Friday, September 30, 2011

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...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

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....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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 been written with input from teachers, department heads, and geography faculty. At secondary level it in part reflects the content of IGCSEs. Nevertheless, it remains my personal interpretation of what children should learn in geography at different key stages so that they become capable students of geography.
There are of course other ways of organising the geography curriculum, but one of my aims is to raise expectations of what pupils are capable of learning. If private schools are able to teach geography in the depth and breadth demanded by the IGCSE then so should everybody else. I believe that all children are capable to being educated to a high standard and it is time we started raising our expectations of how much children in the state sector can learn.
I also recognise that writing a curriculum and implementing it are two different things. To offer this curriculum would mean adding more geography in primary schools where there are fewer specialists. Nevertheless, there is nothing here that could not be taught by a primary teacher supported by suitable materials. At key stage one and two pupils should be using their local environment as a primary resource. Teaching about the UK in years 5 and 6 would require more work and ideally the production of some new teaching resources. But by age eleven, children should have learnt about the geography of their country, the physical and human environment and be capable of making and using maps. If this is not possible today, it is something we should work towards.
Another aim of this curriculum is to re-introduce regional geography to the English curriculum. This should be taught not by cataloguing facts about different regions, but rather to enable children to understand and interpret the range of cultures and landscapes that exist across the surface of the globe. Regional geography went out of fashion in the UK with the decline of Empire. It is high-time it was re-introduced to the curriculum so that children leave school having been introduced to all the major regions of the world. Surely this should be a primary aim of the geography curriculum?
In writing this curriculum, my objective has been to make a contribution to the conversation about what knowledge and skills children need to learn in geography. How this is taught in the classroom is the prerogative of teachers, as it always should be."

I note the link with iGCSE. Having been involved with the development of a new iGCSE book which is due to be published at the start of 2012, I know that any content can become engaging with the right treatment.

Once you've read the document, it would be great if you could LOG IN to the GA website (this will ensure that you are logged as a member and your statement will have more impact), and HAVE YOUR SAY on the Curriculum Consultation Page.

This is NOT the final curriculum (YET), but we need as many opinions as possible. If you don't express your opinion in the right place, it may not make a difference. You may be thinking YES, Regional Geography is back ! Please go to the GA's page and add a comment...
It's important that you also read the GA's suggested documents so that you can compare the approaches...

I haven't had chance to read the document, but will post some thoughts about it in a day or so....

I'm off to find my notes on Benelux and Denmark that I used to teach back in the late 80s.... my Head of Department at the time said that they would come in useful some time as education goes round in circles....

Image: Thingvellir, Iceland - Alan Parkinson (where the USA meets Europe...)

Monday, September 12, 2011

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 tools
  • suggested Top Tips
  • resource ideas
  • Twitter feed
  • details of events
  • fortnightly online meetings to discuss a particular topic
I'll let you know when the portal launches, so that you can pop along and see me...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Google Earth visualisations...

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

The MERKADOR blog which 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 nationalities
  • check 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 content
  • click 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 the country border outline and an icon with the country flag. Clicking the country icon will open a balloon with the squad list of the country. For every player a link is provided to take you to the stadium of the club the player is affiliated with. Lines connecting the country to the clubs of the members of the countries national team are also provided.

The data comes from the GLOBAL FOOTBALL DATABASE which is a useful site for those teaching about global sport.


There's also - rather nicely timed this find - of HIV / AIDS PREVALENCE rates.

There's also a GOOGLE EARTH FEATURES QUIZ so that you can get to know Google Earth....

This is all excellent work !!

Monday, September 5, 2011

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 the website:   

Your readers can find the whole line just by searching for JigsawGeo in the Apple iTunes app store.  The apps work on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. They cost 69p.

For readers of this blog who are in the United States only, Steve has made available a special offer to readers of the LIVING GEOGRAPHY / CULTCHA blogs.

There are three free PROMO CODES below, which are available on a first come-first served basis. They are for the Jigsaw GEO Europe game.

The first US reader to use a code gets it, then it expires at that point, so first-come, first-served. 

These codes (only available in the US) expire on 3 Oct 2011.


Who knows - when the new Curriculum review is published, this sort of knowledge might be the basis for a whole year's work !

Friday, September 2, 2011

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 learners
  • materials you can use in your own classroom
  • opportunities to share expertise with your peers

What does Vital offer?

  • flexible, cost-effective courses that fit with your busy schedule
  • case studies of how other teachers are using ICT in their own lessons
  • collaborative spaces to share ideas, experiences and materials
  • guides to key technologies and ideas on how to use them in the classroom
  • interviews with leading practitioners
  • advice and support from ICT specialists
  • useful links
  • Information about opportunities using Vital learning activities as a basis for gaining academic awards and credit.