Wednesday, 31 March 2010

New resources for primary geography on the Geographical Association website

The latest resource for primary geography has just been published on the GA website.  Though these are called CPD units they contain lots of practical ideas for teaching primary geography and are well worth exploring.

This unit brings together geography with creative writing:
"This CPD unit will help you to engage children in quality geography through senses-based creative writing. In the three classroom sessions detailed here, children will get to write about their own journeys to school and compare these with journeys in other parts of the world, culminating in a performance piece."

Visit the Geographical Association Young Geographers Go Global page to find out more >>>>

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Where in the World?

An excellent example of children using Google Earth to explore the Amazon Rainforest appears on `Techno Stories'

Bev writes, `On this occassion we were using Google Earth as a research tool using the ‘Global Awareness’ layer to investigate websites and organisations with links in this area.'  Read the blog post to find out more >>>>

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Sharing Ideas for the New Primary Curriculum - `The Curriculum Catalyst'

Tom Barrett has recently initiated a very interesting project which he calls `The Curriculum Catalyst'.  The idea is that interested teachers/ practioners (from around the world) collaborate via online voting and Google Docs to choose a particular `theme'.  The most popular idea is then chosen and everyone is invited to share their ideas. The first theme is `Sea Life' which has sparked quite a few ideas in my own head, though I found myself gravitating to the idea of `Oceans, seas and sea-life' as this lends itself much more to geographical (and historical) thinking too. I also wanted to encourage an `enquiry' approach to learning as I feel I'm seeing far too little of this in those schools where I have had recent contact.  The New Primary Curriculum emphasises `Learning and Thinking Skills' as making a significant contribution to `Essentials for learning and life' and geography can have a significant role to play in helping children to think through the issues that we face in the world today.  I also think that Philosophy for Children (P4C) has much to contribute to the development of thinking through issues and can encourage high levels of debate in the classroom.  This prompted me to come up with one of my ideas, i.e. `Is it right for us to eat wild fish caught in the ocean?'  What kind of ideas do you have for the New Primary Curriculum and how could you be involved in sharing them with others?

You can find out more and join in with the project by visiting Tom Barrett's Blog >>>>

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Are you new to coordinating geography?

We held the second of our 2010 Quality Geography Conferences in Sheffield yesterday. It was good to meet so many teachers, some of whom had travelled quite a way. There were quite a few teachers who had recently been given the role of geography coordinator by their schools and  this day was not really aimed at them.   I think very practical ideas for going out and `doing’ geography might have served them better but unfortunately this was never the intended purpose of this particular day.  The real problem is that outside London there are not enough courses about `primary geography’ for teachers to choose from.  Thinking about the needs of coordinators new to the role prompted me to put together a few ideas.

In the past I’ve shared the attached sheet on my new coordinators courses - Ten Tips for Effective Subject Co-ordination in the Humanities which is aimed at supporting new coordinators to think realistically about what they can achieve.

If you or your school are GA members you should be receiving the Primary Geography journal. I tend to have a pile of these magazines, which I’ve built up over the years, and flicking through them I can usually find something that sparks my interest. Sometimes I look online for back issues – you will need your school membership log-on to access these: If you haven’t got it I guess someone in school should be able to help (if you are a GA member).

In terms of websites – I always recommend that people start with the Young Geographers project as these ideas were developed and implemented by practising teachers – there are lots of ideas for Early Years as well as others for KS2:

If you prefer something in book format then for Early Years and KS1 I’d highly recommend:

The Early Years Handbook (Foundation Stage) -

And for KS1: This can now be bought at a much reduced price as a curriculum box for all of KS1 or as individual units.

I still like `a sense of place’ (BELAIR), by Barbara Hume, Frances James and Ann Kerr – though published in 2005 it is one of those books that has lots of really useful ideas in pictures and words. I’ve used it quite a lot in the past. It’s available from Amazon – New from £5.99 and second hand for approx. £3.00 with p.p.

The Primary Subjects leaflets have lots of ideas and can be accessed for free from the member’s only site of the GA: I’m attaching the latest one on Geography & Story.

You can find more about using `story/ picture books’ on this blog.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Young Geographers Go Local

A new set of resources to help you teach about your `Local Area' is now available from the Geographical Association website.

There are lots of ideas here to help you get started with using ICT and digital mapping in the context of your school grounds and local area.  I chose to focus on how children `felt' about their local area in order to engage them directly with their `everyday geographical experience'.  Please don't be put off by the `online cpd' label on the GA website - these are all practical ideas that have been shared elsewhere on this blog.

Access this resource at: Young geographers Go Local

A view from the top!

We went up on the Sheffield `Big Wheel' yesterday for the first time as we felt the weather was quite good. The aerial photos are on Flickr - not great images as the light was dodgier than I thought and the perspex exterior of the carriage was badly scratched.

There was a whole lot of drama around Coles (John Lewis) (yesterday) with fire engines as well as a BBC mobile unit (which was on the spot by sheer coincidence). Apparently there was a small electrical fire in perfumery - info courtesy of the Sheffield Forum where you can find out much you want to know and very definitely a whole heap that you never needed to know - especially from anonymous writers.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Leading the way in primary geography

I'm running a series of conference at the moment focused on `Quality Geography' and the Primary Geography Quality Mark and have been doing some additional thinking about subject leadership for a conference seminar, held at the Birmingham NEC, yesterday.  In practice this proved to be a bit like performing in the middle of a circus ring with the whole Education Show going on around me - not really my style!  I did meet some very nice and positive people who smiled at me and nodded just when I needed the reassurance.  I've just been looking up the word `seminar' in an online dictionary and the following definition:  `any meeting for an exchange of ideas',  is much closer to my own understanding of the word than anything that was possible yesterday. 

I've become really interested in the idea of `leadership and vision' and the way this can help to shape the kind of curriculum we offer children.  Having a vision for what we want to teach and why within a subject context is going to become increasingly important as we move towards a more integrated curriculum following the Rose Review.  If this doesn't make sense as a freestanding PowerPoint I'll be very happy to chat about it if you want to contact me or leave a comment here.

As part of the session I also introduced this interactive `Nine Number Grid' to explore the idea of what contributes to `distinctly geographical activity'.

A CPD unit designed to support Primary Geography Subject Leadership, written in collaboration with Paula Owens, has just been launched on the Geographical Association website.  We'd love to hear from you if you find any parts of it useful.