Monday, 12 November 2012

Questioning/thinking old classics that still have legs

I've recently read many great posts about questioning and thought I'd throw my 10 pence worth into the melting pot.

Here are two posts to get you thinking:

I'll let you read their approaches, which are inspiring.

My focus will involve a few TV shows that had question stems that work brilliantly for geography and other subjects. I'll introduce the TV show and how I've used them over the years to develop students questioning and thinking.


I've recently cottoned on to this TV show and have to say I love it for a number of reasons.

1. The presenters have a great chemistry together bouncing off each other.

2. More importantly it inspires people to really think hard about a specific topic/question. Contestants have to think of an answer that others might not know from a selection of mini answers in rounds 1-2. The less popular the answer the lower the points and less points wins!

This could be adapted for the classroom as a starter where students write answers on a whiteboard in secret and then reveal their answer for all to compare answers and evaluate whose was pointless. Alternatively set it as a homework where you set a question and get students to email in the answer or drop it in the pointless answer box as a plenary to then work through as a starter in the next lesson.

In the final round a set question is selected from a number of possible topics and then the contestants think of 3 pointless answers for it and see if no one else came up with it when 100 were asked.

My thinking is that students could set other students a question from their topic/project etc and gather 100 answer responses for it, then rank using a pointless scale and get them to test it out.

You could then get students to reverse the pattern and take over as tutor and teach the pointless answer to be known by all. -

How could you make a pointless answer known by all?

Why is it a pointless answer?

What part of the topic is the pointless answer related to?

This questioning thread is important to a teacher as you can adjust your planning to make specifics more accessible to students in order to limit the pointless answers:)

Tedious/Tenuous Link

From BBC Radio 1 and the Chris Moyles Show / Jo Whiley Show set a question and get students to make connections to it that MUST connect in some form in order to count. A great starter / plenary / form time task. These really do get creative minds ticking.

Ticking..... Ah yes my old personal favorite quiz show.


I loved the buzzer round where in pairs (pairs in class, teams, class sides or dare I say it boys and girls) and Matthew Kelly would set the question thread...


Matthew would then start off with vague or small details describing something that was connected to the term and then through time he added extra detail till it became obvious. (See picture 4,3,2,1) it was a timed part and every 5 seconds it switched sides locking the other out from giving an answer. If you got a question right you could take control or pass to the other person to start off with the harder little detailed 5 second start. Try it in class I find it gets the class very competitive. It can be great in 3s - 1 think up the question and hints and the other 2 have a competitive go. All methods link brilliantly with Classdojo.

It really gets students thinking about what details to add about a topic and when to avoid others getting the answer straight away. BUT to avoid a penalty when the clock finishes the question setter has to read out other connectives / hints till someone gets it to work on depth of answer skill and literacy.


This task was doing the rounds a few years ago but it seems to be rarely seen or heard of in my opinion lately.

The concept is you have a board of yellow hexagon letters (see picture of yellow letter board). Students select a letter from the board and a set question is asked that incorporates that letter. The answer starts with the letter selected.

E.g. What Q______ do we ask each day in order to generate an answered response......

I find blockbusters questions work brilliantly with checking/assessing glossary terms. Getting students using Key Geography Words is a crucial skill with developing writing in my subject and activities like this help to plant the seed and get students familiar with the terms.

I get students to create blockbuster boards with answers. The best boards students make are solo-fied! So the terms and questions connect together. The longer the connected board the better. It's great for developing sequencing. And a great revision hook for students recognizing lettered sequences and linking this to a process or topic in a chronological way. All from a simple letter question!

A brilliant visual set of question stimuli come from my next EPIC TV show.

Question Of Sport

I grew up watching this programme every week. Although the host and team presenters/leaders have changed many of the core elements to the show have remained. WHY? Because they are fantastic and really stimulate great discussions, answers and more importantly THINKING.

The first question thread that has stood the test of time is:

What happens next?

