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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crystal ball aside...

Categories: Environmental Hazards, s1 and s2
This is the plan for my one period of s4 today. As the class have a little test coming up, we need to make sure that all of the hurricanes work is finished before Wednesday. Fortunately, we don't have too much to do. I'll give some homework on the impacts of the case study hurricane, which means Mrs Gordon can just pick up on this and check understanding. As a general refresher and to start the period, we'll use this flash game from Tony Cassidy's site. This will allow me to link the work I did with the class last Friday to the work that has been completed this week. We'll then move on to continue looking at predicting hurricanes. Again, Mrs Gordon has been through most of this, so the exercise in the picture above is all that is really left to be completed. Providing we have IT access, it would be nice to finish off the period testing how well the students could prepare against a hurricane simulation. Have used this loads and it's always a useful exercise. Simple period with s1 today as we are talking about favela building for next week. Then it's the weekend :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

For tomorrow...

Categories: s1 and s2, Urban, Population
Quick post for myself as a reminder of tomorrow's bits and pieces. s1 are looking at the image of Paraisopolis in Sao Paulo, and writing a 140 character message to describe the differences in the urban landscapes side by side. There is a forfeit for going over the character limit...I'll then fly to Donna Marta in Google Earth before exploring the area in more detail through a short film. With s3 in the morning, I'm hoping to use my monopoly, give the class a familiar example with a Glasgow street map and ask them to price the streets for the board. From this, we'll discuss why they have chosen certain areas to be more expensive and is a nice preamble to the study of the CBD of Paris. With my afternoon s3, we'll be finishing the Mexico Migration mystery using the recap sheet and will either use a video clip or an exercise based on this web page to finish. Poor s6 will be working on their folios. Still.

A short review of chaos

Categories: s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards, Geography General

This is a short recap on a really enjoyable lesson that I had with s2 yesterday. It was rather chaotic in the sense that buildings were falling into heaps! Design and Technology were kind enough to make an earthquake shake simulation table and I asked s2 to be the guinea pigs in trialling it. Unfortunately, my phone was in the car, so I had to video the table and one of the structures later. Students were given very little direction in terms of how to complete the structure, but were asked to plan it before making it. The class were given only straws and marshmallows to build it! I was really impressed with the results. Mnay groups had built triangular structures, thinking that if too much weight was on the top, it would topple. Others, like the one I held back to show the table working, were built with cross beams to make them more solid. The flexible materials meant that most groups were succesful in the task. Apart from providing marshamallow covers for the tables in future (!), I would probably use a variety of materials in future, maybe letting groups choose themselves as they would have to think further about what would work and what would not. Apologies about the green screen and pause in the middle of the video-forgot the camera was running and was trying to organise the next shot. In short, a very satisfying period which the students approached with a great attitude,

Getting perspective

Categories:s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards, Geography General
I have been reading quite a lot about social media and its place in the classroom lately. As students and others may know, I am a huge advocate of its use, particularly when it gives a wider audience to students work. I've already commented on this site before, but it's worth flagging up again, as it shows another positive way in which social media could be brought into the class. Ask 500 allows you to put a question to a potentially worldwide pool of respondents, producing results which can be mapped (just click on the map tab above the question), allowing you to see geographical variations in the responses. We were looking at the idea of whether Brazil was a developed or developing country and couldn't get away from the idea of rich and poor. However, after an initial discussion in class, we still weren't convinced that Brazil was one or the other. I thought it would be useful to see if this was just insular, taking a Scottish perspective, or whether a similar pattern would be observed from a wider geographical spread. What makes this so useful is that I can now take this back to the class and look at the mapped results, and hopefully make it very easy for students to see that the answer really depends on the circumstance of the respondent. The comments left beneath the map are worth a look from the class too. If you haven't tried this tool, why not have a go?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ours is smaller...

