Monday, 26 January 2015

Teaching Geography

The Spring 2015 issue of Teaching Geography is now available to download from the GA website. Primary Geography is also there (but not Geography as I write this....)

An exciting issue, as it includes an article by my HoD Claire, describing our Scheme of Work called Walls.
This looks at ideas of division, exclusion and conflict for Year 8.

Plenty of other useful content too...


Sunday, 25 January 2015

GA Conference 2015

The programme for the GA Conference 2015 has been released, and it's already looking like being a packed 3 days in Manchester.
My place is booked.
I'm taking part in a few sessions, and looking forward to seeing lots of others.

You can download the programmes from the GA website.

As usual on Thursday, there is the Public lecture, and the GA Awards.

David Collins, Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Salford, will give this year’s public lecture on ‘Climate change, glacier decline and water resources’. Glacier-fed rivers are important water resources, especially for hydropower and irrigation, but glaciers are continuing to decline from maximum extents recorded in the 1860s. Following climatic warming, glacier river flows will first increase but then decrease.
How much and for how long can increased meltwater production from warming offset declining ice area for melting?

Other highlights identified....
  • Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography (Oxford University) will be presenting this year’s Keynote Address on ‘The Geography of Elections: Will the 40 year rise in of voting polarization continue this May?'
  • Special event for students and NQTs with keynote lecture by David Leat, Professor of Curriculum Innovation (Newcastle University) on ‘Back to the Future - Reinventing the Curriculum in a Digital Age’
  • Professor Katie Willis (Royal Holloway) on the geographical perspectives of development
  • Hands-on IT workshop on app-making in geography
  • A knowledge update session on cooler China
This year, for the first time there is also a Teachmeet being organised on the Friday evening, which will be followed by the Beermeet.

I've just taken the Friday from the programme for example, and highlighted things which are of particular interest to me... that's not to say that all of the sessions aren't interesting, but I have a particular connection to these...

As you can see there's lots to attract you to Manchester... and believe it me it takes a lot to attract me to Manchester for three days...

First session:


Assessing the new curriculum is an area for many schools to focus on. How are you doing it ? David Gardner used to work for QCDA so should know what the latest thinking is.

Digital Earth is a project I've been involved with at various times over the last few years, and it's always good to hear Karl speak. You can see some of the documents that I contributed to here.

Simon Renshaw and other colleagues from the GA's Secondary Committee are presenting this session on hinge questioning.

Paul Turner published a great free eBook last year, and had the good taste to give me a mention, so he gets one here.

The Presidential Lecture is always worth hearing, and it's good to be in a lecture theatre with so many other geographers...


I shall be working on the GeoCapabilities for the next few years, and will try to visit this session. it is billed as a Research paper, but is actually a presentation / workshop.

Leo Houlding's session will be excellent and exciting...

John Lyon's fieldwork session is a repeat of one he did with Paula Owens last week at the Association for Science Education conference. 2015 is the Year of Fieldwork, so time to get involved. Don't forget there's an excellent book published by the GA as well.

Mobile devices are increasingly used in schools, and the GA's ICT SIG session looks like being very useful.

I'm also interested in the Earth in Vision project too, and how it is developing. This is an OU project, and I was invited to be part of it, but couldn't due to other commitments.


Another packed session after lunch....

Bob Digby explores how we can assess enquiry work.

Richard Bustin, a fellow GeoCapabilities teacher is always worth listening to and he'll be sharing some tools to resource the new curriculum.

I've followed Jamie Woodward for a while now on Twitter. He's the author of the 'Very Short Introduction to the Ice Age'. Glaciation is on the new KS3, so this is likely to be a very popular session.

Darren Bailey will share the latest ideas on Digimap for Schools. In the last few years, I've worked on materials for Digimap for Schools, Digimap for Colleges, and the OS MapStream products, along with other OS related consultancy.

Bethan Harries is another SPC colleague, and the double workshop is one I'll be popping in to near the end to share some of the work that we've been doing.

However, up against all of that is my HoD, Claire and I....

