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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ladies and Gentleman, we are floating in Space

Categories: Geography General, s1 and s2, Advanced Higher
I got a new toy today, with two 3D space navigators arriving at the school. I haven't had them installed yet (unfortunately, we don't have admin privileges), but have read about these over a long period of time now, particularly through Digital Geography. I would love to have s1 using the navigator on Google Earth over the next few weeks, firstly to add a dimension to mapwork, especially when teaching relief. For now, I'd like to use some of the materials at Active Geography for something different when doing maps. I like the exercises 'Which way is up?' and I think the class would maybe enjoy a bit of moley too. I am tenuosly linking this to our work on direction :-0
I was quite pleased with the progress some of you have made in the AH class sourcing really strong viewpoints on your chosen Geographical Issues. As ever, some of your searches take you up a dead end, but keep the chin up-you need a minimum of three articles, and most of you are well on the way to this. That is, if footsie can be avoided...
Higher and s4 are in the middle of things just now, I'll summarise later in the week on the DTM (good work!) and Factors affecting Development (started on Trade today).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ewan and Charley in Rwanda

Categories: Population, Development and Health, Advanced Higher
I am sitting watching the excellent 'Long Way Down' featuring Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's motorcycle journey through Africa. They have just been in Rwanda, a country that we'll look at soon with Higher. Undoubtedly a beautiful,lush country, its recent history means that people don't often associate it with the stunning landscape. Many of you have already got a decent knowledge of the Rwandan genocide in the early '90's, and I have already told you that we'll make use of 'Hotel Rwanda', one of the most powerful films that I think I've seen.
McGregor and Boorman met with the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, in itself a controversial decision as Kagame has been implicated by some observers in war crimes. Reading his wikipedia entry just shows the confusion as history is written and re-written after conflict-its hard to tell if the article is fact or opinion ( a bit of both?). I wondered if Rwanda could have been something that an Advanced Higher student could look at for their Issues essay next year. A quick search shows plenty of sources, lots of them partial, and would make the basis of a good critical evaluation- Has the Rwandan conflict irreparably hindered development, Was foreign aid the root of the Rwandan Genocide, for example? Some of the articles may also be useful to a current student, who is looking at whether countries can develop without foreign aid. I also wondered if it would be feasible for Higher to do a bit of research on actual people uprooted as a result of the troubles to determine the factors influencing a forced migration, the impact on the country of origin and the host country etc. I'll have a look at this over the next few days to see the availabaility of material.
This link is for Miss Green, I think this is the world clock you were looking for that we couldn't remember the url for. I think tomorrow, we might use the trade game with s4 for an intro into factors influencing development, I have the link in my bookmarks. I've also linked the picture of 'Long Way Down' to the Unicef homepage for the journey. There is some really useful info on here for a number of topics which we can maybe use in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Today there will be no hymns, no records, no ipods, no serenades...

Categories: Population, Development and Health, s1 and s2, Advanced Higher

I'm starting from a non-subject topic here, something which was just a bit of fun, but thought provoking anyway. Today is No Music Day, and idea pioneered by, believe it or not, a musician-ex-KLF experimenter Bill Drummond. Someone asked me just the other day to make a choice. If I had the choice, would I live in a world without music or without laughter? I had some interesting responses with Higher and Advanced Higher at the tail end of the period about this. I wonder what people in my other classes or elsewhere think? Incidentally, tomorrow is the feast day of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music...;-)

I think I'm going to use the worldometers site tomorrow with both Higher and Intermediate. I had forgotten about this until a work colleague brought it to my attention. It would be good if we could just spend a bit of time looking at this on our own, but I'm trying to think of a way that I could use this with the whole class. Higher might take a look at the Population myth buster, before developing some of the reasons for population growth/decline, at which point we'll be able to take a look at Demographic transition using this resource.

