Thursday, 31 March 2011

Four Hundred Thousand Stories

A new photoblog collecting images of hope following the Christchurch Earthquake.
Four Hundred Thousand Stories, each one starting with a picture...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Geography Collective and Cultural Olympiad

One of the things I'm proudest of in the last few years is my involvement with the Geography Collective, and our Mission:Explore books, iPhone app and other activities...
We can now announce our latest project, thanks to the project leadership of Daniel Raven Ellison.

We are very pleased to say that we will be delivering a major project for the Cultural Olympiad as part of the Discovering Places programme called Discover Explore. Discovering Places is funded by a grant from Olympic Lottery Distributor (OLD) through the London Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). It is delivered by The Heritage Alliance with the support of key partners.. one of which is us.

We will be working closely with The Workshop to create something very beautiful and cool which will be launched this summer.

“The project aims to inspire young people and their families to discover hidden, extraordinary and important historical sites and stories in cutting-edge and engaging ways. The unique collaboration between Discovering Places, The Geography Collective and numerous small and medium scales historic and natural environment organisations will inspire active participation, animate spaces, raise awareness of environmental sustainability and enhance learning by linking up local heritage assets.” The Heritage Alliance 

‘We are extremely excited to be working on this cutting edge and creative strand of Discovering Places.  This project is going to open up opportunities for children and families to explore and experience places in new ways and have a great deal of fun while thare are at it.  We will be uncovering heritage in ways that will demonstrate how inclusive the Cultural Olympiad is and break new ground on engaging young people with the people, places and stories of not only our pasts but our future’s past.’ Daniel Raven-Ellison, Project Director, The Geography Collective

To read more about the Cultural Olympiad, Discovering Places and our project take a look at the Heritage Alliance newsletter here.

Look forward to meeting the rest of the Geography Collective in May to kick-start the project... 


Monday, 28 March 2011

Pakistan floods

A fascinating side effect of the Pakistan floods. Spider-web filled trees...
Shared under CC attribution license by DFID

Food Stories

A useful video for my session on FOOD at forthcoming GA Conference.

Geography revision

early Robert Webb...

Thanks to @DrHG for tipoff...

Bob's 100% British

Driving along the A47 a few days ago, I noticed a burger van by the side of the road called "Bob's 100% British"
(names have been changed to protect the innocent...)

I have blogged about these roadside vans and cafes earlier, back in August 2010, when I described an excellent photo project by Sam Mellish.
They are an important part of British culture - my journeys up and down the A17 to Sheffield, I pass about half a dozen of these vans, and there's usually someone pulled up having a burger or cup of tea...
Image made available under Creative Commons license by Flickr user macspite (Robert Soar)

It occurred to me as I was driving along that a good project for a group of students exploring connections would be to consider the way that the van is connected with other places, and not just those that the road they are next to leads to and from.
There are global connections to be made, from the fuel being used to cook the hot dogs, to the cans of Coca Cola in the coolbox. There are the customers and the lorries which are carrying products the length and breadth of the country. What other connections can you make ?

If I was starting a roadside cafe, I'd call it "Al's Kitchen"...

Cutting Edge Geography workshop

Cutting Edge Geography: A Workshop for Secondary Geography Teachers
Saturday 7th May 2011, Netherside Hall School, North Yorkshire (09.30 – 17.00)

The resurrected Leeds GA Branch Saturday that used to be at Leeds University

Workshops ....

The little island with the large volcano: impacts and monitoring of volcanic activity on Montserrat (Mr David Alcock and Prof. J. Neuberg)
Researchers in Residence: an oceanographer’s experience at sea and in school (Dr Clare Woulds)
Field work in the curriculum (representatives from the Field Studies Council at Malham)
The UK Census: past, present and future (Dr Paul Norman)
Using web-Based GIS for visualisation and analysis in the curriculum (Mr Andy Newing)
Young people and social difference (Dr Nancy Worth)
Health geography (Prof. Graham Clarke)
Playing “The Last Straw”: thinking through health inequality (Dr Myles Gould)

£10 per teacher

Further details from Andy Newing

Via SLN Geography Forum - looks great!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Off to Center Parcs...

'Normal' service will be resumed shortly...

Image by Flickr user Marc McLaughlin and shared under Creative Commons license

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

New Mission:Explore books

First sight of our two new Mission:Explore books...
Out on April 1st...

2050 - that's nearly 9 o' clock...

Two things related to the year 2050 today...
The first was a reminder when reading a copy of 'First News' which I was handed at last week's 'Education Show'.
There was a reminder of the Department of Energy and Climate Change online game: 2050

The aim is to reduce the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere, and use a range of sliders to find the best energy balance. A useful website for science as well as geography.

The second was a quote from 'The New North', which I started to read yesterday.
It looks ahead to 2050 when the NORCs (Northern Rim countries) are likely to be far more important than they are now.

Check the RSA website to get the details on the live stream of the talk tonight. I shall be listening !

I really like the description of how the seasons are changing year on year, the demographic transition and the likely future changes, and that's just in the first chapter. A really well-written book, with some challenging ideas. Look forward to reading the rest...

