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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Thursday, January 29, 2009

From rice to Rio

Categories: Rural, s1 and s2
This pdf file looks good for the Green Revolution. Would like to finish this tomorrow with Higher and then do some random tasking (not an Austin Powers reference) through classtools name generator to check case study understanding. Might go back to the voicethread on Brazil with s1 to check how far we've come before looking at favela improvement schemes. Here is a nice alternative to the 'City of Men' clip, which had many negative images of the favela, just a short one

Active Learning?

Categories: Environmental Hazards
Wondering if s4 will have enough energy left after prelims for a bit of Kung Fu tomorrow? Many thanks to Adam Brewer and GATM

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An idea shared is an idea halved

Categories: Rural,s1 and s2
We used the classroom in a box today to start looking at intensive peasant farming. Students tried using the compfight search, which was OK under my log in, but not under their own (flickr blocked for students), so we had to adapt things slightly which was a shame. We should by now know what terms such as Padi, Sawah, Bund and threshing mean, and tomorrow, I'm going to let students loose on the case studies themselves via this presentation from here - not sure of the school this is from, so apologies for lack of credit. This will hopefully allow me to finish marking the NABs as I'd like to get these back to students tomorrow. Advanced Higher are out doing work for their studies, and I'm hoping for some kind of reporting back tomorrow.
In case s2 can't access the next homework, I've put your powerpoint here. This is another shameless steal of someone else's idea, this time Tom Barrett's who used it with teachers to compile uses for flip cameras. We're using it to try to learn a bit about drought and desertification independent of the core work. Hopefully as you will be seeing the presentation grow, it will give you some ideas of your own. We can't access google docs in school, so I'm asking you to either bring me a slide, or send it through edmodo (one already in, well done Vivienne!)

I'll add your slides when you send them and then let you give some feedback yourselves. Anyway, speaking of edmodo, off to do first round of marathon marking session :-(

Monday, January 26, 2009

Yesterday for today, now tomorrow

Categories: s1 and s2, Rural
I have only recently found out about cooliris ( see what it does here), which is a really cool way to view images on your computer. I would love to have this at school, but as its a download, might have to settle for less. I've used flickr slideshows, which are nice, but I found this site tonight, which searches through flickr and shows a larger number of images in your screen than say a google or a flickr image search. I might use this tomorrow with Higher, as we're looking at our last agricultural system, intensive peasant farming. We could pull out some pictures which would help us think about the inputs, processes and outputs, the field layout, the settlement pattern and the population density before using the booklet to piece it all together.
With s1 and s2 it's a bit of what you should have done today. s2 spent more time on the Tundra questions than I had planned but, to be fair, in hindsight my timings were a bit unrealistic. We'll do the hot desert starter after a homework task intro. s1 will probably do the 'City of Men' 5 W's activity. I thought this worked reasonably well the last time we used it with a class, so we'll use it again tomorrow.

Trial slideboom comments (with quirks)

Categories: Rural
I spent all but 5 minutes of the period doing a marking activity with Higher today and we annotated a slide from a real answer on slideboom. As I went to save this, my PC shut down, so I've tried to remember what we wrote and added a comment under it with all your recommendations from your own case study of the Great Plains. This doesn't show up on the blog post, so just visit the presentation on slideboom and click on what appears to be a blank space beside the graphic comment below it :-S

p.s. we also thought that the example of paintballing would get a mark, but I couldn't re-edit this, sorry...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Scorching blinding sun above, below (but not outside)

Categories: s1 and s2, Rural, Advanced Higher

Mentioned slideboom in the last post and have been looking at some more of its features. It seems that you can highlight and annotate your presentation and then save the changes online. This would be good at this time of year for working through exam style answers, inviting class feedback and then marking that feedback on the presentation. If I get time tomorrow, I'll put a couple of rural answers up for Higher and then share the slides here.
s2 are hopefully going to start looking at hot deserts tomorrow. Probably no better way to start this than by using one of your own piclits, can't remember whose:

I think we'll spend a bit of time using some of the very descriptive terms on the picture to open up the topic, and I've also got a collaborative homework for just over a weeks time for you to consider on people and drought. I think we'll maybe try and do a bit about Dubai while doing deserts too, but later in the topic :-)

Advanced Higher started looking at Pearsons Product on Friday and I'd forgotten how lengthy the workings of this can be. We were using the resources on Highland Learning, but with the sound off and the slide timings taken out so that we could work through the test as a group, so it probably makes sense to do the same with linear regression. A maths and statistics university student laughed at me on Friday when I told him we were doing this. I'm not quite sure how to take that!

