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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A book of things

Categories: Geography General

I am now the proud owner of mission:explore, a little book of offbeat activities aimed at encouraging kids to get out into their own environment, become more spatially aware and, mainly, have a bit of fun in the process. The first time I saw these missions, from a traditional fieldwork perspective, I have to admit to being unsure of their place in lessons, but have gradually come to two conclusions. Firstly, from 102 missions, there is a huge chunk of the book which is highly relevant and gives local opportunities for supporting fieldwork. Secondly, anything which students might find engaging is worth finding a place for anyway.
Over the last week, we have experimented with a few of the missions in the book. Firstly, on Monday, a class got out into the sunshine and, it has to be said, the bitter cold to do a rubbish map, mission 47. I don't mean that the quality of the students maps were poor, we were literally doing a rubbish sweep in the school grounds. Students were finding litter and trying to discover its origins. This was very timely, as the class are currently examining environmental issues and it fits perfectly with both local issues, in terms of environmental quality, and the wider global issues-for example, associated food miles, mass waste production, pollution etc. Furthermore, the exercise was absolutely painless to organise. No permission slips needed, just a nice day and a group of s2's happy to be out of a classroom.
With the same class later in the week, we used mission 61, picture talk, but adapted it slightly. Instead of communicating by pictures for a day, I wanted the class to communicate with each other what they had been learning in the unit, but only through the medium of drawing. We had sketches in complete silence representing everything from sustainability to the prospect of a mini ice age. Very few students were able to communicate all of their ideas purely through the drawings, although most did fairly well. We moved on to discuss this idea of 'losing' things, in this case the power to communicate by spoken or written word. It was generally agreed that it was much more difficult, though not impossible to do. We linked this to our topic work and the idea of climate change. What would we risk 'losing' as a result of climate change? Lots of answers, from fuels such as oil becoming depleted to the point of no recovery, to species, arctic ice, fresh water and land which was prone to flooding. We talked about how difficult this might make our own lives, whether anyone else in other parts of the world would be affected more by the changes, but also thought that in our own comfy existence, we might have the money/technology to adapt; In short, a really simple lesson, but one that carried a powerful learning experience.
These are two of the more 'standard' missions, and I hope to use some of the more creative ones in lessons over the summer term and beyond. If you are a geography teacher, this is an easy way to guarantee cost free fieldwork is a regular part of your course. Buy it, It's the best eight quid you will spend in the term.


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