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Showing posts from March, 2011

The Geography Collective and the Cultural Olympiad

As few people would have missed, a small event is happening in London next year.  Alongside the event is the Cultural Olympiad which is the largest multicultural celebration in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements.  In other words, it’s going to be massive and an important way for teacher to get young people involved in the spirit of the London 2012 Olympic Games.  As a teacher I think that we should all be encouraging young people to engage with and develop the values of the 2012 Games:They will be following three Olympic Values Values:friendship respect excellenceAnd four Paralympic Valuesequality courage determination inspirationPart of the Cultural Olympiad is the Discovering Places project.:Discovering Places - London 2012’s Cultural Olympiad campaign to inspire communities across the UK to discover their local environment.The super dooper awesome news is that we at The Geography Collective can now confirm that we will be working on this huge project with Discover …

Guest Post by Jo Debens: Reflections on MSPIL European Forum, Moscow.

Jo Debens joined our Geography Department as a Newly Qualified Teacher in September 2008.  We made up of three teachers, a member of support staff and usually a PGCE student from the University of Portsmouth. My first memories of Jo’s teaching involved a mystery that linked a fish being found on top of the Spinnaker Tower  and a recent storm event.  I knew from that moment that Jo would develop into a fantastic teacher.Having started my own adventure with Partners in Learning, I ‘gently persuaded’ Jo ( who may disagree with the level of persuasion ;) to develop, implement and lead a project.  The project was supported by the 21st Century Learning Alliance, Royal Geographical Society and The Geography Collective.  Being someone who strongly believes that one of my roles as a Curriculum Leader is to actively encourage and develop the team, I again gently persuaded Jo to enter the project into the UK Innovative Teaching Forum.  We were delighted when the project was selected to go throug…

Education? A personal reflection.

Although I have read the growing number of reflections on the purpose of education, this post has been brought about by a number of other factors:A colleague using the quote below in a feedback assembly to young people as part of a staff-pupil co-constructed off-timetable day. Listening to the Foo Fighters very loudly during my walk to the train station this morning.A few professional and personal events that have made me reflect on the journey that had led me to this point. This is a personal reflection, written here so there is a record for me to return to.  It’s also here to explain what I meant by this tweet sent this morning: Added clarity has been provided by Everlong by the Foo Fighters:‘The only thing I'll ever ask of you
You've got to promise not to stop when I say’
I should point out that:I’m a teacher, mainly working in a secondary classroom with 11-16 year olds. I have difficulty in distinguishing between informal and formal education. I don’t see a huge differenc…

What did you think? What did you do? How did you feel? Where did you end up? What did people think? What connections did you make? What discoveries did you make? How much did you laugh, cry, shout, whoop? Mission:Explore ready to launch two new titles

This photograph was taken by Bryan Ledgard at last year’s Geographical Association Conference.  It shows the beginning of an exploration facilitated by The Geography Collective and based upon our new (at the time) book, Mission:Explore.  A year is a long, long time and the adventure into naughty learning, iPhone Apps, pirates and catapaults has been amazing.  My own experience of using Mission:Explore is as a father, friend and teacher and it is truly amazing and flattering that other teachers, parents and people have found the book useful. We’ve made some great friends along the way.But, the adventure is set to continue with the launch of our next two books next week.  Of course, we at The Geography Collective intend on launching them with alternative style next week on the 1st of April.  Check out our blog for details.More importantly, if you are a parent set on adventures this year, camping, travelling and exploring, pre-order your copy with Amazon today!And even more hugely import…

Why connected teaching is the way forward

This is also posted over at the Hodder Geography Nest Blog where I am the expert blogger for the marvellous month of March. If you find this post useful, It’s well worth heading over there as a number of interesting posts containing all sorts of hints and tips can be found. I’ll also be supplying a few more posts this month that won’t be posted here.I have written about these thoughts before, but this post provides some practical ideas about how to build networks. Below is selected text from the Hodder post:I’ll let the Tweet of my colleague Jo Debens (@GeoDebs) sum up the situation:‘The true power of technology in education lies in its ability to help educators connect with learners and to each other’Jo is attending the European Partners in Learning Education Forum in Moscow, part of a network of teachers developed by Microsoft. She was quoting one of the opening speakers. My point is this – that tweet went out to many other teachers far beyond the walls of that conference venue. For…

