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Odblog

A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Podcasting for you?

Categories: Other
This one is for any student reading. Here is a post on Mr Alexander's blog about a project that we are working on together to tie in with the new website that Mr Harris is developing. We would really appreciate your ideas and comments regarding the nature of any potential pupil produced school podcast. Comment either on Mr Alexander or on this blog here. Many thanks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Asian Tigers, Sub Saharan situations and Portuguese help!

Categories: Development and Health

Looks like we (finally) have class in a box working. If we do, I'd like to get Higher working on a voicethread. I don't know how this will cope with a high usage, but seeing as schools can buy packages, I'm hoping this won't be a problem. I haven't had any problems using this with 30 s1's, but the s2 exercise kept freezing. I'm hoping that Higher students might even respond to each other with a bit of debate on the thread, assuming there are no technical hitches. Re: the speech, apologies about the tinny sound. I tried to upload the audio after pre-recording it, but you need something other than a free account for that. This is just voicethread recording off my computer playback.
I have been having some conversations with a Portuguese geographer, Pedro Damião, who has also suggested the Brazil HDI atlas for us to have a look at. I probably won't get the chance to do this before Christmas (getting an IT job in school for a download might be difficult) in class and there is also the minor problem of the atlas being in Portuguese , but I'm going to have a play with this and maybe use it when we are revising later in the year. Many thanks, Pedro!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Journey to London, Journey to the White House, Journey to the off switch

Categories: Geography General, Games and Quizzes
I have the feeling that Miss Armstrong thinks I spend too much time on the web, and despite my protestations, it has been confirmed tonight that

i am a geek

but only just! Don't know how to feel about this, think I'll go and have a rant in ASCII ;-) I suppose even taking the test suggests a certain level. As readers, you are entitled to be a little more private in your geekiness :-)Think it's maybe time to switch off the laptop during the upcoming holidays...
Anyway, moving on swiftly... Liked Obama's journey in Google Earth via one of my favourite blogs. It seems he has had quite a life of achievement, I just hope it continues in office. Also, time lapse movies seem to be back in again: London to Glasgow in 5 minutes, via Judith R on sln. Not blogging much about tomorrow's work, nothing too inspired, I'm afraid. Trying to push Higher through as much as possible before we break, and all other classes are in the middle of activities which last more than a period.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spirited Away (a whole class on Friday, would you believe...)

Categories: Development and Health, Advanced Higher, s1 and s2
Last week before Santa. Higher were using posterous in class on Friday. I'm glad we did this task as I now have a better insight into where we need to fill the gaps. Using the maps in the previous post, most of you have an idea of factors which influence development (Climate, relief, vegetation, communications, trade etc ), but don't quite fully develop your reasons for differences in development within Brazil. I've put a general comment at the top of the page and have started leaving individual comments on the answers. Please have a go at re-drafting your answers after tomorrow's lesson and from the comment feedback. We'll probably do a bt of drag and drop organisation for an answer to this which I'll paste into posterous for you. I then want to look at differences between countries, and I'm going to start by referring back to the demographic transition and doing a lving graph, but not directly about population, about this:

Many thanks to Richard Allaway for this. S1 are doing their map skills test (this should probably be made a little more challenging), while s2 are hopefully going to watch Spirited Away over a couple of periods. This is not only fine Japanese Anime, but visits several themes that we have covered in the Japan topic or have still to cover, such as the tensions between the traditional and the modern, alienation in a new place (remember Lost in Translation- Thanks Tony) and something I'd like you to look for, any environmental theme.
Finally, Advanced Higher, hmmm, where were you on Friday? I'm hoping that I'll be receiving the draft of the issues which should have been in with you on that most mysterious of days... We'll be processing more of our field data tomorrow, should you remember where the class is :-0

Friday, December 12, 2008

Regions and Development

Categories: Development and Health
This is for Higher period 1 and 2




































Thursday, December 11, 2008

Posterous, prep free lesson and picture poser



Categories: Development and Health

I have a feeling that after a heavy duty Wednesday of past paper analysis, Higher could probably do with something a bit different. We might be able to do this if I can get access to a PC lab. I've been looking tonight at a really easy way to blog through something called posterous, which, believe it or not, I found out about when reading Stephen Fry's thoughts on IT matters (he is very connected!). If this is not filtered, it would be a good way to respond to tomorrows work, which involves a bit of google earth and a lot of Brazil, as we look at regional inequalities in development.

Wycombe High School have been a bit of a saviour for s4 tomorrow, as they have given us our AIDS lesson. My s2 today did not get the chance to add to their voicethread as we did brain gym and sang loyalty songs in tribute to Japanese industry (don't ask), but I'll hopefully put the s1 example here tomorrow or at the weekend. I say tomorrow, as I might have a bit of time during your assessment...

