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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Revision thief

Categories: s1 and s2, Population, other
Tomorrow, I'm going to start preparing S3 classes for the weather assessment. We'll start off with a topic traffic lights exercise to create a personalised revision plan. I want to then give the period over to an activity I just, em, nicked from the presentation above from Tony Cassidy, where the class split in to 'students' and 'examiners', 9 of each if possible. This will be more difficult with the class of 29 tomorrow, so might need to tailor this and look for alternatives. Basically, it involves an activity where the parts of the topic are split up and students move around the various themes and have to give an account to the examiner (who is marking them). Halfway through, the roles change, so that everyone has a chance to hear others responses (hopefully some good ones) as well as having to think on their feet a little.
With S4, we are at the end of the population topic in both classes, looking at migration. However, Tony has pointed me to some good case study resources which are highly relevant for our purposes, particularly as the Gambia is our own example. Pushing quickly through lots tomorrow to try to wrap up the unit.
S2 are finishing some display work prompted by the resources blogged about in the last post. Thinking of putting some work on here and also might ask a member of the S3 to video some of the revision activity for assessment purposes.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christchurch- a lesson perspective

Categories:s1 and s2, Environmental hazards

This is a post I wrote on the phone on Wednesday. For one reason or another, I couldn't publish it till now, but I thought it was worth sharing due to the current nature of events.

I've blogged previously about how its an easy thing to either cover natural disasters or ignore them for the wrong reasons. Yesterday, I was travelling to work and heard about the Christchurch Earthquake on the radio. I felt this was worth abandoning the planned lessons for, while at the same time hoping to balance the geography with the empathy .
We started the period with four discussion starters. It's important to stress at this point that this was breaking news and few of the students were aware of the events. First of all, we considered whether there was any correlation between when earthquakes occur and the damage they do. Both classes had some excellent reasoning here. I gradually revealed the Christchurch time only after the classes had identified this time of day as one of the worst possible.
Secondly, we considered whether it was really possible to prepare for earthquakes. We started this from an individual perspective, considering earthquake survival necessities (some great class inputs), while at the same time throwing in a simulated earthquake drill. However, we also looked at the wider problems such as the uncertainty of seismic gaps, discussion of aftershocks and the way that the built environment was constructed to cope depending on a country's wealth.
This led perfectly on to both the response to disasters (personal, community and authority responses) and the short & long term priorities in the wake of an earthquake. I showed the class the New Zealand news bulletin where the Prime Minister of the country was being interviewed, which I thought was a great leveller, to see this leader of men at times at a loss for what to say. Even more powerful was the second clip, six minutes of unedited news footage with no audio. The atmosphere in the clip is surreal, often hushed into an eerie silence despite the volume of people in the shot. There is a real sense of shock, a city stunned and some bizarre attempts at ignoring the mayhem (the man in full running gear out for a jog while everyone else is preoccupied with events springs to mind), as well as good illustrations of the panic, fear and devastation as buildings collapse in front of the onlookers eyes. I think the fact this was almost 'live' had quite an impact in interest and learning.

Finally, to place ourselves in the same situation, we adapted Tony Cassidy's Introduction to Earthquakes to look at the earthquake through the eyes of a Christchurch resident (being continued today). I hope this sparks enough interest for the class to want to find out something about this for themselves, as there has been blanket coverage today. That would be the ideal lesson outcome, encouraging students to engage with the real world events which too often slip quietly by.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Darfur commentary for HMD2011

Download now or listen on posterous
Darfur commentry.amr (84 KB)

This is a commentary by Rachel and Lucy to fit a no comment video clip. It is based on some work the class were doing around the problems in Darfur. Just looking for a place to host this at the minute.

