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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Culzean Trip

This is a small collection of images from today as our final S3 Culzean trip draws to a close. What a marvellous place to study geography! In the morning, our group split in two and moved between the Culzean coast and the visitor exhibition. The coastline offers excellent opportunities not just for erosion studies, but also to look at the effects of isostatic uplift (raised beaches) and the effect of meltwater (gorges) on the landscape. Chuck in a bit of geology and it ticks a lot of boxes.
We spent the rest of the day looking at tourism and its impacts, with environmental quality and attractiveness surveying. A really full day, very useful for understanding not just geographical themes, but geographical enquiry.

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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Testing new posterous update


Been having some bother with the app, just seeing if this posts with a photo. This is from Portmeirion, taken in the summer

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

Lo-Fi learning

Looking back over this weeks lessons in my planner, I'm struck by how little technology I've used. Here is a snapshot of the learning
Advanced Higher, on returning from a fieldwork weekend, mind mapped hypotheses, methodology, results and conclusions in stations for psammosere, hydrology, coastal and slope studies. It was the easiest way to share understanding with a tangible, visible result. It also prepared the students perfectly for the subsequent NAB assessment for Geographical Methods and Techniques later in the week.
With S4, we made a concession to technology and used Google Earth to introduce an area, including layers and streetview. However, the main focus of the lesson involved a whole class post it sort under defined headings followed by groupwork on diamond 9 templates to prioritise solutions to physical, social and environmental problems of developments in the tundra.
Higher used post its also to label a blank hydrological cycle in sequence. Although the topic was new, the cycle was not, and this was a quick way to establish strengths and development areas and cut dead time from the learning process.
The main interactions today which were not linked to Monday's lessons involved introducing an assessment task to S2. We are trying to move away from the idea that assessments are sit down, silent, solo exercises and this involved a paired card sort on a Japanese natural disaster, followed by a 100 word summary of the event (students found this incredibly difficult, particularly as we also imposed a lower word limit which they had to exceed). The options thereafter involved using the card sort to either write or storyboard tsunami causes and the specific impacts of this event. Again, the criteria for this introduced significant challenge. It will be interesting to hear students self reflection on this.
S3 had been given a single term each and had to pool these together as a class to distinguish between cause, effect and solutions for river pollution. David Walliams Thames trials were the focal point for introducing this topic, proof that students do heed at least some of the news
Wednesday and Thursday mostly involved giving time over to students to complete some of the learning activities from earlier in the week and present their findings. One S4 class did, however, begin looking at the Mediterranean Climate. We sources information in 30 second slots, working individually, then in pairs, then groups and presented these on a spider diagram for all to see. Brilliant outcomes, as the image of the typical package holiday was screaming out from the board and allowed us to both suggest this image could be challenged and begin to look at the pros and cons of tourism.
As many people before me have said, technology should be a vital component for today's students, but it shouldn't be a crutch and it shouldn't be used just because its shiny and new. I think I could probably have used elements of tech to deliver similar lesson outcomes, but I'm not sure the lessons would have been more effective. In many ways, having access to less technology in my current school has forced me to be a more resourceful teacher. The important thing is to take it off that planner page and continue to share it. This, for me, is one of the truest values of technology and is central to how we are also trying to promote our students work, paper or electronic.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Pecha Kucha: a hard sell

This is a no frills post about using Pecha Kucha with my Higher class. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is basically 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide and no text to deliver a talk on a topic. We tailored this slightly amongst groups for explanation of coastal feature formations and then gave the opportunity for peers to question or feed back after each presentation. The activity was peer assessed also, as marking grids were used during the talks.
Some observations: students found this very difficult as they felt rushed and therefore prone to mistakes. I related this to the exam and the same problem of time and organisation. We also discussed why groups were running out of time and I suggested it was due to the repetition between speakers. This is easy to extract in an oral exercise, but is also a common complaint of teachers marking exam scripts.
I asked how the class were as teachers. Some students felt they had excelled, but in reality, they had all at some point been hesitant, checked for approval, mumbled through points of uncertainty and doubted themselves. I stressed I wasn't assessing their ability as teachers, but it is important to speak with authority and confidence on your given topic. Again, in examination terms, I've marked scripts, given them back with suggestions only for candidates to tell me they were thinking of writing something but doubted its relevance. If its not on the paper, it can't gain the marks.
Not everyone felt they understood their own topic and less again felt others did. Students felt that the focused nature of the task was good but others said they had not taken enough responsibility for their learning. Again, the teacher doesn't sit the exam and I think its important to address this early.
Finally, we talked about how to make it better. I gave an example from a few years ago of a question were rote learning of the topic didn't give enough to answer the coasts question in the exam well. It was more important that students understood how their learning was linked e.g. what links a cliff to a wave cut platform, a headland and bay to a stack. We talked about how not to study, but haven't resolved the best method as it will differ by pupil.
In summation, I am sure that some students saw the value of the activity, but am equally sure that some still won't see it as a bigger picture. I think I would use this again. Presenting the first part took me out of my comfort zone. I can't help thinking that the experience will be less important to students in the end up than the marking grid which came with it. Please let me know your experiences using pecha kucha and share them in the comments.

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