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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Friday, December 29, 2006

Ton Up, here's to the New Year!

My Celebrity lookalikes

I have been trying to avoid this post for three reasons. 1) I am on holiday and should really be forgetting about all this for a bit! 2) I wanted to wait until hogmanay/New Year and post this message, and 3) It's my hundredth post, so wanted to make it a little bit different. Regarding 1), I'm afraid blogging becomes a bit addictive, as does reading the feeds of others-thanks to Tony Cassidy for the link to the excellent site above!Try your own photos. As for 2), Tony also threw down the gauntlet for New Year resolutions and I felt compelled to respond-see below. For 3), hopefully these resolutions read not just as a wishlist for me, but an idea for you, the students, as to some of the things you can expect to see more of on the blog and in the class in the coming year. So, here goes....

1) My biggest wish is to use more digital video in class. By that, I mean things that I have created on my own, or that you have created, as I still feel I rely on others material too much. Not only that, our chronic lack of decent and up to date videos could be combatted by relevant, real life examples of geography happening. My grandfather recently purchased a great digital moviecam, and although he doesn't realise it yet, this is my professional development for the coming year!

2) Use your hands! I think some of the most enjoyable and successful geography of the last year has been in lessons where people had to make things in groups. The favelas lessons were brilliant to be a part of, as was the trading game. I want to use the earthquake shaker, maybe something with volcanoes, and basically, I'm game to try anything a little different which makes your lesson memorable.

3) Develop a knowledge of place. I am always shocked by the lack of awareness, not just among students, but staff as well, as to the whereabouts of places which crop up in our discussions. I use Google Earth most days now, but an atlas still presents a problem, and I'm thinking about introducing a 'Country of the Week' focus, probably for lower years.

4) Work with other departments. There was an excellent idea that I chanced upon while reading for an interview for a development post (unsuccesful!) where people were encouraged to choose a topic of their own bidding and write about it-the only stipulation was that their written work must incorporate three subject areas. Great potential for raising Geography's profile in the school and letting people see the absolutely crucial role it has in helping us understand so many issues relevant to their lives.

5) Develop the student blog. I am really pleased with how this has been used for short homework's , but can't help thinking that this is something better suited to the various wikis that we're running. My original intention was to use the blog to showcase success, and this will be my focus when I get round to it.

Others which may or may not happen. Think I may have to switch to edublogs after something I read about blogger being re-categegorized by Scottish schools. More outdoor experiences-the best and most rewarding, and ultimately the most memorable experience of Geography for most pupils. Pod/Vodcasts for Higher-My feedback from last year on Ollie's podcasts was brilliant, but feel I could be doing a little here. Follow up on promises-regular readers will see some things which are mentioned then disappear without trace. Time's a big enemy, but this is my third year proper of teachimg and every year has seen my time management get a little better, so hopefully this remains true. Use more music in classes-any time I have, it changes the mood, I feel, for the better, and I also think it can create good discussion. There are loads more but I'm going to stop there.

Just a huge word of thanks to Tony, Noel, Alan, Ollie and others for all the links over the last ten months, and the inspiration from Ewan to start in the first place. I can't promise a virtual birthday party come February, but I'll raise a glass to you all at the bells....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

AIDS Awareness

Categories: Development and Health
I'm not going to blog about all of my lessons for tomorrow, as in several classes I find myself in the middle of a piece of work which we have already started. Just thought I would share something that a colleague had used with a class previously (and knowing it is here, I'll now be able to do next time round). The class were given the AIDS topic to coincide with World AIDS Day-something that with a little more forward planning, I should have done too. They were asked to create a character - name, gender, sexuality, age, job etc to build up the profile of a typical HIV positive person. They were given no other direction and the choice was completely up to them. The teacher then asked them to tell the class about their character. In every single case, the character was gay. From this starting point, the teacher was then able to challenge stereotypes and deconstruct the myths of AIDS/HIV. I really liked this idea, and I'm sure it's one that is floating about on the internet somewhere as a starter activity. I might get my s4 to do some kind of AIDS awareness debate/radio show/display on the back of our discussions from Thursday, which in a less powerful way, hopefully brought out some of the same points. I'll put more of the s2 movies on later, really busy up till Wednesday...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

JJ Tsunamis

Watch the video
Pupil video on effects of Tsunami

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cholera or not....

