Sunday, 31 August 2014

Back to School

After a lengthy summer break, largely spent writing, as well as many trips N, S, E and W, it's the night before the start of the Michaelmas term... My 23rd year of teaching, and my 2nd at King's Ely.

I've been into school for three days already for sorting, room preparation and two days of INSET and meetings to get ready for the return of around 1000 students who will have been to all corners of the globe.
As with last year, I shall be sharing what I get up to on the Geography Teacher 2.0 blog.
Feel free to sign up on the right hand side of the home page, and you'll get one e-mail each morning that I add to it, with details of the new content.
This content will include lesson plans, resources, ideas, feedback and reflection on what is an evolving work in progress... There are some new KS3 schemes to teach which are connected to the new KS3 curriculum, some fieldwork at KS3-5 level, and also details of my writing projects and how they turn out in the classroom.

Thanks to all those colleagues past and present who have helped with my return to teaching after a hiatus working for the Geographical Association, and then as a freelance Geographer.

There's still a few uncertainties about other projects that I may be involved in this year - waiting on the EU and other bodies to report on the success or otherwise of grant applications at the moment.

This does however mean I have some Mondays free this coming academic year, so if you have a use for those in your present school or elsewhere then get in touch. Check my planned movements in the right hand column of this blog...

Geography Review magazine

Geography Review magazine is one of the most useful resources that 6th form geographers (and GCSE students who want to push themselves) can have access to. It was started by my undergraduate tutor Tim Burt, his wife and colleagues back in 1986, just after I finished my degree, and just before I started teaching in 1988. I was a subscriber from the start, and have used articles and ideas in my teaching ever since.

I have paper copies of the first 15 volumes or so, and since then the school copies have taken over, and more recently, some electronic support materials to increase the usefulness of each issue.
For example, check the extras for the September 2014 issue here. Also the other recent issues.

The magazine has now moved to Manchester, from Durham University, and has a new editorial board.
There are the usual experienced authors writing for the magazine, and there's always something of interest in every issue. The first issue from the new team is now out. Details on subscribing here.

We have a subscription at school for our students.

You can follow the magazine's Twitter feed here: @GeogReview

Read the April 2014 issue here to get a flavour for the quality of articles that are included in a typical issue.

Best wishes for the next chapter in the journal's long history...

Google Teacher Academy London

Applications are now welcomed for the latest Google Teacher Academy in London.
It's taking place in October this year. You've got until the 22nd of September to apply.
There's quite a lengthy application process, which will need planning in advance, as the use of Google Forms means the whole thing has to be done in one go...

I attended, and did a brief presentation at a previous Google event specifically for Geographers in Dublin in 2012. You can see the site and resources that was produced for delegates here. 

I won't be applying, but it would be good to have plenty of geographers represented.
Good luck if you have a go.

I provided some advice and materials for the very first GTA that took place in the UK some years back, following lobbying by Tom Barrett and others, and have previously also created materials for the Google World Wonders website and early support for Google Earth users too.
Presenting in Dublin, picture courtesy of John Bailey

Mapping London: Rediscovering London's Geography

There is a new area of the updated RGS-IBG website which you may not have seen.
It is a project called Rediscovering London's Geography.
It is described as follows:

Rediscovering London’s Geography is a project funded by the GLA through the London Schools Excellence Fund.  It seeks to improve the quality of teaching and learning of geography in London’s schools, in addition to encouraging more pupils to study geography.
Its scope encompasses connection across primary and secondary schools involving academy, free, maintained and independent schools.
The project will:
  • Create subject knowledge online resource units, including online activities and pupil assessments; focusing upon new curriculum subjects and examinations
  • Improve subject knowledge via free CPD and training events in teacher networks across London and provide continuity to support the upcoming curriculum changes
  • Engage pupils via Geography Ambassador presentations (by London undergraduates) and Going Places with Geography career events – all focused upon the relevance and value of geography to further study and careers
Our aims are to:
  • Raise subject understanding by addressing knowledge gaps and connecting teachers with new geographical subject knowledge, thus building capacity to teach engaging and high quality lessons
  • Assist the new academic demand associated with the introduction of new curriculum and examinations
  • Increase teacher confidence of using specific geographical knowledge and the undertaking of London based fieldwork via a 12 month programme of professional support (to be reviewed, developed and embedded as knowledge into new schemes of work)
  • Promote Chartered Geographer (Teacher) to provide formal subject specific professional accreditation in recognition of the new knowledge, professional expertise and commitment to CPD
  • Promote London’s unique and changing geography via the study of the capital’s wider context of economic, social and environmental development
  • Make available to pupils resources to support highest level understanding of core geographical knowledge for better achievement with new curriculum and examinations 
  • Increase interest in geography amongst students whilst highlighting its relevance to further study and careers
One outcome has been the creation of teaching resources, with more to come.