Categories: s1 and s2, Environmental Hazards, Urban, Population, Atmosphere, Rural Land Resources

Big day today at work, with a colleague ill, a moderation to work through and then a meeting after the school day to attend. Lots of positives though, one being a chance to get back into a higher class, which I really enjoyed. We were doing some revision in the double period, looking at two topics, atmosphere and rural land resources. I was able to strip some answers out of my old higher wiki to use. We looked at the atmosphere responses and attempted to mark them. It was interesting to note that for atmospheric circulation, the diagram was something students found difficult - most students seem to find this whole topic difficult in my experience. A great example of misreading questions too with the response to question 3 here, which many students gave full marks. With the rural land resources questions, we first of all tried to find areas of the answers where we could insert more named examples. This was testing as again, not uncommonly, students really struggled to recall these - until prompted and then the memory was jogged a little. Sad as it is to say, much of the Higher course lends itself to memorising content and this was a good exercise to illustrate how this can impact on your marks. Finally, we finished with another question which I often find is only half completed, the National Parks question. we worked through the answer as a class after the students had a go. Overall, for me anyway, a quick double period with a lot of good work done.
We started on the urban part of the s3 course with one class today. I showed some Paris model cities constructed by last years group and this is something we will use to bring the topic together at the end of the Paris study. We then drew three rings in the jotter, one for city centre, one for inner city and one for suburbs. Students had ten minutes to fill in what they would expect to find or feel like in these areas. They could work in pairs. To bring the example back to Paris, I then showed a short moviemaker clip and asked the class to put each image into one of their three zones. This was low tech but effective, as it allowed us to very quickly see that a) most of the class felt that cities had recognisable features by zone, and c) that Paris fitted some of this, but certainly not all. Tomorrow, we'll use Google Earth to talk about the site and situation of Paris, as well as maybe critiqueing some existing models of urban spaces.
The other s3 class were starting the migration topic in earnest, and we used Noel Jenkins migration powerpoint to simulate migrations within the class, something which made explaining push and pull factors quite simple to this class. Obstacles were not so easy...
s1 were in first period, and it was nice to wake the class up with some jenga to show ecosystems, which I've now done several times. Tomorrow, we are going to move on to look at whether Brazil is rich or poor, which links in quite nicely to the homework, where I have asked the class to find only positive reasons for developing the rainforest (much of the video and text we have for this is focused around the negatives, which doesn't really give much balance to the viewpoints).
Finally, using s2 as guinea pigs tomorrow. While doing earth forces, this class never had the opportunity to try earthquake proofing structures. By coincidence, today I received a cracking shaking table, a little smaller than the one above, from the tech department, complete with adjustable motor to vary quake strength. I have since been out at ASDA buying the marshmallows and straws to make the buildings and getting the same strange looks as when I bought six bags of jelly babies recently for a game :) Busy, busy day, now to learn how to make a website in dreamweaver ( I have to start this with s1 ICT tomorrow). Hoping Tuesday is quieter...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inside job

Categories: s1 and s2, Population, Advanced Higher

I was really delighted with one of the redrafts presented by an advanced higher student today, I have done enough moaning about lack of progress, so it's only fair that when someone does a piece of work out of the top drawer (in my own opinion), I flip the coin. The essay was about globalisation and whether it is a boon or a burden to developing nations. I have taught this student for 6 years now and to see him produce the level of writing and understanding of the issue that he has is really pleasing, especially as I feel he has got there mostly by himself. Fantastic feeling. More redrafting tomorrow (intensive time for students).
With s1, just about ready to move on to the rainforest. Unsure whether to do the feely box first or the rainforest mind movie. Leaning towards the feely box followed by video, but that depends on whether I can scavenge the remains of my colleagues attempts at it.
In one of my s3 classes, we looked at population pyramids for the first time today, and I think the class' understanding of both population structure and population change could be doing with reinforcing, so we started this. The class are saving images of the completed review exercises as evidence that they understand this and are ready to move on. I'll then present them with the odd shaped pyramids we used with the other class to see if they can further this. Speaking of said s3, I think as the class have more or less finished pyramids, a nice way to draw this to a close might be to use the previous link as an interactive whiteboard exercise before moving on to migration, when we get to use some of my favourite images, including the one above. I wonder if the class will get the link?

