Showing posts from 2012

Taking a festive break - back in 2013

After  a busy year of blogging, I'm taking a break for the Christmas and New Year period.
There may be some circumstances under which I will return, as something majorly geographical could happen before the 1st of January, but if not, have a peaceful break everyone and look forward to blogging through 2013 with you....
Image shared under CC license by Flickr user calsidyRose

Minecraft and Geography

Does this image mean anything to you ?

If not, then you've probably never heard of MINECRAFT: a game that has millions of players worldwide and is finding its way into lots of schools too.

My son LOVES Minecraft and has produced some amazing creations on the Pocket Edition that we have on the two tablets in the house. He and his sister play together in a creative world they have generated.

When I upgrade my computer in the New Year, we will put the full version on, and really start to explore the Minecraft Universe.

Recently, after a Twitter exchange with Claire Rafferty in Australia, I created a Google Doc and started to put together a summary document which could form the basis for Geography teachers to start to think about how they could use Minecraft in the Geography classroom... and also explore where it was being used in other parts of the curriculum, and also as an extra-curricular activity.

I discovered Stephen Reid, who I'd quoted in the document was interested in the…

Geography Style !

Makes a change from the usual Elf-yourself video that is traditional at this time of year...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Christmas reading...

Excellent anthology of words about rivers and water....

Plenty of ideas for curriculum resources on the importance of water, and our connections with it...

Buy now for Christmas

Today is the last day to order on Amazon for guaranteed Christmas delivery.
Here are a few suggestions for you...

First of all, there's 'The Ice Man', which is reviewed by a young Raven Ellison below as being 'sick' :)

You could also try 'Mission:Explore Food' or one of our other books.

The People's Songs

The People's Songs is a new series, which is due to start on BBC Radio 2 in January 2013.
The idea behind the series is that it will feature 50 songs which reflect the changing issues of importance through the last century.
There is a range of programmes, which will go around the songs, based on themes which tell the story of modern Britain.
There are opportunities for people to suggest which songs relate to particular themes.

This may work better for staff than for young people as they may have a more extensive cultural library of moments that connect with particular music, although I may be doing students a disservice here....

There are several possible connections with the geography curriculum:
- Population change - immigration - arrival and departure
- Cultural changes
- Urban / rural themes and issues 
- Unemployment and economic change...
- Environmental themes

If we take some of the key themes that might feature in the programmes, and ask them to identify a possibly playlist for…

I-USE Statistics in Education - a new EU project

As I write this, I am sat in a meeting at the University of Ghent, to launch a new European project.

The project is called I-USE.

The context is a simple, but important one.
It's about making sense of a world of data...

Statistical literacy is becoming increasingly important. This includes an element of information literacy, but also digital literacy.

Students (and teachers) are now living in a society that demands evidence-based arguments and decisions. While the world is changing rapidly with respect to the prevalence and use of statistics, the curriculum in schools and the approaches teachers adopt tend to be slow to respond to such changes. Therefore creating meaningful, innovative teacher training plays a crucial role in developing statistical thought processes.
Using statistics provides simple yet instant information on the matter it centres on. Modern computer-based visualisations create a vivid presentation of collected and organized data through the use of figures, charts, l…

Music and Landscapes

From the excellent LANDSCAPISM blog from 2011 comes a useful list of landscape-based music.
There are some useful pieces of music and other soundscapes.

The work of Chris Watson features heavily, which is not surprising.
Chris Watson's music is available on Spotify, and there are a few albums of his on there - well worth listening to. I was interested to see a collaboration with Robert MacFarlane that he did recently.

You can listen to this via the embedded player here:

I have a few ideas of my own which I've come across during 2012. I'll add them to a future blogpost.

Try the Landscape of Music too - interesting map concept...

Image: Winter Sky, Alan Parkinson

Quality of Life....

Emigration... Cultural globalisation... Quality of Life... & prawns...

Shipping News

I enjoyed reading this post from the SOME LANDSCAPES blog, which is on my blog reading list...

It mentions the descriptions of the landscape used in E Annie Proulx's classic 'The Shipping News'.