Getting a job – some musings

Please note that this post has nothing really to do with getting a job, but getting the right job for you.  It’s also from the point of view of someone who is no expert in getting jobs, just that they have been lucky enough to fall on their feet a couple of times with the right job. I fully accept that the advice below may not work for everyone.Sometimes, usually around this time of year, our PGCE students, staff and others often ask for advice on getting a job.My top tip is to visit the school. Before even deciding to fill the form in. A story: I recently saw an advert for an Assistant Head’s job in a school.  On paper the school sounded fantastic – just the right level of challenge.  However, within 10 minutes of entering the building I decided not to even apply for the post. Why?The Head kept talking about ‘I’ and ‘me’ and not ‘we’ and ‘us'. It was clear that the school’s turn around was down to her and she wanted us to know.The difficulty of working in the school was oversold.…

Education Blog Awards 2011

I started this blog in December 2006 after watching a presentation by Ollie Bray at the Scottish Association of Geography Teacher’s Annual Conference in Dundee.  The purpose if this blog is to provide a space for reflection and of the sharing of some stories.  I’m always surprised when people contact me about something that they’ve seen here.To be honest, with the Google Search function, this blog serves as a digital filing cabinet of things we’ve got up to.  It makes it so much easier to find stuff again! You can ask anyone that I work closely with that paper and me just doesn’t go together!Anyway, it was a surprise when Chris Ratcliffe contacted me yesterday evening saying that this space had received a nomination.  Now, I strongly believe in recognising the work of teachers, especially work done that is ‘above and beyond’ the job description.  The sharing of ideas via a blog, to me, does qualify.  However (and those that work closely with me will disagree with me here ), I’ve never…

Looking ahead to the Microsoft Partners in Learning European Forum in Moscow next week.

It hardly seems that a year has gone by since I was headed off to Berlin for the 2010 European Innovative Education Forum.  I have reflected on my adventures before, but the purpose of this brief post is to look forward to next week when teachers from all over Europe will meet in Moscow.We are all very, very pleased that one of our own Geography department will be one of those going to Moscow. Jo is the second member of our four person department that has managed to get through to the European stage of the Microsoft Innovative Education Awards, and we all have strong hopes that she will be travelling to the World event later this year. Details of the project led by Jo Debens.I spoke to Jo yesterday before leaving work for the weekend and she kindly agreed to share what she is looking forward to and nervous about the event.  ‘I’m very much excited about meeting all of the other innovative teachers that will be there, I’m sure that there will be a wealth of great, inspiring ideas that c…

Geography @ Priory

I was really pleased and excited yesterday to receive an email from the Geographical Association informing us that we had been successful in our bid to gain a fieldwork funding award. The Frederick Soddy Award will enable our GCSE Geographers to visit a location that will stretch their personal geography and provide a contrasting location to Portsmouth.This recent addition to the department’s recent successes and our very own Jo Debens (@GeoDebs) imminent departure to the Microsoft European Innovative Teachers Forum in Moscow has allowed me to reflect upon the need to go for Awards and Grants. Is it just badge collecting or is there something deeper and more important?In the past 18 months our department has received, amongst other things:A Royal Geographical Innovative Geography Teaching Award for the third consecutive year.  This will support the initiation of an international school link in partnership with Atlantic Rising. You can see our audio show of last year’s Award project he…

Using the cloud to support learning

Lots and lots gets written about using technology in the classroom with young people and how to use tools to engage learners.  This post aims to share a couple of ways in which such tools can be used to support learning.By support learning I mean the administrative side.  By using tools effectively, it is possible to create the culture, climate and opportunity to be creative.  To our department, using tools in this way allows transformation to take place (see the SAMR model).This post does not aim to weigh up the relative merits of different tools, just to give two example of how Google Docs have been used.  We have chosen Google Docs as the simultaneous editing of documents is intuitive; all of the team have engaged effectively and value the system (our team consists of the very tech savvy to the ‘how do I turn this thing on’) and (most importantly) it is very easy to share documents.1. Online Schemes of WorkSchemes of Work are living documents. To follow them religiously stifled cre…

