Sunday, 23 April 2017

GA Conference 2017 - the official photos

These are Bryan Ledgard's photos from the conference. Did you go? Can you spot yourself here?

Fieldwork CPD course

Charlotte Brewer has shared news of a course being run at her school in Hertfordshire over on the Edexcel B Facebook Group page.
It's good value and may be of interest to some.
Click the image below for larger version and to see the contact e-mail and more details...

GA Conference 2017 #4 - ArcGIS Online now free for all UK schools

At the end of the GA awards, Stuart Bonthrone, the MD of Esri UK stood up and made an announcement which was in some ways inevitable after events previously in the USA, and also very welcome.

Stuart announced that from immediate effect, ArcGIS Online will be free to all UK schools.

Under the heading of "The Science of Where", Stuart then played a short video featuring the inspirational work of Thierry Torres and colleagues at Dover Grammar School.

If you want to know more, and sign up your school, head for the ESRI UK Schools page.

I also had the chance to meet Steve Richardson, who is being employed to produce new resources and materials for teachers to encourage more use of the tool in classes.
There are already over 60 resources available, with plenty more to come.

Finally, check out the GeoMentors programme, which pairs up schools with GIS professionals.

Sign up your school now

GA Conference 2017 #3 - First Day

I had a slightly elongated journey to the GA conference, starting the day in Devon, and driving up to Cambridgeshire, where I left my family to continue the journey home, and picked up the slow train south. Guildford is not my favourite venue because of how spread out various venues are, and it was a long journey, lasting over 7 hours. I arrived just in time for Peter Gibbs’ lecture to end. It was well received by those who saw it, and hopefully will be appearing in some form on the GA website. The awards followed, and there were some good resources receiving awards, as well as schools receiving Quality mark awards. I met Eeva and Ian from Follow the Things as my first ‘hellos’ of the event – the first of several hundred over the next few weeks. I also met up with the British Red Cross colleagues I worked on the GA resource with.
There was also a GA diploma for Andy Knill along with Andrew Turney.
For the 2nd time in about 9 years, I ended up with no awards... which is shocking of course ;)
One of the prize-winners was the company that made the Fairtrade Foundation videos, featuring Tayna, and she was there, so managed to grab a selfie with her...

The wine reception followed, which meant a huge range of chats. The networking at the GA conference is as important as anything as else. I caught up with previous colleagues, along with some of speakers, and committee members. After the reception, I walked up to the Albany Pub for a drink with friends to recce the Beermeet the following night, and was reminded of previous visits to the city. A long day ended with a night-time stroll back through Guildford to my Travelodge room.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Be a good Samaritan for a good Samaritan

I've just got back home from an excellent GA Conference, as you may have gathered from recent posts.
I'm going to be blogging the conference over the next few weeks with 15 or 20 posts on what I got up to, and some personal highlights. I travelled back into London, and when arriving at King's Cross station saw someone with a wheelie case struggling up the stairs, and at that moment realised I'd left my own case back at the conference venue on the committee stand where I'd been based...
My colleague Claire was still at the conference, and kindly offered to rescue my case.
Claire has an important day tomorrow - she's running the London Marathon for the first time.
I've already sponsored Claire, but if you're looking to sponsor someone for tomorrow, Claire is running for MIND, and her Just Giving page is here.
It would be great for her good deed for me to perhaps result in a small top up to her final total for such a worthy charity.
Thanks in advance...

GA Conference 2017 #2 - Storify

I've Storified 1000 conference tweets here... you're welcome :)

Friday, 21 April 2017

GA Conference 2017 #1 - Day 1

It's getting closer to the GA Conference. As always, I'll be live-blogging and tweeting through the event using the hashtag #gaconf17.
I'll be previewing some of the things I'm looking forward to in this post.

One thing that I'll be attending is the Teachmeet on the Thursday evening. I've put myself down to talk and this is the title slide of my talk... visit the page, and order your Eventbrite ticket if you want to come along.

I'll be wearing my SPC hoodie if it's good weather, and we've also got our lanyards.

Day 1 summary coming soon...

British Red Cross Earthquake

British Red Cross presentation by Alan Parkinson and Lucy Tutton at the GA Conference - 21st of April 2017
Thanks to everyone who came along...