If nothing else, it stirred me from my seat to find it on my bookshelves, and consider re-reading it. I read it when it first came out, which I now see was nearly 10 years ago !

Primary Geography Champion

Earlier this week, Paula Owens made me an offer that I couldn't refuse. I was asked if I wanted to become one of the GA's Primary Geography Champions.
The Geography Champions network grew out of the work carried out for the Action Plan for Geography, and I was present at the first meeting of the champions, at the RGS-IBG as I set up the NING to support their work.
There are some amazing colleagues who are Geography Champions, and I've enjoyed working with them on a range of projects over the years, as well as supporting the development of the NING.

There are now over 1400 members of the Geography Champions NING.
It has a search function which will allow you to find existing materials and resources.

I've set up my group on the Ning, and have called it Mid-Norfolk and Surrounding Area.

I'd like to make an offer to any Primary schools that are in the area within 30 miles of Litcham in Norfolk. Let me know if I can support the development of geography within your schoo…

Skyfall - 007 ideas for teaching about James Bond

James Bond is one of the great cultural phenomena of cinema...

Out to see Skyfall: the latest Bond movie a few weekends ago.

Here are 007 ideas (do you see what I did there ?) for teaching about James Bond and Geography....

1. There's an Atlantic Cities post which introduces the map of Bond locations.
The James Bond map - research some of the locations here - add the Skyfall locations
Could you add the locations from the latest movie here, or work out where those are on a map ?

2. There's been a great deal of James Bond merchandising, such as Coca Cola..

You may also have noticed that Q uses a Sony Vaio.... I presume Sony paid for that particular 'product placement'.... (either that or Q can't afford an Apple Mac....)

Can you come up with James Bond / geography products that could have been placed in the movie, or some geographical merchandise ?
Perhaps some 'I've been to Skyfall' postcards...

3. The James Bond promotional game which I mentioned in a pre…

PG - 25 years on...

In 1987, I went to Birmingham to see Peter Gabriel tour his album 'So'. It was a fairly awesome concert, with good company. I'd qualified as a teacher and was about to start applying for jobs... a few weeks later I was in the classroom....

Over the years I've seen PG quite a few more times....

Fast forward twenty five years and Peter Gabriel has just released the dates of his 'Back to Front' tour, where he will return to 'So'....
...and I'll be sat in the front block of seats in the brand new Hydro in Glasgow, which hasn't even been built yet (let's hope it's finished on time...)

It'll be a great prelude to the SAGT Conference in Perth 2 days later...

Thought for the Day

The Geography Collective is one of the most creative groups in geography education today, and every time I learn more about its work, I get more excited about it.

Daniel Edelson, Vice President for Education, National Geographic Society

2012 Edublogs Awards

The nominations are now open for the 2012 Edublogs awards.
The closing date for nominations is the 26th of November, so you only have a week to vote....

There's some great geography blogs out there.... ahem.... :)

Have you caught the #GeoBug ?

Part of the resources that have been created for the National Geographic Education's materials for Geography Awareness Week.
Proud that the Geography Collective are once again involved in creating some of the resources that are being used around the United States. We've created a range of materials that are being used by tens of thousands of students.

Click this link to download a PDF of GeoBug stickers....

Logo was created by our very own Tom Morgan-Jones

Discover the World with Mission:Explore

Over the last few months, we've been working hard to put together a deal which will connect The Geography Collective, creators of Mission:Explore with Discover the World, the leading school travel company to destinations such as Iceland.
We're going to be writing missions which will be available for students and teachers who book a tour with Discover the World...

The first place that we've visited is one of the great places in the world: ICELAND.

I'm working with geography teacher John Sayers, and our editor and illustrator Helen and Tom, along with other Geography Collective colleagues, to put together a booklet which will available to all those schools that book a trip with Discover the World. It will contain missions, and ideas for linking the experience of visiting Iceland and completing the missions with the curriculum, and exam specifications.

We've created a whole load of missions which we're now editing down and preparing to be released into the wild i…

Breaking the mold

One of the companies that I'm currently working with is ESRI UK.
It's good to see more cross-overs with projects as Mission Explore is featured in ESRI's Fall newsletter, with a nice article written by Daniel Edelson of the National Geographic Education team.