Finally, s1 are using the ideas behind another lingo2word task from a while ago to explain the contradiction of Brazilian cities, skyscrapers next to the slums. This part of the unit culminates with building our own favelas, so I'll tentatively introduce this tomorrow too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Slideshow sideshow

Categories: Rural, Advanced Higher, s1 and s2

Trying slideboom out, as scribd is displaying nothing but empty boxes on school network (some problem with Java, I've been told). This powerpoint has lots of notes attached if you go to the slideboom page, but the way you'll (Higher) be looking at it tomorrow will rely on your own interpretation of the images to help you understand this agricultural system. This might be something we do in small groups.
I never got round to doing Pearsons product today with Advanced Higher, but we'll cover this tomorrow. I will need your T tasks and other assessments in your folders this week, as you've already had quite a bit of grace on this one :-0
s2, or some of you have submitted your first edmodo homework. I am pleased at the quick responses after the class just learning how to use it today. I'm sure you'll agree it's pretty intuitive and easy to find your way around. I'm really pleased with the quality, but you'll see that from the individual feedback I gave you. I just want to re-iterate it on these pages too as sometimes it's a bit too easy to forget the praise during class time. Well done!
s1 today had a lesson which I'll be repeating with tomorrow's class. We started the period with a random name picker from classtools. I asked questions based on the work we've done on Brazil so far. I introduced some silly forfeits, kind of based around the idea of John Davitt's learning generator. These weren't punishment, just another way for students to think about the topic. I have a limerick about tribal lifestyles, a Rio rap, a text message with 140 characters, and a Portuguese song and dance about Brazilian cities to look forward to. Children seemed to enjoy the activity, if only for the random nature of the tasks! We then spent some time finishing a letter about Amazon development and moved on to the Paraisopolis picture mentioned yesterday, split in two and asking pupils to guess what links the pictures. Hopefully, I'll get through this just a bit quicker tomorrow and then it's the weekend :-) :-) :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fight the Power!

Categories: s1 and s2, Advanced Higher

Right, apologies about this rant, but here goes...Feel as though today has been a battle with technology- operating systems, machines, browsers and internet filters! I have been trying for three days to show a screentoaster tutorial for Edmodo to my s2 which works perfectly in my own room. The reason I am using screen capture to show this is because it only runs on Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox browsers. The authority won't allow the former due to security issues (fair enough) and I am waiting to see if I can get firefox installed. So, thinking that, at least with the video of my screen, I'd be able to show s2 how to submit the homework to me, I then discovered that the video wouldn't play in the room I've been displaced to. Asked the tech about this, thinking it might be because one machine XP and one Windows 2000 and she reckons it's the video card in the older computer. So, I've now used software to capture the screen capture! During all of this, I tried to access yesterdays wordle and it has been blocked again (this seems to have a love/hate relationship with websense)... tiring stuff (and that's just for the reader). I can understand the need for filtering, and I know I'm in a school where I'm lucky with the access to technology I've got and some of the things I've been allowed to try with it. Today was just one of those days, I suppose.

Tomorrow I pray for an easier route to resources. Got Pearsons Product to do with Advanced Higher. This is a bit like Spearmans Rank except since you are using real numbers rather than ranks, it's even easier to make a tiny mistake which throws the whole thing ;-) I'm reminding students again about my statistics bookmarks and I have another helpful resource to give out tomorrow too. s1 starting cities in Brazil, will do the usual split image starter for this using Paraisopolis and see where it takes us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope instead of Fear...

Categories: Other
America has such a global influence that most peope sit up and take notice when they elect a new President. I was on my way home from work tonight and listened to Barack Obama deliver his inaugural speech on the radio. I thought it was enthralling (although not a patch on his victory speech after the November election). I've since read quite a lot of reaction, not all positive, but I don't know many people who can have an audience hanging on their words in the way Obama does. To paraphrase the man himself, I'm left to hope that this is someone who follows a promise rather than fears the big decision :-) Here's the speech as a wordle
Wordle: Obama's Speech

Thanks to Cliotech for the heads up

Sunday, January 18, 2009

...and a starter for Higher

Categories: Rural
Classtools to the rescue once again. Going to do this at the start of the period as a round the class exercise, so not really concerned about time, but try it yourself after the topic has finished. There are a couple of debatable ones, depending on which texts you read,but these are some of the inputs, outputs and processes we used on Friday. I'm going to then quiz you more spcifically on how they relate to extensive commercial farming, which is the first case study.

