Friday, December 21, 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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

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 project, and he was happy to get involved too. He runs a free Minecraft project for schools to get involved with the game. Check it out.

Finally, there seems to be a movie of the creation of Minecraft that has been produced, and the trailer can be seen here - my son will be interested in this:

I'll open the document up to scrutiny and publish it in various places in the New Year so that I can work on it over the Christmas period 
Get in touch if you have something you want to contribute...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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' :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

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 the programme, or show some videos via YouTube or songs via Spotify and analyse the lyrics.
There are some classic songs of course such as 'Ghost Town' by the Specials...

This would work well as an extended project with a group.
I would also recommend doing something perhaps with 'A' level groups to suggest some items, or record a message. Special bonus points to anyone who is featured on the programme...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

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, living and interactive diagrams and graphs, which helps lead to more critical analyses of information. 

Teachers do not always consider new forms of visualising statistical information as part of curriculum courses as they are not explicitly mentioned. As a result, in some secondary schools, many students don’t have an opportunity to learn to work with statistics and computer-based visualisations. 
Therefore, despite the fact that statistics offers powerful tools for information analysis and interpretation, many students are unable to extract meaning from the data and information they are presented with. 

The dilemma is that as more data becomes readily available and the tools for visualising and analysing the data become more sophisticated, the ability to produce useful information from the analyses is outpacing the capacity to use the knowledge productively.

The project will support teachers and learners to explore a world data and create meaning....

It connects with the EU's Digital Agenda 2020 and the INSPIRE directive.

It also links to the release of data which others can use.

One example of this is the ROAD ACCIDENT MAP which has been made available. I feature on that one...
You can follow the progress of the I-USE project on a range of social media strands.
These are now live...

Twitter feed @StatsinEdu
Blog: I use Stats in Edu

Saturday, December 8, 2012

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quality of Life....

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

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 !

Sunday, November 25, 2012

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 school, or come and speak at an assembly about my book 'The Ice Man'... 
Also happy to head across the border into Suffolk or Cambridgeshire if appropriate...

If you live close to the North Norfolk coast, please contact my other Champion colleague Nell Seal.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

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 previous post - useful for getting students onto Google Earth and trying some of the tools... The competition element is closed but you can still play for fun (or for learning....)

4. Why not design an HQ for a James Bond villain on Google Earth. Noel Jenkins has previously planned an activity similar to this which made use of Google Earth's submarine imagery (don't forget this) to plan the location for an underwater lair....
You could also use Google/Trimble SketchUp to build your lair. Remember that there's plenty of advice on how to use SketchUp at the Google Teacher Institute site.

Spoiler alert !
5. One of the plot lines features the London Underground. There are some tense scenes as Bond pushes through overcrowded platforms heaving with people, and yet is able to move through the carriages inside and open all the connecting doors... (don't forget to suspend disbelief...)
Research the other 'lost' or hidden stations on the London Underground
Perhaps produce a 'Bond' line for the Underground. The tube map has previously been used to add artists, teachers, bands and a huge range of other cultural elements.... The Great Bear, for example, by Simon Patterson.

Perhaps there could be a tube line with the bond girls, or the villains, or the cars/gadgets/gimmicks in each film...
"A return to Pussy Galore please..."
Get hold of a blank London map for this - there are several online.
Perhaps this could be an opportunity for urban regeneration too, with the closed stations reopened for some new use....

There was also a map of London at the centre of a key scene in the film, when 'Q' decodes a virus planted by the main villain of the film.

6. A useful set of images and captions from Klaus Dodds. The full article about the geopolitics of Bond is here.

Geography is critical to the James Bond series. When Ian Fleming invented the superspy James Bond he did so writing at his home Goldeneye in Jamaica. Having been a wartime naval spy, Fleming was eager to convey a strong sense of intrigue and excitement. Bond could not have any old mission. He had to be seen to be travelling to interesting and indeed exotic places that most of his western readers could only have dreamt about.

Is that still possible in the days of global travel ? Perhaps that's why familiar locations are re-presented in the latest film ?

7. I was a little stuck for the 7th idea, so I put out a tweet to ask for suggestions from my network...

Here are some of the excellent suggestions which I hadn't thought of, and which were in some cases better than the ones I had...

