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Showing posts from December, 2006

Fitting the jigsaw together...

I've often struggled to get students to link different aspects of Geography together. This is an essential skill, especially during the Avery Hill Cross-Unit Task. I hit upon an idea after seeing the excellent global warming videos highlighted on the SLN Forum recently. I really wanted to use these videos as soon as possible, however the issue of Climate Change comes much later in the year. Instead I used each video as a starter in a series of 2 lessons of flooding in Bangladesh. During the first lesson pupils had to link what they saw in the video (about energy saving) to flooding in Bangladesh. The second lesson I used the second video (with the polar bear at the end) and posed the following questions to the pupils:

1. Why should we care about Global Warming?
2. What can we do about it?
3. Link your answers to the issue of flooding in Bangladesh.

I was impressed by the students' grasp of the issue, and I believe that the links between the two issue were brought home. Another ben…

Wow - what a mission!

Why is it that the simplest ideas often take so long to execute. I've been looking forward to using the Montserrat lesson on Juicy Geography for a while now and didn't want the fact that I don't have a network connection, or GE, in my classroom. I wanted to fly into the island in order to allow pupils to locate Montserrat. The original idea was to use Smart Recorder at home to record the necessary in GE, however my laptop monkeys weren't too happy and the resulting movie was too jerky to use.

The solution? I imported the excellent movie by Adam Lawson (website) into Movie Maker and played around until the result. I'm hoping that the short video may be useful to those who, like me, don't have access to GE.

I think my New Years resolutions are to get hold of a very fast desktop, get hold of a Mac and convince SLT to give me a smartboard connected to the Internet!

Welshcakes to order!

While reading Rich's blog I was delighted to come across a link to a web site selling Welsh cakes. I love these tasty treats, but have been missing them since moving from Wales to the South Coast of England 10 years ago! Thanks Rich!

South Africa Project

In February myself and three colleagues are setting off to South Africa in order to develop an international link with schools. Time is running out fast as we get together ideas and material for the visit. We plan to take out some work by KS3 pupils exploring the local environment and hope to gain some valuable insights into life in the townships. There are also opportunities to investigate the regions wine industry (in terms of job creation of course!) and a big dam project - imaginatively entitled the Big River Dam.

I'm very excited about the visit, although the difference in the quality of life may take me by surprise. The region that we are visiting is a non-white area. I plan to use some of the excellent ideas picked up during workshops run my Dan Raven-Ellision about the use of digital video (for example windows on the world) and hope to use a map of the world to create an environment in which to explore any issues raised.

We hope to come back with a wealth of information and …

Compression - some thoughts

I've been invited to speak at a training event in January where I've been asked to give my personal perspective of Geography and a compressed Key Stage 3. Instead of taking a view where I look at the pro's and con's of compression, with the issues of providing an entitlement to geography, I'm thinking of being positive and tackling the issue from a ' how can Geography react (if that's the right word)'. I'm aware that many colleagues have little or no choice about compression, so maybe it's time for the debate to move onto how Geography can lead the way.

At the moment I feel that Geography departments have to address the issue of recruitment into KS4 and decide on the type of geographers departments want to create. Then decide on how to deliver that vision.

Coupled with the upcoming revisions to the National Curriculum, it is a very exciting time to be a Geographer! For example I welcome the way in which individual departments and teachers

On a sepa…

Ben and Jerry's go Fairtrade

I was excited to discover a couple of new Ben and Jerry's flavours during my weekly shop. The first is Fossil Fuel and the other sees the company's first Fairtrade flavour: Vanilla. I hope that Ben and Jerry's extend its range of Fairtrade products. On investigating their website I've found that, despite the company being a large multinational, they try to be ethical and spread an environmental message.

For example you can link to 'Cool your jets' the companies way of offsetting air travel and supporting renewable energy projects. This sub-site has a number of resources linked to global warming and a handy carbon calculator.

Also see the companies 'Caring Dairy' complete with a video interview with a farmer.

I am impressed by Ben and Jerry's attitude, and plan to use some of the site's features when teaching about Climate Change and Globalisation.

There are three types of people...

Yesterday was Student Performance Review Day at PCS. A long day where, as a tutor, I had to complete 28 15min appointments with each of my tutor group. The day was positive, and many parents seemed to value the target setting process. I was based for the day in a colleagues room. I'm sure you could play a full cricket match in there it was so big! Anyhow, i noticed a quote above the board. I'm sure many have come across this before, but I liked the variation. I will now take the quote and place it above my board.

'There are three types of person in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. We all have a choice'

Different Geographies, Different Approches

I've been following an interesting thread on the SLN Forum about Regional Geography. It has made me revisit some work introduced during my MA studies where we were challenged to dig deep into our own geographical perspectives. At the moment I feel that, as a Geography teacher, I should use many perspectives and approaches to teach. Regional Geography is just another 'tool in the box'.



I feel that it is important for Geography educators to understand the limitations and strengths of different approaches in Geography. Also - in response to complaints that pupils can't find places on a map - does the full responsibility lay with teachers, with parents, the media or shared? In my own case, my knowledge of places wasn't developed through formal education, but through being a nosy bugger!

Image taken from here.

