Monday, July 25, 2016

Pokemon Go - a cultural phenomenon...

Pokemon Go has been receiving a LOT of media attention.

This is now being described as a cultural phenomenon, and I will be blogging about the geographical aspects of the app here and over on LivingGeography.

Let me know if you have any articles that you come across relating to the use of the app.

We already have plenty written about the way that young people are spending time outside, but are they taking notice of where they are going?
Are they looking at the nature around them, or just the screen and their pokedex?

This article describes the idea that young people perhaps know more species of Pokemon than they know species of native plants and animals... You can also download the Phylo(mon) Card Game.

National Parks Week

National Parks Week is the National Parks family's annual celebration of everything that is unique and wonderful about Britain's breathing spaces.
It runs from Monday 25 to Sunday 31 July 2016.

The theme for National Parks Week 2016 is adventure
. With diverse landscapes, activities and events there's an adventure waiting at whatever scale suits you! 

One way to ensure that adventures take place is to get hold of a copy of Mission:Explore National Parks.
Available from all National Park shops for £5 or 500p....

I'm off to the Norfolk Broads later in the week for my National Park adventure...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

'A' level book gone to print

After two years and thousands of hours of effort, the 'A' level textbook for the new AQA specification has now gone to print. It will be published by Cambridge University Press. This is great news, as it means that the book will now be out several weeks before other similar books, and also ahead of the end of the summer break, so teachers will be able to have access to it in the crucial few weeks before the start of the new academic year.

I was the series editor for the book, and also the associated materials. You can see the names of the author team on the cover image below - a great team, helped by a large team from CUP.

You can find out more about the book (and order your copies) here.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

50 fondest childhood memories from East Anglia

According to a survey carried out recently…

How many do you agree with?

1. Family trips to the beach

2. Watching Top of the Pops

3. Hop scotch

4. Hide and seek

5. Fish and chips

6. Pic n Mix sweets

7. Collecting shells on the beach

8. Ice cream van music

9. Sports days

10. Playground games (British bulldog etc.)

11. Watching children’s’ TV

12. Kiss chase

13. Recording the music charts on a Sunday

14. Paddling in the sea

15. Pencil cases

16. Climbing trees

17. Collecting toys/ cards/ collectibles etc.

18. Going to Woolworths to buy records

19. Dinner ladies

20. Fighting with my siblings

21. Ice creams from the ice cream van

22. School dinners

23. Egg and spoon race

24. Going ‘back to school’ shopping at the end of summer holidays

25. Playing outside until it was dark

26. Visiting cousins

27. Reading magazines

28. Fishing for tad poles in a pond

29. Sleepovers with friends

30. Your teeth falling out and putting them under your pillow

31. Ice cream floats

32. Exploring rock pools

33. Making daisy chains and wearing them around your head

34. Using jumpers for goal posts

35. School field trips

36. Staying up late for New Year’s parties

37. Playing in the paddling pool

38. Running around bare foot outside

39. Playing on a rope swing in the woods

40. School packed lunches

41. Having a weekend job

42. Scratch and sniff stickers

43. School tuck shop

44. Playing tennis against the back of the house

45. Swimming in cold sea

46. Being scared after losing parents while in the supermarket/out etc.

47. Building forts in the woods

48. Paper rounds

49. Practising your musical instrument

50. Getting up really early in the morning to go on holiday

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Art and the landscape...

Out to the Norfolk coast today to visit Cley16: an annual art exhibition which takes place in the church in Cley and other nearby locations. These included a piece by Brian Korteling which is shown below, and which I really liked. It represents the view as taken from 3 different perspectives, and breaks up the lines nicely...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

160 000 views

Thanks for visiting and reading.

Here's to a cultural summer ahead.... will be sharing some of my highlights here...

Don't forget to check out my GeoLibrary project, which is coming towards its conclusion, with 365 books and other media all with a geographical theme.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Do it Kits

I've worked with Helen from Mission:Explore for years now, on all of our books and other materials, and also worked with her on the INTEL DISTANCE project (you can search on the blog to find out more about that, and other projects with a whole range of partners and clients.
Helen's latest work is taking her into 'making', and the use of Arduino boards and ICT, alongside laser cut or 3D printed objects.
She has just launched her first kit, which is on the DO IT KITS website, as an individual kit, or as a class set. I had a chance to play with one of the kits at the GeoVation space, and they are very nicely put together and provide a range of curriculum materials.

Here's the description from the website.

Test your reaction time and learn about neurons, synapses, ethics, human experimentation, computer and human sensing systems, and working scientifically. Time to React comes with over three hours of lesson plans for GCSE Biology, with related activities for Computing and Physics. Also suitable for Code Club - or anyone who wants a cool box with a massive red button that tests your reaction time!

Over the summer we'll be finalising and launching three more maker kits for the classroom: Make Your Own Weather Station, Soil Sensors and Musical Waves.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

RIP Gordon Murray - creator of Trumptonshire

I was sad to hear of the death of Gordon Murray earlier this week, and it triggered some nostalgia, and led me to hunt out my DVD box set of the three series that I remember watching in the late 1960s....
Camberwick Green
which Murray created. They were based on an idea of nostalgic 'middle England', and featured a range of characters including the famous fire crew, Windy Miller, and the workers of a biscuit factory. There was the classic voice of Brian Cant, and some excellent music.

The music, which brings back so many memories of my childhood is featured below...

BBC Front Row featured some memories from Phill Jupitus.

Scope for a resource on the Geography of Trumptonshire, which might also include reference to Radiohead's video for 'Burn the Witch'.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Just because...
The original Mission:Explore book - now sadly out of print...

Mission Explore slo mo from Alan Parkinson on Vimeo.

Friday, June 17, 2016

10 years of the Edexcel Geography Ning

Over ten years ago, while working as a Head of Geography at a school in King's Lynn, I came across the Ning platform, short for Networking. It offered a free (at the time) platform which had the features of all sorts of other sites in one:
- bulletin board for discussions
- chat room
- hosting of image galleries
- hosting of videos, with embed codes
- numerous groups with membership
- profile pages

Documents could be attached to discussions and this allowed for a community to develop, which could chat, share ideas and join groups around sub-themes.
I built a Ning to support 6th form students and it worked well - in fact I did my first teachmeet presentation back in 2008 on Nings.

In June 2007, faced with the changes that were coming at 'A' level, we opted for Edexcel as the most forward thinking of the new specifications. They were introducing new ideas for the time, including ideas such as Rebranding Places, and a unit on Cultural Geography. We were teaching the OCR Pilot GCSE Geography at the time, and so the Edexcel spec was the best follow on for a forward thinking and creative department like the one I led at the time. I had a background in supporting teachers through my GeographyPages website, which was still getting many thousand of visitors a day. I didn't want to have to resource and prepare a whole new 'A' level course by myself over the summer, so I started a NING called New Edexcel Geog.

The NING is now, I've just realised, 10 years old!
It's been a decade of teachers helping other teachers.
Thanks to Jon Wolton for funding the NING for the last 6 years or so.
There are over 4300 members now.

And thanks to anyone who has ever shared a resource, or joined a discussion.

We're now preparing for the New New EdexcelGeog from September 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

26 years ago today

I am told that when men hear its voice, it stays in their ears, they cannot be rid of it. It has many different voices: some happy, but others sad. It roars like a baboon, murmurs like a child, drums like the blazing arms of one thousand drummers, rustles like water in a glass, sings like a lover and laments like a priest...

One of the greatest pieces of music ever was released.. apart from the final few minutes when Janet Brown appears...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Free 'A' level course

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

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

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

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

This workshop is FREE to attend.

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

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