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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mentos and mini cookers: Accidental IDL

I was reflecting on Friday after work about the day just gone and what we had tried to do with classes. At the time, I hadn't realised just how much some of the learning was linking with other parts of the curriculum and just how much interdisciplinary learning was taking place. Here is a quick summary of some of the lessons to exemplify that.

S1: The class were feeding back on a microclimate investigation we had conducted the previous period. We had used the school grounds to find the perfect site for a solar cooker to be used ( difficult in Scotland, I know) and I thought it would be a nice extension of the exercise to actually give the students the opportunity to make their own solar cookers using the instructions at the RGS website ( which isn't working properly tonight or I'd have included the link). I was surprised and delighted to find out that several students had already started or, in some cases, actually finished making these. We will try these when the weather is suitable. After discussing this with the PT of Physics, it seems this sits between an S1 topic looking at renewable energy and an S2 topic examining infrared radiation, so we made that link in class too. From this microclimate starting point, we discussed comparison of climate at a larger scale and used climate graph construction to take this a step further. Within the two lessons, we have included health and well being (fieldwork and personal responsibility while working with others), science, numeracy and geography!

S2: This period was all about volcanoes as the messy picture below shows! I had asked the class to do a little homework as preparation for the lesson, borrowing Bill Boyd's 50 word mini epic idea ( Bill can be found at http://www.literacyadviser.wordpress.com ). This was all about summarising why some volcanoes are more explosive than others. The students had to include the words effusive, explosive, eruption and a named example of both an effusive volcanic eruption and an explosive one. They had to do this in exactly 50 words, no more and no less. This proved really useful as it meant students had to effectively summarise the often quite technical sources that they were finding when they searched the Internet. By limiting what could be written, it made copy and paste almost impossible without it sounding ridiculous and meant students also had to look for different ways to express something. It also meant that students who wanted to take an easy way out by writing very little still had to find 50 words! The discussion we had before the main learning activity proved that students had a good grasp of what I had asked them to learn about and was invaluable in the next part of the lesson which included the well known Mentos experiment which allowed me to bring viscosity and dissolved gases into the discussion without it being totally alien to what the students already knew. Literacy and Chemistry covered!

In other lessons, we dealt with more numeracy themes ( using development indicators with S3 to compare countries) and citizenship issues ( using the Rwandan genocide as a backdrop to forced migration with Higher). It was quite a hectic day in and out of the classroom but, looking back, actually provides us with evidence of how we are working as a department which links up learning in a positive way.


Wee reminder to me

This is a template of what I would like to do with S3 for their end of unit presentations comparing development of nations. From the choice of Kenya, India and Brazil, students must compare one other country to the United Kingdom. The presentations can be completed using the following methods:

- PowerPoint
- Prezi http://www.prezi.com
- a Flickr slideshow http://www.flickr.com
- Movie (windows for presentation or narrated)
- An infographic
- A poster

The important element of the presentation is the content and the geographical skills exhibited. For skills purposes, there should be evidence of these key skills:

- The use of maps to support comparisons. For example, it may be that a student feels that the physical geography of Kenya has impacted greatly on development and they could compare climate, resources, relief and vegetation to the UK. Students may wish to use other types of specialised maps, such as those found at Worldmapper http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/worldmapper/ or the 3D visualisations of the CIA world Factbook at http://www.kmlfactbook.org/#&db=ciafb&table=2002&col=2008& . Students should use at least one map for comparison purposes. The map should be titled and referred to within the presentation.

- The use of development indicators to compare levels of development. Students should use at least 3 indicators of development with at least one economic and one social indicator. This may overlap with the mapping if using something like the kml Factbook. Students should explain the advantages and disadvantages of using these indicators for comparison. It may be useful to look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/education/int/geog/health/development/economic/index.shtml as well as the resources used in class when preparing this. Useful sites include http://www.gapminder.org and https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/ , both of which the class have already used.

- Students may present information in a variety of ways e.g. Graphs, tables, proportional symbols on maps etc

For the content, students must include the details below:

1) A comparison of the location of the two countries
2) A comparison of the physical and human factors which influence each country's development
3) A comparison of development data (this is where the maps, indicators and presentation skills are most likely to be used)
4) A detailed explanation of at least one way in which the development 'gap' could be narrowed e.g. Aid and how effective this might be

I think this is a bit ambitious and it's needing to be put into language that's a bit less threatening for the kids, but my laptop is not playing and this is really just a memo for me for tomorrow


Sunday, March 03, 2013

Carousel Country Comparison

Apologies for the alliteration in the title, but the alternative post header was even more of a mouthful, a consequence of trying to turn my brain on too late. I'm hoping to use a carousel activity to highlight some of the difficulties in comparing levels of development between countries with my S3 groups. I was thinking back to a successful homework exercise that I used a wee while ago now at my previous school. I've included the Country A/ Country B image below (or above, depending on the way this post comes out) and it's actually the same country in both examples, DR Congo. I'm going to ask students to post their answers to the questions within it on the wall and collect and reflect at the end of the activity.

In the second activity, I'm going to have a number of atlases available. I want the students to really start exploring the full range of information available within it - socio-economic, physical etc and will ask them to consider Kenya, India and Brazil and, using only the atlas, determine which country is likely to be the most developed. This also covers a key curricular outcome using maps and specialised maps.

Thirdly, I want to have an indicators mix and match, where I'll be using the CIA world factbook information on the same three countries and asking students to allocate the figures to the correct location. This should be quite challenging as we have really just covered what we mean by development and why some countries are more developed than others (briefly) but we have already looked at some population indicators. It means that students will also have to think about what the indicators mean before they have been properly explained. However, I still intend to include as part of this task a response to which figures are most meaningful in telling us how developed the countries are and why. This is something we can obviously then use later.

Finally, I'm going to appropriate the old Make Poverty History banner and add the word 'by' to it and give the students some time to add their own suggestions as to how countries can improve standard of living/quality of life within India, Kenya and Brazil based on what they have learned from the previous tasks. The solutions must be realistic and, where possible, cost effective. All of this will then feed in to a homework task where students will compare the United Kingdom and one of the three focus countries by examining development indicators, physical and human factors influencing the level of development in each and possible strategies to narrow the development gap. This will then be brought together at the end of the unit mirroring one of the National 4/5 style of assessments where students will present orally on their comparison. I feel like we are over-assessing at present in S3, which goes against the ethos of the new curriculum a little, so we are really using this for practice and familiarisation rather than potential level setting for S4. Most importantly, students here are getting the opportunity to explore their task beforehand, draw their own conclusions and air their own opinions which will hopefully all make the final task a little bit easier. Any feedback greatly appreciated and any potential to develop the task would be considered, it's all a little rough just now. That's a lot of words and a few too many requests for the first blog in ages ;-)