Click here for full screen version

Making Animals: A homework

Categories: s1 and s2
This is going to be part of s2's homework exercise on the Tundra. We've been watching 'The Coldest Place on Earth' about Oymyakon in Siberia and this classtools homework is to draw on your knowledge of the climatic conditions which not only humans, but plants and animals must adapt to. We'll follow this up with a comparison of how the human population has adapted.

Click here for full screen version

URL is here

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Categories: Rural
Higher will be starting the Rural topic tomorrow in the double period. We could maybe use a flickr slideshow to start the period to define 'rural'. There are so many fantastic rural images here and we could perhaps look at 5 words to define rural as our first activity. It would also be interesting to see how you view rural areas in economic terms- are they rich or poor, is it all just farms and farmers? There might also be scope to use Noel Jenkins 'Rural Earth' here too. Does this walk fit with your preconceptions about rural areas? What things stand out in the film and what things are noticeable by their absence? Staying with flickr, it would be interesting to move away from our own landscapes to look elsewhere. We could compare and contrast the images that I'll blog after this

Last cut
Originally uploaded by oneof42

Finally, after looking at these, I'd like to look at how we can classify agricultural systems as having inputs, processes and outputs. We'll use a resource courtesy of Miss Armstrong for this along with the Higher text. It's been a long week, looking forward to toasting the bard at the weekend :-0)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Angel or Demon of the North Face?

Categories: Geography General, Advanced Higher

Been enjoying a book purchased ages ago but which I have just got round to reading, 'Chasing Che' by Patrick Symmes. It's a travel book about an American following the route Che Guevara wrote memoirs of in 1952 which were later published and filmed as 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. In the book, Symmes convalesces for a few days after a motorcycle crash at one of the ranches owned by Douglas Tompkins. This wealthy philanthropist was one of the founders of 'The North Face' clothing who sold up and invested his fortune in preserving pristine forest in Chile and other venues. He was a supporter of 'Deep Ecology' ( You might question why it has a website, when one of its aims is to eliminate "technology worship")and paid handsome wages to locals who worked in his schemes. Yet there was negative grafitti in many nearby towns about Tompkins. Many Chileans have a deep mistrust of him and question his opposition to free trade in particular. This ranch covers some 700, 000 acres and Tomkins has effectively taken that land out of Chile and therefore the ability to earn money from it. This reminded me of the Native American reaction to the Sky Bridge at the Grand Canyon, challenging the environmental arguments by asserting their own economic rights to live from the land. I think that this could be a fantastic Geographical Issues essay topic for future students, with real divisions of opinion. And, if your not doing Advanced Higher, maybe you might take time to enjoy the books ;-)

A very short post...

Categories: Development and Health
This is just for Higher period 6 for ease of access. Doing a bit of online revision now that the topic has just about finished. The link to bitesize is here and to the Scottish website here. Good luck...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mr Parry meets s1

Categories: s1 and s2
Watching 'Amazon' with Bruce Parry today with s1 as an intro to Amazon Rainforest. It's a shame we won't have time to watch more of the episodes. Parry is passionate about the tribes he meets, the environment and is mad as a brush to boot! Here is a trailer for the series, which is worth exploring if you haven't seen it already

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Disgo v Sony for fieldwork

Categories: Gegraphy General
The weather here today and yesterday has been horrendous, but as the family were getting a bit stir crazy, we went out in the car for a bit and during a break in the weather managed to stop for a while. This place is an old fishing haunt (literally, as The Applebank pub just out of shot has a history of ghosts) and we were messing around taking photos of the kids when these were shot. One was with a Sony k800i, the other with a Disgo handheld basic videocam. The Sony quality is much poorer, but the Disgo goes through AAA batteries very quickly. Here is the Disgo


and now the Sony;


To illustrate the point, the disgo ran out of batteries 4 seconds in. I think the Disgo, batteries in plentiful supply, would be very good for students on local fieldwork or foreign trips such as the Alps for better quality clips which can be used back in class. I wonder how the battery drain compares to a flip cam?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Picture Postcard

Categories:s1 and s2
Tom Barrett had used piclit to introduce a geography unit to his primary class about water. When looking at the results, I couldn't help but think this would be ideally suited to the work our s2 (12-13 yr olds) are starting on climatic regions. I let people work on their own or in pairs and students had the option of just using the picture as a descriptive canvas to fill with words or, for those who felt confident enough, to dabble in a bit of poetry. I have to say I was absolutely delighted with the results and the responses from the class. I am showcasing a few examples here, but in general, the work was exactly what I was looking for-thinking about landscapes to inform our future study.