Intermediate will start the period with an Indicators challenge, and then I want to open out the period to see what you think leads to differences in development- a class discussion followed up by some supporting work from your texts. With s1, we'll be doing an exercise which has been entirely sourced from a great blog, strange maps. I've taken lots of the images and we're going to look at them to determine 1) What the map is actually showing, and 2) What is wrong/unusual about the map. I'll maybe put a short powerpoint here after the task. We'll then look at one of the maps, which is actually an attempt by various people to draw a map of the USA from memory. I have really enjoyed asking classes to do this previously for Scotland, and we'll maybe do the same again before deciding what constitutes a good map. I also wish I'd seen this blog when we were doing the lower course of rivers, as there's a great map showing how the Mississippi has constantly changed its course.

Lastly, we are moving away from Pearson's and Linear Regression with Advanced Higher (I thought that this went quite well, you seemed to grasp this more easily-perhaps as a result of the previous stats work?) and looking at how we can represent data on maps-dot maps, choropleth, isoline, proportional symbols etc. Don't be frightened by the terminology. I'm going to show you an atlas and ask you to tell me some information based on a variety of maps which will be familiar to you. You'll soon see that this is the same maps that you are expected to construct or interpret.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quick Links...

Categories: Population, s1 and s2, Advanced Higher
For tomorrow- I want to maybe use this powerpoint as a starter for Higher, answers provided afterwards but should finish off the work of the last two or three periods, before we look at World Population growth and the Demographic Transition. I also really liked this site , which Ewan Mc Intosh highlighted-even though it's a French language site, you will be able to flick through it and understand quite a lot. Interesting to hear other people talking about everyday life.
There's a new rotation of s1, so we'll probably do the introductions and then a find someone who exercise. AH are spending more time with the incorrugible Mr Pearson before looking at linear regression. This should be much simpler now that I am finally looking at the correct graph :-s Will also go over s4 N AB (Well done on a strong set of results).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Statistician

Categories: Advanced Higher

If you are looking for someone to thank (blame) for the statistical emphasis of the Advanced Higher course, then look no further than Karl Pearson, creator of our next test, Pearson's Product Correlation Co-efficient. Apparently, he is the father of Mathematical Statistics. After further research, I discovered that he also wrote about TB, the rights of unborn children, Mary Queen of Scots, the height of fathers in relation to their sons, and extreme alcoholism in adults, although I am assured that the latter will not be the outcome of attempting his correlation.
While searching for some more information on Pearson's test, I found a powerpoint, which, while of little use for the test for us, has a great example of why correlation tests often don't provide meaningful results-look for the bit about pirates! There is some good material here in the lecture notes with a comprehensive guide as to its limitations, and there's also a practical.
Higher will be looking at World Population Growth, while s4 are back to study Development. I think we'll do some random indicators and see how we group them together. Again, as I seem to have been doing constantly of late, I want to have a look at how trustworthy figures can be. All figured, counted and tested out, off to read about buy nothing day - every scotsman's right ;-) and every husband's wish :-0

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Categories: Geography General, Advanced Higher, Population
I am presenting a little talk to some colleagues on Tuesday, and when I was doing a bit of research, I found this. It looks a really simple, if less refined way to do some podcasting, interviews and assessment. I am going to try this out at the weekend and see if I can use it while at the course I'm delivering. If it's successful, we'll have a go in class.
Not much to report on over and above this. Advanced Higher are still mapping after sorting out the map scale! I had hoped to do Pearson'sProduct tomorrow, but I'm going to leave this till Monday now I think. Higher did a Population runaround based on a short video, and then we had an interesting discussion about counting populations. Lots of good things about how the government can keep track (census, registers, electoral role etc), problems of collecting accurate info (illiteracy, language barriers, cost, corruption etc) with a particular focus on ELDC's here. Your own findings have made this topic a lot simpler for you now, well done. s1 will no doubt want to talk about the Edinburgh trip tomorrow in our last period before a change of rotation. All good things must pass....
Gearing up for the return of s4 next week. The phones have been quiet, touch wood, I'll no doubt hear all about the experiences on Monday. Have a nice weekend :0)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A world of your own

Categories: Geography General, Population, Rivers, Advanced Higher

Daniel Raven-Ellison spoke recently on one of the sites I visit about Planet 10. It's an interactive model of our solar system, good for Science and Geography, and I really liked the option to build your own planet. I'm sure I could have been taken to task by some of my population if they had managed to survive the 150 degrees daytime temps and various asteroid collisions of my first two attempts. See if you can do better than third time lucky.