Teachmeet Presentation

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

David Rogers Bloomsbury videos

David Rogers' 100 Ideas book is getting a good reception. He's also made a few short videos, which Bloomsbury are releasing, and you can see a few here... Follow the links down the right hand side...

9 billion people... is this sustainable

A Fi Glover debate on Radio 4 to download and listen...

Should we stop worrying about our growing global population and look forward to an age of abundance and prosperity?

In a debate recorded in front of an audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Fi Glover examines the thoughts of pessimists and optimists She asks not only what they think about population growth, but also how their views are informed by their contrasting mindsets. Where does their optimism or pessimism come from?

Best-selling author and documentary maker Johan Norberg is an optimist, seeing positives wherever he looks. Population growth has coincided with a huge increase in prosperity and education levels, setting free our natural instinct to innovate. He believes technological advances will allow us to feed the extra mouths and clean up the planet.

Robin Maynard, a veteran campaigner and strategist and now chief executive of the charity Population Matters, has a very different view. He considers that even the current population is unsustainable, using one-and-a-half times the planet's resource limit, and adding billions more people will cause disastrous damage to the Earth's ecosystems.

Three expert witnesses are called to give evidence - statistician Professor David Spiegelhalter, Philosophy Professor Sarah Conly, and Joel Kibazo (former Director of the African development Bank).

The pessimist and the optimist cross-examine the witnesses and, to conclude, the audience votes. Is the glass half empty or half full?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Chartered College of Teaching journal access

I got my journal access e-mail from the Chartered College of Teaching earlier in the month. I had a go today to see what was available, and found a reasonable set of geography journals and articles to access free of charge. I already have JISC access to 'Geography', 'Teaching Geography' and 'Geographical Journal' through our GA subscription, but the CCT access also allows me to view articles from a number of databases.

Each database offers the access to a number of journals and articles.
A quick search revealed a useful article by David Lambert for example. Each article can be downloaded, and there is also a useful option to click the CITE button and you will be presented with the Harvard citations:

Lambert, D, 2011, 'Reviewing the case for geography, and the "knowledge turn" in the English National Curriculum', Curriculum Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 243-264. Available from: 10.1080/09585176.2011.574991. [16 April 2017]

Gridded cartograms

Currently working away on some GI Learner materials for the latest stage of the project, and I'm making reference to Ben Hennig's gridded cartograms. I was reminded of Ben's Worldmapper YouTube channel, which has a range of useful videos, including this one. It explains how the gridded cartograms work.

Allan Holdsworth - RIP

Another great progressive musician from my youth sadly gone - quite a supergroup that's assembling up there...
On drums it would be the late Pierre Moerlen, and here he is with Allan Holdsworth on a track they made together on the album Expresso II

Danny Dorling lecture on 'Leaving reality'

Given in November 2016
Some fascinating perspectives...

Ice Flows Game and Ice Bergs

I've been revisiting the Ice Flows game which has been developed by the University of Exeter, led by Dr Anne Le Brocq, with funding from the NERC.

It was made to help disseminate the work of a research project on Antarctic ice sheets.

From the website:

The game is called Ice Flows - because it does! Ice behaves like a fluid and flows due to gravity, much like a blob of treacle does, though a bit slower. Snow falls on the top of the ice sheet, and ice is lost at the edges and underneath through iceberg calving and melting.
If the inputs and outputs are equal, the ice sheet finds a balance – a “happy place” (or more scientifically, an equilibrium state), where the ice flows at a rate to balance these inputs and outputs.
The game is based on a simple ice sheet model which represents the way in which ice flows, and how that flow is altered by changes in the surrounding environment. Computer-based ice sheet simulation models are used by scientists to both understand how the ice behaves and to make projections for future behaviour.

Ice flows slowly, from a few metres per year, to several metres per day. In the game, time and space are modified to make the game playable.

The game would take a very long time to play if we didn’t speed up time, the game time for one level represents thousands of years, though changes in ice sheets over decades can cause a significant contribution to sea level change.
If the height and length of the ice sheet were representative of the real ice sheet , you would need to line up a few hundred phones in order to see the whole ice sheet. Hence, the ice sheet has been stretched in height in comparison to its length. Each profile represents about 1500 kilometres in length, and about 4000 metres in height.

This year is turning into a bumper year for ice bergs apparently, with reports of a large number in the sea off the coast of Canada, and into the North Atlantic.
It's just been the anniversary of a very famous ship hitting an ice berg last century.