The first two are now up on the website, and both would be useful to those teaching the new KS3 for the first time.

The first is a resource exploring Ice Ages and Geological Timescales, which has been written by Dr. David Anderson: Head of Geography at Eton College.

The second one is called Mapping London, and took me the first two weeks of my summer holidays to write and put together. There are 6 sessions which can be followed with KS3 students.

Thanks to the various colleagues who are mentioned along the way in the unit for their ideas which were adapted and used in various elements of the unit.
The ideas could be adapted for other cities too...

Let me know what you think...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Ice Man

Matt Podbury and Russel Tarr are putting together a geography / history unit based on my children's book 'The Ice Man', which was published in 2012, for the lucky students at the International School of Toulouse.

It's great to see what they're creating, and you can head over to Geography Pods to see the geography related elements of the unit, along with some supporting resources.

Thanks guys !
The book is still available to purchase of course...

Richard's still going 'all the way' to support Geography teachers...

Richard Allaway's site has been a feature of my teaching since it started, and it has been going from strength to strength.

Richard has just launched a new Twitter account for news updates which are relevant to the ongoing creation and updating of teaching materials.
Follow @gatwUpdates for the latest on the site.

A reminder that as the new school year starts and you want to prepare some useful resources, Richard has already done that for you. The details on the subscription rates are here if you haven't taken the plunge before and want to kick off the new year with an injection of fresh ideas.
You can also follow the Flipboard magazines that Richard curates.

IB Geography CPD courses are also offered in a range of cities, sometimes in association with the GA.

Here's Rich and I at the Aiguille du Midi a few years back...

And finally, it's worth reminding you that all KS3 resources and Humanities resources on the site are now freely accessible to all!

Friday, 29 August 2014

New Geography blog for the new year...

Always good to see another Geography blog.
This one has been started by Mr. McGrath at Oakfield School.

GA Staffordshire Branch Programme for 2014-15

The first lecture is Staffordshire's Sustainable Transport Future - the role of rail, by Keith Flinders, President Black Country GA and editor, West Midlands Rail User.
17th September 2014, 7.30 at Science centre, North Staffs Uni, Sat Nav postcode: ST4 2DF.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Another brick in the wall...

Tony Cassidy has started a collaborative document to collect ideas from teachers about how they use Lego in the classroom (or how they might use it if they currently don't). This will grow in time, so why not be part of it and add your own idea.
There are certainly a few blocks and bricks around my house as my son is a big fan. We're even off to the Bricks 2014 show at ExCeL later in the year, and over the summer had this new arrival to the collection ready for some adventures.

MOOCs: two that I'm going to get involved in

Holiday catch-up post 5
There are two MOOCs that I'm signed up for, which start in a few weeks time... These will form part of my personal CPD - as a Chartered Geographer, I have to fill in a CPD log each year to show that I am making an effort to develop my professional capacity.


Run by ESRI, and connected with ArcGIS Online, which is one of my targets for this year to get more integrated into the teaching I do. An intro video here.


IoE - Future of Education Promo from Imotion Films on Vimeo.

This is run by the Institute of Education in London, and Claire Brookes, who is also involved with the MA in Geography Education which I was signed up to when working for the GA, but never started in the end. It promises to focus on some interesting questions which look at some of the bigger purposes of education.
The VIMEO channel is already up... which includes some interesting videos with Professor Alex Moore on 'what makes a good teacher'...

