Friday, 27 February 2015

Norwegian Glacier Ice

We have been looking at the story of the stuff we buy.
A Norwegian company is offering the chance to buy 'luxury' ice cubes taken from a glacier...

What are your thoughts on this ? 


Taking nature out of the dictionary

Thanks to Paula Owens for the tipoff to an interesting article by Patrick Barkham.

It describes how words that relate to nature are apparently missing from the latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, such as CATKINS.

One answer to this would be to use our Mission:Explore books, and also to look at the work of the John Muir Trust.

Having read this, I noticed some catkins in the school playground,as shown.

It was also mentioned in the review of the latest Robert MacFarlane...

I'm looking forward to seeing Robert's talk at UEA in a few week's time.

Image: Alan Parkinson

What does NOTHING look like ?

A nice photographic story which is about the search for NOTHING.

On the National Geographic website.




Assessing the new National Curriculum

What is the nature of assessment ?

This was one of many questions asked by David Gardner in a session at the Geography Teacher Educator's conference two weekends ago. I am slowly catching up with my blog posts from the event, and will finish off the report from the event over the next week now that we're on half term.

One of the outcomes from the event was the release of a new document that can also be downloaded from the GA's website, and which I will be using in a few forthcoming events with teachers.


The GA is working on supporting teachers through the development of frameworks for assessing students.
More to come on this...

Partial Solar Eclipse in March


Friday March the 20th sees a partial solar eclipse affecting the British Isles.
This Google map allows you to see the timing of this for your area.
It's happening at the start of the school day for us - no total solar eclipse, but a partial one which will make things substantially darker than usual...

New KS2 unit on Shackleton

A new KS2 unit from the RGS-IBG exploring the journeys made by Shackleton in the Antarctic.
A great introduction to Polar exploration and the landscape, which would dovetail well with other related resources.

Some of the ideas would also translate into KS3 if your students hadn't previously explored Polar regions.

Produced by Emma Kerr, from the Shackleton in Schools website.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Animated video of the life of Alfred Wegener

Thanks to Roo Stenning for the link to this interesting animation showing some of the life of Alfred Wegener: meteorologist, Polar explorer and continental-drift 'discoverer'...


After you've watched it, you could make use of Richard Allaway's adaptation of an idea of mine: the Trial of Alfred Wegener.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

China naming

Visit Britain has a campaign running which involves people from China (or with Chinese heritage) giving names to some familiar landmarks in the UK.

I saw this last week, and a few newspapers like the Guardian picked up on it too.
I like some of the choices of names. Would make a good starter, and also a nice activity related to tourism and cultural geography.



Homes for £1

Channel 4 news report
More than a hundred homes on sale: a pound for the lot. But the prospect of expensive repairs meant the council wouldn't even pay that. This is Horden in County Durham, its heart ripped out by the collapse of the mining industry - now a sea of empty properties...

Thought for the Day

Following yesterday's #reimagineLondon event at the South Bank

“The statutory purpose of national park status is to ‘conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area’ and ‘promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the park by the public. There is no reason we can’t apply these ideas in an adapted and appropriate way to the urban environment. London’s landscape is very different the countryside, but it is equally as distinctive and inspiring.’

Daniel Raven Ellison, Greater London National Park campaign founder

Monday, 23 February 2015

Michael Fordham's blog

I don't just read Geography blogs, although they make up the bulk of my online reading, alongside a shelf full of books for some proper reading... (currently the rather wonderful 'H is for Hawk')

Michael Fordham's Clio et Cetera blog has some useful posts on the nature of subject knowledge and pedagogy, which are relevant outside of the history focus that he has in his professional life.

I've made use of elements of a number of recent posts in discussions with colleagues who I meet on CPD sessions.
For example, here's a post on the importance of knowledge in the curriculum.

NASA SMAP launched...

Three weekends ago, there was a NASA satellite launch, which I followed live...

Right now, NASA's SMAP satellite is moving into position, over 400 miles above the earth, and over the last few weeks, it has been powered up and its various instruments are being calibrated and commissioned before it starts to collect data about soil moisture from the entire earth's surface. This is an exciting launch.

Helen Steer and I wrote some materials relating to the use of this satellite as part of a study of soil moisture for INTEL - you can find that material by searching on the blog.
I will let you know when the materials and the kits that we worked on may be available.

There is a project which you can sign up to, to get involved in the ongoing work of the satellite, to help with the data.
This is called The Globe Program.

London as a National Park ?