Some nice quotes:

There are a small number of people out there, however, who summon up very different images when they think about geography learning. Maybe they never experienced traditional geography education, or maybe they experienced it and have completely rejected it as a model for learning. They envision activities that feel both relevant and enjoyable. These are the people we need to find and listen to, because they don't think about improving geography education by incrementally improving traditional approaches. They think about completely new approaches to geography teaching and learning. One place where you can find people like that is in the Geography Collective, a group of innovative thinkers in the Uni…

The Ice Man cometh...

Published on 12th of November
Available to buy on Amazon...

‘The Ice Man is a great cross-curricular text for science, geography and history. The book is an excellent length and packed full of interesting info.’ Fiona Dyson, Southfields Academy

Guerrilla Geography Day

What are you going to get up to ?

Find out more about the day here.

Don't forget to use the hashtag #guerrillageographyday

Look at it this Way - face to face or online...

In early November (later this week in fact), I'm going to be heading down to Somerset for the Somerset Geography Conference. I'm doing a session on my KS3 Toolkit book on landscapes (with updates) and ideas about teaching about landscapes. This will include mentions of the White Cliffs of Dover, Ash dieback, Brave and other Pixar films, burger boxes, Google Earth and other things....

The conference has been developed with a lot of work from Noel Jenkins, who has put together a great line-up for the conference. Sadly, like the SAGT conference at the weekend (see separate blog post), Iain Stewart was unable to attend as he had been allowed permission to film in Turkmenistan, which apparently is rare, but had to be this week.

Don't forget that this award-winning Toolkit bookhas a blog to support it- as with many of my books, such as the Badger GCSE book which has its own blog HERE.

If you can't make that event, you now have the option to join me for a virtual Teachshare …

'Geographical' magazine and Mission:Explore

The RGS-IBG's flagship journal 'Geographical' is now in its 84th volume....
The November issue has a touch of Mission Explore about it.
First of all, there's a rather good review of our Mission:Explore Food book, which suggests that 'every classroom should have a copy'.

There is also an excellent interview with Dan Raven Ellison.
Read an extra online bit that's not in the magazine here too for some interesting ideas about new geographies.

Available from all good newsagents...

Music and Landscape

Another trial with a Spotify Embed...
I love this piece of music...

Indian Study Visit - August 2013

Do you have plans for August 2013 ?

If not, you might consider a visit to INDIA, organised by Ben King and the folks at SANGAM.

Details are HERE.

(August 16th-28th 2013)
Teachers from all phases of education are invited to visit Southern India to:
 Increase their first-hand experience of a different country and culture, including visits to a variety of different schools
 Experience a wide range of environments, including the rapidly developing city of Bangalore and the surrounding rural landscape
 Enrich many curriculum subjects, particularly Geography, History, Art, RE, Music & Food Technology
 Strengthen the global dimension within their schools and gather resources to enrich teaching and learning.

What will this visit offer?
Our main objective is to enable a group of no more than 10 teachers to learn at first-hand about this  very different and rapidly developing country, with its range of cultural practices.  Unique professional develop…

50 best blogs for Geography-Geeks

Seems Cultcha is on this list... which is nice...

If you've followed the link from here, you're welcome. There's hundreds of posts here, but there are thousands of posts (over 4000) on my main Living Geography blog too....

One of the other blogs on the list: Edible Geography had a recent post about a Kickstarter project to fund a Food Atlas.

I've funded this project.

 The atlas is due to have a section produced by the Geography Collective, of which I am a founder member. We're the creators of Mission:Explore Food. This was also crowdfunded. I've written lots about food over the years....

Finally, while we're at it, my former colleague Anne Greaves directed me to World Tattoo, which is an interesting geographical story..

Atlas by Collins

The Atlas by Collins is now available for download at a promotional price of £6.99
The app needs an iPhone 4 or above, and an iPad 2 or above (sadly my first generation iPad was unable to run the app)

This is a 'proper' app, by which I mean a lot of time and effort has gone into making it look and feel right on the devices it is designed for, as well as potentially replace a paper-based product. Collins are famous for producing the 'Times Atlas of the World' which is perhaps the definitive atlas, and so any new product has to retain that pedigree.
It's also a proper app in term of its size. You'll need over 600 Mb of space as well as processing power.

