Showing posts from 2011

Normal service will be resumed in 2012

I'm going to take a couple of weeks away for Christmas (although I probably won't be able to resist blogging if something important happens between now and the 1st of January 2012.)

I'm going to be doing one or two things over Christmas as well as enjoying the festive cheer

Writing a GCSE bookCompleting a major resource pack for the Ordnance SurveyPlanning out a Children's book I'm going to be writingPreparing for CPD events in the New YearWriting some Online Updates for Harper CollinsEdits and proofreading for 2 books I'm editing that are published in early 2012Adding new content to my Vital Geography PortalPreparing some thoughts for new Curriculum consultationPutting together some ideas for Mission:Explore Food
On 1st of January I'll be back with various New Year thoughts...

Please join me on the 5th of January for my Teachshare on New Year New Geography

It'd be great to have your company at 7pm with your plans for the year ahead for New Year New Geo…

Mary Portas Review: Saving the High Street ?

Regular readers of the blog will know that I have an interest in the changing fortunes of town centres and have written various posts on Clone Towns, Rebranding and other projects to revitalise town centres as they face competition from out of town retail parks and the rise of online shopping.

This was also part of the 'A' level specification that I used to teach, and some ancient resources from the Cambridge Urban Field Day that we used to run are available via the link.
I also started a Flickr Group called The Disappearing High Street some years ago, and several kind photographers have contributed their images to join mine.

Mary Portas, who has featured in a number of recent TV programmes looking at changing the fortunes of retail businesses, was asked earlier in the year to explore the ways that the fortunes of the High Street could be turned round. The report was published this morning....

There is also a free KS3 resource that you can obtain from the Harper Collins websit…

Mission:Explore Food - you can help make it happen

Last night at the Houses of Parliament, Mission:Explore came runner-up in the Educational Writers' Awards ceremony of the Society of Authors. Congratulations to the winner: 'Moon' by Stewart Ross.

We were described as having produced: 'A brave book which encourages children to explore the world around them, developing their curiosity, confidence and courage along the way…’
We're now all set to do something bigger and better, and we are planning to produce a cookbook- but not the usual type of cookbook of course...

Mission:Explore Food will be a 320 page exploration of all things 'foody' in our own Geography Collective style, and with the fabulous illustrations of Tom Morgan-Jones. For example, here's our take on the importance of eating locally sourced food...

The funding for the book will hopefully come from crowd-sourcing, and we are using a website called PLEASE FUND US to co-ordinate this.
If you are able to support us at certain levels, there are so…

Culture - the latest Digital Explorer site...

I've been working with Jamie Buchanan Dunlop over the last few months, adding some new resources to the OCEANS DIGITAL EXPLORER website.

The Digital Explorer empire is now expanding to CULTURAL matters, linking in with the idea of Citizenship and (as always) a link with real world exploration.

Check out the new CULTURAL WEBSITE which has some superb resources.

The FILMS and PHOTOS section looks like being an amazingly useful resource for exploring Citizenship issues.

New Rorys StoryCubes set

Regular readers of the blog will know of my love of Rory's Story Cubes. I use these in  my CPD sessions, and link them in with the creation of geographical narratives: geography as 'writing the earth'.
The latest set of cubes is now available to purchase from the Creativity Hub website, and will be in shops in the UK in a few weeks time.
Story Cubes Voyages is a whole new set of dice for story-telling which can be used in combination with the previous sets, or by themselves...

My cubes are on order...

Olympics Park

Visited the Olympics Park earlier for a meeting in the area about a forthcoming project....

Thanks to Bob Digby for the maps and other information on the park that he kindly provided in advance. It was my first view of the Olympics Stadium, although we didn't have time to walk round as far as the View Tube to get a better view...

Interestingly enough there were quite a few Olympics related things in my Twitter stream over the last few days.
A nice image from @mrjmutton who was at the Olympics Park yesterday - looking a bit grey then - a lot brighter today.