This can be asked as a verbal response, as a written answer with ....... At the end or how I prefer to use it as a picture or video clip. This never fails to draw out some crazy, unique answers. The trick is to ensure in someway that the answers MUST incorporate something from the stimulus material in order to keep focus and a connection with the question.

An example I have used (see pictures is ZZ) what did he do next.....
You could then ask what COULD he have done differently? If he was in the same situation again what might he do instead? What was going through his mind before...during....after the incident?

You could get students thinking in a time sense. So what could have happened prior to the incident to cause ZZ to headbutt the Italian?

Or why did the referee have to send ZZ off?

Go through this process with your material. It'll add depth to them and engagement.

Many pictures can be adjusted by just adding a box over it or blanking a video at a key point.

Special guest

I use to love this part of the show where a famous sport star would be hindered from view only for some clues to show themselves.

This could be done with pixelating a picture or covering a video up with your body if your not technically minded with ICT, or turn the whiteboard off and just have sound playing and get students to make connections.

I often get students to do this for homework creating visual questions for others to answer.

Anyway I'm getting tired now so I'll leave it there.

I have just scratched the surface on some of the TV show questioning styles. Try them out ROTATE THEM so that students get a WIDE variety to test their thinking skills and keep them on their toes:)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Highlight text so Googling research isn't just copy-paste-don't read-hand in

I've been working on a simple technique with my students lately to ensure that they are reading what they research.

I read an article today about how 'googling' something has reduced research to a quick task of type-copy-don't read as we trust what the top site that google puts up from the search then hand in or bring to a lesson thinking we have done some effective research. Realistically this is just gathering information BUT it isn't research. In my interpretation of the term research it should involve using the first part of the word... RE.....REad, REadjust, REsemble. Therefore taking it apart and REconnecting.

It got me thinking of my past. Where once people might have used a technique I used at university where I would go to the library and read information from a variety of sources, photocopy it, highlight important sections of text that are relevant to my research question and  then write an article to take to a seminar.

So why not get students to do this technique electronically!


Students started of with a question that I set them.

'Why is a species endangered?'

Firstly I directly students to one website that I told them I TRUSTED.

Students selected a species from it and copied the threats to that species and pasted it into a word document.

Students then gathered further information from at least 2 other sources off the net. I want a culture where students collected from more than one source to help counter the issue of bias. Once again students pasted the information into the word document. 

Students now have a collection of information to begin reading.

The more able students picked out specifics mentioned in the text and added them to google to gather more specific information about their species.

The next stage is the crucial one as it is where students really start to READ what they have collected. I told students to highlight reasons with a colour and different reasons with different colours. So students would begin to notice whether their species had threats from more than one source.

The colours would then act as a structural jigsaw. Students would create sub-titles for each colour and then rearrange by grouping the colours together. This could allow students to begin to make a visual evaluation. As more of one colour would indicate a greater threat to a species as writers generally they found talked more about more serious threats to the species. So by looking at the amount of each colour students could rank reasons into different levels of importance.

The next step is crucial. I get students to read each coloured section, which often is repetative as different sources often uncover the same reasons for why the species was endangered. Students produce a written summary for each coloured section and so they end up with a thorough process where they have READ information to answer a question.

I have found that the retention of what students research has gone through the roof! It definitely takes a long time for students to do this technique but they are realising the benefits as they are retaining what they are doing and so learning new things from their reading not just falling into the shallow blank googling technique where students and us don't READ!

Here is a quick guide to how I introduced it to students the powerpoint was made by another teacher in the department that I work in and she is fantastic.

explain_assessment_end_species.pptx Download this file

I've also attached two pieces of work from students on what they have produced from it.

One has even highlighted their own text to show how they are working on their literacy and highlighting terms to show they are explaining as that was what the question was asking for.

TURTLE_ASSESSMENT_;D.docx Download this file
Endangered_Tigers_research.docx Download this file


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Teachmeet Cramlington Presentation

Here is a link to my presentation at Teachmeet Cramlington. It involves Critique and Solo Stations. The end has 2 slides in how to incorporate technology especially mobile devices into planning.