The US Coastguard and the Canadian coastguard monitors the ice situation in the areas around the USA. There is likely to be an increase in their number as glaciers continue to retreat and become unstable. They have also been seen a lot earlier than usual this year. More signs of trouble ahead.

Icebergs are a resource of sorts. They are used for a number of things including water supply.

One (short term) benefit to an increased number of icebergs is that they are popular with tourists because of their beauty, so there may be more iceberg tours...

Dress for our Time

This has been something that has been popping up into my social media feed for a while: the Dress for our Time.
It connects with the work of the UNHCR and migration. Take a look at the movie below to find out a little more about the project.

GA Worldwise Week resources

Each week, the Worldwise week, organised by the Geographical Association has a theme which connects with the GA Conference theme.

A special pack on the theme of Inclusive Geographies is now available to download from the GA website.
This has some useful materials which connect with the PLACE topic which some colleagues are having some issues with.

The Worldwise week is the last week in June.
You can also download materials from previous years. I've been privileged to be involved with this for several years, while working for the GA.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Have this one on me....

Another Brexit angle...

It's always intrigued me that British people living in Spain and not working (they're retired and drawing British pensions) are called ex-pats whereas those from Spain (and elsewhere) living and working in Britain are immigrants... they're ex-pats too if you look at the definition...

This article in today's Guardian by Ian Jack is a good piece on the uncertainty that now faces these overseas residents about the possible status of their pension, healthcare, citizenship etc...

What's also interesting are the comments that follow (over 150 at the time of writing) which offer a range of perspectives on the issue, and which suitably edited would make useful resources for those exploring the issue of EU migration, Brexit and the choices people make as to where to live in their old age.

This is Living Geography...

Look who I met earlier in the week...

Unfortunately, it seems like we're all doomed, but had a good family visit to Madame Tussauds, which was about as trouble-free as possible unless you fork out £70 a head for a VIP ticket. Tesco vouchers, and turn up early was the trick, and given that it was Easter holiday, and some people queued for 3 or 4 hours, we were in fairly easily, and found it quite easy to see the figures that we wanted to as a family.
Some good memories made...

The DLAB Erasmus project

I've spent part of this holiday trying to get the next phase of the ERASMUS project that my school is involved in ready for the interim stage...
This project is called GI Learner.

You can use the search box top left to find out more about what we've done, and also follow us on Twitter @GILearner

I've come across another Erasmus project which includes UK partners (there are far fewer of these than there should be)
It's called DLAB, which is short for Digital Learning across Boundaries.

The Digital Learning Across Boundaries (DLAB) project addresses the need to align European educational practice with ways in which digital technology is changing how and what we learn, and how we apply this in education.
The purpose of this project is to promote digital learning across the boundaries of physical spaces, across curriculum subjects and across languages and cultures, to facilitate collaborative learning across national boundaries.
Over three years we have adopted three ‘learning across boundaries’ themes:
  1. Technology Outdoors: bridging formal and informal learning by extending learning beyond traditional classroom spaces and supporting learners with disadvantaged backgrounds by managing transitions positively through collaborative outdoor learning experiences.
  2. Stem to SteAm: adding the Arts to the integrated study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths creating inter-disciplinary challenge-based online learning resources.
  3. Technology Enabled CLIL: using curriculum contexts to teach language competencies and cultural sensitivity with aim of meeting the language needs of a diversity of learners, including learners for whom English is an additional language (EAL/EFL)

The website is taking shape, and has a range of materials.
This is a really helpful Padlet of Wild Writing tips....

Made with Padlet

Sense of Place

Havergey by John Burnside from Roseanne Watt on Vimeo.
"On the small and remote island of Havergey, a few years from now, a community of survivors from a great human catastrophe has created new lives and a new world in a landscape renewed after millennia of human exploitation. To this strange new land comes a traveller from our own time, bewildered by what he finds, and an object of curiosity for the inhabitants, especially the one assigned to watch over him, as he spends his first weeks on the island in Quarantine. Left alone with a history of the community and its roots, he uncovers truths and new mysteries about the people he has encountered, their forebears and the last throes of the old world. In this new novella, the acclaimed poet, novelist and critic brings his unique sensibility to the idea of utopia. A timely reminder about how precious and precarious our world is, it’s also a rejection of the idea of human supremacy over landscape and wildlife."

