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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Exam wobbles

Categories: Advanced Higher
Just a quick post. As usual, I am sitting worrying about tomorrow, our exam day. This year in particular, my mind is drawn to advanced higher, who I have not seen for some time and who spent the last month or so intensively working on folios. As such, I'm just posting some late reminders about the exam, which is where all the GMT work that you fought with throughout the year is assessed.
For statistics questions, remember you could be asked about descriptive- tests like standard deviation and related variants - or inferential - tests such as chi square, nearest neighbour, spearmans rank and pearsons product. All of my statistics links are here and some of the presentations I drew from are here, so look back over them. You need to know
1) situations where you would use each test and why (suitability of the test for type of data)
2) the limitations of each statistical test
3) what your result means. This sounds really straightforward, but it's something people forget about quite a lot. Talk about your test in terms of the hypotheses and significance
4) You'll probably be asked a more general question which looks for geographical reasons for a pattern e.g. why GNP rises as Infant Mortality rates drop is essentially a question about the geography of development, which you covered at Higher
There are various other possible types of GMT question, but this will come as a choice. previous examples would be a systems diagram, polar graph etc, most of the elements you studied for T1, so have a look back over that too.
The first part of your paper will be the mapping question, where again you have a choice. It's difficult to predict exactly what you'll be asked here, but one thing is certain, you'll have to use the atlas. Think about what conclusions you can draw about the area in the map extract in relation to the question from looking at atlas info such as the underlying geology, climate, relief, precipitation, prevailing wind, socio-economic data such as income, age etc. Try to then link these factors into the reasons you give in your response, but support the response fully with as much evidence from the map extract as possible- reference extensively, you are expected to be old hands at mapwork now! In light of both the stats and mapping element, remember, you are allowed both a calculator and an atlas in the exam, so make sure you have them!
The final question will be a fieldwork scenario, and will require you to think about things such as sampling-how would you gather data to investigate a geographical problem?What type of data would you class as important? Would you sample randomly, systematically or use stratified sampling? Most importantly...Why? Once you had collected your data, what would you do with it? How would you work to prove/disprove your hypothesis? What problems might you encounter in having a fully accurate result? This sounds very like what you did at Ardentinny, in the Giffnock shops surveying and in your Geographical Study. You should be confident of coping with this type of task, don't panic if it's not a familiar example, the processes you have to go through are the exact same.
Finally, a heartfelt good luck. I think back to you all coming into my class in S1 and you have come such a long way since then. The exam is your chance to consolidate some good folio work (particularly in the Issues essays) and put to use the knowledge you gained during much of the taught part of the course. If you have prepared, the exam should be something you will handle well. I will be in early for any last minute flutters, my fingers are crossed already :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Carrier bags and case study confusion

Categories: Urban, s1 and s2
Quickly trying to sort tomorrow's lessons. With s1, I have asked the class to come prepared for a lesson which covers recycling, development, globalisation and fair trade. We have been talking about football as a global sport, and I showed the class a little video clip showing people making footballs in Pakistan for 20p a ball, 40p for a fairtrade one. We talked about the cost of the footballs and how affordable they would be for the people making them. From that, I introduced an activity brought to the department by Miss Jamieson. It showed the students how people in developing countries sometimes make their own footballs out of junk, and will tie in nicely with the recycling which goes on in slums such as Dharavi for cash, with the materials such as plastic being quite worthless to the collectors. Tomorrow, I've asked s1 to raid their own recycling, bring in some waste and we intend to make footballs from the scraps.
This all fits well with the work that s3 will be doing as its also about Mumbai. We have just about finished the work on Paris, and I'd like to start looking at Mumbai tomorrow with a few clips from Slumdog Millionaire before moving on to the new case study. It perfectly sets the scene for some of the huge differences between cities in EMDC's and cities in ELDC's. At some point, I'd like to use this resource again with a class, probably in a few periods time.

