Tag Archives: discussion

‘Let’s go on an awesome, Arctic adventure!’, Abbey Park Middle School, Pershore, Worcestershire

Well, today, I was back with my partner in crime, Sarah Shaw, for an awesome, Arctic adventure, but this time at Abbey Park Middle School in Pershore, Worcestershire.  Melanie Hirst, a Year 6 teacher and Geography Subject Leader at the school, had attended a CPD workshop that I delivered last March and, subsequently, signed up to the Global Learning Programme (GLP). After completing the short, Whole School Audit (WSA), she received £500 of e-credits to spend. A perusal of the courses and events advertised online led her to our pupil and staff offering (amalgamating aspects of a successful Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition project and CPD workshop for teachers), which she promptly booked for the penultimate week of the school year.  Emily Hastings, a freelance drama specialist (see www.actinguptheatre.co.uk  and www.facebook/EmilyHastingsactingup for further details) asked if she could pop along to see us ‘in action’ … Sarah, Abbey Park Middle School and I were only too happy to oblige … after all, the more the merrier!

Sarah and I had an action-packed, interactive day planned, so it was straight to work!  Initially, we all gathered in the school hall.  The children sat around large tables in their allocated ‘country’ groups (named after nations lying within the Arctic Circle), ready to tackle our starter activity (a jigsaw puzzle centred upon the Arctic).  By piecing together the puzzle, youngsters were able to establish where we would be sailing to for the remainder of the day.





Next, I launched Google Earth and projected it onto the large screen, so that I could take pupils and teachers on a virtual trip, from their home market town of Pershore to the geo-magnetic North Pole.  We considered the distance, direction and time involved, identified countries lying within the Arctic Circle and some of its key physical (natural) and human features, as well as highlighting pressing environmental issues. The aim was to specifically target place and locational knowledge (with a few teachers and support staff learning alongside the children too).  I then outlined the learning objectives and the proposed format for the morning.

Whilst Greenland, USA, Canada and Russia remained with Sarah for a dance/drama session, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland joined me in a nearby classroom or ICT Suite to further enhance their place and locational knowledge.  In their hour with Sarah, the children entered into the world of the Arctic.  They were transported to the region, became explorers and set off across the snowfields and great glaciers.  On their way, they encountered wildlife, both on land and in the sea, and learnt how their habitats are under threat due to climate change.  Some photographs of the youngsters as avid adventurers can be seen below:







With me, the children embarked upon four, different activities in an attempt to answer the following questions:

  • What are the challenges facing the Arctic today?
  • What will the Arctic look like in the future?

Firstly, working in their ‘country’ group, pupils were given two plastic hoops so that they could create a Venn diagram and an envelope containing facts relating to the Arctic.  They were required to sort the facts into those that they believed to be ‘true’, those that they believed to be ‘false’ and ones that they were ‘unsure about’.  They then had to place the facts at appropriate points on their Venn diagram.  Later, I revealed the answers, correcting those statements that were ‘false’ in the process.



I also posed a question or two to the children:

  • Were there any facts that surprised you?
  • If so, how/why?

They had some interesting comments.  For instance, one individual was surprised that penguins do not live at the North Pole despite its freezing temperatures, others were amazed by the variety of wildlife that could be seen in such a cold environment and several were unaware of the sheer size of a polar bear (up to 4 metres tall when stood on its hind legs and having paws the length of a long ruler).

Secondly, again working in their ‘country’ group, students had to match each image with its caption to discover more about the Arctic region.  Once the answers had been divulged, I asked the youngsters if the Arctic region was as they imagined it to be.  Pupils were keen to contribute, which was lovely to see.  The majority did not realise that so many people lived within the Arctic Circle (around 4 million) and that towns with ‘proper houses’ existed, for example.



It was intended for each ‘country’ group to draw up a list of ten words that they felt best described the Arctic.  However, as time was at a premium, I simply went around the room asking each pupil in turn whilst their teacher recorded their words onto the whiteboard. These words will later be inputted into the text box at http://www.wordclouds.com/ to create a word cloud. This word cloud can then be printed, enlarged and referenced at appropriate points to support further written work in class and help reinforce topical vocabulary.