A set of Google Sketch-Up models of Olympics buildings, thanks to Keir Clarke.

Next came an article in the Daily Mail on the security costs of the games - because the venues have been finished early there's now more to look after, especially given the possible terrorist threat. This is apparently costing £250 000 a day.

And then via @The_GA came a link to a Daily Telegraph article which looks at the way that shops in the area…

Excellent graphics work by Fabian Gonzalez

A tweet led me to this website via a few intervening clicks and links...

These images are the work of Fabian Gonzalez.

I'd like to share tone of them with you here, as they link nicely with the overall theme of the blog. Happy to remove them if requested.

The image shows Superheroes as FLAGS. The re-presentation of flags is something that geographers will be familiar with...
Which can your recognise ?

The images (and others) can be purchased as art prints and on clothing. Would make a good Christmas present for the geographer in your life....

New blog by Rob Hindle

I've blogged about Rob Hindle's poetry before: HERE and HERE for example.

Rob's based in Sheffield, but has lived in various locations in the UK, and also lived and worked in Spain for a time. His collection on the Sheffield Flood of 1864 inspired a mapping activity that I developed as part of the ESRI / GA GIS courses, where students could identify the locations where victims of the flood may have been found, and trace the course of the flood waters.

Worth following Rob's new blog to get further insights into the creative process and his sources of inspiration.

Also check out Mark Jones and Bernadette Fitzgerald's work on creative urban poetry in Teaching Geography in 2010

Eleanor Rawling's chapter in Graham Butt's book 'Geography, Education and the Future' is also recommended.

And a final Geography poetry link is the work of Mark Cowan, who wrote the poem that features in Degrees of Change - the programme on Climate Change that I made with Brook La…

VITAL Teachshare: Google Earth Placemarks

My next VITAL Teachshare will be on Wednesday the 16th of November (that's tomorrow if you're reading this today) at 7pm.
It's on ways of customising Google Earth Placemarks...

Click THIS LINK just before 7 to join me. You'll need to allow the download of the plug-in to handle the Elluminate session, which will then allow you to see and hear me, and to take part.

Don't forget to check the KEYHOLE BULLETIN BOARDto get the full range of layers and files shared by  Google Earth users. Use the SEARCH function to unearth the goodness....

This will be my little contribution to WORLD GIS DAY, which is taking place tomorrow, as part of GEOGRAPHY AWARENESS WEEK.

What are you doing for World GIS Day ? 
Why not add a touch of GIS to your teaching tomorrow...

VITAL Geography Teachshare 1: Tonight

I will be running my first VITAL Teachshare TONIGHT

It's on 'FREE GIS TOOLS for the Geography Classroom' and introduces the basics of GIS followed by 3 suggested websites which can be used to produce GIS-style work with students.

If you'd like to join me, you'll need to click this link just before 7pm

This will load up Elluminate on your machine which may take a few minutes....

For those who haven't been to an online session before, you'll be able to hear and see me going through a presentation and then have a chance to discuss things. You can ask question and I might ask you to click some icons to participate... You'll get the hang of it...

We should be finished by 7.45, but you can of course feel free to join later and leave earlier if you like: that's the 'benefit' of online sessions like this. Slides and links will be on Slideshare after the event.

If you haven't already done so, head over to VITAL and sign up for a free trial for the …

First Class Landmarks

I'm always up for new stamps, especially when they are geographical in nature.

Some new Royal Mail stamps are out later this week.

They are the first in a set of 26 stamps, which cover famous places from A - Z

Which A-Z would you choose ? 

A = Angel of the North                      
B = Blackpool Tower
C = Carrick-a-Rede
D = Downing Street
E = Edinburgh Castle
F = Forth Railway Bridge
G = Glastonbury Tor
H = Harlech Castle
I = Ironbridge
J = Jodrell Bank
K = Kursaal (Southend)
L = Lindisfarne Priory

Fits very nicely with Lesson 6 of my GA toolkit book: "Look at it this Way"


November is also Movember: when men who are men grow moustaches.... Cue Spongebob Movie..