This was an idea of my friend and Mission:Explorer co-creator Daniel Raven Ellison.
After a huge amount of effort, Dan has pulled together a quite amazing event that takes place tomorrow.
Here are the details. I was unable to attend as it's a 6 period day at school for me, but check this out....

What if London became a National Park?
Covering up to 10% of England, urban areas are recognised by Natural England as a distinct habitat, and by that definition London is truly remarkable. 8.3 million people share the city with 13,000 species of wildlife that inhabit the conurbation's 3,000 parks, 30,000 allotments, two national nature reserves, 36 sites of special scientific interest and 142 local nature reserves.
A massive 47% of London is green space, making it one of the greenest cities in the world for its size. It is home to the world's largest urban forest and its 3.8m gardens cover 24% of the capital.
The statutory purpose of national park status is to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area" and "promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the park by the public." What if we took these ideas and applied them to London?
Join us for this inspiring day that could lead to London becoming the world's first National Park City, a new kind of national park.
The event will take place across three spaces.
The Purcell Room - Inspirational presentations, visionary ideas and engaging panel discussions.
The Foyer Forum - Book a free ticket to access the exhibition, ideas lab and Forum stage.
The River Thames - Explore the River Thames by boat thanks to Thames Tideway Tunnel.
Exhibitors include Thames Tideway Tunnel, Ordnance Survery, Friends of the Earth, Greenspace Information for Greater London and London Invasive Species Initiative, Greysmith Associates, Frog Environmental, NAG (Naturist Action Group), Campaign for National Parks, Can of Worms Enterprises Ltd, Trees for Cities, The Selborne Society Ltd, Incredible Edible Lambeth, The RSA, National Parks England, London Wildlife Trust, London Permaculture Network, John Muir Trust and RTPI London. 
Foyer Forum 
Purcell Room
A great line-up. I shall be following Tweets with interest.
Helen Steer, another Explorer HQ colleague, who I've worked on a lot of recent projects with, and is also awesome is talking about FOOD....

New Public Service Broadcasting album...

Perfect for Geographers...


Saturday, 21 February 2015

#teacher5aday Photo exhibition


Sent off a few of my images to Martyn Reah's Teacher 5 a day exhibition
Here's one of them: Processed Winter Fields, taken near home in the big freeze of 2013.


Conference in Toulouse

A few days ago, I picked up the news of a conference being organised by Russel Tarr at the International School of Toulouse.
I was due to go to the previous event in 2012 that Russel organised, but it clashed with something I was already committed to. This time round, that's not a problem
The focus is on pedagogy, and there's a keynote from Ewan McIntosh.


Good to see my name in the programme (though that's subject to getting permission to go from school as it's during term time)



It's a combination of Mission:Explore and GeoCapabilities....
Looking forward to the possibility of visiting Toulouse.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Student video on the UN Sustainable Development Goals



An impressive video made by a Year 11 student of Richard Allaway's school.

The student who produced it is in Y11.  As part of the MYP (Middle Years Project) students need to complete the 'Personal Project' - a substantial independent project, and this is part of that.

A nice use of Kate Raworth's doughnut model too.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Planet Oil with Professor Iain Stewart

A new series that is being shown on BBC Scotland, but you can catch up with it on iPlayer.



All about our relationship with OIL.

Usually when I see Iain he's handing me an award... ;)

As always with his programmes it's engaging and informative, and involves lots of interesting locations and active immersion in the landscape and processes that are involved.

Mark Cocker on salt marshes

Created over decades in silt layer by the high tide, saltmarsh is as niggardly a landscape as its name connotes. There’s no primary colour, contour, built structure – except the odd wrecked ship with its rotting vestige of human story – and no trees.

A lovely piece in The Guardian today. Squelched over them the other day... Writing about them today, although not quite as eloquently as this.
Image: Alan Parkinson, Stiffkey saltmarsh, Norfolk

Monday, 16 February 2015

Geography Teacher Educator's Conference 2015 - the final day

The final post from the GTE for 2015
Up for another good breakfast and discussions on future work on GeoCapabilities project.
Sunday morning's sessions were on the theme of Curriculum.

I was particularly interested in these.

David Mitchell from the IoE talked about his research on curriculum in schools, based on interviews with a number of teachers based in London. I liked his use of 4 'types' of curriculum makers, and how it connected with the head of department's particular decision-making and lesson-planning style in some cases.

There was also a very useful set of materials from David Gardner, who talked about the issue of assessing the new curriculum now that levels have been removed. More of David's work will be released onto the GA website in due time.

