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Fieldwork: it doesn't have to be epic to be memorable and useful



To me, Geography is a really important subject.  It can help develop literacy and numeracy and ties the natural and human worlds together.  More importantly, the whole point of geography and geographers is to change the world.  Tackling stuff like this:
One of the barriers I often talk about with fellow geographers is around fieldwork. Namely, how do we get a rich a varied fieldwork programme in to place?  Here's a series of lessons taught last week with Year 10.  In November, they will have to conduct fieldwork for their Controlled Assessment, and field sketching is always a nightmare: usually done badly when they should add value.  In addition, the class are currently tackling urban morphology. Our school in in an urban environment, and the sun was shining.

From September, the Field Studies Council are running a Year of Fieldwork to help devellop quality fieldwork skills.  With the shift away from extended projects toward GCSE fieldwork exams, it's even more important that students are engaged in high quality data collection from an early age.  In addition, it's going to be very important to balance the awe and wonder type trip, the residential that develops interpersonal skills and the need for young people to understand the process of fieldwork enquiry and primary data collection.
1. Pre work - we'd looked at patterns of urban land use and access to services, together with how that would affect the quality of life (health, wealth and happiness) of different groups of people.
2. The class had around 30 minutes to produce a fieldsketch 'over the fence.' Students were stationed around our school and asked to sketch the views at each cardinal and main inter cardinal points of the compass.
3. Back in the classroom the sketches were combined so we built up a picture of the land use and services around the school.  These were shared via the awesome Office Lens iOS app.  Students also peer and self assessed their own sketches, and set an aspiration for the next sketch.
4. A few days later (to simulate the gap between data collection and analysis), the class used their sketches to answer a range of questions such as 'describe the main land use around the school,' 'describe the pattern of land use.' 'Which part of the city are we in? Provide evidence.'  This allowed me to push the high quality of answer that I expect and made explicit the importance of gathering good data in the field.  
We shall repeat this a few times over this term so that the class are ready for when it really is high stakes.

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