Learning Score - get it while you can....

John Davitt's genius lesson planning tool: LEARNING SCORE is now available for a limited time only as a FREE download with a lifetime license.
I paid actual cash money for this about 6 months ago to use with teachers, so this is great news for those on limited budgets...

To see how it might be used Doug Belshaw has made a video of himself planning a history lesson.

Plan your lessons by dragging icons onto a series of 'tracks' and build a compelling experience...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Mobile learning...

Gathering ideas for a future project on iPhone applications that would support geographical learning... whether outside or inside the classroom...

As well as the obvious MISSION EXPLORE app, there's also the RORY's STORYCUBES APP that I have poised and ready for business (although the actual dice are more tactile...)

Image by Alan Parkinson - cubes by Creativity Hub...

If you have other thoughts on iPhone apps that you particularly USE (rather than just having on your phone for visual impact), please let me know or add a comment below...

CO2 visualisation

Via GE

The Carbon Dioxide generated by a range of activities...

iGCSE Geography

Currently working up some ideas related to the CIE iGCSE Geography specification. Happy to speak to any teachers who have experience of this specification about the areas that they feel they could do with more support in, or the particular case studies and activities that have gone down the best...
Been an interesting few days researching contexts for learning and associated documents to help frame the creation of some new materials...

Bottled Water map from Ben Hennig

Ben Hennig has been at it again, and produced a rather wonderful map of World Bottled Water Consumption, which would fit perfectly with a range of stuff that I've been doing re. functional skills and other projects in the last few months.
It's WORLD WATER DAY today, as readers of the blog will know.

Check out the map here.
The map forms part of a wider post, which also looks at the location of the bottled water brands, the Story of Bottled Water website and plenty more of interest to those exploring the issues of global water trade, and patterns of water consumption and availability...
A great resource for curriculum making.

Monday, 21 March 2011

NEC Education Show (Cont) - Rory's Story Cubes

During my lunch-time at the Education Show I took the opportunity to do a quick trip up and down the aisles to make sure that I saw as many of the stands as possible and have a chat to anyone who had a geographical connection, or who caught my eye.

One stand I particularly wanted to see was the CREATIVITY HUB stand, where RORY's STORY CUBES were available.

I have these cubes as an iPhone app and also as the infinitely preferable 'real thing', and have used them with many teachers over the last few years to explore the ideas of geography as "writing the earth".

I have used my cubes with hundreds of teachers as a way of exploring creative writing, including my sessions at various conferences. By using a net for creating a cube such as the one below, taken from MATHSISFUN with thanks, you can also add your own cubes...

Cut out the shapes and add your own words or instructions on the six sides relevant to the subject that you are using them for.

If you were making a set of geography cubes, they might contain instructions. These could be used to add a map symbol or place name, to turn a particular compass direction (to direct a route across an OS map sheet perhaps), or to describe a particular landscape.

I got a set of ACTIONS cubes to mix in with them, and had a chat with Rory - who looks just like his picture on the flyer.

I was also really impressed with the MAX cubes, and a bit disappointed that they were only prototypes and not available to buy - not yet anyway... Follow the link to add your thoughts on whether they should be made more widely available for the particular reasons that are suggested.
Follow Rory and the team on Twitter @storycubes, and read this story from the Belfast Telegraph for some information on what they are planning yet. Some interesting projects to come...

Walking with the Wounded

Picked up a flyer about this expedition last week.
Walking with the Wounded is an expedition which involves four wounded soldiers walking to the North Pole.

Follow the map on the interactive map.

Best wishes to the team...

NEC - Globee

On my lunchtime trip through the Education Show, I came across the GLOBEE stand.
GLOBEE produce a range of illustrated globes, some of which are interactive, and each of which comes with an illustrated booklet. There are globes in various sizes and further ideas on the way...

A nice geo-gift for the geographer in your life...

NEC - The Education Show

Spent Thursday of this week at Halls 6 and 7 of the NEC for the 2011 Education Show. It was an early start after a pleasant evening sampling Timothy Taylor's finest, and down the M1 / M42 and M6 in the morning murk... Arrived in plenty of time, and trolleyed two loads of boxes to the stand to set up as the crowds gathered for their goody bags and the sun burnt through the mist.
Set up the GA's stand, and got organised ready for what would become a steady stream of visitors through the day, with not much chance for a break.

I will be writing a number of additional posts to flag up a few of the interesting stands that I visited.

A few things that are worthy of mention perhaps:
  • Plenty of folk waiting to see Gok Wan - managed to get a photo for my wife
  • If you do go next year, take a trolley - there were plenty of those being wheeled along - plenty of bargain buys particularly for Primary colleagues
  • Although there was no Ordnance Survey or some of the other usual suspects, the Met Office were there, as were several outdoor related groups - had chat with the Learning outside the Classroom folks...
  • Take plenty of water and sweet things
  • Sign up early for seminars to break up the day - it's a smaller show than BETT, with a different focus and feel...

IKEA carpeted...

Thanks to Richard Allaway for the tipoff to an intriguing story about IKEA...

