Saturday, 3 December 2016

Vertically challenged...

My latest read, which I've had to start before my traditional Christmas reading period when I take a short blogging holiday to refresh and refuel with inspiration is Vertical by Stephen Graham, and so far it is astonishingly good, and packed full of vertical geographies.

Here's the publishers' description which gives a flavour for what to expect...

A revolutionary reimagining of the cities we live in, the air above us, and what goes on in the earth beneath our feet.
Today we live in a world that can no longer be read as a two-dimensional map, but must now be understood as a series of vertical strata that reach from the satellites that encircle our planet to the tunnels deep within the ground. In Vertical, Stephen Graham rewrites the city at every level: how the geography of inequality, politics, and identity is determined in terms of above and below.

Starting at the edge of earth’s atmosphere and, in a series of riveting studies, descending through each layer, Graham explores the world of drones, the city from the viewpoint of an aerial bomber, the design of sidewalks and the hidden depths of underground bunkers. He asks: why was Dubai built to be seen from Google Earth? How do the super-rich in São Paulo live in their penthouses far above the street? Why do London billionaires build vast subterranean basements? And how do the technology of elevators and subversive urban explorers shape life on the surface and subsurface of the earth?

Vertical will make you look at the world around you anew: this is a revolution in understanding your place in the world.

Order from Verso books direct for prompt delivery at half price! I did....

Plastic Pollution

Iceflow Game

The IceFlow game has been launched by the University of Exeter.
The aim is to model how changing conditions can change the growth and decay of ice sheets, partly as a way of communicating the importance of these processes, but also to connect with the value of studying them.
You will need a browser like Firefox for it to work - or at least that's what I found when using it on my MacBook.
It models real research on two ice sheets in the Antarctic.

Fashion Revolution Fanzine

I've been using the work of Fashion Revolution for some time in my teaching, as part of our work on the Geography of Stuff - which is coming up again after Christmas in fact.
This is a unit focussing on the Geographies of what we own and consume, and discard, and I make use of some of Matt Podbury's resources (as always) and the work that I did with Professor Ian Cook for Follow the Things.

Fashion Revolution's key enquiry question is "Who made my clothes".

They have now launched a new publication which they are calling a fanzine. They are apparently printing 300, and need to have that number ordered to put the magazine into production. I'm all for this sort of publication: the Weapons of Reason publications so far have been amazing resources for geographers, so have this one ordered, and hope the project comes to fruition.

You can order a copy here.

Reimagining the City

A good tipoff from Ben Hennig of a programme on Reykjavik in the BBC Radio 4: Reimagining the City.

Google Education on Air

This event started at 10am today in the UK.
Sessions from Australia and New Zealand are available on demand, and US sessions start later today (and if you're reading this after the 3rd of December they're all available on demand)

Click here for the agenda.
Looking forward to Richard Treves later today...

Friday, 2 December 2016

Please say thanks by supporting Claire :)

I hope your'e finding this blog useful for your teaching, curriculum development, resource gathering, personal CPD or just general entertainment. It's been on the go since 2008, and it's now getting quite close to 7000 posts...

I'd like to ask a favour to help support my friend, mentor and colleague Claire Kyndt who supported me back into the classroom, and continues to provide inspiration for me. Claire is going to be running the London Marathon in 2017 for Mind.
I know as teachers we are the occupation that is among the most generous of them all.

If you've found this blog, or any of my other work and resources helpful in any way, I'd be really grateful if you could contribute perhaps £1 (or whatever you're comfortable donating) to Claire's total, so that she can get closer to reaching her target.
This blog, and my other resource sites have always been free, so I've not made a habit of requesting money from anybody, particularly in a time of austerity, but this is a great cause. Think of it as a running equivalent of those "buy me a coffee" buttons you see on some websites.

Click here to visit Claire's Virgin fundraising page.
Thanks for reading...

The Ice Man

Good to get a mention over on Russel Tarr's blog for he and Matt Podbury's wonderful activity based on my Ice Man book.

— (@activehistory) December 1, 2016

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

TED talk by Danny Dorling - now published

Global Learning Programme course

This looks good :)
Hope to see some of you there.

Cartoons to save lives

Via this BBC Media posting

UKEdChat Top Tweeters and Blogs

For the last 4 years or so, someone has kindly suggested that I am one of the top UK Tweeters, and LivingGeography has been suggested as one of the top UK blogs.
This is done by nominating people for a mention in the list that is curated by UKEdChat.

