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Odblog

A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new...

Categories: Industry, Advanced Higher, s1 and s2
Tomorrow is the single period where I have the pleasure of teaching s4. From my
understanding, they have been working on industry type and a little about factors affecting industrial location. One of the things I find is that NAB and exam questions about industrial location tend to see students get a little bit confused about which factors affect old and which affect new industries. For instance, in a recent assessment, several candidates spoke about the need for new businesses to be close to large populations. I think I'll start the period with a discussion about industrial location and then do two seperate diamond 9s for both old and new industry. I will also begin to look at features of industrial landscapes, and Ollie Bray some time ago posted about some great images, some of which are shown below (click on the picture to link to all the photos)
Ollie also posted about Eurocentral, just along the M8 from us, and I am going to use these pictures as an example of a new industrial landscape:

Advanced Higher started looking at standard deviation today and for the first time I was able to share a valid use of this statistical technique for each of the geographical studies the students are doing. I don't know if this was luck or just that teaching it for the last couple of years helps me understand its usefulness. Finishing this tomorrow, while I was really pleased with how our pop-ups went with s1 Hurricanes, as well as quite a rowdy singalong to The Hurricane Song! Round two of this with my other s1 class tomorrow

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Limestory



Categories: Limestone, s1 and s2, Advanced Higher
Running very low on the inspirational juices just now, and feeling that I am relying too much on powerpoint and text with s3 just now. Thought I would maybe use a Question of Limestone with the class as a period starter tomorrow and find some way of making this competitive, before introducing limestone stories, which Miss Green did a couple of years ago and seemed to go down well while providing a challenge to students. I am not sure how she did it, but I think I'll suggest that plot is up to students themselves, could be a murder mystery for instance, could be in the form of a graphic novel, anything goes really. I'll be specifying that students must cover all aspects of the landscape, both surface and undergound. There must be a fully descriptive account of the surface landscape and the cavern network as the main backdrop within the story. Students must find a way to shoehorn into their stories reference to chemical weathering of the landscape and an explanation of how one part of the landscape has been formed. For those interested in the Graphic Novel style, I think I'll direct them to the resources mentioned in Ollie's post on creating comics in the classroom, but will get them to storyboard it first. This will probably carry over into completion as a homework task, and I think I have to be careful this year, as s3 and s6 have been getting quite a bit of homework with me neglecting s1 a bit here.
Speaking of s1, it really amazes me how different classes respond differently to the same activity. I did the hurricane in a bottle with both my s1. With 1 class, it worked an absolute treat, and we got an awful lot out of it. The class were really sharp and clued up on the science of what was happening. My other class today took longer to reach the same conclusions, but they responded much better to another activity I had used. We are building on this by using Tony Cassidy's pop-up hurricane tomorrow, followed by a bit of homework courtesy of the same author.
Finally, Advanced Higher were all a bit ring rusty today after Halloween discos and so on and so forth, so I've left the lovely statistics and standard deviation for tomorrow, but feel we made progress with the folio today, oddly. Right, off for a sleep...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cartoon Cavalcade


Categories: Geography General, Advanced Higher, s1 and s2, Environmental Hazard
Trying to put a very busy few weeks behind me and get back to the blog. As a result, this might be a bit of a ramble, so apologies as I try to cram quite a bit in here. More about the title later, first, it's s1. One of the things that has been keeping me busy is an attempt to write a unit on wild weather which has been coming in fits and starts. I didn't want to do a full on weather unit with a wee bit about hurricanes tacked on to the end, as it's my experience that the students prefer more of the latter and less of the former. I know it shouldn't all be about student preference, but I thought there was scope to tip the balance and this was confirmed by a quick question round I conducted with my classes prior to beginning the new topic. I told the s1 we would be studying weather and asked them to think that, if they had one thing they could find out during the topic, what would it be? I got lots of responses about hurricanes and tornadoes, but also, surprisingly, lots wanting to know why we don't get that kind of weather phenomenon and, of course, why it always rains here! I've decided that we can do this through an introduction to weather and climate which then takes us on to the impact of climate on wild weather e.g. summer norms leading to warm water sufficient to trigger tropical storms. There are some excellent resources to use for this topic without re-inventing the wheel, lots from Tony Cassidy, some nice experiments like this one and a load of stuff available on the Abbeyfield blog. I also hadn't seen this singalong before from the GATM site. All will hopefully be used at some point in the coming weeks, so many thanks to the authors.
Speaking of schemes of work, a post by Alan Parkinson, who has often highlighted the potential for using kids animation films in teaching Geography, sparked an idea (here comes the cartoon bit). I am lucky enough to have two young children, which means that I have the perfect excuse to own and watch many of the Pixar films and say that they are really for my kids. I see a real potential to use these in a scheme of work to engage students in Geography in the lower school. Just throwing thoughts together quickly, I can think of changes in retail (Al's Toy Barn in toy story), the impact of transport changes on rural towns (Cars), Desert landscapes from the same film, sustainability (Wall-E), Urban landscapes (The Incredibles), ocean conservation and ocean currents (Finding Nemo) as just a few of the geographical themes covered. David Rogers also expressed an interest and it would be a nice theme to collaborate around. I think it could be a really good way of making some of the themes that students would study later in geography accessible at an earlier age. I hope that this gets off the ground and that there is much more to come here.
Something that the films won't do is help my Advanced Higher understand a nearest neighbour analysis. Fortunately, Ollie Bray will, and I also think this is a technique that several of the students might be able to use in the Geographical Study, particularly those that might be looking at clustering of services and land use patterns. We'll be looking at the dams outside Newton Mearns to see whether these are randomly distributed or not, but there is also scope to do some fieldwork in the school grounds and in particular the woodland area if the weather is nice in future. At the moment, that looks highly unlikely....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crowd sourcing