As it happens, I popped to IKEA a week or so ago after a GA event to buy some new crockery... but that's another story...

This article describes an apparent bias in the IKEA catalogue towards naming certain products about places in Denmark. An example of "cultural imperialism" ?

A few Google searches confirms that this is an old story, with the Independent carrying a story in 2008 about the naming of a toilet seat after a stretch of water that has been fought over for centuries (good headline too: IKEA and loathing...)
What name would you give a toilet seat if you were writing the IKEA catalogue and choosing the names ??
Could be an intriguing literacy activity if extended to a range of products...

Image by Flickr user yassan-yukky and made available under Creative Commons license.

New Hans Rosling

You have a few days left to book your place at the GA Conference to hear Hans Rosling speak.

Here's Hans' latest Ted talk, where he 'bigs up' the washing machine...

And check out GAPMINDER IDEAS while you're at it...

New Zealand: where I'd like to be today...

My earlier blog post about the Christchurch memorial service was a reminder of the many connections that exist between the UK and New Zealand.
My friend Simon Hathaway, who now lives in Wellington (which is a major improvement on Rotherham) sent me a pack of newspaper and magazine articles this week to add to the other resources that I have gathered to help teach about the resilience of a major city following an earthquake. I was interested to read the 'North and South New Zealander of the Year' piece, which awarded the Supreme Winner to the people of Christchurch... and that was following the earlier September 2010 quake...
There was also a really useful piece from the Dominion Post by Chris Kalderimis on the most useful items to have in a home emergency survival kit, and lots of personal stories.

The #blog4nz campaign is encouraging bloggers the world over to focus on New Zealand for a while, and this post is part of the effort.

Although my work involves me in translating a range of media into resources which can make a difference in the classroom, there is also a lot of personal interest in exploring these distant places, and one area to develop is the impact of tourism in New Zealand.

One of the potential longer term impacts of the Christchurch earthquake is the effect that it might have on the tourist industry on both islands, but particularly the South Island.  New Zealand has been on my must-visit list for ever, and I still fully intend to visit one day, although the current financial situation is not making it any easier...

Image shared under Creative Commons license by Boston Public Library
When I was asked to produce a KS3 book for use in the geography classroom, I was determined to get a little bit of New Zealand in there. I chose an iconic landform to focus on: the distinctive Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.

My contribution to the GA's toolkit series included two lessons called "Mountains on my Mind". They involved students applying for a job with a fictional tour company which operated flights into Milford Sound. Students needed to prepare themselves for the job interview by researching answers to the sorts of questions that tourists would have as they flew over the mountains.

Below is a slideshow of images taken by Simon Hathaway, which were used to introduce the lesson - the music is by the band "Suns of the Tundra" - with thanks to Simon Oakes for the remix music track :) - warning: it could get loud !!

Create your own video slideshow at

When clicking on the Dominion Post link earlier to create the hyperlink, I noticed a few tourism related stories straight away:

Preparations for the next Rugby World Cup later this year are already well underway, and there was also the story about the filming for 'The Hobbit' movie.

This reminded me of a the tourism benefits of the filming of "The Lord of the Rings" which resulted in a major surge in visitors, and the publication of several guides to the filming locations.

So what would my top priorities be for our family visit to New Zealand, which was going to be 2012, but now looks like being later... My interest in some parts of the country date back to 2007. At the time I was supporting Val Vannet as she followed Mark Beaumont around the world on his record-breaking
I took over from Val over the Christmas and New Year period 2007-8 and followed Mark through New Zealand and therefore spent a lot of time using Google Earth and other sites to trace his route and identify some geographical highlights....
Here is a 'top ten', which provides a taster.... There'll be no bungee though, or white water rafting. I prefer more sedate pleasures...

1. Wellington
We'll be based in the city as that's where friends who've offered us a bed for as long as we want live. But from there we'll branch out. Wellington has plenty to offer the visitor, and we'll explore the hills and the city itself. Plenty of interesting food and cultural highlights... We can get over our jet lag here before exploring further afield in a motor home...

2. Ferry to the South Island (and back)
Looking forward to this trip. We enjoy boat journeys and this is one of the more spectacular ones.

3. Christchurch
As a geographer, I'd be interested in seeing the city for various reasons, but not the least to show that it is as safe to visit as anywhere else along this fault-line. This would not be "disaster tourism", but a genuine desire to support local businesses as well as publicise for geography teachers and students back home some of the longer term ways that 'resilience' manifests itself....

4.Mt.Taranaki / Egmont and the surrounding area
Egmont / Taranaki is an amazing mountain, and the surrounding area has plenty of interest. I am particularly keen to visit places that are as 'different' to the day-to-day as possible.

5. Rotorua
Having visited Iceland recently, including a trip to Geysir and other hot springs, I've had my fair share of sulphurous water, but this is one of those places where the thin shell of the Earth's crust becomes obvious, and for that reason I need to take a look...

6. Milford Sound - I'm torn between driving in, and flying in - perhaps I could do both ? This is one of the great places of the world. When I was younger I visited the Hardangerfjord and other fjords of Norway, and I'm always impressed by huge cliffs and deep water. The waterfalls and jagged peaks are stunning.