The app is designed to be used offline for maximum flexibility, but also has an option to go online and fetch further Google imagery if the user zooms-in past the maximum scale that the app already has pre-loaded. This makes it a useful resource to have on a library iPad for example, or as a suite/folder of apps …

Shall we be friends ?

A nice bit of Facebook 'friends' mapping...
Which countries are the most 'friendly' with others ?
Choose a country to see where the connections are made...
Can you guess who Brazil, Australia or the USA's 'friends' are before you click on them, for example ??

Thanks to Karl Donert for the tipoff...

Fieldwork teachshare

Thanks to the colleagues who joined me for last night's VITAL CPD Teachshare on fieldwork in Geography
The spine presentation I used is here...

Fieldwork for VITAL from GeoBlogs There were some interesting discussions, and a few things to follow up on after the event, particularly an idea about teachers undertaking personal fieldwork in order to be able to communicate more effectively about places they are teaching about....

You can also watch and listen to the replay here. For some reason my presentation didn't display during the Teachshare itself...

A few things that I mentioned during the session:

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning project

Previous Teachshare with Paul Cornish and his Madagascar fieldtrip (link to PREZI)

We also mentioned the Coach's Eye and Comic Life apps for fieldwork.

Worth reminding you of Paul Turner's nice poster image too for more fieldwork apps....

World Food Day

Food narratives....
Don't forget that it's WORLD FOOD DAY on the 16th of October 2012 (today, if you're reading this on the day it was posted...)

You can get free CC licensed versions of chapters from Mission:Explore Food here...

Hugh has done a lot to promote sustainable fishing with his FISH FIGHT website - don't forget the resource I produced with Digital Explorer on this topic. You need to download this booklet if you haven't already...

Other food resources I've written are on the GA website under Online CPD.

There are also plenty of food related resources and stories out there...
The Guardian talks about the growing number of children who arrive in school hungry, and there is also growing use of FOOD BANKS.
The Trussell Trust (who feature in the GA have reported that over 100 000 people have used them in the last six months).
The Guardian Datablog has data on the use of Food Banks
Check out CSI Food too on food fakery...

Finally, make sure that you have you…

Robot Flaneur

A flaneur is a wanderer: the term is linked to the idea of psychogeography....
The ROBOT FLANEURwanders randomly through a city of your choice and displays Street View images...
Made by James Bridle
Explore the following cities:
San Francisco
Sao Paulo
Tokyo City

Via Urban Photo Blog on Twitter

I can think of lots of ways of using this to explore urban geography and comparisons between cities in different parts of the world...
A sort of slighty redacted and randomised version of MAPCRUNCH, my session starter of choice...

In the TES

I've written a few things for the Times Educational Supplement.
One of them was published today, on the theme of Geographies of Food. It came with a nice punning title too, which is always a bonus.
The article can be read HERE if you don't have the paper...
There are links to GA Online CPD, Mission Explore Food chapters and Oxfam's GROW campaign.

There's also a link here, with thanks to Madeleine from the RGS-IBG to the Presidential Address by Michael Palin that I referred to in the piece.
Click the link for a PDF download of the speech.

Follow the Things - what did you do with your bag ?

At the GA Conference in April 2012 at the University of Manchester, all delegates were given the chance to pick up a Follow the Things bag.
Follow the Things is a project involving Ian Cook and colleagues at the University of Exeter.

The site explores the connections between consumers in the UK and elsewhere and the unseen others who manufacture their products. It looks at supply chains, transportation and globalisation.

As part of some proposed work that is going to take place in 2013, we'd like to know what you did with your bag.

In the most recent GA NEWSLETTER (be sure to subscribe to make sure that you received yours) there is a request for further information.

What did you do with your bag ? 
How are you using it ? 
Have you followed the weblink on the bag to visit the site ?
Please let me know by commenting here, tweeting me @GeoBlogs, or e-mailing me....

We'll let you know the results in a few months...

Mission:Explore Food Interdependence

You can now download a special PDF 'version' of the Mission:Explore Food book that we've produced for the National Geographic Education team's materials for Geography Awareness Week.

