Saturday, November 10, 2018

GA Presidential election bid - some details here

Instead of spending phone credit on voting for the X Factor favourites, I'd like you to consider whether you might want to support me for the role of GA President.
This starts with an election for the Junior Vice President, which would be from 2019-20.
This is followed by the position of Vice President from 2020-2021, President for 2021-2022, and Past President for 2022-2023.

I was asked to submit a 200 word statement as part of the process, which will be placed on the GA website, and the voting will open early in the New Year and close towards the end of February.
You have to be a GA member to have a vote.

Here's my statement:

I have been a GA member since PGCE days in 1986. In 2004, I joined the Secondary Committee and am currently Secretary.
Between 2008 and 2011 I worked as the GA’s Secondary Curriculum leader: part of the team delivering the Action Plan for Geography. I have led many GA CPD events and talks at GA branches across the country. I wrote a significant proportion of the GA website, worked as liaison with GA strategic partners, worked on the Young People’s Geographies project and authored several books for the GA.
I’ve written the GA’s Webwatch column for 12 years, contributed articles to all GA publications and worked with numerous publishers and companies.
I am a Primary Geography Champion, consultant to the GA, worked on European projects on behalf of the GA, and also for the Open University. 
My work during the Action Plan helped change the nature of the GA’s support for teachers , and my Presidential ams would be to revisit this powerful work, refresh connections with RGS-IBG, and promote geographical exploration in various guises.

I’m a full time Head of Geography, blogger, author and tireless supporter of colleagues at all levels, promoting the value of Geography, and received the RSGS’s Tivy Medal in 2013.

I've done far more for the GA of course than can be put into a 200 word statement.

A few more additions for you to consider (not an exhaustive list):

I've presented sessions for the Princes' Teaching Institute Teacher Days.
I set up the GA Ning and GA Primary Champions Ning and supported Champions through their launch event, as well as working as a Champion since.
Took part in the Young People's Geographies project which was an early co-construction project, based around the OCR Pilot GCSE project partly, and which introduced me to Ian Cook and other academic geographers.
Supported the work of the Making Geography Happen project.
Introduced social media aspects to the GA: the Twitter feed now has around 18000 followers.
Served on working groups at previous times of curriculum change, including sessions with HMI OFSTED, SSAT, Awarding bodies and others to shape the GA offering for teachers, the development of the website, and changes to journals.
Member of OCR Geography Consultative Forum group, which meets in Cambridge and Coventry and helped inform specification change, and the support for teachers in the first few years of the new specifications.

Ran the Open University's Vital Portal between 2011 and 2013, producing resources for fellow teachers.
Worked for the GA, along with representatives of other subject associations, to develop courses and assessments for the Diplomas, which ended up not going ahead after a year of work - along with my work on BBC Jam, which never saw the light of day.
Contributed articles to 'The Guardian' and TES on technology in geography.
This was also connected with early work representing the association in the development of Functional Skills materials which were disseminated nationally.
Attended Geography Teacher Educators' Conference and presented four times.

Worked with Follow the Things, TUI, Google, BBC, Royal Geographical Society (numerous projects), Digimap for Schools, Digimap for Colleges, EDINA and other too numerous to list here...

Won a number of GA Silver Awards and Highly Commended Awards for Mission:Explore, Frozen Oceans, and other projects.

Helped judge the GA Publisher's Awards, and review publications for GA journals.
Attended the Association at Work Day on numerous occasions and contributed to Policy discussions.
Work in a school which has held the Secondary Geography Quality Mark, and Centre of Excellence
Mentored other schools to take part in the award - here we are receiving it from Iain Stewart.
Images: Bryan Ledgard

Chartered Geographer
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
Winner of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's Tivy Education Medal - a rare honour

Working as an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion into 2019, working to encourage over a million people to become more physically active.
Visited and spoken to many of the GA's Branches, and was previously President of the Norfolk Branch of the Geographical Association.

Some contributions to the GA website:

CPD Units on Geographies of Food and others.
Numerous sections from the Resources page
Contributed to the Top Tips of the Secondary Phase Committee
CILT Resources on Transport and Logistics.
Regular contributor to the ISSIG's excellent 'Notes and Queries' newsletter

I've written articles for all 4 of the GA's journals, and presented well over 200 events on behalf of the GA in various locations including the Finnish Ministry of Education and numerous Universities.

I'm part of the group working to deliver the Critical Thinking for Achievement project to schools across the UK.

Also co-founded Mission:Explore along with Daniel Raven Ellison, and have co-created our books including the original National Trust award-winning book, Mission:Explore Food, Camping, On the Road, Water, Iceland and National Parks.
Blogging: LivingGeography has had over 5 million views, and one of 10 blogs I've written which have attracted a large readership.