- create a map of the countries that James Bond has visited - this could be done using the Big Huge Labs Map Maker perhaps
- could then compare this map with staff at the school or students from a group - who has travelled the most like Bond ? (perhaps Miss Map-a-penny)
- explore James Bond Island - also called Khao Phing Kan 
- create a list of the key information that people who have never seen a James Bond film should know to ensure that their critical literacy is brought up to date (a la E.D Hirsch)
- explore locations used in earlier films such as the oilfields of Baku in Azerbaijan - how have they changed since they were featured in the film
- investigate different ice roads e.g. Ice Road Truckers - where are rivers used as roads ?
- what is James Bond's carbon footprint ? how could it be reduced ?
- explore Glo-Bond-isation - the spread of the travels, but also the franchise...

Thanks to the following Tweeters for responding to my request for help:
@Annefgreaves @Anguswillson @mapsinter @go_geo @mrjmutton @primageographer @eslweb

Finally, thanks to Oli Mould for sending through a link to an island off the coast of Japan which formed the main location for a crucial scene in the film with the villain. The amazing island is called 'Battleship Island' because of the way it looks (see the image below) or Hashima.
One for the Urban explorers....

Perhaps the Sandy Island that was in the news was actually the hideout for a villain who then moved it as he'd been discovered ?

Feel free to add further ideas below as comments....

Friday, November 23, 2012

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...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

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.... :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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

Monday, November 12, 2012

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 in early 2013.

I'll let you know more about how things are developing with the project over the next couple of months, and look forward to seeing some of you soon on a windswept sandur, or cramponing over a crevasse-strewn glacier...

Alan Hubertsson (my special Iceland-Explorer name...)

Friday, November 9, 2012

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 United Kingdom. They describe themselves in the following way: "We are a collective of geography activists, teachers, therapists, academics, artists, and guerrillas. We've come together to encourage [young] people to see our world in new ways."
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.....
I can't help feeling that truly creative approaches to geography learning are discouragingly few and far between right now. Too few people are even thinking about geography education, and those who are still focus too much on incremental improvements rather than entirely new approaches. We should take the Geography Collective members and others like them as inspiration. We must challenge ourselves to think more creatively and seek out and promote the creative ideas of others.

Thanks Daniel :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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 book has 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 version of the same event, where I'll run through the event.

It's going to take place on the 6th of November: the day after the Somerset conference, and will be an online event starting at 6pm.

Come back at the weekend, and I'll post a link through to the event, or you can visit the VITAL PORTAL page to see details about how to subscribe to the Vital Geography portal (if you don't already) and access the content....

The cultural importance of landscape will be explored, along with the threats that it faces....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

'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...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

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 development opportunities and a wide choice of activities will immerse participants in the local environment as they gather relevant learning and resources to enhance teaching and learning for years to come.
What would we do, exactly?
That depends on the group’s objectives.  The visits are carefully structured to suit the curriculum needs and particular interests of the group members; for example, some may choose to gather material for a case study of an Indian village, the rapidly changing city of Bangalore, or the environmental issue of water.  There will be opportunities to discover Indian music, art, dance, cookery and story.  We could visit temples to understand more about Hinduism and Indian village rituals.  We could visit a wide range of schools, local markets, farms, temples, and the ancient city of Mysore, plus study local wildlife; and most people choose to shop for artefacts and resources for their school.  Photographic opportunities abound in this region of India.
Where, in Southern India?
We will stay at “Sangam”, a small residential education centre on the edge of the village of Silvepura, 25 km north of Bangalore.
Find 13 06 55.00N, 77 30 09.75E in Google Earth/Maps.
Food and water is locally sourced and prepared on site.
Who will lead this visit?
The group leader will be Ben King, Head of Year 7, Head of Learning to Learn and Teacher of Geography at a school in Torbay, Devon.  He visited Sangam in February 2007 with 9 other teachers.  In India the visit will be hosted and led by Imogen and Kiran Sahi, both teachers, who live and work at Sangam.  Alongside founding and running Sangam, Imogen is an Education training consultant for the British Council, and Kiran is consultant design faculty at a local Institute of Art.
How much will it cost?
£600 will cover all costs in India (accommodation, food, study packs, travel, and admin.)  The airfare is currently around £550-£600.  You will also need a visa (£39), some vaccinations, and travel insurance.
What to do if you are interested.
 Please visit Look at “Next teacher study visits 2013” and read more.  See in particular the “further information” about this particular visit, and also read about previous visits.
 Download the document, “How to join the visit” which gives details of timings.
 Download an application form, and post to Ben King by Friday February 15th 2013 at the latest.
Applications will be reviewed as per received, and appropriate applications will be given places on a first-come basis.
 Attend the essential preparation session, where you will share objectives, and hear full information and advice about travel, health and cultural issues.