Lastly, wonder if anyone knows what the picture above is showing?

Pictures tell stories

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com
Categories: Other
I am finding the ideas of Tom Barrett very inspiring at the moment. He has used Google Earth in some fantastic ways and through his twitter microblog, I learned about voicethread too. Tonight, he highlighted another nice site, which I wish I had known about when s1 were doing their Scotland haikus for Malawi. PicLits is a nice way of combining poetry and place, but can also help with writing by using keywords which can be dragged and dropped. From a geographical point of view, it would be a really simple way to promote understanding of landscapes through literacy. Tried it out above, just click on the picture for a two liner about coasts.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pupil tectonics help teach development- moving countries ;-)



Categories: Development and Health

OK, last one for tonight, the eyes are still very sore and feeling a bit flu-ey. We started Development and Health today in the Higher. I gave 8 countries to 8 individuals and asked them to stand at the front of the room. The rest of the class had to organise these countries in order of development. We had Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Colombia, USA, Israel, Ireland and Russia. Our order as we organised it was USA, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Israel, Vietnam and Colombia. I was interested to know how the class had chosen these as I had given absolutely no data. Inevitably, economic reasons were prominent. Most people thought that the USA was the richest of the group, although there was quite a bit of debate about where Israel should be. Another major factor seemed to be conflict in deciding the order. Several of the class placed Israel low down the list because of continued problems re: Palestine, and others thought that places such as Colombia would have internal conflict due to a 'war on drugs'. Others in the class pointed out that the USA, despite topping our list, was presenly embroiled in two costly conflicts. I then used some indicators from te CIA world factbook, with each country being anonymous and the class having to match to the correct place. We used GDP per capita, life expectancy, adult literacy, military expenditure as % of GDP and public debt as % GDP. What was surprising was that if we had only used GDP as our measure, Ireland would have just edged the USA. In general, students were not too far away with their matches and from this we spoke briefly about the different indicator types before beginning a bit of work from the texts.

I'd like to continue this tomorrow by looking purely at economic indidcators, starting with a quick buzz round the class about careers-what jobs do people see themselves doing and what you'd be earning. I'd like to then look at where this would put you in terms of wealth, before looking at parts of this gapminder presentation relating to wealth. We'll then look at the problems of using economic data, with particular reference to GNP.

Monday, December 08, 2008

We love Japanese electronics - More voicethread inspired by Tony

Categories:s1 and s2


Putting this on here to share our results from tomorrows lesson. The thread is public, I have allowed comments on it, although they are moderated. Many thanks to Tony Cassidy for the original idea

Using voicethread to plan work



Categories: s1 and s2

I tried my first class voicethread today and this is really just a bit of reflection. The context for using it with my group was to allow students to have an input into a country study of Brazil in terms of what they learn. This was part of another piece of work I'm doing with other teachers in the local authority about curriculum design. I wanted to negotiate with students around some central themes. These were as follows

1) Brazil's physical geography

2) Urban Brazil

3) People and culture in Brazil

4) Exploring the Amazon

There are links between some of the themes, and we'll look at these later. I started the period with a bit of Brazilian music from last.fm. This is a really nice online music service that allows you to tailor listening to your tastes. I searched samba and bossa nova and played some 'radio station' randomly selected tunes. This was just a bit of scene setting, but as usual seemed to work well as students did a short brainstorm about Brazil, telling me what they already know. I deliberately tried to steer this away from the purely geographical. For instance, every time I've done this, football gets mentioned. There is a lot of geography in this. A quick glance at a picture of the Brazilian national team in comparison to the Scotland team shows far more cultural diversity. I've used the roots of club football to explain this diversity too, e.g Palmeiras have strong links to the Italian community, Portuguesa to those of Portuguese heritage etc, so I'm quite happy for students to tell me about things they think are unconnected to geography.

After we had shared some of our knowledge, I set the four themes out on the blackboard (I still have one!), while setting up the voicethread on the interactive whiteboard. After explaining that I wanted pairs to come up with at least one question that they would like to ask about each of the four themes, I also suggested that they think of their own questions over and above these themes. I said that the voicethread was just another way to share these questions, but also hopefully to answer them. It would be nice if every time we answered these questions throughout the topic, students could edit the voicethread themselves. I also felt that this was another way to engage students in the topic, by using a different medium to interact. I think that the exercise was succesful, and here are the reasons:

1) Students could choose the way in which they participated in the topic- through text or audio which will be shared, or simply by participating in the class discussion and pair work (ongoing while individuals took their turn at the voicethread)

2) It was a chance to celebrate other classes work. The image that we based our discussion around in voicethread was a tourist brochure created by two girls in the previous rotation which was very good at presenting the positive views of Brazil

3) As this was quite a fast moving exercise, students did not browse each other comments or responses. This meant that some people asked the same questions, and allowed me to define the classes' areas of interest. There were several questions about the rainforest and crime in cities, probably as a result of the surprising (for me) amount of knowledge that this class had about street children.