Test for Flickr geotag via posterous cross post

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Know your place #scotlesson

As a follow up to our re-presenting Scotland exercise (I'll share more about this later), we looked at awareness of place. I had asked students to bring 5 photos of the local area to class. We then put these in a lucky dip and the students pinned them to a catchment area map on the back wall. Some was accurate, but much was not. This linked well to something that I had noticed in the initial exercise - that we don't really know as much about our own place/space as we think. I decided to extend this out to Scotland. We put a huge map in the centre of the room floor. Each student was given a location /landscape feature to find while the rest of the class were looking at Scotland's place in Europe. It took a few attempts to get there, but it was the class who finally re-organised the map. Hopefully, you can see the changes on the pictures below

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

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's worth taking a look at this blog...

Categories: Other
I recently got tagged by David Rogers in a blogging round. Basically (and many thanks for the mention), David suggested some blogs that he reads which others might be interested in. Anyone that is tagged is invited to do the same, and insert the image above in their post. I thought about this, and know that my inspirations in the teaching of Geography, such as David, Ollie, Alan, Tony, Noel and Val have been tagged before (I think). I wasn't sure if other people had directed readers to other geography blogs like Liz's or Victoria's (which I'm kind of doing now), but I also feel that this is an opportunity to just share some blogs which don't always inform my teaching, but that I find really good reads. First one is my favourite, but after that, it's in no particular order:

1) Google Maps Mania - Ever since I was young, I've been fascinated by maps. I could (and still can) sit for hours and pore over the atlas, reading the landscape from the colours and representations on the key. I followed the contour lines on O.S. maps to guess the shapes of peaks and then...then, I forgot. I graduated, started work and fell out of love with maps as a busy life took over. When I started training as a geography teacher, I quickly regained my enthusiasm for paper representations of space, but then google turned paper mapping on its head. Maps are now something which everyone relies on to some extent or other, whether it be businesses embedding electronic maps on their website or unfortunate individuals placing absolute trust in their sat navs as they drive into rivers. Anyone can make their own map, and cartography has never been so easy or popular. Keir Clarke's Google Maps Mania never ceases to amaze, amuse and articulate the vital role that mapping media plays today, with countless examples of rich, layered maps and apps. A must read.

2) Mapperz - There is often shared content between this and the above, and much of what I said about the first site applies here too. Some of the posts get a bit more technical, and I have been drawn to OpenStreetMap, among other things, because of this blog. Mapperz has a great knack of making maps and mapping something that I want to explore and experiment with more.

3) Free Technology for Teachers - The best site on the web for a stream of high quality web apps for professional purposes. Extremely prolific, Richard Byrne provides overviews and evaluations of the apps and occasionally has guest bloggers sharing their technology tips too. Probably the most valuable site for general teaching that I use just now, but also provides some great sites that, although I don't, can't or wouldn't use in a Geography class, take up roughly as much time as those I would :)

4) John's Posterous - John Johnston was my introduction to the possibilities of posterous with his experiments by iphone from his hill walks to the house window. Lovely photo albums, video, mini broadcasts from Donich summit, time lapse movies etc. I loved the simplicity of this site so much, I started my own and now have an s1 ICT class using posterous instead of a jotter so that they can display all of their media in the one place. Quietly inspiring.

5) Digital Urban - I can't really pigeonhole this beguiling blog, except to say that it's a city thing, funnily enough. I just find it so clever; it was the first place I saw tiltshift films, I am enjoying their series just now on tales of things and it generally satisfies with the quirky.

6) Edu.blogs - Ewan MacIntosh, as I've said before on this blog, was one of the two people who indirectly encouraged me to start blogging. Although Ewan has moved some way from the talk he gave to the MFL teachers (and me) at St Ninians some years ago, I still enjoy reading his articles, which remain innovative while stepping out of education more and more.

7) Geography Jazz - This is a cheat, as I've already mentioned Alan, but I think one of the things about the internet and social sites is that it makes us all a bit nosey. Alan has recently posted mostly geography related articles on this, one of his many blogs, but I also like it when he shares little personal snippets that reveal a bit more about the author's personality. Fine malt whisky, music and other asides make this blog feel as though Alan is writing it sitting beside a roaring fire, malt in hand and nodding to some freeform ;) That doesn't sound a bad life, not quite a travelodge, eh Alan? Alan also gets double mentions as he was the other blogger catalyst.