A long walk of inspiration

I always remember the words of an older teacher during my first teaching post: 'If you need to do any planning, just make sure you walk to the classroom slower.'

Not quite following this way of thinking, I decided to pop along to the shop today. I was racking my brains over how I could spice up a rather dull lesson on the flood defence options of Bangladesh. The result? Well over a BLT I decided to get the class to role-play. One 'volunteer' agreed to act as the BBC foreign correspondent while each group elected a spokesperson. Not rocket science so far! However, in the 10 minutes before the lesson I suddenly thought of filming myself acting as the BBC News anchor. I quickly used my digital camera, set to video mode. The result was a very crude, poorly produced video, but the class loved it, and made the outcome of the lesson much more fun! I hope to refine the video before using it with the next class.

You can see the video (if you really want to!) here. I hope no famil…

The squeeze is on!

Just got back from the Think Tank Meeting feeling very optimistic about Geography. A few issues were discussed including the current trend for schools to compress their KS3 curriculum. I won't share the meeting detail as a summary will be posted on the web. However, during the drive back I've had time to have a few thoughts.



Combinedwith the New NC on the horizon, it is an exciting time to be a Geographer. I have a number of questions, but most importantly - do all Geography teachers in the same department have to be teaching the same Geography to the same Year groups? Is there room for geographers to explore their own specialisms and use their own experiences on the classroom? Of course there should be a broad and balanced Geography entitlement, but I think there's lots of room for radical action.

Post Its

This is the second simple idea that has had a positive effect in the classroom. Again, I can't claim the idea (although I have forgotten where the inspiration came from), although I have played around with the idea.
The 'Post Its' method basically gets pupils to jot down ideas, questions thoughts or answers on a Post-It note and then place them onto a shared space, such as a classroom poster or flip chart. I have recently used the idea during an introductory lesson on tectonic hazards. After exploring what a hazard is (using a sorting activity taken from Teaching Geography) the idea of tectonic hazards was introduced. The classes then moved onto deciding how disasters can be measured. Finally I posed the question - 'Why would people live near volcanoes?'.
I then asked the class to record 1-3 questions that they had on the subject of volcanoes on Post-It notes, The results can be seen here. I have used the results to structure the Hazards SoW for Year 9. At the end of …

Banned Word Board

Today I want to share some simple ideas that I have found to be very effective in the classroom. I can't say that they are my own original ideas, although I have played around with them.
The first is the Banned word Board. This is a simple display in the classroom that lists a number of words that are not allowed to be used by pupils in their written or oral answers. The effect has been an increase in the quality of written work, and I have almost made comments such as 'Sir it's simple, the stuff just affects the thing and causes people problems'.
Pupils are now more able to use specific language, something that is vital especially at GCSE. I have had to make a few modifications, such as the introduction of 'Heavenly Words'
This is an additional display placed on the ceiling. I found this necessary as pupils needed some stimulus in finding replacement words.

After advice received after posting the idea on the SLN forum, I have also introduced semi-banned words. Th…

Am feeling rather brave today!

Well I'm either feeling brave or slightly mad as I've put together the first survey using survey monkey. The aim of the survey is to gather some basic opinions of students about Geography at the school. I have used one survey for all Year groups, a more detailed response could be collected later by targeting specific surveys. For example, it would be interesting to survey Year 9 in the run up to options.

This forms part of our action plan to gain the GAPSecondary Geography Quality Mark. I'm not sure whether to also use more traditional interviews and paper surveys in addition to the online version - or shouldI be brave and rely purely on the results?

I'm not sure how this will go, but I'm sure that the results will be interesting!

SSAT Conference 2006

This is the second year in which I have been lucky enough to attend the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Annual Conference in Birmingham as part of the Developing Leaders of Tomorrow programme. It was with interest that I listened one of the key note speeches where the problem of ageing heads was highlighted. Apparently there just aren't enough people in the system working their way towards headship. This issue is well reported, but I was interested in the possible solutions put forward.

The issue puts me into two minds. On one hand I wish to be as involved with Geography as possible, and my immediate ambition is to become a Head of Department. However, I also have ambitions to advance as a Senior Leader in the future. The issue? Do I give up my involvement with Geography early in order to pursue a SLT future? This issue doesn't have to be resolved for a number of years yet though!

Linvoy Primus Enterprise Challenge

I'm pleased to be involved with a small team of 5 pupils at PCS in supporting their bid to win a trip to Goa. The team have to set up a profit making business. All proceeds go to supporting Faith and Footballs work in India.

The team are against 100 others from across South East Hampshire, and I'm very proud of their achievements so far. They have decided to set up their own blog in order to track progress.

I'd just like to wish the team good luck and I know that many of the staff and students at school are really behind you! I know that I have learnt a few business tips so far!

The first post at last!

It's a great moment as I finally write the first post of my 'reflective' blog. I was inspired to create this blog after watching the excellent 50 Ideas in 50 Minutes presentation by Ollie Bray at the SAGT conference earlier this term. Shame it's taken me so long to get here!
Now that I have, the aim is to post at least once a day until the end of term - if I hit that target I'll be able to evaluate whether I should continue.I first tried to use the edublogs setup, but have reverted to what I know best: blogger. Maybe I could convert at a later stage when my ICT skills are better!