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Showing posts from September, 2011

Curriculum changes–some reflections

Even through my short career, there has been constant change.  It sometimes seems that the road ahead is sometimes more of a roundabout.  Is the curriculum stuck in a continual cycle?  This post will be of interest to teachers of geography, although the points could be applied to the profession as a whole.  It promises to be a messy post this one! Through involvement in the Geographical Association, I’ve come across the Standish proposals. ( Download here as a PDF ).  Here are some of my own reflections on the changes: 1. Conversations about WHAT we teach are as important as HOW we teach. I believe that we should always be talking about pedagogy and content.  The National Curriculum for England and Wales has always allowed time for teaching addition topics (admittedly, the first incarnation had far too much content to allow this!).  I’ve always engaged in the what and tried to encourage debate within the department around this.  As a result, we have chosen which perspectives we

Geography @ Priory officially a Centre of Excellence

As part of my role as Chair of the GA’s Secondary Phase Committee , I found myself in a basement near Euston Station on Saturday taking part in discussions with the rest of the Education Committee.  As part of proceedings, the department was officially given the GA’s Secondary Geography Quality Mark Centre of Excellence status. Thanks again to all of those that made that possible.  As mentioned before , this is just a stage on the journey and we are all looking forward to this year’s adventures. The moderators said: “The geography department at Priory has already been on a journey that has involved staff and students in extending the opportunities for teaching and learning, and the ‘vision’ and support for the departmental team is strong.  The subject leader has boundless energy, and the department is supportive, and looks to overcome the physical restrictions of the school’s site wherever possible.  We are delighted to award Priory School the SGQM with Centre of Excellence in

World maps from memory

On the spur of the moment today, I asked Year 7 to sketch a world map from memory and add continents.  I wanted to see what would happen. Nice

Transforming learning–enabling change

I’ve always maintained that innovation in teaching and learning is not really about using technology.  It’s about taking a different approach.  Taking risks. Being willing to upset the apple cart. In the words of Stuart Ball over at Partners in Learning , it’s about using existing tools better, rather than using new tools. Having said this, this post will explore how a sequence of events has allowed us to use pupils’ own mobile devices as well as our own set of iPad 2s . Firstly, we have developed an environment in which taking pedagogic risk and, more importantly, sharing learning is encouraged.  Department meetings start by us sharing these adventures and challenge us all to use new tools.  This collaboration within the department is mirrored by collaboration outside of the department.  Talking to other practitioners, using and sharing ideas freely. Within the department, we are encouraged to watch each other, even if it’s for 10-15 minutes.  I certainly felt that my own lear

Geography @ Priory Achieves the Secondary Quality Mark

January 2008 marked the beginning of the most challenging professional years of my life.  Looking back, it’s hard to believe how we got through the Ofsted Subject Inspection that occurred just four weeks after taking up the post. The outcome was inadequate. The challenge was set. We are not fans of badges and hoops.  There are enough in education without volunteering for more.  However, we felt that we needed some closure.  This has partly been provided by an improvement in results.  Geography is now on par with History in the school, however, there is still improvement to be made an our focus this year is to improve student achievement.  Not because we have to, but because we have the responsibility to help our students achieve what they want and need. It is in this context that the award of the GA’s Secondary Quality Geography Mark has been made to reflect the excellence in teaching and learning in the department.  This is great news for us and marks the end of one journe

iPads, Evernote and Coastal Erosion

Today, Year 10 students demonstrated their understanding of coastal erosion processes and landforms. This is the description of what happened. Set-up The web-version of John Davitt’s Learning Event Generator was set up and ready to go.  The department has an Evernote account. All of the iPads were signed in to the account and my own iPad was ready to be connected to the digital projector. This was the first time that this group had used the devices. Before the lesson, a separate Notebook was created containing two notes: the task and an example.  The task is at the top of this post and follows our school’s Assertive Discipline PRINT guidelines. The image below shoes the demonstration note.   The keen eyed amongst you will have spotted the spelling error.  This sparked a nice discussion about the accuracy and quality of work….. Lesson It is very important that GCSE students get used to being productive in groups.  This is so they can collect primary fieldwork data qui

What is Urban Earth all about?

Daniel Raven-Ellison is someone who I greatly admire.  I remember walking through Bristol with him on an Urban Earth adventure. A friend of mine came along (later he became my best man). Even to this day, he doesn’t understand the concept behind Urban Earth.  Well, he is an engineer…. I also found out that my future wife was pregnant during that walk. Anyhow, it’s great to see this stunning video that explains and introduces the idea of Urban Earth.  Some excellent camera work.  Remember to keep an eye on the Geography Collective’s blog for upcoming Urban Earth adventures.

Geography @ Priory development plan.

It’s a new school year, which means revisiting the development plan.  The last one finished in July.  The term development plan strikes fear and loathing in many people, but I feel it’s important to have shared aims and objectives.  My personal aims and philosophy are shared with the team, however, I can’t ask them to subscribe to them! Therefore, shared and agreed (hopefully) goals are important.  The timing of this post coincides with the establishment of reflective blogs by the team.  I’ve, erm, ‘encouraged’ this. Check out Jo Debens and Sam Atkins blogs.  Both are at different stages of teaching, and I;m very much looking forward to reading about their adventures. Now, about that development plan. A few details have been omitted, and the detail i am sure will be added. Geography @ Priory aims to be: Leading Learning WHAT should be taught? A KS3 that prepares pupils for success at GCSE and beyond. Student Curriculum Leaders that co-construct the curriculum

FSC Hack Day

Our department has been heading to the Field Studies Council Juniper Hall centre for a while now.  This year we are planning to combine a geocaching project with the Olympic Road Race passing through the area.  So, it was with great excitement that I received an email from the people behind the FSC Hack Day The aim of the day is to bring the outdoors and technology together, and I’m really excited to have the chance to help shape some of the challenges and agenda of the day. A Hack Day : “is a 48-hour-all-night event that brings together an array of people, from scientists to developers (and anyone with good ideas) in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking, and building 'cool stuff'. A hack is a quick solution to a problem - maybe not the most elegant solution, but often the cleverest.” This all sounds very exciting, and I’m very much looking forward to being involved.  I would recommend getting involved yourself by heading over

Digital Explorer: Oceans

The team at Digital Explorer have just launched a new site: de:oceans .  Looks like a great resource.  After years of teaching what happens at the battleground between the ocean and land, I have to admit that I know little about the ocean.  I can see that this site, with its Teaching Training, Ambassadors scheme and resources, will change that. I urge you to have a look, and apply for the teacher training competition and explore the resources.