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Showing posts from January, 2010

MISSON:EXPLORE LONDON

Regular readers will know of my involvement in the Geography Collective. We had a good day yesterday, more information soon, but for now see what the Collective get up to in our effort to get people thinking about space and exploration. I was pleased to see that some of my students get a mention at the end :-)

The cool continuum

No idea if this is particularly original or interesting, but it has worked well for me in developing more assessment for learning tools. Based upon the Top Gear cool wall, I create a Cool Continuum across the desks in my room. I either use a dry wipe pen or Post-It notes to label 'Sub Zero', 'Cool', 'Uncool' and 'Seriously Uncool'.

The activity is simple. On their way out of the room, pupils self assess their work and place it in the pile they judge it to elong. Can also be adapted for peer assessment by getting a partner to place the work or book. If work has been completed work electronically, pupils place a Post-It in the correct place and email me the work.

Useful for enabling learning conversations with pupils, and low tech :-)

Kit I couldn't do without #3

Although I have been advised to be a card carrying member of gadgets anonymous, this notebook is essential to me. At some point I will learn to type as fast as I think, stop thinking in images and have an unlimited battery supply. Until then, I will continue to write in this, especially when at conferences and meetings!

Some of my ideas are below:
You can guess what the Centre Related Assessment Proceedures are ;) The diagram relates to a display idea, as yet not fulfilled!
Some ideas about ICT
These are the notes taken during a GA Workshop run by Jeff Stansfield, who is always inspiring! This is where I started to develop the Geographical Back Back idea described in the last post. Jeff always emphasises that our pupils arrive in class carrying a whole world of experience with them.
Jeff also uses the idea of Geographical Detectives, one which I have adopted.

Just no one shop me into the white coat brigade ;-)

Secret Geographies

I have always found exploring the concept of a sense of place difficult. The National Curriculum demands that young people use their geographical imaginations and build upon their own personal experiences. In addition, this lesson equipped the young people with a strong vocabulary to use when describing places so there are links to literacy. I should add, that this is a parallel group to the one talked about in the Our Place series of posts.

Secret GeographiesView more presentations from David Rogers.

The lesson has been inspired by Noel Jenkins' Flickr photostream.

We started by watching a slideshow of this set. Pupils wrote down adjectives. I was stunned by the response, for example: 'dank, dark, dusty, musty, drips, water.' The images were also excellent for spotting evidence from photographs- an important geographical skills. Most of the class thought that this was a place for children and had been bombed. Not bad when the only information they had to go on was the i…

Why developing outdoor education is important

This is me. Around 3 years old in the back garden of my house in the Rhondda Valleys. From a very early age I have been lucky enough to be encouraged to explore the outdoors. I think that all teachers should be using and encouraging outdoor learning. In this post I intend to outline why. To me the barriers of excess risk assessment (it's not that difficult and, in my view, forms an essential part of trip planning) and staff cover (there are always ways around that).

I should add that this is all from a personal perspective of being a qualified mountain leader, general outdoors bod and the experiences of using the outdoors in teaching.
Stories, seeing other places is one of the best things that young people can do. Getting into scrapes, pushing personal boundaries, and getting out of the comfort zone all expand perspective. This has a huge, positive, effect on young people's self esteem.

Friends: The outdoors is a life long journey of learning. As well as fitness, my most e…

What is the most important aspect of school leadership?

This post is in an attempt to reflect on personalisation and collaboration. I find that by writing here, I'm forced to clarify my thoughts!

I'll start with a story that illustrates the danger of assumptions. While having a conversation in a staff room about 4-5 years ago, talk turned to who was to blame for poor education:

Colleague: I blame single mothers.
Me: Interesting, I was raised by a single mother and she did a great job and here I am teaching.
Colleague: Well then, it's teenage mums.
Me: Interesting, my sister gave birth at 15 and still went on to gain GCSE's, A'Level's and a degree while raising a lovely daughter.

This illustrates both the danger of assumptions and the need for personalised approaches.