7. Moeraki
Always wanted to see the Moeraki boulders, looking like dinosaur eggs on the beach. Moeraki is not too far from Christchurch. The family might not be too impressed if I dragged them a long distance to see "a few rocks", although they are beautiful rocks...

8. Mt Ruapehu and Tongariro
In the same area of the North Island, I used to teach about the eruption of these volcanoes for many years. I like the idea of seeing the peaks and snow fields, and making the link with the 'Lord of the Rings' locations...

9. Franz Josef Glacier
Again, my recent trip to Iceland allowed me to walk on a large glacier, but this has a much different feel to the Solheimajokull ice cap, with its steeper gradient and dramatic crevasses...

10. Shackleton connections
Sir Ernest Shackleton has always been an inspiration of mine, and the chance to visit some of the places where he prepared for his journeys would be a good reason for heading South... Two places on the list would be the grave of Chippy McNeish in Karori cemetery, Wellington, and the port of Lyttleton.

Picture by Simon Hathaway - Chippy McNeish and Mrs Chippy...

I am keen to trace some of the connections with the early Polar explorers, as we prepare for the centenary of Scott and Amundsen's race to the Pole next year. I have no doubt that someone somewhere is planning to tweet their journeys day by day (and if they aren't I though of it first... ;)  )

See you there !

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A drop of water...

Powerful stuff...

OPAL Climate Survey

A large box waiting for me when I arrived at Solly Street on Wednesday this week for a day of meetings related to various projects that I have been involved in.

The box contained a number of copies of the latest OPAL survey.
I have blogged, and been involved in the previous surveys on Air quality and Biodiversity, and this latest survey is perhaps the most ambitious yet.
As with the previous ones, there is a very useful range of resources, which seems to have been even more ambitious this time round.

There is a letter to explain the survey, complete with a risk assessment for the activities. To support students in their survey, they are provided with:

A laminated FSC identification card, which allows the user to work through the activities and also identify clouds and contrails
A mirror to lay on the ground and observe clouds
A compass for wind direction and cloud movement
Some bubbles to explore the way that ground level winds are blowing

Associated notes and recording sheets
An impressive production....

Rise up Christchurch

Earlier this week Prince William visited Christchurch, which has been a little overshadowed by the events elsewhere during the last week. The occasion was the memorial service for the victims, and it was a moving occasion, with around 40 000 people crowded into Hagley Park.

Rise up Christchurch has been building, and is an essential place to go for information on the recovery of the city, as I blogged earlier.

Another way to show solidarity is to wear red and black on the 22nd of March

As has been said many times: "Kia Kaha"

My next post will be part of the #blog4nz campaign...

Ageing... several stories... and new Danny Dorling

Earlier in the week, picked up on this story from the Guardian, as one of the impacts of last week's earthquake and tsunami...
It describes the particular impact that shortages of food, water and power are having on those who survived, or were evacuated from the areas affected by the combination of hazards that have hit the country.
The elderly are apparently being affected particularly badly.

The second story was from Friday morning's BBC news. Despite the rise in obesity, the UK population is still enjoying longer life expectancy.

The third was prompted by a conversation with Carl Lee in Sheffield on Wednesday. He put me on to the latest Danny Dorling book, which I promptly ordered, and it arrived on Friday.

There are plenty of interesting sections which could translate into the classroom.
I liked the introduction: "Geography Matters", which includes the useful reminder for adult readers of the book that:
"The geography you may have been taught late on a Thursday afternoon at school is not the geography that is taught in universities today.."
- although in many cases it is also not the geography that is taught at schools on Thursday afternoons these days...

There are chapters on a range of themes that would be familiar to those teaching GCSE and 'A' level specifications, and this book should perhaps be available in school and departmental libraries.
Useful information on optimum populations, immigration, ageing populations and gender imbalance.
As always with Danny, plenty of thought provoking and challenging arguments and information....

Plenty of information for follow up reading in the copious endnotes too...

UPDATE: Thanks to @beyondmaps for the link through to the book's COMPANION WEBSITE, which includes sample material, mp3 files and a ZIPPED file of all the images from the book. A really useful resource for teachers. Remember that you really need a copy of this book for your departmental library...

Maps for Free

Another new free map creator. There are so many of these around now that it's hard to keep up, although this blog is as good a way as any of doing that of course...

MAPS FOR FREE offers a range of layers...
These can be added to base maps to create some interesting maps...

Above a map of Iceland, with layers including ice sheets and tundra areas, created using the tool. The SNAPSHOT camera icon also allows images of maps to be saved...

GI Forum

My colleague John Lyon will be attending the GI Forum in Salzburg in the first week of July. Sadly I am unable to go due to prior commitments, so will wave him off slightly jealously.

The event is taking place at Salzburg University.
Joseph Kerski will be keynoting the event.

More to come on this nearer the time...

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Map Action in Japan... plus Ben Hennig.... plus ESRI...

Phew, started this post on Wednesday and finally finished it....

