London Futures

A new exhibition to illustrate London’s  landmarks in an environment transformed by climate change, is being held at the Museum of London. The photographs have been digitally changed by illustrators Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones. The display shows the full impact of global warning, food scarcity, rising sea levels and how people will need to survive and adapt for the future. The exhibition is running from now till March 2011.



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GIS for Beginners

With the new Controlled Assessments for GCSE it has highlighted that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) must be used in the students work. This has made it necessary that every member of a Geography Department has an awareness of GIS and that students need to develop their skills from an early age. With this in mind the Geographical Association has put together a series of two-day training courses aimed at geography teachers who are new to GIS. 

A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.

The following information is from the Geographical Association website which outlines The GIS for Beginners course;

  • Day one: After a brief overview of GIS, you will develop basic GIS skills through hands-on practical exercises and case studies. This will help you to create a GIS resource for your school. Through a myGIS practical activity you will be introduced to the main functions of DigitalWorlds. You will also look at GIS in the curriculum/exam specifications.
  • Back in the classroom: Over the next few weeks you will put your GIS skills into practice using your ESRI(UK) software.
  • Day two: An opportunity for feedback and reflection before progressing on to more advanced GIS skills.

Course aims and outcomes

  • To outline the difference between visualisation and GIS and develop both basic and more advanced skills using DigitalWorlds software
  • To increase familiarity with DigitalWorlds software, and the way that it can be used in geographical enquiries and Controlled Assessment tasks
  • To allow time for school-based reflection and development of GIS in the curriculum
  • To introduce delegates to the online community of GIS users and additional sources of ongoing support
  • To provide ideas for using GIS at KS3, and to supplement Controlled Assessment tasks at GCSE
  • To provide examples of places to find further data and mapping, and ongoing support for your professional development
  • To gain confidence with DigitalWorlds software, to be able to use it with students, and develop enquiry sequences which are engaging and relevant to individual school contexts
  • To become familiar with some more advanced GIS skills

This sounds a great opportunity for Geography Departments across the country to develop and improve the GIS that is currently being taught giving the students the best opportunities on developing the necessary skills to gain their top grades. The Geographical Association are brilliant at delivering these course. If you are interested or want to know more please follow the link here. I know we will be booking one of these courses at Gillingham!

Where is your homework?

One of my favourite education papers is Sec-Ed. Sec-Ed is the UK’s leading free education paper that is sent to every school across the country. I have been very lucky in the past to have had some articles printed by themselves, of which can be found on the Sec-Ed Articles tab on the right hand side. Pete Henshaw, editor and Chris Parr are great writers who are always on the look out for new writers and education issues to print.

Last weeks Sec-Ed edition was another classic with an article on the back pages that gripped my attention…‘My Goldfish ate my homework’ by Emma-Lee Potter. It was very amusingly written looking at the different excuses that we as teachers have heard regarding homework either being late in or not being handed in at all. It was interesting to read that up to twenty different excuses have been heard by some teachers over a given week, my favourite being ‘a lion took it’. Well done Emma-Lee, Pete and Chris! The article can be accessed here.

It does ask the question though, is the right homework being set, too much/too little or not pitched at the correct level? Any comments are greatly received.

Classroom Antics

What are the tools and key things a teacher needs?

This was a question I posed last week on my blog. It is quite tricky as every teacher has different views on what they need to be successful and to help their everyday lives. So I have come up with my own list. Enjoy!

  • Blogs

For the last few years I have found blogs a great source to further my understanding and learn new skills as a teacher. I have always said that a teacher never stops learning. Just like our students we as teaching practitioners are constantly learning new techniques on improving our methods we use in the classroom. This is part of the reason why I love teaching, it is never dull and is a challenge I relish on a daily basis. Out on the ‘Blogosphere’ are some brilliant writers who share their teaching experiences, daily routines, ideas, schemes of work, lessons…you name it and teachers are writing about it! Reading about someone elses experience can create and add to your armoury of activities. Some of the best writers out there are Ollie Bray, Dave Rogers and Alan Parkinson who I wholly recommend on reading.

  •  Google Earth/Google Maps

As a geographer Google Earth and Google Maps have the best free Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software available. For students who need to include GIS in their coursework at Key Stage 4 and 5, this is the best start and easiest solution. Most students have access in some format to a computer and Google Earth/Google Maps can be used from a very early age giving them the skills and presentation techniques they need later on in their school career. Simple activities like spinning the globe round or locating places in the world from your location can make a young person make a sense of their place in the world.

  • Working as a Team

Teaching can sometimes be a lonely job, with yourself up against thirty students challenging you. It can sometimes feel you are the Lone Ranger but that is not so. Using people around you can make your life much easier especially when you need help or guidance. For a young teacher this is possibly the best tip I can pass on…talk to those around you. I have worked in some great Departments where working together and sharing ideas/work loads makes everybody feel important and better about themselves. The success of a Department should improve too with more minds working together then one. The work – life balance is very important and should never be forgotten! 

  • Thinking Outside the Box

Being innovative and brave within a classroom can bring enjoyment, success and respect. I admit not every idea I have tried has worked but those that do can enhance the student’s experience of your subject. Trialling new ideas improve your lessons and enjoyment as a teacher. It is not always easy trying out new ideas. It is very easy to stay in the comfort zone but without trying out new ideas we do not develop ourselves as teachers and will not improve.

  • Enjoy your lessons

As teachers we work long hours and spend many lessons preparing and planning work. We have the aim of teaching the National Curriculum and working with our students on achieving their personal best and gaining the grades they deserve. But…we must enjoy our working life. There are many pressures in the education industry and targets to achieve. Teaching in my opinion is the greatest role in life that someone can do. To actually see the look of wonder and understanding on someone’s face is something that cannot be bought. To pass on knowledge and see where it takes a young person in life is amazing. To actually help young people in life choose a path in the life with your encouragement and guidance is breathtaking. There is much to enjoy from teaching, just don’t forget the positives!

Teacher Tools

With the new term fast approaching, I have started preparing for my new classes and aims for the year. Before the summer break I outlined my five objectives for the year ahead and wrote about them on my blog back in May. These were:

  • Teaching & Learning
  • Assessment for Learning
  • Reflective Teaching (including observations)
  • Technology
  • International link with a school abroad and feeder schools

With these five objectives in mind it has got me thinking what are the most important tools to achieve this? What do we need as teachers on a day-to-day basis? What are the best web pages/blogs for guidance? What tools can we do without to teach? I will be putting my list together on the next few days, but I would like to hear your views and share them.