Higher NAB is looming. I asked about supported study tomorrow, and a lot of people want to revisit mass movements. I saw an idea from a Miss Ellis recently for speed dating which just about fits the bill. Given processes, two minutes, one minute for each person to discuss their process and 'date' gives marks out of ten before moving on to the next person. I'll give it a whirl and see how it goes, but maybe do this during double period class time. You also asked for a Hydrograph worked question-we'll go for a 'twin peaks' example from the past papers. I was quite pleased with much of your short presentations on river features from Monday, but I think we should also do a worked example on this too.

Depending on how all of this goes, we might get to start the Population topic, and I'll probably do a little group work here too as a starter based around the Population Clock . Other things we might consider-How long would it take at current population growth levels to double the school population? What about Glasgow's? I really enjoyed teaching this topic to Higher last year, particularly a lot of the resources we used for the One Child Policy and Migration.

Finally, speaking of last years Higher, AH are doing some mapwork just now in among the stats and Issues Essay work. We are currently doing a map showing the site of Perth, drawn to scale. I could see people getting pretty irate at roads being slightly out of sync, river islands being mis-shapen etc, so we took a five minute breather today and did a little map from memory (woeful attempts!). I then tried to compare what you're doing to the type of thing you see in kids puzzle books-draw the map one square at a time if you're struggling. Remember, this piece of work is assessed and simpler but similar activities have come up in the exam in the past. Take your time to do it well, regardless of how frustrating you may be finding it.

7 years early

Categories: s1 and s2, Geography General
I have been messing around with this for the last couple of days. On Friday in our school, quite a crowd gathered in the lecture theatre to see the results of the Glasgow v Abuja bids for the Commonwealth Games 2014. After speaking to my s1 today, they seemed very keen to do a little bit about the games and, as we are in the last few days of the rotation we had a go at some of the tasks below.

It seems to be going well just now, and lots of nice ideas being put into the logo.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fingers and toes crossed

Categories: Population, Hydrosphere, Advanced Higher

I will be spending most of tomorrow hoping that there are no problems with the work experience placements. I hope that if any of my s4 are having a look at the blog that your week goes well, and that your placements are enjoyable. It also gives me a further week to mark the NABS ;-) No excuses on your return then...

I have spent much of my working time tonight updating my del.icio.us page with Spearman's rank help for AH. I realise that the past paper on Friday was a rather unwelcome (if forced) end to your school day, but it highlighted some areas that would potentially provide difficulty for you. I'm hoping to go over the question, particularly regarding the suitability of Spearman's rank for this example (sample size?), but please have a look at the links too. I also want to mix things up a little this week and introduce some of the mapping work that I mentioned last week.

Higher are almost finished Hydrosphere, unfortunately just after I remembered about these great animations-maybe we could incorporate these into the lesson tomorrow- student short talks followed by the model answer? I have also been looking for this hydrographs exercise (scroll down) for a while for a homework, which I think I'll give out tomorrow too.

We'll soon be starting Population, and a colleague posted about this game, which will be useful when we look at forced migration (will hopefully use Hotel Rwanda again). My first impression of the game is that it's a bit slow, but still useful for developing the reasons for forced migration. Maybe worth a lesson/part of a lesson.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thank you and goodnight...

Categories: Geography General, Rivers, Development and Health, Games and Quizzes

Thank you for all of the comments so far a few posts back, I think you have a lot of really valid points about learning online, and I'm pleased that those of you who have commented see the value in the resources we're using. Of course, I have to balance that against the fact that not everyone has commented yet, but thanks so much to those who have.