We have a link with the charity Map Action at the GA. John Lyon, our Programme Director, ran the London Marathon last year to raise money for the charity.

I contacted Jen Hayward at ESRI UK earlier this week to ask about ESRI involvement in the disaster in terms of their mapping and use of GI. ESRI Inc had produced a map which I blogged about previously, with thanks to Joseph Kerski for the information.

Map Action has a number of volunteers who work for ESRI UK as well as other organisations.
There is a deployment diary on the website.
I will hopefully be providing further updates, and we are working on an additional resource on the GA and ESRI website which refers to the 'mapping' impact of the disaster. Thanks to Ming for keeping me up to date with this too - keep an eye out for future posts on this. Their role is in information management, and supporting the various agencies on the ground.

Kudos also to Ben Hennig who has produced a very interesting map which collates the information on thousands of earthquakes to produce a summary map of thousands of earthquakes going back decades. See the Worldmapper site for more of Ben's work (including a good St. Patrick's map via the Facebook page) and the VIEWS OF THE WORLD blog.

Copyright Ben Hennig of SASI - thanks for permission to use the image

After discussions earlier in the week, ESRI UK have now added an excellent page with a link through to some ways that mapping has been used as part of the response. If you click through some of the links there are more interesting sections on the value of mapping and geographical information.

Finally, BBC Click has put up a useful video which connects this all together...
Thanks to Jen Hayward for the tipoff to this once again...

Finally, Channel 4 at Thursday on 9pm has a special programme on the Tsunami...

Environment Agency iPhone App

For the last two years I've been using a flood lecture called 'High and Dry' at numerous venues around the country.
As part of the lecture, there is a section where students think of the possible features of an iPhone app, which could be designed by the Environment Agency, using Tony Cassidy's template idea.

According to the Environment Agency news page, there is now an iPhone app called FLOOD ALERT, which has been produced in association with Halcrow.
Just installed it, and it allows you to check flood alerts and other information, and can add postcodes for several places that you are interested in monitoring.

And if you want to catch my High and Dry lecture, I'll be using it again in Worcester later in the year - more details nearer the time, but check my diary down the right hand column of the blog...

Anorak Magazine

Latest issue of Anorak magazine, which features Mission:Explore :)
It's on the theme of the Outdoors - quite a few pages of missions...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Cumberland sausages

Have joined the list of foods with Protected Geographical Indication Status (PGI) (search to see previous posts on this theme...)

Accept no imitations...

World Water Day

World Water Day is next week: on the 22nd of March - next week is also Climate Week, and I suppose the two issues are rather closely related...
What will you do to link with this crucial issue in your classroom ?

Thinking about disasters... something that a lot of us have been doing for the last week...

So have other colleagues... Simon Jones has posted the results of his thinking on the presentation below, which he has shared on Slideshare. Some really interesting and challenging questions...
There was also a response from the Guardian's DATA BLOG, which had a comparison between Japan and Haiti as part of its DECADE OF DISASTERS piece.

There is also a useful NUCLEAR POWER feature which shows the number of power plants that may now have an uncertain future, and face far more stringent safety checks and procedures. Useful mapping in both of these features...

Responses to the disaster have spread far and wide.
Fears over the nuclear radiation that is likely to spread from the Fukushima plant caused salt to sell out in China.

Thanks also to Fred Martin for sending through this intriguing link.

This is all 6 major channels at the precise time of the earthquake laid over each other. 

The one in the top left is NHK (Japanese equivalent of the BBC) and the others are all commercial broadcasters. Which channels react the fastest - how long do some of them take to react ?

Warning: may give you a headache...

He also told me about the website which shows the live Geiger counter readings for Tokyo.

Thanks to those people who have left a comment on the Tsunami page on the GA website.


Got my ticket for the Rush 'Time Machine' tour in May at the Sheffield Arena: over 30 years of hard rocking and a full play through of 'Moving Pictures': it's going to be loud...

One of my favourite Rush tracks is called 'Subdivisions'...

There are plenty of amazing aerial images of the various Subdivisions of cities in the USA on Chris Gielen's TWISTED SIFTER blog. Here's one from Florida...
And here, for your musical education (because this blog isn't just about geography you know...) are Rush performing the song live as part of the R30 tour...

Lyrics by Neil Peart - plenty of geography here...

Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown...

The Citizenship Toolkit

New on the GA website but not been mentioned here before...
The Citizenship Toolkit is a new area which has a range of tools for exploring the issues that matter...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Situationist App

A new app in the App store which promises to turn you into a 'Situationist'....
Another "psychogeographical" tool to carry in your pocket...

Thanks to @olimould on Twitter for the tipoff...

Earth Hour

Coming up later this month...
What will you be doing for EARTH HOUR ??

Given the energy crisis in large parts of Japan, and of course many other parts of the world, this might seem like a small gesture, but it might allow time for reflection...

Thought for the Day

From 99 years ago today...

"I'm just going outside and may be some time..."

Captain Lawrence Oates

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

GA at the Education Show

The GA will have a stand at this year's Education Show 2011 at the NEC.
We will be in Hall 6&7 on Stand P30A - the subject association area (as at BETT) - the show starts later this week...

