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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Monday, March 31, 2008

Charley and His Holiness, The Dalai Lama

Categories: Urban, Environmental Hazards, Advanced Higher, s1 and s2
It's been a bit of a mammoth first day of the week. I'm sure that it's not only my head that is a fuzz from ruthlessly slashing words from the AH issues essays to fit the word count, a task, I feel, which is taking the focus off the study a bit. I know that there is all of April to go, but go it will, so please work hard through the holiday. I am fairly pleased with how the issues are looking now, and only some minor adjustments needed.
Higher had access to all the clips mentioned yesterday, briefly put on the pupil shared area, and we'll continue using these tomorrow to shape some kind of note about Glasgow Harbour. Managed to cover all the Glasgow (and beyond) residential areas, and all that's been neglected so far is New Towns, which I'll let Charley above cover tomorrow. Only really a couple of bits and pieces to tie up on the urban topic after this.

s4 finished watching the Hurricanes video today after being given more assessment info (do we over assess?), and we've set a target of having the case study finished tomorrow to allow a period of stop disasters on Thursday. That's assuming we don't get sidetracked in another discussion about the Dalai Lama (glad to see the interest in current affairs). Surprisingly enough, China, Tibet and the Olympics are being discussed on the news right now. s1 tomorrow will learn a little about Brazil's population, a topic which explains the great diversity of culture in events such as Carnival.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Street View or Birds eye?

Categories: Geography General
Whilst looking through my del.icio.us links for the last post, I was reminded about a post at google maps mania which took up way too much of my Friday morning. Map Channels has created Dual Maps which allows you to move through some American Cities at street level, while also being able to see where you'd be from above. I had never seen the street view maps before. I have never visited San Francisco, but spent Friday period two driving up and down its hills before touring the Lakeside in Chicago. Can't think of how or when I could use this just yet, but it's worth a look anyway, even for your own curiosity.

Rescued by Youtube, frustrated by Sony Ericsson

Categories: Urban, Environmental Hazards, Development and Health, Other
Been trawling youtube tonight, as I discovered on Friday that the clips of Glasgow's riverfront regeneration were no longer in the same place on the See Glasgow site-hadn't checked before the lesson and only found them afterwards :-( Found absolutely tons of relevant clips for urban, with several relating to Glasgow harbour. I've listed some of the links for you in my del.icio.us account, but if we get through the Google Earth tour tomorrow, I'd like to convert some of these for use with the class. Also found a news report on the long term impacts of Hurricane Mitch, which is the case study in the s4 text book.

We will probably use this at some point tomorrow or Tuesday, but it might be useful for you to browse the many Hurricane Katrina videos available to enhance your knowledge of the effects of Tropical Storms on people and the landscape.I was also brought to this collection of clips through following some of the related videos, and thought this could be good for lots of development themes.
Finally, I bought a new pay and go mobile today with a 3.2 mega pixel camera. This is quite an advance for me, although I know many of you probably have far more powerful cameras on your own phones. I've been playing around with the new toy and really like a lot of the features, but I'm having problems installing the settings for internet browsing and picture messaging. I've been frustrated by help desks, FAQ's etc and wondered if anybody knew of similar problems and more importantly, how to solve them...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Really Silly, but...

Categories: Urban
...I didn't say they'd be good. Just messing around with bitstrips, thinking about one or two things from today's Higher lesson. As you can probably tell, this took no time at all, hence the bizarre head shapes and scary strip inhabitants, suitably less grey haired teacher included :-o. One of the things I liked about bitstrips for the classroom is that you can open up strip editing to others, could be a good class project for younger year groups...
Tomorrow, we're moving on from the CBD (might put today's powerpoint on scribd). Last year, we used this geofile, which is a great summary of some of the major changes in Glasgow's inner city over the years. We'll also have a look at the new Glasgow Harbour development. We are between lessons with all other classes, so previous posts apply.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jeely pieces, cartoon strips and border relations

I was looking on youtube for a particular video clip for use with higher (no joy), but did find this above, which myself and colleagues were talking about today. Despite the jokey nature of the song, there's a lot of Urban Geography in it - the response to urban change in inner cities which created huge problems itself. I swithered about putting Flight of the Conchords 'Inner City Pressure' as some kind of modern day take on the inner city, but a couple of the lyrics are a bit close to the bone :-(

I am also having a look at bitstrips, where you can create your own cartoons. I would show you an example if the site hadn't just gone down, but its very easy to use, and I'm sure I'll think of something classroom-ish for this. I've also just watched a really good programme on TV, 'What do the English really think?', presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli, about English perceptions of us Scots. Worth catching again if it shows up on iplayer, maybe one for Miss Green and Miss McGill for the Scotland Unit?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lovely Easter Break, work mode setting in now

