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Odblog

A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Categories: Atmosphere, Advanced Higher
I am not looking forward to tomorrow - 60 reports to finish, Advanced Higher marking, a high volume period with s1 (reasons later), trip documentation and more paperwork to fill in. Like the best laid plans, I had these pencilled in for gaps in this evening, but these fell by the wayside when the roof went and we were decanted during parents night tonight. At least it's Friday... Anyway, tomorrow, Higher will be looking at Ocean currents. I normally use the write on map for this and try emulating the cell patterns in the oceans. It doesn't take long before someone realises the impact of the land masses on currents. This will take us back to where we should be after an improptu case studies bonanza today ( hopefully useful), and I've embedded a powerpoint from Ollie Bray on the topic-Check out some of Ollie's other offerings on the atmosphere topic at his slideshare page

If the rain's getting you down...



Categories: Geography General

If you, like me, are listening to the wind and rain battering the windows and walls of your house, this story might be appealing. The Chinese plan to control the weather for the Beijing Olympics-Click on the picture above to read. Incidentally, at parents night tonight, part of the school roof ripped off, just about right above my room....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ITCZ- I'ts (a) Totally Confusing Zone


Categories: Atmsophere
We have spent the last couple of periods in class trying to work out the links between global atmospheric circulation and the surface winds patterns. This was probably going fine up until we had finished with the diagram above. Here's an animation of the surface winds and the cells together. I then tried to show you first of all how the ITCZ moves throughout the year. Although we had discussed the seasonal changes in the sun's position, this still confused some people. Try to link the movement to the solstices and equinoxes we spoke of last week. I was also trying to show the movement of the ITCZ using an object on the whiteboard. I've previously taught this using the old overhead projector, and have to say, feel that this works much better. However, as these are an endangered species in the school now, I should probably have used this excellent moving graphic. A couple of years ago we tested the theories about associated weather patterns and circulation cells using webcams across the world- I could try this tomorrow in the double period, but the school server seems to block umpteen webcam sites now. We discussed the ITCZ in terms of its recurrence as an exam question today, so we'll be looking at the effect that the movement of this zone can have on air masses and weather in Africa tomorrow. I'm always a wee bit wary about trying to teach to the exam as there's no guarantee of questions surfacing, and indeed, I think it's better to be thorough across the course and develop topical areas (e.g. climate change). However, it's hard to ignore the frequency of this question, so please ask along the way if you're not getting it.
Population supported study tomorrow. Might use this if I have time...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A bit of everything I said I'd do, but never got round to



Categories: Development and Health, Atmosphere, Advanced Higher

I'm finding it harder to blog as regularly as I'd like to and as much as I promise to this school year. One of the reasons for this is that I've been doing a lot more in terms of whole school events. I led a course on how I've used my blog with classes and talked other teachers through setting up their own last week. I asked for a copy of their links, and I'm only just getting round to sharing some of them. Maybe these will be useful for some of you in the coming weeks- Mr McNeillie has set up his own class blogs for year groups-Here's an example of one. Mrs McHugh has started a Business Education blog, and there are several others which I've left on my school account. I'll try to put some more of these up over the next week.

More pressing might have been my promise to put up something about the Development indicators questions for Higher. I thought about writing an answer, but really, it would have been almost identical to what's already in Bitesize, and while reading this you can also revise the whole topic more fully before testing yourselves. After canvassing your wishes for supported study last week, we decided to look at Rural Land Resources. Some people had asked for some support on Population, so hopefully these links might be of some use- a new report on the effects of the One Child Policy and a section on Pro and Anti Natalist policies from Rich Allaway. I have been harping on about the importance of understanding the Energy Balance for atmosphere in class, and we worked on a question with a diagram similar to the one here. Be advised to have a read. For showing the changing position of the sun over a year, there is a nice animation I said I'd show you but am struggling to locate, and I also found a good time lapse video showing twenty four hours of sunlight.

Advanced Higher probably struggle to find revision resources, as much of your work is practical, but Highland Learning has some reasonable bits and pieces on it for you, and we're doing some mapping past papers tomorrow as well as discussing fieldwork results.

