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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

End Game

VIDEO0025.3gp Watch on Posterous

More S2 work. Third of three classes, so apologies if its repetitious on previous posts, but I still feel the work deserves more than its place covering the crumbling masonry on my classroom walls :-)

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Monday, March 28, 2011



It seems as though most of the work we are displaying just now relates to the tsunami, although some is past work which I am just now getting a chance to review. However, this is a piece of work which started as something different but, through the students themselves, became focused on current events. This is very important in my mind as it is student led learning rather than a teacher force feeding disaster facts. The students concerned also took this home to complete without invitation. I am really drawn to the unconscious prioritisation of elements of the collage. It seems to me that by placing rescue at the centre and 'Hope' on its own outwith the cluster of words, the piece of work retains an optimistic quality to offset the images of disaster. From Emma, Sophie and Kerry 2D

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

#sendaihaiku Personal student responses to the Japanese tsunami

Categories: Environmental hazards, writing & assessment, Other
I have been poring through some S2 tsunami haikus. I had shown the class an example haiku below;

When the buildings sway
The victory of structure
is lost in the wave

This was to introduce the structure of a haiku, but also to set the tone that I was looking for. I wasn't really thinking 'geography' at all, just looking for a personal response to human tragedy. I think it's fair to say that summarising such a massive impact event was something that, unsurprisingly, a number of 12 to 13 year old students found too challenging, but some students wrote very powerful haikus, something emboldened by the brevity of the response in my opinion. I am very proud of the students thoughtful approach above and would encourage other schools and practitioners to submit their own classes contributions via the twitter hashtag. We offer nothing yet more than our thoughts and prayers and hope that empathy across distance is met with the other support that the Japanese people need at this time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Random Assessment - Student's work using the Learning Event Generator

Categories: Other
This was time consuming, but worth it. Students, after some initial hesitation, really embraced the assessment modes. Apologies about the stumbling commentary. I also now realise that the elephant linked to the zoo story which ran right through the storyboard! Quite clever use of narrative. Thanks to John Davitt for the inspiration.

1923 Rhapsody

Voice0025.amr Listen on Posterous

This is a sterling effort, where three students wrote, then one performed a cause, effect and response composition based on David Leat's 1923 Tokyo Earthquake exercise. More to come, as we were using John Davitt's learning event generator.

Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pixton Taster

We used this to summarise a piece of learning and intend to use it for a major piece of homework soon. Hope to get a little peer reiew of work tomorrow. A nice tool.














Apologies if I'e left anyone out, jumping backward and forward between edmodo and pixton. Will happily edit the post

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Homework - The eternal dilemma

Categories: Other
I have been keeping this post in reserve, hoping that by the time I publish it, more students will have completed work like Rachel's above. She has clearly understood the exercise, that is, to present a three frame summary of a farming type citing location, landscape and the farming system. I could have asked the class to do the same thing through a past paper, a list of questions, a note, but thought that they might respond to a creative application of their knowledge. Unfortunately, I think I'll be publishing the post.

In doing so, I'm sharing my experience of homework, home learning, independent learning, call it what you will, and also, I suppose, looking for answers. First of all, I should clarify that I don't believe in homework for the sake of homework. The exercise was a precursor to a lesson that I had planned, which it now looks unlikely that I'll be able to deliver. I have regularly tried to give homework which is a stimulus for future learning rather than a repetition, and in this exercise, the knowledge had to be collected and processed by the students themselves before creating the strip. I have, of course, used past paper revision as exam preparation to ensure that students are prepared for current assessements too. However, I'm looking at a gradebook, where 8 out of 29 students have completed the set homework, 2 out of 19 completed a past paper homework in my other S3 class (until SMT involvement, which then turns homework into a conflict) and 2 S2 classes have given scant return on the most recent home exercise, aimed at raising awareness (and money) for the Japanese Tsunami.