Loch Restil

Categories: Urban, Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2
Just back from an easter weekend away in Argyll with some great, if crisp spring weather. Some snow on the hills too - amazing to think that a few years ago, we were getting sunburnt in April. The thought of work had been creeping into my mind towards the last few hours, and with Higher, I've worked out that I have 11 periods with you before the break. Tomorrow, I'm going to quickly do some work on Urban models after the introduction from last day, and then move on to the specifics re: Glasgow. There is some material in both the booklet and the red book. There is also a really extensive powerpoint on Urban Geography by Rob Chambers. I won't get the chance to use this in class, and its case studies are different, but it would be really helpful for revision purposes. I also liked this one by a guest user of slideshare, which has good critiques of the urban models. From the comments, it seems like this is a students work too.
I'm hoping that there isn't much to do re: earthquakes after the tsunami video with s4. I'd like to do mapping from memory for Tropical Storm formation, another staple of the last three years with classes which seems to work. s1 have just started Brazil. We're in the process of finding out what the class already knows about the country- some are struggling, but I'm hoping that might have been the fact that it was last period before a long weekend ;-) Think The Simpsons....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Geography as Urban History, or History as Urban Geography?

Categories: Urban, Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2
I put together a quick google earth file, which I used with Higher today. It's basically a quick potted history of Glasgow's growth and its changing function, some of it sourced from the recent links I put on del.icio.us ( Incidentally, Charley's worth a watch), some from personal knowledge, and some from Mr Cameron from times gone by, who was an absolute fountain of knowledge about Glasgow in particular. I think this is a great example of where subjects like Geography and History have a real crossover, hence the post title. Hopefully this will be of some use when you're looking at site, situation and function. Tomorrow, if we're following the booklet, we should be doing urban models. I want to start with some photos (geographing it again maybe) which you will be asked to organise according to distance from the city centre. Once we have established the real order, I'll then bring in Burgess, Hoyt et al. I think generally these models have run their course, and cities are such dynamic places that models quickly become outdated, but I'd like to see what you think. A couple of my Advanced Higher students have found an almost perfect match to Burgess on one of their transect lines...
In other classes, s4 will be looking at the Asian Tsunami, video and sheet to fill in as you go along, while s1 will be given a few details about assessment before introducing Brazil with the 'Brazil or Not' exercise, followed by....long weekend!!!!!!!! Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Categories: Environmental Hazards, Industry

I think that last year when we were doing earthquakes, I used a large coil nicked from Physics to show P, S and L waves, so I'll try and go on the borrow again tomorrow for s4. I'm hoping that by now you know reasons for earthquakes, different types of earthquake waves, distribution of earthquakes and are on to the case study as I was out of school on Thursday. There are some really good websites for this topic, including the savage earth one and a new one I found from Cornell University. Higher are finishing off industry mapping (did you have a look at geograph?), and then doing a sample of past paper type questions. I am going through phases of thinking I'll be fine with Higher regarding time, and then others when I feel we really need to shift. I'm in the latter mood at the moment...On a personal note, I'll really need to be stricter with myself on the timings of units next year. Bizzare as it may sound, I think that more fieldwork and time out of class would actually mean less time spent in the class itself trying to explain concepts (virtually all of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, urban, industry and rural land resources topics lend themselves to some kind of fieldwork). I stumbled upon a few catalogues and liked the look of Lochranza, a place I know very well from my younger days. Even if this was not possible, I'm definitely going to look at the prospect of more localised fieldwork for next year's intake.

Points of View

East Kilbride - Cathkin Road 15

I have a fantastic view of the whole of Glasgow every morning on my way to work. I often think that if I could show students what I see that it would be much easier to explain site and situation when we are doing Urban Geography. I finally got round to taking some photographs of this today. Correction, I finally got round to driving my brother to the spots where I wanted him to take some photographs for me today...My digital camera is on its last legs, and he has a great eye for a photo. I have put all of these on my flickr page, and intend to use some of them when starting the urban topic with Higher on Tuesday. These might also be of some use to Advanced Higher, a few projects have bits and pieces about the site and situation of Glasgow. Feel free to use some of the photos if you can. They are best viewed in large size, so just click on 'all sizes' above the photo. Although the photos say ' all rights reserved', I just haven't got round to putting a creative commons license on the photos yet, so these will be available for anyone's fair use.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reminders and sincere thanks