4) The response are helping me think about approaches with this class. Lots of questions about animals in the rainforest had me thinking about 'making animals' as a way of bringing in the physical geography of the Amazon. The questions about crime meant that I would probably be able to succesfully use a 5 W's activity that I trialled with the last rotation focused on an edited episode of City of Men.

5) The responses also had the reassuring aspect of telling me that I don't have to reinvent the wheel. One of the things that my curriculum group discussed was whether approaching a topic in this manner would create lots of extra work. I have to say that, although this is only one example, I don't think I'll have to significantly re-resource, I'll maybe just have to change the priority in which I use my existing ones.

Of course, I should also reflect on some of the areas which could be developed in terms of using voicethread too. So here goes...


  • It would work much better if students had their own individual logins, and could take more ownership of their work. I know there are school packages and this is something to look at, as it would be a much more dynamic exercise

  • It would be more helpful perhaps if students had more time to think through the questions they wished to ask and then respond from home. Some took a little 'stagefright' when faced with a microphone and struggled to articulate fully their questions, while others declined to talk

  • Some might ask what the difference between this and a normal class discussion or a jotter based exercise would be. I've already suggested why I think there is value in using a different medium, but no doubt others would not share this view.

I'll hopefully be able to share this, but I would like my other s1 to add to it tomorrow. There are lots of ways in which voicethread could be used which are far more 'connecting', and I'm looking forward to using it in class in the coming months.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Tattoo you (but mostly voicethread...)

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

Been using voicethread tonight, which just looks fantastic. I can see being able to use this so effectively for tutorial purposes, but tomorrow I'm going to bring it into s1 to find out what students would like to learn in their next topic, a country study. This will be part of a wider activity where I'm trying to find out what you already know, how you'd like to learn about your new topic and how we could share our work. This will also obviously be one way in which we can share. Although I'm giving you some control over this, there will be certain aspects of the country study which I'll want to make sure we do too, so please try to think of some questions within these areas as well. I can think of a great use for this for s2 within the next few periods, so I will probably show you how to find your way around the page at some point tomorrow. It would be good if we could buy into the school package for this to give you more control over its use. Aside from that, it's a breakdown of what I'm looking for in your Tokyo written work.

Advanced Higher have a load of field results, and I'm basically going to put the questions back to you-How would you use the results if this was your own enquiry? Are the results meaningful or flawed? What possible hypotheses could they be used to test? We have already agreed that there is an obvious statistical test purely from the number of samples and some of the data types, but I want you to think about other things-maps, graphical techniques etc

Higher start a new topic tomorrow, Development and Health. For the last two years I've used a starter which involves some members of the class representing countries and being directed into an order by other class members. We then discuss the reasons for the order before leading into development indicators. I'll do this again, but I'm also going to try to give you back some of your past papers on population.

And finally, do you know where the Great Land of the Tattoed is? And if you do, should this man move there? More on this in a silly starter for some classes tomorrow.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Human Behaviour


Categories: Development and Health
Weekly installment for s4-all about human influence on levels of development. We played the Trade Game last week and I believe Miss Gordon has been doing an ICT exercise with you for the last two periods. I'm going to come back to the game to see what you learned. How did you trade? What made trade difficult? How did groups increase their chances of being succesful traders? What did you find unfair? Was there any evidence of cheating? How was it dealt with? What was the role of the bank? Were they even handed with all groups? What happened if you were in debt to the bank? Many questions about this factor to help us understand the role of trade relationships in development. I'd then like to show you a video clip without commentary. It's very current, and I'd like you to think about what is happening in the clip,where it's happening, why it's happening, who it involves and what's it got to do with development?

Stolen Seats?


