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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Favela folk song follow up

Categories: s1 and s2
Recently, I asked s1 to write a song/poem based on their perceptions of favelas. This was purely based on photographs from flickr, their own thoughts and a very limited class discussion. I felt that this was important, firstly so that I did not influence their perceptions and, secondly, it would give me something to work with when talking about favela improvements in places like Rocinha. Overwhelmingly, the students tales were of hardship, poverty, poor hygiene etc with escapism in the stories of most. I uploaded a couple of the songs to my podcast. Amy and Emma thought that people would be forced to live in dirty conditions and would most likely have to work very hard just to survive. Sian, Megan, Katie and Kate reflected in a bluesy tone on dirty streets , child labour and interestingly, highlighted school and family as a form of escape. Touch of the giggles at the end, but a very good effort :-)
We have since completed our work on favelas, including building our own and looking at changes in favelas. I am sure if we were now to revisit the folk song, many of the same themes would remain but there would probably be some changes to the girls outlook. A really enjoyable activity with some excellent participation. Well done to all involved!

Return to Paris

Categories: Urban
Here are some of Miss Green's s3 Paris models. This was taken from a succesful exercise last year, and the quality is really pleasing :D

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Advanced, Higher, Intermediate, you know who you are....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Temporary diversion for s1

Categories: s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards

With exam leave, I haven't really been blogging much as I've been concentrating on lots of other things that needed catching up on. Remember to contact me here, on the wiki or, who knows, maybe even in school in person should you have anything on your mind regards the exam... My poor s1 class will have my sole and undivided attention until such times as you do ;-)

Speaking of s1, we started looking at Tropical Storms on Friday, if I'm honest, simply because it's topical and nothing to do with a progression in the course. The video clip posted previously along with the Gulf of Mexico resource certainly inspired a lot more discussion than I had anticipated, but I'm not complaining. I did pre-empt the usual question about jumping in a car and driving around in the eye to avoid a hurricane's effects!

I'd really like to give the class some research time tomorrow and Thursday after we finish the video to find out more about Cyclone Nargis, which continues to dominate news along with the Chinese earthquake of last week. I found some google earth files reading back through the Google Earth blog which could be used beforehand.

We have already completed a short homework, leaning on an idea I think I heard at a talk by Alan Parkinson about three years ago, where students have borrowed a quote related to the disaster to frame in a speech bubble. I'd like this to be spread over display work. I'm also toying with the idea of some of the groups displaying their work in a wiki, but this is dependent on which provider is unblocked this week! I've been experimenting with wetpaint tonight. Maybe it's just because I'm used to pbwiki and wikispaces, but it seems less functional than the other two and I think s1 would maybe find it a little inaccessible. Anyway, Thursday looms...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Myanmar Cyclone

Categeories: s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards

This is just a short news clip that I'm using with s1 to introduce Tropical Storms. Hope to generate a bit of discussion to ascertain what you know already about these wild weather events.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My room, the fahrenheit trap

Categories: Geography General

The heat was definitely affecting performance levels today - and the students were lackadaisical too ;-) Seriously, it was hard to keep focused in my oven of a room, and tomorrow is apparently more of the same. If there isn't the planned mass migration from classrooms into the school grounds that was scheduled for today, I might push for some work outside.

I'm trying hard to keep revision fresh ( a contradiction in terms?) yet still manage the past paper revision that students demand at this time of year. I think with s4 and Higher, I'll split some past papers around the class in small groups and put forward the students as teacher. When answers are presented, I and others can put in their tuppence worth. I might also, if time permits, show the red pen black pen technique, which a few of my students two years ago used with a bit of success.

