Thursday, May 31, 2012

Google World Wonders launches...

Google World Wonders is a site which I contributed some Educational materials for a while ago, and have been waiting for it to launch - that wait ended today. Thanks to Keir Clarke for the tip-off once again. The site features a range of CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY locations....

The website offers the chance to explore a number of World Heritage sites. Here's the description from Google.

This new project from Google that allows you to take a virtual trip around 132 of the World's most famous historical and cultural sites. The sites includes historically important locations, such as Stonehenge and Pompeii and also natural wonders, such as the sandy dunes of Australia’s Shark Bay and the rock domes of Yosemite National Park. 
Google World Wonders uses Google Maps, Google Street View and Google Earth 3d models to explore these 132 historical locations. Each location also includes YouTube videos and photographs from Getty Images.

Information about each location is also provided by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

There is a cool spinning globe which shows the locations that are featured, and some of them also have additional educational resources which are available as downloadable zip files. There is a useful one on the Jurassic Coast, and the less familiar Ogasawara Islands.

 You can download a useful leaflet on how to use this for Primary and Secondary uses. This is the cover of the Secondary booklet, with 'stamps' showing some of the destinations. This design is used for the educational materials too...

The site offers the chance to explore a number of WORLD HERITAGE sites, and there are more to come (including the resources that I wrote for one of the destinations shown on the stamps....)

Wonder if this will feature in the Google GeoTeachers Institutes in June ?

Monday, May 28, 2012

VITAL Teachshare tomorrow night

Join Richard Allaway and myself tomorrow night (Tuesday the 29th of May) at 7pm for a VITAL Teachshare.
We shall talk about the development of Richard's Geography all the Way website, show some of the activities and how they developed, and share some plans for the future development of the site.

A chance to talk to the creator of one of the best geography websites out there... oh, and Richard too... ;)

You also have a few days left to order your very own GATW T-shirt or hoodie....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Picture of London

One of the projects that I have pencilled in for the summer is some major writing for IB Geography, including a unit on Urban Environments. As a result I've been collecting a whole range of resources to provide inspiration for some creative tasks...

Last night I had an hour out in the middle of Eurovision to catch this wonderful programme on BBC2.
It was A Picture of London told through the eyes of taxi drivers, crane operators, Big Issue sellers, street cleaners etc. Some wonderful stories and archive films, and the odd John Martin painting...
Also great visualisations of how London might have looked if some of the architects' plans had actually been built...

You should try to catch the programme on iPlayer before it disappears.

From its early years until the present day, London has provided powerful, emotional inspiration to artists.
This documentary evokes the city as seen by painters, photographers, film-makers and writers through the ages; the perspectives of Dickens, Hogarth, Turner, Virginia Wolfe, Monet and Alfred Hitchcock alongside those of contemporary Londoners who tread the streets of the city every day.
All these people have found beauty and inspiration in London's dirt and grime.
Architects and social engineers have strived to organise London, but painters, writers and many more have revelled in its labyrinthine unruliness.
This is the story of a city that tried to impose order on its streets, but actually discovered time after time that its true character lay in an unplanned, chaotic nature.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baku: to the future...

This weekend sees an annual cultural event: the Eurovision Song Contest.
It is being held in Baku: the capital of Azerbaijan

Richard Allaway and I saw this poster in the back streets of Geneva a couple of weeks ago while heading for some fondue... The main image shows the famous 'flame towers'. There's some great architecture in the city, although there are some people who are concerned about certain issues regarding democracy in the country.

Here's the running order - looks like we kick things off !

  10. ITALY
  12. NORWAY
  16. GREECE
  17. SWEDEN
  18. TURKEY
  19. SPAIN
  21. MALTA
  24. SERBIA
Perhaps time to dust off and update Tony Cassidy's classic Eurovision resources...

Here's the HUMP in action....

 or perhaps you prefer someone older...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mission:Explore at the Hay Festival

Members of the Geography Collective will be present at the Hay Festival next weekend. This is one of the highlights of the annual cultural circuit. We're doing various missions and activities, and also spreading the word about Mission:Explore FOOD.

We have also created the map for the Hay Fever area - illustrated by Tom Morgan Jones. Click for biggery....
This means being on the same bill as Andy Stanton author of my son's favourite Mr. Gum books....

And, here we are in today's copy of 'The Sun' newspaper...

...leading lights of guerrilla geography... boom....

If you're going to Hay Festival next weekend, come and find the guerrilla geographers and say hi !

Launch of Teachit Geography

One of the final jobs that I completed for the GA was to liaise with Katie and Chris at Teachit to prepare the materials for the launch of Teachit Geography.
It's great to see that the site is now LIVE and is ready for you to REGISTER or SUBSCRIBE to....

You can register to look at the FREE content.

