Sunday, 11 December 2016


A few weeks ago, partly coinciding with Practical Pedagogies (see recent posts), I came across a really nice idea using emojis.
For a while, we've had an emoji sheet by the classroom door where students can choose a quick feedback on what they felt about the lesson that had just finished.
This post used the emojis as a resource and a stimulus for discussion during a lesson, and reflection on themes, by providing a symbol with several meanings - a simple semiotic stimulus...

It was the work of Jonathan Taylor, who tweets at @HistGeoBritSec. He'd shared his ideas for megacities.

There are plenty of posts on the twitter feed, and quite a few teachers seem to have been using the idea following Jonathan's session at Practical Pedagogies.

I created a bespoke set of emojis to related to the work we are doing on the Nepal Earthquake. This goes alongside the resource that I wrote for the British Red Cross, which has been well received by lots of people.

I decided to try it with this context, and came across this website where you are presented with a list of emojis and selecting a particular symbols adds it to a tweet box, which can then be sent, and therefore screenshotted...

There's also the Emoji Copy website or Get Emoji, which allows you to build up a list by copying and pasting the icons into a box once again...

A few colleagues then tried the idea having seen it on my twitter feed, and had the idea of perhaps building up a 'library' of emoji boards for use in Geography.
And I came up with the name of 'emojiography' for this sort of activity....

Have you tried this? Share an emoji board...

Image: Alan Parkinson - example of student work

Friday, 9 December 2016

Christmas Trees

Real or artificial? This classic will come out again next week for the next 'generation'... This is the tree in Ely Cathedral, which is lovely as always.
Image: Alan Parkinson

Permafrost video

This would have been useful back in the 1990s and 2000s when I used to teach about permafrost and peri-glaciation to 'A' level students and there were very few resources around.
Thanks to Richard Waller and Bob Lang for the tipoff...

Thursday, 8 December 2016

An Interdependent World

An interdependent world from The Geographical Association on Vimeo.

Getting satellite images into Google Earth

Earlier today, was contacted by Mark Brandon, who let me know about a workflow that he had put together to get satellite imagery into Google Earth.
Mark wanted to explore getting satellite images into Google Earth, and used Worldview as the data source.
Mark has provided a really helpful step by step guide, and even made a short film, which can be seen below:

Return to Ommadawn

Regular readers of this and other blogs will know the importance of Mike Oldfield 
There is a new album coming out next month which returns to some of the themes of one of his greatest albums: Ommadawn.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

London Tree Map

This is a remarkable map of London's trees, which has been made using Open Data.

Report on Pedagogy innovation from the OU

A new report from the Open University which explores ideas relating to innovative pedagogy.
One for the trad-prog debate...

Monday, 5 December 2016

Please say thanks by supporting Claire :)

I hope you're finding this blog useful for your teaching, curriculum development, resource gathering, personal CPD or just general entertainment. It's been on the go since 2008, and it's now getting quite close to 7000 posts...

I'd like to ask a favour to help support my friend, mentor and colleague Claire Kyndt who supported me back into the classroom, and continues to provide inspiration for me. Claire is going to be running the London Marathon in 2017 for Mind.
I know as teachers we are the occupation that is among the most generous of them all.

If you've found this blog, or any of my other work and resources helpful in any way, I'd be really grateful if you could contribute perhaps £1 (or whatever you're comfortable donating) to Claire's total, so that she can get closer to reaching her target.
This blog, and my other resource sites have always been free, so I've not made a habit of requesting money from anybody, particularly in a time of austerity, but this is a great cause. Think of it as a running equivalent of those "buy me a coffee" buttons you see on some websites.

Click here to visit Claire's Virgin fundraising page.
Thanks for reading...

Thanks to those wonderful people who have sponsored Claire already since I added this post. You're very kind, and Claire sends her thanks too, particularly if you donated anonymously.

UK Blog Awards - vote for Living Geography

This blog has been nominated for the UK Blog Awards in the Education Category.

The next stage of the process is the Public Vote, which begins Monday 5th December from 8.00am, and runs until Monday 19th December at 10.00am.

I have no chance of winning of course, but if you fancy voting for this blog to win, you can do it by CLICKING THIS LINK to go to my individual voting button.

And unlike other previous winners of various categories, judging by scrolling a few of them, I have blogged regularly every week (almost every day) for over ten years... and will continue to do so...

Ta :)


I was asked recently about my various blogs… other than this one.
Here they are, for those who are interested in following other examples of my writing...