That's continued this year which is pleasing to see.

The latest report is in the December 2016 issue of UKEdChat, which is available to view from the app currently, but shortly from the website too.

You can also follow them on Twitter for more UK Education based news and updates.

A few other Geographers also getting a mention on the list.

The Fens - what do they mean to you?

I was interested in the way that the Fens are represented by people, as they are a man-made landscape. They produce a certain response to people.
In books like 'Waterland' by Graham Swift, they are referred to in particular ways, using particular language.
I asked people in my PLN to let me know what the Fens meant to them.
Some of them are local, and others aren't - some have family in the area, some live in the area...

This is a Wordle of the responses that I got from people:

Word Cloud generated by 
Or this Tagul Cloud

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

Visualising the fetch

When teaching about coastal processes, we often need to explain what we mean by fetch: the distance of open water over which the wind can blow to create waves. This is a potential distance, which reflects the opportunities for waves to grow larger.

This ESRI web map by Ben Flanagan visualises the nearest land which can be reached from the UK, when travelling in all directions from the coastline.
It's also another good use of GIS to remind students of the value of this tool...

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Thought for the Day

Via Geographical Imaginations Podcasting site... which is based in Salzburg - one of my favourite cities...

Earth: the magazine

I've got the first copy of this magazine, which is published by the BBC. It goes alongside the BBC Earth website.
It has a range of useful articles, in particular a good article on the changing lives of people living in the Arctic. There's good photography and other content.
I'm looking at getting a subscription for the Geography department.
Don't forget to catch up with Planet Earth 2 this weekend.

Chernobyl - 30 years on...

Back in 1986, the world watched as the Chernobyl nuclear incident took place, and a cloud of radioactive pollution headed northwards across Europe.

Simon Oakes, writing on the IB Facebook Group page reminded us that this remains in many ways a contemporary case study, as a huge construction project is just drawing to a finish to make a steel shield that will be positioned over the damaged reactor buildings to 'seal in' any future radiation.
This Financial Times article (answer a few questions to access) outlines the work, which is costing over a billion Euros.

As Simon say in his comments:
How many more global interactions can you get, than 40 countries helping fix a trans-boundary pollution problem that affected loads of countries? None more...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

New Zealand Earthquake - eye-witness accounts and photos...

When the earthquake in New Zealand happened, on the 14th November, I was aware of it within a few seconds. My friend Simon, who lives in Wellington had been woken up by the quake (it was a couple of minutes after midnight) and added a message on Facebook saying:

"Holy crap, that was scary..."

The size of the earthquake was quickly upgraded to over 7...
Aftershocks kept coming, and Simon said he was in for a rocky night ahead, and had actually turned the GeoNet app off, as it was sending an alert so frequently. By the end of the next day there had been over 1000 aftershocks.

He posted a few images that started to appear, and some memes too, such as the ones below:

These included content from stuff, and also images from friends and other local media. These were not only useful to me, but also provided links through to other useful sources of images and information.

There is an excellent set of resources on the GA website, which was curated by Stephen Schwab, but I wanted to add a few other ideas
Here are some of Simon's images in a Flickr album - more to come I hope as Simon continues to explore the affected area.

I've also obtained a seismogram from our school seismometer showing the trace from the earthquake.

This is an earthquake that might well feature in quite a few geography lessons to come... particularly the dramatic sea level uplift near Kaikoura, which has fears over its future tourism income as the summer season is on the way...

A few IAPS CPD events coming up in 2017

A bit early perhaps, but it's always a good idea to get some dates in the diary for next year. I am going to be involved in a couple of IAPS events. The IAPS is an organisation that provides support for teachers in prep schools in particular: teaching KS1-3 and similar ages.
The two events will have a Geography focus.
Details are here… feel free to book a place sooner rather than later, as that will help ensure that the events go ahead as planned.

First is an event at King's Ely open to local schools of all persuasions...

Second is an event at Oakham School

I shall be presenting on our use of Geographical Information (a bit of my Practical Pedagogies presentation adapted for this group) and also reference to the GI Learner project.