It focuses on the theme of Interdependence.

Link (PDF download - 5Mb)

It's really rather tasty....

TWIG free for Scottish Schools

At the end of last year, and start of this year, I worked on a major writing project to create resources / teacher notes and activities to accompany TWIG Geography films. These films won a BETT Award at the start of the year

TWIG is now free on GLOW: the Scottish intranet.

Twig is an award winning multi-media comprehensive learning resource mapped to Curriculum for Excellence. Explore over 800 short films and 200 learning packs, including brand new content on maths and geographySave time and strengthen pupils' understanding of key conceptsBrowse content by Curriculum for Excellence Outcomes and ExperiencesDownload extensive support materials including quizzes, questions and transcripts If you know a Scottish teacher let them know, and if you are a Scottish teacher... you now know....

Going bananas

While at Dusseldorf airport a few days ago,  I ate a banana.
I noticed that it had a sticker on it.
I visited the website that was mentioned and discovered a rather fine resource for geography teachers which could also make a good cross-curricular MFL project in schools where German is used as a language. Just remember to turn off the browser translation settings...

Dole Earth takes you to the farms where the bananas are grown.
My banana was grown on farm number 10265 so in the absence of a banana, use that code.

Visit the website and you'll find a rather nice farm tour with ambient sounds and plenty of useful information.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Catlin Seafloor Survey

This news article explains the background to a project which I've been slightly involved in on the sidelines for a while now, and am just finishing off the 2nd of a series of resource contributions to what will become a major resource for geography and science teachers. While waiting for a connecting flight in Dusseldorf airport, this was a major feature on the German news, so it's been getting good coverage.

To watch more, take a view at this remarkable video:

The project is in association with Jamie Buchanan Dunlop and the team at Digital Explorer, who have worked with Catlin: the insurance company which is funding this project previously (as did I) on the Frozen Oceans resource pack.

Catlin Seafloor Survey is underway and the first of tens of thousands of images have now been released.
Some remarkable pictures from the tool are available here...

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the World's great places, and a World Heritage Site.

Perhaps with these 'virtual' trips t…

Learning outside the Classroom

We are delighted to announce that the Geography Collectivehas been shortlisted for a Learning outside the Classroom award.

We would be even more delighted if you would consider voting for us, especially if you have been enthused by our Mission:Explore books, app or website, or perhaps been visited by us, seen us at Glastonbury, Latitude or the Hay Festival, ridden on buses in Suffolk, cycled along Sustrans routes in many cities, explored the Great Glen with Discover Explore or in some other geographical context...

We're going to be on the road in the next few months, and also will be running our Geography Camp in December, of which more later...

Please click the link and give us your vote. Thanks :)

New Aimee Mann

Consistently good since 'Whatever' back in 1993 - wow, nearly twenty years ago...
One of best gigs I've been to for its simplicity was Aimee at the Duchess of York in Leeds in 1994...

ICT toolkit books...

Preparing some resources for the course on Geomedia in Salzburg that I am leading next week.

You still have chance to get funding to join me for a repeat of the course in February 2013, and the course is likely to run several times during 2013 - I'd love to see lots of you there... you can get your fees, accommodation and travel paid for.

I'm going to be using several activities from two books which I edited, and were published in April this year.

You really need to have a copy of these books in your departmental library.
They have been selling well, and getting good feedback from users.
You can order them from the GA shop - click to follow the link, and remember that GA members get a discount on purchases, and free P&P

Multimedia made Easy by Paul Cornish

GIS made Easy by Bob Lang

Guerrilla Geography Day

7th November is Guerrilla Geography Day.

You are invited to join in with a global geography project.

The project website is launching soon.
If you'd like to be involved go HERE and sign up with your details and we'll let you know when the main website goes live.

At the same website you'll also find information about our GEOGRAPHY CAMP in December.