Categories: Geography General
This isn't really lesson specific, but has several things I want to post about anyway. Conor and Kris, while being a long way from number one, have had a few hits and downloads now. Miss Green's class seemed enthused by the idea, so hopefully I'll have another couple of brazen souls strain their vocal chords for a wider audience.
If only it were all fun and games... I need to remind my certificate classes that we have a barrowload of assessment still awaiting us. s4 have one NAB to complete, as do Higher, and there are some prelim bits and pieces that still need sorting. Advanced Higher have the biggest task, with both Issues and Study due in at the end of April. Please use your holidays wisely when they come. Over and above this, for all classes, you really, truly should be trying some past papers, and, particularly for the Higher, to time. Now for some good news...
After a long wait, we finally got the inspection report back which I'm sure you have now been told from many sources was excellent. I'd just like to thank my own pupils, particularly those in the Higher class who were with me when I had the 'visit', but also everyone else. When I was speaking to the inspectors at other times, many of the things that I was able to talk about, particularly in relation to ICT, were things that you were the guinea pigs for, and it's thanks to your receptiveness that I've been allowed to develop them. Many thanks to you all.


Categories: Geography General, Industry

I was thinking of trotting out the usual whiteboard exercise on mapping Industry tomorrow, using a selection of scanned maps to show old/new industrial landscapes. This tends to work OK, but I've always felt that it's a lesson which ends quite abruptly. It's always the last lesson of the unit for me, and we race through it, check once and move on, only revisiting for revision. When I was trying to prepare my maps today, I thought about using some photos to drag and drop on the map to make this a bit different. It was then I thought for the first time about using Geograph for O.S. map revision. Take the picture above for instance. This is a well know part of Glasgow's skyline, and an image many of you have probably at some point seen. If I asked you to find it on a map, some of you might even have a rough idea of where it is. If, however, you were not natives of this part of the world, it would probably be hard for you to associate the map with the image. Geograph lets you do precisely that by using the Ordnance Survey's Grid. You can pick any location on the map, focus in until you have the same grid as the map you are using and see photographs from that area, letting you understand what the map extract would really look like. Not only this, but iof you don't have the O.S. map with you, each picture has a little extract at the foot of the page. This is not only useful for industry and human geography, but excellent for physical, particularly for those crashing the Higher who have little experience of mapwork. More useful site areas for the lower school at the games section and the imagine section too, helping you interpret grid squares and symbols. Thanks to Chris Gunns for the photo.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Odd Shaped Landscapes?

Categories: s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards, Industry, Advanced Higher, Games and Quizzes
I am playing battleships tomorrow with s1 as per rotation, and was looking for an image to put on a new games sheet. Unfortunately, I spent far too much time playing this...thinking I had escaped from time-sapping gameplay, I then found another diversion, which looks like it may become daily. I'm thinking I may have a slightly addictive personality :-0
S4 today took to the earthquake proof buildings task with all the enthusiasm of junior Picasso's. In other words, you couldn't wait to use paint to draw some bizarre cubist buildings before you actually completed the groundwork (no pun intended). Some of your attempts rivalled our lovely Parliament building pictured above...Thanks to flickr user Homer Simpson's donut for the photo. More of this tomorrow, with some representations of your work at the end.
Higher (Sambre-Meuse Case study) and Advanced Higher are both in the middle of bits of work, and finally got prelims back to Advanced Higher today. Very happy with the written paper, but remember that it will count for only 30% of your overall mark, so please don't come in expecting me to tell you what you should be working on! End of April deadlines for both the Study and the Issues, not as much time as you think to make these perfect...

Goodbye Mt St Helens....

Categories: Environmental Hazards
Although my name's on the podcast, this is the work of Conor and Kris, Glasgow's answer to the Three Tenors (The Two Tenners?). Well done, guys! Link to Podcast

Rise and Fall?

Categories: Environmental Hazards

This is something which we started thinking about last period with s4. How would you create a building which would withstand and earthquake? I'm maybe going to ask you to work in pairs on this, taking on two scenarios:- 1) Architect designing a new Business HQ in California, and 2) Family in Iran building their own home in remote rural area.

Think about Location- especially for scenario 1- what kind of things would you have to consider? e.g Why might you think about relief?

Think about design-How will you stop your building collapsing, if it stands how would you prevent accidents from movement of the building or falling rubble etc?

I also have ICT booked for a little bit of enquiry, which I'll explain later. Google Apps will have to wait a few days, as I'm struggling to get by step two of three in signing up for the education package...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Old Industry and new ways to study?

