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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Rest...

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Another dustbin game, but this time as part of S3 revision for their end of unit test (coming up soon). Will also be turning to edmodo again as I'm locked out of glow in my new school. I've already set a diamond 9 activity for dealing with water pollution for one class, and will do the same with the other.
With my S2, I'm going to follow up an idea for our 75th anniversary open day and ask the class to source some Troon tales from parents and grandparents to see if we could map these. I tried geocaching for the first time today and thought it might be interesting to either plant some caches around the school (there is a public right of way goes through our grounds) or in the town to create a wee bit of story-caching on the back of this, but may come to nothing.

Talking about work at work

Categories: Industry
Have an observed lesson period 1 tomorrow with one of my s4 classes. I'm keeping things quite simple, as it's the first lesson in our block about industry. I thought I might start with a quick question of Industry or not? to make the point that any economic activity can really be classed as an industry. I'll then share the learning intentions:
1) To learn about the main types of industry
2) To learn about factors which influence the location of industry
I adapted a sheet at school for this, based loosely on the one below, but with 5 blank spaces. The spaces should be filled by the students using real people that they know as exemplar jobs, just to make the exercise a little more personal. This normally helps me illustrate that most people nowadays work in service industries.

Industry Starter
After the class have grouped together the industries (I usually impose a limit of no fewer than three categories and no more than five), I'll then define the four major industry types that most sources recognise in a very short note.
We'll move on at this point to use the Glasgow map and try to make the geographical link more explicit. I'll explain that all of these companies have quite unique needs, and would need to consider these were they locating their business. I'll ask the students to pick any 5 of the examples on their sheet and decide where they would locate them on the map, with at least three supporting pieces of evidence for each choice. We'll try to have a very brief discussion at the end of the lesson for this, as I'd also like to use the dutbin game below for a recap on our first learning intention:

Click here for larger version

Despite having taught this lesson many times before, some classes fare very differently, especially in the mapping part of the exercise. This is something I can spend more time on afterwards, but the two resources here will hopefully be something which is useful as revision too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dirty diamonds

Categories: Rivers
We cover pollution as part of our rivers topic. I'm going to be looking at river and sea water pollution and decided to turn this into a decision making exercise, which I'll use at some point in the coming week. After we've looked at the causes of pollution, we will try to decide which we think are the most effective ways of dealing with this problem. The diamond 9 exercise is below

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Mersey beat?

Categories: Urban, s1 and s2
Been racking my brains tonight for s4 and s2 lessons tomorrow. I had an idea of what I wanted to do with both, but have tinkered a bit with it now. I feel as though we have covered most of settlement with the other S4 class now, but I want to take stock of that before I move on to industry. I'll start S4 with a classification exercise, then I thought I'd use a flickr slideshow of Liverpool. I chose this because it's a city that people should be less familiar with-that's a good thing, because I want to see if the class can translate their own examples to any urban area. The images could offer a range of questioning opportunities. For instance, there was a great timelapse which could be used to ask the class why Liverpool made a good site for a settlement, some excellent images where they could identify examples of urban renewal, general which zone and why type questions. I'm toying with the idea of doing it as a pop quiz, with answers to be submitted afterwards. I would have used geograph for this exercise, but it seems to be denying access to the map. We could then do one of two things: a settlement wordmat as a plenary to the whole unit, or a random generator of terms with whole class responses being collated.
For S2, I'm looking back at some of my old resources to teach Japan, but thought it might be good to start a wikimap to show where some of our household electronics come from. This feeds in to something we will be talking about later, and is an idea adapted from Tony Cassidy. The map is shown below, and the link is here in case there are access problems.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wroclaw-a tale of two cultures

