Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Imagined Village

Great "sense of place" and connection with music, the past, tradition, rural landscapes and handmade music...

New Imagined Village album to kick off 2010 in style: EMPIRE and LOVE

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

True North

There has been no shortage of books about 'the North' over the years, and I own quite a few of them.
Have to say I'm really enjoying Martin Wainwright's book at the moment now - full of great images as well as anecdotes and information about the changing nature of the North...
A nice AUDIO SLIDESHOW on the Guardian website.
There are quite a few in the Guardian's TRAVEL section too...

Very flat, Norfolk

Just got my RGS-IBG Bulletin for Spring 2010.
Some good events coming up, and discovered that I'm featured on p. 20...
This is my lecture at the Norfolk GA branch in March, when I'm exploring ideas of PLACE in the context of Norfolk...

I'll be using a few articles from the Autumn 2008 issue of GEOGRAPHY.
Remember that if you're a GA member, you can download the last 5 years issues of the journal(s) you subscribe to.

I'll be trailing some elements of the lecture over at the LOOK AT LANDSCAPES blog in the next few months. Also plan to write the lecture up and produce a resource that other colleagues can use on the meaning of "place"...

There'll be plenty on the cultural aspects of place, and have been reading the relevant sections of Jon Anderson's Cultural Geography text...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fish and Chips: Cultural Geography

When I was teaching OCR Pilot GCSE, we did a unit on Cultural Geography.
One of the icons of the UK that we always focussed on was Fish and Chips...

A good BBC MAGAZINE feature on Fish and Chips has just been added.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Nice infographics are a favourite thing of mine...
This graphical retelling of the story of Red Riding Hood by Tomas Nilsson of Sweden is superb...

It's in the style of a Royksopp video called "Remind me", which can be viewed here, and features a range of geographical connections...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Urban Tweet Day

Dan Raven Ellison has launched a new project URBAN TWEET DAY.

URBAN TWEET DAY is a side project of URBAN EARTH.

The idea is to record our perspective on our urban lives and habitat through an online stream of tweets that describe urban events and experiences as they happen.

By the end of the urban day we will have created a collaborative narrative - a descriptive portrait of urban life..

To take part all you need is:
1. The ability to Tweet (
2. To be in an urban area on Saturday 9th January 2010
3. To include
#utday in each of your related tweets

We'll then be able to search the tweets to reveal our story.

Please do spread the word around, the more of us the better.. and leading up to the day, add the
URBAN TWEET DAY Twibbon to your Twitter profile picture. If you don't already, you can follow us on Twitter here.

Any questions, thoughts or ideas?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Understanding Cultural Geography

Had a quick flick through this book earlier in the week, and one that was mentioned over on the Edexcel NING.
It's called "Understanding Cultural Geography: Places and Traces" by Jon Anderson
(not the singer with 'Yes')

Has a lovely clear introduction on the importance of culture in our lives, and a range of fascinating chapters. I wanted to sit there and read it rather than get on with what I was supposed to be doing. Available for just under £20 from Amazon. What's nice is the relationship between the cultural forms and PLACE.
The book begins by saying "We live in a world of cultural places... we contribute to it every day and night."

Context is vital of course with culture, and I use the word a lot when describing the work that teachers do...
Cultural geography tries to explore "the intersections of context and culture. It asks why cultural activities happen in particular ways in particular contexts."

Some really interesting sections looking at things like: Disneyfication, Belfast murals, Banksy and Graffiti and the Berlin Wall. Chapter 4 looks at the whole idea of Knowing (your) Place.

Edexcel Cultural Geography Contexts

Those teachers who have opted for the Edexcel 'A' level specification in the UK (for students aged 16-18), there is a unit called "The World of Cultural Diversity".
Today, the pre-release titles were announced.
Students will be expected to prepare

OPTION 4: The World of Cultural Diversity

• Explore what is meant by a global culture, how it is defined and, if it exists, what its characteristics are.