The main blog is this one: Living Geography, which has well over 6500 posts and has had over 2.1 million views (still a lot less than my classic GeographyPages website) - I started this in 2008 on hearing that I had been successful in getting a job with the Geographical Association: at the time, the Living Geography 'brand' with the leaf logo was starting to be developed and shared... I also "live" Geography every day of course, as does everyone.

The second blog that I write regularly these days is GeographyTeacher 2.0 which is my teaching blog for my current role as Head of Geography (now) at King's Ely Junior. This has a growing range of posts from the last three and a bit years that I've been at the school - time has certainly flown by since I joined as a part timer, teaching a few days a week to dip my toe back into the classroom alongside my writing and freelance work.

The next blog to mention would be my CULTCHA blog, which captures my idea of Cultural Geography. This predates the present interest in cultural geography as part of the Changing Place, Changing Places units of new 'A' level specifications. It dates back to the time when I was teaching the Pilot GCSE Geography course, and there was a Cultural Geography element to it. It was this, less 'formal' and repetitive course which rekindled my interest in teaching in the mid 2000s. Thanks to Phil Wood from Leicester University for the impetus to get this one started.

Back in 2006ish I started my Google Earth Users Guide project, which accompanied an Innovative Geography Teaching Grant that I received from the Royal Geographical Society. This began life following a session that I ran up in Dundee for the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers conference.

There's also the GeoLibrary project, which I started in 2013 and eventually finished earlier this year after a slight delay when finishing. This has a book a day for a whole year that I think Geography Teachers need to have in their library.

The blog which started my whole GeoBlogs name has now been largely archived and I don't post to it anymore, but you can find some of my early, rather brief, posts there.

The first of my websites and blogs has disappeared, but you can still find GeographyPages on the Wayback machine - follow the link from the holding page.

Another blast from the past was the OCR Pilot GCSE Geography blog which I spent two years on while teaching the course through in the early 2000s. This still gets visitors as it has plenty of teaching ideas, although the resources are lurking somewhere.

There's also the blogs related to some of my projects, which I only post to occasionally, such as I-USE, and others I started while working for the Geographical Association. A few of them are now "cobweb"logs in that I don't post to them very often...

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Vertically challenged...

My latest read, which I've had to start before my traditional Christmas reading period when I take a short blogging holiday to refresh and refuel with inspiration is Vertical by Stephen Graham, and so far it is astonishingly good, and packed full of vertical geographies.

Here's the publishers' description which gives a flavour for what to expect...

A revolutionary reimagining of the cities we live in, the air above us, and what goes on in the earth beneath our feet.
Today we live in a world that can no longer be read as a two-dimensional map, but must now be understood as a series of vertical strata that reach from the satellites that encircle our planet to the tunnels deep within the ground. In Vertical, Stephen Graham rewrites the city at every level: how the geography of inequality, politics, and identity is determined in terms of above and below.

Starting at the edge of earth’s atmosphere and, in a series of riveting studies, descending through each layer, Graham explores the world of drones, the city from the viewpoint of an aerial bomber, the design of sidewalks and the hidden depths of underground bunkers. He asks: why was Dubai built to be seen from Google Earth? How do the super-rich in São Paulo live in their penthouses far above the street? Why do London billionaires build vast subterranean basements? And how do the technology of elevators and subversive urban explorers shape life on the surface and subsurface of the earth?

Vertical will make you look at the world around you anew: this is a revolution in understanding your place in the world.

Order from Verso books direct for prompt delivery at half price! I did....

Plastic Pollution

Iceflow Game

The IceFlow game has been launched by the University of Exeter.
The aim is to model how changing conditions can change the growth and decay of ice sheets, partly as a way of communicating the importance of these processes, but also to connect with the value of studying them.
You will need a browser like Firefox for it to work - or at least that's what I found when using it on my MacBook.
It models real research on two ice sheets in the Antarctic.

Fashion Revolution Fanzine

I've been using the work of Fashion Revolution for some time in my teaching, as part of our work on the Geography of Stuff - which is coming up again after Christmas in fact.
This is a unit focussing on the Geographies of what we own and consume, and discard, and I make use of some of Matt Podbury's resources (as always) and the work that I did with Professor Ian Cook for Follow the Things.

Fashion Revolution's key enquiry question is "Who made my clothes".

They have now launched a new publication which they are calling a fanzine. They are apparently printing 300, and need to have that number ordered to put the magazine into production. I'm all for this sort of publication: the Weapons of Reason publications so far have been amazing resources for geographers, so have this one ordered, and hope the project comes to fruition.

