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Guest Post: Mobile @ Priory–Geography and English as an Additional Language (EAL) Mash up

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Continuing the series of posts about the cross-curricular Mobile @ Priory project, here’s one by Priory Geography’s own Sam Atkins. Great work Sam!

The main objectives of this lesson were:

    • To enable students to demonstrate and reflect on their progress in Geography, using mobile technology.
    • To take pupils out of their comfort zone and create an experience of school life as an EAL student.
    • To raise awareness of the great levels of diversity which exist in school; how some of these are considered, and how some are not.

The class was specifically chosen for a few key reasons:

    • Generally lower ability; progress needs to be more in explicit and in smaller steps.
    • EAL students are part of this class.
    • Mobile technology has previously shown to improve engagement, performance and behaviour.

Here are the learning objectives presented to the students, met with many confused looks and puzzled feelings of frustration:

Dowiadujemy się o kilku różnych językach, które są wypowiedziane w Priory School.

Będziesz w stanie:
1. Pracy w zespole
2. Przeczytaj mapy
3. Użyj technologii mobilnych w celu zbadania

As you’re probably reading this on a computer or mobile device of some type, I’ll leave it you to translate, giving you a flavour of the lesson from the pupil’s perspective. Polish was chosen as one of my pupils is Polish, and arrived in the UK mid-way through the school year with the educational capacity of a Year 4 in our National Curriculum. He seemed to enjoy watching his peers struggle to make sense of where the lesson was going.

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The first development of the lesson was to distribute grid references to the pupils, along with an iPad and the customised map of the school as shown above. In small teams the children had to practice their map reading skills in order to navigate their way to as many of the locations as they could in the allocated time. The locations were chosen based on the world map overlay; the native language of each of the six chosen countries (of which there are 37 at last count) is spoken at Priory School. Once there, they had to collect and document proof of their successful arrival using the iPad, before moving on to the next location. The world map is upside down for no real reason other than to provoke a response from the class. Some roll their eyes and accept I’m messing with their world perspectives again, others found it a real challenge to figure out; especially as the map itself isn’t great in terms of accuracy and scale.

Either at the end of the allocated time, or once all six countries had been found, the pupils returned to class to experience life as an EAL pupil. They had nothing more than the iPad and their own mobile devices if possible, to translate a series of questions about the six countries. Most really struggled, this is exactly what I was hoping for. I wanted them all to feel how so many of our pupils feel every lesson, every day, regardless of the quality of differentiated resources.

At the end of the lesson I asked each team to record a 60 second video about their experience. These will be posted shortly after some editing. The following lesson will see the students create and present feedback on the lesson, based on three aspects:

1. Progress in Geography

2. Experiencing EAL

3. Mobile Devices and learning

Given more time I would have liked to trial some other ideas, such as QR codes. Rather than give out all six grid references, the pupils would create a treasure hunt or trail around the school. A world tour of Priory School, where we visit countries based on the map overlay which we are linked with through language.


  1. This is absolutely fantastic- really taking kids out of their comfort zones, promoting and celebrating diversity, lotc , ict and geoskills. Great geography. Agree that qr codes would work nicely with this as would a gps trace of their routes uploaded to Google earth. My new school has plenty of ipads so i will give this a go in Sept.


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