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The Geography Collective Camp is 2 months away–#GCCamp

This post is also over at the Geography Collective’s blog here.We’ve been beavering away in the background and have started to put the programme together for our Camp focused on the Curriculum.  The exact programme will respond to the needs of attendees.  This isn’t a conference, but there will be a wealth of ideas and experience as well as Guerrilla Geography ideas.  We will be located in the Surrey Hills, so will have Box Hill on the doorstep.Sessions confirmed are:Curriculum Creation sessions – focused on the new National Curriculum;On and off-site fieldwork, including a geocaching practical;Informal ‘TeachMeet’ style evening sessions;How to assess geographical progress without levels.This is a grass-roots, non-profit making venture and all fees cover accommodation, board and activities.  This isn’t a traditional conference, and you won’t be spoken to much.  There will be loads of collaboration and personalisation.  The weekend is being put together by:David Rogers, Assistant Headt…

#SLTCamp reflections and implications

This time last week I was travelling to Brighton to take part in a 10km race after a weekend in the woods.  SLTCamp took place in a YHA hostel, nestled in the Surrey Hills.  No wifi, no signal, no outdoor lighting and a bunch of strangers.  In this age of twitter and hashtags, it may sound like a nightmare, but in fact it was refreshing not to be connected.  I’ve been lucky to have taken part in high number of excellent conferences and #SLTCamp is right up there.  A massive thank you to Stephen, Sarah, the sponsors and all those that turned up to take part.  For the session notes, visit the SLT Camp site here.There are a number of aspects of SLTCamp that could be scaled to fit into the school environment at the appropriate time.1. Personalised and no agendaFrom the moment of arrival, , Stephen and Sarah made it clear that it was our agenda. The rules were simple: no egos and no shrinking violets.  In practice this meant that participants were able to opt in and out of discussions and …

TeachMeet HMS Pompey is back on March 6th 2014 #TMPompey

Boom! TeachMeet Pompey is back in 2014.  The location with be on board a Royal Naval Ship, that’s right, one with an ‘HMS’ in front of the name.  There will be further exciting announcements, including our sponsors, prizes and keynote chat speaker.  There’ll be the usual Laser Quest and we are also beavering away to sort out food too.One of the prizes will be free place on a teacher inspection trip to Iceland thanks to the top folks at Discover the World Education. There are lots of other exciting bits and bobs to come soon.We will also be asking young people to cover the event as part of the BBC’s School Report event.So, visit this page to sign up, and let everyone you know.  Naval Fancy dress is optional.See you there!

Simple lesson ideas: Getting maths into geography.

Weather Lesson Idea Ideafrom David Rogers Many people feel that it’s easy to link to literacy in their subject, but not maths.  Personally, I think that’s a bonkers position and to do with the misconceptions of what maths is.  Maths has a large problem solving  and puzzle element and a very diverse discipline, which makes it ripe for subverting into many lessons.  I also worry that many teachers may not tackle maths within class as their own confidence is lacking.  This mindset can rub off on young people which is a problem.  This isn't about Ofsted criteria but ensuring that our kids understand stuff like how much they'd get ripped off by Wonga.com.  Of course, maths should only be linked to when it's appropriate and is no different from any other teaching and learning tool / strategy / method.  As my school has a whole-school maths focus this year, I am thinking about how to get more problem solving / puzzle maths into lessons more and more.  I also like talking about geo…

So what does being an Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning actually mean?