Its taken me a while, but here are the first of a number of photos I took last week in Wroclaw. Poland has intrigued me since my university days, when I studied the politics and the geography of the Eastern Bloc. I remember reading a lot about people such as Adam Michnik, the Solidarity movement, civil society and the role of the Catholic church as a vehicle of silent protest during communism. I was intrigued to see if I would recognise the Poland I had studied in my actual experience.
The first encounter we had was neither civil, nor religious and gave me the impression of a place where casual violence is rife. My brother stepped out of his taxi and was almost immediately the near victim of an assault by an alcohol and anger filled local. Our first walk into the main square bore witness to a full on brawl of around 20 locals. There was not a law officer in sight and the fight was pretty brutal. Welcome to Wroclaw!
As our apprehension abated, it became clear that this is a place with two cultural imprints shaping its identity. In the central area, the city is as visually engaging and inspiring as any in central Europe. Grand facades and open spaces for people only were surrounded by ornate churches with Mosaic roofs, grand public buildings and pretty river views. It retained its old world charm with horse and carts, flower markets and the overarching presence of the Catholic Church. There were nuns everywhere and the cathedral quarter had a strange, but wonderful ambience. I felt like I had stepped back in time, to an extent.
To provide a perfect contrast, the bell tower of the most central church gave us the vistas that couldn't hide the impact of nearly 60 years of Communist planning. Uniform high density housing, a monstrous power station probably no more than a couple of miles from the city centre and the real Wroclaw that most of its 600,000 or so residents live in. A really powerful reminder that we are never too far away from history (even if its the geography that teases it out).

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peripheral vision

Wordle: What I don't see

Just sharing this thought. It's unusual how most city panoramas or city views remove the one thing that sustains them, people. We were doing an exercise this morning in an S2 class looking at changing landscapes and land use in Japan. Last period, the class had watched part of a clip from Top Gear where the presenters were racing across Japan from west to east. Since we were studying Japan as a crowded land, the class pointed out in their observations the lack of people. We discussed how the physical geography inflenced where people might live and kept a close eye on the landscape as the race approached Tokyo.

Due to a technical hitch, I couldn't show the Tokyo part of the race, but instead recycled an exercise I'd used before which involved a short memory sketch of the Tokyo landscape. We used a panoramic view, looked for the most important features to outline, label and present. The standard was very good, and I might post some example sketches later. I was, however, interested to see if the students could percieve what the picture didn't show. Some of the results could prompt further discussion, for instance, about the environmental impact of a city's growth, but I still find it interesting that the city cloaks the activities of the forces that drive its very being, its population, their movements (roads, transport), their everyday lives.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Boo 2


Categories: rivers

Tried on the spot assessment again today using audioboo. This class have just completed work on the upper and middle courses of rivers, and I wanted to check their understanding. It was interesting how difficult some pupils found it to articulate their thoughts under pressure, and a sure lesson for what lies ahead in terms of assessment at Standard Grade. The same content will be required, and similar pressures of time and an unseen question will be presented to students. A worthwhile exercise for me as the teacher, and hopefully something the students can reflect on.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


S4 finished off some work about bypasses today. I managed to collect some of their thoughts via audioboo about the advantages and disadvantages of building these roads, but maybe we could have added more? Bear in mind, please, the absolute terror that S4 showed when they were asked to record their voices, nerves meant that what they had in their jotters, or what they told me before didn't always end up coming out in their speech! Hoping to get some comments from the class on this, but feel free to leave one if you're reading this.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Live through this

Categories: Urban, S1 and s2, Rivers

I had a class today who are quite behind my other class for the settlement topic. Instead of giving them the same homework as my other S4, I decided to give them a different type of home activity which will hopefully have some impact in raising their awareness of themes in the topic. The task is simple; a five minute walk. the walk can be anywhere at all. We talked about some potential locations, with obvious ones such as the house, through the town, in the city. It was left entirely up to the student to decide. The students have been asked to track the changes they observe in a number of areas:

1) Housing-does it change, is it old/new, high density, type?

2) People-are there lots/little, do they notice you, does the volume change trhoughout your walk?

3) Land use-is it industrial, residential, farmland, park etc?

4) The type of services- are they high, middle or low order?

5) Transport- is it congested/quiet, how is the traffic managed?

I said I did not mind how they did this, as long as they could provide evidence of the above. They could record the walk on their phone, walking and talking, photograph it, video it, write it, record it on a continuous roll of paper, anything at all. I know this is a little bit mission:explore and urban earth territory, but I'm hopeful that students will perhaps relate better to the topic they are studying and, as a desirable side consequence, relate better to the environments they live through. The big catch is that I've said I'd do it too...

For other classes tomorrow, probably a bit of Top Gear in S2 if we have time and a double option for S3, either comic life cartoons of a river's lower course or an old fashioned poster :())

Monday, September 06, 2010

Mr O'D's quick trip to Ireland?

