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Showing posts from May, 2008

The Big Apple?

The Apple Store on 5th Avenue - 24hour mac goodness! These days I wonder if pupils will identify Apple as the 'Big Apple' rather than New York?

Just back from a trip to New York and turning my mind back to my looming MA dissertation. I have to say that I love going to the US because, to admit some of my dirty pleasures, it's about the only place in the world where I can enjoy a McDonald's or sip an ice cold Coke without thinking about how I've sold out to the American machine.

I was also pleasantly surprised to experience the newish NY fashion of the decent pint of beer. To be honest, US ale is pants. However, I did enjoy some truly tasty ales - and not all accompanied by a huge stack of ribs or a burger. For example the Brooklyn Brewery and Heartland Brewery.

Still not as good as real ale though!

New York and the States has an immense sense of place - huge iconic images abound and I'm sure that most UK pupils will be more familiar with some of the New York landmar…

It's fieldwork time!

Fieldwork time again for Year 10. I was surprised to find out that the school never really used to do fieldwork for GCSE data collection. This is something that is now rectified and all Year 10's are offered the opportunity to gather data. The experience of speaking to members of the public is great personal development too!

We tend to stay local as our pupils identify with the local area. However, who says you have to travel far to push boundaries? As I've found out today many of our pupils have never visited the locations! Plus, pupils can easily collect extra data in their own time. I think that exploring the local area is a great way to motivate pupils....

We spent some of today just looking around us. It's surprising what you can find. For example we spotted that Portsmouth is really trying hard to re brand themselves as a tourist destination....

Progression?

I've been thinking about progression in Geography since the excellent Open University conference last week. I've also been mulling a few ideas over with some geography colleagues that I met on the weekend training course. It strikes me that we have a wonderful chance of making KS3 geography very excviting, up to date a relevant. As a Head of Geography I can use my GCSE specification selection and planning to make sure that there is no repetition of topics from KS2-3-4. However, how do we stop the topics from being repeated at A'Level? How are the topics at A'Level and GCSE different? How can we ensure that A'Level geography really is a progression from GCSE and prepares students for the world of Higher Education?

Back to Burgate

Spent the weekend in the New Forest helping to train adult volunteers how to take young people into the outdoors. The course is based at the Burgate school in Fordingbridge. I really enjoy these courses as it's a chance top meet many like minded people who are passionate about outdoor learning. It does make me wonder about the number of topics that are unnecessarily taught within the confines of a classroom in geography.

For example - how many people teach map skills in the class room? To me this has never made sense and I try to ensure that map skills are taught in the context of outside. For example, using a 1:25,000 map of the school grounds to explore contours. Portsmouth must be the flattest place on earth (ok, maybe an exaggeration!). There is only 1/2 contour lines that cut through the school so Year 7 act a detectives to see if they can find them.

I'll be thinking about the other topics that could be taught outside using the school grounds and what is around the local a…

Rediscovering School Geography....

Wow - months go by very quickly when you're not looking!

Today I was very lucky to be invited to the Open Universities Rediscovering School Geographies Workshop. The iea of the day was to get academic geographers, geography educators and school teachers in order to debate the state of school geography in the UK.

There were excellent presentations by John Morgan and David Lambert. The key message, which ran through the whole day, is that we rarely pause to consider WHAT we teach. Sure, I am always involved in conversations focussed on HOW to teach but when was the last ti you asked your department to justify the inclusion of something new?

Reflecting on my own experiences, the 'what' question was never considered during Teacher Training. Judgments about my reaching are made by non-specialists who worry about the structure and pace of my lessons but rarely the accuracy, relevance or interest of the content. I wonder if this era of accountability has almost destroyed curriculum …