Published by Little Toller Books, April 2017

So many books, so little time...


A new internet venture from Victoria Hewett: Mrs. Humanities is her Geography Online website with a range of new resources for the courses that she is currently teaching.
It's a work in progress, but will no doubt develop into a valuable source of information for those teaching these courses, including the MYP and IBDP.

Good luck to Victoria for the UK Blog Awards next week too.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Go and see Tom in Pitlochry

If you're up in Scotland at the weekend, why not pop and say hello to Tom Morgan Jones, intrepid illustrator of the Mission:Explore books, including our rather splendid Mission: Explore John Muir book, which has been downloaded literally (and actually) hundreds of thousands of times.

As part of a week-long series of events in the run-up to John Muir Day (April 21), award-winning illustrator Tom Morgan-Jones will display his artistic prowess by producing pen-and-ink sketches on demand, focusing on John Muir and outdoor-related themes.

Tom has illustrated more than 70 books, including John Muir: Mission Explore, which encourages young would-be explorers to undertake a range of adventure activities inspired by the writings of the Scots-born founding father of nature conservation.

This Saturday 15 April from 11am, Tom will be in the John Muir Trust’s Wild Space visitor centre, where he will invite children – and adults – to request quick-fire drawings of anything connected with nature, John Muir or the great outdoors.

As well as getting chance to meet a top illustrator, visitors can also pick up up a free copy of John Muir: Mission Explore, which was created as part of a partnership between the John Muir Trust and Mission:Explore, a group of teachers, artists, activists and adventurers.

Kevin Lelland of the John Muir Trust said: “We see this as a day of fun and philosophy in the spirit of John Muir himself, who combined rigorous scientific exploration with a child-like enchantment at the wonders of nature.

“Tom is a great illustrator and we’re delighted he’ll be applying his talent in a light-hearted way to get people talking and thinking about John Muir and his ideas.”

When: Saturday 15 April, from 11amWhere: John Muir Trust Wild Space visitor centre, Pitlochry

Sustainable Shaun

Have you played the Sustainable Shaun game?
A nice introduction to some of the ideas behind sustainable cities.

The Forensic Records Society

Currently reading the new Magnus Mills book: as good as all the previous ones. I've started adding the tracks mentioned in the book to a Spotify playlist. They may not be a perfect match and the exact versions that the author meant, but it's a start... Explore the music below:

Monday, 10 April 2017


A new mapping tool, and a way of creating simple and striking maps of the world, or individual countries.
These are created by selecting options from the tool, including the map projection, and location. Choose a shape for the 'pixels' and colours for land and water. Finally, choose the size and spacing of the 'blocks' that make up the finished map.
Here's the UK for example....
Download the finished map in various formats.
Follow the links and you will find other mapping options from the same site, including weather options.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Geography Pop-up Shop

Simon Jones has been crafting a useful collection of beautifully designed and inexpensive resources over at his GumRoad pop-up shop.
They can be downloaded as PDFs, and include a range of resources as well as display materials, promotional posters, and ideas for teaching particular units. New resources are added all the time, and prices start at just £1 and don't go higher than £5.
The design is excellent, and they encourage an enquiry approach.
Check them out now.

Coming up to revision time

It's also coming up to the GA Conference time. 

I'm co-presenting a workshop on Friday afternoon on the theme of the new exams (which have no tiers) and supporting students with the new style of questions. As part of that, a while ago, I put together a list of some of the networks that teachers have developed to help support each other with the new exam specifications. These include some of the very busy Facebook groups and Schoology resource sites, as well as the Nings. I'm very proud to have started the first Ning of its kind nearly 10 years ago now, and which now has over 5000 members.

Here's the document that I put together.
And here's the details of the workshop... Come along if you're at the conference, and be prepared to share some of the strategies that you've used.

Networks of Support for New GCSE and 'A' Level v3 by GeoBlogs on Scribd

2.4 million page views

Thanks to all those who've visited and shared the work here.

Remember you can also FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @GeoBlogs to find out more items of geographical interest.


A short CNN video on the Fairphone. I've mentioned this before, and it's an interesting development which provides an option for those who are concerned about the environmental impact of their smartphone.
The product has conflict-free minerals and the supply chain is followed carefully.
Find out more here.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Holderness Coast StoryMap

A lovely piece of work by Steve Richardson. Another reminder of the value of using StoryMaps as curriculum artefacts.
Click the link to see the map full screen rather than the embedded version below.

