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Showing posts from November, 2011

@priorygeography supporting #Movember

Sam Atkins and myself joined a team of geographers this month to raise money and awareness of men’s cancers. Alec Weaver is just normally hairy. There is still time to donate to the team here. Would you employ these people?

Priory Geography Action Plan

I work with a great team of people.  And I like to plan.  In fact, I consider the annual action plan to be a vital document.  That’s providing that it becomes a living document and not filed away somewhere and forgotten.  The image above shows what our priorities over the next twelve months are.  I’m not going to share the full detail of the plan, but the main aims and objectives are at the bottom of the post. I would offer a handful of tips for completing an action plan: ensure that as many points as possible link to the Headteacher’s vision and whole school plan; base actions upon measurable outcomes and data from last year (including lesson observations, pupil option numbers, GCSE results etc) Write the plan with the team, make sure they are happy with what they are responsible for (or at least let them look at it and agree before you stich them up ) Share the load.  It’s apart of the teaching standards to take a team view of the curriculum, for exam

Hodder Digital Ideas Day

Was invited to London today to speak at the Hodder Digital Ideas Day.  The brief was to talk about some of the challenges and opportunities available around technology in schools. The only thing I would add to this is that in 5 years time, I can see a lot of educational content and textbooks being published by young people, co-constructed with teachers, maybe using ePub. The slides below cover what I spoke about: Hodder Digital Ideas Day View more presentations from David Rogers .

Mobile devices: pupil WiFi access project

Mobile devices have been around for a while.  I remember using one of these back in the early 1990s so that my parents could pick me up from Air Cadets . I remember that even back then the buzz around mobile devices was phenomenal.  Ever since I started teaching, the educational world has been awash with claims that the latest mobile technology is going to revolutionise learning.  To me, no single device has lived up to this. I think it’s about behaviour and not devices.  Of course, we need stuff that’s portable, light, easy to use, affordable, compatible…… But none of that is going to revolutionise learning.   Our approach, or behaviour, to using devices could. ‘Two roads diverged in a wood – I took the road less travelled, And that made all the difference’ Robert Frost We’ve already taken the first step, and thanks to a very supportive Leadership team and staff, we have a policy in place.  The policy aims to inform behaviour toward and when using mobile devices.  The next

Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Teachers Meeting

Yesterday evening I journeyed to Reading for a meeting of innovative teachers.  The event was relaxed, and the Indian street food provided was amazing! I spoke about our mobile learning adventure. I’ve included the slides below and narrated the key points.

Mapping inequality: geographies of difference

Next year’s GA conference is all about the geographies of difference.  Priory’s Geography curriculum allows pupils to explore how places and spaces can affect the experiences of different groups of people and it’s something that I believe strongly about. Today, I saw a Tweet sent out by James Ball with a link to the tube map for those who can’t climb stairs.  The map is below, compare it with the full tube map above. This provides an excellent context for geographical enquiry.  How does the experience of London differ? This area of personal geography also provides an excellent source of on-site fieldwork investigation.  For example, our pupils often explore the school as ‘different’ people to see how far they would get.  This is the map of our school if you can’t use steps:

Scotland Unplug’d

Very excited to open an email today from Jen Deyenberg this morning confirmed a place at the Scotland Unplug’d event in April next year.  The whole thing appeals to me greatly: “Unplug’d Scotland is a Retreat to go to the beautiful Loch Tay to get away, write, collaborate, be active, and build relationships with Educators from all aspects and levels of learning.  A natural setting away from pressures, technology, and conference tables will allow us to get a chance to share, grow, relax, and reflect as educators and learners.” There are still places available, so if this sounds like your thing then head over here.

