Iceland lessons from Matt and Rich

Matt Podbury and Richard Allaway are currently leading a special inspection visit to Iceland, with subject experts and a trip around the SW of Iceland, visiting some of the main sites.
Matt has added a new section to his GeographyPods website, with lesson ideas and activities for the IB, which would also be useful for other contexts as well.
Check them out here.
Not at all jealous of them being out there...

Richard Allaway also got in touch with links to his own contributions.

He has also been making images with his THETA camera.
Follow on Twitter for all the images and updates.

Climate Visualisations and Podcasts

There are two new Climate data visualisations that I've just been reminded of by Kit Rackley.

Carbon Brief's visualisation.

Rosamund Pearce and Simon Evans of Carbon Brief worked on this for a year. I love the fact that Rosamund shared an early image showing the idea of the visualisation.

This visualisation is the interactive map that they produced.

Check this out, then head for the second visualisation, created by the Carbon Brief team. Click on a location and you will see past and future temperature change, and can also download the data as a CSV file.

And finally, check out this David Wallace-Wells podcast

Tweet of the Day

Wider Geography: a summer challenge

Anthony Bennett of InternetGeography has put together a Wider Geography Challenge for students.

You can see the details on the InternetGeography website.

Sign up using the Google Form.

Wider Geography is a free, new project developed by Internet Geography to encourage young people to engage in geography in a fun way. Wider Geography aims to foster a love of geography through challenging young people to try new experiences that will broaden their geographical horizons. 
Through its six themes, wider GEOGRAPHY has something for geographers from primary age to 6th form. The 6 main themes are:

Geographical Google Doodle

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in the Philippines.

It's a special doodle celebrating the 7th anniversary of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River making the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

The doodle features the entrance of the famous natural wonder, one of the world’s longest underground waterways at 8.2 kilometres.

The underground river made it to the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. 
It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Name your own city

Dan Cookson has started a new geographical map project which allows users to define their own cities using Maptionnaire and Carto.

OS GetOutside Blog

This has had a bit of a facelift of late, with new headers and new information. Also details on the Wild Night Out initiative which is tonight - a perfect night for camping! Get outside into the garden, tent or not...

Good to see that one of my blogposts is featured at the moment too.

Jarvis on Kinder Scout

“We came out on a school trip which no-one particularly wanted to go on. Everyone wanted to stay at home and watch TV instead of heading out on a minibus into the middle of nowhere. 
But I fell in love with the place. We went orienteering, and I found it fascinating to be up there with just a map and a compass to make sure that you didn’t end up getting lost completely. 

Forty years on, I still find Kinder Scout is somewhere I can come and never get bored of.”

Jarvis Cocker on his love for Kinder Scout.

Image: Alan Parkinson's Year 8 exercise book from school, shared under CC license

FlexClip Videos

I spent ten minutes today making a video for the coming weekend's open / celebration morning.

This will involve lots of visitors to the Department, and we are going to set up lots of displays as well as putting out Year 7 and 8 projects and sharing some new resources we've had since last year.
The video was made using Flex Clip, which is a very easy to use video making tool.

It's also FREE of charge.
A timeline along the bottom shows the scenes as they build up, and the film can be previewed. Make an account and the film is saved automatically as you work on it.

Add videos or images from either your own library or a large library of stock scenes and videos. Music can also be added - there are some good choices of music to use - all free of charge as well.
Export the video to different sizes right up to 1080p.
I've then uploaded the video to VIMEO so that the quality is kept intact.

Some features of the tool that I like.
FlexClip is an all-in-one web tool for making videos, movies and slideshows in minutes. Some of its key features:

* Completely free.
* Easy to use and clean storyboard, which helped me make my creation and move scenes around
* Large number of stock images, videos and music to use
* Several video templates - I used the travel one.
* Allows you to use different film and video formats
* Flexible editing features like trimming clips, splitting clips, adding text (some with animation effects), music, logos, watermarks etc.

There's also a SUPPORT tab, which offers how-to guides if needed, although all the formatting icons and options are fairly intuitive.

UN Accredited Climate Change Teacher

Earlier this week, I became the 50th (ish) teacher in the UK to pass the accreditation process to be recognised by the United Nations as a climate change lead teacher.This involved taking a number of online courses, which involved interactive lessons, powerpoints, video, audio and PDF documents, and other materials to digest, before taking a series of online quizzes, which had a limited option for taking them, and a pass rate which had to be reached for each one. Some of them were more challenging than others, and I had a moment of slight panic when I failed the very final test, which meant I had just one more attempt to pass it in order to pass the course as a whole. After an introductory unit on Climate Change science, the accreditation involves five further modules which go into great, and very useful, detail on several aspects of climate change, which are:

- Cities and Climate Change
- Children and Climate Change
- Human Health and Climate Change
- Gender and Environment
- Climate Change International Legal Regime

Sign up to take part in the course here....