We're going to be talking about our Geography department and what we do....

Lecture 6...


This is just a few hours-worth of the conference.... there's the rest of Friday, a whole other day, and the evening events before...
Have you got your ticket booked yet ?

NASA SMAP launch

This Friday, a satellite is due to be launched as part of a project to explore and monitor soil moisture around the Earth.
It is called NASA SMAP, which refers to the active-passive sensor....


It will orbit the earth, capturing information about the Earth and the level of soil moisture.
Why does soil moisture matter?


The topsoil layer is the one in which the food we eat grows and where other vegetation lives. Moisture in the soil indirectly affects us in a variety of ways. In the course of its observations, SMAP will also determine if the ground is frozen or thawed in colder areas of the world.
SMAP is designed to measure soil moisture over a three-year period, every 2-3 days. This permits changes, around the world, to be observed over time scales ranging from major storms to repeated measurements of changes over the seasons.
Everywhere on Earth not covered with water or not frozen, SMAP measures how much water is in the top layer of soil. It also distinguishes between ground that is frozen or thawed. Where the ground is not frozen, SMAP measures the amount of water found between the minerals, rocky material, and organic particles found in soil everywhere in the world (SMAP measures liquid water in the top layer of ground but is not able to measure the ice.)  
SMAP will produce global maps of soil moisture. Scientists will use these to help improve our understanding of how water and carbon (in its various forms) circulate. The water cycle involves more than the obvious processes cycling through the steps of evaporation from the oceans and land to condensation forming clouds that then drop rain or snow on the ground (precipitation), followed by the water flowing across the land before returning to the sea. For example, plants absorb water from the soil to grow, but they also “transpire” some of it straight back into the air. 
The carbon cycle has more branches than the water cycle. It refers to the transfer of carbon between and among Earth’s atmosphere (air), pedosphere (soil), lithosphere (rock), hydrosphere (surface water: ocean, lakes, and rivers), and the cryosphere (all forms and places where ice is found on Earth including sea ice, snow, glaciers, and permafrost). For example, carbon (in the form carbon dioxide) is found in the air, dissolved in water, and emitted from underground sources as well everything that breathes. Carbonate minerals are found on the sea floor and in mountains, as well as the famous White Cliffs of Dover. Petroleum and coal are carbon that is trapped underground until it is pumped up or mined. All of these forms of carbon can cycle in various ways among the ‘spheres.
Weather and climate studies will use SMAP data as well. The amount of water that evaporates from the land surface into the atmosphere depends on the soil moisture. Soil moisture information is key to understanding the flows of water and heat energy between the surface and atmosphere that impact weather and climate. Currently, we know little about soil moisture variability at either regional or global scales. Frequent and reliable soil moisture measurements from SMAP will help improve the predictive capability of weather and climate models.

Thought for the Day


Friday, 23 January 2015

BETT - final day tomorrow...

Final chance to head over to the INTEL stand and see some of the work that Helen Steer and I have been doing with the folks from INTEL...

Images: Duncan Wilson

The Soil Sensor teacher material references the NASA SMAP satellite which launches next week. We will be featuring this on the blog next week....
An important satellite launch....

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Richer World

A new BBC section has a range of very useful content for exploring inequality, which is timely given the recent stories about the wealth of the richest 1% exceeding that of the other 99%...


 Useful article

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Carter Review on ITT has been published today. Announcement on the DfE website here, from where the report can be downloaded as a PDF.

Interesting reading for those interested in how teachers will be trained, and implications for the coming teacher shortage...

BETT 2015

This week sees the BETT Show at ExCeL. I have been to BETT many times over the years, working in various capacities, but am not going to be there this year now sadly...
However, I have been working on a project with the INTEL folks I previously worked with on the Distance project, and the wonderful Helen Steer from Explorer HQ.
Visit the Intel Education stand and seek out the sessions taking place in the Networking Lounge
Here's a sneak preview of something we worked on some resources for... can you tell what it is ?


Also keep an eye to the skies next week for the launch of a NASA satellite linked to some resources we created as part of this project.... more on that next week....

