Saturday, 21 May 2016

Bedales BACs

Ten years ago or so, Bedales school in Hampshire decided to move away from offering GCSEs to its students.
The idea was that GCSEs weren't offering the same challenge as could be offered by their own course, and so they developed their own courses: the Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs)

These course were bespoke to the students at Bedales, and provided the opportunity to make the most of their location.
Earlier this year, Paul Turner joined the school as Head of Geography, and started to overhaul the GEOGRAPHY courses with the support of Jackie and other colleagues. You can download the details on these courses as a PDF from HERE.

Earlier this week I headed down to take a look at these courses in action, which was a fascinating few days and I'm grateful to Paul for inviting me and for his colleagues for making me so welcome.

I found lots of fascinating work being produced, and a course which offered a great deal of innovation and lovely student outcomes.

World Development Indicators 2016

The latest edition has now been published. This is always an interesting resource, as it shows progress across the world in the last year in meeting or working towards certain development goals.

Download, or read online as an ISSUU document.

One important change is there is no longer a distinction between developing and developed countries in the report as has previously been the case.

In WDI 2016, there is no longer a distinction between developing countries (defined in previous editions as low- and middle-income countries) and developed countries (previously high-income countries). Regional groupings (such as “East Asia”) are now based on geographical coverage rather than a sub-set of countries that were previously referred to as developing. In some occasional cases, where data availability or context have dictated it, we’ve excluded high income from some charts or tables, and we’ve indicated that in the footnotes.
Two implications of this change are that a new aggregate for North America has been included in tables, and aggregates for Europe and Central Asia include countries of the European Union.
The work of Hans Rosling has to be part of the reason for this change, and a recognition that such divisions are increasingly harder to make.

The data are available in a wide range of formats too:

All the data in World Development Indicators is available completely free of charge, as part of the World Bank’s Open Data Initiative. A complete list of tools to access, explore, and interact with WDI 2016 are available at and include:

Micro:Bit and Geography

I've borrowed a BBC Micro:bit.
Every Year 7 is getting a copy of this new, tiny bit of technology, which is plug and play and which offers to help students explore the ideas behind coding.

There are plenty of resources out there for starting to use Python to code with it.

Does anyone have any Geography related ideas for how to get stuck into this little piece of technology?

Thanks to Glyn Rogers, for sending me some links to some resources for Micro:Bits.

This National Geographic page provides some ideas. 

The device features 25 LED lights and two programmable buttons, which can be used in game-play or to skip through tracks in a playlist. It also features an on-board compass to track the direction of the wearer.
Each micro:bit comes with a USB, cable and battery holder. 
To programme a micro:bit, kids simply need to connect it to their computer and add some simple lines of code to create the device they want.
The hope is that all those computer science skills might inspire a new generation of avid game developers, super software programmers and wacky website builders. Your BBC micro:bit could be where it all starts...

I also came across the iPhone app which was developed by Sciencescope iPhone App, which was developed by Sciencescope who I previously worked with on the DISTANCE project. Search top left to see more about this project.

Also found the FREE Hodder / Microsoft GETTING STARTED for Teachers Guide as a PDF download.

Also noted that there is a compass built in to the Micro:Bit... (see diagram opposite)

What is a Case Study?

With Year 12 exams over this week, it won't be long until it's the GCSE students' turn in the exam room.
We talk about case studies all the time in Geography, but what is a case study?

Students often ask about case studies and sometimes give them undue importance when it comes to their revision too - they are important for some questions but the majority of questions require a more synoptic view the further up the school you go.
There are also what are referred to as located examples on many exam papers.
These are like case studies but not quite as involved. One area that I focus on is that ideas are put in context, and this usually involves an element of location if the question is asking about how a particular place connects with the theme that is being studied.

There are a few definitions of case studies then.