Lastly, I don't know what you'll think of this, probably because I'm not sure what I think about this myself. Reading Doug Belshaw recently, I followed a link to Remember the Milk. I am sure this would really help some people organise themselves (study planning?), especially chronic paper re-arrangers like myself. I'm just not sure if I'm ready to give yet another bit of my life to this machine in attempting to be a little more efficient (ironic, considering this posts' title)...

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.... ;-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008



Categories: Writing and Assessment

I found this website on my travels tonight through the del.icio.us links of Ewan McIntosh. The basic premise is to write 100 words (exactly) per day for a whole month. I have noticed Advanced Higher really toiling with word counts on essays lately, as well as remembering my own University experience, where I was terrible at keeping to the limit. I wonder if something like this a little further down the school would encourage a little more discipline when writing? It's even something that could be done in-house and modified by departments, and I'll certainly be passing the link to the English department. Starting Atmosphere with Higher tomorrow, I'll post from school about this, along with the past paper mentioned a few posts back.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Out in the field (hopefully not barefoot)



Categories: Advanced Higher, Development and Health

I'm keen to hear how Advanced Higher have fared in their fieldwork over the weekend. I'm hoping that the lure of your bed on a Saturday morning did not deter you from making a start to your Geographical Study :-0 For Neil, I think you might want to have a look at this from St Margaret Ward college. I think it was probably a younger year group that used this, but it covers many of the fieldwork methods and points of analysis that you would want to be utilising in your CBD study. For all students, remember to think about, talk about and justify your use of sampling techniques. Also, I would be trying to think before I embarked on more fieldwork, what am I hoping to find? Then, if my results are different than I expected, can I give reasons for this? Tomorrow, as well as doing some past paper work, I'll be looking at your Issues redrafts too (see cartoon above- Thanks to Dave Walker- more free to use cartoons on we blog cartoons).

Higher have almost finished Development and Health, and I aim to use tomorrow and Tuesday to look at, briefly, nutrition and Primary Health Care, with reference to the Barefoot Doctors of China. I also liked some of the examples in this UN article, detailing how traditional healers (a crude definition might be 'witch doctors') have been encouraged in Southern African countries to be the first line in Primary Health Care, using traditional herbal remedies- a little like the artemisinin that the Chinese have used for many years to combat malaria.

S4 are on a prelim countdown just now, so we will stick to past papers and working on exam technique. Remember the study skills section on the school website, remember supported study, and most importantly, remember to ask for advice if you feel you need it. Finally, remember the wiki, an easy way to complete past paper revision, get some meaningful feedback in class and enhance your own revision material.

Bear's to blame



Categories: Rural Land Resources

I'm trying to justify why I've done so little work tonight. The laptop's been on for a couple of hours which, instead of doing what I should have been, I've been watching The Discovery Channel, and Bear Grylls in particular. One of the episodes following his survival trails was filmed in the Cairngorms, and included a lot of Rural Land Resources content. How about these limitations of the landscape- night time temperatures of 10 below zero fahrenheit (about minus twenty three celsius), blizzards, peat bog, a plateau 4000 feet above sea level with steep glaciated valley slopes covered in scree? Some opportunities provided by the landscape were highlighted too- constant reference to walkers and mountaineers (active recreational pursuits are a major draw in all upland areas), conservation (made his way through large tracts of native pine forest) and forestry (unnatural lines of plantation pointed out). Have a look at his blog, he's an extremely busy guy. I couldn't help but think about my two AH pupils, who were doing some rivers field work on Saturday, every time his footing went....Right, that's almost a geographical justification for watching telly, now how can I justify the African Nations highlights? ;-)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Destination Disease