This powerpoint is ageing a little, a bit like the case study, but I suppose when you look at Industrial change, it's historical Geography anyway. Trying to finish this by next week. Horrendous conditions on Friday with Advanced Higher, and the river we visited was an absolute torrent, completely unsafe for measurements over the weekend. We did manage to identify several safe sites and options which should allow the fieldwork to be completed if the weather ever returns to a semblance of normality (hailstones, sleet, rain and glorious sunshine today). I hope the urban fieldwork was completed with a little more ease.I'm trying to set up Google Apps for s4 for some collaborative study. I've purchased a domain name, but need to see the school IT technicians about a few things tomorrow. This should allow you to work on small group projects and should be more private than something like a wiki page. I'll explain a bit more in class tomorrow.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Risk and Bingo

Categories: Advanced Higher, s1 and s2, Industry
Tomorrow, two of my Advanced Higher and I are going a river jaunt. We're mainly doing a risk assessment for the remainder of the sample points, as some of the recent weather has the river in spate. Other students will have their own fieldwork to concentrate on, and I must say, I'm feeling a lot happier about progress, particularly now that the Issues essays are being redrafted for the third and, hopefully, final time. S1 are doing a bit of symbols bingo before we move on to Grid refs, and Higher are in the middle of talking about the prelim paper. I was a little disappointed with some results in the prelim, particularly considering the type of preparation that we undertook both in supported study and in class. I'm also feeling that much of the advice given before the paper was not heeded. I do not think it's any surprise that those who submitted past papers for correction and return before the prelim are generally those who have performed as they would have liked.
I'm going to get off my soapbox, partly due to the cheerier nature of the last post. Just some advice- if you have performed well in the prelim (as several of you did), please take heart from this, but also realise that there is always scope for improvement. If you had a bad day due to exam nerves, then work on your exam technique. Be tough on yourself with timing etc and the skills will come. If you had a bad day because you didn't prepare, then take the lesson from this as well. Better to do this in the prelim than the final exam...

A reminder why I do what I do...

Categories: Environmental Hazards, Geography General

I have been feeling that everything has been a bit of a slog recently, and also had the notion that some of my classes were feeling the same. This time of year always seems to present a bit of a personal brick wall, with so much of my work either marking (prelims) or prepping for exams. I know from speaking to several students that they are feeling pretty worn out after the exams too, and as time is of the essence, the opportunities to do something a little bit different seem limited in class. Furthermore, I have experienced in the past a drop in student's motivation to do something like this, almost like an extension of the tiredness hanging over from prelim revision.

Today, I went into my s4 class with not too much expectation of what was to come. I had asked for the class to write poems which captured their Mount St Helens Case Study, something which had been pretty much straight from the course textbook. I put a few conditions on the work- 10 to 14 lines only, prefereably rhyming, with some key points about the causes and effects of the eruption. I was treated to some absolutely outstanding creative efforts. To cap off the excellent recitals, two of my s4, who I think may have been inspired by the Mt St Helens youtube video, sang a duet to a well known tune to a tumultuous round of applause , or maybe that was just in my mind;-). From there, the lesson for me just got better, as we played a game as an introduction to earthquakes which involved just about every member of the class, had real participation and seemed to capture people's interest.

I'd like to thank s4 for cheering me up, for entering the spirit of the activity and for generally giving me one of the good days that remind me why I teach. I'm hoping that my budding performance artists hold true to their promise to turn their demo into a recorded piece of work... well done again!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Jenga Update

categories: Games and Quizzes
I said I would use this today with Higher. Just in case I can't get the actual game (which I'd prefer), here's an online version which gets past the school filter!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Stories from the Bing

Categories: Industry
My Papa was a miner. My Dad used to have to run down to his pit with his piece (lunch) when he was young, as he always used to forget it. My wife's Granda was also a miner. After quite a bad pit accident, instead of being given medical attention or sent home, he was given a cup of tea and, most importantly, a cigarette. After he'd calmed his nerves, he was back at the coalface within about an hour. I'm not going to continue reminiscing here. I'm only writing this because I have never been far away from the remnants of our industrial past in the area where I stay. Even still, there are two visible coal 'bings' (slag heaps) within walking distance of my house. There are semi-buried rail lines near the Clyde which were used by the pits, until recently a huge piece of derelict slag next to the main Glasgow-Motherwell track, and a memorial to an infamous mining disaster fifteen minutes on foot. That's why when we talk about an old industrial landscape, I always take it for granted that people have experienced the same things. It's seldom the case that they have, of course, and the catchment area for our school is typically a much newer suburban landscape. When I have mentioned bings in the past, I have had a job explaining what I mean. That's why tomorrow I want to show you a few images

Read this doc on Scribd: Old Industry

I would want to use this to show you some of the features of an old industrial landscape. I am, however, thinking of doing a bit of jenga if I can get my hands on it beforehand. I want to use this to demonstrate the importance of certain factors in influencing industrial location, or more importantly the effects of 'removing' these factors. Hopefully before it all topples, I'll be able to explain the concept of inertia.
I have a couple of videos which we can use to then examine how industry changes, and how new locational considerations supercede the original ones.

