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Investigating place: is Portsmouth all the same?

2013-01-09 14.30.32

During the Autumn Term, Year 7 spend their time exploring ‘Amazing Places.’  Lessons focus on the distinctiveness of places around the world.  The Spring Term concentrates on ‘Our Places' staring with the school and local area.  This is a brief description of an enquiry lesson that explores the similarities of places.

Priory Geography has access to the flat roof on top of our 3 story main building, built around 1890.  As we are an urban site, the school is surrounded on all sides by some of the highest density housing in the UK.

The lesson starts by considering the Urban Earth video below.  The class are challenged to identify distinctive features of the city.

We use this video as it is unfamiliar to our students.  Of course, the general consensus is that there isn’t anything in Bristol (based on the video evidence).  This is used to suggest that most urban places in the UK are mostly similar.   This feature allows geographers to make educated guesses about other urban areas.   This is the initial seed of modelling.

Next, a mini enquiry.   The enquiry question to be tested: ‘Is Portsmouth mostly distinctive?’ We head on to the roof to record distinctive features and ‘similar’ features (those that could be found in any urban area).  Each class spends time at each cardinal point.  Of course, there are distinctive features in Portsmouth, but most students agree that most of Portsmouth is similar to other places that they have experienced.

A return to the class room and a quick write up:

  • Describe the method.
  • Summarise the main findings.
  • Justify the main finding with evidence.

If you haven’t access to a roof, this lesson could easily be replicated by looking over your school’s wall or through the fence.


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