Categories: Development and Health, Population, Rivers

I am going to be working hard with Higher this week- I feel as though we're spending too long on the D&H topic, and at this stage with prelims on the horizon, we have a lot to work through in preparation. I have looked at the past paper question I gave you for homework, and some answers are well done, but in almost all cases, the indicators question could be improved. I'm just going to post some pointers on the blog (not tonight, though)-I've written individual comments, but I think this will help for revision too.
We're looking at Health tomorrow. I wonder how much you would know about common diseases in ELDC's - What is typhoid, Beri Beri, Bilharzia, Yellow fever, Leprosy etc? How many of the diseases have vaccines? How many are preventable? Can we distinguish Geographical reasons for the incidence of the diseases? I've included a couple of links in my del.icio.us page. We'll pose some of these questions so that we then have an understanding of what we know and what we need to know. I've included the disease map above, click on the picture to take you to a Travel Health map.
Noel Jenkins and others on the sln site have highlighted some really useful audio clips on the BBC. I browsed through these earlier and liked the population and rivers clips, and thought that these would be very useful in helping revise for aforementioned prelim. I'll mention them in class tomorrow for your use, but may draw on these for something different in supported study.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

From Rostow to Rio

Categories: Development and Health
Behind as we are in terms of where I'd like to be in the course, I think it's important that we spend one more period looking at development alone. This includes everything from indicators, through Rostow, development variations between and within countries, and also finalising our Brazil case study. There are some useful self tests on bitesize, and I'll probably utilize these tomorrow. I'll also work on looking not just at regional variations within Brazil, but variations in wealth within cities, something covered by another link on bitsize too. Remember, supported study starts on the 23rd.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Malaria Clock

Categories: Development and Health
Last year, I did an exercise with my Higher class to show the speed of spread of diseases. We used AIDS as the example, but this year, I have chanced upon The Malaria Clock . Now, I'm no mathematician, but at a a quick glance, if the figures are accurate, it would seem that every 10 seconds leads to 100 new cases, and in the space of a period, roughly 270 people will have died from the disease. I'm going to try to incorporate a similar activity to last year into the lesson using the malaria figures, as it worked quite well.
Before this, we'll have to finish NIC's (most of the work completed yesterday), and Development variations within a country, again relying on last years lesson plans.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

This year - Africa


Categories: Devlopment and Health, Geography General

I was at a family do on New Year's night, and got roped into a game after dinner-several questions, different categories, playing in teams etc. One of the questions asked about a country, to which the response came 'Africa'. If I had a pound for the amount of times I've heard Africa referred to as a country, I'd be a rich man, but I'm not downplaying that I am more ignorant about the continent than I would like to be. One of the things I'll be doing at school this year is working on establishing an African link school. We have already contacted some organisations, and are hopeful of a Malawi link being in place with some structured curricular support as part of the package . I'm really looking forward to the partnership, and hope it will be rewarding for pupils to share experiences.

I'm taking this opportunity to talk about Africa, as it will surface in a lot of the work we'll cover in classes this year too. We have spent some time talking about Sub Saharan Africa with Higher. There is so much going on here just now-some of you may be aware of recent events in Kenya-that I think it's worth trying to keep in touch with news here. I'll try to establish over the next few days why African countries are significantly behind their South East Asian counterparts on the Development curve. It's also worth checking The Higher Geog Blog, use the labels to find your topic. Lots of Development related news items that I have used in class in the past have first been sourced from here. We'll also see, tomorrow I think, probably the most bizarre mobile phone advert your ever likely to...


Can you tell what it is yet?


Categories: Development and Health

I am going to use this picture tomorrow with s4. If you click on the picture, you'll get a link to one of the many relevant stories for this topic which have surfaced on the bbc website recently. I'm going to ask you to think about whether this type of solution to a problem is useful for most of the areas where it might be used. Another story which I caught brings elements of the Atmosphere Higher Unit together with Development and Health-Read it here.

Auld Lang Syne etc etc etc


Categories: Geography General

Happy New Year to all students and any other readers. Hope the holiday has been a restful one, pity the snow here lasted for all of half a day, although the BBC weather on TV just now suggests we might catch a bit tomorrow morning. Back to work tomorrow, I'm hoping to put some bits and pieces for tomorrow on the blog now. For now, a big cheers to you all for 2008!