I believe I'm fairly well known, and have contributed literally thousands of resources free of charge, and supported thousands of teachers in their professional development either face to face or virtually. I would hope to leverage my networks and hubness for the benefit of the Association.

I'm a full time Head of department, and have teaching experience in Primary / Secondary / FE settings in both State and Independent sector.
And my Presidential lecture will be unlike any you've seen before...
As it says in my statement...

My Presidential ams would be to revisit the powerful work we carried out as part of the Action Plan for Geography, refresh connections with RGS-IBG, and promote geographical exploration in various guises.

My current interests reflect my work on Mission:Explore, and the power of geographical stories to shape curriculum making. I aim to leverage my networks and connections to attract a diverse audience and some wonderful speakers to conference, and support teachers throughout the year, visiting GA branches and other relevant events.

But apart from that...

If you felt you could give me your vote I'd be grateful for the validation of three decades of work in geography education.
Don't worry, I'll give you some more reminders nearer the time, and during the voting period which starts early in the New Year...

Update
I've been blown away by the support shown on Twitter particularly... so many kind comments and people promising their support. I won't let you down if elected, and have already jotted down some of the people I've worked with over the years who I hope I can persuade to join us for conference....

Friday, November 9, 2018

Iceland Christmas ad - it was banned....

Interesting tweet this morning...
Advertising wasteful commercialism is fine, but alerting people to the environmental impact of their consumer choices isn't. This Guardian piece explores the reasons why it deserves to be shown, and why we need to stop using palm oil.
Take a look

Monday, October 8, 2018

Aral Sea: Fast Fashion

When I first started teaching back in the 1980s (I know), a key case study for environmental change, and also the management of water resources, was the decline in the Aral Sea. I had an old VHS tape which followed the tale of the sea's shrinking, with details of the canning factories which were closed, and the ships which were left stranded in the desert that consumed the area. Nick Middleton later visited during his 'Going to Extremes' series, which we also used to show (and there is a matching book also)
He visits Voz Island, which is contaminated due to its location where salt has been exposed at the surface as the sea evaporated....



A Global Oneness project resource explores the latest ideas relating to the Aral Sea too, and there are some useful resources here.
Images by Taylor Weidman are used in this resource.

The tourism aspects of the Aral Sea were picked up in a recent Guardian article too, which shows the possible rehabilitation of this environment, which also could be used as a venue for a music festival. This sounds like an interesting opportunity for the region, and moves away from the idea of dark or disaster tourism.
Interesting description of the area though:
Visitors to Moynaq, a forlorn Uzbek town, are usually disaster tourists coming to gawk at the desolation of the apocalyptic landscape, where the carcasses of ships rot on sand once covered by the world’s fourth-largest lake.

You can see the changing Aral in NASA images from the Earthshots website.
A quick check on ESRI StoryMaps library reveals this map too.


Also in the recent (and rather wonderful) William Atkins book on deserts, there are some alternative perspectives on the area, with a fantastic chapter on the Aral Sea, which is really worth reading.
The area could be turning round, and there are hopes that the sea may begin to grow again in the future.

And the Aral Sea came back to TV tonight with its inclusion in Stacy Dooley's Fast Fashion documentary.

Stacey Dooley travels the world to uncover the hidden costs of the addiction to fast fashion. She sees for herself how toxic chemicals released by the garment industry pollute waterways that millions of people rely on. She witnesses the former Aral Sea, once one of the largest bodies of fresh water, now reduced almost entirely to dust.
These are shocking discoveries likely to make you think twice about whether you really need those new clothes.

A lot of people on Twitter were amazed that an entire sea could disappear just to provide cotton. Just ask a geographer if you want to know more...

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

New poetry from Rob Hindle



My good friend and poet Rob Hindle is back with a new collection, and this time he has turned his attention to the Great War, as we approach the centenary of the Armistice.
The book is called 'The Grail Roads'
Some details on the poems, with a mention for Edward Thomas are included

I've been in the footsteps of Edward Thomas several times, when heading down to Bedales School for my annual visit.

Via Longbarrow Press.

The ribbon of land that runs through north-west France and into Flanders is always being turned over. Each year, the ploughs of French and Belgian farmers uncover shrapnel, bullets, barbed wire and artillery shells; an ‘iron harvest’ that takes in the jumbled debris of the Hundred Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, and, in particular, the First World War.

The Grail Roads digs deep into the cultural strata of these conflicts, and is haunted by their correspondences and echoes, from Agincourt to Arras. The poems reimagine the ‘quest’ of Galahad, Gawain, and other knights of Arthurian legend, displaced from their familiar mythology and recast as British soldiers on the Western Front. As the war turns attritional, the vision of the Grail darkens; one by one, the men are gathered into a dream of ‘a first and final home’ beyond the wrecked landscapes.

