Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Migration: in and out...

A useful interactive map to show the countries of origin of immigrants, and where emigrants head to, for each country.
Produced by Migration Policy Institute

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Trip Advisor comments

I'd thought of doing something with these Trip Advisor comments for a while now...

They are comments from people who have visited some of the iconic places, and then moaned about it.
Which place is this for example:

“Worst experience ever. Took my grandson to New York. One thing on his list was to see XXXXX Stood in a horrendous line to go through security and it was like a third world country. Plus, no place to sit on a terribly over packed ferry that listed to the right. Wasted a whole afternoon. Just go to the dock and throw your money in the water.”

Places - a new web map

Thanks to Keir Clarke for the tipoff to another excellent map. This time the focus is on PLACE NAMES. These provide a good connection to the landscape, and sometimes are a reminder of features which have since disappeared, or which were there when the settlement was first established.

e.g. ley means a clearing in the forest, and the map below shows the concentration of places with that ending....

I was born in a village in Yorkshire whose name ended in 'ley'

The Places map uses Open StreetMap

Explore the patterns of particular place-name endings. The map here is for places ending in the word 'ley'.

The Places map allows you to map the relative density of place-names in different countries around the world.
Using the application you can enter place-name prefixes or suffixes and view a map showing the geographic distribution of place-names containing those terms.

For example, in the UK we can enter the place-name suffixes of -thorpe and -thwaite to see where the Vikings settled in Britain.

If we take two more common town endings, such as -ford or -bridge we find that the geographic distribution of places with these endings is far more evenly spread across the UK than the ones which are based on linguistic connections with previous settlers. This second map shows the ending 'by', which is linked to the Norse arrivals in East Yorkshire and similar locations around York...

Back in the day, I used to do several lessons on placenames... perhaps with the new focus on the nature of places, and changing places they could come back again....

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Arctic Live 2016

Jamie Buchanan Dunlop is heading back to Svalbard later this year, and will be leading more Arctic Live Skype sessions in classrooms around the world.
We took part a few years ago and it was excellent.

Digital Explorer is returning to the Arctic to take part in another research expedition. Students will have the opportunity to speak to Digital Explorer’s Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop at the NERC base on Svalbard about life and science in the frozen north and discover the secrets of this remote and extreme environment. Classes can also talk with Polar scientists Dr Helen Findlay, Dr Ceri Lewis and Dr Markus Frey in the UK about their experience of the Arctic and their research.
This lesson is part of the XL Catlin Oceans Education programme. Each Skype lesson will last for 30 minutes and will start with a short introduction by a member of the team followed by a Q&A session with your class. Each student in the class should prepare a non-Googleable question for the guest speaker in advance. Questions should be sent should be sent to with the subject line Arctic Live!
Free accompanying resources, lesson plans and multimedia materials are available to download from
You can also explore a range of multimedia resources at by selecting the ‘Frozen Oceans’ themes.
Please note that while every effort will be made to accommodate each request, there are limited spaces available. Each lesson starts on the hour and half past the hour. If your country is not listed please to book your lesson.

Sign up here 

Olaf builds a fold mountain...

In case you missed it…

'AS' Study Day

Down to London earlier in the week, to take students to the Royal Geographical Society for their 'AS' Study Day. We've been attending this for a few years now, and I've presented at previous events of this kind. Train from Ely then underground, and a walk up Exhibition Road to the RGS.

We had sessions from friends old and new: rivers, coasts, energy, population and migration, along with some exam technique guidance.

At the same time, we were able to take in the current exhibition that is in the entrance foyer, and also a special entrance area lined with maps and books.

Enduring Eye is an exhibition of Hurley's wonderful images from Shackleton's 'Endurance' expedition. These are wonderful images, which have been rescanned from the original source, and reveal the efforts that were made to rescue the crew of the Endurance after it sank.

Keep an eye out for other teacher and student events at the RGS...

Made arrangements for an event later in the year where I'm speaking, and working with teachers at the RGS...

TV location map

This map, created by Tim Ritz has been doing the rounds of social media this weekend, and now been picked up by a few newspapers too, who are sharing the map which shows where a large number of TV series have been filmed.
This is an area that I haven't yet developed, but has been on my list of 'units to develop at some point' for some time.
It would be interesting to try to work out which programmes have been filmed close to where you live. I live close to the Norfolk coast and also Swaffham, so we have 'Alan Partridge' connections, and also the Stephen Fry series 'Kingdom'.
Ely Cathedral is also regularly used for filming, recently the new version of 'Macbeth' was filmed there and the Cathedral can be seen in the film's trailer.
Act as a location scout and work out a suitable location to film a number of key scenes in a new movie, and provide the context and some requirements - a good way to use StreetView imagery and mapping perhaps...

Image: Copyright Tim Ritz - you can buy copies of it in different sizes here too.

Good to see the Detectorists getting a mention too...

This post and lots of others are over on my Cultural Geography blog if you weren't aware of that one...

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

London Planning Awards

Fingers crossed for tonight's London Planning Awards at City Hall.

The London National Park City project, which has been driven by Daniel Raven Ellison, but also involved Mission:Explore and lots of other partners and 'friends' is up for an award for the Best Conceptual Project.

