Friday, 24 October 2014

New Derby GA Branch inaugural lecture...

It's a cracker...

Date: Wednesday 5th November, 2014. 6pm - 7pm
Venue: University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby, DE22 1GB. Room OL2.
Free car parking available on site
As part of its inauguration, the Derbyshire Geographical Association invite you to its first open lecture:
Dr Nick Middleton, St Anne's College, University of Oxford.
DESERTS: Their use and abuse
Deserts are remarkable places. Typified by aridity and extremes of temperature they can be harsh and hostile or spectacularly beautiful. Many also have a long history of successful human occupation. Drawing on personal experience in many of the world's arid lands, particularly the Gobi and Atacama deserts, Nick Middleton delves into these unique landscapes and highlights the good, the bad and the ugly of how people use them.
The lecture is free to Derbyshire GA branch members and a voluntary donation of £1 per person for this launch event will be sought on the night.
More about Dr Nick Middleton:
Nick is a prominent geographer and environmental consultant who has published 19 books and more than 250 articles in journals, magazines and newspapers. His books have been translated into 10 languages and his television programmes are broadcast all over the world.
Nick is also a prolific travel writer and draws his material from his travels through more than 90 countries, on a variety of missions. His travelogues include The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia (Phoenix, 1992), Kalashnikovs and Zombie Cucumbers: Travels in Mozambique (Phoenix, 1994), Travels as a Brussels Scout (Phoenix, 1997), Ice Tea and Elvis: A Saunter through the Southern States (Phoenix, 2000). In 2002, he won the Royal Geographical Society's Ness Award in recognition of widening the public enthusiasm for geography through his travel writing.
His most recent travelogues - Going to Extremes (Pan, 2003), Surviving Extremes (Pan, 2004) and Extremes along the Silk Road (J Murray, 2006) - were written in association with three four-part television documentaries broadcast by Channel 4 in the UK and National Geographic Channel in most other parts of the world. The Going to Extreme series explores the world's hottest, coldest, wettest and driest inhabited places. In the follow up series, Surviving Extremes Nick investigates how four traditional communities adapt to life in harsh environments: the Inuit in northern Greenland, the Congo's Biaka pygmies, the Tubu of the Ténéré Desert and the Kombai of Papua. Silk Routes is a string of similar adventures among traditional societies across Central Asia.
Nick Middleton also works for the Economist Intelligence Unit as an economic and political analyst on the Horn of Africa. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), Nick was elected to the Council of the RGS/IBG and to membership of the Expeditions and Fieldwork committee in 2009 for 3 years. He has worked as a consultant to several United Nations agencies, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the EU and WWF.
Nick is very active in popularizing geography and environmental science. His name is well known to UK geography students as the author of the Environment Today column in the A-level magazine Geography Review.
So we can appropriately plan for this event, please fill out the booking form below if you are attending. Please let us know estimated numbers if bringing a group.
For more information about this event contact Ryan O'Riordan.
Tel: 01332 591671

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Death Valley's moving rocks

Several years ago, Noel Jenkins wrote a resource as part of the Action Plan for Geography, for the Royal Geographical Society's website.
It described the sliding stones of Racetrack Playa
It's a favourite of many teachers...

Recently, this story has come back to prominence as a report has claimed to have worked out what the mechanism is that lies behind the moving stones.
Time to bring this little mystery back out perhaps...

Image copyright: Noel Jenkins

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

21st Century Challenges

One of the greatest challenges for teachers is finding up to date and authoritative teaching materials on some current issues.
One way of keeping up to date with what's out there is to subscribe to Living Geography of course.
From time to time, I discover that sites I was familiar with have undergone some substantial changes, and that happened recently with the RGS-IBG's 21st Century Challenges website.

This connects with events taking place at the RGS, and elsewhere.
There is now a rather fine SCHOOLS page, which has links to teaching resources on a great many challenges, and a poster set for the classroom.
The materials on Concreting the Countryside in particular are excellent, along with those on Water Sustainability, and Britain's Ageing population.