This year, Richard Allaway, who can grow a mean 'tache, has set up a special group.


I've joined the team.

If you'd like to donate to me or the team, visit my MO SPACE page now LIVE !

I've just completed my first mission on the relaunched Mission which is now live in BETA
It's called the DEAD EASY MISSION
Come and login and find out what it involves...
It's worth it to go and see Tom Morgan Jones' latest wonderful illustrations...

Just going to do some missions at home...

Coincidentally my EARTH SANDWICH Mission Explore t-shirt arrived today - it's cool.

Why not order your own MISSION EXPLORE shirt to wear while completing the MISSION EXPLORE missions ?

Subject Knowledge Update: Globalisation

The RGS-IBG hold regular subject updates for topics that are of relevance to 'A' level topics in particular.

I mentioned a previous one on water, and will actually be leading one in 2012 on the theme of the Polar regions (of which more to come later...)

There will be a subject update on the theme of Globalisation held in Manchester on the 5th of December 2011. This will be useful for those who would find it difficult travelling to London.

Subject Knowledge Updates are a series of evening sessions each focusing on a different theme, covering the basic information for teaching that topic and providing up to date case study material and resources. The next session in this series looks at Globalisation.
The DfE Schools White Paper 2010 The importance of Teaching highlights a need for subject knowledge to
be included in CPD: “It is also vital that we give teachers the opportunity to deepen their subject
knowledge and renew the passion which brought them into the classroom”.

This Gl…

New Polish migration resource on GA website

A new resource has gone up on the GA website.
It's a short unit with associated resources which explores the issue of Polish migration and the decisions that people make about where to live.

Download the FREE RESOURCE as a PDF

Coincidentally this resource has a link with Torun, where I shall be next week.
I'm going to see what the Polish delegates make of it :)

If we can get some additional Polish perspective I think that would make a useful resource for colleagues with Polish students in their geography class or form group...

Geography Collective in the USA

As I may have mentioned before on the blog, I did some work a few months ago for the Geography Collective on the theme of 'the local area'. This was for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC education in the USA, and Dan from the collective went over to Portland to speak to educators from all over the USA.

Now there have been some videos released from the National Council for Geographic Education for the session that Dan Raven Ellison did for the conference, and they are on the GEOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE blog.

Here's the first one and the other two are on the blog...
This is very fine work, and explains the origins of the Geography Collective and our recent work, ideas of geography and showcases projects that Dan and the Collective have been involved with....

The new Geography Curriculum - the latest development...

I received an e-mail today from David Lambert about developments towards the new curriculum...

The Department for Education, through Nick Gibb has asked Alex Standish (some of you will be familiar with the name) to write a national curriculum for geography. The final draft has been made available to the GA, and shared on the website.

Alex Standish is an assistant professor of geography at Western Connecticut State University and author of "Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum: Reviewing the moral case for geography", published by Routledge.

The draft curriculum has been added to the GA Website Curriculum Consultation page as a 17 page PDF download. (Click to download)
Before you read the document, you should first read Alex's 'position statement' which sets out his thinking as he approached the task:

"This geography curriculum was compiled at the request of the Department for Education as a contribution to the national curriculum review. It has bee…
A new update to the VITAL website has been launched recently...

It's the new website of VITAL: the Open University's CPD programme.
One of the main aspects of the website is access to a series of subject specific PORTALS.

The Geography Portal is yet to be launched, but it will be managed by me, and I am working on the content already. Expect there to be a range of useful content for geographers and geography teachers...
This will include:

short video guides to explain how to use key websites and web toolssuggested Top Tipsresource ideasTwitter feeddetails of eventsfortnightly online meetings to discuss a particular topicI'll let you know when the portal launches, so that you can pop along and see me...

Google Earth visualisations...

Thanks to Matt Podbury via the SLN Geography Forum for the tip-off here...

The MERKADOR blogwhich I think is based in Belgium has shared some great work for geography of sport units.