James T. Kirk: I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I only know what I CAN do.I’ve been an Assistant Headteacher and part of the school’s teaching and learning team for 45 working days now.  I remember a few comments on being appointed back in May along the lines of ‘isn’t everyone responsible for teaching and learning, blah blah…’  Of course, that’s a no brainer as leadership extends right into the classroom (indeed, successful leadership’s roots are firmly in the classroom).  In addition, a few people have asked me what this job actually means. This will be useful for those who may be considering the move.  You can read the first and second posts about the SLT adventure if you like.  I don’t pretend to be any sort of SLT expert by any means, even when I’m growing half a beard for Movember.  Those reading this who are already in SLT may wish to reach out if we share common areas.I’m very lucky to be working in a school that places such a high value on developing teaching and l…

The start of the Microsoft Expert Educator adventure #msftpil @MicrosoftPIL #PiLNetwork

In 2009 I started an adventure with Microsoft’s Partners in Learning by submitting a Virtual Classroom Tour exploring the use of Twitter, Pirates and Somalia.  I really enjoy working with the Microsoft Education team as they are focused on learning and the opportunities have been excellent.  I’m very proud and humbled to be selected.Today, I received the news that I have been asked to become part of the first cohort of Expert Educators, one of ten in the UK.  The Expert Educator Program is Microsoft's exclusive one-year program created to recognize pioneer educators globally who are using technology to transform education. On a yearly basis the program celebrates renowned educators out of who some are selected to be part of this exclusive global community of visionary leaders who are paving the way for their peers by demonstrating the effective use of technology for better learning and student outcomes. 250 Expert Educators from around the world will come together in March in Barc…

First set of The Geography Collective Camp tickets on sale #GCCamp

Very pleased to announce that The Geography Collective have released some Early Bird Tickets for the 2014 Geography Collective Camp.  Head over to the blog for more details.  The event promises to be a creative blast as we get to grips with curriculum changes, fieldwork and other activities.It’s also time to announce that I’ll be looking after the ‘formal’ education side of things for the Collective, so will be helping to put the programme together.  Do get in touch if you could help to sponsor or run a workshop.

Introducing TeachMeet Discover Outside the Classroom #TMDOtC

I’ve been working with Discover the World’s Education team for a few years now and have run some excellent school trips to Iceland with them too.  Their approach is to support teachers with what they do in the classroom with free resources and CPD training events.  It’s therefore great that Dan and the team are giving up their offices for a TeachMeet event in Surrey on the 27th February 2013.  It’s also a great honour (and also more a little scary) that they’ve asked me to give a ‘keynote’ talk at the event.The theme is ‘Discover Outside the Classroom.’  Dan’s plan is to share ideas for using the school grounds for a wide variety of subjects, from Science experiments in the hall ways, mathematical explorations of the school site or geographical shelter building.  No need to think large scale in terms of overseas or grand field trips – simple and effective ideas are usually best!  Everyone is welcome so I hope to see you there!

#GeoEdChat: How do you assess the development of geographic skills?

This post is the Think Piece for tomorrow’s and is reposted here #GeoEdChat that I’ll be moderating.  Hope to ‘see’ you there tomorrow from 8pm UK Time.How do you assess the development of geographic skills?Before you start, my aim with this post is to provoke and ask more questions. I’m not an expert, and I don’t even have a beard….We all work within the confines of formal examination systems, but how do you develop geographical skills as well as knowledge and understanding? If you choose to develop skills, which skills are developed? What are the informed by? Why those skills? How do you identify and measure skill progression? How are these skills taught – in isolation or embedded within a geographical context? These questions go to the heart of what it is that makes a good geographer. In my view, the teaching of irrelevant or poorly defined skills or skills constrained toward examination technique only, are responsible for much of the bad geography lessons I have seen over the past…

40 days into the senior leadership adventure

‘But I'll be free for what I believe and I won't sell my soul just to
Achieve my goal.’
Amy McDonaldI spotted the video above on Ollie Bray’s twitter feed a little while ago.  It sums up how I’m feeling at the end of the first half term of being a new Assistant Headteacher in a new school.  I know how to ride a bike, and have even hammered down a few scary descents, but I’m a novice compared to this.  However, I’m getting up to speed.  It reminds me of becoming a trainee teacher, then an NQT, then a Head of Department.  At the beginning, I thought I knew everything about education because I went to school.  Then I knew everything about school because I worked in one a while.  It’s a different perspective at each level and I wonder if It’s ever possible to see the full picture.This is a continuation of this post written 28 days into the new role.  I’m still a novice, but I’m getting there.  A few more things to share, it’s mainly for me to look back on but may be of use to …