The site has a 60 second guides page too, with infographics such as the one below, which sums up the challenges.

Follow this link for a special PDF download of the infographic above. (PDF download)

Follow @21CC on Twitter too

Climbing high...

Hunting out some photos from the past for a writing project, and came across this one of me on Stanage Edge in the Peak District at some time in the early 1990s I reckon probably, climbing with Simon Hathaway. I loved that old brown jumper too...

I use old pictures of me like this when teaching if possible.... what old pictures do you have of yourself being active in landscapes ?

Oliver Postgate

This book arrived yesterday, with thanks to Jo Norcup for alerting me to its existence.

A reminder of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin's enduring genius....

I have to find a way to get this into a project in some way. It was an indelible part of my childhood...

Here's the opening description of the setting of the Noggin the Nog stories:

“This land of dark forest and snow
This land of mountains and valleys
Of deep narrow bays where the sea roars between the black rocks
And the wind howls cold in the night
There was the little town of wooden houses
Clustered by a bay where the sea was calm

And there above it was the small castle… the castle of King Knut.”

Landscapes of childhood imagination....

SAGT Conference 2014 - post #1

The SAGT Conference takes place at the North Inch Community Campus in Perth this coming weekend.
If you're coming along, there's an event here that you might be interested in, which is being held the evening before at the RSGS HQ in Perth at Lord John Murray House.

More to come on my presentation and other news from the conference over the next few days...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Roll the Dice

Via Matt Podbury
A fun little piece of time-lapse.

Roll the Dice - European Travel Commission from Ant House Studio on Vimeo.

Latest Rory's Story Cube sets

Looking forward to adding these to my collection...

Mapillary - make your own 'Street View'

Just signed up for this after seeing it on a tweet from Joseph Kerski....

May give it a go while up in Perth at the weekend

Introducing Mapillary from Mapillary on Vimeo.

Greater London as a National Park - new focus...

Win £1,000 and the opportunity to shape London by entering the Institute for Global Prosperity Challenge 2015
We are delighted to announce that the Institute for Global Prosperity Challenge 2015 focuses on the idea of Greater London National Park.
UCL prosperity
By 2030 it’s predicted that over half of the world’s population will live in cities. We must start thinking now about securing the future prosperity of London’s inhabitants, as well as those who work and sustain the city. Predictions beg the question, is present-day London – a city built largely in the 18th and 19th centuries – a suitable blueprint for the 21st century?
The Greater London National Park is an imaginative and provocative idea that deserves serious consideration. The Institute for Global Prosperity invites teams that include UCL postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students to participate in the challenge by conducting research and suggesting what it would take to for the Greater London National Park to become a reality.
Participants must demonstrate what the multidisciplinary research community of London can contribute to this major challenge for London’s future development. Teams will, identify problems, demonstrate the relevance of existing research, identify and utilise existing data sets that bear upon the identified problems, propose innovative models and methods and critically evaluate and make the case for Greater London as a national park.
Led by Professor Henrietta L. Moore, the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity aims to transform how we make decisions, the kinds of evidence and reasoning on which our decisions are based, and the tools (cultural, policy, legal) we have at our disposal.
Click here for full details, to read suggested research questions and to register before the 1 December 2014 deadline.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

SAGT 2015 - help needed ....

If you have a moment, I'd appreciate some help with my presentation. There are two things that you could do - either one will be fine.
1. Please fill in this form - it'll only take you a few minutes at most - it's for the more 'fun' element of the seminar...

 2. Please download the MiniGeogs spreadsheet and send me a picture of your MiniGeog - full details in previous post

New GA toolkits

Two new GA toolkit books have now been published, and arrived in school this week.
Plenty of interesting ideas for teaching about Geology and Weathering from John Widdowson in 'The Role of Stones' and an exploration of 'India' by Catherine Owen.
The toolkits now offer good coverage of most KS3 topics and concepts. Here's a diagram which shows the coverage as a matrix:

Here's a great picture taken by my friend Ian Ward on a recent trip to Agra. It shows the gap between the image of India that the Taj Mahal projects, and the reality of life for those who live on the other side of the high wall that surrounds it...