So why is it that so often, the answer for personalisation comes in the form of an off-the-peg solution - tried and tested in other places? This especially goes for the delivery of CPD.

Such an approach leads to this:

Above, I had fallen face first into the sno…

What's on your iPhone?

This post is going to be quite long! The iPhone has been around for a while now. I'm often asked which Apps are useful in education, so here's the post the answer those questions. I will give a summary of the most useful Apps, and bold up those that I consider essential.

I have to say, and I'm not exaggerating here, that the iPhone has transformed learning. I know this because it helps me:
organise myself, and
connect to other learners.As you can see from my previous post, I firmly have y feet on the ground when it comes to creating 1:1 access to the iPhone. However, I feel that there is a very strong argument for creating class sets of the device, especially in Geography field trips. Other smart phones may have the same functionality, however, I haven't gotten my hands on those yet! I can't comment on the power of these devices, and wold be interested in hearing from colleagues who have experience. In my view, budgets would be much better spent on investing in c…

Bittersweet Bett......

This is quite a long post. Skip to the end if you just want the main learning points!

What an epic Wednesday evening - Thursday! However, after some reflection, I have mixed feelings. The majisty and razamataz of BETT, while overwhelming, just hammered home the huge gap between what is available to learners and what learners are actually using. Of course, that statement has been molded by my own experiences (all we can ever do is speak from what we know). It is tempting to generalize. I'm angry and sad and optimistic all at the same time. How can there be such a gap? What is the point of lots of great gizmos? I feel like I am failing young people.

But, is it really all that bad? Over the time there, I went to four different events. What sturck me, is that the same messages were coming across. What seems to be lacking is some joined up thinking between them.

On Wednesday, I attended the TEDxOrenda event after the main exhibition had closed. This was an inspiring event. Th…

How can school grounds be used effectively to explore space?

A lot of the work that the department are doing at the moment involves the exploration of space. We believe that young people's understanding of space (a key concept in the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum) is underdeveloped. To further support this work, we were delighted to be awarded an Innovative Geography Teaching Grant by the Royal Geographical Society with IBG.

The project abstract reads:

Space may be the final frontier but it’s closer than you think. Do our students engage with and understand the spaces in which they live and learn? Are they able articulate how they feel and what they think about space? Do they feel constrained by the spaces around them, or do they feel empowered by it? This project aims to explore these questions. Drawing upon inspiration from a number of cutting edge projects, (mywalks, Urban Earth, Guerilla Geography, Mission Explore, the Big Art Project, 360 degree photography, Doorstep Geography) the project will draw together their strengths and, …

Urban Tweet Day

Yesterday was Urban Tweet Day. The tweets, from a number of countries can be seen here. Look out for news from Urban Earth. Below are some of the highlights from my urban walk yesterday.
No collection till 2004 http://twitpic.com/xd44j#utday


The imperial red of a post box stands proud and distinct from the monotonous White #utday

Urbanites head to the last bastion of civilisation: tea and cake ;) #utdayhttp://twitpic.com/xcwkf

Icecream weather? #utdayhttp://twitpic.com/xcwy7

Kit I couldn't do without #2

I decided to venture out on the bike today. A selection of photographs are embedded below.



Got me thinking, that I couldn't do without the follow gear when our riding in winter. This is the second post where I share the kit I love. Who was that saying gear freak? ;)
They are:

1. Berghaus Bladdered sack. Also graet for summer scrambles and climbs, it holds a nice 2 litre Platypus, spares, tools, wallet, keys and plasters!

2. Inov8 Flyrock trail running shoe. Again, great for summer on the hills. I favor these over clipless shoes as they are more vesatile.

3. Mammut Base Camp Pant. Great all round trousers.

4. Mammut Jacket - a freeby so forget the model number! Warm and toasty, although not as warm as a full down jacket. Keeps the wind out too.

