<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d23069377\x26blogName\x3dOdblog\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttps://geodonn.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_GB\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://geodonn.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d8160912104340948054', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>


A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Apparently, place does matter!

Categories: Geography General
Well, that's according to the world view of 13 and 14 year olds. We had a wide ranging lesson today with an S2 group (you might want to read the previous post for a bit of context) which went off on some lovely tangents and really couldn't have happened without the assistance of an incredible professional network. I've tried to blog the lesson as close to actuality as I can remember. I'll state at the outset that, even as a Geography Teacher, I find the notion of space and place hard to define as it permeates everything. At times, this felt like I'd re-entered my 'Principles of Geography' theory class at Uni again.

We started off with a picture of a lone bench on the Ballast Bank in Troon (correctly identified by lots of the kids) and discussed the importance of this place to the person the bench is in memory to and also the photographer, who saw a sea view as a fitting epitaph. To the rest of the class, at most, this place is a nice walk and holds no particular importance.

This led on to the phenomenon that is Where the hell is Matt? I thought the class may have seen this before, but they hadn't and were very taken by it, so much so that I think I may have shaped a few future career paths :-) The point of using this clip was to spark curiosity about more than just the funny dances, but the places as well. A discussion followed about which places people would visit and why. What interested me was that, for example, one boy wanted to visit Vegas based totally on the images of that place that have been presented to him through television and other media ('The Hangover', mainly!). Although he felt familiar with Vegas the place, or perhaps because he was 'familiar' with it, he still wanted to experience the place himself. It's easy to forget that places aren't just physical, but have an ambience and a psychological connection too

I then showed the picture from Resolute Bay in Baffin Island and the accompanying quote from Sharon Somerville. The students asked how Sharon and I were in contact, which was a nice story about a place that links us both, The Catlin Arctic Survey Base. We discussed whether remote places lead to a more place aware view of the world. We talked about skype, facebook, msn and all he contacts we had that we had never connected with in their 'place', yet we could describe large parts of, for example, New York city with relative ease. Did our connections lead to a better understanding of place? Is the world so small that we can 'invade' a place without even stepping out the door? In fact, when everything is at the click of a button, is place important at all? The surprising answer to that last question was a resounding 'yes'.

With two exceptions, the class felt that place was vital in understanding world events,understanding connections between places, from something as simple as knowing where it was and how to get there to more cerebral reasons. Over the next couple of slides, a definite feeling from the class that our world view is very much influenced by our 'own places' was emphasised, something that Tony Cassidy had suggested as part of the original discussion. Even for those who felt that place wasn't important, there was a consensus that, watching life in an Indian slum, for example, seemed to repel us, because it wasn't part of our own experience of place. We use our own places as a barometer for everything else in the world around us. It's a constant subconscious comparison.

After this, we had a quick round of Scottish places. As students had clearly indicated the importance of place, it would be interesting to see their mental map of their own country. Using tags, we placed a variety of locations on a blank Scotland on the board. We started with the main settlements, followed up with potentially 'important' Scottish places and finished with three outlying islands. I loved the way this developed. Troon was placed in the Highlands. The rest of the class had an inkling that this was wrong, but it influenced where people put everything else. For instance, Glasgow was placed above Troon, because the person with that tag knew that he would have to travel North to Glasgow from here! As we moved away from the big cities, place knowledge got more and more vague, yet later, some of the types of places I had included were the type of places that students wanted to learn about for their next country study e.g Places with cultural significance. From this, we were able to ascertain a lot of the things that we wanted to be part of our place knowledge and leads us perfectly into this new unit of work with the students as stakeholders in their learning. Perfect!
A monster lesson which jumped all over the place but had positive outcomes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

#placematters Or does it?

Categories: Geography General
I'm having a cracking discussion on 'place' on twitter right now. It all stemmed from an idea for a lesson tomorrow with an S2 class (which is now out of the window!). We have just started looking at India and one of the barriers to learning I sometimes feel presents itself is a questioning of the need for knowledge of places, regardless of where is being studied. I simply put the same question out on twitter, as shown in the picture above. The response has been quite out of proportion to what I was expecting, and it's been interesting watching the replies come in, although I have to say I've lost track completely.
One of the notable elements of this is that, so far, none of the replies have said that place has no importance. However, three of the earliest replies came from people in the Shetlands, Baffin Island and Stornoway, all geographically remote places. I wonder if people in isolated communities feel more of a need for knowledge of the outside world? I wonder if urban living is so instant that it dulls the thirst for knowledge about other places?
I expected a reply from Geography colleagues, but the swings of the discussion surprised me a little. For instance, there was a debate about whether some places NEED to be taught regardless of students disposition to learning about them. There was a reopening of an old discussion about knowledge v skills and also about the idea of 'useless' knowledge still being important. Most of interest to me was the idea that students should be involved in deciding the place knowledge that they later acquire. As a teacher, this potentially makes my job a lot more difficult and takes me out of my comfort zone, all probable reasons for giving it a go!
I think I may give some time over to classes on this tomorrow, so many points raised, it might be worth doing a stations activity and collating students own thoughts on the matter, as well as shaping some of the place work that we do for the India unit too. Certainly beats the short discussion about the importance of place and, once that had been established, the 'big room' mapping exercise that I had planned in the first place! Thanks to Alan Parkinson, Tony Cassidy, Angus Willson, Caroline Breyley, Sharon Somerville, Steve Bunce, Murray Cockburn, Liz Sutherland and Jan Webb for contributing their thoughts. If anyone would like to contribute to the discussion, please leave a reply here or contact me via twitter at @Kenny73. You could use the hashtag #placematters after your tweet too if replying. Thanks to all for another great wee bit of professional development. I'll leave the last word to Alan:

