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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Higher Still Notes?

Categories: Geography General
I found this site while looking for something else-some of you may have already spotted it. There is a forum which seems to be used quite irregularly, but has some decent information in a few of the posts. You will just have to be critical when reading them. The most useful post for Higher seems to be this one, which gives an extremely comprehensive list of websites for use throughout the course.The site also has info for all of your other subjects too.
I also spotted some quite useful comments for students doing/thinking of doing the Advanced Higher, which I've been reading up on of late. I think the thing about the Advanced Higher, if you have it in your thoughts, is that it's a very useful course for uni prep, as it requires a lot of self-discipline - lots of the assessed content is in your portfolio work. I have been helping out a couple of this year's students in the last few weeks, and have enjoyed the insight into the workings of the course, but I'm sure that this year's class will tell you that if the work is not spread out over the year, the workload becomes quite difficult to manage, so planning early is very important. See me if you want more info on the course/arrangements etc.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mobiles ON, please...

Categories: Biosphere, Urban, Environmental Interactions, s1 and s2
I have used several of Ollie Bray's SAGT conference ideas since October, including using mobiles for homework dates with one class. Last year, I let my Higher voice record a sand dune transect on the PC's, but as accomodation is so tight with many classes displaced due to whiteboard installation just now, I thought about using mobiles for the same thing, except basing it around past papers. I have recently been taking an interest in the use of audio for certain learning styles, and I see it as particularly useful for people in the class who sometimes struggle to organise written answers in a limited time. The beauty of using the mobile voice recorder is, as someone said today, that many are only capable of recording short clips, so answers will have to be concise. Listening back is an excellent way to self evaluate your answers too. I will be suggesting to s4 that you also trial this as part of your revision-I am not wanting to hear your results, and neither am I seeking to send these to a wider audience, the exercise is solely for your own benefit.
Speaking of audio applications, I managed to get Audacity put onto ten machines yesterday, and s2 had a play around with this today doing some simple editing, combining tracks, adding effects etc. Tomorrow, we are going to record our Radio Shows, with some excellent chat show style scripts so far contributing superbly to the work on ecological footprints. I may, with permission from you, put these on your wiki page.
I am going to try very hard to create a challenge board activity for s3 based around Paris, but time is tight on a Thursday, and I've forgotten to bring the template home :-( We will see...
Lastly, my final s1 rotation are either making favelas, or using the 'Thinking Through Geography' Improving a Shanty Town exercise - although I think I may need to try to simplify this a little, as the class I trialled this with had some initial problems with the task before reacting well. All in all, very busy. Two days to go... ;-)

Use a Map!

Categories: Geography General

I spotted this excellent application on Ogle Earth yesterday and have to say, after playing around with it over the last couple of days, it' s impressive. Basically, you could find any point on Google Maps, say your house, and save the url so that you can edit the map, add photos, fix the zoom and so on. You can also send the map to friends by e-mail, open in Google Earth, and click anywhere else on the map to get directions from your placemark. I can see obvious advantages of using this in the Geography classroom, but even for personal use, giving directions to someone you know etc, this is ideal, and extremely easy to use. Why not try it out by clicking on the image?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Paris Models

Categories: Urban, s1 ad s2, Biosphere
Have put most, not all, of the s3 Paris Models on the student blog, feel free to comment on each others work (constructively, please :-o). If your model is not there, it's because either your full name was in view, or I simply haven't got round to uploading it yet. I'll do this soon. thanks again to Noel Jenkins for the inspiration. Bookwork tomorrow...sorry!
I have prepared myself for more mess this week, as my final rotations of s1 are doing favelas before the Easter holidays. I think I might also use the spending shanty town points exercise with these groups too from 'Thinking Through Geography'. With Higher, I'll finish off soils looking at the Tundra Gley tomorrow, student involvement in labelling again, then have a starter on succession before spending the double on the dune transect on Wednesday. s4 have the work set from today, we'll see if we can finish our Mitch case study tomorrow. Remember, Easter School dates are out, I'm doing Higher on the first Tuesday, an afteroon session. I have some set ideas about what we'll cover, but if ther's anything you want covered in particular, speak to me at School or leave a comment here.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Happiness is...