Getting grant money

The photo above shows a bunch of our GCSE students undertaking their Controlled Assessment fieldwork at Hengistbury Head in Dorset.  This opportunity was possible through a Frederick Soddy grant through the Geographical Association.  In the current funding climate, I think that it’s essential to seek, apply for and get external funding.  There are a couple of reasons for this: it makes learning better and it gives a little independence to the department.  This financial year we have been successful in securing nearly £20k of external funding.  This figure is closer to £30k since I joined the department in January 2008.  This post aims to set out our approach to securing funding as many colleagues often ask what’s our secret. Before going into any detail, some principles: Any funding opportunity is always linked to development in pedagogy across our curriculum.  In the event of pilot projects, we aim to expand them within the academic year.  We are not about gimmicks or one off

10 days left of Movember

There are 10 days left of Movember , the facial hair growing marathon that aims to raise awareness of, and fund for, men’s health issues. This year, after securing permission from Mrs Rogers, I’ve gone for the feral look.  It’s coming along but I can’t wait for it to come off! So, if you’d be so kind, please support our team of Geographers by donating here .  I'm also hoping to be at the Partners in Learning Teachers meet this week, so all spare change gratefully received

Discover the World Volcano Study Aid

Over the summer, Discover the World sent me off to Iceland.  The main purpose was to put together a Key Stage 3 Study Aid surrounding the Eyjafjalljokull Volcanic eruption in 2010. There are also GCSE and A’Level links. You will need to register to be able to access the pack. There are a 6 lesson ideas together with various worksheets, videos, photographs and other resources.  I’d be interested to know what you think. I’ll be speaking about how the pack can be used in lessons as well as some of the other Iceland fieldpack notes at the GA’s Annual Conference in Manchester in April 2012.

EdComs Teacher site

I’m getting through that ‘must blog about’ list while we wait to head off for a second viewing on a house.  I must be trying to avoid spending that much money! Over the summer, I was involved on the periphery of the new EdComs teacher site.   The site is now available in Beta and I would recommend a look.  There are a range of very useful resources (including some brilliant Geography related stuff including the BP Carbon Footprint resources) as well as a range of opportunities. We’ve used some of the resources before, but it’s nice to see them and many others all in one place. At the moment, those who register for the site could end up winning a ticket to the Learning Without Frontiers conference.

Mobile Learning Update

It’s an exciting time at Priory geography at the moment with some incredible mobile learning curriculum projects lined up. This post is a quick reflection and update on the pedagogic adventures since the introduction of our Mobile @ Priory policy . Firstly, why do I consider the use of mobile devices for learning important? Many others have put the arguments better than I can, but: 1. The photos above show my two year old son taking part in some analogue activities.  This will never stop. The video below shows him interacting with an iPad.  Mobile devices are just a tool, but his expectations and access to knowledge is already larger than mine. Technology is already a pervasive force in his life.  In two years time he’ll be starting school…. 2. Computers are costly.  If this money was spent instead on providing first class WiFi, students can use their own devices in class, saving money. Spare money could be used to help those without access to technology at home.  After all,

Partners in Learning Facebook Page

Linked to my previous post, A Facebook page that’s worth having a look is Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Page .  Another example of how Microsoft are engaging with teachers.

Using Facebook to support learning

I’m rubbish at keeping track of what’s interesting on the internet.  I’m fairly OK using Google’s Reader, but I’m not a fan of Forums or having to look in multiple places.  It’s a trait that is shared with many of our young people.  We’ve been using a Facebook page since September.  It’s more or less a static page: it doesn’t allow a lot of interaction.  However, what it does do is show up in young people’s Facebook feeds.  Most of our students are engaged with the social networking site, and it makes sense to be engaged in it.  Here is a little but of information about the page and how we are using it. The set up: Chat is turned off. This is unmoderated and difficult to record. I can’t see it ever being a good idea to use Facebook chat to communicate with young people. All security settings are ramped up to maximum.  This means comments are turned off. The page has been set up using an alternative Facebook profile so there are no links to teachers’ personal pages.

PGCE Enquiry session

After teaching young people, working with new teachers is my favourite thing to do.  I enjoyed meeting the Secondary Geography PGCE cohort yesterday at the University of Portsmouth.  The slides used are below.  Please do remember, that the activities reviewed are a small selection. No teaching activity is effective if it is over done. Getting to Grips with enquiry 2011 View more presentations from David Rogers Furthermore, remember why you decided to become a geography teacher. Don’t be afraid to develop your own style of teaching and geography, and always feel free to get in touch . If you do want to get connected, this is what I recommend: 1. Set up your own blog.  Even if it’s private.  Reflecting on your experiences and practice is very powerful. Share your ideas with others, like you did yesterday. Don’t underestimate your own ideas.  I gained some new ones from you yesterday and the reason we like working with PGCE students at Priory is they bring new perspect