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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sea wall of learning

This was the homework I gave one of my S3 classes in the first period I met them for our coasts topic. Students had categorized their coast brainstorm into physical features, human features and conflicts. I asked the class to either take or source one photograph as an example of each. We are currently collecting the responses and putting these on to our 'sea wall' at the back of the class which will occasionally become the front as students are invited to identify some of the relevant lesson points throughout the weeks from their own image. For example, we will soon be covering features of erosion and this will be a perfect post it plenary to spot what they have been learning about in class. An easy way to make a homework feed into the work the class will do rather than always reviewing what they have done.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sandpit responses

Just some students findings from the coastal simulator I blogged about at http://geodonn.blogspot.com yesterday. This was from this mornings class, my room is a riot. Anyone spot longshore drift, beach erosion, swash and backwash?

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

Monday, June 11, 2012

In Situ exploration

Just a quick recount of part of today's Higher lesson. I was at a Google education conference at the weekend and it served as such a good reminder of some of the simple things that can be done in class just to make learning more relevant. We were doing weathering, often not the most instant or interesting part of the lithosphere topic, and had already discussed types of weathering. I had been wondering where to go next with this to keep motivation and something Neil Winton had said at the weekend resonated with regards to getting students own devices into lessons and learning activities. This is something I used to be quite good at, but had lost confidence with a little.
Consequently, we had fifteen minutes of impromptu investigation today around the school grounds looking for evidence of the 3 types of weathering, biological, physical and chemical, recorded by photograph on mobiles with students free to move around and find their own examples. By the end of the lesson, I had managed to visit every working pair, check their evidence of comprehension via the photos and attempt to deal with any problems with the content. This isn't a major breakthrough in pedagogy, but its a nice way to evidence learning and was a toe in the water again for myself in terms of mobile learning.

Secondary Sandpits

Don Ledingham asked on twitter recently for examples of play type learning in the secondary setting. We had just finalised a coasts unit which involved a coastal simulator seen below. This lesson built on a previous word association task where students were mapping their existing knowledge of coasts and coastal vocabulary. This is a brief review of the lesson (it could be much lengthier and messier!).
I fleshed out an idea I had found for using sand trays to simulate coasts. The paint roller trays were ideal as they had variable depth and we could build beaches on the raised platform and water filled to meet the sand - matching our self defined idea of a coast as being where the sea meets the land. Students were encouraged to try some of the following; aim 'waves' straight at the sand, angle the waves, change the intensity of the wave, place natural obstructions in the simulator and see what happens (rock boxes were supplied), change the type of rock used, try placing man made objects on our coastlines and see their impact etc. I was very clear that I wasn't looking for a definitive answer to anything, but I did want students to observe and record their findings before trying to link to actual coastal landscapes.
Some observations would be that a few students struggled with the independent nature of the task, not in terms of focus, but in terms of outcomes. That said, the engagement in the activity was first class from all, including the non subject specialist support teacher! Some students asked really searching questions and others made very astute observations. For example, although no one named it, several were able to describe what is effectively longshore drift, as well as noting how it banked sand in some areas but removed from others. Interestingly, although it hadn't been suggested, several students tried building sea walls and one a protective harbour and one group recognised that their construction would, in real scenarios, impact on areas further down a coastline.
We tried to give the activity some endpoint via the recording, but I'm not sure that this is the most valuable aspect of the activity. The freedom allowed students to just try things their own way, experiment and probably make some different conclusions from mine, but some similar ones which they will ultimately keep from a memorable lesson. I've no doubt that it was useful, even if some of the outcomes were less expected and I think there is a lot to be said for just making the lesson enjoyable. There are so many pieces and links we can pick up from this in future lessons, even if the learning was messy, with a different structure and an unusual way to explore the new topic.