Categories: Biosphere, Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2
...getting a blog page visit from the land of Gross National Happiness. I have a little statcounter at the bottom of the page, and a clustrmap, both of which allow me to track page visitors. Unsurprisingly, for a blog designed for students at my school, most visits are local, but occasionally, some people from further afield stumble across a page spending,oohhh, seconds at most before moving on. Today's visit was from Bhutan, Sherubtse college in particular. If you have read or seen Michael Palin's Himalaya, it's nice to get a visit from a country which obviously tries extremely hard to preserve traditional ways of life, and also shows how easy communication has become in the 21st century. Anyway.....
I will thank Val Vannet in advance of using her Biosphere presentation at some point this week for sand dune succession, podzol and brown earth profiles for us in the interim tomorrow. Thanks to Higher for the very meaningful and thoughtful feedback on the course. I am really grateful for the many positive comments, and thank you for your incisive comments about RLR, which I, too, in hindsight thought I spent too long on and hence dragged things out, perhaps making the topic confusing.
Good resources for s4 tomorrow, podcasts for case studies look good at this site (thanks to anwen on sln), and there was also an earthquake in Japan at the weekend, which I might spend 10/15 minutes having a look at.
s1 jotters back, please heed the comments, both regarding the good things you are already doing and the things which need to be looked at. I was impressed with the Rainforest Development letters, even the unfinished ones ;-) s2 will hopefully be starting to record their radio bulletins tomorrow-some great efforts, but remember as a group, everyone should have a voice (literally in this case).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Paris, Rio, New Orleans and, um, Soil!

Suburban Paris Riots 2005

Categories: Urban, s1 and Environmental Hazards, Biosphere
Quite an international assortment tomorrow, with the notable exception of Higher. s3 working well through the Paris case study, so a google earth tour,and then some resources for looking at the suburbs, including the 2005 riots movie will be used with half a chance. s1 are looking at Favela do Rocinha in Rio. We will fly in using GE again at the start of the lesson, before watching the Rio video, particularly focusing on people's views on Rio (sometimes surprising). With some VERY, VERY careful editing, some short clips from City of Men could maybe be used as a preamble to this, particularly the bit at the start showing favela organisation. Hurricane mapping from memory with s4 tomorrow, YouTube blocked by the school, but apparently there is a way that I can show some of the Katrina videos of New Orleans in class-will investigate. Finally, Higher have the joys of the Biosphere awaiting-mapping from memory starter (soil profile-not in groups this time), quick terminology quiz and a look at factors affecting soil formation.

Playing Politics

Categories: Games & Quizzes, s1 and s2
I know now why Chancellor Brown and PM Blair have nothing to fear from President O'Donnell after playing this simulation for around a week (click on the picture to link). This is excellent for linking together all of our work in the Environmnetal Issues Unit, including the remaining work looking at major Climate Change issues and Sustainable Development. I really like the realism in the game. It is very easy to push all the right environmental policies, but you will, like me, get voted out of office. This is worth a period, I think, if done properly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Skywalking the Grand Canyon, treading the London Road

Categories: Geography General
I have seen the Skywalk story all over the news today, and have been surprised at the focus on Buzz Aldrin and the 4000 ft drop. I have to say although I'm sure it would be spectacular, perhaps even helping Ranulph Fiennes cure his vertigo, my initial thought was 'Why'?. I would have thought one of the things about visiting places such as The Grand Canyon would be the awe inspiring natural environment, and this would surely detract from it-so it was interesting to read how the Hualapai tribe, whose land it is built on, view the development. To read the story, just click the picture. A perfect example of how easy it is to sit thousands of miles away and make judgements about things, something I am trying to stress to my s1 as we look at Brazil and rainforest development.
Tomorrow, I'm supposed to be out helping some of the Advanced Higher with an urban transect. I don't teach the AH this year, but may well be asked to do it next year as it looks like we'll have a decent sized class, so it will be nice to do a bit of fieldwork and see the Geographical study being done (albeit a tad late!).

Dirty tricks

Categories: Biosphere
Quick teaser for Higher. What links are there between the four images above? I'll use this in class tomorrow. We never quite got by the urban past papers today, but I'm glad we spent a little more time to clarify them. Other questions for tomorrow- What's the Biosphere (How does it link to the other three 'spheres)? What's an ecosystem? What do we mean by parents and profiles? How many periods till the break? (ten, incidentally..)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Listen up

Categories: Geography General, Urban, s1 and s2
Just some random audio/video clips which could be handy, again from sln. I found a link to some podcasts which might be useful, posted by Adam Lawson. There is one for La Defense, ideal as we are looking at the Parisian Inner City, and this is a perfect example of urban renewal. I liked the links to Inside Africa too from here. Also, a little bit daft, but these national anthems might come in handy when introducing a country or for student projects.

Lone Tree off the M8

Categories: Biosphere, Urban
An image of Glasgow that I really like is when you drive by the top end of town towards Charing Cross and just as you pass Stow College, there is a tree growing from the roof of an old building. It always strikes me that something entirely natural is happening above most people's line of vision in a part of the city where the environment is almost completely manipulated by humans. This seems as good a link between the Urban topic and the Biosphere topic for Higher, a relatively short unit of work, but one with good links for the Biologists. I'll mark some of the urban questions with you tomorrow, and then we'll start with an image and a question based around this. The powerpoint should link to a worksheet here, where we'll start building up our knowledge. Two excellent resources to mention for use later in the week:- The Wycombe High School website has excellent sections for soils here . Finally, Paul Williams has posted recently about an excellent website for sand dune succession.