Guerrilla Geography @ Priory

Guerrilla Geography has been a concept developed by The Geography Collective. I posted last week about how it is always great to see members of the team give CPD to others, and it was great to see a seed of an idea being embedded within our practice.  These slides were produced to support a presentation by Jo Debens and Lisa Whiting.Guerilla geography @ PrioryView more presentations from David Rogers Before I go too far, please remember that Guerrilla Geography is a small part of what we do.  There are established Schemes of Work, assessment points and links to the wider curriculum.We believe that this style of activity encourages:The use of spaces that are outside of the classroom;Encourages engagement through ‘naughty’ learning: pupils feel like they are undertaking a covert activity. The development of pupils’ understanding of space, micro-ecosystems, empathy, sense of place and team workGuerrilla Geography and naughty learning. If you’d like to learn more, we will be speaking at th…

I’m not a geographer

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with Microsoft’s Partners in Learning network for around 18 months now.  Fellow Welshman Stuart Ball is part of the team behind the network and we were lucky enough for him to agree to speak to Portsmouth’s Geography Network Meeting, which is supported by the Royal Geographical Society.I like working with the Microsoft Education team as the focus is always on learning and the team are always willing to talk, respond and help when needed.  As I’ve mentioned before, the focus is also on learning and the non-corporate and relaxed manner of Partners in Learning fits right in with teaching. To sum up we always feel that we are working with them rather than for them.Stuart’s talk went down very well, and carried a few powerful messages which I will attempt to summarise:We need to use the tools that we already have.  I think that we have all been there, and I’m certainly guilty of this myself.  We strive for the new and sometimes shiny.  But a different …

Why staff development is so important.

It’s such a gift to be working in education with dedicated professionals.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to witness an extraordinary thing: two colleagues delivering a session on naughty learning to the Portsmouth Royal Geographical Society network meeting.What was fantastic is that both Jo Debens (@GeoDebs and Microsoft Innovative Teacher) and Lisa Whiting (@geogwhiting) had put their own spin and development on the concept.  This resulted in some truly awesome learning outcomes for young people.The event made me reflect on the role of middle leaders.  I try to encourage originality, creativity and total deviation from schemes of work.  I like to think that I’m not precious about ‘my’ curriculum (after all, the curriculum is owned by the staff, students, parents, carers…).  Staff are the bedrock and pillars of a school – without investing in them, a school just can not achieve.Thank you Jo and Lisa for the very proud moment.  Readers of this blog can also catch both at this year’s Geo…

In celebration of the beautiful struggle…

The revolution is here, the revolution is here people
I said it once, I'll say it twice
You gots to be ready
The revolution is inside of you
People, the revolution is here, yeah
There we were. Minding our own business when it hit me like a steam train.  Curriculum change isn’t supposed to be easy, uncontested or a process that shouldn’t have resistance.The acquisition of skills, knowledge and understanding isn’t easy.People are supposed to question the introduction of new pedagogy and the taking of risks.Paths blazed are not supposed to be easy to follow.It’s meant to feel that your head is hitting a brick wall when pushing for change.Young people and adults are supposed to fail. More importantly, they are supposed to continue on.We are meant to question what it is we are doing, whether we should be doing it and whether it is really worth it.Part of leadership is about encouraging and allowing other people to do better than you and about challenging the top, midd…

Expert blogger this month

I’ve been quiet lately.  This has much to do with events that will remain out of the public domain; a few projects that needed nailing and the fact that I haven’t had much to say! I’ve also been busy with various trips and climbing, plus a quick visit to Barcelona. This month we have to deliver a four day residential course, a DofE expedition and a few other bits and bobs!So what better way to spin up to full speed then by writing a few blog posts for the team over at the Hodder Geography Nest. My main theme through the month will be the outdoors and creativity.  It’s not that we have lost out new technology enthusiasm, just that there needs to be a period of embedding what we do.So far I have covered geocaching and onsite fieldwork ideas.  I hope to provide a range of practical ideas over the next month – so if there’s anything that you’d like to hear about just let me know!