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Showing posts from 2018

See you in 2019

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I'm going to take my traditional Christmas blogging break, and be back in the New Year, unless there are some events that I can't avoid blogging about... I've just had four days on the coast - lovely to be one of the few occupied vans on the site this week - got some further time away organised, and also some writing time, and plenty of family stuff planned... and my birthday too.

As usual, here's a Christmas illustration from one of my favourite artists: Ronald Lampitt.
And here's an extra one this year... a very apt cartoon...

Have a good one!

Thanks everyone for reading the blog this year.

Golden Sands - new DME and other resources

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Thanks to Anthony Bennett over at Internet Geography for the excellent images and drone footage of the Golden Sands resort near Withernsea which have been shared over the last few weeks.
I am familiar with Withernsea, as my first ever teaching experience was in the school there during my PGCE.


These are all worth exploring, and the students loved them in the last week of term, when we explored coastal erosion as part of the conclusion to our Adventure Landscapes unit.
Visit the website, or follow on Twitter to see more...


And to make the most of these images, you can now obtain a DME which provides a range of activities for AQA GCSE Geography in particular, including questions, images and activities.



There is a £5 discount until Christmas Eve. See it described here.

https://t.co/MzBW6h6kYEpic.twitter.com/bfSOcpgEEb — internetgeography.net 🌍 (@InternetGeog) December 17, 2018
Finally, if you go to the shop you will see details of CPD / fieldwork events that Anthony is running early in th…

Christian Marclay's 'The Clock'

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A few weekends ago, I went down to an all-night showing of Christian Marclay's 'The Clock' at Tate Modern. It is a difficult thing to explain, and the reality is different from what you expect, but if you are ever in a place where it is showing, it is worth getting in to see some of the film, although you probably won't watch all of it in one go.

The film lasts 24 hours, and features scenes from hundreds of films where a clock is visible or the time is referenced in the dialogue.

Details of the Tate exhibition  are here.
Here's a PODCAST on the making of the film


And here's what you see when you go inside...

Kanji of the Year

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A Kanji is an adopted Chinese visual character which is used in the Japanese writing system.
The Kanji of the Year for 2018 has been announced: , pronounced wazawai or sai, meaning “disaster” or “misfortune.” The Japan Kanji Aptitude Foundation each December announces a “kanji of the year,” selected by popular vote to encapsulate the year that was. Members of the public send in votes by postal mail, an official website, or voting boxes, selecting a single character and often appending an explanation for the choice. This year’s top pick, wazawai, referred to the multitude of natural disasters that afflicted the archipelago during 2018—serious earthquakes in Osaka, Hokkaidō, and Shimane Prefectures, a string of typhoons that battered the nation’s shores, torrential rains causing landslides and flooding, and the record-setting heat of summer. “As we look ahead to the coming year,” noted the JKAF press release, “many are hoping that the new imperial reign will bring with it a lower numbe…

Ice Flows Game Teacher Pack now available

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A good day today, as we finally launch a resource that has been in the pipeline for over a year, and has been tweaked and improved over the last year or so. I've blogged about it here before.

Here's some text from the official press-release.

The Ice Flows teacher resources pack provides a range of resources and suggested lesson plans built around playing Ice Flows game.   The learning outcomes relate to an understanding of the interactions between ice sheets and climate, and the resulting impact of changes in ice sheets on global sea level.  The resources include explainer videos, some skeleton PowerPoints to use as a basis for lessons, plus added extras such as a Spotify playlist.
The resources are aimed at pupils in KS3 in UK Schools, but the main resources are generic enough to be used with any curriculum or age. We also provide information on how the game could be used in line with the UK curriculum for older pupils.
The resources were created in partnership with the Geograp…

Brexit Pop-up shop

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Looks like we have reached another stage of the Brexit negotiations...

This weekend, a spoof pop-up shop opened up to connect with the Black Friday sales, and Danielle Majid kindly allowed me to use some of the photos she took. I love the creativity of this sort of 'shop' (you may remember the shop full of knitted products I blogged probably a year or so ago...)

Image credit: Danielle Majid

TeachMeet GeographyIcons 2019

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Good news - just announced on Twitter.
I was proud to have been asked to be the teacher keynote at the first event, and will hope to be there for the 2nd event too... but perhaps just with a short input.

GA Presidential election bid - some details here

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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 …

Iceland Christmas ad - it was banned....

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Interesting tweet this morning...
Our Christmas advert has been banned! So you won’t see it on TV, but you can watch it here https://t.co/X4jia5GdnE We are keen to keep raising awareness of rainforest destruction and customers can now choose a no palm oil Christmas @icelandfoods@foodwarehouse — Richard Walker (@IcelandRichard) November 9, 2018 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

Aral Sea: Fast Fashion

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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 cou…

New poetry from Rob Hindle

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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 k…

Michael Palin on 'Erebus'

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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 plac…

Just ordered from the OS

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Order page here. Also available as a poster...


TUI Better World Detectives

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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.

Fortnite in Geography

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May be of interest to some of you :)


Dan Raven Ellison's new film premiere...

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Does anyone know what the UK really looks like? I don't think so.. and I think that's a problem. That's why I've made The #UKin100Seconds. Each second = 1% of what the UK looks like from the air.

See the film + join the discussion at @ThePCCLondon Cinema https://t.co/PPKshCXW2wpic.twitter.com/Ev70tdw6pN — Daniel Raven-Ellison (@DanRavenEllison) August 23, 2018You 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 b…

Edible Histories

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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...

Tony Walsh on the Lake District

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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.

A is for Angel of the North

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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.


Meet the Better World Detectives

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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 updatedsuite 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 …

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.

Caiti's new blog and the Geography Litter Pick

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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.





#Geographyteacher alert! #TheBigGeogLitterPick2018 is live and happening throughout August! Find out more about how to take part here: https://t.co/V0MdyrZjpi

Quick guide -
Log your litter picks here: https://t.co/7QlXaHfH6e?
Keep an eye on progress here: https://t.co/FkI2htpqLS — Caiti Walter (@EduCaiti) August 5, 2018
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 …

#ChooseGeography

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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.

The old ones are the best...

Sorry but I laughed. pic.twitter.com/2irZvhU23v — Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) July 23, 2018

Meet the Better World Detectives

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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 updatedsuite 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 …

World Snail Racing Championship

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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

49 years ago today, the Eagle landed...

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Inside Government - CPD event in November

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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 r…

Earth in Vision

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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

Childhood's end...

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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.
In loving memory of Peter Firmin.

11 December 1928 - 1 July 2018 pic.twitter.com/TK3aOQeDgf — Bagpuss (@OfficialBagpuss) July 1, 2018
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... …

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

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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:
How did Senegal fans celebrate after their team won their first match at the…

Bastille #urbex

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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?

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...

“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. pic.twitter.com/orEXIaEMZM — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2018 Also good to see Jamie Oliver dedicating a recipe to him on Saturday Kitchen thi…

Iceland - impact of tourism on the landscape

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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 success…

Google Earth Tour Creator

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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.

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...

Fans of classic cars (especially British ones) will enjoy the street names of Jaywick, Essex. This plan of this seaside plotland village, begun in the 1930s, is said to be based on the shape of a car radiator grille. pic.twitter.com/dxXR3RFLbG — Tim Dunn (@MrTimDunn) April 27, 2018

Worldmapper: help support this essential tool

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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 …

Isle of Dogs

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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 a…

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

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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 …