I looked back through some of the homework that has been given to various different year groups. In summary, I feel that it's been varied, achievable and useful. We used wallwisher to source information about a topic prior to starting and also as a revision tool. We have used games, diamond 9 sorting exercises, food labelling, Google Earth, collective mapping to show globalisation, learning walks, photographs and more standard pieces of written homework. Individual learning styles have all been given a chance to shine. Yet, I still find the same problem in terms of submission rates. I still find there to be little appreciation of the role of home learning in the overall. I must also stress that I don't feel that I over set in terms of homework, so I find it even more puzzling when so little is returned. Perhaps I'm just having a good moan, but I would be grateful of any insights, whether from fellow professionals or students. Is there a point to homework? And if so, what am I missing?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quick Quiz

For supported study tonight

Click here for larger version

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A teaching response to Japanese tragedy

Categories: Environmental hazards
Yet again, as we teach tectonic hazards, a major disaster has occurred. I thought Christchurch was it, but the subsequent events of the weekend in Japan show that nature never fully shows its hand. Japan, amongst all countries which lie on fault lines or plate boundaries, is probably best prepared for major tectonic events. It has invested billions in the infrastructure which mostly withstood Friday's massive earthquake. Instead of celebrating a triumph of modern engineering, we are left with the images of the tsunami which followed devastating coastal communities, as well as witnessing the very real threat of a nuclear disaster. I feel if I overplay this with the classes, on the back of the Christchurch earthquake, it will a) trivialise the event b) become repetitive and disengage learners and c) be an abuse of my position for teaching capital. On the other hand, students may wish to know more.
As a compromise to this, I'm going to show the class the BBC news special as an addition to the work the class are already doing on this topic and with no set agenda for the actual lesson unless the students look for more. In terms of a response, I would like it to be individual and meaningful. I'm going to ask the class to support the idea of haikus as their own response, after a discussion I had on twitter with colleagues. I'd like to explore whether it's possible to collate these, put through a free publishing package and sell for a nominal fee for the Red Cross or a similar disaster relief charity. If anyone has done something similar before, I'd be grateful to hear about your experiences, which might help us succesfully construct ours.

An Open Letter to Fergus

Categories: Rural
An idea I'm working on with my S3 classes is very dependent on this evenings dinner. I openly declared at the start of our rural topic that, even as a teacher, it took me a long time to realise the reason that kids in town and cities really need to know about farming. I set a homework, which is due tomorrow. Some have already returned it. I've asked the class to bring in a piece of packaging from tonights meal. I'm interested to see what the students eat and where it's from. So far, even the processed stuff is farming produce and the majority of it is British. I'm trying to explore with the class the notion that we depend on farmed produce for, well basically, our existence. As part of the lesson, I'll ask students to plot their packaging on Google Earth ( which will also allow us to look at local v International produce) and reflect at the end of the unit on my old trusted Fergus Drennan video. Fergus is a forgager and basically feels that we should be able to rely on wild, fresh food. I'm not sure he is really saying it in so many words, but it could be argued this is anti-farming. At the end of the unit, I'm going to ask students to draft an open letter to Fergus Drennan. They can agree or disagree with his own views, but I'm more interested that they can articulate the positives and negatives of modern farming. We'll see how it goes...

Monday, March 07, 2011

Random assessment and moving countries

I started pieces of work with two classes today which I'm blogging for a permanent record, should they work well. My S2 class started a card sort activity looking at the causes, effects of and responses to earthquakes. The class were in groups of three and this was a ten minute activity. Instead of giving the class more writing for understanding, we used the random generator after the assessment criteria had been explained. Some nice choices by the groups so far- a drama acted out in class, a radio weather forecast and a sportscast among others. I look forward to seeing how these develop.

With S4, we went outside for use of a large space. I had allocated each person in the class a country, which they had to display. We were starting development indicators and I wanted to see what their understanding of development was. First, the class were asked to split into developed and developing countries. They were then asked to line up by wealth. This was interesting as the class assumed countries like Kuwait were at the lowest end. We reorganized on corruption, health and finally happiness, before returning to the class for a plenary discussion where actual results were shared.

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