Nowhere Island

Several years ago now I became a Citizen of NowhereIsland: a project by artist Alex Hartley.
A book about the project is now being published.
It's an interesting project on the notion of place and space and what makes a country…
There are also connections with Svalbard.
The project formed part of the Cultural events surrounding the London Olympics in 2012.
I was honoured to be part of another of these projects, as Explorer HQ worked on Discover:Explore as part of the Discovering Places project.


Having set myself a challenge of not buying many more books ahead of Christmas, I succumbed today to a new book, which was given an excellent review in today's 'Guardian'.
It's a book called 'Vertical', and is about the changing nature of our cities, and how their 'verticality' (if there is such a word) reinforces some of the aspects of inequality which we are familiar with.
It's been written by Professor Stephen Graham from Newcastle University, who describes himself as a 'geography geek'.

He describes the impact of seeing the first satellite images from Landsat.
“They were amazing for a teenage geography geek like me,” he says. “I would get the images and overlay them onto local maps to work out where places were. Ever since I’ve been pretty much obsessed with satellites.” 

It can currently be obtained at half price direct from Verso Books, complete with a free eBook for your Kindle.

Check out the work of the Global Urban Research Unit.

GeoCapabilities - a new video

Made by Kelly Butler from the GeoCapabilities project.

It's about the use of Curriculum artefacts in teaching.
Published on the same day as a seminar down at UCL, which I'll hopefully find out about from those who are there...

Hodder Tectonics Conference

Down to London yesterday with 18 students for a Hodder Geography conference. It's the first time I've attended one of these events and was interested to see how it worked.

We headed down on the train and underground to Victoria, and into the Apollo Victoria Theatre, which was set up for Wicked later that evening. Bright blue sunshine and plenty of redevelopment in the area around the station. There were apparently around 1500 students and teachers attending the event.
It was good to see Helen from Discover the World was there (and also the Simon Ross video shown during the lunch break)

We arrived just in time for the start once we had registered, with Sue Warn, who set up the day with an introduction to Plate Tectonics. This was followed by talks from Dr. Martin Degg and Professor Fiona Tweed, who both spoke very well, and set out their stories clearly, and then lunch.
Met a few colleagues, although not as many as I'd hoped.
After lunch it was time for Professor Iain Stewart, and then David Redfern, before we started the journey home.

The day was useful I think. There was some variability in the presentations, and some repetition of the content. I was interested that there weren't more exam questions and 'model answers' being shown taking shape, or guidance on how to use the information the students were provided with, or the differences between the old and new specifications (there were a few mentions of this, but perhaps needed a teacher input perhaps even to work with some students through an example? perhaps to break up the format of the day)
Sometimes the presenters said "you can discuss that back in school" for example.
Some slides weren't best designed for presenting in this large venue, and there was also a bit of 'reading' the slides going on.
I made most of my notes while there were images being presented which were being explained with additional content not shown in the notes... and have quite a few websites and new ideas to follow up, such as the Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction.

A useful pack of notes and slide thumbnails was provided, and our students took plenty of notes, and enjoyed the experience overall. Sue Warn kept the event running to time and was a firm and good natured host keeping the mood focussed on the work which was impressive.

This is a useful experience for 6th formers who need to be immersed in particular topics - I guess this would work with other topics, perhaps a Changing Places event or similar topic which people are unsure of.... and I also wondered about the people who might be invited to speak at events like that... 

Minecraft - a gimmick?

This is a good piece by Stephen Reid being interviewed on Radio 4's Today programme.
He talks about the role of Minecraft in Education.
I was at Stephen's session at Practical Pedagogies a few weeks ago where he talked through various options for gaming.
Not everybody agrees, notably Tom Bennett, and there were lots of blog posts surrounding this issue a week or so back.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Now 3D Virtual Reality

I've worked with Jamie Buchanan Dunlop on a range of resources, and he's been quite pro-active in supporting teachers using data from a range of expeditions that he has led.

There are now some new 3D VR images that Jamie has been involved in producing.
More detail here.

Field Studies Council courses in association with Discover the World

Down to London today to a Hodder Hazards Conference, and met Helen from Discover the World again. We've bumped into each other at lots of events over the years.
She told me that Discover the World Education and the Field Studies Council have joined forces to offer courses for the new specifications, in the awesome surroundings of Iceland.

