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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little Fluffy Clouds and literacy

Following on from the cloud homework we completed with S3 recently, I wanted to see if it aided the understanding of the passage of a depression. We spent the start of the period talking about the unusually warm weather and decided we must be in the warm sector of the depression (confirmed by the met office synoptic chart). We had a little go at predicting the weather before I randomly distributed some of the clouds that the class had observed.
With these, the class worked in pairs to create a cloud 'profile'. I compared it to a celebrity/ football magazine which has a movie star/ player factfile. For this exercise, we thought about location (in relation to weather fronts), distinguishing characteristics, travel plans and temperament. Although some of the class stayed safe and did very formulaic profiles (perhaps a failing of mine in terms of promoting the aims of the activity fully), some were very creative.
Some examples of really good characterisations might include the nimbostratus cloud which was "slightly overweight", "laying low" and "sweating profusely", an excellent description of the low cloud and persistent rainfall at the warm front. We also had obese cumulonimbus clouds, the "tallest in their class" with "anger management issues" and other such descriptive accounts.
I liked this exercise, but would give it more prominence than 15 minutes at the end of the lesson. It has a lot of scope if given a fuller introduction to further develop both subject and general literacy while placing subject knowledge in a different context. I wonder if something like this would be valid assessment of learning in the new qualifications?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Map tig and cloud appreciation

While I wait on possibly the most frustrating laptop in the world to reopen (nicely shut down while I was working on video clips), thought I would blog two ideas I've developed a bit this week. The first is a way to illustrate globalisation through communication. We had been discussing our take on what globalisation meant in the S2 rotation and the idea that the way we communicate can shrink distance came up. I decided to try to incorporate this idea into a piece of homework which also established the links we all have to other places. I used scribblemaps and introduced the idea of mapping where our favourite possessions, our most memorable holiday destinations or our far flung Facebook friends came from on this. The exercise would be completed on the map by an individual who would then 'send to a friend' for further editing adding their own input. This had to be shared by at least 4 people. No face to face discussions were allowed except for the initial class discussion. Any communication would have to be by text, email, messenger, Skype etc It will be interesting to see if we can facilitate 'faceless' collaboration, which would ve excellent in demonstrating the 'information economy'. Hopefully, more to come.
The other exercise I'm quite intrigued by involved setting 'cloud homework' after looking at the passage of an Atlantic depression I'm Britain. It was a very simple piece of work involving students cloud spotting at the time of their pleasing over the weekend. They had to record the time, date and cloud type using the Cloud Appreciation Society guide. I'm intending randomly redistributing these 'clouds' as a tag and asking students to place them on a depression as a starter or plenary. Simple idea, but hopefully it  connects students with the topic by actually absorbing what is around them.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shared Responsibility

It seems incredible to someone who found it difficult to study even at University level that Study Skills are introduced in the lower secondary now. However, when discussing a lesson that my PLP (Personal Learning Planning) class were involved in today with a colleague, I think he is right in saying the earlier the better, because its not really about exams, its about taking responsibility for learning.
We had been discussing Study Skills and thought it would be interesting to take some familiar and less familiar techniques to revise the same block of text. It was a silly news story from the day about an accidental gunshot incident which resulted in some embarrasment for the person committing the crime. To indicate some of the variety of techniques, we had mindmaps, wordmats, mnemonics, audio memos, creating questions alongside reading notes and summary cards. The vital element here was that no one was working alone, which students had confirmed that they commonly do.
I left the exercise with the thought of coming back to it the following week. One thing led to another and, with Higher prelims interrupting my time with this class, I had to postpone. Two weeks and a half term later, I feared the worst for any retention. How wrong I was!
I was informed today that a 29 year old male, whose name escapes me, but not the class, had been practising with his girlfriends fathers gun for a forthcoming camping trip. This was in Loch Earn. Two men were on a nearby boat, Kyle Walker and Thomas Gilmour according to the class. A shot was fired by accident and hit the hull of the boat they were on. The perpetrator deeply regretted his actions but Sherrif Brown was not impressed and fined him £600! I couldn't believe how much had stuck and it was noticeable how confidence grew among the group as contributions were offered. I think the class were quite chuffed with themselves. I asked them if they thought they had been taught the content well. At first, a few nodded and then the realisation came that I had only facilitated their learning through my involvement in steering the groups. They had shown themselves to be successful learners despite no teacher led work and despite all taking different paths to recount a story. This led us into a discussion about whose responsibility it is to ensure achievement in academic pursuits. While teachers can clearly make a difference and have a huge responsibility to those that we teach, it was evident from the exercise that perhaps the person with most influence and, via this, the greatest responsibilities for learning are the students themselves. More than this, that responsibility is apparently best brokered when divided amongst the peer group.

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