The biggest threat to education? The ‘Outstanding chasers.’ (edited)

This week a post written a while back comparing teachers to priests and urging us not to lose our faith was (re)discovered.  Together with this post about monitoring, conversations and a recent glut of blog posts recently examining school’s observation systems, I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest threat to quality pedagogy are the schools and teachers who chase the ‘Outstanding’ tag.I remember a lesson that I observed once.  There was a tricky character or two within the classroom.  Indeed, there were a couple of the highest tariff students in the school at the time.  There was a little disruption, but everyone had been making progress over time.  The lesson was ‘Good’ according to the criteria.  I was asked in the feedback, could the lesson have been made Outstanding by removing the child from the classroom.  This scared me as it missed the point.  It was a ‘no notice’ observation, which does put on the pressure, but I made the point that if that lesson was the typical diet …

#ukstorm2013 Creating a shared teaching resource about our Storm experiences.

In 2009, I created and shared this map using UMapper.  In the lead up to the storm predicted to hit the UK, I've created another map to share our stories before, during and after the experience.  This time I’m using Google’s MyMaps as it seems a little less clunky to use. This will be used in classes.  For example, you may be living in an area that isn’t affected, and students can use satellite and weather information to figure out why.Anyone can add to the map:Click here to visit the map.Sign in to Google – you should be able to edit it (tweet me if you can’t)Select the correct layer (Before, during or after the storm). I'm not 100% sure how this works for other people.Navigate to your location (I suggest you don’t select your actual house).Leave your story. Links to images / videos would be great.That’s it! I hope!That’s it.

Thought shrapnel: #TLT13 review. Bedrock, mantras and roots

I forget where I first picked up the term ‘thought shrapnel,’ I think it may have been Doug Belshaw.  Putting that aside, the first Teaching and Learning Takeover yesterday was full of thought grenades.  It was the perfect antidote to seven weeks of a new school and role.  This isn’t a cry for help, I’m big enough and ugly enough to be ok, but I’ve been feeling a bit lost this term. Being a net learner rather than contributor is not my usual gear.  For that purpose, it was fantastic to bump into old and new friends.  It’s really true, when people you respect tell you the same thing, the message sinks in.  The event, for me, was like finding that elusive gold at the end of the rainbow.  I came away from Southampton University with a mind like this:I can for the first time, see a clear path though the trees.  Thing is, it was already in my head – I just needed help to find it.Although there was a little bit too much gratuitous Gove and Daily Mail bashing for my taste, I left #TLT13 insp…

This is how I work

Developing the beautiful struggle–assessment and progress in education–workshop from #TLT13

Developing the beautiful struggle. Progress and Assessment in Education #TLT13 workshopfrom David Rogers Having just got through the door from #TLT13, there is a lot to think about.  Here is my presentation and notes from my session on assessment and progress.  As a bit of background, you may wish to read this post about the abolition of levels and this one about the beautiful struggle for knowledge.Teachers are experts at tracking progress and assessment.  The government would have us wait for advice from expert panels, but Key Stage 3 should be informed by the formal exam systems or GCSE and A’Level.The Year 7 students who have started this year will take their GCSE examinations, assuming that they still exist, in 2018.  That’s five years away.  Consider what has happened in the past five years.  This means that we must do more as teachers than say ‘these important exams in five years time.’ The images are from some History department homework and illustrates what our Year 7s find im…

#WorthingTeachUp 2–Thursday 5th December, 7pm at the Mulberry in Goring.

After the success of #WorthingTeachUp 1, I’m proposing that we do the same on the 5th December.  The teach up is an informal pub gathering with optional pub food.  The Mulberry has plenty of parking nearby.  As it’s the Christmas season, I thought it may be nice to also run a Secret Santa with a £10 spend limit.Everyone is welcome so please do spread the word.  I’ll book a table this time as the Christmas season can be a bit busy.  Just fill in the form below and leave a comment or tweet me with questions. See you there.Loading...