Stop Disaster Game

Categories: Games and Quizzes, Environmental Hazards
Many thanks to Matt Brown on sln for flagging this excellent strategy game up. I let a couple of my s2 have a look at this today before giving over much of the period to s4 for some disaster planning as part of the work we've been doing on Earthquakes and Tsunamis. Really useful, and something a little more fun than the textbooks promised in the last post. I was pretty hopeless at the game, until one of my s4 pointed out that the map is moveable and you are not confined to the original area. It's also worth putting on the risk map layer. Just click on the picture to link to the game.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Waterworks at the beeb

Categories: Hydrosphere, Geography General, s1 and s2
I have found in my time teaching the Higher that pupils get very worried about Hydrograph questions. Although in general, the questions in prelims and NABs are done quite well, there seems to be a lack of confidence in your interpretation of the graph. Might just be the teaching....Anyway, here is a resource which I found through Val Vannet's blog, who was involved in creating the new BBC Rivers revision materials for Intermediate and Higher. If I get the time, we'll have a look at this in class tomorrow, I want to just tidy up the mapwork and past paper questions that you were doing on Friday for Urban Geography. If we don't look at the site tomorrow, I'll probably build it in to the Easter School activities.
The other thing that I wanted to blog about tonight was a website called Geograph, which I have been meaning to use in class for some time. It now has a Google Earth link, which I found on the Google Earth blog. I wish I had remembered about this site when we were doing our Glasgow case study, I am sure there would have been some useful images for use around the zones of the city on the tour I played on the Interactive board.
A quick summary of what else has been going on and what we are doing tomorrow. With s1, I found a decent video on ClickView looking at Developing the Rainforest. We are finishing the clip tomorrow, and then writing a letter of support/opposition to rainforest development. S2 have been doing some really good work on the eco footprint and we now have the display up outside my room. We are now working in groups and producing a radio show which summarises some of the issues we have looked at through role play. Most groups will have a narrator/presenter, a member of the public, an environmental expert and a sceptic in the role play. I will probably be able to let some groups use Audacity to record this, but others can record sound in word or powerpoint. s3 are getting ten minutes with the Paris models and then, unfortunately, some real work :-( which poor s4 have had and will have again as we push to get the course finished. Want to get through Earthquakes by tomorrow and on to Tropical Storms on Tuesday, when you will no doubt be pleased to have the opportunity to be poetic...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

River City

Categories: Urban, Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2
We were talking about the riverfront developments on the Clyde in Glasgow today-tried to look up the estate agents sites, which were unfortunately blocked. I had a look tonight, and the Admiral's Gate and Kingston Quay properties weigh in at a cool £2.25 million! We had a discussion about the likely positives and negatives of such developments, and then went on to look at G.E.A.R. The book is a little light on this, but I found a great link from a few years back now which summarises quite a lot of the changes ongoing and in times past in and around Glasgow. I have also put the link to a mindmap which you need freemind for, which summarises the kind of questions you might be asked in an exam for Urban.
I am doing Earthquakes just now with s4, and I would like to get a hold of some rope and springs to show P,S and L waves, but we'll see if I can get these tomorrow. I also spotted some activities on Geointeractive which might be useful relating to effects and responses.
s3 are showing some enterprise with the Paris Models. I have 3D Arc de Triomphes, layered cities to show the metro underground and the suggestion of a pop-up city, each zone popping up as an individual layer! We are continuing with this tomorrow, providing the cleaners don't mistake the unfinished projects for scrap :-s
Finally, I will mostly be doing the 'I'm a Celebrity' task with s1, after watching the rainforest clip, where we ask the students to speculate about spending some time with a tribe and creating a diary hut entry to recount their experience. One luxury item allowed-From past examples, it's amazing the amount of TV's, DVD's etc which can run without electricity or batteries...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mostly Glasgow (and other bits and pieces)