You will learn a huge amount, and gain confidence in exploring some of the key terms when describing climate change adaptations and mitigations, the process of agreements such as the Kyoto and COP meetings and other scientific evidence.

I'm proud to say that earlier this week, I was confirmed as a
UN-Accredited Climate Change Lead Teacher

I had some photos taken today for circulation to the local press, and will let you know as and when (and if) they end up being used.

To finish, Time for Geography have made and shared a very useful film on Climate Change here.
And Steve Brace's letter at the time when questions were being asked about Climate Change in the curriculum.

Indigenous Weather Knowledge

There is a wealth of knowledge about climate held by indigenous people, whose narratives and folk memories predate instrumental measurement of the weather. They applied their own names to particular patterns and trends they noticed in the weather, or to anomalous periods.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's site, alongside the latest data sets and forecasts using satellites and other information, also includes some details of the indigenous weather knowledge (IWK) held by different Aboriginal communities.
It's worth checking this out to see how the seasonal patterns of weather and climate are described by the different communities, and a reminder that Australia is vast and certainly does not all have the same climate.

S, T & G's new Food Map

A new map made by the same company that has previously made an excellent Adventures Map, and also a Music Map of Great Britain (see some other recent blog posts)

This one is on the theme of Food (another topic that we explore with our Year 7s) and

Food, glorious food! Not so long ago, Britain was the butt of international jokes about the state of its cuisine. Now, strutting like a celebrity chef, Britain dines out on its remarkable transformation from small beer to big cheese, blending culinary tradition, modern global gastronomy... and copious tea.
Full-to-bursting with over 2,000 piping hot food and drink locations, with a generous drizzling of tasty trivia, this map will inspire foodie adventures all over. You bring the crackers, we’ll bring the cheese.

Map has arrived very promptly, and is excellent!

Human Population Atlas

Check it out here.

A cool visualisation with the towers representing people. I like the different animations from the drop down boxes, and top right it tells you how many people live within the area shown on the screen....

Cool new resource for exploring global population.

How big is Glastonbury?

Glastonbury is underway. The gates opened earlier and the main music starts later in the week, with the three headliners on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I visited the festival back in 2010.
How big is the site?
Geoffrey Prytherch has produced a useful mapping overlay to place anywhere you want to compare it with the size of the festival site.
Here it is overlaid on Ely.
I know those going this year will have an amazing time. It is an unforgettable experience.

What3Words App update

10248-App-4.0-iPhone-X-Map-View-560px-X-315pxA new version of the What 3 Words App has been launched.

Here's a description of the new features in the app.

I've also joined the new SQUARES community.

2nd OS Puzzle Book

The 2nd OS Puzzle Book is coming out in October. It's based on different regions this time round, and has a Puzzle Tour of Britain. Excitingly, there has been some involvement of the GetOutside Champions as well in this second book.

Shipping Containers

A reminder of this excellent visualisation of the trade that goes on involving shipping containers.

New map of Greenland and the European Arctic

This map has been produced to update the previous maps of Greenland as there has been significant landscape change in this part of the world.

The BBC article has some details on the process.

Buy your own copy from the Scott Polar Research Institute shop, or Stanford's in Covent Garden.
I'll be getting one on my next visit.

Making every Geography Lesson Count - a review

Mark Enser has been a prolific contributor to TES over the last year, and written a number of recent pieces and books, and has his Teach It Real blog too.
His most recent book is the geography contribution to the 'Making  every Lesson Count' series. It's been getting a lot of mentions in various places, most recently at the TMGeographyIcons event in Birmingham, where he was mentioned by several speakers.

I bought a copy for the teachers in my Department when it came out, and have now had time to sit down with it and read it.

The book is quite compact and focussed on particular strategies, and the six principles which underpin all the books in the series.

Each chapter has a focus on one element of making your lessons count, and the structure is drawn from the spine book by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby.

With a book like this, I am always looking for the ideas being geography-specific rather than generic, and Mark succeeds in this. I have copies of both of Russel Tarr's History Teacher Toolkits and these contain ideas that could be adapted for Geography, and I think some of Mark's ideas would work in reverse, and be of interest to teachers with other specialisms as well.

There are some interesting ideas in each chapter, which would be of use for both new and more experienced teachers.