Come along to pick up the latest catalogues, see some of our new publications, browse some GA resources and be told about the support for Primary and Secondary colleague that members can expect, as well as our CPD support and online networks.

We would be interested to hear your views on the curriculum review, English Baccalaureate, and other challenges facing geography in schools, as well as the opportunities presented by these 'interesting times'.

I will be setting up and manning the stand on the first day of the show: Thursday the 17th of March

Alternatively, come with a USB drive and I'll let you have some free resources from my hard drive...

I'll also be handing out various bits for those who get there early...

My colleagues Nicola Donkin and Paul Baker will be on the stand on the other 2 days of the show...

Look forward to seeing some of you there...

Monday, 14 March 2011

UNICEF Landmine Campaign

A fantastic campaign on raising landmine awareness.... with thanks to OSOCIO for the tipoff...
This idea deserves to be used for some other geographical purpose too... ideas ??

Mapping the Japanese disaster... - further updates for geography teachers

The Tsunami has been notable for the impact on coastal communities in particular prefectures.
The phrase "wiped from the map" has been used in numerous newspaper articles, such as this one from Alex Thomson in Minami Sanriku

If towns have been wiped from the map, then there will inevitably be a need for new maps. GPS and GIS will be needed to plot relief routes, co-ordinate the delivery of supplies, bulldoze routes through a mass of rubble which stretches for miles in some cases, reroute damaged infrastructure and rebuild housing. The influence of the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 meant that most buildings in the affected area were only two or three stories high. It may be that there will need to be further artificial refuges built in the area, assuming that it is re-colonised.

The USGS has produced a useful poster of the area that was affected by the earthquake. It is available to download as a JPG in various sizes, and also as a PDF for printing...

Harvard Centre for Geographic Analysis has created a GIS data portal
This includes a range of mapping links, but also a DATA tab, which provides a link through to some useful data downloads. These are in ESRI Shapefile format, so teachers with access to GIS package can make use of the maps and downloads.

ESRI Inc have produced a map which has a range of useful information and layers to explore.

Google Maps summary page has already been mentioned in previous blog post, as has the GeoEye updated imagery with left to right sliders for comparison on the NY Times page

Map Action is a charity that the GA has been involved with before, and our Programme Director John Lyon ran the London Marathon last year to raise funds for their work. I will post in more detail some of the work that they are doing having made a contact there earlier today. This will be in a separate post...

Thanks to Jo Blackmore for sending me two resources which she produced for her department, and which can be used in various ways...
They are embedded below....

and a card sort

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Card Sort

Thanks also to Moira Jenkins @GlobalDimension for tipoff to a brand new RED CROSS Assembly resource which could be used by colleagues who are (I hope) volunteering to take assemblies this week (Red Nose Day permitting...)
The resource makes use of a Channel 4 news clip by Alex Thomson from the badly hit town of Minami Sanriku...

Billionaire Map

Forbes rich list visualised as a map
Goes well with the Who wants to be a Billionaire activity on the GTT website, and also those doing the Unequal World style units at GCSE / 'A' level....

Thought for the Day

"Is it a dream? I just feel like I am in a movie or something. Whenever I am alone I have to pinch my cheek to check whether it's a dream or not." 
Ichiro Sakamoto, 50, resident of Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan.

How to help Japan

Image from Independent on Sunday newspaper front page

Updates since original posting: 3

There are various options for fund-raising for the Japanese disaster.

Update: GOOD MAGAZINE (one of my top Twitter feeds) has produced an excellent page of options for those in the US in particular, but many are appropriate here too...

Shelterbox are on the ground, and they have a website which has a range of resources and information. More news comes through their Twitter feeds: @shelterbox and Tom Henderson's feed @shelterboxTomH
Call 0300 0300 500 to donate to Shelterbox.

iTunes is another way to donate: and given that Apple has one of the largest credit card databases from its customers this is an efficient way of giving. Apple will also be giving 100% of the donation to the appeal.

The RED CROSS appeal is here.

If you have appropriate skills, there may be opportunities to volunteer in other ways.  Teams from the UK are working on the ground at the moment in search and rescue, and there will no doubt be a demand for engineers etc. as reconstruction and clearance gets underway.

Save the Children Fund appeal link is here. Imagine being the parent of a child, trying to explain why the world they knew has disappeared...

Watch the latest on the events on the NHK Live Stream and also on USTREAM.

Thanks also to David Rogers for posting images from classrooms of colleagues in his department at Priory School, Portsmouth earlier this morning. Some interesting stimulus questions, and use of mystery numbers to start research and identification of key points.
I was also interested in reading Adrian Hamilton's "My View" article in the 'i' newspaper (which my post office has now started to stock) - some good points made in the article, which is not available online at the time of writing.

Amanda O' Dell, a geography teacher from London, also posted an interesting comment on her experiences teaching about the event on Friday.
Mr. Kilvert at @ThurstableGeog was also quick off the mark, and had the idea of his pupils producing some moving tweets in the #prayforjapan stream.
Dawn Hallybone used Wordle and Haikus with her Year 6 group, who also produced news reports using Movie Maker

OSOCIO has already had a number of examples of art work which has been produced to raise funds for Japan, and I have mentioned some of those in other posts.
Some more amazing image sets showing the scale of the impact have been emerging. Be aware that there are some graphic images in that set...