Teachmeet_Cramlington.ppt Download this file

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Solo Taxonomy as a revision tool Using QR codes and a Google Form

I need time to add the resources for this.

My first attempt at a revisional exercise using SOLO involved halved hexagons.

Students worked in pairs and were presented with a series of halved hexagons. The hexagons were split between question stems and answers to those questions. They had to piece the hexagons together.

When they had achieved this they then flipped the hexagons over to reveal a QR code constructed when they pieced the correct hexagon halves together. If they had connected the hexagon correctly with the correct question stem and answer the QR code when scanned would launch them to a google form.

In the first instance of doing this I cut out the hexagons and then on the back I stuck a printed out QR code for a specific set of statistical details of the case study. Then I simply cut the hexagon in half. Wa la! 

Google forms are brilliant and they offer teachers multiple ways to construct a question and more importantly answer input from the student. The question types range from text, paragraph text, multiple choice, choose from a list, check, to a grid.

I mainly used simple multiple choice options as I wanted this stage to be quick and for students to get on to the main activity. So why was I using this?? 

I wanted students to build up the use of key CASE STUDY specific statistics and details.

So students filled out the google form and checked to see how well they knew the statistical and detail parts of their case study.

They then went on in class to construct an essay answer based on the case study, which was about China’s One child policy for an approach to reduce population growth. They were allowed to use the completed google form as well.

But before going hell for fire into the essay I wanted students to flip over the hexagons again and to using the hot map guide frame in my small at the minute thinking tool kit.

This was a stimulus to get students to arrange the hexagons around 3 core themes. Advantages, Disadvantages and background of the one child policy. The background hexagons I wanted students to think of as depth to the case study so they were still relevant and worthy of including in an essay.

I’m also working on developing students literacy especially with the longer questions such as the 6-9 markers. SOLO fits brilliantly with this as from the specification to get to a level 3 answer (GCSE) students must demonstrate that they are linking their answer together and use case study specific terminology and detail.

What is that highlighted term??? (I sense people are putting 2 and 2 together here and seeing RELATIONAL!

I have begun very basic with my students and need to have a word with English subject folk on how to really develop this but my efforts are simple. Such as the linking sentence terms in bold below.

So to the essay with a google form and solo arranged hexagons as resources to use to combat the essay.

The following is an answer by one of my students that I have simply copy and pasted from an email I asked to send containing it!

The 1979 One Child Policy introduced by China was a policy to reduce the rapid population growth problem and limit the strain put on scarce resources. The policy would work by limiting the number of children a family could have to 1 if Parents had only one child they would get a "one-child glory certificate," which entitles them to economic benefits such as an extra month's salary every year until the child was 14. Among the other benefits for one child families were higher wages, interest-free loans, retirement funds, cheap fertiliser, better housing, better health care, and priority in school enrollment. Women who delay marriage until after they are 25 would receive benefits such as an extended maternity leave when they finally get pregnant. This demonstrates a carrot approach to entice Chinese couples to have only one child. The stick approach involved these privileges been taken away if the couple decides to have an extra child.

To help promote the one child policy Slogans such as “Have Fewer Children Live Better Lives” and "Stabilise Family Planning and Create a Brighter Future” were painted on roadside buildings. Some crude family planning slogans such “Raise Fewer Babies, But More Piggies” and "If you give birth to extra children, your family will be ruined" These were banned in August 2007 because of rural anger about the slogans and the policy behind them. The one child policy angered rural people as many are farm workers who need labour hands to help produce the food that China needs! Therefore if the one child policy was nationwide it would make resourcing such as food production even scarcer!

However the one-child policy actually only covered about 35 % of Chinese, mostly those living in urban areas. The conventional wisdom in China has been that controlling China's population serves the interest of the whole society and that sacrificing individual interests for those of the masses is justifiable.

A huge problem with the one child policy was the impact on abortions. Most families wanted a boy in order to work and carry on the family name and so as a direct result of this there was a dramatic increase in female abortions. They accounted for 90% of all Abortions!! This also led to scenes such as babies dumped on the street or under bridges. This shows from a human being perspective that the policy was destroying human rights!