There are currently over 450 pages of resources on the site, and that number grows daily...
I have worked with a list of wonderful people who have contributed resources so far, but you can join them by submitting your own resources.
Resources can be discovered using a simple search process with key words to help you find what you want quickly.

A year's personal subscription is just £15 (see later for a special GA offer...)

There are also some 'Whizzy things': interactives which can be used in the classroom, or in planning interesting resources with students. I particularly like the Decision Maker, which would help to visualise DME tasks.
An image bank, newsletter, a chance to save your favourite resources in a favourites area and a Wiki based list of Geography websites completes the package so far.

Here's the information on a special offer for GA members...

Finally, it's worth saying that TeachIt History launches in July...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Say Cheese...

...and you think of parmesan...
Now it seems that there may be a problem for some of the producers of this foodstuff, which is an important element of the role of food in defining the cultural identity of Italy.
The cheese has to be produced in a particular part of Italy to receive its PGI labelling.

It was specifically this area where the earthquake happened at the weekend.
Several large warehouses were damaged by the earthquake, with thousands of wheels of parmesan being affected.

Sky News report has details on the impacts...

The Scotsman had the best headline on this story.

I am wary of being too light hearted in tone, as sadly people lost their lives in the earthquake.

This should underpin the teaching of any natural hazard.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Lake

Just remembered today that Lac Leman in Geneva, pictured below was the Lake referred to in the title of one of my favourite pieces of music: Mike Oldfield's 1984 classic...
Image: Alan Parkinson
I remember this being an important piece of music when I was in my final year of undergraduate studies, when you had to chase down music...
Picture taken a week last Thursday on the shores of the lake in glorious sunshine...
Listen to it now, turn the speakers up loud...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Send my Friend to School 2012

Thanks to Karen from Action Aid for getting in touch to tell me about the latest incarnation of Send my Friend to School.

The Global Campaign for Education are offering free resources as part of the Send My Friend to School campaign, which are suitable for pupils at KS2 & KS3. Every school that signs up will receive a free resource pack including a DVD, set of posters and stickers by post and more lesson plans, films, background information and resources on the website at   

There are already over 5600 schools signed up

To view the campaign DVD go to:

Each year the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) invites parents, teachers, children and young people from around the world to call on governments to work to keep their promise to provide education for all by 2015. Most years about 6,000 UK schools take part in the campaign. Time is running out to get universal primary education by 2015, so we hope more schools will take part than ever before!

This year UK schoolchildren are being invited to add their voice to the Olympic-inspired Send My Friend to School campaign and urge world leaders to ‘go for gold’ and get the 67 million children worldwide who are missing out on school a quality primary education by 2015. With athletes flocking to London this year to test their abilities in hundreds of sporting events, this is an opportunity to reflect on another important race, the Great Global Education Race 2000 - 2015. 

In 2000 world leaders promised – as part of the Millennium Development Goals - that every child would complete a quality primary education by 2015. Since then millions of children in Africa, Asia and Latin America went to school, for the firsttime. But like a marathon runner, the Great Global Education Race has hit a wall. The number of children out of school has stayed stubbornly at 67 million for 2 years now, with only 3 years to the finishing line.

This year the Send My Friend to School campaign is asking UK pupils to:

·       Explore the issues of the great global education race: watch the DVD and animation, play the on-line game and use the story bank to learn about of the lives of children who miss out on school

·       Create a message: use the templates to make a medal and add messages to urge world leaders to ‘go for gold’ and keep their promise of education for all by 2015

·       Spread the word: hold assemblies and events, invite your MP in and tell your local media what you have been doing

·       Make it count: Send your messages to your MP before the end of June and add the number of people who took part at your school to our online totaliser at

Every year we are so impressed with the huge numbers of schools that take part in the campaign, but also the level of their involvement and the obvious passion that pupils here feel about their peers overseas who miss out on school. We hope that thousands of schools will take part in our Olympic-themed campaign this year and use the range of creative learning, campaigning and fun activities designed for the whole school to use and become global active citizens this summer term of 2012.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Geography of Moshi

One of my daughters interests is Moshi Monsters.
She has a fairly extensive range of merchandise, although there is far more than would fit into her bedroom if she had it all....
I read recently about the founder of the Moshi empire who, it turns out, is a geography graduate.

I wondered whether there was a chance to explore the geographical potential of this very popular creation. It could even be an opportunity to explore the geography of Moshi world, the particular ways that Moshi creatures deal with extremes of climate, the cities that they live in, the demographics of Moshi World etc...

Given the popularity of MOSHI MONSTERS (found at the weekend that they actually put the boxes in a special security box at a local shop as people were opening up the boxes in order to get the particular ones they wanted)

Saw a Moshi Monsters egg the other month in Covent Garden too - pictured....

There was also the fairly recent mention of MOSHI MONSTERS at a technology event in Edinburgh as reported in the TESS.