The presentations that were used at the event will be available in the next few months on the GA website on the page above

You can already see the presentation that Duncan Hawley and I used, to introduce the GeoCapabilities project, which is below, and has now been seen over 500 times:


Dhaka on Google Street View

"A vivid picture of dynamism and vibrancy"

Thanks to Keir Clarke for the tipoff to an extension in the area covered by Google Street View to include Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, as well as the port city of Chittagong.

Follow this link, for example, and you are right in the middle of a bustling market, and can go along and use the side view and zoom to identify what is being sold, and who is doing what...



I love the way the project arriving in Bangladesh was reported in the Dhaka Tribune.

Google cameras are also tracking sea level rise in San Francisco.

National Chip Week

So every day this week will be a 'fry'day....
Here's some I ate earlier...

And a reminder of a nice video that I use with Year 7s in our 'You are what you eat' unit...



And two other foodie favourites of mine you might have missed first time round:

Carl Warner's Food landscapes
and
Berger and Wyse cartoons

Geography Teacher Educators' Conference - 2nd day

From last weekend - apologies for the delay in posting

After a good sleep, and waking to a car covered with snow, we had the main day of the GTE Conference.

There were 15 sessions, ranging from 20 minutes to one hour long.

By the end, my head was full of new ideas, which were connected to the ideas of knowledge, the ITE curriculum, and other areas.
I'd heard educators from many EU countries sharing their research and work with us, and also ask us some serious questions.

Some highlights for me were:

- Gemma Collins talking about the idea of 'stuck places' and threshold concepts - I'd heard about this at a seminar I attended at the Institute of Education a few months previously
- Nicola Walshe sharing some work from Homerton College students using GIS
- Justin Woolliscroft giving a very clear run through of being inspected under the new OFSTED framework
- an energetic presentation on the I-USE project by Luc Zwartjes, which highlighted the importance of statistics in education.


In the break, I went into Oxford to see the Pitt Rivers museum, and it was rather superb...

Back to the conference venue for the final session, and some more sessions.

It was then time for the evening meal and some drinks, and networking. Plenty of interesting chats about the past, present and future of teacher education.

Shopping at the Zupamarket

Thanks (I think) to Anne Greaves for the tipoff to the work of a Polish design company that explores BRUTALIST architecture.

They have created a range of products which explore some of the famous buildings built in that style in cities around the world, and have also created a number of large initial letters in the same style. I've ordered a few bits as gifts, along with a few things for myself too.


Check it out here... available in English too...


Proper geography resource...

I think I know every word of this still...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Desire lines and the curriculum

I was interested in this post by James Theobald, on the nature of curriculum making.

It mentions the notion of desire lines: a geographical idea in themselves.

Rather than taking the designated route, it is created by people who choose the route they want to, and having blazed this trail, other people see them doing this, and think that perhaps it's worth going that way too...

Over time, will teachers choose their own route through the curriculum documents?

Which route will become the 'preferred route' for teaching particular topics ? (especially those that have recently been added ?)

One of the things I'm doing over the next few months is walking backwards and forwards across the newly grown grass of the new KS4 specifications (coming out around Easter) to see whether the book that I am co-writing might become the preferred route for thousands of teachers... come and follow me...

More on this will be shared with teachers over the next few months as I do some travelling around the country to work with colleagues... and finish off the chapters of the book that I have to write...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Rio de Janeiro

Always on the look out for timelapses and alternative views of 'familiar' cities and places...

Drawn to this quote by Yi Fu Tuan
So here's a fresh look at Rio de Janeiro


10328x7760 - A 10K Timelapse Demo from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.

Beaches at Risk - an education pack

An education pack which has been produced as part of a research project at the University of Sussex.

This education pack complements and covers Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum. The pack contains 28 worksheets with teachers’ notes, which can be used both in the field and in the classroom. 
There is an introduction to BAR, information and background information on all of the coastal habitats within the BAR project area, useful sites to visit and links to extra resources. 
Although the BAR project area covers both the English and French coasts, field trips in this education pack are designed for the English coast. It also contains an example of a risk assessment for teachers to use for activities and field visits, and a matrix which links the activities to Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum.

Thanks to Matt Podbury for the tipoff....

Landscape and poetry

A rather nice film, with night time time-lapse and projected words...

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Oliver Rackham RIP

Sad news this week about the death of Oliver Rackham, author of 'The History of the Countryside'.
I have an illustrated version of the book, and referred to it recently as I was writing about the landscape (and continue to do so).
It's a wonderful exploration of what made Britain's landscape the way it is today...