Categories: Other
I have been asked to follow up a course that I delivered last year for teachers in the school this coming week. The course had the rather grand title 'Embedding ICT in Teaching and Learning'. I had a look at what my classes have been doing over the last year as I really didn't want to do a rehash of what I had talked about before-blogs, wikis, mobiles etc. I decided to look at instances where we had either tried to bring opinion from outside of the class into the learning environment through online tools, or where we had used ICT to provide an instant audience for students work. I narrowed this down to 10, and cheated just a bit as I included Glow, which I am planning to use pre-Christmas with a colleague in Ayrshire. Apologies if the prezi makes you seasick, it's my first time trying it (due to the nature of the course wanted to try presenting it in a different way too). The examples I have mentioned are:

1) Ask 500 - find opinions for your class by posing them to a worldwide audience and seeing any patterns in the return. I asked a question about conflict in the DR Congo last year when we were using Rwanda as a case study of forced migration. I was amazed at the number of people who listed a 'don't care' attitude, but it also helped illustrate why the genocide in Rwanda was just a distant news story to many here at the time it occured.

2) Twitter- for me, the best place to get instant responses to any question. A number of times over the past year, I have asked questions which I could use in class, from things as simple as asking people what the weather was like and asking my class to map it, to having 'interviews' where the class drove the questions and therefore became the audience themselves

3) Voicethread- There are better examples than mine of this great site and its uses, but I have used it as a unit starter. While most students are working on other tasks, I have asked individuals to post a question, something they would like to know about the topic they are studying. The class becomes my crowd, and I take direction from them throughout the rest of the unit, answering their questions where possible and indulging them in areas they want to explore further. Paired with a knowledge starter, this makes teaching the unit a lot easier, as I find out straight away knowledge highs and lows and avoid repetition. One feature I haven't explored and would like to is the whiteboard function where students can draw on the slides too.

4) Google Docs- I had to use this in a slightly manufactured way, as I couldn't assume that students had access from home, but I know that there are school based packages for google apps, and I love the idea of collaborating on a presentation, spreadsheet or document as a class. We collaborated around a few questions, students prepared a response to an issue I had set (where they had to have a definite opinion) and we then inserted our slides into the presentation to showcase the work.

5) Wallwisher- I have already posted about this recently, a homework wall of student produced sticky notes, very quick and easy to do, but because of the numbers of people contributing, the end result was a highly visual and engaging display of student work for all to see.

6) Edmodo- My platform of choice for keeping all my students homework in the one place, an easy way to give meaningful feedback to individuals, but also somewhere where it is easy to encourage groups to work together. The beauty is that links can be made public at the teachers choice. Students work can be celebrated and given to a wider audience while still maintaining pupil privacy

7) Glow- This is the cheat. Myself and Val Adam from Maybole are looking at doing a linking activity between an s1 or s2 class before Christmas. Glow gives us the opportunity to link our classes or indeed any other class in Scotland. Our students will be hopefully asking questions of each other, sharing their work, and with the ability to have a glow meet, maybe even talking or engaging face to face through the web. All we need to do to get started is create a group and invite students from both classes as members. I am really looking forward to this, especially as the communication is secure

8) Posterous- I have started using Posterous occasionally to quickly post classes work during or immediately after a lesson, or by sticking possible resources on it beforehand. I do all this by simply e-mailing from my phone. The example I have included is when my s3 class were doing glaciation modelling. I was able to post the results directly after the lesson. I love the fact that students can then go home and show their parents what they were doing as I feel it brings parents a bit closer to the classroom too.

