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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Friday, September 18, 2009

Do Farmers twitter and facebook?

Categories: Rural
I have an s4 class who I share with Miss Gordon. I only see them once a week and sometimes because of that, continuity in the lessons can be a bit difficult. On the other hand, there's always an opportunity to do something a little different while my colleague does all the hard work ;) We have
been studying rural geography and, having been suitably inspired by ideas and links courtesy of Tony Cassidy and Alan Parkinson, I thought I would have a go at two things. I suggested to the class that we try 'talking' to a farmer through twitter, an idea Tony had used when studying Hurricane Katrina with a group. They seemed keen on this, and we arranged it a week or so after discussing the possibility. I was unsure how the exercise would work and whether I would have too much waiting throughout the period, so I set the class a note taking task throughout the exercise. Fortunately, Gerry Chalmers, our farming friend from Norfolk and a close mate of Alan ;) had provided the answers to some questions we had sent in advance:
The class took notes on a variety of things pre-interview, such as his views on diversification, conservation and the recession, all the while discussing why he might have certain views or have made certain decisions. The writing wasn't onerous and we mostly talked about the responses.
When we had our live part of the discussion, there were a few things I noted. It could be quite stop-start due to the lag in responses, and with the benefit of hindsight, something like twitcam or tinychat would maybe be more immediate. That said, when I tried to wrap up the questioning, I got a volley of unanswered ones from the class, so it would appear that despite my fears, the activity did keep them involved and interes
ted. The note taking also helped keep a focus during quiet times. I also noticed that this activity allowed us to a) go into much more depth than the text based resources allowed us, and b) we learned a lot of good up to the minute examples of changes in farming which could definitely be used in exam responses. Thanks to Angus Willson, who took screen dumps of the whole conversation in chronological order (although it might not come out like this!) Here are the screenshots:-

I was really pleased with the outcome of the exercise, and it seems to me that twitter, used in the correct way, is a great way to get characters of interest to the education of the students into the classroom. Something I'll definitely try again.
So, where does facebook fit in? Well, last Friday, after arranging our discussion for the following week with the farmer, we looked at what was happening to rural villages. The class have been studying France and the Paris Basin, so we moved south a little bit to Montperroux and watched a video looking at the development of dormitory settlements along new transport links. Tony had a great idea during the summer around 'What if they were on Facebook?' and it involved creating a mock facebook/bebo/myspace for anything/anyone that a class might be studying. I decided to set a ahomework to create a profile for a typical resident of Montperroux and it was really interesting to see the mix of characters that were created, from old to young, and how accurate the portrayals could be. We collected them through edmodo and I am either too tired or not smart enough to remember how to make this work public, but as soon as I work it out, I will share some excellent work on here. In the meantime, Tony, if you want a look, give me a shout and I'll send you some of the files :)


At 5:49 pm, Anonymous Tony Cassidy said...

Sounds like a brilliant lesson, look forward to seeing the Facebook profiles.

At 7:36 pm, Blogger Kenny O'Donnell said...

Thanks for the comment, Tony, think I should show them the work of the Seaford kids though-outstanding!A great exercise, thanks for sharing the idea


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