I think with the benefit of hindsight, I have allowed pupils to rely too much on written notes etc this year. In the past four years, I have consciously tried to make people think more and copy less, but this year with both Higher and s4, I have done this only to be asked afterwards for a note and have succumbed. This is partly responsible for the courses taking longer this year than before, and I have to say that I don't think my classes are any better prepared than before. I wonder what students or other teachers feel about this? Is it better to learn by solving a problem yourself or do you feel an extensive note is something beneficial for certain parts of the course? I will consider this more in my homely furnace (hot and stuffy in winter also) tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Revision and Revision Breaks...

Categories: Geography General, Other
Should have done a lot more tonight, but spent much of my time looking at two things, one work related and one not (although I'm sharing both). Richard Allaway is a name which has appeared in these pages several times before, and he has produced a handy revision question bank. There are some sections that we don't do, but if both Higher and Intermediate look hard enough, you'll find some relevant options for your own revision. There are also command words highlighted, something I talked in detail about to s4 after recent problems with describe and explain commands, and therefore something which will help you in your exam preparations.
The other less relevant, but more time consuming discovery is something that you should certainly leave until you've got some downtime planned! Colleagues might be interested, and maybe students who have planned breaks in study...I know youtube is like a students' virtual second home, and I am also aware that some of you have used last.fm . I've been playing my last.fm profile through this youtube mashup, which basically allows you to create your own MTV channel. It's not entirely foolproof, as I got some strange results, some repetition and a couple of unintended gems, like Tony Blair doing The Clash. On the whole, I liked it, and it was funny seeing some of my old favourite bands in video . Give it a try when you've got some time to spare.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Favela folk song

Categories: s1 and s2, Geography General

This is another reflective posts, students feel free to ignore (must be the time of year...).There are lots of songs about Favelas in Brazil, several of them bleak, hard hitting and/or political. Seu Jorge is one such artist who wrote a song called 'I am Favela' (scroll down page for lyrics). Some of the lines such as 'The favela is not only a refuge of thugs', 'They only have the right to a low salary and a simple life' and '..truth doesn't appear in the newspapers' cover some of the realities and misconceptions that we carry. As part of our work on favelas, I have asked s1 to imagine themselves living within one, and to write a song about their experience in pairs. I showed some images from flickr, including the happy family scene above, and posed several questions. What do they see from their front door? Are they happy, frightened, hopelessly depressed, proud? Do they think about leaving one day? What do they imagine would be different about their lives? Although I shouldn't be, as they are world's apart in their everyday experiences, I am always quite surprised about how little some pupils truly appreciate the depths of poverty that people can live in. I am equally intrigued in the simplicity of the thought that if people are poor, they must be sad. Hopefully, this exercise will help lay the foundations for the rest of the work we do, particularly about Rocinha and Dona Marta.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

People as moving sand dunes

Categories: Biosphere

At last, the Higher course is finished. I was pretty pleased with our sand dune activity today, which I'm just going to detail here should I want to use it again next year:-

Three groups of terms on cards, starting with Dunes

Embryo, Fore, Yellow, Dune slack, Grey, Climax vegetation

Then, another group of cards with conditions,

Highest/Lowest PH, Windblown sand, Highest humus content, Little/ Complete ground cover, Dry, On/Near Water Table, High Soil moisture content

etc etc. Final Group are plants:

Restharrow, Couch Grass, Marram, Buckthorn, Sea Rocket, Reeds , Creeping Willow, Bluebell

and so on. Task begins with organising pupils with 'dune' cards into a 'transect' from sea to shore at the front of the classroom. After the correct order has been established, the 'conditions' are invited to attach themselves roughly to the correct 'dune' and finally the 'plants' card holders have to do likewise. When this is done, I put the Embryo and Fore Dune groups together, the Yellow dune and dune slack and the grey/climax as a pair. The groups were then asked to appoint a scribe who would also be allowed to question group members to create a summary of their area of the transect ( considering things like PH, salinity, humus, water content, plant adaption etc) before a member of the group then presents the summary to the class. It was a quick and easy way for me to see if the class got sand dune succession, which thankfully, they very much did! Well, the past papers tomorrow might tell me a little more about this...