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Showing posts from 2010

Using Montage: possible classroom application

Montage is a new development by Microsoft Fuse Labs . I spotted a link from Dave Garland and have had some time to play around with the app. Here’s a quick video about the features: Here is a quick video of features: Montage allows users to sign up via their Microsoft Live, facebook or Twitter accounts, so sign up is easy. Then it’s  a cse of entering a search term in the dialogue box. This is an example of what arrives.  The search results look and feel like a magazine, but each section is editable in terms of it’s content and display.  I was a little disappointed to see that Montage is very USA biased, and I hope that an option to limit searches within UK search results is available soon.  I also noticed that quite a lot of the content is quite commercial. Having said this, I can see a number of potential uses for this, especially as users are able to edit, save and publish their Montages. The link could be put into a blog and shared with a class, although the ap

Using technology in the field – match this photo

A simple but effective way of engaging young people in the field is to challenge them to replicate a photograph.  In this case, the task is impossible as the Barton-on-Sea cliff is so unstable, the sign above has vanished.  This can lead to a discussion about why the photograph couldn’t be matched. This technique can also add a little bit of time and stop pupils rushing through a fieldwork site. For example, this image: or this one: requires students to really explore a location. Of course, it also helps to have an edible food prize!

Reflections on UKIEF10: I’m too innovative, get me out of here……

As I sat on stage as part of the panel Q&A with the other Microsoft Innovative Education Forum workshop hosts, I wondered what would happen.  Apart from immortalising the Movember tash, there were two interesting questions. I’m not aware of the full context of each, nor the full question, but thought I’d share some thoughts here. I’m too innovative to use Microsoft. The first question was quite interesting and reminded me of the reverse snobbery that I was surrounded with growing up in the Welsh mining valleys. My answer was fairly straightforward, and from the point of view of a classroom practitioner and curriculum leader with no interest in selling anyone’s products.  I have witness teachers being innovative with a single piece of paper. One A4 poly pocket. I have been involved in an innovative lesson that used nothing else apart from little architect model people.  The message is that you don’t need technology to be innovative. I don’t see the logic is ruling

Reflections on UKIEF10: Keynote: Michael Furdyk

The first keynote of the day was from Michael Furdyk , who was introduced as someone who just makes you feel inadequate! You can certainly see why ! The co-founder of TakingITGlobal had an inspiring tale to tell, and one that has powerful implications for education. Firstly, it’s worth taking a look at this TED Talk highlighted and used by Michael during his talk: Trust is an issue in school when we need to let go – this puts up some barriers when it comes to co-construction of learning or indeed, adults learning from young people. There are a lot of links here to projects such as Digital Leaders where young people become the experts and driving force. The question is, why aren’t we showing videos such as this in assemblies? Two features of Michael’s talk hit me quite hard. The way in which he acknowledged the role of having supportive parents and a flexible, supportive school system was clear. I have no idea how the UK education system can be as flexible as described by

Reflections on UKIEF10: Keynote: Professor Sugata Mitra

I often like to leave it a little while before writing about keynotes and workshops. This allows the initial ‘WOW that is cooler than last year’s pants!!’ factor to subside and to allow some reflection back in the real work of school! Often, if it’s still with me a few days later, then it’s far more likely to have an impact.  What follows is purely informed by classroom teaching, and assumes that in the academic world it is both right and necessary to question assumptions!! The second keynote of Microsoft’s Innovative Education Forum was delivered by Professor Sugata Mitra .  I was also lucky enough to see him speak at the European Innovative Education Forum in Berlin last March. I was even more lucky to be able to pick his brains over a few glasses of wine. I can honestly say, that each occasion has impacted upon my practice. The Professor’s work is inspiring and presents a number of challenges to normal thinking in UK education. Firstly, for those that may not be familiar with

An overview of my Microsoft Innovative Education Forum Learning adventure.