I have also been waiting to see if there will be someone who connects the imagery of the other major fund raising event: Red Nose Day on Friday, with the Japanese flag as seen at the top of the post... and how they will do that...

The crisis has also pushed the continuing problems in LIBYA off the front pages.

As with the previous post, please comment if you want to share how you are teaching about the events, and any thoughts on appropriate resources and pedagogy to use...

Update: Google Earth blog has updated imagery links
Update: The Guardian has shared one of the most dramatic clips of the impact of the water: the first minute or so of this one...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Another world-changing event...

Updates since initial posting: 9

Geography teaching resources and other thoughts...

Just after 7am on Friday morning I pulled into a multi storey car park in central Coventry. I had set off rather earlier than I needed to ensure that I was on time for an NQT event that I was running, and as I checked my mail and Twitter feeds, news started to come in of an earthquake and tsunami...
The rest of the day was spent running the conference, and by the time I got home at 7pm that night, there was a clear sense that this was going to be very bad news for Japan and the rest of the world...

It became obvious that a lot of colleagues were hard at work over the weekend preparing a range of resources.
My colleague Anne Greaves at the GA had produced a really useful page of materials at short notice on the Friday in my absence.

Below is the text of the update that I will send to Anne for addition to the GA website tomorrow (Monday) but it is here for early access, and also for possible comment... This is a draft, and is my personal response to the events in Japan...

Update for GA website resources

The weekend of the 12th and 13th of March has been dominated by regular updates from the region of Japan that was most badly affected by the earthquake of the 11th (which has been upgraded to a magnitude 9) and the ensuing tsunami and aftershocks.
The force of the earthquake has shifted the east coast of Japan by 2.4 metres, and even shifted the earth’s axis by 25cm. News footage has shown the astonishing scale of the devastation, and the power of water in a highly urbanised area. Entire towns such as Minami Sanriku seem to have virtually disappeared, and tens of thousands of people are missing at the time of writing, in the massive debris fields that the tsunami left behind.
The crisis has now been called the “worst since World War 2”, with the astonishing power of the water and shaking accompanied by the potential for a greater nuclear disaster than Chernobyl in 1986. Videos showing the swaying skyscrapers of Tokyo also provide a reminder of the efforts that have been made to protect buildings from potential earthquakes. This, combined with regular drills will have had an effect on overall casualty numbers, although some of the videos show a remarkable nonchalance as people stood and washed boats being washed under bridges that they were stood on.
The combination of hazards has had wider impacts on the country’s economy, links to global markets, car exports and manufacturing have been suspended, insurance claims will run into billions, and there are forecasts of rising energy prices. Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures are responsible for over 40% of the Japanese economy, and most manufacturing has ceased. Food rationing is taking place, and water supplies are cut in many parts of northern Japan.
Energy is currently being rationed as a large percentage of Japan’s energy comes from nuclear power, and there are fears of nuclear ‘meltdown’ at a number of nuclear reactors. Screening centres have been set up as over 200 000 people have been evacuated from the area around the reactors. A rolling programme of 3 hour blackouts is planned for the next few days. Oil refineries have been affected, and many petrol stations have closed, with long queues at others.
In the longer term, there will be a stimulus for the construction industry, as the infrastructure and many buildings will require reconstruction, but this is a long way in the future…

Thoughts on pedagogy & potential activities

The challenge for teachers in the next few weeks will be to pick an appropriate route through the large number of potential resources and activities that could be selected. Teachers as ‘curriculum makers’ have difficult choices to make, and even more so than ever where this event is concerned.
Students are likely to come with questions, and anxieties, and teachers will need to tackle those sensitively. These are likely to form the basis for the response: a lesson that is planned too rigidly might not enable some of those important questions to be answered. Try to ensure that at least one computer with internet access is available for research. It may be possible to access the live news stream from NHK news:
Some sense of the scale of the disaster might be appropriate to explore, using Google Earth or other mapping software e.g. GIS mapping, perhaps using some of the available free tools such as ESRI’s ArcGIS online explorer: (a map of earthquakes in Japan has already been created)
Students could perhaps be placed in a ‘newsroom’ hot seat – maybe preparing materials for the Google Crisis Response website that is mentioned later in this resource. Alternatively they could be interviewing a survivor, or prepare questions for a rescue worker on their way to the disaster area. They might be asked to prepare / design applications that would be useful for residents and other people in the affected areas.
Use the Sky News home page or Newseum site to explore the front pages of newspapers in the UK / around the World.
Possibly a Wordle of the headlines could be constructed, to explore the language of tragedy, and how to work on some of these issues to raise the morale of people in the affected areas.
Alternatively, take a Japanese poetry form: the haiku, and pupils could write a response to what they have seen and heard, perhaps adding a hopeful note…
There could be an exploration of how the shape and height profile of the coastline of Japan may have funnelled the waters further inland and at a faster rate in certain locations.
Teachers should perhaps take a lead from students at the start of the lesson, to assess the possible focus for part of the lesson:
What do they know ?
What would they like to know ?
What should they know ?
If we are having a debate about core knowledge in geography, should ‘tsunami’ be in there ?
Remember geographical enquiry: the choice of stimulus material will be to identify appropriate images and then offer potential for research and reflection.
Is it perhaps too early to be dissecting the disaster ?
If any colleagues have thoughts on these ideas, or would like to provide further examples that they have planned, we would be very pleased to receive them and share them more widely.