In conclusion the policy although it harsh especially with the impact on abortions and steralisation after many births on the mother the effects on population growth are clearly optimistic and beneficial to the country’s problem. In 1979 China had a birth rate of 40 per 1000 in a year as a result of the ‘one child policy’ this was reduced to 17 per 1000 per year by 1980. Therefore the one child policy worked as a strategy to reduce the population growth as the birth rate fell by 23 per 1000 per year.

I was really impressed with this essay. She has clearly used statistics and case study specific details throughout.

So in conclusion I thought the lesson went brilliantly. 

The use of solo as a strategy to get to this stage have been huge and I will be doing a hell of a lot more SOLO with my classes.

Incidentally I have begun a voyage with many other Geographers in using SOLO taxonomy. If you are interested then we've created a hashtag on twitter called #geogsolo 

I have also created a series of google docs on different aspects on employing Solo in Geography. Many of the sections are bare at the minute but they will be extensively added to over the coming week as I am on half term.

Plus to emphasis the power of twitter we are having a global #geogsolo discussion for an hour on 16th June 12pm GMT. COME AND JOIN US!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

#DurhamTM a quick Mission:Explore introduction

An introduction to Mission:Explore the books, website and the coming food book.

mission_explore_powerpoint.pptx Download this file at #Durham Teachmeet

A quick (ish) inroduction to see earlier post for a more thorough overview.

Scoopit.pptx Download this file

Mute Lapping as presented at #DurhamTM

Mute Lapping is my current concept in the classroom. In a nutshell it is PBL, Solo Taxonomy, Classdojo, Kagan collaboration, Socrative feedback and whole class presentations via an exhibition format.

If you want to get in touch with me about anyone it contact me on twitter @JOHNSAYERS

Mute_lapping_solo.pptx Download this file


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Mute Lapping

Here is a basic powerpoint with the concept of what I'll be talking about regarding Mute Lapping with PBL, Solo, Kagan, DL Leader packs, Classdojo and Socrative.

Mute_lapping.pptx Download this file

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

CampEd12 Reflection

Two days have past since the brilliant CampEd12. In that time I've struggled to get back into the swing of the day job. This has been a direct result of some quality/bizarre reflective time.

If you haven't already read up about CampEd12 as you don't follow those who attended then in a nutshell it was created out of a tweeting discussion between Tim Rylands, Dughall McCormick and Bill Lord from memory. The discussion evolved around the cost issues with conferences and CPD sessions and Tim Rylands commented that one in his own Shed would be better!

As twitter is an incredible networking tool the wonderful Helen Daykin soon added her 10 pence worth to the mix and got involved to quickly volunteered her Mother's farm as a site where an outdoor conference/festival of fun could be sited.

After a teething problem surfaced, which destroyed the concept of Shedfest in name sake at least as it's a wine festival in California the concept evolved into the wonderfully clear descriptive title of CampEd12.

At this stage I started to inquire whether I could be an attendee as I saw the list of brilliantly inspiring people grow and grow into an event that I felt I couldn't miss.

I'm at a relatively early stage of my teaching career and since joining twitter I've followed many incredible people in the education World some of the most inspiring were attending CampEd12.

As a direct result of twitter I've tried to develop myself into being a person that other educators can reflect with, share ideas, read interesting and note worthy news articles. In a year I've seen my followers grow to other 1600. A decent amount that could only of happened by other reflective learners in a similar network of people joining in on conversations on #ukedchat or #geographyteacher that I throw myself into on a daily basis.

So this was my journey that took me to hearing about CampEd and signing myself up to attend.

Since returning from CampEd12 I've read many blog posts on it. A few really stick in my mind as they emphasised my situation. The great Dawn Hallybone posted one of them. Her situation is like mine. A partner who glances over to see me engrossed in my phone, iPad of Mac in a twitter conversation on something educational. Jess often gets extremely frustrated with seeing me return home from school to then start nattering on about Geography at home! this was a feeling I felt Dawn and I shared with our partners.