The chapters include some scenarios with people who may (or may not) be based on real situations as a way in to the thinking about how best to overcome the issues they present, and the chapters hopefully provide strategies to 'resolve' those issues and move forward.

Jason Ramasami has provided his illustrations in the trademark style of the series.

Mark has sensibly referenced some of the leading names in geographical education - the role of subject specific scholarship and pedagogy is vital. Early chapters reference Liz Taylor, for example.
It's good to see Mark referencing the good work of the Geographical Association and its journals too.

The chapters are interspersed with case studies from teachers, some of whom I've had the pleasure to meet at various events over the last few years.

I am sure that copies of this book will be purchased for many new colleagues to the profession, and they will take much from it.

Mark has already completed another book 'Teach like nobody's watching', which comes out in October.

Geography Fieldwork Academy App - now out for iPhone

Chris Webster at the Geography Fieldwork Academy has been working on a new Fieldwork App, which takes the graphic style of the existing (and excellent) website and resources. Get it early and you will get it free, otherwise it will be a very reasonable (and affordable for students) 99p or thereabouts.
35 fieldwork activities have been automated for you.

The app includes a range of options for recording data. The phone will add a location to the place where data is collected and this is then exported in formats of CSV and suitable for inserting into ArcGIS Online and similar GIS tools.

An excellent new option for collecting, geolocating and exporting fieldwork data. It doesn't replace apps like Survey123 but fits well alongside them, and the nice simple interface means it can be used by younger students as well as older ones.

It uses many of the features of the later iOS, so won't work on some older models of iPhone.

The cost of developing and having such an app approved is considerable, so Chris has prioritised the most popular Apple app store first, to get the app out there. There will no doubt be other versions in time, and Chris hopes to have the Android version out within 4-6 weeks apparently.

This app needs to be installed on every geography teacher's iPhone.

TMGeogIcons19 - my presentation

An early start this morning to head over to Birmingham for the 2nd TeachMeet GeographyIcons.  Organised by Gemma Collins and Victoria Hewett.

More to come on the presentations that I saw, and the event as a whole.
Here's my presentation for those who were there, and those who weren't...
I ran out of time a little, and didn't mention another few things:

- I blogged earlier in the week about the new Water Cycle diagrams produced and shared by another University of Birmingham led project. Let me know if you want a copy of them all.

- I forgot to mention the reasons why Leeds was chosen - Alex outlines those in some blog posts over on my OCR teaching blog.

- Was going to reference Dan, who talked about students' views on the value of textbooks for consolidation, but the greater value of teacher explanation.

- Also had a few Margaret Roberts things to mention... more on that in a future blog post...

And finally, I forgot to say that after all the effort to teach case studies, and keep them updated (within the constraints of the spec e.g. still says MDGs rather than SDGs) there are very few questions where they were included in some specs this year.

Here's my presentation. It's not the best quality, as Scribd was playing up. But if you want to view / download the proper version, go HERE instead.

Thanks to Victoria Hewett for the image of me in action....

Just to say that the fish and chips analogy refers to curriculum making, and how different teachers will do different things with the same ingredients, just as every fish and chip shop produces different outcomes from white fish and potatoes.

And please come along to my GA Conference in 2022.

Mountain Man - your summer reading recommendation

Image result for mountain man forrestThere are many books already on the groaning shelves of the GeoLibrary about mountains: from the book that propelled Robert MacFarlane into the public eye: 'Mountains of the Mind', to Joe Simpson's daring adventures on, and below Siula Grande in Peru. There are the Appalachians, as walked by Bill Bryson, and the peaks conquered by Mark Beaumont as he cycled the Americas.

These books have been joined by a new one, which is set purely within the confines of England and Wales.
It has been written by James Forrest, who is a fellow Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion, and describes a challenge that James set himself to conquer all 446 mountains in England and Wales. They are known as the Nuttalls, and are defined as 'peaks above 2000 feet (609.6m) in height'.

James set himself a time challenge as well: six months to reach the summits of each of the peaks, and during one of the wettest periods in recent years this was not going to be easy.

He had to fit the travels around his part time work, which was partly a reason for leaving Scotland out of it - a lot of time is spent travelling to some of the remoter Munros, and James was keen to get his mission completed quickly, and also against some financial constraints, and then he moved house during that time as well.

James travelled solo and unsupported on his trips, so the book also goes into the logistics and organisation which had to take place even before James could lace up his boots, and the long hours of sleeping in cars, hitch-hiking and generally trespassing in order to reach some of the summits. He had moments of self-doubt, of dark humour and of pure elation.