Not long after the dust has settled on the 2010 UK Innovative Teacher Forum and I find some time to reflect and post the resources used. The event this year was held in Manchester and I would like to congratulate the UK Partners in Learning Team for putting together another event that was characterised by learning conversations.  There seemed to be a real buzz throughout the two days.  I am also very excited, happy and proud to have one of the Geography team here at Priory School selected as one of the European Award Winners.  Jo Debens (@GeoDebs) will be heading to Moscow in March next year. She will also be presenting at the Geographical Association’s Annual Conference about the project.  The Space Explorers: Place Creators project focused on empowering young people to make decisions and engage with change. Well done Jo! Check out Jo’s posts about the project here: What follows is an overview of my personal adventure through the event.

It’s the 1st of December!

Which means the end of Movember! I raised £250 overall, and our team (No Mo Fo) raised over £800.  Thank you to all who supported me!

Encouraging Enquiry for Controlled Assessment

A little while back the department developed the approach to geographical enquiry below: After discussion, it became clear that pupils struggled with the first stage of enquiry: Asking questions.  At GCSE in trail Controlled Assessments, it was clear that if the questions were poorly defined, then the subsequent data collection, presentation, analysis and conclusion would suffer. Introduce some random objects. We noticed that quite often young people are expected to be creative without any form of warm up.  We introduce the objects and then ask the class to develop a range of geographical questions linked to that object.  Take the coat hanger for instance: Why is this coat hanger made in China? Where is China? Who made this hanger? Where are my clothes made? How could this hanger be reused? Is G-Star a globalised brand? Do G-Start use sweatshops? This activity can be carried out with any object.

Portsmouth PGCE Enquiry Session

This post supports today’s session.  The slideshare are embedded below – please feel free to get in touch if you would like to see where they fit in! Also, try to join the Partners in Learning Network for a lot of free resources, and follow the #ukiefuk and #itmeet hashtag for two conferences next week. Especially if you are interested in using technology to transform learning. Getting to grips with enquiry View more presentations from David Rogers . I’ve also included the responses from Twitter during the session, well worth adding to your followers list while you get started! Here is the video highlighted by Doug Belshaw that explains Twitter in education in just 60 seconds:   @GeoBlogs – Follow conferences with inspirational speakers e.g. #nc10 ; crowdsource ideas; get feedback on work. @paulhaigh – Split social into facebook and professional networking to another (e.g. twitter) and get personalised CPD for life @jobadge – Why bother with twitter? Hundreds

It’s half way through Movember!

I’m not a huge fan of some charity challenges.  Some mass Three Peaks events for example I consider to be irresponsible as well as unsustainable.  However, in a bid to use a little less titanium (from razor blades) and to get out of the house a little earlier in the morning, I’ve donated my top lip to Prostate Cancer.  I started the month cleanly shaven, and now it’s half way through! Thanks to the awesome support of some blog readers, £200 has been raised so far, and over £500 between our team members of ‘No Mo Fo’. In total, the UK has raised over £2 million for Prostate Cancer Charities . I’m always uncomfortable asking for donations, but if you’d like to click here.

Freshwater Awareness Week – new Mission:Explore missions free to download

14th-20th November is Geography Awareness Week and focus is on freshwater.  At the request of My Wonderful World - National Geographic’s campaign for geography, the Geography Collective created a booklet of 7 Freshwater Mission:Explore style missions.  You can download all 7 missions from the ' Learn about Freshwater ' section of the site here . ( Thanks to Rich Allaway for the words )

Win free bespoke missions to promote you / your business / your group on the Mission Explore website and App.

As regular reader will know, I’m involved with The Geography Collective.  Another of the collective, Daniel, has written this guest post: We are offering 10 organisations the opportunity to create bespoke activities for free on Mission:Explore . All you have to do is have a good idea. Mission:Explore includes over 1,000 missions. There are location specific missions like ‘ Share tee with the Queen ‘ and anywhere missions like ‘ Flash dance! ‘ which is sponsored by National Geographic Education as part of Geography Awareness Week . Missions can be located anywhere in the world and appear as sponsored by our parnters. Each mission usually costs £99 a year (much less on an ‘unlimited’ plan) and includes a bespoke activity, your logo, a link, some words about who you are and a waterproof sticker. Above is an example from Ed Stafford and here is one from The Workshop in central London. To win a bespoke mission all you need to do is: 1. Come up with a good mission idea