"Put it down" is a phrase Jess is sick of saying!

When the event drew nearer and nearer I began to feel guilty of leaving Jess at home on her own considering she has just been made redundant. So I sounded her out saying that it'd be fun and time for us to spend away from the 4 walls of home and reflect on our current circumstances.

Unlike another blog post by Nicky Allman where her family decided against camping I decided to brave the suggestion that Jess and I should camp as I thought we were homing another camper. Jess made inquiries into the local pub but financially we I convinced her camping was better for us.

Jess was less than convinced and her trepidation was well founded as 4 weeks earlier we had camped in Gloucester where we had to come home early as she became sick through the cold. The forecast for CampEd was not looking favourable temperature wise!

Anyway we decided to pack the kitchen sink and the entire spare bedroom of extra duvet and set off with the car packed to capacity!

On arrival like all of the blog posts we've read on returning home we were greeted with a number of warm hand shakes and embraces from the core organisers and set upon the 1st great mountain to climb (see other posts regarding the mountain climb to the pub) setting up camp!

Unlike the other campers who had set up their respectable and sensible tents I decided to bring my 12 berth Outwell beast that was to become known as 'Hotel Sayers' 'Mission:Explore base' or via sections as the 'East Wing'. I love my tent as it has a great communal area to relax in any weather situation.

This was to be the case for the opening day as Emma Dawson and I had brought along some of our favourite Guerilla Missions for anyone and everyone who wanted to explore.

This allowed me to catch up with the incredible modest Emma who never gives herself enough credit in my opinion with things that we're doing in school. We allowed those who came to the Mission Tent to explore on their own and left everyone to their own devices a skill many teachers really need to adopt as much as possible but that's another story that I like to have on my ever appearing soapbox!

After a sneaky trip up to the pub to catch the final score of the FA Cup Final I sampled a glorious ale named 'April Showers' unfortunately for me and a number of others it soon ran dry:( Mind this didn't spell disaster as many great conversations were stoked up including with the incredibly approachable Bryn Llewellyn, Chris and Catherine.

In the evening we were treated to an outstanding BBQ courtesy of the great pub owner! The sausages were nicely spiced and the burgers yummy. Plus the spicy chilli was right down my street:)

This was followed by a great musical treat from Dan Bowen, Kevin Mc Laughlin plus special children guest appearances and the incredible BEV Evans ! WOW SUCH TALENT was on show! Plus Jamie who was the best egg shaker I've ever seen!

This was where Jess and I were pretty nervous as I've only known people through twitter so I socially felt pretty scared to sit and natter so we simply took a step back and observed laughter a plenty and made our way to bed to gaze at the Super Moon before the freezing cold kicked in!

Luckily Jess came prepared with 2 hot water bottles, 2 sleeping bags each and our thick duck feathered duvet! We'd need it! The morning followed plenty of body shuddering from the cold. It was a little earlier than welcomed due to the cockerels and the infamous cuckoo or was that owl Tony Parkin kept telling us all about:)

Day 2 was more relaxed Jess and I needed some thinking time for our penny counting future and opted for the great activity of Geocaching and a walk.

I love Geocaching and my 320 total in 1 country was well and truly eclipsed by the brilliant Lord James Langley with his 400 + from 7 countries soon to be 8:) I've done plenty of Geocaching in my time and thought of different ways to use them from mission explore cache boxes, to panoramic photo reference boxes to historical changes to an area to visual changes to seasonal changes in a QR code instruction in the geocache, to a game based traceable competition.

But I had never done Geocaching with the GPS devices the Lord had brought.

Instantly I was in my silly element! With squashing imaginary Geckos and other games. This was a fab ice breaker game that got to all at ease with people we didn't know.

