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