1. Kasungu-Answers on a Postcard?

Categories: Geography General

At the beginning of the year, I suggested that this year would be one where hopefully myself and others might enlighten ourselves more about Africa. I talked about setting up a school link and I'm really just sharing the progress I've made and trying to perhaps involve some people too. We have been linked to a school in Malawi, as I requested. It's still very early days, and haven't even got the introduction letter away yet, but we now have the name of the school, the name of the link teacher and a whole host of possible linking activities to consider. It would be nice to get pupils opinions on the kinds of things that you would want to do in partnership, and please feel free to speak to me about this or leave a comment. The school that we are linking to is situated in a place called Kasungu, which you can see on the map above. I quickly searched the internet and there is very little of note about Kasungu that is returned immediately,and I will be intrigued to learn more as our link develops. I might ask for some homework on both Malawi and Kasungu from various classes by way of slowly introducing our partner school. s4, as ever, are trying to wangle a field trip already...

2. Top 100

Categories: Industry
We are starting Industry with Higher tomorrow, and I normally use a starter similar to the one below. I noticed that Glaxo Smithkline's no longer a top 100 company, but it still works in this task. I often base this task around the wiki, again depending on surf control issues. I have tried embedding this, but keeps throwing up an error, please follow the link here and you should be able to download.

3. 'There were pieces of the mountain in your eyes...'

Categories:Environmental Hazards
I heard the song from the video below recently, and while I don't think you'll be racing to i-tunes to download it, it has led me to a reprisal of an idea I use every year during the environmental hazards topic. We are nearly finished looking at Mt St Helens, the textbook case study. We started watching a video which was interviewing survivors, and already, less than five minutes in, I've stopped the tape umpteen times to remind you about important case study points- so why not write a poem or a song to help you remember your case study better? I don't know whether to limit you to a sonnet or let you write free verse ;-)

4. Introducing Matt

Categories: s1 and s2
Plan A: Should the dreaded surf control problems of the last week have abated, I'd like to use the now fully operational wireless connection in school to ask s1 the question, 'Where's Matt?'. I really liked the activity from Rich Allaway using quikmaps. Many thanks.The Video is below, but I'll have to convert it for use in class.

Plan B: Finish Map skills leaflets ( I think I can already skip direction and the main features of a map based on what you are presenting as things you already know), plot Google Earth City stops during intermittent internet access, discussion of leaflets, start map symbols (worksheet).

Sunday, March 02, 2008

In no particular order

Categories: Rural, Advanced Higher, Environmental Hazards

There are no real themes to tonight's post, just a collection of things for various students interests and specific topics. I have just followed a link and realised that the Lynford House Farm material that Higher were working from on Friday has been posted about elsewhere, along with many other relevant rural links. I have posted before about the Higher Geography Blog, and you should really add this to your favourites for revision purposes. It would be really useful for researching on some named examples to marry with your coursework. We'll try to finish the systems diagram from the Lynford House page before completing the rest of the rural work tomorrow.

I am at some kind of crossroads with Advanced Higher just now. As far as I can see, all of the bitty coursework tasks are done, Issues and fieldwork NABs completed, the prelim is out of the way (practised past papers to death for it) and most of you have issues essay feedback which should just about get you there with this task worth 30% of the overall mark. It is really now down to you to ensure that you are a) doing your independent fieldwork, b) gathering good secondary data to support your study, and c) writing up your results/ methodology etc. It's for this reason that I'm hoping to have you out for the double period on Friday gathering data for your various topics. I also told you about a web archive that I had spotted on a site I visit and here it is. Hopefully this helps you find the pages you were after.

I'm just doing some simple revision of the Volcanoes work that you should have been completing with s4- a drag and drop Anatomy of a Volcano along with a little bit of video footage to help your case study. We'll be doing earthquakes soon, pretty convenient as many of you will have heard about the earthquake in Britain last week. It's interesting to read in the article about how frequent earthquakes actually are in this part of the world. I also found this interactive link from the article, which I liked.