5. Altura thermal cycling gloves. To keep my brake fingers nice and toasty!

Stereotype mapping

There are a number of items in my RSS reader that are just for fun. I've added another today thanks to a post on John Howarth's blog. He included an image from the Gaping Void site. On further investigation, I came acorss this image:



This gave me an idea for a lesson. As Geographers, we should be challenging stereotypes. However, I don't think that we should be making assumptions on the stereotypes our students hold. To avoid stereotyping stereotypes ;-)

I created the map below using an OS map outline that a freely available. I have to point out that my annotation are tongue in cheek and no offense was meant ;-)


For example, the Midlands are 'Blurry' as I most often see them form the M6 on my way to either the Lake District, Snowdonia or Scotland. This is also a useful activity for exploring and building upon pupil's own experiences of geography.

On my return to the classroom, I'll be using this method with classes in order to explore stereotypes and pupil…

Seeing the world differently - Urban Tweet Day Saturday 9th January

Some readers will know about my involvement with the Geography Collective. We are a band of academics, teachers, artists and Guerrilla Geographers with a common aim to encourage (young) people to see the world in different ways. There are many exciting projects coming up this year, including the launch of MISSION:EXPLORE and the Journey Journal. I would encourage all educators, parents and those involved with young people to look at these resources.

Keep reading for details of more exciting developments.

Anyway, one of the projects that Geography Collective members have been involved with is Urban Earth.

This Saturday is Urban Tweet Day:

If you enjoy looking at the world differently then this project is for you!

URBAN TWEET DAY is a side project of URBAN EARTH.

TWEET DAY is about tweeting what you see, hear, smell and sense in and around your urban world. Find something (un)interesting? Share it with us...

The idea is to record our perspective on our urban lives and habitat through an onli…

GA Magazine Editorial Collective

The Spring Issue of GA Magazine is out and available to GA members. In this issue the new Editorial Collective are introduced to readers. I'm really excited that I will be one of the Collective, and I'm very much looking forward to working on the publication.

Below is am extract and my call for great ideas. The GA Magazine should be a hot bed of sharing practice - so if you have something to share it would be great to hear from you! Just ignore the shameful hair do in the picture ;-)


A big hello!
I’m a dad, family member, learner,
geographer, outdoor adventurer, Welshman and
teacher. My enthusiasm for geography was ignited
by growing up in the coal mining valleys of South
Wales. The subject explained the painful process
of industrial decline that my family and friends
lived through. This passion was nurtured by an
excellent teacher during my secondary school
years in Carmarthen. I was hooked, and not only
because of the field trips.
When not cuddling my son, hanging from a
cliff or dodgi…

Our Place 1

At the weekend I had the idea of putting together a collaborative unit of work centered around the geographical concept of Place. There was a fantastic response, especially from Primary Colleagues. The outline Scheme of Work can be found here as a Google Document. There are some great ideas, and others that I will need to add from SLN, Blog and Twitter comments. I will update the document on the train to London on Saturday.

The request to add outline ideas seemed to work well. This has created a 'toolkit' of ideas that can be developed further. Some contributers linked to existing work which is also very handy.

I think that the document is best used as a selection box (or a tin of Roses): take what you like and what will work in your particular context. It certainly isn't a one-stop-shop. I hope that colleagues will continue to add ideas.

I'm not too happy with the layout as I think it may restrict contributers to a particular mode of thinking. I have also recieved …

Kit I couldn't do without

There are various bits of kit that I couldn't do without. One of them is this external battery for the iPhone.

Augmented Reality and Geography Fieldwork : Wikitude App

I enjoyed an Alpine start today thanks to my little boy. I found myself looking at this list of top 100 Apps thanks to Rich Allaway. One of the Apps featured was Wikitude. After exploring the Nearest Wiki App and it's possible uses in Geography fieldwork, I thought I'd have a play.

There is great potential for Geography Fieldwork by using this App.

The WIKITUDE World Browser presents the user with data about their surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the real-time camera view of a smart-phone. I used the iPhone version.


The first thing I did was to explore the view outside of my flat window. I found that there were more points of interest, mainly centered around commercial establishments. This was far more information than was provided by the Nearest Wiki App. The information accessed about the Toby Carvery was a review summary. This information could be useful when pre-visiting a fieldwork location, or looking for servi…