• Research contrasting locations, some of which show the effects of cultural globalisation and others which seem to be resisting the process.

Would be interested in hearing the thoughts of any blog readers on any suggested resources or thoughts on these particular contexts...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Teacher no. 4 please..."

Image by Flickr user abooth202 under Creative Commons license

An interesting article in Friday's TES on a plan by Stephen Heppell to open up a school in Rotherham: my home town.
The school is, interestingly, going to be located in an empty department store in the town centre...

Stephen Heppell suggests that the layout of shops is more suited to modern teaching approaches than classrooms, and avoided the idea of "cells and bells". Similar schemes are already in operation in other countries, including the US and New Zealand.

A quote that struck a chord:
"Rotherham's a nice place, but when you walk through it, it's quite sad because whole streets are boarded up. When Burger King had gone there was a sign in the window saying 'Nothing of value left in these premises' - and I tried to imagine what had ever been there of value..."

This was suggested as being a useful use of the freehold for shops: if it's handed over for a few year's the building will be maintained and heated.

Another phrase that was used in the article is one I used at a few events recently: the 'Dick Turpin' model of teaching: "stand and deliver"....

I like the idea of changing the relationship between the former shop and the town centre, and locating a school in that place is going to offer lots of potential for the students to become urban explorers.
There is also another article here (with thanks to Twitter @Rothbiz) which mentions the "Meanwhile Project"
This sounds a little like the Empty Shops project in Worthing which my colleague David Rogers is involved with for Mission : Explore

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The World of Cultural Diversity

For those doing Edexcel A2, Jon Wolton has added a range of useful support materials for those doing the A2 exam this year.

One of them is to support the unit called THE WORLD OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY, and would be worth a look to provide some background on the topic.

An excellent resource.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Owning the Weather

Thanks to @bldgblog on Twitter for this tip off....

OWNING THE WEATHER is a new film on Weather Modification

The trailer is well worth watching....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coronation Street in Street View

Coronation Street has been added to Google Street View.

View Larger Map

Could be a useful place to visit with students, perhaps for a literacy task ?
Are there any other soap opera locations in Street View ?

Via Twitter.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Grow your own

Several people I know, along with myself have "a bit of land"...
This land is virtual farmland, and is part of a game called FARMVILLE, which operates on Facebook as an application. There was a good article in the New York Times sampler which appears in "The Observer" a few weeks ago, which included a description of someone who set their alarm for 1.30am so they could get up and harvest their crops, and then go back to sleep.This blog post describes it as possibly "the most popular game in the world".There is a collaborative element to the game, by placing farms belonging to Facebook friends as your neighbours, the amount of money and 'experience points' that can be earned increases. The game has also been successful in raising almost $ 500 000 for charities working in Haiti, when players spend real money to purchase virtual items to personalise their farms, or buy additional land. An article by Jack Arnott on "boredom as a cash crop" provides more detail on the money-raising aspect of the site. This is something that is even more lucrative with some of the multi-player online games, where the virtual worlds have a GDP apparently equivalent to some small nations in the 'real world'
Any thoughts on the possible use of Farmville as a learning resource for geography students ?
Farmville currently has a nice 'autumnal look' to it...
Anyway, I have to go: got to scare the rooks off a neighbours farm...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Climate Challenge

OXFAM have launched a new website called "THE CLIMATE CHALLENGE" ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference.

It has a range of games and quizzes featuring celebrities (some of whom you may have heard of) and, usefully, a series of downloads which include the following things below to clutter up your blog post...

The game is also available in a range of languages including CHINESE....
Why might that be ?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Road

"The Times" this Saturday named Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" as the book of the decade. I have no problem with that nomination: this is an incredible book, and the plot and setting are utterly compelling.

Not sure what to think about it being made into a film. The trailer is HERE: film opens tomorrow in the USA.