9) Etherpad- Again, something I have blogged about before, an online debate where anonymity is key and students build their permanent record of the debate. More details here.

10) Wordle- or a 'crowd cloud' as I have called it in the prezi, an easy way to see at a glance opinions on a subject ( I like using it before really delving into a topic and then revisiting it to see if the perceptions were correct). This is also a great tool to use for revision. I pasted a bunch of text from a textbook case study and had students use the 'wordle mat' as a reference when attempting past papers.

Hope all this kind of makes sense, I'm also happy recapping as it gives me the chance to showcase the classes work again :)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Know your source

Click here for full screen version


Categories: Advanced Higher
I have been doing some practice NAB work for Geographical Issues with my class. There are still some problems recognising a good source for the Issues essay, but hopefully this template will help us with both the NAB and the essay itself. If your source can't be fitted into this, then you probably shouldn't be using it (most likely because it's a report rather than an opinion). For the NAB, this is exactly what you need to do with all of your sources to summarise and evaluate them. I'm using Benjamin P Nageak of the Inupiat people, a source freely available online and one we've used in class. Use the classtools template to do your own critical evaluation and then check it against the one at the top.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

This is Music



Categories: Other

I am struggling today. The reason is lack of sleep, as I sat up till after 1am participating in a 'chain' of music on Spotify, courtesy of an idea by John Daly, a primary teacher from Glasgow. I have to say that I am a sucker for this type of thing, and I'm trying hard to pull myself away from it just now to note a few thoughts. While we were sticking tracks on the chain, I had mentioned to John about a classroom use for this. The more I thought about it, the more uses came into my head. I am writing a few here, but please feel free to share more via a comment here or through twitter. The great thing about spotify is that, as far as my reading tells me, it's entirely legal, as it is backed by major labels and streams music like radio with adverts rather than relying on downloads.
1) Create a playlist of songs for use in the teaching of subject topics. I started a playlist of Geography songs with colleagues, where we used spotify and a google form to collect tracks and details of how they were used in class. Examples were 'Mosquito song' by Queens of the Stone Age, which I have been using when teaching about the Geography of disease and malaria, and one of the most oft used songs in the teaching of Volcanoes, Billy Jonas's 'Old St Helens'. The ways in which the songs could be used could vary from using the lyrics to setting a scene for the topic.
2) Alan Parkinson added to this idea tonight through twitter by suggesting that the playlist could be used where students are asked to choose three most appropriate songs to accompany a video. The video could be one that the teacher is using, one created for the lesson with no backing or videos created by the students themselves. Asking the students to justify the choice would further strengthen their understanding of the topic-which songs have lyrical relevance, for example.
3) Alan also suggested starting a 'Country' chain of tracks. I've been thinking about this and like the idea of using that to help aid students memory of a sequence. For example, when we teach Brazil in s1, we talk about the origins of carnival and migration to Brazil from elsewhere. It would be nice to let students collaborate on a playlist which took them round the countries, or for the teacher to play music from each of the countries and see if students could puzzle out where people had come from.
4) Mood music- I always start the same topic with last.fm playing samba or Bossa Nova music and have found the students respond well to this when they are mind mapping their previous knowledge. Spotify could be used in the same way, except I would have more control over the content and form
5) Reward music- There is an English teacher who I worked with who quite often played music lowly in her class while the children were completing an activity. I know some people might think that music could be distracting, but I remember listening to music for as long as I have been studying as background, and I see students every day working in free periods while listening to their ipods. The teacher who played her music had one of the most settled and attentive classes I've visited. I think a nice way to reward the class for their efforts would be to allow them to collaborate on the background tunes for the last period of English in the week, for instance.
6) Musical timing, genre, mood, instrumentation- I can only begin to imagine the possibilities spotify would have for a music teacher. Imagine a class trying to collaborate on music which had 4/4 time, for instance? That instant streaming of relevant music would save time, money and access problems for music departments.
7) For Drama- although I've already said that spotify could be used for mood music in my lessons, there is probably no better example of a subject which would benefit from spotify than drama. Students could act out their own scenes to, for instance, a piece of charged classical music. Their own performances could be linked to the time of the piece of music.
8) PE- I often see PE classes using music for dance etc. Spotify would allow them to hand pick their tunes, while again slashing their budget for CDs/tapes etc
There are probably many more uses for this, although I am not sure how many schools would see this pass a filter. This is my list to try to justify why it's a useful tool in the classroom. Please feel free to add your own thoughts, even if it's just to disagree :)