan which we have use of in the Pinewoods behind the vast beach at Wells next the Sea. It's always a pleasure to live five minutes from the beach and pinewoods, and a short walk to wonderful pubs like 'The Globe' where the food and beer are always spot on. Everyone needs a place like this that they can connect with. From there, it's a short drive to Cromer with its pier and cafes.

Images: Copyright Alan Parkinson

Also went over to Bircham Gallery in Holt: a Georgian market town which always has a range of excellent artwork.
They were displaying some good paintings from Peter Clayton showing familiar places - good for the representation of landscape / place topics.