More Backchanneling

Categories: Population
I tried using a backchannel in class for video with s3 on Tuesday. I remember my previous head teacher saying that the most important thing about video was the pause button and for several years I would probably have agreed with him. When I started teaching, I found pausing and discussing to be a great part of the learning process, and it still can be, but I also think some students use it as a time to switch off. When I ask them questions, they can normally recall just enough to get by. My wife would say I am a master at this when I'm supposed to be listening to her, so I recognise the signs :0) Using edmodo as a stimulus for discussion was great. During the two video clips (here and here), students contributed over 200 comments to the discussion board, some as questions, some picking out the key ideas in the video and summarising (literacy skills) and what pleased me most was that every member of the class participated. This rarely happens without prompting in class discussion. Furthermore, we still managed to have a full discussion from issues arising from the wordle collations of their comments. It was interesting discussing how their opinions had been so overwhelmingly influenced by the video clip on the One Child Policy. Before this was shown, most of the class were aghast at the idea of a one child policy because of what they had heard about it from a UK perspective, but what they extracted from the clip was mostly positive. This raised the whole question of bias in the representation of an issue. The other clip produced a wordle which served as a great prompt for reasons why the UK has an ageing population. I've included the wordles below. Clearing a massively overloaded inbox was a small price to pay for a great end result.

Wordle: China, One Child

Wordle: Aging Population

Monday, March 08, 2010

Samba songs written

This is what S1 produced in their 'Samba schools'. The class were asked to write songs around the enredo, or theme of black history in Brazil. It allowed us to cover at least one migration in detail. The exercise is basically a summary of their knowledge. The class worked hard on these and, while there may be some inaccuracies, most display the main points well. Please feel free to comment. Some students attempted to sing, but found it difficult with an audience (this was optional) and I may post one of these later
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Excuses, rip offs, talking back and teaching lessons

Categories: s1 and s2, Population, Advanced Higher, Geography General, Other

Just going to start tonight's ramble with a few things which have grabbed my interest. Despite using delicious, saving favourites on twitter and other services like evernote and remember the milk, I am plagued with a terrible memory. This blog is still the place I am most likely to effectively find and use some of the good things that others have created, as I visit it most days for my teaching. Here's some of those creations that I've been reading about tonight:
1) I think I might introduce one of my s3 and all of my advanced higher to the emergency excuse generator which they can customise for homework excuses. At least that way, it'll be a novel tale I'm told. Alternatively, one could always try handing it in on time... ;) Thanks to Ollie for the tip.
2) In the last few months, I've probably gained more useful links from Richard Byrne's excellent resource sharing blog than from anywhere else on the internet. A very handy tool he blogged about recently will be of great help to advanced higher. The Paper Rater allows students to put their work through it, allowing any unconscious plagiarism to be picked out, as well as proof reading and grammar checking your work. I think this, coupled with a bibliography help tool will help ready work for final submissions. If we can get past second draft submissions.
3) I experimented with a class backchannel last s1 rotation and it worked quite well when using video in class, certainly making the lesson more seemless and probably more productive than stopping and starting the tape for discussion points. This presentation therefore interested me. I would like to get this s1 class on to glow. I'm making a group for them and would like to use glow chat for this, as well as trying a primary pad as a home learning activity. I'm trying to trim class time out of the Brazil unit as I feel we sometimes overdo it at the expense of other topics (although in feedback, it's always the most popular one), and think a primary pad collaboration would be a good way to make the home tasks a little different, engaging and less prone to sync issues that they have when using the school PCs. That way, we could still have all of the content, but less dead time in class with tech issues. I'm already really impressed by the way in which the class have responded to the last homework. I've put most of the solutions in the video at the top of the page and will ask the class to self check now and give themselves a rating. Before anyone comments, yes, my rainforest is a bit smaller than it should be!
This brings me nicely round to s1, who are in mid-Samba. Some sterling efforts under way, I really hope some of the class are game enough to record their efforts on the phone. I had thought about putting it out live via ipadio, but I think nerves and giggles would prevail ;) S3 (times 2) are at slightly different parts of the population unit of work, but both will be re-introduced to an old friend tomorrow after several periods of interactivity. In case that loses some people, I'm meaning the textbook...Might start the period with a bit of this though. Advanced Higher will be receiving the prelim back tomorrow. We'll spend a bit of time looking at this as there are worrying features of some responses so late in the year, and I am suggesting that we schedule some regular glow meets as supported study in the run up to the exam. The remainder of the double will be used for folio work. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for some in the class, and the issues essays are now starting to look reasonably good with some tweaks, hoping the Study has been worked on over the weekend...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Creative geography in 1@8 part two