Lastly, it was ‘spot the difference’ time.  In their ‘country’ group, pupils were expected to look carefully at two satellite images that they had been given (of the same place, at the same time of year, but a few years apart) and record how many differences they could spot.  After a few minutes, I selected individuals to share the differences they had observed. When doing so, I encouraged them to use locational and positional language as well, e.g. in the foreground, behind the…, there is no… in image 1, yet in image 2 there is a… .  Pupils were really observant, noting changes to the shape, extent and colour of the ice, in addition to identifying new land. Afterwards, I provided detailed explanations for each observation.

A short break was needed by pupils, staff and consultants before the four ‘country’ groups rotated to complete the alternative session.

Just before lunch, we convened in the school hall for a short plenary.  The ‘country’ groups performed their dance/dramas confidently … Sarah always achieves so much with pupils in such a short space of time!  We then reflected upon our learning and experiences (since I was leading this, teachers were able to gather audio-visual evidence of pupils’ ‘concluding comments’).  We used ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ signals when referring to the learning outcomes.  Both Sarah and I were encouraged by the willing show of thumbs pointing upwards. In order to stimulate an element of higher order thinking, I had hoped to challenge pupils to the following questions, but dinner had to be served and a prompt finish was required :

  • What do you think the Arctic will be like in 2050?;
  • What now needs to be done in order to secure a positive future of the Arctic?
  • Is there anything that you could personally do?

These questions could be explored with their class teachers over the next day or so, perhaps? Each child was then presented with a geography badge as a reward for their efforts, which they wore with pride for the rest of the day.

Gill Johnson from Wicked Weather Watch (https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/) kindly arranged for Digby Rawlins to also pay a visit today.  Digby had just returned from a stint on Northabout (the boat that completed the record-breaking Polar Ocean Challenge between June and October 2016 – see http://polarocean.co.uk/ for further details); for him, it had been quite a challenging voyage from Ireland to Greenland, but well worth it, judging by the first-hand experiences he had to recall and stunning photographs and movie clip that he shared with the students. Afterwards, Digby invited the audience to ask any questions that they had; he was truly put in the ‘hot seat’ at this point, but it did show how engaged and enthused the children were!








In order to make the day as productive as possible, we offered a CPD session/working lunch for staff involved with the day.  They were asked to reflect upon the morning, identifying WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if) and consider their ‘next steps’, annotating a pair of feet as a record of their intentions.  This provided instant and effective feedback for Sarah and I too … we are always looking to develop new themes for workshops/improve what we already do. Besides, we love to leave a school feeling confident that they could replicate the sessions with other year groups/classes.  We both shared further resources/web-links and ideas with teachers so that they could take today’s learning a step further or integrate it into their future curriculum planning. Seeing professionals so appreciative and inspired makes what we do all the more worthwhile.



As can be seen below, the feedback from staff and observers to date has been very positive:

‘Thank you for the Arctic theme day.  The children really enjoyed it and got a lot out of the different activities.’ (Year 6 teacher)

‘Thank you very much.  It was very interesting to see.  I thought what you guys did yesterday was brilliant, especially as your audience were pretty tough.’ (Emily Hastings)

Thank you for having us, Abbey Park Middle School!

 

‘Let’s go on an awesome Arctic adventure!’ (once again!), Gloucester Farmers’ Club

Due to the success of a previous CPD workshop and several requests from individuals/schools, I decided to offer a repeat of the session on Friday 30th June, once again using Gloucester Farmers’ Club as a base.  This proved to be an ideal venue for a reasonably small group last time and did not disappoint today either.  An array of refreshments were supplied at the requested times in an adjoining room.  Our meeting place was well-appointed, airy, clean and accessible to all.  Having plenty of free parking immediately outside the venue was a bonus too, especially when carting my laptop, a large box of resources and balancing a home-made cake!

We began by introducing ourselves and providing a brief potted history of our time in the profession, before I outlined the aims and format of the session.  This helped create an informal, open atmosphere right from the start and was conducive to much subsequent interaction and discussion.

Next, I encouraged delegates to think about the curriculum within their schools and identify links to the Arctic at both Key Stages 1 and 2.  Several connections were made in all years, but once we had picked the National Curriculum programmes of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 to pieces, all agreed that there were many more links that could easily be exploited.  I also drew their attention to the Framework produced by the Geographical Association (GA) when the new National Curriculum was launched, which divides geography into three main areas (contextual world knowledge; understanding; geographical enquiry) and lists age-related expectations for pupils at 7, 9, 11, 14 and 16 years old (http://geography.org.uk/news/2014nationalcurriculum/assessment/).