There has been much discussion about the setting, and comparing it to real places, and plotting the route that the father and son take....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Royal Academy of Art exhibition

My wife went on a school art trip down to the Royal Academy of Arts and Tate Modern yesterday. Below are a few of the images she took of the sculptures outside the building.
There was also news of a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy called EARTH: Art of a changing world...
This is timed to coincide with the Copenhagen Climate Change talks, and opens on the 5th of December and goes through to

I'm in London during that period so will certainly be going along.

There is also a connection with the CAPE FAREWELL project which I used as my POLAR context when teaching the OCR Pilot GCSE Geography...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

South Africa - Place of the Year

Thanks to Sarah from the Oxford University Press blog for telling me about the OUP Blog, which recently named South Africa as its Place of the Year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Language of Landscape Survey - prize draw

The Ordnance Survey Free Maps for 11 Year Olds are arriving in schools - you may already have had yours...
When you get the maps, you will also find a couple of (much sought after) hard copies of a publication called "The Language of Landscape"
The booklet is supported by a series of downloads from the NATURAL ENGLAND website.

I have created a SURVEY MONKEY SURVEY for those who have got their maps, and have also made use of the "Language of Landscape" to help students use the maps: whether inside or outside the classroom (or ideally both...)

Click Here to take survey

If you have used the maps and the book, please fill in the survey.

All completed questionnaires by 1st of December will be entered into a Prize Draw to win a copy of the KS3 Teachers Toolkit title: "Look at it this Way", a copy of the Geography Collective's "Journey Journal" and a few other geographical goodies....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Journey Journal

Spent some time yesterday with Dan Ellison pinging e-mails backwards and forwards with the rather wonderful designers at Can of Worms putting the final touches to the Journey Journal before it went off to the presses for the first print run of 3000 books.

Journey Journal is a rather wonderful book for upper secondary / lower secondary age pupils.
It is designed to be used when on a "journey" of some kind, perhaps as one of the millions of days which are taken as authorised absences every year, or maybe on a foreign exchange / activity / cultural trip.
It's a quirky and creative way of recording the visit, and encouraging young people to take notice of their surroundings.

Coming soon to an educational establishment near you.

Get in touch via the GEOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE website for more details of how to order....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Game without frontiers...

This game has had some great reviews, and also gone down well with my Twitter network...
Saw it at a very good price earlier while doing the weekend shop, so took the plunge, and my daughter and I have been playing it for most of today...
It's great fun, and lots of chance to do some lateral thinking...
Get scribbling...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

McDonalds in France

Cultural globalisation is one theme which has been introduced into a

This BBC NEWS article has a useful discussion on the French relationship with McDonalds...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My son can't wait to see the latest Pixar film: UP, which has been a long time coming.
The plot involves a balloon salesman who ties balloons to his house and sets off on a journey.
There is also a young companion called Russell who makes a lot of having a GPS device so that they will never be lost, although he then loses it...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Culture and Hazards

Over to King Edward VI 5 Ways school in SW Birmingham today. A cross-country trip with more amazing weather thanks to the current high pressure.

Took a tour through the southern suburbs of Birmingham thanks to my Garmin which came into its own here.
Thanks to Bob Lang and Paula Cooper for the invitation and for hosting us all so well, and giving me a guided tour of the department and the school.

The school is certainly a geographical "hub". It's a Humanities school with a 'Geography' specialism, a GA branch, and the centre of an RGS local network. The teaching staff include several Chartered Geographers, and the school also holds a GA Secondary Geography Quality Mark and is a Centre of Excellence.

Met up with Professor Iain Stewart from Plymouth University, and a PhD student of his: Kate Donovan, who were delivering a lecture on the theme of geological hazards and their cultural references.
Iain is an honorary Vice President of the GA, and also a Primary Geography Champion.

Image: thanks to Ian Dixson
Left to right: me, Bob Lang, Iain Stewart, Paula Cooper, Kate Donovan

The lecture was excellent, and drew a crowd of between 300 and 350 people to the school's hall. Also good to meet up with colleagues new and old and virtual....