What are the other geographical connections that can be made with these popular creatures ?

A month away...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dan Raven Ellison: Emerging Explorer

I can finally share some news I heard about a few months ago, but which has now been made public...
Daniel Raven Ellison, friend and colleague at the Geography Collective has been named as one of National Geographic's 2012 Emerging Explorers.

The press release is here.
Dan is given the honour alongside other 'visionary young trailblazers' around the world.

The 2012 Emerging Explorers are U.S. cyborg anthropologist Amber Case; U.K. digital storyteller and zoologist Lucy Cooke; U.K. behavioral ecologist Iain Couzin; Mexican underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda; chemist Yu-Guo Guo of China; conservationist Osvel Hinojosa Huerta of Mexico; U.S. pilot and educator Barrington Irving; conservation biologist Krithi Karanth of India; Swiss crisis mapper Patrick Meier; U.S. archaeologist Sarah Parcak; U.S. data scientist Jake Porway; U.K. guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison; U.S. archaeologist Jeffrey Rose; engineer and renewable energy advocate Ibrahim Togola of Mali; and archaeologist Daniel Torres Etayo of Cuba

Dan's full profile is HERE

Guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison brings the spirit of adventure to geographic education, allowing people to see the world — and the field of geography — in new and surprising ways. Guerrilla geography challenges people, especially children, to explore the world around them, engaging in creative play, making new discoveries and forming community connections. Through technologies that allow users to share their experiences digitally, guerrilla geography not only educates but also inspires young people to explore their world in ways that stretch their minds and bodies, and motivates them to educate others and take action in their own communities. His Urban Earth films demonstrate guerrilla geography in action. He has walked across 13 cities, taking photographs every eights steps and editing them to create films to reveal new perspectives on how to experience cities. His program/website, Mission:Explore, and a series of award-winning kids' books of the same name encourage youth to go on adventures to learn about the world. 

This is great news and very well deserved....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Open University VITAL CPD Portal

Just added the 101st TOP TIP to the VITAL Geography Portal that I manage.

Individual subscriptions are just £10 for the year...

Details about the Portal are here.

Details of the latest SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS for schools are here...

I also added the letters 'H' and 'I' to the Word of the Week column.

If you were choosing geographical terms to represent the letters 'J', 'K' and 'L' what would you choose - each word needs an image that you have taken to represent it too....

Quite a few ideas in the book started out life on the OU VITAL CPD portal... It's a good place to communicate ideas....

Watch out for an online Teachshare which will feature the book coming soon...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Londinium MMXII

In the spirit of the forthcoming global sporting event that we are all anticipating, I have spent some time over the last few weeks putting together what might be said to be a more 'critical' look at some of the impacts of the event on a range of geographical themes. I visited the Olympics Park last month, and did a full circuit of the area around it in the company of a school group...

I then followed up a few thoughts on what might be the issues with holding this event in London. A lot of focus has been on the legacy of the games, and for me there are some issues with the way that the Olympics park will benefit the area that surrounds it, and the benefits for the Olympics to the country as a whole...

In the spirit of encouraging slightly more 'critical' geographers, here are some potential discussion points to follow up further....

If anyone has other suggestions, please comment or get in touch...


And just to show that it's not all anti-Olympics, here's my son's Team GB duck: Goldie...

Images by Alan Parkinson

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Just ordered...

Classic album...

I'm losing all control
I'm down to the center of the earth

Covered up with lava and I feel fine
It washes over me
Keeps me feeling warm at night

Hoover Dam

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Robert MacFarlane

There's an event in London in June where you can hear Robert MacFarlane talk about his new book 'The Old Ways'. I am due to be in London I think on that day and will try to go along if the timings work.....

How do the landscapes we love shape the people we are? Why do we walk? Join celebrated travel writer Robert Macfarlane for an evening exploring geography, memory, pilgrimage and adventure. For several years and more than a thousand miles, Macfarlane has been following the vast network of old paths and routes that criss-cross Britain and its waters, and connect them to countries and continents beyond. His journeys have taken him from the chalk downs of southern England to the remote bird-islands of the Scottish north-west, from the disputed territories of Palestine to the pilgrimage routes of Spain and the sacred landscapes of the eastern Himalayas. Along the way – along the ways – he has walked stride for stride with a 5,000-year-old man near Liverpool, followed the 'deadliest path in Britain', sailed an open boat far out into the Atlantic along an ancient sea-road, and crossed paths with walkers of many kinds: wanderers, wayfarers, shamans, trespassers, poets, devouts, ghosts and dawdlers. 

Join us for what will be an enthralling account of the ghosts and voices that haunt old tracks, of songlines and their singers, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, and of rights of way and rites of way.

There is also live streaming on the page of the event if you can't make it...