On the Geocaching main challenge my group got talking about the pedagogical worth and value of Geocaching and quickly kept coming back to the outdoor quality it brings but came up with some strategies to make the searching time into thinking time or activity in itself time. We loved the dimensions, distance, direction and orientation aspect to build EAL issues and the QR code uses seen earlier but more importantly the fun aspect. We each discussed how at finding each cache of various different challenges that could be set and these could be collaborative to level based / solo based activities to each group getting an element to a mega task then collaborating centrally after each group has found their geocache-challenge-code to be solved.

We all love Geocaching and at this stage Jess and I wanted to explore the countryside. The walk was lovely and the guide was very informative and certainly loved her area. Something I think we should all take note of and explore our local area to relate to it more than most of us do ME included!

On this walk I got to chat to Dawn Hallybone and her husband for the 1st time. We had a lovely chat about travels and possible future options something that is at the forefront of both Jess and my mind! I loved the walk as it recharged my batteries that were getting wary of the amount of tea I was drinking to stay warm.

On returning to the Campsite I slumped into a chair to gaze at the awe inspiring Kevin Mc Laughlin and his 3D snow flake creation time. How is it created again Kevin? He showed great persistence that many teachers ooze when needing to finish a job/task. At that time a huge aspect of the Camp was beginning to surface again. My mind had drifted but now I was beginning to regain a mind focus it became clear that children were a central core to this festival of fun and rightfully so! Not once all weekend did I see ANY children whine about being bored or wanting to go home!

Perhaps like Matthew Pearson suggests this was because we were all a middle class well brought up mini community with engaging parents offering different stigmatic activities for the children. I agree with Matthew on this front that this sort of festival/camp is ideal to opening the eyes to those less fortunate who don't get much more beyond the end of their street let alone another county or country!

I'd be more than willing to run a competition/secret invitational criteria for next year to bring 1 boy and 1 girl from my school who fitted this bill for them to experience this wonderful event!? Thoughts????

After Kevin finally relieved himself from Snow flake duty I settled down to chat with Susan Banister, Dughall McCormick, Jamie and Dawn Hallybone. We had a lovely chat that ranged from some of the best ad hoc planning I've done in ages to a comparison of scars. Again another aspect that I'm taking back to form time to allow students to come up with a starting discussion point and see what we have in common on a specific theme.

The event drew to a close for me in the final Sunday dinner meal and drinking session. My sunburn was firmly setting in by then and so I enjoyed sitting back and chatting to those mentioned and the very approachable Tony Parking and Alex Bellars.

I had such a wonderful time as did Jess. She is happy for me to keep tweeting to open up other windows of networking opportunities like CampEd12 for a friendship event as much as an educating opportunity.

So what will I take from CampEd?

Well I've asked my SLT if I can set up my tent in the school grounds for a Learning Pod.

My form have begun a life experience book using the CBB app.

I'm planning a new transition series of events for next years year 7 using events from CampEd12 mostly the mission:explore, geocaching, den building linked events.

Overall I had a wonderful time and didn't get opportunity to speak to many who I wanted including Jo Badge about GTAUK and Graeme Eyre about Geography education or many other people who I follow on twitter like Chris Ratcliffe.

Roll on CampEd13! A camp that I hear now is a strong possibility of happening!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Mute lapping - (Solo-Kagan-Socrative/Digital leaders-Classdojo-window writers)

This is a quick overview on what I'll chat about at #TMhum. I'll upload to this site the presentation in advance of it for you all to have a butchers at.

My whole teaching method at present is all about me doing very little and the students learning for themselves and collaboratively. I am the last port of call. So if they have a question they have to ask the others in their learning quad or around the room.

I provide a 2-4 week project based learning pack for each group. The students compliment this by using iPod touches, iPads, laptops (BYOD) for research and an avenue on how they want to present their learning.

Students also have learning packs (these have digital device weblinks, guides on how to use learning app/programs created by my Digital leaders team and are growing all the time) and their quad groups to use Kagan activities such as all write, pair, share to provide feedback/up and forward on how to develop their learning.