Tomorrow, which is now today, I'm doing a rerun of the biscuit game which went so well last year to help us discuss differences in development. Some straightforward lessons elsewhere-river features through video after today's intro, where we recapped on processes using Noel Jenkins animations, then did a little description of river channel and valley in Tom Biebrach's resources (again, tried and tested). In the middle of favelas vid with s1, and Advanced Higher were doing a nearest neighbour analysis of reservoirs from the local(ish) area, which we'll have a look at tomorrow.

If i wasn't so tired, I'd probably persevere with trying to load Last brain thinking on the BBC's Onion Street. See if you have more joy than me.... Hoping it's a bit like Dr Kawashima's Brain Training, but probably nothing at all in common:-( I'd also have a closer look at these tutorial videos for sketch up in Google Earth (draw your own buildings etc). Anyway, off to bedzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Finally, something about the lessons tomorrow!

Categories: Rivers, Advanced Higher

Back to the real business now. I really liked these pictures as some kind of river erosion starter with Higher, but we'll only get on to this after we've looked at a couple of Hydrograph past papers. Might revisit Russel Tarr's living graph before description of the graph for key terms. With Advanced, we've had about three weeks working on the Issues essay and lots of practice and I now have the NAB to correct. Tomorrow, after our well deserved break from them, we're back to some stats- I'll rely again on the LTScotland material, but I think I'll probably show a few of the Studies from previous years first to highlight the relevance of things like chi square and nearest neighbour for you, and where it fits in to your major assignments. As already stated, s4 have the NAB, hopefully well prepared for as we then move on to our last part of the course, Environmental Interactions. Good Luck to you all! On a lighter note, in response to myself two posts back, maybe we should try this...(see pic above)

And now for something completely different...

Categories: Games and Quizzes
After last post's sad and grumpy demeanour, have a game of this old classic on me...

Back in the days when technology was something significantly less complex!

A post about everything and nothing

I don't normally post on the blog to rant, but I really feel the need to express my opinions about couple of things and seek those of others regarding the direction and use of ICT in class . I asked my s4, who have a NAB assessment tomorrow, to answer some questions on the wiki- not all by themselves, three or four people to a question, which would require two or three lines input. I offered feedback, a kind of supported study if you like. I have had the laptop turned on most of the day, and had a look yesterday as well, but have only had one response (feedback provided) to look at (two now, one more while writing).
While I feel disappointment for a number of personal reasons ( time I've spent on the resource, time I've offered in support of others), this really isn't about me. I have to ask of myself and you, is this really what you want or need? I was thinking about all the things we've used in class over the last year- this blog, the blog for celebrating success and some homework, the moblog, the Higher Wiki, the Intermediate wiki, the wiki for s2 project work, blip for movies, scribd and Ourmedia for files, del.icio.us and bloglines for Advanced Higher. Is it overkill, or just plain complicated. What if you could have all of these things delivered in the one place (e.g. a ning-a social network) but still see them all? Are there any that you don't think work-and if not, why not? What do you think has been useful for you, and in what way? If you like the idea behind some of these, but haven't used them, why haven't you used them? I would prefer that you are honest. I really don't want to be putting time and effort into a resource which you find redundant. These are all supposed to be of some help to you, but if they're not doing that then let's take stock-Please leave a comment, or talk to me personally.
If any teachers are reading and have some take on this or suggestions, then, again, please comment. I feel at a bit of a brick wall, which may or may not be of my own creating, and any guidance would be greatly appreciated-again, honest appraisals, particularly of what could be changed for the better.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Free Advertisement for...

....sixth year Young Enterprise and Fair Trade group, who have started their own blog. This is to provide a record of their progress and achievements as evidence for the YES exam next year. Hopefully, they'll be able to generate a few orders through this as well. Please feel free to visit, leave a comment, some encouraging words and so on by clicking on the image above. Thanks.