The Grail Roads is a story of loss and reclamation, estrangement and fellowship, in which we read the human cost, and human scale, of every journey and battle.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Michael Palin on 'Erebus'

It was down to the Royal Geographical Society on Thursday this week to see Michael Palin launch his new book, which tells the story of the HMS Erebus. It was a sell out event, and all there received a signed copy of the book. HMS Erebus had a varied career. I knew quite a lot about the ship already from my reading of Polar exploration, with the tales of James Clark Ross, Barrow, Franklin et al very much on my shelves.
The Erebus made some of the earliest and most successful Antarctic voyages, and found the Ross Ice Shelf, and a volcano (named after the ship)
It then made its way north, as one of the ships used by Franklin as he attempted to find the North West Passage. He told the story of the discovery of the ships, and the work of Owen Beattie, which I'm also familiar with from my reading, and previous news reports.

I was particularly taken by the fact that Michael Palin was able to visit Beechey Island, where three of the crew of 'Erebus' were discovered. This is a place that I would love to visit, along with neighbouring islands which were visited by Barry Lopez in his books.

Michael also showed images of Erebus taken by divers, and told the story of the discovery of 'Terror' too. It was good to see a packed Ondaatje theatre with around 700 people captivated by the story, and the speaker...
A late trip back home, but fortunately unaffected by the strong winds. En route, I read the first 80 pages of the book, and it's excellent. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

TUI Better World Detectives

Before the summer, I worked with a talented group of people to shape some new resources for KS2, adapted from earlier iterations, for Geography / Science focus.
The theme is on the impact of tourism, and ensuring this is minimised, so that tourism is more sustainable.
Follow this link, provide an e-mail and you can download the pack of resources.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Fortnite in Geography

May be of interest to some of you :)


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Dan Raven Ellison's new film premiere...

You can order your ticket here. Some excellent speakers as well as the chance to be provoked by Dan.


It’s difficult to get a picture of what the United Kingdom really looks like. Imaginations and assumptions can distort decisions that affect our lives. We often hear the idea that there is simply no more room in the country. In reality, just six per cent of the UK is built on.

The UK in 100 Seconds is a provocative and thought provoking film that rearranges the United Kingdom's land into 32 categories and divides them over 100 seconds. Each second equates to 1% of what the country looks like from the air.

Made by guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison and filmmaker Jack Smith, the film was made by travelling from Tongue in the north of Scotland to the New Forest in the south of England. Each second of the film covers roughly one metre of Raven-Ellison's walk through moorland and peat bogs, down a runway and over a dump.

Made in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, the film gives an honest reflection of what land looks like and how it is used in the United Kingdom and raises some challenging questions. A major inspiration for Raven-Ellison making the film is the amount of space that is used for feeding livestock and the question - what if we made more space for nature?

Following the screening, there will be a Q&A with the filmmakers and a series of six micro-talks and a forum with the audience. We'll be discussing what the UK could look like in the future and what the effects would be if we made more space for nature.

Confirmed panellists include:
Alasdair Rae, a geographer and expert on land use at Sheffield University
Andrew Simms, author of the books Cancel the Apocalypse and Ecological Debt
Beth Collier, a nature-based psychotherapist

More panellists to be announced.

Join the discussion using the hashtags #UKin100Seconds and #MoreSpaceForNature.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Edible Histories

Thanks to Justin Woolliscroft for the tipoff to this site, which has the stories of some of the things we eat (and drink)

Thy include fish and chips...



The sandwich...


And the curry...


This will go into the list of resources for my 'You are what you eat' topic...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tony Walsh on the Lake District

Via Val Vannet
Working out a way to make use of this...
Poetry by Tony Walsh 

We have collaborated with northern poet Tony Walsh to create this unique short film, ‘Reflecting On The Lakes’. The unique film and poem celebrates what it’s like to live, work and love the National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and will inspire viewers to help us protect and care for this truly special place. The film sets out to shine a light on the real Lake District; celebrating all there is to love about the National Park, and declares: ‘it’s where farming shaped the landscape and where landscape shaped our lives, it’s now honoured by UNESCO with a badge we’ll wear with pride'. ‘Reflecting On The Lakes’, features scenes from across the Lake District which form the backdrop to a passionate piece of poetry written and performed by leading spoken word poet, Tony Walsh.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A is for Angel of the North

The first in a new series of coins has been released by the Royal Mint. They represent the letters A-Z.

There is a collection card, and you can buy the coins as they are released or hope they turn up in your change...
It's called the Great British Coin Hunt.

A is the Angel of the North.