Microsoft’s UK Innovative Education Forum 2010 (#ukief10)

It was great to see Stuart Ball announce the UK Innovative Education Award winners over on the Partners in Learning blog earlier today.  It was around this time last year that I found myself at the beginning of a journey that is continuing to this day. I was expecting to be thrown into a corporate world where Microsoft would be force fed to me as the only option. This couldn’t have been further from the truth as what I found was an incredibly supportive community of teachers and professionals that talk about learning. This year I am also delighted that one of the Geography team that I work with is an award recipient! Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to finding out more about each project at the event on the 29-30th November.  If you haven’t registered yet, I would urge you to do so. So many congratulations to this year’s winners – whether you get to the European event or not, your Partners in Learning adventure is just about to begin! You can follow the teach

The dice lesson

I plan to talk about how a little less planning can lead to more personalisation and better learning outcomes at the Microsoft Teacher Meeting (#itmeet ) on the 29th of this month. The event is part of the build up to the Innovative Education Forum (#ukief10 ). Of course, planning is an essential part of the learning process and I’m not suggesting that teachers should stop planning. Far from it. One example is to use a dice to decide.  Divide the class into six teams. Ask the teams to decide upon a variable, in this case how to present the project; example key questions to investigate and the number of lessons and homework activities that should be devoted to the project. This can easily de adapted and encouraging negotiation, creative thinking and team building. Add the scraps of paper to the dice. Ask a student to roll the dice. Accept the outcome.

Got a smartphone? Then these are the gloves for you!

Regular readers will know about my fetish for good quality outdoor gear.  When in Edinburgh last week, I decided to introduce my son to the wonders of the gear shop, and came across these North Face Gloves .  They have two static patches on the thumb and forefinger, allowing you to use your iPhone while keeping your fingers warm.  I tested them in Iceland scrambling up a glacier – nice kit!

What’s the point of a pre-visit?

Looking over Reykjavik watching the sun go down. (Photo – D Rogers) This post aims to describe some of the activities involved in a pre-visit.  There are two main purposes of a pre-visit to a destination: To check that learning activities are appropriate to the location To check that young people and staff will have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience.  This includes checking value for money. Over the past two weeks I have been involved in two pre-visits (or inspection trips) to the Dorset Coast and Iceland.  I intend to focus on the Iceland visit, which is both residential and hazardous. During any per-visit, I tend to take notes using Evernote on the iPhone as it allows me to take images (for example of safety notices) and use text.Over the course of the visit I need to satisfy the following questions: 1. What sort of trip will it be and do the locations allow the learning objectives to be met? In the case of Iceland, the trip is an enrichment, no cl

Live to Cape Fear!

This was a quick snap taken during the excellent Skype call between my school and Cape Fear Centre of Inquiry in the USA.  The link was made possible by Atlantic Rising , a project that I have mentioned before. After some technical gremlins, the students shared a selection of photographs and information about their locations. I have embedded these below.  It would be great if you could comment on their choice of images. They were restricted to using five slides and needed to select images that represented their local area. The first thing to strike our students was that there were very many contrasts, but even more similarities! We are now looking to see how this project could be moved on. We very much hope that this will turn in to a sustainable link, and look forward to the possibility of Atlantic Rising visiting our school. If you haven’t heard about Atlantic Rising before, it’s well worth looking at what they do – lots of useful resources for Geography teaching there (

Scottish Association of Geography Teachers Annual Conference

A journey to Glasgow with the family to deliver two seminars at the annual SAGT Conference.  I really enjoy this event, and it was great to see so many familiar faces.  At one point, myself, Alan Parkinson, Noel Jenkins and Dan Raven Ellison were using all of the Geography department classrooms – just think what a department that would be! My talks focused on Doorstep Geography . The main part of the session involved delegates getting out and about to try some of the activities. My feelings are that fieldwork is so important to geography and (more importantly) the wider development of children, that fieldwork (whether on the school night or not) should be happening for every class, in every year group at least once per half term. I also firmly believe that teacher need to take unplanned risks every now and again by not knowing exactly what they are going to do. Doorstep Geography is a concept that was developed by the GA’s Secondary Phase Committee . My presentation slides ar