Categories: s1 and s2, Glaciation, Rivers, Development and Health
I wanted to put some of the s2 movies onto the student blog tonight, something I'm still going to have a go at, but having problems with my yahoo mail account, getting some mail two days late from my school account. As a result, will probably only get two or three done. We are doing an earthquake linking activity just now, but are just about ready to start volcanoes. After the feedback on our prehistoric videos, I'll try to use Ian Stewart's 'Journeys into the Ring of Fire', showing some up to date footage of Merapi erupting. The point was made in an excellent video from one of the boys about volcanoes impact on world climate, something which surprised many of the class, and I'm sure that this is discussed here. As an aside, could you let me know if you can see the survey results in the previous post, I am having a few difficulties?
Really want to use the weather station tomorrow, but may have to build an ark to get to it! It would be an excellent time for s1 to start their weather investigation, our wettest winter for 30 years. We will also work with weather words tomorrow.
s3 gave some excellent feedback on the Physical Environments Unit, and the subsequent review session that we held highlighted a real concern about glaciation, coincidentally covered through textbook when I was in France with last year's s3 studying a glaciated landscape...My apologies, I should have spent more time going over the work. I want to use a Glaciation Mission Impossible from the Radical Geography site as another insight into your problems with this part of the course. I will give out some sheets to be handed back, and a very quick sketching exercise will follow. Clear diagrams are the key to this part of the course. We will probably flit back to looking at Rivers, this time on the map to finish the skills part of the unit.
s4 basically have the AIDS work from last day to complete, as we spent virtually the whole period talking about the survey, which in itself really helped put a perspective on areas of strength and areas for development. I tried something with Higher today to talk about the spread of disease and used AIDS as an example. Without telling what we were doing, at five points I stopped the class and asked them to write the names of 11 people they knew in one minute. By the time we got to the fifth stop, lots of people were struggling (teachers names started going on the page). At the break in the period, people asked what we had been doing. I told them that the five minutes that it took us to write down all the names is exactly the same time that it takes for AIDS to claim 55 victims (saw an AIDS clock somewhere a while back which suggested 11 people a minute die from the disease, although some sources vary). I may do something similar tomorrow with s4.
As for s5, we started a 'cholera or not' exercise which has to be completed. Pictures of cooked prawns, orange peel, hand pumps, shanty towns,surf, kettles etc and pupils asked to speculate on link, if any to cholera. I forgot to cover the ill health vicious circle, so will revisit this, and then maybe a little about how cholera spreads. A worksheet will follow, and then maybe some kind of distinction between water washed, water based, water borne diseases etc. I should also point out that we had discussed pandemics, epidemics and endemic diseases, and had shown this on various overlays on GE, before talking about a number of different diseases, many with links to water. Good links on the BBC for disease, see the link above to start navigating.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Surveyed out

Categories: Writing and Assessment, Geography General, Development and Health, s1 and s2
I hope this works, haven't been having the best of time with links lately. I completed a survey with s3 on the Physical Environments Unit which incorporated traffic lighting, and one with s4 which evaluated the Human Environments Unit. Interesting feedback. I accept the comments about videos, our vids catalogue really needs a comprehensive overhaul, and this is something that I am slowly trying to address-recently got a DVD recorder, so hopefully some newer DVD's soon. Also, obviously need to have a look at how we deliver limestone-how could this be more interactive? The games, whiteboard, ICT and group activities all seem to have had the desired educational impact with some insightful comments. I will go through the results with classes tomorrow, but as I say hopefull this works. Results1 and Results2 should be here for the s3 survey, I'll post the s4 results tomorrow, 3 to complete.
Higher never really got as much done today as I would like, so the overlays exercise starts us off tomorrow, and then some past paper and wiki work/homework. Speaking of overlays, this AIDS one might come in handy, and there are loads of other relevant files (e.g. global debt) at this website, again another link to which I am indebted to Noel Jenkins, this time on his Google Earth Juicyblog . I have also used Tony cassidy's AIDS starter movie before, and may use this with s4.
Tomorrow, I will also start the weather topic with s1, nice conditions to look at the weather station, which last time I looked, was tilting at quite an angle, so we'll see if it survives the night! I was also amazed and delighted at the quality of work in the s2 Earth Forces movies and powerpoints. I have asked some students to remove personal details, and have kept some for display. I showed some of these to other members of staff today and they were highly impressed. Very well done to all concerned!

Overlay Experimentation

Categories: Development and Health, Writing and Assessment, s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards
Lots to try to fit in tonight. First up, I have been doing a little experimenting with overlay maps on Google Earth, many thanks to Brendan Howard on the sln forum. I plan to use the overlays which I have created to decide on regional development levels within Brazil. I have included, amongst others, data overlays for climate, mineral exploitation, soil moisture, population density and relief. The file is here. With s2, I have some student movies to watch as well as discussion of your Hospital sites in San Francisco.I am planning another Noel Jenkins actvity, the Earthquake Shaker lesson, which we will hopefully do this or next week. I might show a video clip of an actual simulator just to start the ball rolling. s4 are tidying up the Malaria exercises, while s3 are almost finished the Physical Environments topic. For this, I would like to involve the class in a bit of online surveying. I'll stick the links at the bottom of the post. The survey basically allows you to assess elements of the unit, your own performance and provides traffic lights which will help us plan the ubite revision. For the rating of land use conflicts, I would ask you to think about conflict management via National Parks and voluntary bodies here too, as I had a limited number of questions. I am also going to go back over v-shaped valleys, as I was off when you did this and feel that the textbook is not quite detailed enough on this, something which came across during the challenge board activity last week.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Malaria Maps and the Mozzy game