What landmarks or cultural icons would you choose for your UK A-Z of places and objects?

I've used this idea before, and showed some of the designs that are put onto 50p coins, and then provided a blank 50p outline for students to design a coin which represents the landscape of 'The Fens', having spent some time exploring it.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Meet the Better World Detectives

For the last few months I've been working with Tui on some education resources.

This has involved some work at KS2 and KS3 level, but my focus has been on the KS2 materials.

These have now been made available as an updated suite of resources for KS2 pupils, which involves 6 fully resourced sessions. 

There is an accent on sustainability, which connects with the company's approach of promoting sustainable tourism.
An e-mail is required to download the resource pack, which you should know runs to 274Mb as it includes a range of assets including videos and multimedia, as well as teacher resources to print off. These are fun, and well packaged materials, with nods to social media use, and themes which will be familiar to many young people.
The lessons introduce students to a fictional island first, before exploring plastic in the oceans, coral reefs, and the impact of tourism on local communities and people.

Say hello to the Better World Detectives, and you may find a use for some of these resources within your KS2 curriculum. There are also ideas that are transferrable upwards into KS3.

I worked on these with Emma Espley and Daniel Smith, along with designer Lisa Jo Robinson, and Maddie Duggan, who led the project for TUI.

a different view

‘... to be educated is not to have arrived at a destination, it is to travel with a different view’ (Peters, 1965)

Ten years ago, I started working for the Geographical Association, and worked on the team which delivered on the promises in the Action Plan for Geography.
One of the outcomes from this was the GA's 'manifesto' for school geography, which remains influential, and some of the ideas in there are still an important part of shaping the thinking of teachers. It was called 'a different view'.

One of the resources that went alongside the pamphlet was a video. There were two versions: long and short, and I made them over a period of months using the Animoto Pro video editing tool. It got its premiere at the GA Conference in 2009.

You can still watch the video here:

A Different View: Promoting Geography from The Geographical Association on Vimeo.

Follow this link to visit the page on the GA's website, which has a whole range of supporting resources.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Caiti's new blog and the Geography Litter Pick

A new blog from Caiti Walter, has launched with an invitation to get involved in a Big Geog Litter Pick.

There are some additional tools for the Litter Pick project, which all teachers are invited to get involved with during August.

Open up the Survey123 Form that Katie Hall has completed, and you can enter your own findings.






Caiti's blog will share some ideas for sustainable teaching. As she says:

I was once told in my PGCE year, “Don’t sit with the moaners in the staff room, find the ‘yes’ people”. This blog aims to be that ‘yes’ person, not by patronising and pretending that all in teaching is rosy, but by simply highlighting the useful, inspirational, creative and funny outputs of a life in teaching.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

#ChooseGeography

As geographers, we know the value of geography of course, but we need to let more people know this...


The Royal Geographical Society has launched a campaign to encourage students to #choosegeography and we can all get involved in supporting it as we move into a new academic year.

As it says on the RGS website:
There’s no denying it: geographers hold the building blocks to our collective future. That’s why you should choose geography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Monday, July 23, 2018

Meet the Better World Detectives

For the last few months I've been working with Tui on some education resources.

This has involved some work at KS2 and KS3 level, but my focus has been on the KS2 materials.

These have now been made available as an updated suite of resources for KS2 pupils, which involves 6 fully resourced sessions. 

There is an accent on sustainability, which connects with the company's approach of promoting sustainable tourism.
An e-mail is required to download the resource pack, which you should know runs to 274Mb as it includes a range of assets including videos and multimedia, as well as teacher resources to print off. These are fun, and well packaged materials, with nods to social media use, and themes which will be familiar to many young people.
The lessons introduce students to a fictional island first, before exploring plastic in the oceans, coral reefs, and the impact of tourism on local communities and people.

Say hello to the Better World Detectives, and you may find a use for some of these resources within your KS2 curriculum. There are also ideas that are transferrable upwards into KS3.

I worked on these with Emma Espley and Daniel Smith, along with designer Lisa Jo Robinson, and Maddie Duggan, who led the project for TUI.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

World Snail Racing Championship

The World Snail Racing Championships are held every year in Congham in Norfolk. This year, I went over, as my wife was involved in an art making stall at the event, making snail masks and snail hangings.
The Snail Master, Neil was in charge, and the world's media were there (well, at least three film crews, and other photographers, one from Germany...)
After a number of heats, the grand final was held and the winner was a snail called Hosta, owned by Jo, so named because that was the plant they were found on. This is the moment that the snail crossed the winning post...


What's the strangest event you've been to?
What other World Championships have you attended?

Images: Alan Parkinson

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Inside Government - CPD event in November


I'm very much looking forward to speaking at this event in November. It is being organised by Inside Government.
Here's the Policy Background to the day's event, courtesy of the organisers.