There are 2 Google Earth related projects...
The first refers to the English Premiership.

This content overlay shows the origin of the first team players of the 4 biggest clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.

You can see the geographical composition of the teams in 3 ways: click on the team emblems to see a pie chart of the players nationalitiescheck out the lines connecting the team emblems to the players countries of origin. Broader lines mean more players come from that particular country. Enable and disable the clubs you want to visualize in the table of contentclick on the flag icons of the countries to see what players originate from a particular country

The second one is more ambitious and targets all the clubs that were involved in the World Cup 2010

Every country is represented by…

JigsawGeo App - with free offer for US visitors...

I was contacted recently by Steve VanderLeest to let me know about the JigsawGeo app for iPhone.

It's produced by SquishLogic and is available on the App Store.

Steve told me about the apps, which are for a range of different continents and areas.

They would be good to have on a class iPod Touch (or set if they were available)

The apps were developed with feedback from a Grade 5 class studying geography.  The students took their review seriously and gave us many great comments, which we implemented in revisions to our app.  The result is a great game that provides beautiful maps, teaches elementary kids (and adults) the geography of important areas of the world, and is fun too.  
High scores get posted to our website so you can see how you stack up against the competition.  We take privacy seriously, especially for kids, so we ask that they only post their first name and we only indicate the state or region that the player is from (nothing more specific).   
You can find more info on th…

Some VITAL work

Later this month, the Open University and e-Skills UK's VITAL professional development programme is launching a range of subject specialist portals for a number of key subjects, including English and Literacy, History, Maths and Numeracy, Modern Foreign Languages, Music and eSafety.

I am delighted to announce that from later this month,I will be the manager of the Geography portal.

I shall provide more details of the URL and other aspects of the work later this month when they start to go live.
I'm delighted to be associated with VITAL, and will be serving up a rang of services for visitors to the portal.

For those who are unsure of Vital's role.

Delivered by the Open University and funded by DfE, Vital provides:

inspiring ideas to inspire your learnersmaterials you can use in your own classroomopportunities to share expertise with your peers What does Vital offer?flexible, cost-effective courses that fit with your busy schedulecase studies of how other teachers are using…

Discovering Britain - new from the RGS-IBG

Thanks to Jenny from the RGS-IBG for letting me know about the imminent launch of a new site which offers a fresh look at the UK.

The site is called DISCOVERING BRITAIN.

"We are developing an exciting series of geographically-themed walks across the UK that aim to bring these stories alive and to inspire everyone to explore and learn about our different landscapes."

Look forward to seeing the full site when it appears in just over a month's time....

National Geographic : Geography Awareness resource

Earlier this year, I was involved in an exciting project with National Geographic Education in the USA as part of theGeography Collective. This led to my friend and colleague Daniel Raven Ellison spending a week at the National Council for Geographic Education conference in Portland, Oregon, and working with educators from across the USA.
This project has been an exciting one to be involved with. It offers a range of activities which can be carried out in your neighbourhood, and earn points for completing them. Would be good for exploring local areas, local wildlife and ideas of community. These will be used across the USA for their Geography Awareness Week later in the year.
You will need to have registered with TES Connect, which is free and takes a few moments. You can then DOWNLOAD THE BOOKLET as a 34 page, 13 Mb PDF and check it out.
Please take a look and let me know what you think...

Superb VIMEO films

Via Al Humphreys and Victoria Ellis

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Watch full screen...

First minute of the new school year SORTED....

Also follow the links to LEARN and EAT...


Spending a few days barn & dog-sitting in a rather fine barn in the Dartmoor National Park.
It's stocked with shelves full of books, WiFi for Spotify and a wine cellar... So it's got pretty much all I need.
One of the books is Ian Mercer's 'Dartmoor', which is published as part of the Collins New Naturalist Library with a lovely cover by Robert Gillmor.
I liked the description of Ian Mercer as "a geographer and naturalist at heart, never happier than when revealing the secrets of a landscape".

