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‘Floating Topicality’–Barrack to the future

Earlier in my career, I was honoured to work regularly with Jeff Stanfield, the inspector and advisor of Geography for Hampshire.  He always used to talk about building in time for Floating Topicality within the curriculum.  This has become one of the Priory Geography policies.  So, with a number of events happening in the United States over half term, I decided that a little diversion was needed for all year groups.  All classes are being taught this lesson. 

  • For Year 9 it serves as a GCSE taster lesson.
  • For Year 10 the lesson beings home the importance of general geographical ‘place’ (caps and bays) knowledge and serves as a useful case study for hazards.  We will return to this at the appropriate time in the curriculum.
  • For Year 11, in the build up the their SDME paper, it’s an opportunity to develop the vital skill of critical evaluation of data, as well as serving as a case study of a climatic hazard.
  • Fear Years 7 and 8, we explore a geographical issue within the vehicle of a geographical enquiry.

The important thing is that there are far too many resources for a whole lesson, and it’s up to the excellent team at Priory Geography to select the most appropriate for their classes.

The guidance given:

Floating Topicality Lesson.

Barrack to the Future – what does it take to be President of the United States?

Resources –

· Barak to the future PPT (you may wish to have individual copies of some slides for students to annotate, these are identified in the notes.

· Google Earth KML files and Google Earth

Suggested activities (be selective depending on the ability of the group)

Starter: Display the Wordle of Obama’s Acceptance Speech. Ask students to identify whose speech it is and to write down the main messages. Next, watch the highlight of the speech on YouTube. Are the class happy that Obama won? Why?

Map detectives! Display the election results map. Students to write a prediction of who won the election based on map evidence. Don’t reveal the meaning of the colours, remind students to prove their prediction. Which colour was Barrack? Reveal the whole map. Can anyone suggest the pattern? Are there any questions that the class have about it?

Next consider the electrical college map. Is this a fair system? Think, Pair, Share. What could explain the pattern? Next display the population choropleth. What do they think of the system now? Get students to suggest how the Electoral College system works and assess its fairness and link to population.

Consider the image on the next style. Allow students to make predictions about what these people are up to. Encourage students to write down questions – what do they need to find out?

The next image shows Barrack in the FEMA control centre helping to make preparations before Super Storm Sandy Hit. Don’t let students know this, but see if they can use the additional information and their own knowledge to spot the link. Next, repeat the speech / Wordle exercise above. What is the President talking about?

Next, play the audio clip and ask students to write down answers to the questions. At this point, use the Google Earth KML files to locate the storm and key areas such as New Jersey.

Allow students to write how they would feel if they owned some of the houses in the next image. Write their responses.

To wrap up the lesson, get the students to predict what would be happening in the locations 5 days after the storm. Play this BBC news clip. Is it what they expected in the richest country on Earth?


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