I will be writing a separate report on the lecture with my notes, and also sharing Iain's slides, which he is keen to do...

An excellent evening...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stuffed and Starved

Stuffed and Starved
Just read most of this yesterday on a train journey back from London, and it's a great book for those teaching about issues related to food.
The supporting website has a range of resources which would be useful for those wanting additional reference material, including useful related YouTube clips.
On the website you can currently "Look inside" the book...

Also lots of mentions of the word geography, which is always a bonus :)

Social Inequality

Image by Alan Parkinson, and available under Creative Commons license

A conference for level 3 students of Geography, Humanities, Sociology and Health Studies.
Organised by Carl Lee, and took place at the University of Sheffield.

Danny Dorling and colleagues John Pritchard and Dan Vickers from SASI were present, and presented on the issue of Social Inequality, using images from WORLDMAPPER and talking about their work.

The second session involved a discussion on tackling inquality.

Thanks to Carl for the invitation. Carl has added a range of the resources that were used at the event to the EDEXCEL 'A' LEVEL NING. It is also worth hunting out a copy of Carl's excellent book on Sheffield: "Home: a Personal Geography of Sheffield"

The SASI website features a range of very useful links for those interested in teaching and learning about social inequality.

Some notes that I took in the first part of the day will hopefully be added in due course...

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Remember seeing this at the time, over 30 years ago...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Facebook Profile Template

Check out the great new resources from Tony Cassidy

The resources take the shape of a template to produce a FACEBOOK-style "profile"
The profile could be for a culture, company, musical or literature genre etc...
The template is here:

And followed shortly after by a TWITTER template, also produced by the inimitable Tony...

Quality stuff...

UPDATE: Here is some fantastic work by Year 9 students from Seaford Head Community College, who used the idea in their Geography lessons with Miss Smith. I love these. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to see some other examples...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Latest Shift Happens update

Latest Shift Happens update

Because it fills 5 minutes of any CPD session...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jonathan Meades on Sustainability

Have blogged about Jonathan Meades before, and his particular presentation style which I like...

Lunchtime today was spent in the company of the first in the series "Off-Kilter", made for BBC Scotland and was about Aberdeen. I liked the look of the area known as Fitty.
Towards the end, he moved on to Donald Trump and his controversial plans for a golf course in the sand dunes close to Aberdeen.

He called the planned development "New Trumpton on Sea" and talked about gated communities and their absentee residents.

He riffed on the idea of 'sustainability' and how every architect and development trumpeted its sustainable credentials.
New words like : "Sustain-abulous" and "Sustain-astic" !

Called it "architectural correctness"...

"It's a slogan of conformist unoriginality..."

"The very act of making a building is energy hungry and vastly wasteful even if the building is an eco-igloo of Fairtrade otter droppings, carbon-neutral Panda scraps, ethical vegan meat, organic yoghurt blocks, recycled slurry and and bio-degradable avocado face wipe...the only truly sustainable present is one in which we do not build..."

The show is available on iPLAYER.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Postcards of the Future

Thanks to Paul Cornish on SLN for the tip off to this great Flash movie of Postcards of the Future.
Click the image below to see the movie (SWF format)If you need a blank postcard template (they work well printed on card), you can borrow mine from here.

Great work by Patrick Blower at Live Draw - check it out here.

Two more relevant ones in the archive:
Geo Engineering saves the World, and Ecotown

New GA website now live....

The GA web team: Anne Greaves and Ben Major, have been working away for months with designers Ledgard Jepson on a new website for the Geographical Association, and it is now live, after several weeks of beta testing and tweaking. Visit the GA URL to see the new site.