The author's foreword begins:
"This book is about my perception of a landscape, and what knowledge is needed as a foundation to that perception..." which is an interesting statement, as it links with some of the ideas in the GA's current CURRICULUM consultation.

He goes on to say "the attraction of true local geography is that it depends upon the wielding of a broad brush much of the time, but allows the display of intricate detail to illu…

A-Z of Tourist Misinformation

Thanks to Russel Tarr for tipoff to this resource - warning: some other sections might be a bit risque...

It's an A-Z of Tourist Misinformation...

Might make an interesting cultural geography task...
Would be useful to try to write them for other locations too...

Geography of Disease

This is another one of those blog posts aimed at uncovering a 'hidden' resource on the GA website that is freely available to anyone....

Geography of Disease was a project that was led by John Lyon, and was funded by the Wellcome Trust

Wycombe High School shared the resources that they produced as a result of their participation on their excellent website (on the Moodle platform...)

The resources are excellent ! You need to check them out if you are proposing to teach something about disease.
There are resources on Disease in Society - with a focus on Myxomatosis, the Black Death, HIV/AIDS, Cholera, Malaria, Bilharzia and Avian Influenza.

Check out Durham University's disease spread simulations too...

Great resources if you are teaching IB Geography, particularly the FOOD and HEALTH module of which more to come later in the year !

NQT Conferences in November 2011

The flyers for the latest GA CPD events have been published on Scribd.

I am leading two NQT Conferences in November 2011

NQT Conference: Making a difference in the classroom

If you are going to be an NQT Geographer or you are going to have an NQT in your department, and you'd like to book a place, contact Lucy Oxley on 01142960088

Westward Moving House - updated post

I was contacted by Josh from Places Online Journal today.

"Places" is an online journal of architecture, landscape, and urbanism.
"I'm pleased to share the news that we've just republished J.B. Jackson's classic essay "The Westward-Moving House," originally published in Landscape in 1953, which traces the evolution of the American house over three centuries and across the continent. It's a big text -- 10,000 words -- and a big moment, as we have the pleasure of introducing a new generation of readers to Jackson. 
Geographer Paul F. Starrs and photographer Peter Goin at the University of Nevada, Reno, have purchased the archive of Landscape and plan to digitize the archive and make it fully accessible. Fewer than a dozen libraries have a full set of the magazine, so this is great news for scholars. 
"The Westward-Moving House" was last anthologized 15 years ago and is now out of print, so we are very pleased to partner with Paul and Peter …

GA CPD events in November 2011 - hope to see you there...

Well, one perhaps as I doubt you'd come to both...
These are the first of the GA CPD events that I shall be doing in the new academic year that have so far been scheduled, and thanks to Lucy for sending me the flyer...
The events are NQT Conferences.

Look out for a mailing coming into schools shortly, and also inserts in GA journals....

If you'd like to secure your place, or find out more information about the events, there are several different prices depending on the status of your GA membership. Call Lucy Oxley at the GA on 01142960088 for more information.
I look forward to seeing some of you in November !
And I'll be mentioning this event once or twice between now and then....

Young Geographer of the Year - now with added teacher prize for NQT / PGCE

The annual Young Geographer of the Year Award has been launched by the Royal Geographical Society in association with Geographical magazine.

This year there has been a slight change of format for the awards which I think makes it a stronger opportunity, and will result in more "useful" and insightful responses...

Geography surrounds us: on the world map on your classroom wall, in events on the news, or the changes taking place in your local area and further afield.  Geographers strive to better understand the connections between the world’s people, places and environments and the interactions taking place between them. 

To help us understand our world we ask questions such as; Where is this place? Why is it like this? How is it connected with other places? How is this place changing? and Why are these changes taking place? We like to zoom between the local and the global scales and are fascinated with maps, not just to find out where places are but to also show how places are …

Richard Long exhibition

There's a new Richard Long exhibition at the Haunch of Venison in London.
I am in London next week and will make time to go and see it. Seen Richard Long's work in a range of locations over the years: from the Guggenheim in Bilbao to the foyer of DEFRA on Millbank, and various other places...