Group leader: Ben King, Head of Year 7, Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Brixham, Devon  TQ5 0LN. E-mail:

Friday, October 19, 2012

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..

Thursday, October 18, 2012

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 for the Geography classroom.
A compass icon is used to identify specific locations - tapping information when this is located over a particular place brings up a range of detail for about 200 000 locations, which goes beyond what would be possible in a paper based product.

The seven thematic globes, which include Physical, Political and Satellite, will be added to in the future. Each globe has a range of layers which can be laid over the globe to visualise a data set e.g. population density or the location of a particular biome. Users can swipe between globes and layers to cross-reference data, or choose to display places according to particular indicators. This would enable enquiry tasks to be set up, although at present only one layer can be added at a time.

One major advantage is that amendments to the atlas - the world isn't a static place of course - can be added to future updates of the app. This is obviously something that would not be possible in a paper atlas, which can quickly go out of date. Geography matters.... Boundaries change.... New countries are created.

Display mirroring, or use of the Reflection app (which I have blogged about previously) would enable the atlas to be displayed, and to be used via an IWB or data projector. I actually found that the atlas was perhaps easier to use on the iPhone than on the iPad, although this is obviously a matter of personal preference. The globes certainly look impressive, floating in space and look as if they are sitting there waiting to be manipulated and used. They invite further exploration.
The navigation is intuitive and crisp, and a brief tutorial with labelled screenshots is available for first time users.

Check out this rather nice video which introduces the app...

The app is set to grow with further globes and functionality over time, so this is a resource with longevity built in. Further layers, perhaps with added granularity would be worthwhile, as would the ability to view more than one layer at a time and swipe between them.

There is also a range of supporting material on the website.

A range of How To videos shows the operation of the major features of the app. Some materials for education with ideas to support its introduction into the classroom would be useful perhaps. The app is designed for a range of users, but offers the potential to provide young learners with an atlas that they will enjoy exploring.

Disclaimer: as mentioned in a previous post, I have had a free evaluation copy of this app for the last month...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

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...

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....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

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 your copy of MISSION:EXPLORE FOOD - you can get it from Guardian Books, Eye Books or Amazon...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Robot Flaneur

A flaneur is a wanderer: the term is linked to the idea of psychogeography....
The ROBOT FLANEUR wanders 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...

Friday, October 12, 2012

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.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

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....

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

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.
If you know a Scottish teacher let them know, and if you are a Scottish teacher... you now know....

Monday, October 1, 2012

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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

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 there will be less need for people to physically visit the areas which are threatened and fragile, or will they actually encourage more people to visit them ?

I'll keep you posted on the resources as they are produced. Jamie is heading out to Australia shortly to work on some video materials. The final pack is due out at the end of the year, or early 2013.... 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Learning outside the Classroom

We are delighted to announce that the Geography Collective has 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 :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

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...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

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.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

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's From the Field, working to translate the research of PhD colleagues, was later awarded a GA Silver Award, as was the Geography Collective's Our books had won a National Trust / Hay Festival Outdoor Book of the Year Award, and we were also runners-up at the Educational Writers' Awards, with the ceremony held at the House of Commons. I produced a set of resources on the Frozen Oceans for Jamie Buchanan Dunlop which are now used in hundreds of schools, and we've worked on a few more things as well...

I wrote a book for Badger publishing: a GCSE Grade Booster, which was published in April. I also have a children's book on Otzi the Ice Man due for publication in November 2012.