Mark Beaumont - second time around

In August 2007, Mark Beaumont set off for a solo cycle around the world, aiming to set a new world record. Between the 5th of August, and the 15th of February 2008, he had an amazing adventure, which I've blogged about elsewhere in detail, as he smashed the record and returned to the start point in Paris.

Val Vannet, a great friend, and Mark's former geography teacher decided to follow the journey and blog about the route and the places that Mark passed through. She blogged the journey, and when she was unable to do it, I took over, following Mark through Australia, New Zealand and part of the USA, and then the final leg in France as he approached the finish line and Val went to meet him.

Since then, Mark has worked following the baton relay around the world, and also did an incredible solo cycle from the north to south of Africa in just 41 days.
Mark is now planning to cycle around the world in 80 days. Here is the planned route.
You can follow the journey via live tracker from the website.

This is a picture of Mark at the finish line in Paris.

Image by Val Vannet

Mark is warming up by cycling around the UK in 14 days. Here's the route, and you can follow him on social media and in various other ways, including on Strava.
Some resources to come once Mark's round the world challenge gets underway...

Royal Geographical Society Podcasts

The Royal Geographical Society has launched a planned new series of PODCASTS for geographers.

The podcasts, which will be released twice a month, cover topics relevant to the GCSE and A Level geography curricula, and feature original research from higher education institutions.

Steve Brace, the Society’s Head of Education and Outdoor Learning said, “The interviews with leading researchers are an ideal way for teachers and students to update and extend their geographical subject knowledge.”

Topics previously covered by the series include extreme weather in the UK, food security and gentrification in global cities. These are already available to download for free.

Future podcasts will feature mapping populations and displacement, and super-diversity and ordinary streets.
All the Society’s podcasts are free and available to download from iTunes

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Eco-tourism case study courtesy of the BBC

I caught up with the BBC's new series on luxury hotels: Life beyond the Lobby, with Monica Galetti.

Description of the programme:

In the second episode of this eye-opening series, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti head to the Andean Cloud Forest of Ecuador to work at Mashpi Lodge, a $10 million modernist hotel featuring an extraordinary gondola cable car that 'flies' guests one mile through the jungle canopy at a dizzying height. Built by a former mayor of capital Quito on the site of what was once a logging station, 70 per cent of its staff are locals who used to be loggers or hunters but are now proud conservationists. Gloriously remote and perched 900m above sea level, guests are surrounded by one of the last remaining biodiversity hot spots on the planet.

Giles and Monica reveal the challenges of delivering the highest standards of guest experience in the midst of teeming wildlife, mud and moisture. They do battle with mold, the hotel's main 'enemy' thanks to 90 per cent humidity. They then abseil through the jungle canopy for a safety drill and prepare a unique local delicacy - guinea pig. They also spend time with the hotel's resident biologist, who has captured on camera species the area has not seen for 30 years.

Going beyond the lobby, Giles and Monica unearth a story of luxury in a surprising place and pioneering eco-tourism that is saving thousands of species. They also spend time with their new co-workers at home, uncovering moving stories of how local people's lives have been transformed by the arrival of the hotel.

We explore the idea of eco-tourism with Year 9 as part of a unit on Endangered biomes, and often ask the question as to whether eco-tourism is an oxymoron. Is it even possible? Take a look at this programme to help you make up your mind if it's been achieved here.

A few sweary moments... be warned if you're planning to use it with students.

Olympics seminar

This may be of interest to some people on the blog. It's a symposium on the Olympics run by Goldsmiths, and taking place in June.

In this symposium, we will investigate the changes accompanying the 2012 London Olympics, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  The meeting will focus on existing research and interventions concerning the ways that global events have been accompanied by urban transformations and new forms of social (dis)advantage and exclusions, in different urban/nation-state contexts. 
What does the future hold for existing Olympic Cities?  Are there ways of holding mega events which bring genuine benefits to cities and their citizens?  How might the promises of ‘legacy’ be realised in more open and democratic ways?

It's a free event, and may be of interest to more academic geographers, or students, or perhaps teachers wanting to up-skill themselves (if that's even a thing) as there is a requirement to get involved in the event in some way.
Thanks to Brendan Conway for the tip-off to the event.