One year down

A year ago, I was just coming to terms with the (premature) end of my job at the Geographical Association after three wonderful years, and decided to try things out as a freelance geographer: author, consultant, trainer and whatever else people would pay me to do.
Here's a visual summary of what I've been up to, made with Tagxedo

As it happens, my extensive networking over the previous decade meant that I had a few projects to start in on, the Geography Collective was going from strength to strength, and I was fortunate to get a temporary contract managing the OU's VITAL CPD portal. Paula Owens involved me in a writing job for the BBC, and together we produced a major resource for the Digimap for Schools for EDINA. Thanks also to Richard Allaway, who asked me to write content for his Geography all the Way website and collaborate on an innovative series of eBooks, the first of which is now available to download from the iBookstore.

The writing work I did for the RGS-IBG'…

New on iBook Store: Allaway and Parkinson

For the last few months,Richard Allaway and I have been working away on plans for a series of eBooks for IB Geography.

We have been getting to grips with the iBook Author tool on the Mac, and have produced the first of what will be a series of books for the International Baccalaureate Geography course. We told you about it earlier in the week, and there's been a lot of interest in the book so far.

Download it from the iBookstore

Image: Richard Allaway and I in the Swiss Alps, above Chamonix.


I've used Spotify for some years now as my music streaming service, and have only bought a handful of CDs since - all of them artists whose albums are not on Spotify, or who I particularly wanted to hear in the car or on my Bose...
Some of the big gaps in Spotify include artists such as Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. That ages me..
A big gap disappeared recently with the arrival of Frank Zappa's back catalogue, as I discovered earlier today... Have been revisiting some jagged guitar solos and scatalogical classics....

New GA CPD courses for 2012-13

The latest GA courses for the new academic year have now been published and are on the GA WEBSITE.

The courses in red are the ones I am leading. Look forward to seeing some of you there...

You can download further information and a course flyer from the links. Feel free to use these with colleagues.

Leading urban fieldworkFor primary teachers and geography subject leaders London - Tuesday 16 October 2012
Manchester - Monday 22 October 2012 Further information and online booking
Download course flyer
Price: From £150 Primary geography for the non-specialistFor non-specialist primary teachers, including those who may be taking on the subject responsibility within their school Birmingham - Wednesday 17 October 2012
London - Wednesday 7 November 2012 Further information and online booking
Download course flyer
Price: From £150 Leading a successful geography departmentFor current and aspiring secondary geography subject leaders Birmingham - Thursday 18 October 2012
London - Friday 19 October 2012 Fur…

Little Printer...

I signed up for updates about this little device when I first heard about it...
A mini-printer with a very cool design which produces a customised newspaper from feeds that you set up.

At £199 it's outside my budget but if anyone from @BERGCloud is reading I'm happy to trial one and write about its potential for the UK educational market....

Where's Alan ?

Most popular baby names 2011 according to the ONS

Image copyright: ONS

Reflecting cultural changes and popular celebrities ?

Matt 2012

Thanks David Rogers for posting the link to the latest 2012 update of the classic Dancing Matt videos...
Watch below and then take a look at the associated journal and maps...

Coming on September 1st...

The excitement is building...

Richard Long's Road Graffiti

Have blogged several times about the work of Richard Long and the connection with landscapes.

The recent road race around Box Hill has a few other geographical connections, such as the Olympics geocaches that had been hidden by Sam Atkins and pupils at the Priory School, Portsmouth.

Came across this video of the artwork being made: Road Graffiti, which is inspired by the graffiti written on the roads during the Tour de France.
Also has connections with other artworks made by Long.

Londinium MMXII

Is underway..
Here's Danny Boyle's notes on the event...

Now booking for 2013

I am looking ahead to 2013 and thinking of planning some sort of trans-Atlantic 'tour'. 
I'd like to bring some of the projects that I've been working on to colleagues in the USA and Canada, and have the chance to broaden my personal geographical horizons.

This blog gets many readers from the USA and Canada (as does Living Geography) and I'd like to develop my own practice, as well as sharing what I've been up to for the last three or four years.

There would be a chance for me to work with students, colleagues, college undergraduates or anyone else who wants to involve me. I can work with groups of teachers, individual schools or other educational organisations.

I could talk about a range of areas of geography education that are of international relevance:
- curriculum planning and change
- developing a sense of place
- expanding young people's world view
- developing a sense of the local - with reference to the pack of materials for National Geographic…