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...