Links and connections

The BBC News website has an astonishing video: one of many, showing the force of the water as the tsunami hit:

UPDATE: Watch the BBC NEWS SPECIAL on iPLAYER - thanks to TC for link

Some colleagues have been hard at work producing resources which they are happy to share.
Andy Knill, who teaches in Essex spent most of the weekend compiling a tremendously useful Google Document:
This contains a large collection of possible sources of information and Twitter feeds to follow for updates.
Becky Pook from Peacehaven School was quick off the mark with a creative and well-referenced resource which explored not only the physical background to the event but also the emotional response. It includes some interesting ideas for model making and creative use of images. Many thanks to Beccy for sharing.

View more presentations from Beccy Pook

Another Slideshare, which contains a range of images is:
Ollie Bray wrote a blog post which concentrated on the effort of Google and other technology firms to update their imagery as quickly as possible to enable assessment of the damage and some before/after comparisons.
There was also a useful link to Google’s Crisis Response Dashboard: - this provides a range of  links including a person finder and some dramatic YouTube clips.
Mark Howell blogged his thoughts – another example of the importance of teacher blogs:
Some interesting thoughts on the issues of teaching a fast evolving news story.
Heathfield School, where blogging is embedded in the curriculum was also commendably quick off the mark with some Year 6 tasks – thanks to @DeputyMitchell on Twitter.
Jon Snow of Channel 4 news is writing his SnowBlog from Sendai in Japan:
GeoEye: an image provider, has some useful Before and After images, which have been shared by the New York Times. The webpage has a useful slider to enable comparisons:
The US Pacific Fleet has started an aid operation called Operation Tomodachi, and there is a useful Flickr set here from the people involved:
The UK charity Shelterbox is already active in the area, as are many other charities and international search and rescue teams. Follow the Shelterbox teams on:
James Reynolds ( travels the world filming in disaster zones and he has made his way to Japan as well as posting regular updates via Twitter. A useful ‘contact’ to follow over the coming days.
There was also the amazing story of Hiromitsu Shinkawa who was rescued from the roof of his house while floating many miles out to sea.
The story of the town of Minami Sanriku is a sober, large scale example of the power of nature…

Update: A Google map with links to a huge variety of imagery.
An excellent article in the Independent on Sunday (thanks to @MissTomitaka for the link) - I bought a copy of the paper today on the strength of the front cover, which was less sensational than the others...

I have not considered the nuclear events here, but there is certainly going to be a major review of nuclear safety and energy policy in the months to come...

Thanks also to many other colleagues, including John Sayers, James Baird, Kenny O Donnell and Tony Cassidy for their thoughts.

UPDATE: Thanks to Noel Jenkins for the suggestion of Google Fast Flip (which was a new one on me) for a rapid way to view a range of newspaper headlines for the Wordle task that I suggested above... This could also be used as a way of exploring the particular area of the story that was focussed on...
Update: Kenny O Donnell has posted his ideas
Update: Matt Podbury has posted his ideas - this makes use of Russel Tarr's FAKEBOOK resource - check out his SLIDESHARE resource too
Update: Discussion on SLN Forum and a WIDER DISCUSSION too

Finally, for those who would like to involve students in fund-raising, or donate to the disaster appeal.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The New North

The Royal Society of Arts has a regular programme of free lectures. I was tipped off about an event that is taking place later this month.

The event is on the 23rd of March at the RSA. I was all set to go, but have something else to do that day unfortunately so can't attend - fortunately I can LISTEN LIVE.

Thanks to @HodderGeography for the tip-off.
The event is called 'The New North'.

Here's a description of the session:

In 2050, Northern countries – notably Canada, Russia and Scandinavia – will rise at the expense of southern ones. Patterns of human migration will be dramatically altered – and where we are born will be crucial. But, argues UCLA Professor Laurence Smith, humans are adaptable: and there will be gains as a new world takes shape.

Laurence Smith visits the RSA to explore the four forces that are changing the world – climate change, rising population, globalisation and resource depletion – and attempts to predict how they will shape the world between now and 2050.

Speaker: Laurence Smith, professor and vice-chairman of geography and professor of earth and space sciences at the University of California.
Twitter logoSuggested hashtag for Twitter users: #rsanorth
This is just one of many events at the RSA that are worth attending. Always worth a check on the calendar if you know you're going to be in London 

The book by Laurence Smith is available on AMAZON. You can read quite a lot of it on LOOK INSIDE to get a real taste of it. More to come on this area later...