Thursday, July 25, 2013

Make the most of the summer break...

We're now just over the half way stage...

Providing a daily dose of adventure, the Mission:Explore virtual Summer Camp challenges children to explore nature in your local neighbourhood, park or holiday destination. Can you photograph an alien invasion, cross a park without being caught out by a squirrel or travel 100 metres without being seen? 

"Using the site is easy" explained Tim, a 9-year-old Mission:Explorer. "There is a map that you can explore to find missions to do. I chose one that I wanted to do, then went outside to do it. Yesterday I went exploring wearing a mask, pretending that I was someone else. Once I'm done, I share a mission report on the website and collect badges".

By visiting the site you can sign up for daily outdoor activities, which are e-mailed to you, or browse a wide range of badges that your children can collect.

As Dan Raven Ellison says:

"Many of the activities on the site can seem a bit ridiculous - things like becoming a unicorn, climbing the height of a mountain on a staircase or making yourself a nest... but there is a serious side to what we are doing. Our activities inspire children to explore, play and learn outdoors and in nature. They can benefit children's health and education as well as help busy parents by providing lots of ideas for things they can do with their children".

The Mission:Explore virtual Summer Camp runs for 100 days until September and includes activities that have been created by National Geographic, The Great Nature Project, the John Muir Trust, City Farmers, Thames Water, UK National Parks, the RSPB, Ramblers Wales and a growing number of outdoor exploration and education organisations. Over 100 inspiring activities are available on the website.

If you have children, join the Summer Camp ( - complete some missions today, and banish boredom forever!

Check out some of the missions you may have missed....

  1. Shuffle exploration - Explore while you listen to music on shuffle. Each time the music shuffles, shuffle your way of exploring.
  2. Find something... - Find something hard, soft, sticky, crumbly, silly, cool, brown, tiny, massive, smelly, mean, round, flat, strange, normal, straight, flying, underneath and something new.
  3. Squirrel skirmish - Cross a park without being seen by a squirrel. 
  4. Become an extreme stair climber - Climb to the top of the world's highest places without leaving home.
  5. Walk straight! - Visit a wood. How far can you walk in a straight line without bumping into a single tree?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Atlas of Food

Last year, I helped support a planned Atlas of Food, which was being produced by a group of Guerrilla Cartographers.
The aim was to create an atlas of food, from a range of contributors.

The Geography Collective contributed a special selection of images from the Mission:Explore Food book, with a sample of missions, and this was included in the final book.

There are lots of overlaps here with the work I'm doing at the moment with Follow the Things too, as many of the maps tell the cultural story of food, and connections with wider stories...

The e-Atlas can now be downloaded as a PDF from the website.

This is an excellent resource, and I will be using this with Year 7 students next year....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Follow the Things

A couple of weeks after my last sojourn down to Newquay, it was down to Exeter last week, to work with Ian Cook at the University of Exeter on new classroom page(s) for the Follow the 
Things website to be launched shortly...
The work is described HERE. 
Here's a draft layout of one of the pages.... It'll look a little like this....

Screen shot 2013-07-11 at 22.34.51

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 12.23.02 PM

What is

  • It’s an online shopping website, if you understand ‘shopping’ to involve betraying the origins of things, like you might ‘shop’ a person to the police.
  • It’s designed to have the look, feel and architecture of familiar online stores.
  • It’s stocked with examples of art work, documentary film, journalism, activism, academic, student and other work revealing the lives of everyday things, i.e. the relations between their producers and consumers hidden by commodity fetishism.
  • It shows how their makers tried to make these relations apparent, visible, tangible in ways that might move their audiences to act by trying to make them feel guilty, shocked, appreciative, awkward and/or involved in other people’s lives and work.
  • It researches what its makers and viewers have said online about each example: what it aimed to do, how it was made, what discussions it provoked, and what impacts it had.
  • It’s full of quotations that are arranged so that they read like a conversation, a conversation that can move from the computer screen  into the classroom as teachers create lesson plans and schemes of work with its contents.
  • It aims to inform and inspire new ‘follow the things’ work (by teachers, their students, as well as artists, filmmakers, journalists and others), which we hope to publish on the site too. Some examples of new work have already been published.
  • It has become a popular website for teachers looking to engage their students in North-South relations via the geographies of commodities. So, we’re working on a new ‘classroom page’ to bright together materials and ideas already developed for this purpose
There have been further new sections added recently, including a new SHIPPING page, and also a PEER REVIEW section which shows where the site has been referenced in other papers / websites etc.
I've been involved in the creation of a new CLASSROOM page, and it's good to see it taking shape with some draft layouts HERE.

For a quick introduction to some of the key ideas, you can download an article that Ian co-wrote with a number of colleagues

Made In ? explores some of the connections between commodities and consumers (PDF download)

There are also going to be several teacher BLOGS which are going to follow a number of colleagues who are teaching. The first one by Oprah has now been published.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Prince's Teaching Institute event in London

It was down to the 30 degree heat of London yesterday.
I was off to Drapers' Hall in the City, a short distance from the Gherkin, and round the corner from the Bank of England.
The venue was rather grand, with the Livery Hall having been used for filming scenes in 'The King's Speech', for example.

After five years of working for the GA and a freelancer, this was my final CPD session before heading back into the classroom.

I was asked to talk about authentic learning, and prepared a workshop-style session which ended up being slightly more of a provocation session providing some ideas for bringing case studies to life using outside influences, up-to-date contexts and a sprinkle of technology...

There were some familiar faces in the audience. Thanks to Ruth Totterdell, Graham Goldup and Maria Larkin for the invitation. They'd wanted to involve me in Prince's Teaching Institute sessions for a while, but this was the first opportunity.

My warm-up man in the morning session was John Widdowson, with whom I've co-written a book on 'Fieldwork through Enquiry', which will be published later this year.
John has spent several years working in the area around the Olympic Park, and provided a wealth of up-to-date information on the transformation that is taking place in the area around the Olympic Park. There were some really useful materials provided for the delegates.

If you want to spend some time with John in and around the Olympic Park, some options are here.

It was a hot day to be in London, but enjoyable...

Out latest Mission:Explore booklet...

In association with the RSPB...

The RSPB Big Wild Sleepout will take place over the summer.

Follow the link for ideas to while away the warm summer evenings...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Barefoot World Atlas - free at the moment

A range of apps have gone free on the App store...
Some of them are mentioned on this Mashable post. I heard via Twitter from Clare Rafferty first thing this morning...

The Barefoot World Atlas is the first app that I installed - thankfully, I'd had a clear out recently and had the 1Gb+ of space that it takes...
This was developed with the assistance of Nicholas Crane and looks rather nice...
Get it while you can at 'my favourite price'....

Also check out some of the other free apps too....

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July

A day late perhaps... a belated Happy 4th of July to all my American visitors and readers... :)