Categories: Development and Health
Just a short post to highlight a couple of things. I was reading the Google Earth Blog tonight, and found some information on the Malaria Map Project, with a couple of kmz files to pen in Google Earth, one of which is here, showing cases over time. I have also used the links on the Nobel Prize website before, where you can play the Mosquito game and the Parasite game, as well as providing good information about the diseases. Apologies to Higher for a killer double period today, Rostow and comparisons using our indicators was quite hard work, and fortunately, tomorrow we can move on to look at Newly Industrialising Countries witha look at a video of South Korea. s2 got a look at the GE exercise, and I am getting this onto some machines, hopefully for tomorrow. Split the groups up to some howls of protest, but I am sure it will all work out well....

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Watch the video
Here's the movie-I have already been informed about my spelling mistake in the first slide, it had been a long night...

With trepidation (and some luck)...

Categories: Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2, Population, Development and Health, Glaciation
...I am going to attempt a simplified version of Noel Jenkins San Francisco decision making exercise with s2. This is dependent on a few things- 1) The temperamental nature of GE in the school- Today, I played around with the overlays and the real time earthquakes kmz file and they were functioning reasonably well, but this is the first time I have been able to get this all functioning, 2) Getting pupils onto GE-We have controls over installation of programs such as this, but I'm hoping to get it on 4-5 machines. If I can't use this, we are working on earthquake effects, so I may do some kind of card sort under different categories e.g preparation for earthquake, Response etc. I would also like at some point to do a short exercise showing the difference in effects between EMDCcs and ELDCs. I might also let students have a look at the New Bay Bridge site, again a link on Noel Jenkins site.
Higher are doing development indicators and have a little work to finish, but I thought it might be useful to share another great link from Ollie Bray, via Alistair Seagroatt which has relevance for population AND development. I also want to reprise some of the DR Congo material that we used a couple of days ago to brainstorm on why some countries are more developed than others, and would like to use Google earth for a bit of exploration of Physical factors influencing development. Finally, I mentioned the melting glaciers file, mentioned by both Noel and Ollie yesterday, which is certainly worth a look, but particularly relevant s3 to s6.
P.S. Just watched 'Imagine' on the BBC, all about the worldwide web, much reference to blogging, wikis, Bebo, Myspace etc. Very Good. I am sure sometimes that you all know more about this stuff than me....
P.P.S. Have been trying to upload the Malaria movie I used with s4 today, but internet connection problems, should now be above this post...

The Female of the Species...

Categories:Development and Health, Quizzes and Games
...is more deadly than the male, especially if we are looking at Malaria in ELDCs. I have created a short starter movie for s4 tomorrow. I know you have a little experience of this from the work you completed today in my absence, and it will be good to see how much you have retained. Higher are also on Development and Health just now, but just started looking at indicators today-a moving rank the country exercise, with 6 'volunteers' helping us out at the front of the class. A little more formal tomorrow, with a worksheet based task to follow. s3 are doing revision displays-picking your own topic from glaciation, limestone, coasts and rivers. There is a link to a Google Earth file that shows retreating and advancing glaciers, which I will stick here soon (links not working just now), and s1 will also be using Google Earth as the new rotation are looking at height on maps. I also like the map exercise for a bit of fun with s1 at this site, posted by Ewan McIntosh in his blog.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rwanda follow up/ Development lead

Categories: Population, Development and Health
I said that I would put up a link for some extra information on the Rwandan Genocide that we looked at through film, and on a recommendation from a Higher Student, have borrowed 'Shooting Dogs'-Will put a few comments up about this when I get the chance. Speaking of comments, s4 have work to do on the student blog, with several members of the class seemingly suffering a collective amnesia regarding this :-( I am going to use this with Higher in a slightly different way, and also an interactive starter to development involving numbers and countries, more later. This should get us talking about Measuring Development, which fortunately, is the first worksheet in the Higher Development and Health section. Sorry about lack of images today, problem with Blogger

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Categories: Geography General, S1 and s2, Environmental Hazards
This has been doing the rounds for a bit now, and some colleagues and I have already been playing around with this , but there are loads of potential uses for Woophy. I am thinking about the images for the development topic. Already, a quick browse shows up some real stereotypes and stereotype busters for certain areas, and I am also thinking it would be good to use with s2 as we move around the world in Earth Forces- particularly if we can use it while an earthquake map is building (I have one saved somewhere at school). I have a lot of links for s2 tomorrow, but don't want to crowd the lesson. Will start with a brief recap on our Earthquake drill-this might help. I would also like to talk a little about the Richter Scale, and there is a good animation within this which shows the increasing power along the scale. Woophy will probably start at San Francisco, as I have a short video to show on this.