The site looks a lot brighter, clearer and easier to navigate, and uses more of the screen’s width. Thanks to a major effort on tagging the resources, it is also easier to find things using the ‘Search’ function if they are not immediately obvious from the home page, and a new ‘Resource Finder’ should help you find something appropriate to the key stage and topic that you are interested in quickly, or items written by a particular author.

A one page user guide to the new site and how it’s laid out can be downloaded by following the link (PDF download):

Members can also bookmark their most useful sections of the website on their own personal homepage. Logging in to the site will provide members with details about their account, and allow access to the journals which you subscribe to.

There are plenty of new items in the shop, which are displayed in a scrolling window, which will also suggest items that might be of relevance to you if you login.

News is easier to find, and has all been updated.

If you are not already a GA member, this is a good time to join and take advantage of the many membership benefits.

The website is also home to all the resources supporting the GA’s manifesto for school geography “a different view”.

Download the latest GA MAGAZINE from the site now

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Facebook and Tony Cassidy

Tony Cassidy's latest contribution to the geography resources pantheon is a resource which is based on the profile that people create when they join FACEBOOK.
Tony has created a blank FACEBOOK profile template in powerpoint, which could then be used to create a template for a huge variety of contexts within the geography classroom.
What if they had a Facebook profile?
View more presentations from TonyCassidy.

Tony himself suggests producing one for Old Harry: an extension of the classic - "Old Harry: This is your Life" idea....
On the SLN Forum, further ideas that were suggested by a number of colleagues included:
  • The area / street the students live in
  • A new migrant arriving in the UK
  • Teenager in Kenya
  • Resident of Dubai
  • Young person on Baffin Island
  • Mt. Vesuvius
Could also do it for a Country...

Could also use it as a context for teaching about e-safety

As many teachers in England and Wales prepare to return to school this week, this is just the sort of simple, creative resource that should strike a chord with pupils and ensure some thoughtful "writing" to start the new geographical year...

Slow Coast

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. Ernest Hemingway

Nick Hand is currently cycling around the coast of Britain. His website is SLOW COAST.
Along the way, he is creating some wonderful short films, called SOUNDSLIDES made up of interviews with artisans and images taken at various locations.

A recent addition was the famous Monday auction held on the green at Burnham Market.
This gives a real "sense of place" and it instantly got onto the planning sheet for a lecture next year on Norfolk and "sense of place"...

These would be relatively easy to make with students, as they need a sound recorder, and Audacity to do a spot of editing, plus a set of images.

You can follow Nick on Twitter too: @nickhand

WDWTWA and a different view

It may be that you haven't yet visited the Who do we think we are website.

WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE has a very useful section written by Professor David Lambert, which provides an excellent summary of the appropriate links between geography and identity.

The site also has a NEW interactive area, which contains ideas for teaching about cultural diversity in various contexts...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Animoto now with added video...

Here's a quick video I put together to try it out...

Now when people ask me at CPD sessions "can you put videos into Animoto" I can say, "Yes, yes you can...."

#musicmapping - Gracenote Maps

Another Twitter tipoff is the CULTURAL MUSIC maps (thanks to the #musicmapping hashtag, which is worth further investigation)

This uses the GRACE NOTE service, which is used to add TRACK INFO to iTunes and other music player software, such as my Creative Zen XFi....
As you can see, the map can be used to focus on a particular country, and you are then presented with the current most popular Top Ten artists and albums for that country.

So in Spain for example, there is currently an interest in Michael Jackson and U2, but also some local artists.
This is particularly interesting when related to places such as China or Japan.
These seem to have fewer European and American acts, particularly Japan. Mousing over the acts and albums tells you a little more about them.
Worth using for investigating cultural globalisation and the spread of certain musical artists worldwide.

Which countries have indigenous artists resisting the cultural imports ?

Lady Gaga big in China ? - enquiry into why ?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tourism - new terms...

Image by Alan Parkinson from his "staycation" in Devon this year... Creative Commons licensed...