The number of pupils taking the Geography GCSE has increased significantly within the last eight years, from 26% in 2010 to 41% in 2016, following the introduction of the Ebacc. Now the eighth most popular GCSE subject, and the seventh most popular A Level subject, there is increasing focus on the geography curriculum and raising standards of teaching its content.

The new geography specifications were introduced in 2016 to improve the quality of geography teaching and encourage higher uptake. The Geography GCSE underwent a moderation of content, with an emphasis placed on the importance of fieldwork and UK geography. 
The impact of these changes also reach Key Stage 3, with a need to prepare students for entering Key Stage 4 by establishing the foundation for the skills and expectations required at GCSE level. The Geography A Level also underwent revision, with some significant changes.

It is imperative that geography departments deliver outstanding geography teaching, which not only prepares pupils to achieve excellent grades under the new curriculum, but maintains a high level of uptake by instilling a sense of engagement with and passion for the subject.

The onus now falls on geography teachers to ensure that their teaching meets the requirements of the new specifications, by optimising data skills and GIS technology within the curriculum and maximising the potential of fieldwork in order to deliver outstanding geography teaching and learning.

There's a rather fine line-up of speakers, who I am very much looking forward to hearing speak for the first time, or working with again.

I'm going to be visiting a number of areas in my contribution. This will draw on the chapter that I wrote for the two editions of 'Debates in Geography Education', published by Routledge. The chapter discussed the place of technology within the Geography classroom, and beyond. It will also have some inputs from a new edition of a fieldwork book called ‘Fieldwork through Enquiry’ which I am co-writing with John Widdowson.
Thanks to Professor Shailey Minocha from the Open University who I worked with on a VR research project which was reported in various journals. She is providing me with some of the latest thinking on the value of Virtual reality in Geography.

Some of the other confirmed speakers include:

Alan Kinder – Chief Executive of the Geographical Association

Steve Brace – Head of Education and Outdoor Learning at the Royal Geographical Society

Paul Turner – Head of Geography at Bedales School

Shelley Monk – OCR Geography subject specialist

Along with the other speakers, some of whom are still to be confirmed, the intention is to explore what can be done in the short, medium and long term and also to provide resources and tools which can be used straight away, as well as providing areas to explore further as time permits. I will be mentioning some of the latest resources that I have been working on. I’m looking forward to seeing Paul Turner speak about the Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs) they offer instead of GCSE Geography. As the External moderator for these courses I have the privilege of seeing the student work that results from these courses, and have helped feed into the way that the curriculum has been developed by Paul and his colleague Jackie.

The booking form is here

There is currently a 10% Early Bird booking offer, which stays open until the 27th of July, and discounts for more than one colleague attending from the same school. 

It would be lovely to see some of you there, down in London, and you can get the event pencilled into your calendar before the end of the school year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Earth in Vision

A few years ago, I was invited to be involved with the Earth in Vision project as a teacher advisor of some kind (my memory is hazy) but was unable to get involved due to my teaching commitments. The project has been developing throughout that time, with assistance from other teachers such as Lauren Otoo, and earlier this week the website went live.
It was one of a number of projects involving Joe Smith, the new director of the RGS-IBG.


The project explores content from the BBC Archive, and collects that which has an environmental relevance for educators.
There are three special eBooks which have been (or are being) produced as part of the project.



One of them is of particular interest: a book by George Revill which explores how BBC programming has helped shape how people see the landscape in the way that it is (re)presented.
This can be downloaded in various formats from this page.

Bostin' Brum

Produced by Katie Hall, using ESRI StoryMaps

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Childhood's end...

In the Lands of the North, where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale...
Another part of my childhood disappeared today with the sad death of Peter Firmin. His collaborator Oliver Postgate died back in 2008. They produced some of the most authentic and memorable TV for young people ever made: Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss, Pogle's Wood, Noggin the Nog and the Clangers amongst them.

Back to 1959...


One of my first ever forays into websites, in 1999ish was a Tripod page I made called 'Noggin the Nog's guide to Glaciation' which was quite short-lived.
My wife went to art school with Peter's daughter Emily... the Emily from the opening scenes of 'Bagpuss'....
I may have to get out my Noggin the Nog DVD later... You can also hear some of the music from their shows on Spotify if you search for John Faulkner or Vernon Elliott...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

World Cup. It's all kicking off...

Just as England opened their World Cup campaign, Milan from the Geographical Association pressed the publish button on a new set of resources that I have written for the GA website.



There are so many additional geographical stories emerging each day that the World Cup happens of course, so keep an eye out for them, and if you spot something interesting let me know and I'll add it to the post here as an update.
There's an extra Teachit Geography resource here, which was flagged up on their Facebook page.