An important element for me is context.
A good case study should include the following elements:

- location, perhaps including some sort of map
- description - connected with some key geographical themes
- opportunities and challenges connected with a particular process
- a decision to be made which may change the place in the future
- a few statistics to reinforce knowledge of the case study and make it stand out from any other place that could have been chosen

e.g. if it was a look at the St. Ives decision in the referendum to ban second homes in the town, the students would be expected to know a range of things:
- where St. Ives is located (an inset map of Cornwall and St. Ives location perhaps)
- a sketch map with some major features of the coastline at that point, the Tate Gallery etc.
- some data on the impact of second home ownership - whether that was positive or negative - on social, economic and environmental themes
-a look to the future, and perhaps the impact of the proposed changes in home ownership

There is also the discussion over the age of certain case studies as well. The famous eruption of Mt. St. Helens dates from 1980 (the anniversary was this week - in fact today 36 years ago...) but there are current rumblings and earthquakes which suggest the volcano may be coming back to life...
Back in the days of the CfBT support for the previous new curriculum, when we moved towards concepts and other interesting ideas, I did a session where I used a Rick Astley song to sum up the way that some teachers clung onto case studies that were perhaps past their sell by date.

Here's a template from Jo Payne that I've used in the past to help capture case study content.

Rivers of London

Been interested in reading this book series by Ben Aaronovitch, and today I started reading the graphic novelisation, which has started interestingly.

Any other Geography-related graphic novels out there? 2000AD and Megacity One for urbanisation perhaps?

Sleipnir from Vaavud

New toy for this week is a wind meter that works with my smartphone (and maybe yours too....)

Friday, 20 May 2016

CPRE Book coming in June...

And here's a related tweet...

New OCR Geography textbooks...

Thanks to a tweet, I then heard of another new book which I was involved with, which will be coming out next week: the OCR 'B' Geography book produced by Hodder Geography.

Empty Classroom Day

It's definitely been a week for "new stuff".

I've been spending time supporting Year 12 students with their exams and the usual full-time teaching lark, and in between I keep getting e-mails about new "stuff" that I've helped with.

The first thing that I'm going to blog about is a new resource for the Empty Classroom Day.

Empty Classroom Day is on the 17th of June, and we will be taking part at King's Ely.

At Mission:Explore, we've been working on some books for the Outdoor Library for this project, along with PROJECT DIRT.

Download the book above for a special set of Mission:Explore missions...

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Story of a Spoon

Linked to the idea of ocean plastics and the amount of plastics in the oceans.

Refer to the idea of "single-use items"....

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

ESRI UK Annual Conference 2 - Rivers StoryMap and data...

Another StoryMap, this time made by the Eden Rivers Trust. Another reminder of how awesome this resource can be.

ESRI UK Annual Conference 2016 - OCR StoryMap

I was supposed to be at this event, but ended up at Bedales as it was an irresistible offer, and I wasn't able to have as many days out of work.
Here's one of the resources that was shared at the event, and made by OCR Geography.... I shall be making something similar for the GCSE fieldwork next year....

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

My last 2 days...

Thanks to Paul Turner, Jackie Sueref and colleagues and students at Bedales School for the last two days which have been very interesting. An excellent experience.

Fancy a laugh?

Search Twitter for 

Warning some content NSFW...

Monday, 16 May 2016

Go to sleep....

This is directed at anyone doing a Geography exam tomorrow.... get some sleep - wake refreshed, have some breakfast.... and smash it... (as you young people say apparently)

Danny Dorling at TedxExeter

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Where is East Anglia?

An interesting piece from the BBC which explores different definitions of East Anglia.
It has a number of maps based on different potential areas which lie within it.
Some people include Cambridgeshire for example and others don't.
I live in Norfolk which is definitely 'in'....
Could also be used as a discussion question relating to other areas.
And also consider the marketing of the region by Visit East Anglia and similar ideas.

Looking for Science and Computing teachers for a new Digital Explorer resource

Digital Explorer

Get involved!

We have an exciting new submarine-based STEM programme in the pipeline and we’re looking for KS2 and KS3 Science and Computing teachers to be part of developing the education resources. The one day workshops will be held at the Royal Geographical Society, London and we’ll pay £100 plus travel expenses* for your time. 
Submarine STEM Design workshop on 26/27 May 10am – 4pm
Creative session to frame lesson concepts and ideas based on deep sea submersible exploration.
Submarine STEM Development workshop on 1 July 10am – 4pm
Development session to create draft resources and ideas for multimedia resources.
Please indicate which session you would like to attend with a brief bio and your interest in the programme using the button below. Note that the May session will be held on either 26 or 27 May, so if you are able to attend on either date, please make this clear.