Throughout the lessons the Digital leaders run some Kagan led Socrative feedback questioning to check the learning progress of the class this is displayed on the whiteboard. Each group discuss in their learning groups and feedback via one person (different person each time) using the devices they have for the whole class to get a feel for the learning the other groups are doing so when they get onto that aspect of the learning they have a mini light bulb at the back of their mind ready.

The PBL packs all contain mapping/place activities, describing, explaining, opinionated, aspects. These generally are split up in the quad groups one each. Therefore the next lesson when the groups switch they have a partner who can give some feedback/feedforward.

My time is purely spent lapping the classroom and using my iPhone adding learning points to Classdojo that will be up on the whiteboard for students to see how happy I am as an assessor to everyone’s learning.

At the end of each lesson students evaluate where they are on the solo taxonomy path of learning and they know where they are at and the learning theme they have to develop the next lesson to complete a specific aspect of their projects. I am developing a solo geography skills ladder path so that students can easily decipher where they are and where they’ll take their learning.

The start of the next lesson students will think, pair, share the learning that they gained from the previous lesson. Ones from each group will spend 5 minutes each week getting together to discuss their learning progress and as a Q&A time. Twos, threes and fours do likewise.

During the lesson each group will write the learning paths that they explored (successes/problems on the windows in their learning room for the other classes that I observe to get some hints and tips or to explore ways to overcome problems that the other groups have had and give them a helping hand. Each window is split into 4 for this for the different aspects of the project.

So my role in the class is to be as Mute as possible and simply lap the room, listening and observing the learning.

Mission:explore Genius bar

I'll have the mission:explore books and the website that i'll run through and show how we are looking for schools to sign up to it and create their own mission based learning. This is something that can be cross-schools based. 2 min nano presentation

With the great Theo Kuechel I am running a research project with my students.

This is a site where you can curate on a given topic and have the site search different sites for items on your chosen topic on a daily basis. You can add the suggested content and add sites that you want the site to search each day. You can add bookmarklets to sites and then this will link that site page straight to your page. Just by the click of a button. Once you install the bookmarklet to your bookmark folder this will be open for any site you look at. You can even do it on your iPhone so I'm constantly updating.

I have used this with 6 form and each student uses my account and they add content to it as they come across research that they find useful. The classes have all found that it speeds up research and created a turbo charged depth to their reading by the site doing it for them! I'll discuss some issues that students have had with it.

This site has meant that I now rarely update my further reading blogs for students to read up on different topics. Students also use the app.

I might add a little on zeebox on how I'm using this with students to cut down in class video watching time as we do it in the comfort of our own homes.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

An evening of informal Geography chat not to be missed


Come and enjoy an evening of Geography chat. Follow the #beermeet on twitter or #gaconf12

David Guetta feat Usher do continental drift!?!

A video that with the music is a bell work task for students to pick out what is happening. It links to continental drift and where we came from Pangea connenting us together and the without you aspect of the song could be interpreted that we can't exist as a planet without everyone?

Hypothesis the meaning of the song yourself. Link to a jigsaw puzzle exercise of the tectonic plates and get students to produce an animated model of continental drift using a Bourbon biscuit broken in two...... 

What could I mean? get a bourbon and hypothesise what Alfred Wegener might of done with it to prove continental drift of Africa and South America.

Google Fusion table map and Intensity Map of Mega cities vs cities of the World

Since December I have discovered google Fusion tables and have fiddled on with them and spent many an hour exploring created maps from them on the internet.
As a Geographer mapping is key to me. It can provide so much visual information for the reader.
Here is my latest effort to map all the mega cities in the world against all the cities using simple visual cirles. Larger circles show megacities, smaller cirlces show cities.
What patterns from the following maps do you pick up?
Many many more maps are to follow from me in various complexities. This one been very simple. I can natural resort to using hacks to change styles and bling up various maps but these will come in following posts.
The 1st picture is simply of city placemarks of the world.

The 2nd map is a visual representation using 2 circle sizes.

The following link is to the google fusion table data for you to play around with. 
I'll put one embed example in only as it will drastically slow down the browser.

