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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

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.
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