I shared links to new Arctic-themed resources, e.g. Wicked Weather Watch (https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/); Polar Ocean Challenge (http://polarocean.co.uk/); SV Northabout’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Northabout/), Arctic Alive in association with the Canada-UK Foundation (http://www.canadaukfoundation.org/arctic-alive) and Expedition Greenland: Learning about sustainability through the Vikings, an EU-funded interdisciplinary project (http://www.wilabonn.de/en/projects/723-expedition-greenlandsustainability.html), as well as showcasing a recent Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition project that Cirencester Deer Park School in Gloucestershire kindly hosted (http://espley.creativeblogs.net/2017/03/03/global-learning-programme-glp-ks2-ks3-transition-project-cirencester-deer-park-school-cdps-gloucestershire/).

Knowing how precious a teacher’s time is, I made sure that I included a good 45 minutes for delegates to explore these resources/web-links at their leisure.  It was great to see them interacting, sharing best practice and keen to determine opportunities for future rapport.  At this point, both Gill Johnson from Wicked Weather Watch and myself circulated around the room, providing additional guidance and answering any specific questions that teachers had. Below are a few photographs of the ‘action’:

Taking on my role!

Great to see individuals from different schools sharing best practice.

Smiley faces … clearly feeling relaxed and enjoying a reprieve from the classroom to reflect, discuss and plan.

Using their time wisely.

I love having the chance to chat with individuals and hear what is happening in different schools.

Providing ‘tailored’ advice.

Exploring literacy links to the Arctic.

Lovely to have Gill Johnson from Wicked Weather Watch (WWW) with us … she certainly has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share.

Absorbed!

In deep thought!

Afterwards, we contemplated our ‘next steps’ once we had walked out of the room at lunch-time today.  Some of delegates’ ‘footprints’ can be viewed below (click on each to see an enlarged version of the image):

I was touched by the concluding comments written on the blank postcards that I handed out during the plenary session too.  Here, delegates were asked to ‘sum up’ the session in five words or a sentence or two and note any further resources they would like Wicked Weather Watch (WWW) to provide.  Their responses can be read below:

‘Inspiring, informative, interesting, excellent links/resources and fun!’

‘Useful, resource-rich, helpful, interesting and insightful.’

‘Useful resources to bring geography alive.  Inspiration to move our geography learning.’

‘Well-resourced ideas and clear focus to National Curriculum objectives within an exciting topic – Arctic.’

‘Excellent opportunity to talk about resources and share ideas.’

‘Inspiring; resourceful; great mix of information and opportunity to talk; helpful; real life.’

‘I’m leaving feeling inspired and excited to teach geography.  It has been so useful to have the time to sit and talk, share ideas and plan for next year.  I’ve got lots of new resources to use!  Thank you very much!!’

‘Very informative and fabulous.  Thank you!’

‘Thanks for a fantastic, inspiring morning.’

‘I am very much looking forward to teaching this topic in Term 2 as the course has fired my enthusiasm.  Thanks for organizing the programme on Friday.  It was very informative and offered lots of relevant resources.’

Suggestions:

  • ‘More FS/KS1 resources – interactive games/sorting activities.’
  • ‘Links to videos/live webcams.’
  • ‘Links to world weather anomalies related to climate change.’
  • ‘Link to English text types.’

Small events like these provide an opportunity to engage with individuals, gain insight into what is actually taking place in schools locally (sometimes very different to what is promoted on the school’s website), consider foci for future CPD sessions and ‘magpie’ ideas for new transition projects/pupil workshops.

It was a shame that Jane Pritchard-Meaker, Education Advisor from the Education Performance and Inclusion Team at Gloucestershire County Council, was unable to pop along … maybe next time?

Many teachers expressed an interest in being part of a Geography/Humanities Subject Leaders’ Network, similar to those currently operating for English, maths and science.  This would be something that I would be more than happy to coordinate and run, either with the backing of Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) or The Crypt Teaching School (http://www.cryptschool.org/teaching-school/), an establishment where I will be based part-time from September 2017.  Do visit my blog site at regular intervals to see what evolves.

 

Time for some brainstorming!

This morning, I met with Emily Hastings from Acting Up! (see https://www.facebook.com/EmilyHastingsActingUp/ and http://www.actinguptheatre.co.uk/
for further details) to brainstorm ways in which we might collaborate in the near future.