Image credit: Ian Ward, and used with permission

Saturday, 18 October 2014

MiniGeogs are back... ( #minigeogs )

MiniGeogs was one of my favourite projects that I thought of when building the GeographyPages website. It was created back in 2005, with the help of FatMax, and I was reminded of it recently, when Tony Cassidy confessed his love for it as a revision activity.
It s going to make a return over half term as part of my preparations for the SAGT conference, of which much more to come in the next few days as the conference takes place, and I finish off my presentation.

Go HERE to download the XLS file that you'll need to create your MiniGeog.
You'll need to enable the macro that it contains to do the painting by numbers magic.

This is a mini-pixellated image in a 10x10 grid - a little creative challenge for you and your students...

Here's the instruction sheet.

Why not have a go at making:

- a mini landscape
- a physical or human feature
- a map symbol
- the outline of a country
- a local landmark

If you want a challenge sheet, then here are some things that I'd like you to have a go at.

Could you please screengrab the 10x10 MiniGeog section of the XLS and send them to me / tweet them with the hashtag #minigeogs

Here's a few examples that I got from the Wayback Machine archive of my classic GeographyPages, which had over 5 million page views in their time...

Thanks to Val Vannet, Helen Nurton, Victoria Ellis and Noel Jenkins for these back in the day....

Would love to have a good gallery to challenge the SAGT delegates with on the day of the conference....

Now minigeog on...

Latest OFSTED guidance

For those who may not have seen this, and be interested in the latest guidance on the nature of school inspections from OFSTED.

We had ISI in school last year, and resulted in a very positive outcome, particularly in terms of judgements on teaching and learning.

Friday, 17 October 2014

GeoCapabilities - what can Geography do for you?

I can share some news about an EU-funded project which I will be involved in for the next few years, into 2016.

As regular readers will know, I have been involved in a whole range of projects over the last few years, both before, during and after working for the Geographical Association, and then since returning to teaching. I am grateful to those colleagues who have involved me in such projects, and with whom I have worked - it has introduced me to many inspirational colleagues from across the EU and beyond, and developed my own personal learning network as well as informing my teaching and other work beyond the classroom.

The project I have been asked to join is called GeoCapabilities, and connects quite a few of the areas that I have worked in and on over the years, including the idea of 'curriculum making' which arose from the work of Professor David Lambert at the time we were creating the GA's manifesto for school geography: 'a different view' when I worked for the Geographical Association.

I previously attended one of the first meetings of the project at the EuroGeo conference in Bruges at Easter 2013. I blogged that back then: a 4 hour meeting involving some UK teachers and academics from a number of countries. The team have since presented at AAG and also at this year's GA conference (they also came to GeoBeerMeet which is a good sign)

I've also previously posted about this article in RIGEO, written by David Lambert with Michael Solem from the AAG and Sirpa Tani from the University of Helsinki. I get a name check at the end too, which is nice.
The article includes the following section which starts to explain the idea of geocapabilities:

We posit that the powerful knowledge offered by geography education consists of a deep descriptive ‘world knowledge’; a theoretically-informed relational understanding of people and places in the world; and a propensity and disposition to think about alternative social, economic and environmental futures. In the context of GeoCapabilities, we are interested in determining the ways in which geography can be considered a powerful knowledge in the education of young people. For curriculum making, this implies thinking about the role of geographic knowledge, skills, perspectives and values in developing the capabilities of young people. It also implies thinking in terms of how young people may become deprived of certain capabilities when they lack access to the powerful knowledge provided by geography education.

In other words (and I'm simplifying things here for my own benefit as much as anything): what can geography do for you, and what implications does this have for teachers developing the curriculum and becoming 'curriculum makers' ?

I've also blogged about a seminar with Margaret Roberts at the IoE that I was privileged to be able to attend last year.
Video of this event has now been made available and I shall post a link in another post, to be added shortly.