Find out more about the project HERE.

Zika / Zica

There are always interesting stories emerging which have a connection with the work we are doing in Geography with students.

One story which emerged yesterday was of particular interest, as it connects ideas of globalisation, rebranding and disease.

One of the main global stories at the moment is the growing threat of the Zika virus. This is a growing problem in Brazil, which is preparing to host the Olympics later this year. The particular threat that is being reported is to pregnant women, but there are also some other stories relating to potential transmission in other ways, which might mean that it spreads into other areas of the Americas.

At the same time the Indian car company TATA has a new model of car which it is launching. Like the NANO model, it is a small car. The name that was chosen for it was Zica.

Zica is short for 'zippy car'...

Tata is now thinking of renaming this car, but has apparently come too late for an upcoming major trade show....
They've also paid Lionel Messi quite a lot for their marketing campaign already apparently.

I remember the Vauxhall NOVA which was similarly affected by the fact that its name meant something different in different languages....

Image source: please let me know if you want the image removed.

Sunday, 31 January 2016


A lot of teachers are preparing for 29 days of writing… and #bloguary

A reminder that for the last 8 years, this blog has hosted the results of

and will carry on doing that for the foreseeable future…

Happy blogging and thanks for sending this one towards the 1.9 million visitor mark by reading this and other posts...

How deep is the ocean really….

This has been doing the rounds on social media…

Posted by Uncle Awesome on Friday, 29 January 2016

Mud and Landskipping

I've tried to cut back on the number of books that I buy - but it's hard, as it's one of the great pleasures in life. In the last couple of weeks I've bought three and carefully put a few back on the shelves of Topping Books earlier in the week as well (although I'll be back I'm sure)

This piece on the Independent on mud is a good one, by Anna Pavord.

Anna's latest book is called LANDSKIPPING. It explores the way that the landscape has been written about, painted and explored by generations of artists and other people. There are some personal travels and details in there as well, although the weather meant that Anna didn't really get as connected with the Norfolk Coast as she might otherwise have done. This goes into my extended library of books about the landscape and the way that people have been involved in its creation over the centuries.

A really beautiful and thought provoking book.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Guerrilla Cartography Food Atlas

I was reminded of this splendid resource tonight while working on some writing for a project which I have to have ready for Monday (along with a rather large pile of other things…)
I've been at it most of the day today, and this blogpost is a slight break from that.
I've been finishing off some power points on teaching about FOOD for the Hodder textbook project (will blog more about that tomorrow)

The Food Atlas was produced by Guerrilla Cartography, and we shared a few of our images from the splendid Mission:Explore Food for the project, and I also supported the original crowd funded stage.

Click the link to download as an 85Mb PDF

Friday, 29 January 2016

Thought for the Day

I'll be doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend with my son......

Computing Festival at King's Ely - a chance to come and take part...

Colleagues at my school are putting on a Computing Festival in association with INTEL, and there may be still chance for you to join us.

Here are the details from the school's website.

It is a free workshop designed for teachers and students to explore computing using INTEL powered tablets on Friday 26 February in the Hayward Theatre at King’s Ely.

We have teamed up with the Tablet Academy and Intel to provide an exciting and innovative Computing Festival for schools in the local area. These events are FREE for schools to book but we only have enough places to accept 10 schools during the day. You are welcome to book your place on a first come first served basis.
You are most welcome to bring a group of 5 pupils accompanied by one or more teachers/support staff to attend the event.  The ideal audience is Primary Years 5/6 and Secondary Years 7/8. The workshop will involve 6 activities. Students will work in groups of 5 and spend 20 minutes on each activity collecting data as they take part. Please feel free to send just a member of staff to observe the activities if pupils are unable to join them at such short notice.
What is the Computing Festival all about?
The Computing Festival is a workshop designed for teachers and students to explore computing in a fun and engaging way using Intel powered mobile devices as a tool to facilitate learning.

Who is the Festival aimed for?
The Computing Festival is aimed for pupils and staff at KS2 or 3 in schools. Both pupils and staff will engage in the activities and it is an opportunity for staff to see how to use tablets in a teaching and learning environment.

What sort of activities will I expect to see on the day?
The activities will cover a mix of Computing activities from programming your own games controller, programming a lego robot around an obstacle course, measuring objects using the tablet camera, green screen, and Minecraft in Education. These events were trialled with schools in the summer term and proved very popular. In order to get an appreciation of the day please follow this link to a video and website outlining the Computing day itself. 

The Sessions
There are two sessions that you can attend, a morning or an afternoon one. It is suitable to bring a group of 5 pupils in the morning and a different 5 for the afternoon session.
AM Session – 09:00 – 11:30
PM Session  – 12:30 – 15:00

If you would like to attend this free event, please can you confirm the names of the pupils who will be attending each session, the name of the member of staff who will accompany them and email by 5th February 2016.

Follow up from the day
There is a website built around the day which includes plenty of teacher resources as well as links to an online shop where you can purchase items that were used on the day so you can repeat this in your school at a later day.
We look forward to welcoming you to our school for an exciting Intel Computing Festival!