I am keen to work with the Education Performance and Inclusion Team at Gloucestershire County Council to establish a Geography/Humanities Subject Leaders’ Network for primary schools (as they already have operating for English, mathematics and science) and run three different workshops over the course of the next academic year.  I would hope that these days contain a strong element of interactivity since I feel that this approach gives teachers more confidence to replicate the suggested activities in the classroom.  It is essential that creativity/innovation features highly too; several schools need to embrace fresh ideas to re-ignite teaching and learning within their establishments and inspire and engage youngsters.  ‘Taking learning outside the classroom’, ‘integrating geography/history with the arts’ and ‘promoting enquiry-based learning’ would be ideal themes to explore throughout 2017-2018.  Not only do I have plenty of projects/examples to showcase/share with delegates, but I am also able to draw upon other people’s expertise, such as Emily for drama, Sarah Shaw for dance and Kathryn Minchew for D&T (food).  Enticing the Teaching School at The Crypt School , where I will be teaching two days a week from September 2017, to host such workshops might be my next challenge; we could all benefit from pooling contacts and the associated publicity, I feel sure.

Over coffee, Emily and I discussed opportunities to work together in the near future and gave each other plenty of food for thought.  It was great for both of us to have someone very like-minded to bounce ideas off.  Back to the drawing board now and a few leads to pursue … watch this space to see how things evolve.  Exciting times ahead, hopefully!

 

Prayer Day, Hempsted C of E Primary School

A day with a difference, and a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding one at that!  As a Church of England school, Hempsted has tried to establish stronger links with its local church (St. Swithun’s, under the very capable and inspiring hands of Canon Nikki Arthy) over the past few years in particular.  Now and again, Nikki asks members of the Messy Church team if they would be willing to spare some time to support community- or school-related events.  Being DBS cleared and an experienced teacher, Prayer Day at Hempsted C of E Primary School was obviously one of my areas of expertise and an event to volunteer my services for!

It had been intended to have everyone in the school hall at the start and end of the day. However, due to the current heatwave and 30+ degrees Centigrade temperatures, it was decided to be sensible and abandon this idea.

At their allotted time, the children came into the hall in their class group and with their teacher and any teaching assistant/s.  They had the opportunity to explore up to five different prayer stations in the time available, all centred upon a specific theme, e.g. family; me; friends; world and school.

Mrs Middleton and myself’s role was promoting ‘Love for the world’.  Our focus was on Psalm 8: 1, ‘O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world.’  We explained to the children that Christians believe the world was made by God and it is beautiful.  At one time, it was perfect, but things have gone wrong and the world is not the great place it once was.  This is not how God meant it to be.  Sometimes, children are particularly damaged and hurt by the things that happen in the world.  To begin with, the youngsters were asked to look at the inflatable globes on the table and try to identify places that they had been to, places that they had heard about and places that they would like to visit.  Next, they were encouraged to think about the pain that God feels when he sees his perfect world going wrong.  Then, pupils were prompted to consider children in other parts of the world.  They were asked to hold or hug an inflatable globe silently for a short while, thinking of all the children in the world and particularly those who were suffering.  Afterwards, each child was given a tag with a globe and children printed on it.  On the reverse, they were invited to share their thoughts, e.g. who would they like us all to say a prayer for.  These were then placed at an appropriate location on the world map that covered the table.

Other activities on offer to the children included creating class prayer paper chains, making beaded friendship bracelets, writing teaspoon (TSP … Thank you; Sorry; Please) prayers and decorating gingerbread men/women to hang on a small branch of a tree.

At the end of their session, Mrs Hill encouraged the children to come and sit in the centre of the hall for a time of reflection together.  A number of the children’s prayers were shared and pupil voice was collated about the activities that they had just taken part in.  Many of their prayers focused on family, friends, their school and events that had featured in recent News bulletins. The children clearly enjoyed completing the various tasks, especially the very ‘hands-on’ ones. Perhaps, this is something to consider when planning a future Prayer Day?  Less writing/drawing and more handling/talking, which would make them more accessible to less able and younger pupils too.

Parents/carers were also invited to participate, with sessions available to them both before and after school. Not only did this give them the chance to see what their child/children would be/had been doing, but it also provided them with a few quiet moments for reflection or to discuss any thoughts or feelings that they had, if they so wished.  Days such as these are an effective means of engaging with many sectors of our local community and certainly showcase the delightful school that we are so lucky to have within our village of Hempsted.

A ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to all who helped organise and deliver the day.

Thinking about our world …

And, different classes’ responses …

‘Teaspoon prayers’ (TSP … Thank you; Sorry; Please).