Sunday, 18 January 2015

How the Earth works...


Earth Primer is a science book for playful people. Discover how Earth works through play—on your iPad. Join a guided tour of how Earth works, with the forces of nature at your fingertips. Visit volcanoes, glaciers, sand dunes. Play with them, look inside, and see how they work.

Earth Primer defies existing genres, combining aspects of science books, toys, simulations, and games. It is a new kind of interactive experience which joins the guided quality of a book with open ended simulation play.
Features:
• Discover how Earth works through play.
• The forces of nature are at your fingertips—
make volcanoes, shape sand dunes, form glaciers, sculpt mountains, push around tectonic plates, paint with wind, heat up magma—and more!
• 20 different tools to unlock.
• Richly interactive geological simulations.
• Sandbox mode.

This looks excellent
Earth, A Primer — Trailer from Chaim Gingold on Vimeo.

Made by Chaim Gingold who worked on The Sims, but also Spore, which I used back in 2008....

Looking forward to having a play with this when it comes out...

Antarctica TED talk

Werner Herzog's 'rules'

Some years ago, I completed an interesting project which was to produce some teaching materials for a new Werner Herzog film.
It was called 'Encounters at the End of the World' and described a trip to Antarctica, to meet some of the people who lived and worked at the end of the world... It was characteristically interesting and challenging in its style and structure.

Herzog is a very interesting character, and a film director who has been controversial at times. Many years ago I bought his book 'Walking in Ice' where he describes a walk made to a friend who was ill, in the depths of winter. He felt that the act of walking to her, rather than just driving, would keep her alive...
He's also revealed his 24 maxims...
Read his ideas here.

Some of these might be seen as being relevant to teaching too...
Perhaps:
- "Day one is the point of no return"
- "Develop your own voice"
and
- "Guerilla tactics are best"

Saturday, 17 January 2015

New RGS card...

A really apt image for this year's Royal Geographical Society fellows / members card in the centenary year of Shackleton's 'Endurance' expedition...

This will be the 'key' to a number of lectures and events throughout the year... always a pleasure to visit the RGS-IBG.

Household spending

The Office for National Statistics has released a great variety of visualisations in recent times, and the latest one is well worth a look.
I'm interested in the visualisation on how much households spend each week, for example. This is a useful basis for discussions about inequality and changing lifestyles.

Coincidentally, there was also this BBC article on the changing contents of the 'basket of goods' that is used to calculate inflation. Lots of cultural geography connections here...

Another anniversary !

The third anniversary on this date of geographical importance :)

4500 visitors

Busy day here yesterday... not sure what brought everyone here... probably spam to be fair...

Had a lot of interest in my GeoCapabilities post - almost 400 reads...

The South Pole - 103 years ago today....

Camp 69. T. -22º at start. Night -21º. The Pole. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected. We have had a horrible day – add to our disappointment a head wind 4 to 5, with a temperature -22º, and companions labouring on with cold feet and hands.

We started at 7.30, none of us having slept much after the shock of our discovery. We followed the Norwegian sledge tracks for some way; as far as we make out there are only two men. In about three miles we passed two small cairns. Then the weather overcast, and the tracks being increasingly drifted up and obviously going too far to the west, we decided to make straight for the Pole according to our calculations. At 12.30 Evans had such cold hands we camped for lunch – an excellent ‘week-end one.’ We had marched 7.4 miles. Lat. sight gave 89º 53′ 37”. We started out and did 6 1/2 miles due south. To-night little Bowers is laying himself out to get sights in terrible difficult circumstances; the wind is blowing hard, T. -21º, and there is that curious damp, cold feeling in the air which chills one to the bone in no time. We have been descending again, I think, but there looks to be a rise ahead; otherwise there is very little that is different from the awful monotony of past days. Great God! this is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority. Well, it is something to have got here, and the wind may be our friend to-morrow. We have had a fat Polar hoosh in spite of our chagrin, and feel comfortable inside – added a small stick of chocolate and the queer taste of a cigarette brought by Wilson. Now for the run home and a desperate struggle. I wonder if we can do it.

