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Developing literacy, Fotobabble and the weather.

photo (134)

We’re developing the idea of Year 7 students creating weather forecasts.  This isn’t an original idea by any means, however it does present an opportunity to develop the style of geographical writing required at GCSE and beyond.  Weather forecasts are a challenging activity as young people have to collect, choose, interpret and explain information in a concise way.  Therefore, every word counts.  When we zoom through to GCSE Controlled Assessments and examinations, this concise natures and use of geographical words is a core skills needed to do well.  A strong focus on literacy and examination skills from Year 7 has helped Priory Geography to maintain our sustained improvement.

This is  brief description of the lesson.

Firstly, I asked the class to talk about the weather outside.  They had brought in an extreme weather report with them and used this for key words. We then watched the BBC Weather’s UK Forecast Video with the sound switched off.  Students had to be silent and think about the information being displayed.  This is a simple yet underused teaching technique, in effect getting young people to write the script. We also spoke about the differences between a forecast and observed weather.


After the initial watch, we recorded what the class thought were the key aspects of the forecast.

On the second run through, students spoke in partners to create a forecast before random students were asked to speak over the video.  Finally, we listened to the forecast with the sound on to assess how well we’d done.

The key point raised was the effective use of geographical terminology and the concise nature of the report. In order to develop this further, the class were let loose with mobile devices running the Fotobabble iPhone app. The brief was simple: get organised into teams; go out around the site; capture a photograph and describe the weather conditions.  As the Fotobabble app only permits 30 seconds of audio, this really developed the literacy skills of the group.  I was also pleased to see the group self-organise which means routines are starting to pay off. 

Example creations are below, and where shared with the class at the end of the lesson for some peer assessment.






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