Those on apple devices won't see them so I have attached some screen shots as well.

small (light green) = city
large (dark green) = mega city

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Mission:Explore Food


Mission:Explore Food


We need your help to create Mission:Explore Food, the latest in the series of children's books which The Society of Authors have said "encourage children to explore the world around them, developing their curiosity, confidence and courage along the way…".

Mission:Explore Food will be a revolutionary cookbook, guide, fieldbook and atlas to what we grow in the ground, chase around fields, put in our mouths, poo out our bums and plant our seeds in. The book will include scores of both delicious and disgusting recipes, missions, games and wisdom on good ways to find, eat and dispose of food.

Written by The Geography Collective (a team of teachers, academics, artists and explorers) in partnership with City Farmers and illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones, Mission:Explore Food will go where no other family food-related book dares!

The first Mission:Explore Book won the Hay Festival & National Trust Outdoor Book of the Year and is Pink Stinks for being forward thinking and positive on gender issues. Our next book will be even bigger and better.

Mission:Explore Food will cover sustainable, healthy, slow, self-grown, urban farmed, ethical, local and international food. Readers will be encouraged to think critically and creatively about where their food comes from, how it's transported, traded, processed, prepared, cook, eaten and disposed of.

Chapters in the 320 page full colour and illustrated hardback book include:

     1. Grow
     2. Harvest
     3. Cook
     4. Eat
     5. Waste
     6. Soil

In true Mission:Explore style readers will be challenged to complete missions which involve planting, digging, watering, finding, foraging, growing, investigating, testing, questioning, sifting, rolling, talking, throwing, climbing, harvesting, hunting, picking, sharing, learning, soiling, pooing, weeing, recycling, trading, singing, creating, cooking, stiring, boiling, grating, skimming, churning, thinking, mapping, eating, tasting, smelling, sniffing, burning, chilling, drinking, gargling, farming, playing and fooding.

We will be preparing free units of work to help teachers use the book in schools across the curriculum. The missions will also be integrated with so that readers can collect points and earn rewards for their efforts.

If you are a charity or food related organisation and would like to support the book in a way that is not directly on offer on this page please let us know.

We plan for the book to retail at £20 a copy and to launch at the Hay Festival 2012. Please help us to make this happen and be a part of something special!


Here are a few words from other people on Mission:Explore.

"Mission Explore by the Geography Collective and published by Can of Worms Press was ‘mischievous, quirky and fun. full of truly challenging, thought provoking and slightly bonkers activities. Nicola Davies particularly liked the ‘Mint Stint’ which asks readers to see how far they can cycle sucking the same mint, giving page space for the route maps of three attempts.’ But the judges admired the book as being a lot more than frivolous entertainment ,  liking the way it fosters an attitude of observation , enquiry and engagement with the world,, asking children to interact with their environment, interact question it and think about it – and to play with ideas, places, objects  - a playful approach that is the foundation of all creativity." Society of Authors on becoming a runner up for the Best Education Writer of the Year Award 2011.

"Mission:Explore is bold, cool, exciting, innovative, geographic, educational…and just plain fun! Every curious kid, budding geographer, and responsible parent should have a copy!" National Geographic Education

"Mission:Explore is splendid - great fun, and a lovely way to get children out into their environment and using their brains." Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood

"We love the creativity of Mission:Explore and the way it creates experiences for all children so they can share, learn and play together." Pinkstinks Approved

"Designed to be read, scribbled on, illustrated, smeared, scratched and sniffed, it may just be the most revolutionary geography-related book ever published." Geographical Magazine

"Learning to engage with the world around you is the key to effective citizenship education, Mission:Explore sits at the heart of what we believe is good citizenship education!" Ade Sofola, Citizenship Foundation

"THE KIDS' CLASSIC - Attempting to travel with a wriggly child? Buy a copy of Mission:Explore, a book of 102 spy-style tasks and assignments, such as 'How far can you travel while sucking the same mint?' and 'Make a map revealing local cat routes'. It's like bringing along a nanny with endless patience and a James Bond fixation." Sunday Times Travel Magazine


2 / 3