I'll be popping in during the day too.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A seaside sense of Place…. Dreamland...

Home - Yann Arthus Bertrand

Thanks to Ben King for the link….

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

CILT resource going up....

I'm liaising with Milan from the Geographical Association at the moment, as he's starting to build the CILT resource that I worked on last year.
Here's a CILT video on the importance of logistics.
Come and see the lecture at the GA Conference in April.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Wolfram Alpha

Every now and again I'm reminded that not everybody has heard of Wolfram Alpha… useful for so many subjects and queries…

Out to the coast

Later this year, am leading a field trip to the Norfolk coast…
Out to Weybourne earlier to recce a possible site for visiting...

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Last few days of voting

Voting for these awards is now open, and you can apparently vote for this LivingGeography blog to win in the education category if you had a mind to…
Click the picture below to be taken to the voting page.
Voting is open from 4th to 26th January 2016 - thanks if you vote for me - I have no expectation of winning, but you've got to be in in to win it… Over 6000 posts on the blog can't be wrong :)

Only GeoConnect

This week, there was the grand final of ONLY CONNECT, which was written up in 'The Guardian'. I loved this description of the difference between Only Connect and other quiz shows:

Participants were asked what linked Uralic, Slide Mountain, Paleo-Tethys and Panthalassa. They were offhandedly presented with a series of backward portmanteaux as if the concept of this alone wasn’t enough to throw the majority of the population into weeping fits of frustration. They were expected to complete a sequence based on both the atomic number of noble gases and the British-language derivation of their names. Meanwhile, on The Chase, Bradley Walsh says the word “gusset” out loud and then makes a fart sound with his mouth.

At the GA Conference in April 2016, I'm going to be presenting a special geographical version of the quiz, with the usual rounds.

I am seeking 6 'contestants' who would like to come and have a go at my geographical game show.

I'd also appreciate anyone who was able to volunteer to help out with the scoring and running the various media and screens and sounds that I'll need to make it work… hopefully...

This is a first-come first-served opportunity, but if you wanted to get together a few other people and let me know that you had a team that would be great too.

I'll also be hoping for an audience, and of course you can all play along to, as I'll give you some score cards that you can use to write down your answers.

This is on the Saturday afternoon, and would make a good end to your GA conference 2016 experience

If you want to get involved drop me an e-mail, or contact via @GeoBlogs on Twitter...

Morning bimble

Earlier this week we finally had one of the winter mornings I'd been waiting for for months: crisp, clear and frosty. I'm normally teaching for these now I'm back full time, and so I took the opportunity to walk up to the Cathedral and do a few shots on my phone (ironically I'd left my brand new camera at home…)

Click for biggery

Also, if you're up early over the next few weeks, look out for this planetary alignment.. it's been cloudy so far but fingers crossed for next week.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Marking music tonight...

Love Christina's voice, and the tone on the keyboards…

What to look for in Winter

I loved this piece by Helen MacDonald in the New Statesman, on the power of the Ladybird book of the same name. I had a copy of this book when younger, and there is great nostalgia to be had from browsing through Ladybird books.
This particular book provides memories of childhood winters gone by… one where nature played a much stronger role.
It was illustrated by the wonderful Charles Tunnicliffe.

Been there…. done that….

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Time for Geography

A new blog has been started for Geography teachers, and no it's NOT one of mine...
Time for Geography has been put together by the three Parkers: Rob, Tim and Howard.
It's a nice looking site, and promises a range of resources including videos and exam support materials.

You can also follow the @timeforgeog Twitter feed. There is also a Facebook page that you can like for updates.

I look forward to seeing how the site develops...

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Ben Hennig at Berkhamsted

There's a chance to see the wonderful Ben Hennig (and his cartograms) as he is speaking at the GA's branch at Berkhamsted school later this week. It's free to attend the event.

Tuesday 19 January 2016, 7pm Centenary Theatre, Berkhamsted School
Dr Benjamin Hennig: Visualisations of the Anthropocene –   investigating humanity’s impact on the Earth

Ben Hennig joined Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment in September 2013 as a senior research fellow. He works on spatial data analysis and geovisualisation. His research interests include social and spatial inequalities, humanity's impact on Earth, global sustainability and new concepts for the visualisation of these issues. Ben was educated at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. After working as a research assistant and departmental lecturer in human and urban geography at the Urban and Social Geography Working Group of the Department of Geography, University of Cologne (Germany) he joined the Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group at the University of Sheffield (UK) in 2008 where he completed his PhD in 2011 as part of the Worldmapper project with research on visualising the social dimensions of our planet. He then worked as a research assistant and then as a senior research fellow at the Department of Geography in Sheffield before he joined the University of Oxford. Further information about his work can be found on his personal website:

All lectures are held in the Centenary Theatre of Berkhamsted School (Kings Campus), Kings Road, Berkhamsted, HP4 3BG. Entry is free.

I worked with Ben on a number of projects, including the LondonMapper project - check that out.....

Image created by Benjamin D. Hennig. You are free use the material under Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Nice work by Rob Chambers

Plenty of ideas for using technology to support learning and curriculum development…