There's also this useful set of ESRI StoryMaps.

And you also need to be a bit careful of some of the stories of course.
There were some stories about an earthquake that was triggered by Mexican fans.

The wording has now changed, and it's more like the fact that perhaps there were some sensors which noticed some movement. The New York Times explained it more accurately...

I liked this story too:

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Bastille #urbex

Some Urbex style images on the new BASTILLE album, part of my daughter's CD collection... Any other geography-related album cover images that you know of?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Anthony Bourdain RIP

It's many years now since I read 'Kitchen Confidential' by Anthony Bourdain. It described life in kitchens, and exposed how they worked, and introduced the underbelly of life for many chefs.
He sadly took his own life earlier this week.
A nice piece by Tony Quartaro on his work and legacy.
He describes him as a 'culinary geographer' which considering his travelling and documentary work which introduced many to the food cultures of those countries is certainly true.

I would say he was definitely a cultural geographer too as a result of that.
And this was a super tribute...

Also good to see Jamie Oliver dedicating a recipe to him on Saturday Kitchen this morning...


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Iceland - impact of tourism on the landscape

An interesting website which explores the growing pressures on Iceland. It's written by Ellis Quinn, who writes on the Eye on the Arctic website.

When most people think of Arctic economic development, things like resource extraction are usually first to mind. But northern regions and chambers of commerce are increasingly touting tourism as a key economic tool.

It’s seen as an industry that creates jobs for a variety of education levels, promotes small-scale entrepreneurship, reinforces and promotes local cultures, and creates the sustainable development lacking in many of the expensive and hard-to-get-to regions of the North; whether the remote Indigenous communities of Arctic Canada and Greenland, or the villages of Finnish Lapland and northern Russia.

But tourism is far from the benign industry it’s often made out to be.

As Iceland has discovered, mass tourism in the North can have social and environmental impacts as profound as those of the mining or drilling industries.

Yet successive governments did nothing to prepare for any of it. Instead, Instagram and Justin Bieber inadvertently ended up doing most of Iceland’s tourism planning for them.

Now, not everyone is sure they’re happy with the results.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Google Earth Tour Creator

A new tool from Google, which has been trialled by a few folks. It's the Tour Creator.
Apparently it's easy to make 3D tours from my computer, so let's see...

For an early look, and a link to some examples, Richard Treves has been quick off the mark, and posted here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Culture influencing place

A lovely Tweet with some details I hadn't heard before.... I wonder if there are other places that have similar road naming schemes, other than the usual prime ministers and trees. I remember doing a Mission:Explore Lowestoft project, where I found an estate where the streets were named after bird species, and put together a birdwatching / twitching mission you could do while sat on the bus...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Worldmapper: help support this essential tool

The new Worldmapper website was launched at the GA Conference following months of investment of their own time and money from Ben Hennig and Tina Gotthardt. It is used in classrooms around the country (and beyond) and would be great to support them at this time. I'm amazed no geospatial company hasn't wanted to be involved in ensuring this remains free for all educators to use forever. The new mapping makes this an even more useful site, but as someone who used to run a website knows (albeit rather less useful), bandwidth and server costs aren't free...
Let's see if as many geography teachers as possible can donate the price of a pint, or a skinny latte (or more) to help payback for all the maps we've used over the years.

As it says on the Worldmapper site:

The new website is proving more popular than ever before. Unfortunately this has led to repeated server outages in recent days since the fresh new design and functionalities have considerably increased demands on the webserver that is hosting the Worldmapper homepage.
With this GoFundMe campaign we want to raise the necessary funds that pay towards the running costs for an upgraded server that we would like to switch to, to allow more reliability of Worldmapper while it keeps growing, and maintain the archive as well.



All maps shared under CC license. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Isle of Dogs

I've been telling everyone I've seen for the last month that they have to go and see Wes Anderson's 'Isle of Dogs'. This is still showing in some cinemas as I write this blogpost, and is a real tour de force of creativity and filmmaking. It's a stop-motion animation which involved hundreds of people for a year and a half, and the creation of tens of thousand of bespoke props and different methods of filming at different scales.
The story concerns the cat loving Kobayashi dynasty, and the fate of the Mayor's son and his dog, alongside a group of other dogs who have been exiled to Trash Island.
My son and I visited the exhibition of sets and figures from the film, which had just opened at the time, and we were able to go in, and collect some memorabilia.
We went to see it at Store X on the Strand in London, which was a temporary space. The exhibits, like the plane crash site above, were incredibly detailed and I loved the Taiko drummers who open the film.We also loved the full sized noodle bar, and the scale of Megasaki city and the temple in the opening shots.