You can follow more of our activities by visiting the website.
Check the ABOUT tab for a brief set of introductory resources.

I will also be tweeting information and other news as the project develops over on the Twitter account for the project @geocapabilities - follow us on Twitter to see how the project develops.

My role will be to work on a web resource aimed at guiding teachers through a series of modules which will help them think through how Geocapabilities can inform their work. It will act as a portal, a discussion forum and also a CPD activity.

I'm looking forward to working with, and learning from people I've worked with, and learned from before.

Another interesting professional chapter begins....

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Life on Earth

An interesting website from the BBC which enables you to enter your date of birth and a few other details and get some fascinating facts about your life.

Why not ask students to enter their date of birth, and compare their results with yours. Here's a few things that the site told me about my life...

A message from Rwanda

This morning started with a chance to meet Bishop Louis of Kigali. He was present during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. He was visiting the school to talk about the work that he is doing to help the country recover from the genocide, and support children and communities.

There were some very perceptive questions from the students, who were interested in the country and its history. I asked a less perceptive question about the flag, which resembles a landscape, and (like many flags) has colours which are representative of positive aspects, with a bright sun shining down on it.

A real privilege to meet someone present at a moment in history, and who is now devoting his life to repair the damage caused during the genocide.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hanging out in Toulouse

Google Hangout with Alan Parkinson about Otzi the Iceman from History Teacher on Vimeo.

A video of my chat with students from International School of Toulouse earlier this week is now up online. It was interrupted by two power cuts sadly, but we got there in the end.
I spoke to students who had been engaged in a joint project based on my 'Ice Man' book...
History was provided by Russel Tarr and Geography by Matt Podbury
History resources here (account needed for Active History)
Geography resources here

As it happens, I've been using the book this week as part of the school's reading week...
The materials are a mix of what Matt produced (with a few edits) and some new stuff from me...

Will share some of it over at my teaching blog.
Here's one of my Year 7 groups getting stuck in...

Also good to see my 'Extreme Survival' books is a Book of the Month for October on the Collins website.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Mt. Ontake resources on the GA website

A recent addition to the GA website is a set of resources based around the recent Mt. Ontake volcanic eruption in Japan, which resulted in quite a few fatalities amongst people who were climbing the mountain when it erupted without warning.

The resources have been written by my SPC colleague Stephen Schwab.

GA members can log in and download a whole range of extra materials too.

Monday, 13 October 2014

RGS-IBG CPD sessions

A few new additions have been made to the RGS's CPD offerings over the next few months, and they look to be worth checking out. I may be tempted by one or two in addition to the one I'm heading to already.
There's a full day on the new KS3 Curriculum which has a range of useful sessions.

There are also two update sessions in January: one on Russia, and one on Glaciation...

Hanging out in Toulouse

Thanks to Matt Podbury and Russel Tarr for inviting me into their classroom this morning, via Google Hangout.

We had a few issues with two power cuts and bandwidth issues (at my end) but we got there in the end, and I was able to answer some perceptive questions from the students about my book the Ice Man, which they have been studying as part of a joint geography-history project.
Have been following the project on Twitter and there's some wonderful student work emerging from the project.

I'll be sharing my own two lesson short scheme which I'm using as part of our whole school literacy week over on my teaching blog later today - with some documents (borrowed) from here...

Saturday, 11 October 2014

TeachIt Geography Competition

A few weeks left to enter this competition and win a range of excellent prizes...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ebola resource for Geography

Another fine piece of work by Matt Podbury, and now available on the GeographyPods website.

Pearson / Edexcel Geography Focus groups

Pearson will be running some focus groups for Edexcel GCSE Geography during half-term week in October (27th-31st) looking at the new proposals for 2016 GCSE Geography.

The focus groups will take place either in the morning or afternoon (depending on participant availability) in 2 locations (Central London and Manchester) with an incentive of £70 Amazon vouchers per participant (e-vouchers will be sent out shortly after the sessions).