Karl Donert involved me in a range of EU projects, and steered another one to successfully gaining funding. This took me to Europe several times, and my passport will continue to get regular use for the next few years. The digitalearth project took me to Manchester for the GA's conference where I met the tireless Joseph Kerski. Paul Baker involved me in Independent School events.

I've found myself in many different hotels once again, and there have been plenty of highlights, and also lots of lonely days staring at a screen willing ideas. Some moments that stick out from the last year involve:

  • splashing along muddy towpaths on the outskirts of Leeds on my bike writing 'missions' for SUSTRANS 
  • standing on the viewpoint at over 3000m on the Aiguille du' Midi with Richard Allaway and staring at the clouds we'd just passed through in the cablecar
  • crunching through the snow in Salzburg on a Sunday morning as the churches in the city competed with each other to have the loudest bells
  • presenting at BETT and then heading across London to the Outdoor Show to join the Geography Collective on their stand
  • sailing up the Solent on a tall ship, and taking the helm
  • walking on the frozen ice of the Worthersee (don't try this at home kids)
  • attending the book launch of Mission:Explore Food at Hackney City Farm
  • walking around the Olympic Park with John Widdowson and a school group

Oh, and I have a book manuscript co-written with John Widdowson, which has to be on the desk of Ruth Totterdell at the GA first thing Monday morning !
Here's to my 2nd year of freelancing. Unless I get an offer to entice me back into the classroom somewhere in Norfolk, I'll carry on doing what I'm doing for a while yet.

And I have a reasonable number of diary slots through into 2013 if you fancy getting me involved with something you have planned...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

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....

Monday, August 20, 2012

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 fieldwork

For primary teachers and geography subject leaders
London - Tuesday 16 October 2012
Manchester - Monday 22 October 2012
Price: From £150

Primary geography for the non-specialist

For 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
Price: From £150

Leading a successful geography department

For current and aspiring secondary geography subject leaders
Birmingham - Thursday 18 October 2012
London - Friday 19 October 2012
Price: From £160

Google Earth and beyond: free online GIS

For secondary geography teachers
Leeds - Thursday 18 October 2012
London - Thursday 25 October 2012
Price: From £160

Planning for Ofsted with the Quality Mark Self Evaluation Form

For secondary and post-16 geography teachers and subject leaders
London - Tuesday 23 October 2012
Birmingham - Friday 30 November 2012
Price: From £160

NQT Conference: Making a difference in the classroom

For secondary geography NQTs
York - Thursday 8 November 2012
London - Thursday 15 November 2012
Price: From £160

Outstanding teaching and learning in primary geography

For primary teachers and subject co-ordinators
Manchester - Monday 28 January 2013
York - Monday 4 March 2013
London - Friday 15 March 2013
Price: From £150

Managing safe and effective fieldwork for IGCSE geography

For secondary geography teachers involved in delivering the new IGCSE
Leeds - Monday 4 February 2013
London - Tuesday 5 February 2013
Price: From £160

Being Ofsted ready with the PGQM

For primary geography subject leaders, middle leaders and head teachers
London - Tuesday 5 March 2013
Nottingham - Monday 11 March 2013
Price: From £150

Fieldwork and new technologies

For post-16 geography teachers
Birmingham - Thursday 7 March 2013
London - Thursday 14 March 2013
Price: From £160

    Leading through primary geography

    For primary teachers and geography subject leaders
    Birmingham - Friday 3 May 2013
    London - Wednesday 15 May 2013
    Price: From £150

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    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....

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Where's Alan ?

    Most popular baby names 2011 according to the ONS

    Image copyright: ONS

    Reflecting cultural changes and popular celebrities ?

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    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...

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Sunday, July 29, 2012

    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.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Londinium MMXII

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

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    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's Geography Awareness Materials for 2011, which I co-wrote and the Guerrilla Geography approach of Mission:Explore
    - connecting teachers and connecting classrooms using technology

    There's quite a lot to be decided yet about how all this might work, but it would be good to get a sense for the level of interest in the potential for this...

    I also need to have a think of how this might be funded. Are there grants available locally for visiting speakers, teacher development in your area ? Do you have a budget for teacher development ?

    Get in touch if you have any thoughts about this or would like to talk about things further....