...and here are more. Volcanoes, open worlds and urban landscapes (urban decay with a smile?). Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous

Creative geography from 1@8 part one

Miss Armstrong set her class a very open activity for homework. The class had to produce something which they thought represented what geography was all about. I'm sure you'll agree that the results are highly impressive. We have globes with geolocated symbols (Obama, hurricanes etc), geographical dice, some great shoebox geography to start with...
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous

It's Carnival!

Categories:s1 and s2, Population, Advanced Higher, other
Back on the rotational wheel, we have arrived at samba songs again tomorrow. I was quite disappointed in myself the last time we did this, in that I took time to record the classes efforts but never got round to putting them online. I'm not sure how I will approach it this time, I will wait and see how keen the class are to perform. I found a nice video which we used in class last day following a participant in Carnaval. It really brought out the different cultural influences on the celebration better than the videos we used previously, as well as still allowing us to explore the music, dress and 'enredos'. here it is below:

Tomorrow will be small groups trying to bring together quite a concentrated knowledge of the migrations of one group in particular, Brazilians of African heritage.
With my s3 classes, I'm at different stages, as I've just inherited one class recently. The first group have been working on population pyramids, and I'll probably start with a simple refresher activity about what we look for in a pyramid. Second exercise will be accounting for the strange shapes in Tony's pyramids here. My other class are a period or so behind, so I might steal Miss Anwar's resources to bridge the DTM and pyramids as they will create some discussion about how the structure of a population would be influenced by certain events. We have Polish labelled food, toy guns, a bottle full of brown water, syringes etc, and I think this class will respond to those types of resources well.
Finally, I am kind of at a beleaguered stage with Advanced Higher. Some essays need a lot of work, some are coming along well, some people are in, some are not, some have the issues sorted but their study is in need of overhaul etc. I always feel that things become a little fragmented at this time of year, particularly as I can only help those that I see. Moan over, off to get my head round fireworks, which I'm doing with s1 computing...but before I do, here is the roll of honour for the Dubai exercise:
3rd Place - Chloe
2nd Place- James
1st Place- Stuart
All outstanding efforts which can be viewed at my posterous. Enjoy the HMV vouchers :)

Monday, March 01, 2010


Categories:s1 and s2, Geography General
Had a very frustrating time. Recorded a screencast of how to use scribblemaps and was blethering away quite the thing without realising I had no audio turned on. Sorry, will try to redo this but, for tomorrow, I'm putting the silent movie here to help s1 with their own maps:

A reminder of the home exercise now. I'd like you to create your own maps to see how much you remember from the mind mapping exercise. Use the scribble, shape and/or line tools to map the following:
  1. An area of rainforest in Brazil
  2. The tropic of capricorn
  3. The equator
  4. The Caatinga
Use the text tool to tell me what the shapes/ lines are. Now, use the placemark tool to add these:
  1. Rio de Janeiro
  2. Sao Paulo
  3. Belo Horizonte
Draw connecting lines to form a triangle between the three and use the text tool to call it 'The Golden Triangle'. Add further placemarks to show me:
  1. The only major city in the rainforest
  2. Recife
  3. Salvador
Feel free to add images to show me more of these locations. Now, from Rio, draw three lines of different colour to other countries showing places where people have moved from in the past to come to Brazil.
Finally, add in text at least two other features of the memory map. This could be a famous landmark, natural attraction, anything at all. Good luck!