Try to see the film. Thanks to my colleague Claire for sourcing an American copy of the screenplay for my son too.

Images: Alan Parkinson - CC licensed

Thursday, April 12, 2018

When a city runs dry... IB Geography Conference preparation

These are anxious times for the residents of Cape Town. They have been counting down to Day Zero: the day when the taps were due to be turned off, and they would have to rely on standpipes and rationing of water. There has been a drought for three years in this area of the Eastern Cape, and most of the major sources of water have been depleted, or are at very low levels.
Channel 4 news had a number of reports on the crisis, which in January had set the date of April for Day Zero to arrive.

Thanks to a lot of efforts by residents to cut down on their water since then, and this has now been put back to later in the year, and possibly now into 2019 if current usage levels are maintained.

There will be a focus on this story for my workshops in Geneva on Saturday.
July was previousy the date when the water was predicted

I will be sharing all the work from my workshop at the ECOLINT IB conference, which has been organised by Richard Allaway here, during and after the event itself.

The Cape Town City Council website is a very useful place to go for further information, as they provide guidance for residents and visitors on how to reduce their water usage.

An interactive by National Geographic has been featured here before, and here's the link.

I shall also be using some ideas from our rather fine Mission:Explore WATER resource which some of you may not be familiar with. This includes some of Tom MJ's wonderful inkings. It's 78 pages long, and the 5Mb PDF can be yours to download by clicking here.

Thanks to Jo Payne for sharing some work she had done, and also to Ben Hennig for consultation over some maps. Also, though not linked to Cape Town, check out the WATER DIARIES resources on Jordan for more watery inspiration.


Illustration copyright: Tom Morgan-Jones

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Iceland to remove all Palm Oil from products

The supermarket not the country...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cunk on Britain

Diane Morgan's creation has always been a favourite of mine, and I loved this programme. Laugh out loud and some excellent jokes on the creation and early pre-history, and great questions for the talking heads as well. She travels the breadth and width of the country...

Keep an eye out for it on iPlayer, and also the next issue, which is shown tomorrow.

On the Bayeux Tapestry: “It’s just like being there, but in wool".

NB: NSFW warning - a little sweary ...

GA Conference 2018 - here's 125 top tips for Geographers

For the 125 days leading up to the conference, as part of the #125GA celebrations, there was a daily tweet offering a Top Tip for Geographers, with a tag #125geotips. These were on all sorts of geographical themes.
Thanks to the tens of thousands of people who read them and responded to them over on Twitter, but for those who don't use Twitter, here's all 125 collated for you. The hyperlink will take you through to the original tweet with all the relevant images and links to the resources.


Monday, March 26, 2018

New Ladybird Expert Series title

A new addition to the Ladybird Expert series of books has been written by Professor Iain Stewart and is on the theme of 'Plate Tectonics'.
Good to see Marie Tharp included, for her work visualising the work of herself and colleagues....

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sanctuary III

I've loved the first two of Rob Reed's homages to Mike Oldfield, and am very much looking forward to the 3rd instalment... out at the end of the Easter holiday.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Share your special places please...

This is the 125th Anniversary year of the Geographical Association, and the conference in Sheffield in April will be very special.

One of the projects I'm doing (and have been doing for some time) is to tweet out a 'top tip' a day for 125 days on the GA Secondary Phase committee twitter feed. This is coming to a climax on the first day of the conference.

As part of the plans for the GA's celebrations, and connecting with my OS GetOutside Champions Role for 2018, I'm going to start collating a list of 125 inspirational places to visit in the UK.

We all have places from which we draw inspiration... This could be a beach, a particular walk, a historic building, a bench overlooking a viewpoint, a landscape feature or something more esoteric. 

The reasons behind the inspiration may relate to family members, an emotional reunion, or sad passing; they may be places that are visited often, or which left a lasting impression from a single visit. They may be places we remember fondly from childhood, or which we discovered later in life.

This project is connected to the 125th Anniversary of the Geographical Association in 2018. One of the projects which the association wants to develop is a list of 125 Inspirational Places to visit in the UK: human and physical landscapes and locations which sum up the best the UK has to offer.

The project also links to work being done by Alan Parkinson as an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion during 2018, and the production of a list with further guidance on visiting the places on it will be a project for Alan to complete.

There is also a joint project underway between Alan Parkinson, and Peter Knight of Keele University, who are working to produce a resource for teachers exploring Inspirational Landscapes and Changing Places at https://aparkinson51.wixsite.com/inspirationalplaces 

Here's an example for you:
Surprise View, in the Peak District
A bend in the road where the Hope Valley, Hathersage and Castleton and Mam Tor beyond suddenly come into view spread out below you - the light varies throughout the year, but the view is always exciting - one of the best in the UK
Be careful when driving! Park up and take in the view

OS Grid Reference: SK249800

I've produced a Google form which you can link to here, and help me out with if possible. Feel free to share the link to the form as well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Keep getting out of the tent...

