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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My thoughts on the atmosphere

Categories: Atmosphere
When I started teaching, I used to really dread teaching the Atmosphere unit of Higher. I think this was for a number of reasons; 1) When I did my Geography degree, I decided to opt for more of the Human Geography options, and then had a further eight years working elsewhere before I went into teaching 2) There are an awful lot of new terms and concepts, particularly if, like us, your school follows an Intermediate course and not Standard Grade, therefore missing out Weather, 3) I always felt that such fact-based topics were difficult to teach with much in the way of class interaction. The diagrams and key terms were there, and no matter how many times I tried different angles on this, I always found my lessons turning into factual acounts with too much teacher talking.
I write now as someone who actually enjoys the topic. I think a number of things have changed. I probably appreciate the opportunity to teach something which students might find a little more complex. I might not get it right all the time, but I see people being challenged and really having to open their minds to new ideas. This is particularly true of schools who follow the Intermediate with the Higher, which I personally think leads to a lot of repetition. I also think that with constant news on the impacts of global warming, the Atmosphere unit becomes one which can maybe engage people in looking at a balanced view of the issues. Finally, I think that there are ways to make lessons less passive. I have found 'Mapping from Memory' a really useful tool in teaching some of the models, and intend to do some kind of Decision Making exercise based around 'The Great Global Warming Swindle'. My experience over the last couple of years has actually led me to believe that, although students also seem to have quite a lot of trepidation regarding this topic, it's actually one that seems to be answered much better in exam questions than those topics which are familiar. Apolgies for those who read the post expecting some kind of Stephen Hawking type intellectual philosophy. I just thought sharing my own experience might put some at ease who have perhaps been feeling a little overwhelmed with all the new jargon. Try looking at Geography Pages Atmosphere pages if you're still feeling a bit confused. Alternatively, you could always ask the teacher.... ;-)


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