Categories: Urban
Changed plans again today as half of Troon (including the school) lost its power. Used memory maps with the S4 and it worked quite well, then managed to move the class on to the bypass exercise. I'm linking to a couple of things here so that when I give the homework, students can access some information which might help with the facebook task. Here is a google map of Girvan ( I tried to embed this, but blogger was having a moment). I chose Girvan because it's local and I have memories of getting caught in traffic going for the Irish ferry in Stranraer! I suggested my problems would have been solved if a bypass had taken me round Girvan altogether. Using this map, students can turn on the layers to see photos, videos, property, terrain etc which should help their arguments regarding the bypass. I have provided the template to one class and will hopefully get some decent returns. It might also be worth having a look at the same area on wheresthepath so that the ordnance survey map can again be viewed beside the satelite photo. Not sure if I'll be able to record any of the class responses to the exercise during class time, but if I do, I'll stick them on here.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I know a place...

Categories: Geography General, Rivers, Urban
I was reading a link to a competition at the weekend and I thought it might be an interesting alternative exercise for students in the lower school. Hodder Geography are holding a competition to draw your own map of the world, real or imagined. This could be a map of favourite places, hidden places, happy places, a mood map, anything at all. After discussion with the S2 in particular, some students had struggled to relate to maps in the S1 unit in terms of their relevance and usefulness. This highly personalises the map as a medium and I feel would be a good addition to the S1 course that we have currently to engage the students with their learning. I wonder what the students would come up with, for instance, if they mapped their hometown as they would like it to be against as it is?
I had a test of audioboo today. I'm hoping to use this with one of my S4 classes tomorrow, as whole school assemblies played havoc with my plans on Thursday. It's quite nice, as I can record audio, tag its location on the map and then embed it. One use I'm thinking of for this is in a proposed microclimate investigation around the school which we could probably fit into the new weather unit. I'm also trying to use differenet types of media for presenting homework. The results are variable at the moment, but I quite like the crowd sourced revision wall by 3D1 below.

Finally, with S2 tomorrow, an easy period first of all completing a Japan mapping exercise and then comparing lifestyles at similar age groups using diary entries.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Your wilderness

Categories: Rivers, Other

I'm reverting back to using an old invaluable source for lesson inspiration today. Geointeractive has helped me split lessons into chunks in the past, and I'm intending on using two resources I found there today. We used a River Tees video the previous day to try to bring some of the features that we had been discussing in class to life. I'm going to start the period with a river dominoes activity, which concentrates on the physical aspects, then follow this up with a most likely to which covers both physical and human features of river landscapes. This is important as, although we haven't really looked at land use in detail yet, it featured quite heavily in the video.

On another note, it's very worthwhile having a look at
The Wilderness downtown. You need a chrome browser for it, but it's a really innovative use of media with a geographical slant. In case you can't view it using your own locations, I've inserted a youtube clip of it above. I enjoyed seeing the film featuring the street I stayed on as a kid. Had plenty to say in the postcard to my younger self too :-0

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lost on the bypass road

Categories: Urban

I've been trying to think of a way to look at urban traffic problems and bypasses with my S4 classes. I was thinking of using a maps from memory activity from David Leats book based around Newcastle, but feel there are times in the year when I'd want to do this type of activity again and I don't want it to wear thin. This is a vague collection of other people's ideas which I hope I can put into a single lesson or two, but I may take the path more travelled if I assess this tomorrow and feel it won't work.
First up is an adaptation of a colleague Val Adams exercise for the lower school based around Disney Pixar's Cars. Val related Radiator Springs to a local bypass issue. Due to the year group, the students were given lots of potential advantages and disadvantages to sort, but as it's a more senior group, I'd like to see if the students can arrive at most of these themselves. Towards the close of the discussion, I'll present more potential choices to the group.
Secondly, I'm going to use Google Earth or wheresthepath, choose a local settlement and trace two potential bypass routes, ask the group to consider the same advantages/disadvantages, but using local knowledge, decide which route they would choose and why. I'm toying with the idea of impromptu audioboos on their choices.
Finally, as a homework exercise, I'd like to use Tony Cassidy's facebook templates to recap on the themes. We'll construct facebook pages for pro/anti-bypass campaigners. I'd like to see some simulated debate on wall posts, who would be likely to fan this page etc. As I say, we'll see what tomorrow brings, but would be nice to pull this off.

Family tree

Something I've played around with for years when students are learning about Japan. An excellent piece of work handed to me this morning reminding me of why I do it. Great effort!

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