There are a host of other blogs that I regularly read, but I reckon these are a good representation of the kind of general reading that I find useful.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Losing consciousness-Silent disasters

Categories:s1 and s2
Sometimes, I think that teaching disasters has little impact as we feel so far removed from them. When students are learning about volcanoes or earthquakes, for instance, they are far more interested in the forces of nature behind the phenomena than the effect on people that they have. We are studying hurricanes at the moment in the s1 class, and I'd like the class to think about disasters that they don't hear about, or events here which they have not really classed as natural disasters which are in their own realm of experience. I can't remember if this is blocked, but I'll start the lesson with a geogreeting. We can talk about 'silent' disasters-Catastrophic events which we don't hear about because of their geographical location, the wealth or politics of the country where they occur. That's where the map in the greeting will be useful. It should emphasise the things which dilute their awareness of the disasters. Then, I'd like to show some images from flickr:

I'm sure the class will quickly pick up on the fact that this is a UK example. I love the shot of the empty road as it's a clear impact of the flooding. The other thing that is interesting about the slideshow is the volume of people and their expressions- laughter, curiousity, anger, concern. This is what I'd like to concentrate on, people's emotions, as it leads perfectly to the emotion graphing for the Hurricane Katrina clip we'll then use. To close the lesson, we'll 'travel with our minds' (copyright of the geography collective). I gave each of the class a new 'name' a couple of lessons ago. They had to wiki map their name as it referred to a previous hurricane. Some were (in)famous, some were not. I'd like the class to imagine they rode out their hurricane and write a postcard/telegram/blogpost to tell others what it was like. I want the students to do this before further researching their hurricane and then cross-check how accurate their account might have been. From this, hopefully, the class will realise that not all hurricanes, or for that matter, disasters have the same effect, despite what our popular perceptions of them are.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Re-presenting your country - A Scottish view of Scotland

Categories: s1 and s2
Tomorrow, I'm going to use the power of twitter in a different way with the same class that talked to the Catlin Survey. This time, instead of a live conversation, I asked those in my twitter network to tell us five things that they associated with Scotland. Between direct messages, replies and people using the #scotlesson tag, we had quite a staggering response. The replies came from all over the world, with the furthest coming from Dunedin in New Zealand, a place with a strong Scottish link. I want to ask the class a few questions before we view these. For instance, how would they like to see Scotland represented as a place? How would they like to see the Scottish represented as a people? What one thing makes them proud to be Scottish? What makes them ashamed? What one thing would they like people to know about Scotland that they might be unaware of? I'm going to use the wipeclean whiteboards for this, so that we can see at a glance recurring themes. We'll then look at the wordle of others replies:
Wordle: Scotland - To see ourselves as others see us
I'd be keen to see if the class could reason why people have this view of Scotland and the Scottish. Alan Parkinson sent me a great resource from Val Vannet, and I've stolen a few ideas from this too. Val was looking at 'mythconceptions' of a place and had two elements in her resource that I want to use. The role of popular media could easily be demonstrated by a google image search. The results of that are here, and it's easy to see why people have the images represented in the wordle. The other element is in labelling. Val included some adverts and food packaging, which reminded me very much of Miss Armstrongs class work which I'd planned to use. I'd then like to return to the questions we set at the start of the period. How can we challenge the common myths about Scotland? How can we re-present Scotland to the same audience? The biggest hurdle I think we might hit here is that the popular image is also the one that the Scottish revert to - a handful of Scots who replied via twitter, with a couple of exceptions, all boosted the stereotype! All things going well, I'd like to give the class a chance to give the people who made up our wordle a different view of Scotland. I've been inspired over the last couple of nights by two things. First, a fantastic set of presentations from a class here, in all sorts of formats. I'd like to give the students the choice of how they present this, helped hopefully by ideas from their audience. Secondly, I feel that this work links in to Claire O'Gallagher's mention of a competition about landscapes, so I might introduce this to the class after the lessons are closing. Many thanks to all those who responded to our request for input, hopefully, we will be able to give something back.