Special crabby ale...

For Cromer festival...
I'll have a half please...

Very flat, Norfolk... allegedly

Jennifer Wattsposted on her blog about a nice collaborative effort which she has set up...
She had just finished a book "50 writers on 50 states", where the USA was described in a range of different 'voices'... and thought that this might usefully be adapted for the UK, and ask lots of people to

If anyone is reading this and would like to get involved in writing a short chapter, around 3-5 A4 pages on a county they know well in the UK, please get in touch. Chapters could typically include things you value about the county: places, highlights, traditions, changes, features found in the county that maybe overlooked, or just how you feel about the county, what does it mean to you, and why?

I've volunteered to write the chapter on Norfolk.
I'll base some of it on the session that I put together for the GA Norfolk branch when I was the president of the Norfolk branch in 2010 - this had lots of ideas for teaching about Norfolk and the way that the county was describ…

I dreamed of David again...

I blogged a few weeks ago about the success of David Rogers: the Chair of the GA's Secondary Committee in the Jamie Oliver Dream Teachers competition on YouTube...
You can watch his £10 000 winning video below - it's now been seen over 13000 times !

Also listen to him from earlier today on BBC Radio SOLENT - via Audioboo....

David is off to Google London today for an awards ceremony so have a good day David....

Food Geographies

GA subscribers to Teaching Geography have the chance to use a really well put together unit of work which has been written by Suzie Farmer.
It is called "Planning for Progression: making sense of famine and feast" and explores issues of food production.
There are downloadable documents on the GA website which accompany the article.

BBC report earlier this week looked at the contents of an FAO report also identified the shocking figure that a third of the world's food is wasted...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Click to download Tim Hess's excellent GA Conference presentation on the water that is involved in food production too. (PDF download)

What I bought at the supermarket...

For a food-related project I'm planning...
Everything I bought on my last trip to the supermarket.... (I went to Waitrose on this occasion, but normally go a lot more down-market...)

Could be used to explore issues like:

- sourcing: local or worldwide
- production methods: freedom foods, organic, Red Tractor, PGI
- packaging
- health: convenience or home cooking ingredients
- seasonality (they were bought in May... which of them are "out of season")

Other ideas, please add them below...

Oh, and I forgot the kitchen roll...

South Downs National Park

All schools that lie within the newly designated South Downs National Park will soon receive an education pack which was put together by the Geographical Association.
It features a range of activities to explore the geography of the National Park, and the idea of landscape as a palimpsest...
It matches nicely with some of the ideas in my KS3 Toolkit: "Look at it this Way", which is available from the GA's online shop.

The pack will also be available to download from the South Downs website from Monday 16th of May....

Geography Media Blog

The Geography Media blog is a new discovery for me via Tony Battista....

Some really interesting posts broadly in the area of geography and culture...

The blog is written by Ben Cotton an AST from St. Katherine's school in Bristol, and is involved in the new RGS-IBG Bristol network.
A quick browse has revealed a number of really interesting and stylishly presented ideas... also approve of the Jonsi and Alex clips :)

MyFarm - National Trust project...

My Farm is an ambitious project that has been announced by the National Trust within the last week (this blog post was ready on the day but has been sitting in draft for a while), and has been getting quite a lot of press and media coverage.
It extends the idea of virtual farming with very popular online games like Farmville (which has tens of millions of players) to an actual farm, part of the Wimpole Hall estate near Cambridge. I have been to the farm myself some years ago when my kids were much smaller...
The website provides some background detail as to how the scheme is going to work. The National Trust are looking for 10 000 people to invest £30 in the scheme, which will allow them to take some decisions relating to the farm. They will vote on a range of issues relating to the management of the farm, although given its organic status and location, there are obviously going to be limits as to what those decisions might be...
I am tempted to go for it, and may well do so in the nex…