Discover the World Education is proud to work in partnership with the Field Studies Council (FSC) to offer a brand new, exclusive range of geography and science fieldwork opportunities in Iceland.
From October 2017, you can choose from a range of fieldwork courses designed, developed and delivered by FSC tutors which will engage your students via experiential learning and which directly support the new geography and science specifications being taught from September 2016.
Students will have the opportunity to develop investigative and practical skills and to evaluate and analyse their data, improving critical thinking skills and helping to fulfil the new requirements for practical work.
The Courses
The FSC fieldwork courses each last between two and four hours, depending on your requirements, and have been designed to be easily incorporated into a typical geography or science itinerary, providing additional educational value and allowing you to further enhance your students’ experience.
The courses are available exclusively to groups who book a Discover the World school trip, and are available in autumn 2017 and spring 2018 at a number of sites across Iceland.
15 – 26 October 2017 
3 – 12 April 2018
Horticultural University of Iceland, Hveragerdi
Hveragerdi Geothermal Park, Hveragerdi
Reykjanes peninsula
Reykjavik city

If you book on a Discover the World trip, you can now take a course along the way...

Ray Mears

I've been watching Ray Mears' TV series for many years, and always admired his commitment to immersing himself in the societies that he visits, who live in the environments within which he practices his "bushcraft".
On Thursday this week, I went to Ely Cathedral to see him speaking at an event organised by the wonderful Topping Books of Ely.
I sat in the south transept, where I sit for school services, and had a good view as Ray talked through a range of themes, including some details on his new book, which is shown opposite.
As Ray was talking, I was making lots of notes. What I've added below is based on those notes, so they are not to be taken as verbatim what Ray said, although sometimes they were....

- Ray was clear on the value of reading, and in particular talked about his chance encounter with a book called "The Forest People" by Colin Turnbull, describing his travels to the Mbuti pygmies in the Belgian Congo
- he talked about attending a seminar on planning an expedition to the rainforest at the Royal Geographical Society at the age of 15 and "the door of possibility opened"
- he described how, if you are willing to learn, you need to find the best person to teach you, and shared stories of some of the people who taught him, particularly relating to mycologists...
- he said that he was more interested in the uses of things sometimes than the things themselves
- he described his school, which had time for people, and where students were encouraged to read, in particular the training he had in Judo as a mental discipline
- he described photography as his diary
- his book describes travels in the Northern Boreal Forest, the largest land biome, which contains a third of the world's trees
- he talked about Lars Fält, who he'd worked with, who trained the Swedes for their National Service - buschcraft went beyond survival skills
- what makes us human is that we can make fire
- he described what to do when meeting a bear (don't look it in the eyes apparently)
- an important one this: Ray was asked what he was planning to do next, and he said that he wasn't ready to talk about it because he was still learning it, and when you're learning something new it takes some time before you want to talk about it... a message for us in schools perhaps?
- he was asked about Outdoor education, and said that he felt some people were given the role of leaders too early, before they had enough experience - when going outside, there was a constant risk assessment being done, and experience allows you to foresee potential problems before they happen - this maturity enables you to adapt to new circumstances...
- Britain is his favourite place in the world, for the variety of landscapes in such a small area
- He talked about the Northern peoples having "kinship with the land" (the importance of place)
- Advice on what to take on expeditions: pack what you think you need and throw out anything you come back with having not used, and slowly narrow down to the things you really need - and in terms of luxury, the best luxury of all is travelling light...

It was good to see that several staff, but more importantly some of our King's Ely Geographers attended the talk.
Ray ended the night by signing copies of his book - there was a very long queue of people waiting to see him.
I would definitely recommend that if Ray is talking in your area that you go along and see him.

He said a whole lot more that I haven't mentioned...

And finally, towards the end of his talk, Ray talked about the "interconnectedness" of the world, particularly as nature doesn't recognise geo-political boundaries...

"I do think of myself as a global citizen"...

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A new mapp of the Fenns...

I've been consulting with the school archivist for a few months ahead of a unit on "The Fens". She told me she had been working on a new map of the Fens, and this has now been published. It contains a series of sheets of maps, which can be connected together, a CD copy of the materials, and a book which gives the details of the map's creation, along with biographies of the businessmen and others who funded the expensive project. The focus is on irrigation, and the way that the Fen is drained and brought into production, and reduces the risk of flooding in an area that has seen a great deal of change over the centuries.

There's a British Library blog post on the map here....

I'll be sharing more on this as the unit starts to come together over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here's another chance to see my poem on the Fens, which was 'commended' in the 2016 Fenland Read Poetry Competition