Staycation is one of those words which has appeared this year, in response to an apparent effect of the financial crisis affecting many households, and the relative weakness of the pound against other currencies, particularly the Euro. It's an American term, which is a combination of two words of course.

A recent article in the Times provided a glossary of new terms which were being applied to
particular types of holiday or short break...

How about asking students as part of a unit on tourism to provide a definition for the following terms:

1. Weighcation
2. Gaycation
3. Sackedpackers
4. Palidays
5. Minimoons
6. Voluntourism
7. Babymoons
8. Surfaris
9. Advultures
10. Setjetter
(perhaps the place below would be visited by one of these people - it's where scenes from James Bond movie "Die Another Day" were filmed)

Image by Val Vannet made available under Creative Commons - more available HERE
Assessment: come up with a new term that describes a particular niche form of tourism...

Answers coming shortly....
Happy to have suggestions for answers or other terms added as comments to this post...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Man on a Wire

Man on a Wire followed the remarkable high-wire walk that Philippe Petit did in 1974 between the two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.

There was remarkable footage of the construction of the World Trade Centre, and the planning of the walk, plus the walk itself...

Some other images are available HERE, with thanks to Noel Jenkins for the tipoff...

Here is a trailer for the film via You Tube

Not sure of the geographical connection yet, but I'll get there...

You've seen the film.... eat the star...
I remember a story of a cinema where people who had just seen the film "BABE" were met with a sign offering bacon sandwiches at a local cafe with the tagline: "you've seen the film, now eat the star..."

Remember 'Finding Nemo' ?

After seeing the film, many children wanted a clown fish, and the demand threatened the species and the coral environments where it lived. They didn't want to eat Nemo as much as take him home and have their own... (although I do have a cartoon somewhere with Nemo chopped up in sushi rolls)

This story from June 2008 provides a little more background on the clown fish story.

There was also 'Happy Feet', which featured penguins, but there was little chance of parents shelling out for one of those.
Other films that created a big demand for pets: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ?

The latest anthropomorphic antics of the film "G-Force" feature guinea pigs, and of course these are far more accessible in terms of prize and general availability (there's a pet shop at the end of my road - no really, there is...) and it has quite a few in at the moment.

This trend goes back quite a long way apparently - it's sometimes called the "101 Dalmations" effect...

A quick look at the PETS AT HOME website revealed that it's not just the cost of the animal (the guinea pig), it's all the other stuff that they need....

Local news also featured a report last night on the increasing number of cats that are being abandoned. Why not get a RESCUE GUINEA PIG if you really have to have one...

Inspiration for this post was a brief piece in Guardian G2: "Hollywood guinea pigs are for life, kids.

Oh, and I want a BACON is a VEGETABLE shirt....

Friday, July 24, 2009

RIP John Ryan

Sad news of the death of John Ryan, who was famous for creating Captain Pugwash.
He was also involved with the production of the classic urban geography resource called Mary, Mungo and Midge that was part of my childhood...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bridgeman Art Library Project

I have been involved on the margins of a new project with geographical connections which is being developed by the Bridgeman Art Library.
Here is some further information on the Bridgeman Art Library and the project itself...

The Bridgeman Art Library founded in 1972, is one of the leading sources of cultural heritage imagery, working with museums, private collections and art collections in the UK and internationally. Over a million high quality resolution images cover subjects such as art, archaeology, architecture, history, geography, science and medicine, manuscripts, society, photography, religion and politics. We also have portraits of all the leading personalities throughout history from Archimedes to Obama. These images have traditionally been licensed to educational publishers (in a wide range of materials), fiction/non-fiction publishers, TV/Film companies, electronic producers and the media. We support museums by returning 50% of our fees back to them, enabling them to conserve and exhibit their works.