Categories: s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards, Urban
I have been browsing the internet for some Hazards-related links, and the BBC's sticks out as one of the best for explanation of earthquakes, volcanoes AND tropical storms. We will also have a look at some of the powerpoints placed on the student projects page of the wiki with s4 (although some need to be linked back to this page). I should probably speak to you about cut-offs from the prelim and predicted grades.
We are looking at Glasgow tomorrow with Higher-I used a Google Earth tour the other day with the class, and we passed over some of the G.E.A.R areas. I used to have a video which looked at this, but it had, like me, seen better days! I'm still trying to find a link to a resource which had some online film footage, but this site might be useful. I would probably use the film about the riverfront redevelopment and have also thought about using the Glasgow promo video for looking at City functions, land uses and then asking the class to challenge the image of Glasgow being presented. Of course, the school filter might be blocking all of this...
Finally, s1 are doing a little work on Brazil and Development. I got the class to think about indicators by comparing themselves (had to be sensitive doing this), but used a range of measures, both economic and social (no. of cars, phones, days off school ill, takeaways etc). I have used this before, and it always illustrates perfectly how no indicator really has consistency of results. We then switched this to countries and are in the process of comparing Brazil to some other locations at the minute. Tomorrow, we will look at the role of the Amazon in Brazil's development, using the Channel 4 TV-Rom.

Building Paris

Categories: Urban
Noel Jenkins has used urban models to good effect with younger age groups, and I have been wondering if I could adapt this to engage my s3 in the Paris Case Study. I have set a little homework asking my students to collect some images of Paris from the internet, brochures etc, and I am giving out an urban planner to structure the work. You will then make your own 'model' Paris. I have set the challenge to include a mixture of images which would be representative of zones in an urban model, and other images where Paris perhaps does not 'fit' the model. I have also asked for inclusion of recent changes to the city, a key part of the case study-It might be traffic ( I love the image of the Arc de Triomphe with all the roads meeting here-I am hoping that there are some examples of initiatives aimed at reducing traffic through the metro, La Defense etc), gentrification, retailing changes, really whatever you have researched. I have organised the activity in groups, and I'm quite willing to pass a couple of periods over to this to see how it goes.

Ethical Man

Categories: s1 and s2
A couple of excellent programmes on last week for use in the classroom, including the 'Panorama' programme which the picture links to. A colleague in Biology put me on to this, and it fits in perfectly with the s2 work that we are doing at the moment. 'Go Green or Else' tracks a journalist and his family who decide to attempt to drastically reduce their carbon footprint which ended up putting real strains on their family relationships. It will be interesting to watch this before you provide suggestions for how to reduce your own footprints (something practical). On that note, I am really enjoying the developing huge footprint posters which will soon be adorning the wall. You have given a lot of thought to how you and your family have an ecological impact. On the flip side of this environmental argument, a programme on Channel 4 argues that we are all being taken in by the Great Global Warming Swindle. I would have loved to have had access to this when Higher were doing atmosphere. The arguments are presented in a very convincing manner, but I would have ideally centred a debate around this. Finally, I am hoping to get my paws on a copy of An Inconvenient Truth, which supposedly has some stunning visuals. An interesting story here about the man behind the movie, Al Gore, with thanks to Ian Murray on the sln forum.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Armchair Field Tripping

Categories: Glaciation
This is the link to the tour of the Alps field trip that I have used with s2 and s3. Some of the views are an amazing likeness to the photographs on our wall display, whereas other areas like the Sixt fer a Cheval images do not quite do the scenery justice, but I have tried to include some links to my flickr photos (which I really need to update). I was pleased to spend a bit of time focusing on the trip, as I felt that last year's group had asked a lot of questions by now about things which it turned out you were keen to know about too (rooming, journey etc), and it also allowed me to remind you about the big payment due this Friday ;-)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Field Trip

Categories: Glaciation, Geography General, Environmental Hazards
In response to two recent developments:- 1) I have been reading lots about the updated imagery in Google Earth for the Swiss Alps-lots of blogs referencing this just now, and 2) My s3 have been clamouring for an urban field trip, and I feel the need to remind you that Alps trip payments are due soon! With this in mind, s3 will be benefitting from the Google Earth updates, as I am now able to take you to Morillon, Annecy, Chamonix, the Mer de Glace, the Bosson and Sixt fer a Cheval minus the green, blue, red and white blobs that I previously encountered in this part of Alpine France on GE. I also want to show this to s2 as an advert for the trip-I know that most of you have indicated that you intend to be with me again next year after your second round of the options programme, so this should give some idea of whether the trip is for you or not, and I can hopefully field questions. A reminder that the trip is always oversubscribed, so it may be worth mentioning to parents already. I am trying to upload for sharing on the web, but experiencing one or two difficulties at the moment...
Higher prelims were given back on Friday (hence the sparse postings), real spread of results, some excellent high end results, but as usual, a few others who have perhaps been given a little fright. I would ask of you that you remember that the prelim, although obviously useful for appeal purposes, is not the final exam. There are a number of people who, with some hard work are clearly capable of a better performance in the final exam, and there are also others who may feel that they are coasting-The most important thing now is that no one slacks off because of prelim results, good or bad.
I am referring myself yet again to this gem for teaching Earthquakes tomorrow, from Ollie Bray via Google Earth Blog .