Categories: Advanced Higher
...never even knew I'd lost it ;-) Had a walk today which was very useful for work in the remainder of the term. We took a lot less time than I thought, probably because the temperatures were hovering around zero leading to a, how should I put it, brisk walk. As we had quite a few variables to survey, I took one of the survey sheets too and looked at residential type. I was a bit surprised knowing a lot of the surrounding areas along our route that this was pretty uniform, mainly late 1800s/early1900s. This may be a myth in my mind, but I'm sure I remember doing social geography at Uni, and the lecturer saying that this was fairly common to create a facade for the wealthy merchants, making their journeys to work more palatable. I may have imagined this during my militant phase...must dig out the old books. I'll use the photos in class, probably not the field sketches (oh dear...:-0) and will find mapping/ stats tests/ data representation techniques for all of our results. Easy, non?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Walk out to Winter


View Larger Map
Categories: Advanced Higher
Providing it's not whiteout conditions (which very unfortunately looks increasingly unlikely), Advanced Higher and I are doing quite a bit of urban fieldwork tomorrow. The route takes us from the outskirts of the city to the fringe of the CBD. We had a look at a number of maps re: economic and social data from an excellent website before deciding if our route was suitable i.e. not too uniform in characteristics. We've also decided on a systematic sample roughly every 1/3 of a mile giving us 15 sample points (wonder why!). The variables we will be looking at will be environmental quality, traffic, residential type and land use-maybe a couple of others, but it's a small group. We'll also do some field sketching and photography along the way. I'm hoping this finally lights the fire under some for your own geographical study ;-) If we get time, which is unlikely, I'd like to have a look at the riverfront in Glasgow along to Glasgow Harbour. Failing needing the moonboots, still looks like it'll be a cold one, so I've already google mapped the coffee shops! We can do so much with these results, including some mapping, graphs and statistical techniques. There is also a fieldwork question in the Advanced Higher paper now, and this means we will have covered both physical and human fieldwork techniques in significant detail. Now all I need to do is hit the photocopier early tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Freeze!



Categories: Population

Nice n' icy today. Thought the ice might have thawed at 3.30 until I saw a pupil going by at 50 miles an hour on the path across from my room. The cold is making my brain work much slower, as this post has taken ages. Keeping with the train theme from the last post, I'd like to do a stations activity with Higher tomorrow (sorry, terrible pun). I've used these very successfully in the past, but not in recent months, and feel this is the perfect opportunity to do end of unit revision, signpost any problems with knowledge and understanding an break up the double period in a way that will hopefully hold your concentration. Some ideas so far:-

1) a living graph of the DTM, but on the blackboard with post its. Once you have sorted the statements, I'll ask you to justify why you have placed statements in certain stages of the model

2) Wiki on the Whiteboard. Students to collaborate on population questions, then ask a question themselves.

3) An audio activity- probably based around Pyramids, students rather than labelling a diagram sticking the audio directly onto powerpoint.

4) Dominoes/ Taboo words

5) Key words/ Command words activity- Understanding exam questions and outlining key elements of the response

6) Traffic lighting your topic- This will raise your awareness of what you need to study, but will also help me shape your revision

7) One Child Policy as a text message

8) Population distribution as a mnemonic (remember joglab?). This was a topic where we all did individual or pair work. It would be nice to bring it all together with an easy reminder.

This should prepare us for period 2, where I'd like to combine some past paper work with recording homework exercises from a while ago now for woices or vocaroo use. Remember, please feel free to comment on the wiki or here on the blog with any questions you have that you have either forgotten to ask or are perhaps reluctant to ask in class. Thanks to Don Solo (!) for the photo.

Monday, December 01, 2008

新幹線では、私のクラスの旅

Categories: s1 and s2
Hmmm, we had some unforeseen problems with the bullet train in class. For some of the time the pen seemed to be drawing lines which disappeared as soon as it lifted from the board. Only problem is that the lines reappeared in the final animation, hence the big purple blob!. The other factor was time. No chance to involve everyone here, so very limited. However, from Top Gear, we managed to dig out the Ferris Wheel, cable cars, the steep relief, Fuji, Tall buildings and a particluar scene where homes were really crammed onto a very small strip of hillside. Post title can be translated through Frengly

Here's home in another life...



Categories: Geography General, s1 and s2

I was put on the back foot today when an s2 student asked me which country in the world I would most like to see. She had been telling me about someone who had visited Canada and Alaska, and when asked the question, I realised I had never really thought about this. I had talked of cities I would like to see, but never a country. After a few seconds thought, I answered New Zealand. When asked why, I instantly answered that there was just such a variety of physical geography to see in a (relatively) small place. This happily and completely unexpectedly coincided with the news that Google have released streetview for New Zealand (via Google Earth blog). I spent about half an hour going around some of the street view locations in Google Earth and one of the things that is really noticeable is the lack of people in lots of the panoramas. The other thing is how big the landscapes are-big skies, big mountains, big seas. Spend some time on Google Earth exploring streetview for a place that's important to you. Probably an ideal follow up to s1 vocaroo task. The image above is of Mount Cook.