In 2005, The Bridgeman Art Library introduced an innovative educational image resource (Bridgeman Education – for scholars, universities and schools. The database is a subscription-based, annually renewable website, drawing from the Bridgeman Art Library’s own archives and permits students and staff to keyword search, download and use over 300,000 images, copyright-cleared for educational use. The emphasis is on simplicity, rapid access and organisation. Bridgeman Education is currently working on several educational programmes and one of them is called the SILVER project.

The project:
SILVER ( is a government-funded research project (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills - DIUS) that investigates the development of new e-learning technologies for use in education and training. The SILVER project comprises a consortium of three organisations: Bridgeman Education; Lexara (technology partner); and the Knowledge Media Institute, which is part of the Open University.

Prototype 1:
The SILVER team has already developed a first prototype. This prototype is on the topic of Women and the Vote (with a focus on Suffragettes), and is aimed towards KS3 History and Citizenship students and teachers. In order to have a look at this prototype please click on our SILVER website - and register.
A Suffragette selling newspapers to two soldiers, c.1914 © Bridgeman Art Library
Prototype 2:
Currently the SILVER project team is working on the second prototype which is focused on the sustainable development topic (sustainable buildings) a subject relevant to KS3 and KS4 Geography and the Environment and Land-based Studies (sustainability) Diploma.

This prototype is divided in two parts, the first one will explore the topic by tagging and annotating the Bridgeman Art Library sustainable buildings images and the second part will incorporate the use of new technology with a UGC (user generated content) section in which students will upload their own images and comments from their local area.

If you would like to participate on the prototype 2 (sustainable development module), please contact the SILVER E-learning Specialist Susa Rodriguez-Garrido at
It is this second project which I am involved in....
One to watch as it develops...

Monday, July 13, 2009

SAGT Conference 09

This annual event takes place this year on the 31st of October at the Edinburgh Academy in Edinburgh.

This year's SAGT keynote speakers include the mountaineer and author Andy Cave, and Ollie Bray. The theme is "Today's Geography , Tomorrow's World".

I will be doing Workshop 10: "A Different View : what's your view ?"

Go HERE to download your conference programme and book a place. (PDF download)

The conference costs £60 for non-SAGT members, and £35 for SAGT members

The description of my workshop is below:

A Different View”: what’s your view ?
Presenter Alan Parkinson
Secondary Curriculum Development Leader, Geographical Association
In April 2009, the Geographical Association published its ‘manifesto for geography’. Called ‘a different view’, it explores the nature of school geography, and suggests an approach to teaching the subject called ‘living geography’.
The manifesto takes the form of a booklet with stunning images and text, a poster and postcard set, and a website packed with resources including a range of multimedia content. It is entirely self-funded by the GA. As with the last four years at SAGT, I would appreciate some interactivity from delegates (whether or not you opt for my session). Please take the time to visit the manifesto website at: and e-mail your ‘views’ to me at aparkinson AT

The seminar is designed for all levels from S1 upwards: as the manifesto is applicable to all phases. Delegates attending the workshop will go away with a range of materials to use immediately, as well as some suggestions for encouraging students to develop their own ‘different view’ of the
world – the manifesto is intended to provoke debate, and support engaging teaching.

You can also catch David Rogers. Come along to the GA stand too, and meet John Halocha.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sheffield: no place like home

Sitting on my colleague's desk today at the GA was a copy of Carl Lee's intriguing new book, which I went out to get a copy of later that day. Called "Home: a personal geography of Sheffield"
Have also been invited along to a conference that Carl is organising in September on Inequality.
Article in the Sheffield Telegraph gives a flavour for the background
"I wanted to write a geography book for people who wouldn't normally read a geography book.
"I also wanted to try and get to the heart of why Sheffield was such a great place to live. I've thought the city is one of the best-kept secrets of Britain. I've had a go at exploring the ingredients that make up the city and contribute to it being such a great place to live. "I hope that Sheffield can continue to be the radical city that shaped its creation, now more than ever we need to think about alternatives to the discredited status quo. "Sheffield was one of the first industrial cities in the world, one of the first to de-industrialise, and hopefully the city which leads us into a greener, more equal and more sustainable future."
Another connection with the city came today when I was told that my old mate Pete Rawlinson is one of the directors of the new Sheffield Brewery. The names of the beers that they brew have plenty of geographical connections.
Brewing and distilling is an area that I have long meant to develop as the context for a teaching (or learning) resource - got a growing collection of materials now. Perhaps a trip to the brewery would be a good idea...