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

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A lesson in 3 parts (and by 3 teachers)

Categories: Other
I have a visit from the Head Teacher tomorrow who is looking at classroom routines and the quality of students learning. As we are almost ready to move on in the topic, we are at a slightly difficult juncture. The class are almost there with synoptic charts and weather station symbols but still have some inconsistencies in their responses in class. I don't want to move the class on until the group are confident in reading the weather, so I've decided on a three stage lesson, which is pretty straightforward, but will also be usable for revision with S4 students at supported study.
At the beginning of the lesson, we will have a mock up synoptic chart on the board. I tried an activity today which allowed whole class involvement in our starter through use of the random name picker. I have a tendency to ask questions to sections of the room, so this should spread the activity around. I borrowed laminated cards from a colleague, Mr Marshall, and we used (and will use) them to identify important features such as the warm and cold sectors, fronts, high and low pressure and wind patterns. As individuals come out to the board, the rest of the class will annotate their own version of this.
Afterwards, we will introduce people to the equation. This comes from a resource borrowed from Mr Douglas and is important in developing thinking skills as there can be more than one answer. In pairs this time, students will try to place the statements on the chart as well as creating some of their own and swapping with their partner. This will be helpful as we go on to look at the effects of weather next.
Finally, an individual activity based on the real weather. Choosing at least one area (most probably the local one), we will use met office surface pressure charts, accurately account for the weather at the present time, but also try our hand at forecasting the future weather. The fact that we will be able to check this by moving the chart forward in time is invaluable. I think this is perhaps ambitious to cram into a period, but there is also some extension work available if students finish this. I don't know how the lesson will go, but if nothing else it's a great example of collegiality considering three of us have sourced parts of the lesson, and I'm thankful to both colleagues for the ideas. Hopefully, I can return the favour.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Earthquake Weather


Categories: s1 and s2, Population, Other
Trying to catch up on some lessons which I wanted to blog, more as a reminder to myself than anything else. I'm looking at earthquakes for the first time with S2 today. The class should already have a fair knowledge of where earthquakes occur and why they occur too, from the work they have already completed on plate tectonics. Today, we are going to look at how they occur and how they are recorded. I can't remember who it was, but someone recently questioned why students needed to know about different types of earthquake wave. I actually think this is quite important. It develops a deeper understanding of the damage that earthquakes can do and links in to the work that students do later on earthquake proofing. It is quite technical and, I think, strengthens Geography's claim to straddle the science and social subjects, as it takes the waves studied in Physics and links it to people and place. I always borrow slinky coils and ropes from Physics when we teach this, and we'll be doing a demo of P, S and L waves using these today. I also found out very recently that we have a seismometer sitting here unused which is shared by the Physics and Geography department. I have asked for it to be connected to the network, but want to prompt students to think about how it works before we actually use it. For that purpose, I'm setting a little problem solving exercise loosely based on this for my S2 class today. It will be interesting to see how close they come to the website version (update-one group almost spot on in less than ten minutes!).
I am teaching weather again for the first time in many years. Again, it's a scientific branch of Geography, and as such, introduces lots of new terminology. We have been talking about air masses and air pressure recently. For air masses, a simple starter I gave to both S3 classes involved rubbing the table and creating friction and heat. We then sat the paper of a jotter page over the table for a few seconds. The Paper had clearly taken some of the table's heat. This made it very easy explaining how air which forms in certain parts of the world is hot and dry, cold and wet etc just from students knowledge of place. It also helped explain some of the recent cold weather and snow, as we talked about polar air passing over the North Sea actually being heated and taking some moisture to hit eastern areas in particular.
When talking about pressure, as well as looking at the general features of high and low pressure, we also covered the movement of air using this nice little exercise from Alan Parkinson's site. A nice way to bring air masses and air pressure together, as well as introducing synoptic charts was Tony's exercise here. Today, we are starting to look at weather fronts in more detail.
As ever, I'm really enjoying teaching population. With S4, we used the population clock and some key landmark dates in students life lived and yet to come to start looking at population change and how population counts are conducted. This generated some good discussion, as did the Death Clock, which brought a little light relief, but also, an understanding of how lifestyle, gender etc can influence life expectancy. From this, we started looking at some of the other useful information that can be gathered during population surveys through the embedded site above, such as information about religion, cause of death from death certificates and more. This really opened up the reasons why population counts are important, but also led us on to discussion of why the counts might not be accurate. Yesterday (and again today with my other S4 later), we focused more on population change, with the wonderful jelly babies game to get things moving. Thanks to Alan again for the discussion starter.