"...there's a world of places to choose from and some of them should be decided by the students"

Parkinson (2011)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Troon meets @missionexplore

Categories: s1 and s2, Geography General

Tried a mix of mission:explore activities with an S2 class today and really enjoyed the outcomes. With a class of 32, this can be a little difficult to manage, but today the class seemed to engage well in the lesson and, hopefully, learned from the experiences.
Before we used the school grounds, we had a really good discussion about space and place, resulting in us deciding which places were happy, sad, threatening etc. This was important, as some of the missions we were planning on doing required an emotional response. The missions which ended up being most succesful, however (perhaps surprisingly), were the ones which allowed a clear link with more traditional geography.
We started by adapting the 'Look out recall' exercise by sitting beside the public right of way at the top of the school grounds. Students were given a couple of minutes to take in the view and then faced away and sketched what they could remember. It was interesting to note that they actually exhibited the principals of good field sketching. All of the major outlines were drawn first and detail came afterwards. Peripheral or less prominent parts of the landscape were not included as, subconsciously, they must not have registered as important. I'm going to use this exercise with classes in future before covering field sketching techniques as it effectively does half the teachers work for them through the pupils own initiative.
Another of the missions I was really impressed by was the 'soil your page' activity. The students went to 3 different locations and took a soil rubbing to compare. Some pages had slightly darker rubs, but most were the same colour. I heard a student say "it's just all dirt", but then we really gave purpose to the activity in a town dominated by the sport of golf. I took my phone out and we checked the superficial geology using the iGeology app. This showed that the area which the school was built on was all clay, sand and gravel from raised beach deposits. However, the golf course across the hedge was blown sand and this allowed us to tie links golf into land uses and terrain.
We also did an activity from the selection which was about exploring the things which were growing in a small area. I chose a strip roughly about 10m in length and the students had to find out how many different plant species could be found, which ones they knew by name and so on. From what looked like just grass and trees, this expanded to include dandelion, daisy, moss, lichens, various unidentified plants growing among the grass blades and was a nice quick and easy study into biodiversity.
We completed a number of other missions too, including finding shelter if we were homeless ( putting students in a different relationship with this familiar space), speculating on what this place would be like in 100 years (some interesting takes on this, including runways for flying cars!) and some others I had put together on a sheet. It was a little unexpected how much we managed to cover in subject content in such a short time and the way that this content was delivered fully included the students in shaping their own learning. A really nice way to get students out of the class and thinking about the everyday in a different way.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Repetitive strain

Categories: s1 and s2, Urban, other
Tomorrow, it's a bit of a revision fest. Trying to keep it fresh and not too repetitive, but still relevant to exam content and, also, technique. First and last period see S4, who have now finished the course (and finish up for exam leave in early May), do a bit of work on the settlement topic. I'm going to try to create groups through an easy starter actvity, where each person in the class will have a card on their desk on entering the room. The cards will include typical features of the three main zones of cities, as well as the ways in which each zone has changed. This will allow six groups to be created e.g. a group who have cards with inner city features, another with inner city changes and so on. The groups will then be asked to either describe and explain the likely characteristics of their zone or describe the ways in which their zone has changed in recent times. These could be potential examination questions, so it also allows for some exam practice. We will then spend some time peer assessing the work and trying to improve responses before sharing the end results.
With S3, the end of year exam is on Tuesday. I'm not sure how many students I'll have as some may be sitting exams tomorrow, but if I have a full class, we will aim for maximum course coverage through a walkabout talkabout exercise followd by a closing discussion of the finished exercises.
Finally, I had planned to do some earthquake proofing with S2, but as the shaking table finds itself currently halfway down the Clyde Valley, and having looked at tomorrow's forecast, I'm going to give the class a bit of this, which has always worked well in the past. This also gives a little bit of fieldwork to a year group who I think, in terms of course incorporation, need a lot more.
As an aside, I've been enjoying the break too much to blog about it, but played with this tone matrix for hours and had an idea for how it could be used in a lesson context. I will come back to this...