You can order a copy here.

Reimagining the City

A good tipoff from Ben Hennig of a programme on Reykjavik in the BBC Radio 4: Reimagining the City.

Google Education on Air

This event started at 10am today in the UK.
Sessions from Australia and New Zealand are available on demand, and US sessions start later today (and if you're reading this after the 3rd of December they're all available on demand)

Click here for the agenda.
Looking forward to Richard Treves later today...

Friday, 2 December 2016

The Ice Man

Good to get a mention over on Russel Tarr's blog for he and Matt Podbury's wonderful activity based on my Ice Man book.

— (@activehistory) December 1, 2016

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

TED talk by Danny Dorling - now published

Global Learning Programme course

This looks good :)
Hope to see some of you there.

Cartoons to save lives

Via this BBC Media posting

UKEdChat Top Tweeters and Blogs

For the last 4 years or so, someone has kindly suggested that I am one of the top UK Tweeters, and LivingGeography has been suggested as one of the top UK blogs.
This is done by nominating people for a mention in the list that is curated by UKEdChat.

That's continued this year which is pleasing to see.

The latest report is in the December 2016 issue of UKEdChat, which is available to view from the app currently, but shortly from the website too.

You can also follow them on Twitter for more UK Education based news and updates.

A few other Geographers also getting a mention on the list.

The Fens - what do they mean to you?

I was interested in the way that the Fens are represented by people, as they are a man-made landscape. They produce a certain response to people.
In books like 'Waterland' by Graham Swift, they are referred to in particular ways, using particular language.
I asked people in my PLN to let me know what the Fens meant to them.
Some of them are local, and others aren't - some have family in the area, some live in the area...

This is a Wordle of the responses that I got from people:

Word Cloud generated by 
Or this Tagul Cloud

More to come on this as the unit develops...

Visualising the fetch

When teaching about coastal processes, we often need to explain what we mean by fetch: the distance of open water over which the wind can blow to create waves. This is a potential distance, which reflects the opportunities for waves to grow larger.

This ESRI web map by Ben Flanagan visualises the nearest land which can be reached from the UK, when travelling in all directions from the coastline.
It's also another good use of GIS to remind students of the value of this tool...

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Thought for the Day

Via Geographical Imaginations Podcasting site... which is based in Salzburg - one of my favourite cities...

Earth: the magazine

I've got the first copy of this magazine, which is published by the BBC. It goes alongside the BBC Earth website.
It has a range of useful articles, in particular a good article on the changing lives of people living in the Arctic. There's good photography and other content.
I'm looking at getting a subscription for the Geography department.
Don't forget to catch up with Planet Earth 2 this weekend.

Chernobyl - 30 years on...

Back in 1986, the world watched as the Chernobyl nuclear incident took place, and a cloud of radioactive pollution headed northwards across Europe.

Simon Oakes, writing on the IB Facebook Group page reminded us that this remains in many ways a contemporary case study, as a huge construction project is just drawing to a finish to make a steel shield that will be positioned over the damaged reactor buildings to 'seal in' any future radiation.
This Financial Times article (answer a few questions to access) outlines the work, which is costing over a billion Euros.

As Simon say in his comments:
How many more global interactions can you get, than 40 countries helping fix a trans-boundary pollution problem that affected loads of countries? None more...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

New Zealand Earthquake - eye-witness accounts and photos...

When the earthquake in New Zealand happened, on the 14th November, I was aware of it within a few seconds. My friend Simon, who lives in Wellington had been woken up by the quake (it was a couple of minutes after midnight) and added a message on Facebook saying:

"Holy crap, that was scary..."

The size of the earthquake was quickly upgraded to over 7...
Aftershocks kept coming, and Simon said he was in for a rocky night ahead, and had actually turned the GeoNet app off, as it was sending an alert so frequently. By the end of the next day there had been over 1000 aftershocks.

He posted a few images that started to appear, and some memes too, such as the ones below:

These included content from stuff, and also images from friends and other local media. These were not only useful to me, but also provided links through to other useful sources of images and information.

There is an excellent set of resources on the GA website, which was curated by Stephen Schwab, but I wanted to add a few other ideas
Here are some of Simon's images in a Flickr album - more to come I hope as Simon continues to explore the affected area.

I've also obtained a seismogram from our school seismometer showing the trace from the earthquake.

This is an earthquake that might well feature in quite a few geography lessons to come... particularly the dramatic sea level uplift near Kaikoura, which has fears over its future tourism income as the summer season is on the way...