I'm currently sat in the garage waiting for a repair on my car which has failed its MOT. Amongst other things I'm doing is looking at videos from the training expedition which the participants in the Women's Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition are currently undertaking in Iceland. I know quite a few people who are in Iceland at the moment, and the weather has been a bit gnarly for them.
I'm putting together some ideas for a teacher resource pack which will go on the website in advance of the expedition in April 2018.
Here's a taster of the expedition planning so far...


The last time I worked with Felicity, the result was the Pole of Cold teaching resource, which won an SAGT award.
Here's Felicity doing a talk on her solo skiing trip across Antarctica, if you want to hear of a previous expedition:

CIW: Explorers: Felicity Aston from Chicago Ideas on Vimeo.

I wonder how much longer expeditions like this will be possible, given the shrinking extent of the sea ice.
I've also been finding out about Barneo. This is a seasonal fly-in base camp operated by the Russians, which is going to facilitate the team's plan to ski the final degree to the North Pole.

More to come on this as the resource develops...

Monday, February 12, 2018

Beermeet at the GA Conference

One of the elements of the GA Conference for the last 8 years or so has been the Beermeet.
This has grown in size over the years, and we even managed to 'drink the pub dry' a few years ago in Guildford. This follows on from the Teachmeet now that has been added to the programme, and this year's venue has been revealed. I know it well, having stopped off there quite a few times over the years.

The Sheffield Tap is an excellent bar, which is located in the Railway Station in three splendid large rooms. The range of beers is superb, and there is a micro-brewery there too.

Click the link, or scan the QR code to find out more from the Facebook page, and please let us know that you're coming, or planning to come... and feel free to buy me a pint...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Twitter accounts to follow 2018

For many, using Twitter (or other social media sites...) is a quotidian experience. It helps them to keep informed about the world, and to make local and global connections.


I started using Twitter around 10 years ago, and have found it the most useful way to connect with thousands of other educators, source resources and ideas, and keep up to date with global events.
My account is @GeoBlogs - if you visit you won't be able to see my tweets unless you follow me. My account is protected.
This does however mean that because I have personally approved all the 4300+ people that follow me, I know that they are real people or organisations, and it is therefore a true follower figure, unlike most other accounts which are open and can therefore be followed by bots and have inflated reach.
It also means that people have wanted to follow me, and they tend to stay following once they have started.
For the last 4 or 5 years I've featured on the UKEdChat list of Twitter accounts worth following, which has grown in size over the years.
Checked earlier and good to say that I'm also on the 2018 version which can be seen embedded below or here.


Come over, follow me and let's start a conversation...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Favourite books of 2017

I read a lot of great books in 2017, and here are a few of the ones that I enjoyed the most...

'Outskirts' - John Grindrod
'Here we are' - Oliver Jeffers
'Oak, Ash and Thorn' - Peter Fiennes
'Ghosts of the Tsunami' - Richard Lloyd Parry
'The Island' - Barry Smith
'Lots' - Marc Martin
'The Explorer' - Katherine Rundell
'Thin Air'and 'Dark Matter' - Michelle Paver
'The Cure for Catastrophe' - Robert Muir Wood
'Reflections on Primary Geography' - Simon Catling
'Snow' - Marcus Sedgwick
'Trace' - Lauret Savoy
Uniform Annual 2017
'Empire of Things' - Frank Trentmann
'21st Century Yokel' - Tom Cox
'Off the Map' - Alastair Bonnett
'Nomadland' - Jessica Bruden
'Vertical' - Stephen Graham
'Land of Plenty' - Charles Pye Smith
'Icebreaker' - Horatio Clare
'Curiocity' - Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose
'The Making of the British Landscape' - Nicholas Crane 

I have plenty piled up to read in 2018 too, starting with Jon McGregor's 'Reservoir 13'
After the last couple of years when I had lots of textbooks published that I'd co-written it was a fairly quiet year for writing. I had a chapter in 'Debates in Geography Education' - 2nd Edition edited by Mark Jones and David Lambert.
I also wrote a few articles for 'Primary Geography' one of which will appear in the next issue, and finished off the year with some work on answers for two revision guides for OCR GCSE Geography and a few other smaller pieces and resources, including my Ice Flows work, and Data Skills in Geography work for the RGS-IBG.
I've been working on some plans for 2018, and will be sharing it all here of course... 

For 400ish books for Geography teachers, check out my GeoLibrary blog of course...

Looking forward to this film...