Discover Japan: free one day course for teachers

Thanks to Stephen Schwab for the link to this course, which would be of particular interest to colleagues in the SW perhaps as it takes place in Plymouth.
It's organised by the Japan Society.
Details below:

Monday 29 September 2014 9.00am to 3.45pm
(registration from 8.45 am)
Plymouth University
Drake Circus
Plymouth Devon PL4 8AA
Free (booking required)
The Japan Society is pleased to invite teachers to Discover Japan – a FREE-one day CPD course for teachers. Are you interested in using Japan in your teaching? In this course, we will look at where it fits in the curriculum and where to find useful teaching materials and supplementary resources. Practical workshops with experienced tutors provide the skills needed to incorporate new materials into your scheme of work. The day will comprise separate strands for primary, art, language and humanities.

PRIMARY: Discover the true essence of haiku with Paul Conneally and come away with tips and techniques to allow your pupils to use this form creatively to prevent it being a mere syllable counting exercise. You will explore the wide range of manga styles and traditions with Chie Kutsuwada and learn to speak Japanese with Seiji Fukushima, Chief Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation.

ART: Add a Japanese flavour to your art curriculum as you learn about various Japanese art forms, presented in a practical way by Japanese specialists. You will explore the wide range of manga styles and traditions with Chie Kutsuwada, discover the art of Japanese woodblock printing with Hiroko Imada and learn the techniques of traditional Japanese style paining with Peter Cavaciuti.

LANGUAGE: Be inspired by the Japanese language and learn how to introduce Japanese into your secondary curriculum with Crispin Chambers, Japanese teacher, Tavistock College. You will learn new teaching methods and come away with a variety of teaching tools that will help you to inspire and engage your students.

HUMANITIES: Delve in time and discover more about Japanese archaeology and Geography through the launch of a new Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage developed by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. You will explore Japan with Stephen Schwab, Geographical Association North-West advisor, learning creative ways to incorporate Japan into the new KS3 curriculum and also work with the British Cartographic Society while taking part in their interactive workshop ‘Restless Earth’.

To book your place, please complete and submit this on-line booking form or send an email to:

Please indicate clearly whether you will attend the primary, art, language or humanities strand of the course and if you have any dietary requirements.

Attendance is free (including lunch). You will receive confirmation of your place.

Visit the website for the booking form.

Monday, 25 August 2014

GeoVation booklet

Mission:Explore and colleagues from Explorer HQ are very familiar with the Ordnance Survey's GeoVation project, as we have had our fair share of success over the years.

GeoVation is an OS innovation challenge. It offers funding for organisations and ideas that aim at solving some of the problems that we face.

A new GeoVation booklet has now been published, and features a range of case studies, which includes Mission:Explore, Real Food Wales and City Farmers, all of whom are connected with my current work with Explorer HQ.

Worth looking at for ideas on projects.


Back from annual trip to Devon - this time down to Otterton to stay at Rydon Stables, which is recommended.
Here are some of my pics... View full screen...

Where did you get to over the Summer ? 
I know that some of the people in my PLN got rather further than Devon...

Continents Drift

New on Spotify...

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Emma Thompson in the Arctic

Greenpeace Ad is a nice way of exploring the area...
Discussion can be had on a whole range of topics here...

Digimap for Colleges

Coming soon....

Spent quite a bit of my summer writing some supporting resources for the launch...

OS mapping and tools to support teaching of GCSE, 'A' level and BTec courses, and other qualifications at post-16 level...

Shackleton Ales

Holiday catch-up post 4
After my previous Shackleton tweet
I came across these rather fine looking ales online...

They are made by the Great British Banjo company which is also inspired by the banjo which Shackleton ordered to be saved from the sinking 'Endurance' as he said the playing of it was 'vital mental medicine'.
And I heard about them from another connection: the From Fire to Ice twitter feed
The accompanying website describes the planned adventure of Robert Small, who was badly burned in a house fire, and underwent lengthy medical treatment to recover.

And finally, a few other Twitter feeds that are Shackleton related are shown below. Will be following these for the next few years as the events of a century ago unfold...


Happened to be in Norwich earlier in the month on another matter, and went to Jarrolds deli, where I procured two of the ales and a rather fine glass too... slainte...

Cruise of the Betsey in the Scottish Parliament

Holiday catch-up post 3

The Betsey Cruise project I mentioned recently was also mentioned in the Scottish Parliament this week.

While in Devon, I managed to find some old(ish) maps showing the area through which 'Leader': the boat being used for the trip is going to follow...