Chair of the Geographical Association’s Secondary Phase Committee

I have been involved with the Geographical Association’s Secondary Phase Committee for for a few years now.  Last week I was delighted to be asked by the committee to act as the Chair of the group. The Geographical Association is a subject association that supports primary and secondary geography teachers through a range of CPD, publications, advice and events.  The Secondary Phase Committee is a diverse mix of geography experts who take part in a wide range of activities. Our common features are our passion for learning, geography and sense of humour. Delivering workshops at the Association’s Annual Conference. In 2010 these included: The Geography Swap Shop and Putting Geography Back on the Map . Putting Geography back on the map View more presentations from David Rogers . Creating simple and accessible ‘Top Tips’ for a range of geography teaching issues.  These can be downloaded for free here . Monitor the views, interests, concerns and issues faci

Portsmouth Area Geography Network

  Yesterday marked the first meeting of the Portsmouth Area Geography Network.  The network, which is supported by the Royal Geographical Society, aims to provide an informal forum in which geography educators can support each other. Yesterday’s gathering focussed on the use of Google Earth and Bing Maps in the classroom using three principles: Google Earth is freely available Google Earth is Free Google Erath is simple to use For those of you that are fans of the Apprentice, Google Earth and Bing Maps are ‘JFDI.’ First meeting 12 oct 2010 View more presentations from David Rogers . The session was split into three sections: Built in features For example the timeline, distance ruler and sightseeing tours Internet Available features How to download KML, KMZ and map overlays. Features that teachers create Such as placemarks, tours and how to use the programme in order to support GCSE Controlled Assessment.   The group intends to meet once e

Learning doesn’t always need ‘new’ tech

Last weekend was spent in the New Forest National Park training teachers and other adults how to train young people for their Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition. The weekend is quite demanding consisting of: Classroom based activities on risk assessment, route planning, training programme design, teaching techniques and stove safety. A 5 hour day walk in which each candidate gets to lead one or two legs. A 3 hour night navigation exercise – I usually get the group to act collectively, and ensure that they get ‘lost.’ This allows them to empathise with how young people feel during the day.  Candidates then get an individual leg to lead. All of this while camping on a school field and cooking as a team.  It struck me that technology took a very back seat and that I still encourage groups to only carry a ‘group emergency phone.’ It’s an example of where ‘new’ technology, rather than enhancing the learning experience, takes something away.

Will you be ready to Mission:Explore at #ukief10 ?

Next month it's the UK leg of the Innovative Education Forum . I’ll be leading one of the workshops: Technology and Outdoor Learning: the best of friends? I’m very much looking forward to sharing how Mission:Explore can help develop learning and how technology can be used to transform the learning, collaborating and sharing process. Participants in the workshop will get the chance to get hands on with some of the missions – not much sitting down is planned! This will enable each group to consider how Mission Based Learning can fit in to your establishment. I also plan to talk about some other uses of technology when supporting outdoor learning. So, the only question is whether I will see you there?

A breath of fresh air....

Sometimes, teaching can be a lonely business.  This week though a series of fieldtrips has lifted spirits. There's nothing like a bit of physical geography to get the mind going! We've been using a mix of technology and traditional methods this week. One nice activity, especially on cold wet days, is the pebble race. This involves challenging pupils to prove that Hurst Castle Spit is managed by people, and far from natural in its current state.  Students grab a pebble at the top of the landform and next to the sea. The shingle that has been placed there by engineers is very angular, while naturally placed material is round through the process of attrition. Field sketching is also a useful activity.  It allows young people to reflect on the features in front of them.  To finish off this week, the students finished by adding clay to their work and making the paper smell of the location.  This resulted in some interesting work!  And of course, there should always be time for