Skip to main content

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 Alps

Students may talk in pairs and I pass the items around the room for them to examine.  This phase ends with a few minutes of silence for students to draft their response.  Then I show this clip taken by me:

It doesn’t have to be an example like this one, but the fact that the teacher has been there and needs some stuff is important.  You could equally choose the local high street and show items. 

The next challenge, with Mystery Place 2, is to reduce the description taken from a novel to as few words as possible.  I used this, but again you could choose any passage that describes a place from a novel:


Next follows a discussion about what type of description would be best.  For example, the single word ‘volcano’ could mean anywhere in the world and so on.

After considering another reason for describing places in detail, in this case a news reporter, we move onto Noel’s describing places process, introduced as a flow diagram.  It may not be fashionable, but I get the class to make their own version as a flow chart or table with an arrow pointing to the top.  Next, the class self and peer assess their written descriptions of the homework photo (of a favourite place); their description of my first mystery place, and the extract, scoring each out of six and saying how they could be improved.  At Patcham, students mark in red pen.

When this is going on I have a general wander and reward excellent use of adjectives and honest refection.

Finally, I visit the Bing homepage.  At the moment, they are showing close ups of various beasties, but it’s not long before you can find a decent image like the one below.  I do this for two reasons. First, it provides a place that I haven’t been to and probably don’t know about.  This means I can model the descriptive process too.  Secondly, the homework set (also based on Noel’s homework idea) uses the Bing homepage, and I can show how to find out where it is, map it etc. 



I also plan to start the next few lessons with the Bing homepage in order to reinforce the describing skills, adding a nice bit of randomness into the lessons.


Popular posts from this blog

#GAConf22: A paradigm shift for anti-racist, decolonised teaching and inclusion

 " You can't start a fire,  You can't start a fire without a spark" Bruce Springsteen.  Well, it's been a fair while since I felt the motivation or the need to blog. Whilst not a story for now, over the past five years I've danced along the knife edge and, often, the call of the abyss has been both tempting and compelling. Certainly, my failing in both my personal and professional life have been numerous. But. This is not about me, but the people that have (re)ignited the spark to the fire in my soul. I realise that this is from the perspective of a privileged, white, middle class male view. I even have a beard. I am scared of getting it wrong on this topic. Teach me if I am wrong, it is from the position of a learner. I was looking forward to the GA Conference this year, the first face to face since 2019. I have to say that Alan , as president, and the Geographical Association's team did a fantastic job at being inclusive. The hybrid format allowed peopl

What makes a learning experience profound? Personal reflections and possible implications for classroom practice.

I have recently begun a Leadership Pathways journey.  As part of the first core day, we were asked to reflect on a profound learning experience. This got me thinking about how many profound learning experiences I have both been involved in, and how many I have been able to give to others.  Our group came up with a huge long list, but these are my five. Emotional Connected Demanding Reflective Collaborative As always, these are personal thoughts and quite mixed up.  I put them here so that I can look back on them (plus they’d get lost inside my world-cup-free brain) 1. Emotional I can’t think of a time where deep learning hasn’t engaged my emotions.  From being awe inspired to that tingle feeling when a student gets a light bulb moment.  From this-is-the-happiest-day-ever, to I-think-I’m-about-to die.  How often do we engage the emotions of those we teach?  Here, I would argue that having a safe learning environment is not always conducive to profound

Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic. Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless. As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold: 1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and 2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making. The role of