Image of London Olympic park signage (taken before the games) : Alan Parkinson

Billboards - "placemaking" and demographic profiling

A fascinating article in 'The Guardian' on the images that are used by companies building or regenerating areas of cities on their billboards, which are displayed on hoardings around the development site. It describes the people that are featured on these billboards, and the messages that might be given out by them.
The term "place making" is used, and this connects with the ideas of Changing Places which are in the new 'A' level specifications.
One possible element of urban fieldwork in this area could be for students to look out for these images and consider the demographic and ethnic mix of the portrayed 'residents' of the new areas that are being created.

Image of Ipswich docks redevelopment: Alan Parkinson

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Story of a battery - another excellent StoryMap

I've featured quite a lot of StoryMaps here in recent months, and here's another one.
It shows the lifecycle of a battery. Useful for our Geography of my Stuff unit, as these fall under the WEEE directive.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Cambridge Now or Never

This summer, there will be a new way to explore Cambridge, with an app which you put on your smartphone. It's called Now or Never, and is a site specific geolocative app launching in late May.

It looks to be a similar idea to our Mission:Explore (London) app from back in the day, with a touch of Keri Smith and other ideas thrown in.
Read about it here.

See you there...

Amazingly not sold out yet, this will probably be one of the highlights of the City of Culture year, and a chance for me to revisit some old haunts...
See you there... Been seeing Pat live for over 30 years...

Every Valley

I've been a fan of Public Service Broadcasting for some years now, and have seen them may times live. They have been building a real following, and their music has grown in sophistication, while retaining its mix of samples from historical films and electronic music along with fantastic guitar and drums. Check out 'Everest' or 'Spitfire' from the early albums and EPs, or 'The Other Side' from their recent 'The Race for Space' album.
Their new album, out in July has an industrial theme.
NPR has the new video and some more details on the album.

Details here from J WillGoose Esquire's blog.
Our third album, Every Valley, is a story of industrial decline. It’s centred around coal mining in the UK, and in south Wales in particular, but it’s a story which has been repeated the (western) world over and which has particularly striking resonances given the current political climate. 
The album starts in a golden age, when miners were the ‘kings of the underworld’, as a certain Mr Burton puts it; it takes in life in the pit itself, moves through the recruitment drive of the early- and mid-1970s, stops briefly to think about mechanisation, automation and the march of ‘progress’, before beginning a downward spiral from the closures of the mid- to late-1970s into the all out conflict of the miners’ strike and its sad, lingering aftermath. It’s a subject that first came to mind as I was finishing our previous album, The Race For Space, and the more I thought about it, the more I interested I became.
I have no personal ties to mining, be it coal or otherwise, and I have no family links to the area, but something about the story drew me in. This is an album about community as much as it is about mining; it’s the story of an entire region centred around one industry, and what happens when that industry dies. Perhaps something about the romanticism of the valleys and their geography drew me to south Wales in particular, perhaps it was their solidity during the strike of 1984-5 - or, far more prosaically, perhaps it was a response to the furious (mostly Cardiff-based) response to our 2015 ‘UK tour’ which featured not a single Welsh date. You can’t always explain these things, as I’ve learned. What’s certain in my mind is that this album isn’t just about mining, and isn’t just about Wales. It’s a story reflected in abandoned and neglected communities across the western world, and one which has led to the resurgence of a particularly malignant, cynical and calculating brand of politics.
We recorded Every Valley in Ebbw Vale, historically a steelworkers’ town but one surrounded by coal mines, in the former lecture hall of their former workers’ institute. It seemed important to record in the valleys, as I wanted this album to feel connected to the area it was written about in ways our previous albums hadn’t been. I wanted the album to have a rich, earthy, full sound, and to carry some of the lilt and lyricism of the language itself, something embodied by its title, taken from a 1950s transport film. It hints at peaks and troughs, at the strength and solidity of the community, and the geographical reality of the industry. 
Shaping this album’s narrative was something that saw us yet again plundering the BFI’s back catalogue, as well as working with new archives and resources and even, in a few cases, conducting our own interviews with ex-miners and their families. We also worked with a far wider cast of collaborators and musicians than ever before, leading to it being by far our most ambitious (and definitely the most difficult) recording to date.
For me it’s an album about pride, anger, strength and, ultimately, loss, and it raises far more questions than we could ever hope to answer. I think Every Valley is the best thing we’ve done by some distance, but ultimately that’s not for me to say; I hope our listeners enjoy it, and we’re really looking forward to sharing it with them.