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

Well done to the participants for some superb efforts!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Despot of the beasts? Entomology meets art...

Categories: Development and Health

Been racking my brains tonight about ways to introduce the health part of the topic. I used the Malaria clock last year, and I have an idea for using this again. I recorded the clock here and let it run for just over two minutes. In that time, the number of people afflicted by the disease was roughly equal to the school role, and 12 people would have died. I saw another statistic tonight on twitter which compared a current tragic news event, the death of around 30 people in a UN run school in Gaza to Malaria deaths per day (3000+). While there is no visible conflict, it could be argued that the biggest fight many developing countries face is the threats to the health of their population. This impacts on so many aspects of development and becomes a driver in the vicious circle of poverty.

I also thought about using some starter images, one of which is disturbing but illustrates the desperate problems of nutritional disease in some countries. The other is part of an advertising campaign to raise awareness of malaria and is shown above. I think there is good discussion in both. There was a very good article about malaria in the National Geographic a while back too which might be worth using in a few periods time. I'm now officially too tired to think. Logging (nodding?) off now...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Edmodo Yes, No to the Toast

Categories: Other
I have been playing with edmodo tonight. This looks so good. I created a student (me) just to see how things worked. As the student, I was able to log in purely with an invitation key, without the need to use my e-mail or give any personal details. I then logged in as myself, the teacher, and sent a password for a quiz to my Higher group, a note about homework, and then a personal file return to the fake student. In other words, I could return homework with a grade here without ever having to exchange e-mail addresses with the student. As a student, I could then dump the notes, links etc into my own area on edmodo. I think I'll give this a whirl with Higher tomorrow, but there is the potential to do this with all classes, and from an organisational viewpoint, it's just so easy to use.
I tried to use screentoaster today, but to my surprise ;-), the filters had got to it first. Have requested the url, but edmodo and the links for Advanced Higher all worked fine. The plagiarism checker was scarily accurate, and found the one line in a student's essay which he had forgot to reword, complete with the source of the 'steal'. The bibliography of an essay is something I used to always think would take no time at all, then I'd spend ages doing it. I let the students do this in class today, and easybib laid out the references nicely. I would (and have already) recommend both to colleagues and students.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

7 things you didn't know about me

Categories: Other
I have been tagged by Alan Parkinson in a thing doing the rounds on blogs. I have to tell you seven things you didn't know about me, then challenge some others . There is some geography in the mix, as you'd expect..

1) I managed a bookmakers. In fact, several. For a while, I was also relief manager around much of Glasgow and Lanarkshire. People think this means I know a lot about horses and gambling. I don't. What it (and a subsequent job in credit) has given me is an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the two areas mentioned, which comes in handy for teaching urban and industrial geography. I also worked in Woolworths, so I'm pretty sad to see it go. Between the three, I suppose that makes me quite good at mental arithmetic. Unfortunately, this has been of no use at all teaching statistics :-(

2) I am a football fanatic. I really mean a fanatic. I love playing and watching, and at last count, had visited 36 football grounds, the vast majority in Scotland (though with a young family, home games are an achievement these days). The strangest I have visited is Windsor Park, Belfast, as I was sitting in the smallest stand I have ever been in facing what at the time looked like a slag heap (geo reference). The most impressive is the AmsterdamArena, which was literally a planes, trains and automobiles job to get there (Glasgow-Prestwick-Stanstead-Charleroi-Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam), and the furthest away is the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. I won't be revealing my allegiances here, though regular readers could probably work it out, but I do follow the fortunes of Ajax, Barcelona and Fiorentina on the continent. I have to say, my geographical knowledge of Scotland (including the weather!) would be much, much poorer without my extensive travels to matches.

3) I play a musical instrument. In fact, I play three, though only guitar with any proficiency. I am less assured at harmonica and penny whistle, and play them far less regularly. I can't read music, but can work guitar tab and have a good ear. I envy people with real talent.

4) I can't read instructions. I'm sure this is a male thing, but any new item I buy which has paper instructions just baffles me. I have to ditch them and try it my own way. This is amusing me, as I am remembering the number of times I have told students to read the instructions...