20 years on from Kobe...

Those who have been teaching as long as I have, will remember the earthquake that took place in January 1995 in the city of Kobe (the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake). It became the case study for the impact of earthquakes on a city for many years, along with the fate of Mr. and Mrs. Endo, immortalised in an early mystery / card sort.

Cards from BST (PDF download)

It's 20 years since the quake struck.... it happened at 5.46am - timing which impacted on the casualty numbers and the way the city was affected, along with other factors which emerged in the weeks that followed. 
The city gathered today to remember those who died...

Interesting detail from the Japan Times article - a reminder of the complexity of connections between natural events and human geographies:

One legacy of the quake was the birth of a national volunteer movement for disaster relief. Many residents and those who arrived from other parts of Japan — and from overseas — in the ensuing days to help with rescue efforts, formed NGOs and NPOs that travel around Japan and the world whenever earthquakes, floods or other disasters occur.
Locally, Kobe and Hyogo universities are attracting Japanese and foreign students interested in studying its disaster response policies and volunteerism.
Meanwhile, there are about 36,000 people still living in 273 public housing projects built for those who lost their homes. Just over half are at least 65 years old. Over the past two decades, more than 1,000 who were living alone died.
These public housing units, which are now being rented by the occupants, are supposed to be returned to the local governments that own them by 2020. But pressure is growing on officials to let them stay.
Ido has said figuring out how to take care of those residents and other elderly victims of the quake will be one of Hyogo’s greatest challenges in the years ahead.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Cities are good for you

Down to London on Wednesday after a morning teaching, and working with some folks from INTEL for a project that will see the light at the BETT show in a few weeks time.
Before the meeting started I had time for a quick wander in Cheapside and came across Daunt Books.

I'd explored some of the ideas in this book before, but finally got a signed copy, as I'm writing about cities at the moment...

See the GeoLibrary for more books for your library...

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Australia... via Doug Belshaw

GA Magazine - Spring 2015

The latest issue of GA Magazine features a range of useful features as always.
It's sent out free, three times a year to GA members, and available to download as a PDF
(Member login required)

Good to see the continuing growth of the GeoLincs network, based at Bourne Grammar School getting a mention. I'm going to be going along to a future meeting in 2015 to offer a session on something useful.

A reminder that the next issue of GA Magazine will feature a WebWatch feature which is crowdsourced. I am after suggestions for this feature, but I need them to be sent through in the next few weeks ideally. Please send an idea for a website / app / tool / lesson idea, with 60-100 words or so (feel free to add more) and any picture or screenshot that you think might look good. 

I'd like a few more contributions from readers before I complete it myself...

Royal Meteorological Society request for help re. new curriculum support

From the Royal Meteorological Society
For more information on any of this, contact the Education team at the RMetS
A level geography core content: The RMetS are delighted that, in the new core content for AS and A level geography announced at the end of 2014, many of their recommendations have been included. As a result, some study of weather and climate will now be compulsory at this level.


Secondary Geography Teachers: have you received one of these Climate Change Update booklets with GA's Teaching Geography journal in September? If so, we’d love to know what you thought of it (this will help us decide whether to produce another focussed on A level geography):

- Have you received one?

- Have you looked at it?

- Is it useful?

- What were the most relevant bits?

- What were the least relevant bits?

- Would you like any more?

If you have not received one and would like to, please get in touch. Please send your responses to education@rmets.org.



Secondary Science Teachers – have you received one of these Climate Change Updates booklets with Classroom Physics in December? If so, we’d love to know what you thought of it:

- Have you received one?

- Have you looked at it?

- Is it useful?

- What were the most relevant bits?

- What were the least relevant bits?

- Would you like any more?

If you have not received one and would like to, please get in touch. Please send your responses to education@rmets.org.