Here's the text from the Scottish Parliament website:

*S4M-10868 Alison Johnstone: Hugh Miller and the Cruise of the Betsey—That the Parliament welcomes and expresses interest in the Cruise of the Betsey, a tribute voyage to the work of Hugh Miller, a self-taught geologist who undertook a similar voyage 170 years ago and is credited with discovering, on the Isle of Eigg, fossilised bones of the plesiosaur, an extinct marine reptile from the age of the dinosaurs; considers that the modern voyage, which is led by the Royal Scottish Geological (sic) [Should have been Geographical] Society and the Friends of Hugh Miller, is of value in inspiring young geologists and earth scientists, as well as celebrating the Hebridean islands’ landscapes, seascapes, and culture, and wishes all the crew of the vessel an enjoyable and informative voyage.

Follow the voyage for the next few weeks and beyond on the website HERE
And sign up to the Twitter feed @BetseyCruise14

Image: Alan Parkinson

NSL Historical Maps API

Holiday catch-up post 2

New National Library of Scotland Historic Maps, based on old OS mapping.

Available in various formats, including embeddable option as shown below...

Doing 'the knowledge'

Holiday catch-up Post 1
Thanks to So Shan Au for the tipoff to this excellent National Geographic article on the process of following and completing 'the knowledge' that London cabbies must do before they get their green badge that entitles them to operate within the Central London area of the GLNP*

Well worth a read... and click on the little slide show with audio a little down the page too...

The headline of it being 'the world's hardest geography test' seems to be about right.

Image made with Stamen Toner Map maker

Coming soon: a new resource on the RGS website which I have written, exploring how London has been mapped over the decades.

If you haven't been to the RGS website for a while you won't have seen this Britain from the Air resource which would provide a few ideas for teaching about the UK (with the new GCSE specs in mind...)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Welcome to Geography !

More great work by Simon Jones, and this time he has produced an excellent resource for the start of the new school year, to introduce a new look at Geography...

It was even picked as one of the Slideshares of the day. Take a look, and login to download as a PDF, perhaps to use for the start of the new school year.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Storm Hydrograph

A reminder of this very useful resource for those teaching about rivers and flooding - ties in with the recent story of Boscastle ten years on...


Tuesday, 19 August 2014


From the ONS Flickr feed

Geography Tweachers in the Guardian

The Guardian's Teacher Network posted an article yesterday suggesting a list of Geography teachers who people may want to follow on Twitter to get started.

There were some omissions from the list who I would have added, although the difficulty with any list is knowing who to add and who to leave off... but some good names on there.
I get a mention at the end, which is nice - led to a few new followers. So welcome to this blog if it brought you here too - there's a lot to catch up on...

For a Twitter list that I created, you can try here... If you're new to Twitter, subscribe to the lists that are relevant to your interests, and feel free to suggest other people.

I also add a regular Twitter column to the Webwatch feature that I write for the GA magazine.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Good morning, Rocinha

A video from Al Jazeera which describes life for Rosemary Mendonca... an amazing project...

Ladram Bay - how does it sound ?

Heat map of Amazon fires

Thanks to Keir Clarke for the link to this map...
Two years worth of data on forest fires visualised...
Here are some more maps from InfoAmazonia.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Greater London National Park* in the Guardian

It was great to see maps from Peter Boyce of City Farmers in a piece in the Guardian referencing Dan Ellison's idea for a Greater London National Park*

* - currently a notional park

Have you signed the petition yet to see whether this can be taken to the next step ?

Wish you were Here ?

I'm just working to complete some materials for a project for the team behind Edina's Digimap for Schools software, which you'll be familiar with from previous blog posts. It gained the GA's Gold Award, and I've previously worked on resources for use by subscribers (and others)
Here's a nice bit of holiday related map work...

10 years after Boscastle

Ten years ago today, an intense storm occurred over the slopes of Exmoor above the town of Boscastle on the Cornish coast.
It had been wet previously, and the rain fell on saturated ground. The steep slopes funnelled the water down towards the small town on the coast.

The results are described in this Met Office analysis ten years on...
It remains a popular case study as remarkably no-one was killed in the incident, thanks to the bravery of the emergency services.

I bought a copy of the Western Morning News today as I happen to be in the SW, and there's a special feature on the flooding...