James is a former newspaper reporter, and he has an obvious knack of drawing out some nice observations from the people he meets, and writes with good humour about the various deprivations he faced while reaching some of the more remote summits.In this book, he is some respects interviewing the mountains, but also asking big questions of himself - how far can he push himself?

At the back of the book there is a useful list of suggested kit for those who may want to plan their own adventure, and the spirit of Al Humphreys is present: adventures are not just for those with money and time, we can all find something to challenge ourselves if we sacrifice other things, and turn our minds to our goals.
One piece of kit that James made heavy use of was his OS Maps App subscription, to go alongside the more traditional paper maps. This, coupled with his rationed Netflix viewing must have tested his phone's battery to the limit.

There are plenty more mountains out there to conquer, and I am sure that James is already planning his next adventure.
As often with books like this, I flicked first to Peaks I knew well. A quick totting up suggests I've climbed about 50 or so of the peaks listed. I remember our teacher getting us lost on Kinder Scout (it's 636m high which is more than I expected), a wonderful evening on Blencathra being strafed by swifts (or swallows) and an airy scramble up Moel Siabod. A lovely read, and would make a good beach book for the coming summer holidays.

Image credit: James Forrest

My copy was (Disclaimer) sent to me free of charge by the publishers: Bloomsbury.
The book was published in 2019.
Hardback, 263pp
ISBN: 978-1-84486-563-5

For another review by another GetOutside Champion: Glyn Dodwell, go here.

To buy the book for yourself, go HERE.

Poverty Clock

A useful new site
Links to Sustainable Development Goal 1: to End Poverty

82 Islands

Fellow OS GetOutside Champion Katie Tunn has revealed her latest expedition. Following previous time spent as a castaway on the 'Eden' programme, and six weeks spent solo on the Shiant Island, she has announced what her new challenge will be, and is already underway with the first few islands.

43062058511_de87cbc17e_kThe inspiration for the expedition was a map of islands larger than 5 square kilometres created by Alasdair Rae and the team at the Ordnance Survey.

This features 82 islands, and Katie's plan is to visit them all. The 2nd biggest should be easy enough to bag as Katie lives there. She outlines her plans on her blog: The New Girl (on Skye)

Katie isn't just going to step on the island and tick it off the list.
She is also going to take part in a few challenges on each island.

Read Katie's blog to find out more about her plans, and also discover more about her amazing art.

Follow here on Instagram for more.

Somewhere I have an excellent book on Scotland's Islands, and will dig it out so that I can see a little more about these places.

One particular aspect of the trip is that it embraces the #LeavenoTrace message - too many places are being damaged by visitors, and even by the Instagram influencers (Justin Bieber in Iceland is a recent example here)

Katie has the support of various organisations including the Ordnance Survey. I look forward to following the journey.

David Lambert lecture

Came across this lecture of David's from 2015
It's from the German Congress of Geography, and describes his thinking around curriculum making, powerful knowledge and the Future 3 curriculum.
At the time, I was working on the GeoCapabilities project with David, and feel proud to have helped shape the course that was developed as part of the project, which continues to influence my teaching even now.

Francis Pryor and the Fenland landscape

Reading about the new Francis Pryor book on the Fens.
I'm very much looking forward to reading this, and factoring it into some writing on the Fenland landscapes.
As Francis writes:

In the 20th century the historic medieval cores of towns like Kings Lynn, Wisbech and Spalding were severely damaged by development and insensitive road-building. The well thought-out railway network in the Fens was destroyed by Dr Beeching’s ‘rationalisation’ of the 1960s. Consequently many smaller market towns today boast empty high streets, poorly-attended markets and numerous charity shops. We are also beginning to appreciate the extent of irreversible change that the wholesale drainage of the 1850s and 1970s has caused. And with sea level rise a seemingly inexorable process… Need I say more? The floor of my study is about two metres above sea level; an average high tide would wet our bed, upstairs. And yet, people are still regularly granted planning permission by local authorities to build bungalows. In many respects, the story of the Fens – an area I have grown to love and cherish – could be the story of Britain, past, present and future.

The cover of the book is a painting buy the artist Fred Ingrams, who lives in the Fens.
He has a wonderful style which captures the landscape perfectly.
Check out some paintings from a forthcoming exhibition here.

Here's another of Fred's paintings... There are plenty of Fenland roads looking just like that...

Good Friday on Long Drove
Image copyright: Fred Ingrams


Francis is doing a talk in Ely during my summer break, and I have my ticket and book ordered.

And the final Fred Ingrams link is that he did the cover of the latest Cambridge University Research Digest (PDF download) - based on the East of England. This contains some excellent research ideas, and images.
Worthy of a separate blog post.