Questions I’m grappling with. Just who should be delivering CPD?

Sometimes, it’s hard to see the answers.  Thinking generates more questions.  These posts will lay out a problem I’m grappling with and trying to get my head around so don’t expect fully formed thoughts!Lots of people gave me lots of grief about making changes when head of geography and when I led CPD for the school.  I didn’t much care for the criticism, especially when the impact was measurable.  Especially when pupil outcomes were raised.  Of course, constructive criticism is always welcome and needed in order to shape ideas and policies.  I am left wondering though about the credibility of CPD.I’ve spoken at lots of places, but all I have really done is tell stories.  A narrative of what worked well in my context by doing particular things in a particular way.  Linked to some evidence of impact.  This is important as there’s no guarantee that it will work.  This is where those engaged with CPD need to reflect, consider the evidence of impact and adapt resources for their own conte…

Don’t panic! Revisiting the ‘revolutionary’ ‘new’ National Curriculum that isn’t the death of geography.

I wrote a response to the National Curriculum consultation back in February relating to Geography.  Since then the final draft has been released. I wonder how many have read it?  The overwhelming first response when I mention the new curriculum to people is either one of two things. The first is a spot of Gove bashing.  The second is something along the lines of how glaciation is beyond the minds of young people and how dull it is.  Those same people have loved teaching about slums, skyscrapers and volcanoes, all of which all British students have first hand experience of in abundance.  Oh, hang on….  These are just excuses not to get on with the task of subverting the new national curriculum for the good of young people.  Such arguments also devalue the skill and passion of teachers who are, I believe, completely able to teach anything.  I’ve been teaching ox-bow lake formation for 10 years and no student has asked to be excused, or ended up not understanding it despite never actuall…

Nomination for Award for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC

I believe that quality learning that happens outside a classroom can make a huge difference.  Some time ago, I found that some lovely person had nominated me for a Learning Outside the Classroom Award.  This post is really a thank you to them. I’m nominated in the ‘LOtC Innovator’ category, and you can read the nominations here. If you like, you can vote.  I’m just chuffed to be nominated and I enjoyed reading through all of the great practice happening outside the classroom.

28 days later–A month into being a novice senior leader

Thursday marked my 28th day in SLT, so it seems like a good moment to look back and reflect.  It’s not about zombies at all though.  I guess this is a post about first impressions and not-fully-formed ideas and may be useful to those considering the move to senior leadership.  It’s been an interesting month, with the Great North Run and my first mountain marathon.It’s interesting being a novice again.My priority has been to establish myself in the classroom and with the staff.  The move from a situation where I knew the systems, young people and staff of one school to being in an almost alien environment.  Yes, there are students, staff and lessons just like every school, but there is a new language of acronyms, behaviour routines and protocols to negotiate.  It’s like being in Iceland, or even Russia: there’s people, buildings and stuff moving around, but you have no idea how to order a beer or a decent coffee.  There’s also line management of unfamiliar subject areas and a list of w…

Simple teaching idea: Using Gapminder to structure research [@gapminder]

At the moment I’m teaching development to Year 9.  I’m without the kit required to produce the RSA Style Animations but still wanted to allow students to explore a country in depth, specifically working out reasons for it’s position in the LDC-MEDC continuum.  So, armed with access to an ICT suite (something I haven’t had to worry about for five years) I decided to use Gapminder to start the process.  Follow these steps:Students select a country to look at. Tick the Box.Take the country back to 1800, ensure that the ‘Trails’ box is ticked and press ‘Play.’Watch the pattern. Grab the screen and import into PowerPoint. Annotate the trail, picking up key changes in the GDP and Life Expectancy.I found that this provides a really useful guide to targeting the research – so some quick work on valid search terms allowed the classes to quickly find useful information and data.  Furthermore, time spent on pointless research because of a poor country choice is minimised. For example, the USA do…

The first #worthingteachup was a success.