One and Other

Me on Crosby Beach, 2007

Antony Gormley is an artist whose work I have come across in numerous locations, from Crosby Beach to the O2 and even on a friend's wall (a long story).
His latest project ONE AND OTHER involves the vacant fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. The website has a live web feed of the activity.
Was considering applying to go on the plinth in October. There's still a chance to get an hour of Geography up there... Anyone else got a place ?

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm a teacher of Geography

My daughter was watching the Gene Wilder "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" the other morning...
The Golden Ticket winners have entered the factory, and spot the Oompa Loompas for the first time, and ask where they come from ? "Loompaland" says Willy Wonka...

Mrs. Teevee: Loompaland? There's no such place.
Willy Wonka: Excuse me, dear lady, but...
Mrs. Teevee: Mr. Wonka, I am a teacher of geography.
Willy Wonka: Oh, well, then you know all about it and what a terrible country it is. Nothing but desolate wastes and fierce beasts....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Agaetis Byrjun

...rumbling, pings, tjúúúú, palindromic strings, bjargvættur, the coughing brass intro, bamm bamm bamm, the crecendo, the flute, the simplicity, and it fades out. press play again....

10th Anniversary...

Climate Change projections

Part 1 of the outcomes from Flood Management 09 at the Barbican earlier this week...

Many of the speakers referred to the latest climate projections which had been released on the DEFRA website earlier that week, and had been reported in many of newspapers.

Hilary Benn introduces the projections as being very 'sobering'.

5 things that need doing:

1. to protect people from the immediate risks
2. to plan (e.g. motorway drainage, emergency plans) for the future - the adaptation report is currently being consulted on until September (one for 6th formers perhaps to get involved with
3. to work internationally on a climate agreement

Also refers to importance of Copenhagen 2009 - the website is well worth visiting - has plenty of useful resources for teachers and students

4. to play our part - reduction targets need to be met - working towards a LOW CARBON UK
5. supporting individuals e.g. through the Act on CO2 campaign.

The models can be seen by following the links from DEFRA site above.

A Met Office introduction to the projections here:

Delve into the projections page to find all sorts of maps, graphics and information on the likely changes between now and 2080 on a range of climate indicators.

Explore these with students...

Also head over to the UNEP Seal the Deal site.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Image Alan Parkinson

Poppies are a glorious temporary part of our landcape...

We have also attached additional cultural resonance to them with their association with remembrance day...

What other examples of these temporary landscape aspects can you identify, or your students record ?

Why not use the NORFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST's poppy field sighting record cards (link goes to PDF download - survey was carried out originally in 2006)

Poppies are the county flower of Norfolk, and there are certainly plenty in the fields around my village.

North Norfolk (particularly the area around Cromer and Overstrand) is known as 'poppyland' and there are many fields full of these flowers at the moment.

The local Eastern Daily Press reported that the particularly impressive blooms of poppies that can be seen at the moment are the result of changing farming practices...

Farmers growing rape in particular are keen to keep the growth of poppies to a minimum as the plants compete for the available soil moisture and nutrient.
A weedkiller was also taken off the market at the end of 2007, and it was apparently a windy spraying season which means that application would not have been as thorough as it would have been in more ideal conditions.

Interestingly, an article in the Times from last year suggested we may see fewer poppies in the future.

Also noticed fields full of poppies on the approach to Cambridge from the train yesterday evening.

‘Neath the blue of the sky in the green of the corn,
It is here that the regal red poppies are born!’
Clement Scott