Passionate about teaching weather and climate? We are looking for teachers to join our new virtual education committee. We’re still sorting out the details, but it will probably ‘meet’ online twice a year, to discuss one or two key issues concerning the Society’s support for UK teachers. We would love to have enough members to be able to have separate committees for primary and secondary teachers, and for teachers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Please contact education@rmets.org if you are interested in joining.

And finally: Build a weather satellite in Minecraft?

EUMETSAT is launching a Minecraft satellite-building competition for 6-16 year olds this week.

The aim of the competition is to get competitors to build a model of one or more of EUMETSAT’s weather satellites in Minecraft, or to be creative and design their own satellite from scratch. The closing date of the competition is April 30th 2015. The winners of the two categories will each get Lego Mindstorms. There will also be runners-up prizes of Raspberry Pi starter kits. More information about the competition is available at: http://l-zone.info/minecraft-competition-2015/

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Flood Map of England and Wales

This map was in the news over the last few days as there was a story about a report from the Environment Agency which suggested several thousand homes are in danger of being abandoned to the rise in sea levels. There's been an increase in the interest in the map as the anniversary of last year's Somerset floods has come and gone. The map is produced by Friends of the Earth.
Tick the layers to show the information....


A report linked to the apparent 'abandonment' of thousands of houses to the sea around the coast of the UK is connected to this map.
About 7000 homes, including several hundred on the North Norfolk coast are likely to find it impossible to get flood insurance over the next few years, and will actually fall into the sea within the next 100 years, according to an Environment Agency report, details of which were published just before the New Year.

Over the next 100 years the most at risk local authorities are Cornwall, North Norfolk, East Riding of Yorkshire, Scarborough, Southampton and Great Yarmouth, all of which are expected to lose over 200 properties to the waves.

Students could be asked to use a range of mapping and other information to suggest which houses are the most likely to be affected...

Check out your own home's flood risk, using this map by Owen Boswarva....

RSGS - new website

The new Royal Scottish Geographical Society website is now live from December...


Also, members and fellows will be receiving their latest 'The Geographer' magazine, which has a focus on rewilding.

This has a nice piece from George Monbiot's 'Feral', and other related articles, plus a special offer on Juliet Robertson's outdoor learning book 'Dirty Teaching'.

Friday, 9 January 2015

GA Conference 2014 video released...

In advance of a post coming tomorrow about the GA Conference 2015, here's a link to a video showing some highlights from the 2014 event...


Geographical Association Annual Conference from Geographical Association on Vimeo.

Thought for the Day

‘Geography in schools is, from our view, in the best place it has been for 20 years,’ 
 Rita Gardner, Director of the Royal Geographical Society

Landscapes in a Box

I'm always pleased to receive examples of Landscapes in a Box, as the idea continues to gather strength... Here's the latest crop, with thanks to students of Liz Crisp at St. Margaret's School for Girls in Aberdeen...





Thursday, 8 January 2015

Felicity Aston lecture next Wednesday

You'll need to be an RGS member or fellow, or find one to take you as a guest...
Highly recommended.

Pole of Cold: a journey to chase winter - Felicity Aston

  • Wednesday 14 January at 7.00pm
  • City lecture – RGS-IBG members + one guest
Felicity shares her 30,000km journey across northern Europe and Siberia as far as the Pole of Cold, the coldest inhabited place in the world, to investigate different perspectives on winter.
Venue: The Clothworkers’ Hall, London, EC3R 7AH. This is a repeat of the lecture held at the Society’s premises in Kensington on 19 May 2014.



Felicity Aston Show Reel from Felicity Aston on Vimeo.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Interview questions

Going for a job as a Geography teacher?

You need to take a look at this list of questions that teachers are often asked at interviews. I was never very good at interviews, and had about 20 before I got my first job, but I got there in the end.
What are the 'best' (although at the time they were probably the worst as they forced you to think) geography-specific questions you've ever been asked?
I remember being asked some shocking questions by governors as well over the years: if you were a country, which one would you be? etc...