British Red Cross Nepal Resource

A reminder of the sign up page so that you can get some details on the British Red Cross resource that I have been working on for some months now and which is now in draft format, and with the designers who are currently working it up into the finished product - the first drafts came back to me yesterday with some great improvements and it's going to be great.
Sign up here.

I'm following up some of the links that was sent to me by Rachel Hay.
One of the links that I was sent was to the site of Heather Geluk who is a climber and traveller. She was in Nepal at the time of the earthquake, and helped out with a range of charitable work.

GA Conference 2017 - want to be involved?

Every year, I'm asked by people in October or so about how they can get involved in the GA conference by offering a lecture or some other session.... by which time it's too late.

Lucy is already putting the next conference together and if you'd like to offer a session, you need to get in touch with her by the end of June.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

New Daniel Raven Ellison Bitesize movies..

I like these... they're appearing on the BBC website.
Here's one on Fieldwork for younger students...

Build it and they will come - new from the GA

A new resource for KS3-4 has been shared by the Geographical Association.
The resources have been produced in association with the Home Building Federation Ltd.

These key stage 3-4 resources from the Home Builders Federation Ltd, written in partnership with the Geographical Association, address a number of pressing issues through engaging enquiry questions that explore how population distributions have changed across the UK, why we need new houses, how builders meet local needs and what we mean by sustainable communities. They are accompanied by a range of up to date case studies that explore these issues in their local contexts and help to show how these issues are tackled in the UK.


Lesson 1: Why do we need new homes?
Lesson 2: How have populations changed across the UK?
Lesson 3: How do planners meet local needs?
Lesson 4: What is a sustainable community?
Lesson 5: Does the Bath Riverside development encourage sustainable communities?
Lesson 6: How do councils make decisions about where to build homes?
Lesson 7: How does South Oxfordshire plan to meet the housing need
Lesson 8: Where should we build the new homes? Decision-making exercise
Lesson 9: Building homes in challenging environments
Lesson 10: How can we make new homes more energy efficient

Friday, 13 May 2016

Thought for the Day

“Learning how to be a good reader is what makes you a writer"
Zadie Smith

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A few places left on our GIS Day

Still a chance to join me at my school for a GIS Day.
It will be free of charge.
Details below. Get in touch to reserve a place.

Migration into Boston - a focus for Newsnight

Newsnight last night came from Boston in Lincolnshire, where there's been a large amount of immigration of workers from the EU, and has been in the news several times as an 'example' of a place that has changed as a result. Have those changes been positive or not, and how has the current make-up of the town reflected previous patterns of employment?
There's a useful BBC news article HERE.

Or, for the next month you can watch the programme HERE - watch from around 7'40" in to see the section which relates to the BBC news article.
Useful for Year 10-13 to watch in particular.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

ESRI and Globalisation

A really useful piece on the changing nature of globalisation from ESRI.

With globalization, everyday actions operate within and generate new geographic conditions in which things that are spatially distant are no longer temporally isolated but are instead very close. Communication technologies allow information to be transmitted and exchanged in real time. Because of this, everyone is directly or indirectly part of a globalized geographic reality.

Water Aid video

Thanks to Philip Anderson for the lead to this video, which looks to be a very useful resource for those teaching about aid and development…

The Fight for Beauty

Another book for the summer reading list, just seen in Topping books in Ely...

I like the fact that it includes some lines from Philip Larkin's poem: "Going, going"

And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There'll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Environmental playlist….

Still working on answers for questions in the OCR 'A' textbook for the teacher guide, and was reminded of this song: a wonderful environmental themed song (and also of playing it while driving through county Kerry with Caz, Julie and Joyce in the late 1980s…)

Look out any window
Look out any open door
Look out any window
To see what's going on
In the air around you