5) If I could be anywhere, I'd be in Rome or Glencoe. No difference there then...I think everyone should walk through both at least once in their lives. There is nowhere else I can think of where you gain the same sense of what's gone before.

6) Despite some people's belief, I was not born with sideburns, they just grew on me as I got older ;-)

7) I was late into teaching. I worked for eight years after University without any real direction. I felt an urge to teach for a long time during that eight years, and was disappointed to be using so little of my degree (Geography and Politics) but lifestyle choices meant it would have been difficult to lose the income I was bringing in and go back to being a student. I think I can say that it's the best thing I have done. Like any job, it has it's good days and bad days and brings its own challenges, but the rewards are there if you look hard enough, keep an open mind and remember why you are there in the first place ;-)

Right, who to tag that hasn't already got the call?

I think I'll go for two work colleagues, as everybody else I would have asked has already been there

Good luck, fellas! No obligation to complete...

QuizzEgg and other ease-ins

Categories: s1 and s2, Development and Health
I think the first day back is always very hard. Many students (and many teachers!) are still in half holiday closedown, so I try to make these periods a gentle ease-in. With s2, I am moving on topic soon, but I thought I'd do a Jeopardy type game to bring together what we've learned, and for Higher, I have a QuizzEgg game, which requires a passcode. If anyone wants this, I'm more than happy to give it out, but I thibk I might do this in pairs in class as a twenty minute starter. Some of the questions should lead to other elements of discussion of NIC's v Sub Saharan Africa regarding the stages of economic development. I'm going to be using the powerpoint below with s2 tomorrow, so I'm saving myself a bit of work tomorrow night and bargaining that s2 will, indeed, be in that half holiday mode mentioned previously and won't be looking at the blog tomorrow night for the answers ;-)

World Climatic Regions

New Year Toast(er)

Categories: s1 and s2
S1 first tonight. I have a screentoaster effort for part of the lesson, filters permitting ;-). I am going to start the period with a 'Who am I'? type activity. I want students to think about their own backgrounds and where their familires have come from. I'll use the whiteboard and a world map and we'll map the locations radiating out from Glasgow. Obvious place here for the World Names Profiler. I'm then going to use two images to compare Scottish and Brazilian ethnicity before going on a world tour via a Google Earth video. This is a 'Where, When and Why?' activity mapping migration to Brazil. I'm hoping it helps develop awareness of place, and through discussion, reasons for the different migrations. I'll mostly provide the 'when'.

Migration Movie

Old and new tools and failing resolutions

Categories: Geography General, Other, Advanced Higher
Up early today, lots to do after two weeks of extreme work avoidance (which was nice...). I'm going to post subject specific materials later, perhaps using some of the great new web applications that I've found over the last few weeks. Some discoveries towards the end of last year have me wanting to go back and explore them further. With s1, s2 and s5, I tried voicethread. I really wanted to use this as a different medium of student input. Here's my example from s1 (11-12 year olds). I didn't really specify any rules, I simply asked pupils what they wanted to find out about Brazil. Some got nervous when faced with a mic, but some really good questions and lots that I could answer without significantly altering the resources we use already.

I liked Mr Alexander's use of this too for revision, and this might be something to consider for later in the year. I also started using posterous towards the end of last year, although we had problems with creating a group blog. This might be OK now after they launched easier group blogging options.
Things that I'd like to try this year include edmodo. I signed up for this hoping that it would help better organise myself and some groups. As a teacher, I can share notes, links, files, alerts and assignments without needing students to register e-mails. Every student will have their own 'locker' where they can store items that are relevant to them. I also liked the look of backboard, which would be great for peer assessment, although I may ask if a colleague would be willing to try this out (overload!). In terms of classroom resources, I thought that screen toaster looked excellent. You can record anything on your screen and share either by embedding or creating a link. You can also, if you wish, provide commentary or notes. I'm going to do this later for a Google Earth tour, great for rooms which don't have access to GE. Finally, for my use, QuizzEgg looks great, good for alternative graded homework exercises.
For Advanced Higher students use, these might be handy. Iterasi allows you to save a web page in the form that you read it. This would have solved a problem one pupil has already had- a disppearing web source! When you are making your bibliography, perhaps you could use this to help you, and also, check that you haven't been ripping off your sources through the plagiarism checker!
One of my resolutions was to spend less time online, so looks like I'm failing with that one already! Can't help but think this would be helped if we had access to GLOW...Many thanks to cliotech, who many of the links have been sourced from. A really excellent blog!