I do have a collection to coal mining, which I've blogged about before here.

I've very much looking forward to this album.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Durham University Geography CPD

Durham University offers an annual free CPD event, which has provided a great deal of useful resources and ideas for teachers who attend.
This has been arranged once again for this summer, and details of the event (and those for other subjects) are now available to view here, where you can register your interest.

Thanks to Bob Lang for the tipoff.

Google Maps PacMan

New temporary addition to Google Maps in time for the 1st of April
Not the return of the 8 bit maps they previously did (which were awesome) but still a fun game of PacMan to be played in your home village... or elsewhere...
Open GoogleMaps on your device and press the PacMan icon. Swipe to move...

What 3 Words

Watch this and work out what it's about...

Click here for more details..
Then watch this one...

OCR 'A' level delivery guides

A new Food delivery guide has now been added. Useful for those teaching this for the first time.


A spectacular first episode of Galapagos on BBC1 last night with Liz Bonnin, who appears in the latest issue of Geographical magazine.

It's not too late to catch up on the iPlayer.

Check out the Discovering Galapagos website too.
Produced by the Galapagos Conservation Trust and the Royal Geographical Society.

The River Tees - from source to mouth

First came Bernard.... then came Elliot...

Now, Steve Richardson has done a cracking job using StoryMap - follow the link to view on your computer rather than the embedded version below...


One of the 'worst' things about Twitter is that it costs me so much money.

Every few days, I come across a book which is recommended by somebody and which I wouldn't have come across otherwise. Further investigation reveals it to be so intriguing that I'm tempted into a purchase, despite the fact that every horizontal surface in my house is piled with books at the moment...
The latest came with a recommendation from no less than Robert MacFarlane.

It's started really strongly, and describes the connection that people have with the landscape, and in this case, the story of Lauret's own history and family.

GI Learner - an update

We're now into the 2nd year of the GI Learner project which I'm involved with via my school, which is a partner in the project.

We've produced a list of competencies for those people who are using GI Learner

The idea of the list is that you can see how different age groups (from K1-12) could be introduced to GI technologies and tools in a phased way to build their GI development.

We've created a document which has been shared at a number of events around Europe, but could also be used for discussion at meetings between phases.

We are now working on new materials, and one of my jobs for the first week of the Easter break is to work on some materials for Water Security.

More to come over the next few months...

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Ordnance Survey 3D Mapping

There is a new 3D option for uses of Ordnance Survey mapping. This blog post describes how it is made.
You can get a 7 day free trial, and I've taken one out so that I can check out the mapping.

Here's Sgurr nan Gillean and the nearby peaks of the Cuillin taken from above the Sligachan Hotel. I climbed these peaks some years ago now...

Image copyright: Ordnance Survey

Going beyond these four walls...

The first day back after Easter, I will be having a whole-school INSET day - it comes a couple of days before the GA Conference, where I'm involved in two or three other presentations as well, so it will be a busy week.
The staff will have a choice between a session for senior colleagues on revision strategies involving a company that have been working with students this year, and a session on outdoor learning for those colleagues who teach year 1-6.
The catch is that the person who will be presenting the 90-minute session on outdoor learning is me...

I've already started preparing the session and spent quite a few hours producing a pack of ideas to take away, and a Dropbox folder of relevant resources. My thanks go out to Sharon Witt, who has passed on some ideas, and also to Paula Owens.

There will also be a reminder of the Mission:Explore curriculum missions which we produced a few years ago.
I am fine of course on the geography aspects of running such a session, but it will be attended by people with all subject specialisms...
I've got some ideas for mesostic poetry, mathematical activities (thanks to Juliet Robertson) and art.

There'll be a quick 15 minutes of 'theory' (John Muir quotes, Tom Morgan Jones illustrations et al), about 45 minutes of 'playing' outside and then a plenary to draw out the learning and produce a plan of action for using one idea during the summer term.