And this book also looks very good on The Fens.
By Frank Meeres. You can LOOK INSIDE on the Amazon link.

The People map

Thanks to Keir Clarke for yet another mapping tipoff.
This one is a map which is made up of the most 'famous' people according to Wikipedia entries / views.
Here's a couple of screenshots
Cambridgeshire has some familiar names: Stephen Hawking for Cambridge, for example.


Climate Migrant StoryMap


Another important Guardian piece on what we need to do in the future...

Andrea Tapsfield's book for Mentoring and Training

Andrea Tapsfield is a GA stalwart, who has done a huge amount for the association, notably in her work on the Teacher Education Special Interest Group. She is also a regular attender of the Geography Teacher Educators' Conference. If you are a mentor, or want to support them, this is a very useful resource.

Check the GA Shop to get your copy....


A tollutation is apparently an amble, or stroll. 

The word was apparent first coined by Sir Thomas Browne, who was a 17th century doctor, author and philosopher who lived in Norwich. There is a plaque to mark his house, which is where a branch of Pret a Manger now sits in the centre of the city near the Market place.

Not a good day for one last week weatherwise, but always good to #GetOutside

Image: Alan Parkinson, shared under CC license

The impact of the everyday

We have heard a lot about climate extinction and the young people who are campaigning and striking. I wonder how many of them have given up their mobile phones as, at their age, this is most likely to be making the greatest contribution to their carbon footprint. Check out this TED talk and some accompanying data visualisations.

A World Economic Forum report is also available.


We have been using the warming stripes for some time in our department, and I also have a natty warming stripes tie. I shall be wearing it on Friday when we Show our Stripes
Ed Hawkins is behind the stripes.
He has created a new website where you can download stripes for your own home region.

We will all be wearing the Stripes on the 21st of June. Posters are up in the Geography Classroom. Stickers are printed for everyone to wear.

Annual average temperatures for England from 1884-2018 using data from UK Met Office.

Graphics and lead scientist: Ed Hawkins, National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading.
Data : Berkeley Earth, NOAA, UK Met Office, MeteoSwiss, DWD.

UNHCR: Teaching about Refugees

UNHCR is the United Nations' Refugee Agency.

What is a refugee? Is it the same as a migrant, or an internally displaced person.
This collection of resources will tell you the difference and lots more...

Thanks to TeachitGeography for the lead to this page of resources

Financial Times Essay Competition with the RGS

A new essay competition has been launched for 'A' level students, run by the Royal Geographical Society in association with the Financial Times.

The title is
"Is it better for the world to be wealthier or to be more equal"?

Details can be downloaded here, along with entry forms and conditions.

The deadline is the 27th of September.
Good luck to all who enter.

Handcycle World Record Attempt

A fellow OS GetOutside Champion Mel Nicholls is currently working her way up towards Bristol as part of her attempt to break a world record from going from Land's End to John O' Groats.
Here's the detail on what she is planning.

Follow Mel and the team on a live map here.

New Geography blogging

My SPC colleague Paul Hunt has started a new blog on his reflections on teaching geography. Will be worth a follow. He's already added a nice introduction to teaching Climate Change, with some links to resources and teaching approaches.


This is apparently, "one of the oldest red blood cells in the world"

It belongs to Ötzi...

Updated Water Cycle Diagrams in the news

An interesting piece by Will Hazell in the TES earlier in the week explored how water cycle diagrams in textbooks don't include all the nuanced changes and influences that human activities are now having on them, and give an unrealistic picture of the water cycle.

Alice Roberts mentioned them as well:

Professor Ben Abbott from Brigham Young University is quote in the piece as saying, 

"...our drawings of the water cycle are stuck in the 17th century."

"Better drawings of the water cycle won't solve the global water crisis on their own, but they could improve awareness of how local water use and climate change have global consequences."

The examples on the tweets and articles that I read were quite small and hard to read, so I thought to myself, readers of Living Geography deserve better than that, so I got in touch with Beck Lockwood,  the press officer at Birmingham University, who were involved in the piece, and she sent me through a set of diagrams which are big enough to read much clearer, and various other diagrams as well as the article itself. At the risk of opening myself up to lots of requests, let me know if you'd like to see more.

I also checked the 'A' level book that I edited for CUP, and we are not guilty of including such a diagram, which is good to know.

Here's the main edited diagrams that are referred to in the article ... 
Click for bigger - it's very nice... and could be used from now on perhaps instead of the existing ones. I like the wider range of landscapes it shows.

Human Water appropriation

Diagrams taken from Abbott et al (2019)
Used with permission