Good luck if you have an interview coming up.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

EuroGeo

Just got my membership paid up for EUROGEO for 2015
If you didn't know, EuroGeo is the European Association of Geographers

The principal aims of EUROGEO are to advance the status of geography by:
  • organising events and activities for members
  • producing publications for members
  • supporting geographers in their jobs and careers
  • identifying and promoting good practise
  • lobbying at European and national level
  • giving advice on geography
  • making recommendations to decision makers

EUROGEO promotes the European dimension in geographical education as a contribution towards the development of European citizenship. By doing so, EUROGEO encourages the development of a greater European awareness through the medium of geography and increases mutual knowledge and understanding of Europe.

EUROGEO, in affiliation with other organisations, has produced a large number of publications and has organised geography conferences, meetings and workshops on a regular basis. Representatives of professional educational associations have been actively involved in EUROGEO.

EUROGEO also supports those seeking to establish or organise national geography associations and those that promote geography as an academic discipline and geographers in the workplace.

It is clear that spatial skills and geographical information on the Web are increasingly important. The roles that geography and geographers play are being challenged by these new geo-opportunities. Those involved with the EUROGEO association are seeking to monitor and support these developments

I've been involved with EUROGEO for about 6 years now, since my time at the GA, when we got involved with a range of projects. I have also been to Salzburg quite a few times to run courses, and get involved in meetings. Along the way I have met well over 100 European educators I would not otherwise I have met, who have informed my practice.
Check out the I-USE project, and the GEOCAPABILITIES projects, both of which involve EUROGEO as partners.

Come along to sessions at the GA Conference too...

Voyage of the Betsey Part 2....

Since last summer, I have been involved in supporting and creating materials relating to an RSGS project called 'The Voyage of the Betsey'.

This recreated an earlier voyage made by a Scottish clergyman and geologist called Hugh Miller.

Hugh Miller from Cromarty was a highly influential figure in the second quarter of the 19th century. He was a self-taught geologist, writer and editor of a key Edinburgh newspaper in the lead up to the tectonic changes in the Scottish church that culminated in the Disruption of 1843. Miller was one of Scotland’s outstanding geologists, one of the first of many Scottish ‘citizen scientists’ and stands beside the greats of Hutton, Lyell and Murchison.
The Cruise of the Betsey took place the year after the Disruption, when 450 ministers broke away from the Established Church. Miller joined his boyhood friend the Rev Swanson, a keen supporter of the Disruption, who had been removed from his Small Isles parish and his manse on Eigg. Swanson used the Betsey as his ‘floating manse’ so that he was still able to serve his parishioners. The cruise was to visit Tobermory, Eigg, Rum, Glenelg and Isle Ornsay on Skye. Miller’s accounts record much about the social circumstances they came across as well as detailed descriptions of the geology, palaeontology and landscapes encountered. During the Cruise of the Betsey, Miller made many ground-breaking scientific discoveries. He wrote about his journey on the Betsey, and other travels through Scotland.

The second phase of the voyage is taking place in June 2015, and details are below:

Testimony of the Rocks: Journeys through Time (20th-26th June 2015)


Inspired by the sea journeys of geologist Hugh Miller, the Scottish Geodiversity Forum (www.scottishgeodiversityforum.org ) and the Isle of Luing Community Trust (www.isleofluing.org/atlantic-islands-centre) have chartered the beautiful old sailing boat Leader again to follow the ancient sea routes taken by travellers over the ages around Scotland’s Atlantic islands. From the coracles of early Mesolithic people to Viking longboats and Cal Mac ferries, these journeys have been influenced by the rugged landscape & unpredictable weather. 

We are currently recruiting 14 people of all ages and backgrounds to join us on Leader from 20th -26th June 2015. At the heart of this journey will be the stories that reveal the relationship between people and place, but perhaps above all, the importance of the underlying geology of these remarkable islands in shaping people’s lives over the millennia. The cost for the week is £550 which covers full board including delicious home cooked food.  No sailing experience is required. Some sponsored places may be available, especially for younger people.

For further information contact joyce@scottishgeodiversityforum.org

Here's a piece by Norrie Bissell, read out at one of the events to coincide with this year's voyage... I love the poem at the start...