I'll share the materials and ideas here of course, but if anyone has other ideas for such a session, which is not subject-specific, then I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Felicity Aston - the next adventure

I've been privileged to work with Felicity Aston on materials for a journey that she made to the Pole of Cold. We won an award from the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers for these materials.
I've now been asked to work on some materials for an expedition that she is leading in 2018. It will take her back to the Polar regions.
This is a talk that she gave regarding a previous trip across the Antarctic: a solo expedition:

The next expedition will take Felicity to the Arctic, in the company of a group of women from a number of countries, as part of the Euro-Arabian Polar Expedition, in April 2018. 
The team was selected from over 1000 applications.
You can meet them here.

Here is some preliminary information about the trip from the project website.

Here's one of the awesome images of the sugar dunes that Felicity took on her recent training trip to Oman:

There will be plenty more awesome images and ideas for learning about these environments which will form part of a proposed set of materials which will allow students to explore the landscapes and challenges posed by them. They will be relevant to different age groups, and accessible to people with different levels of language ability. I'm looking forward to working with Susan Gallon from the team to create some exciting materials.

They will also be useful for those wanting to engage with the expedition before, during and after the actual time spent heading for the North Pole.

A new lease of life for Bransholme

Thanks to Justin Woolliscroft for sending through details of a Guardian article.
It describes the changing fortunes of the Bransholme estate in Hull.

Bransholme was where I started my secondary teaching career when I was doing my PGCE course at the University of Hull in 1986. I remember the High school, which has undergone various new buildings and name since. I remember walking to Bransholme Centre, where there were some shops, and I used to catch the bus back to the area where I lived at the time. I'd had 3 weeks in a Primary school in Withernsea first, and then we started in January 1987: thirty years ago... with our main teaching practice.
I've started a much delayed Vademecum project as part of thinking back to that time.

I spent the next three months or so working there for most of the week, in what I think is now the Winifred Holtby Academy.
This was at a time when the fortunes of the estate were at a low ebb, and the school I remember as a place of routine and refuge for many children, with plenty of music and dancing in the corridors.

In May this year, the estate has its 50th birthday, and as part of Hull's City of Culture tenure there are various events planned, and already taking place.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Preparing for the GA conference

I'm looking ahead now to the GA Conference, which is taking place in Guildford this year. I'm presenting as usual, and will be blogging in the next few weeks as I prepare the sessions I'm doing... One of the events I've been involved with a little over the last few years is the Beermeet, and we are back again.
Also this year, there is an app which can be added to your mobile phone to help you find your way around the conference, and see the sessions. Download it from your preferred app store...

To be continued...

A Shepherd's Hand

Thanks to Brendan Conway for the tip-off to this excellent film, featuring fell running...

A Shepherd's Hand from No Routes Found on Vimeo.
Lakeland endurance running, the slow game of energy and emotion, anxiety and anticipation: an unfolding physical landscape that you run through and an emotional landscape that runs through you… Set within an attempt on the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge this poetic film pays tribute to Joss himself and his inspirational status in the world of fell running.

New look to King's Ely Geography twitter

As well as the many blogs that I write, and the various Twitter feeds such as my main @GeoBlogs feed, I also share work and ideas from the Geography department where I teach.
Feel free to follow the @KingsElyGeog feed.
I updated the profile this week so that it is more in line with other Twitter feeds from the school.

Richard Long at Houghton Hall

Richard Long is an artist I've appreciated for many years, and have previously blogged about here several times before. I've come across his art in different locations - recently at Tate Modern, and also at the Guggenheim in Bilbao.
His art is connected with the landscape, and can often be found in it, and was made in it, and from it.
I went to the last big exhibition of his back in 2009.
I came across a piece when going to a meeting at Defra some years ago, in the lobby while I was waiting to be taken to the meeting room.

There is a major exhibition opening at Houghton Hall, a short drive from my home, at the end of April, and going through until October. It will feature many large scale pieces outdoors, including one of his large slate circles.
The exhibition is called Earth Sky.

I'll be going along, and will share some images here...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Dotstorming - a new collaborative platform for discussions and voting

I've just been introduced to Dotstorming by Karl Donert.
It's a site which allows you to discuss images, and vote on them in some way. You can create up to 5 topics with a free account.

I've made a free account - you just need to choose a nickname and provide an e-mail address to get started.

I then made a Pinterest board with the images that I wanted to use for the Dotstorm vote, and used the URL to insert the images into the board.

The boards that are then created can be shared via a link or embed, or privately via e-mail.  

I've had a go, and will let you know how it works....