Teachmeets are one useful form of CPD.  I’ll be at Teachmeet Sussex this coming Thursday and I’m currently working on plans to hold the next Teachmeet Portsmouth on an aircraft carrier.  However, sometimes it’s just nice to talk and not listen.  Or run around shooting people with lasers.  It’s also nice to have a local (ish) support network that meets face-to-face. With this in mind, I suggested the first #worthingteachup.  No agenda, a pub, no pressure, no plan, no egos, eat if you like, drink what you like.This led to ten teachers meeting up in the Mulberry in Goring on Thursday for a natter and plenty of laughs.  Certainly, I’ve picked up some advice on health and safety and am now aware how to eat a giant hanging chicken kebab!  I’ve also met a parent of a girl in my son’s reception class and enjoyed an ale or two on a school night.  The plan now is to meet once every half term in the same location (until they kick us out…).  Thank you to those that came along, making this an enjo…

Describing places lesson, adapted from an original lesson shared by @noeljenkins

Although I have moved over to the ‘dark side’ or SLT, I still teach.  This is an idea I first read over on Noel Jenkins’ blog almost a year ago.  Head there to see the original post. It’s taken me this long to build the excellent process of describing places described by Noel into a lesson.  Like Noel, I too find my students struggle when describing places.  What follows is a description of the lesson.The slide above is displayed (without the senses named). The class talk in pairs to remind themselves of our senses.  The class have already brought in an image from home in a previous lesson and produced a written description of it.  After some brief feedback on the senses, I introduce some my curiosity kit. A battered suitcase full of objects.  The challenge is for the class to write a description of the place I was when I needed the items. The items include:Water proof trousers.An Ice Axe.B2 winter walking boots.Crampons.A map of the Swiss AlpsStudents may talk in pairs and I pass the…

Is your curriculum full of JONK?

If you know the answer to the question, are you learning?  Or is it just testing what you already know?  If you already know that young people know the answer, why are you asking the questions?  Is there a common language for what learning actually is in your classroom / / department / school / whatever? Thoughts have struck me recently as I’ve moved from a relatively sedate life in a role I knew and was comfortable in to hurtling along on the roof of a bullet train.  Kind of like flying a glider and then waking up at the controls of a space shuttle.  In some ways, I feel like a novice again, and it feels great.  I know that we have an exam system and that we need to ‘recognise that sometimes learning is dull and repetitive’ (Hattie, Visible Learning p240).  Indeed, learning should be a beautiful struggle.  But do we actually know what learning is?  When I ask students, they often tell me that learning is about getting good grades, but that’s one of the outcomes of learning, not the p…

#tmpompey– the world according to ‘ish’

So, yesterday saw almost 100 teachers cram into the gun deck of HMS Victory for wine before heading to the adjacent National Naval Museum for an evening of learning from teachers.  Considering that TeachMeet Portsmouth began a couple of years ago in a classroom, with around 8 teachers (3 of whom were from my geography department and my deputy head), is amazing so thank you for the support out there.  The resources will be posted over at Jo’s blog.  The fantastic Tim Rylands closed the evening with a lightening keynote that had people gasping, laughing out loud and wondering how to get into social knitworking.  Tim kindly provided all of the links he talked about here and provided am ‘almost’ blow-by-blow account of the evening here.We finished off with the now traditional Laser Quest and food at the nearby Gunwharf.  I’m really pleased that we are starting to draw a top collection of regulars, and have always attracted new speakers and those that have never been to a TeachMeet before.…

Free Resource exploring the geography of coffee.

I am a big fan of coffee.  The product also provides many ways in which to explore geographical concepts and links such as interdependence, trade and climate.  Alan Parkinson has produced some resources for Costa that are free and include a rather useful interactive map that could be used to support some independent enquiry.  The resource is mapped to and links well with the current National Curriculum, but can easily be adapted and linked to the new curriculum in 2015.The site has a wealth of information and case-study material and is well worth a look.  I particularly like the title of lesson three: ‘Can coffee make the world a better place?’ which is a challenging enquiry question to consider in detail.Well worth checking out, especially as it’s free.