As part of this exercise, there will be a short pre-task which will involve some background reading.

If you teach Edexcel GCSE Geography A, are a Head of Department/Subject and are interested in participating in a focus group discussion, please complete this short survey which you can access from this link

We do, unfortunately, have limited availability and are seeking a mix of teaching backgrounds. However, we will make every effort to involve as many teachers as possible in our research. The link will only be live until 9 am on Monday 13 October.

Jon Wolton FRGS
Geography Subject Advisor

Monday, 6 October 2014

Geographical Heroes: Garrison Keillor

Every now and then, I write about people with a geographical connection who have inspired and entertained me over the years, and the latest person to mention (though they have appeared here before) is the American writer Garrison Keillor. He created the town of Lake Wobegon, and has performed a monologue providing 'News from Lake Wobegon' on his Prairie Home Companion radio show for decades. It's a sustained piece of urban literature and remember that Geography literally means "writing the Earth" and Keillor has written Lake Wobegon into being...

A new book has been released with a selection of his writings, and it's glorious reading so far.

Garrison has written a great article for the National Geographic's website which explores the importance of geography in our lives and how there's no place like home...

Give the Lake Wobegon tales a go, it's worth a visit...

New GA journals now online

Always a pleasing moment when the new Geographical Association journals come online.

The latest Teaching Geography has a focus on the theme of place, and had some useful articles which I could instantly make use of, including a piece of work on the Arctic and an article on the Geocapabilities project by David Lambert. There was also this striking poster for 2015's GA Conference (and an interview with David Rogers) in Primary Geography, along with a range of interesting activities and ideas.

It's also good to see something I wrote and something I co-wrote as the featured products in the shop.

I was there hoping to order the new John Widdowson toolkit, but it wasn't in yet, although Catherine Owen's book on India is there to order now... Nice to see the 'Look at it this Way' roundel on the front too...

And earlier, Alan Kinder tweeted encouraging news about membership... All good stuff...

Sunday, 5 October 2014


There was quite a lot of press coverage a few weekends ago about the awarding of the Woolfson Prize to a plan to build a series of garden cities.?
Nick Clegg spoke about the possibility of garden cities 'solving' some of the problems of urban areas. This has been followed up in numerous locations and newspapers over the last few weeks since the awarding of the prize.

You can read the final report by CLICKING THIS LINK (PDF download)

p.77 of the report starts to move into one of the contentious areas: the movement into Green Belt land, which is something that has been picked up by quite a few of the articles.

This is an area which most GCSE and 'A' level Urban topics would also refer to, and the report would therefore make a useful addition to the resources used for teaching these courses.

Antarctica Poundland Map activity

Using a range of items from Poundland to create a map of Antarctica, which is then turned into an interactive resource using an iPad and appropriate apps.

Activity sheet and mark sheet below

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Danny MacAskill - a collaborative geography resource

This video has had a few more views than the previous one.
When I posted this over on my teaching blog on the day it had been launched, it had already had over 100 000 views, and is now at almost three million and rising.

It's perfect for our Year 7 unit on Adventure Landscapes.

I showed the video yesterday, but its impact would have been greater with a proper piece of work to accompany it, so here's what I've planned so far.

I've started a Google Drive document on the video to try to build a collaborative Geography resource for using the video in the classroom.
Head over there and edit now if you have an idea for how it can be improved.

It's also embedded below so that you can see what I've done so far. If you have something to add to it or want to help out with the tables then please do....

This will also be featured in my SAGT Conference presentation at the end of the month.

Please note - this is only partly formed, and not the final resource...

Powerful Knowledge: an IoE seminar

Last year, I was fortunate to attend a seminar at the Institute of Education.

Michael Young and Margaret Roberts gave their opinions on what is meant by powerful knowledge in education. Margaret's video is well worth a watch in particular...
I've embedded them both here for you.

Powerful knowledge in essence is 'what you go to school to learn'... 

 Michael Young


Margaret Roberts