Making beaded friendship bracelets.

Thinking about our school community …

Each class’ prayer paper chains.

Thinking about our family … (with wisdom and support from Cath Wain).

A later e-mail from Mrs Hill stated:

‘Thank you so much for all your help on Wednesday and all your preparation.  The children are still talking about it today and wearing their bracelets, so thank you.  A beautiful day with beautiful weather.’

What a lovely and very genuine summary!  It was a pleasure to have been able to assist her and other staff at the school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

C&T, Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays

Fortunately, the hot and sunny weather at the weekend decided to hold out a little longer for my meeting at Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays with Paul and Max from C&T (http://www.candt.org/).  I first came into contact with both Paul and Max when presenting at a conference at the University of Worcester a few weeks ago.  They had been invited along as their offices were opposite the organiser’s, Professor Maggie Andrews, and it was hoped to be an opportunity for them to do a spot of networking, which they certainly did!  C&T is all about humanising technology through creativity, drama and digital culture.  Over the last ten years, they have been continuously developing new ideas, placing digital technologies at the heart of drama and giving young people the skills and confidence to know that they can make a creative contribution to their community and the world around them.

After an initial chat, I took Max and Paul on a brief tour of the Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays, pointing out key features, recounting any historical links that I was aware of, identifying developments currently taking place and discussing issues.  The Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays did look wonderful this morning and they truly are an asset to our city.  There is still much potential to be exploited, however, as can be seen from the plans for the Baker’s Quay and neighbouring Blackfriars.  It is amazing how much you take for granted too.  For instance, I have often walked past the large, iconic sculpture, known as The Candle, in the main basin of the Gloucester Docks, but could not tell you much about it or when and why it was placed there.

Later, over a coffee, we considered where we might go from here.  Max and Paul have a meeting concerning a nationwide WW1 project scheduled for Friday; there may be a chance for a Gloucester school/schools to be involved in this too.  Besides, Paul has a few ex-students that are now based within the area and with whom he hopes to renew contact; it may be that they wish to collaborate on a project or have additional links that are worth exploring.  It was agreed that either Max or Paul will be in touch at some stage over the next fortnight once some firmer decisions have been made.  Fingers crossed, as the Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays would be an ideal location for a project with so much history and heritage attached to it and I have a couple of schools already in mind who would relish the opportunity to participate in such a cross-curricular and hugely innovative initiative.

‘Geography, geography and more geography!’ (Department of Education, University of the West of England, Bristol)

The above was the theme for the Department of Education’s annual geography conference, this year held on Wednesday 14th June 2017 at UWE’s Frenchay Campus.  Mark Jones, PGCE Geography Tutor and UWE Teaching and Learning Fellow, once again invited me to attend for ‘free’ if I was prepared to contribute to the ‘market place sessions’ that he had planned for the afternoon (what a bribe!).  I agreed to this and said that I would take delegates off on an awesome, Arctic adventure, showcasing a recent Global Learning Programme (GLP) KS2-KS3 transition project that I had steered and sharing a number of new resources/web-links related to the Arctic region and climate change.

Following a formal welcome by Mark Jones and Garry Atterton, the Geographical Association Bristol Branch President, it was over to Mary Biddulph, the current Geographical Association President, for the keynote address, entitled ‘Inclusive geographies’.  Mary was actually one of my tutors when I completed by PGCE at the University of Nottingham many moons ago!  It was lovely to see Mary again and chat with her over break and lunch later on too.  Mary spoke confidently and provided much food for thought.  She began by stating that students should be given the opportunity to formulate and share their perceptions of place; this is often shaped by their own experiences, which may be very different to ours.  Mary highlighted the dynamic world in which we live (our world is very different now to simply a year ago) and reinforced that geography has a role to play in explaining this to students.  There is a need to address ‘diversity’.  We should also refrain from labelling students time and time again to avoid them believing they are ‘a nothing’. Some youngsters really struggle to determine who and what they are and this is something that geography can help to tackle.  It is important that we, as geography educators, ‘bring the world into the classroom’; we cannot always take learning outside its four walls.  In addition, Mary emphasised that ‘expertise’ really matters and days like this, when geographers come together, are wonderful.  She shared with us several ‘must reads’ and ended with one of her favourite clips; a lad called Anton, from London, talking about geography.

Next, it was time to update our subject knowledge further.  Harry West and Michael Horswell, both based at UWE, discussed GIS.  They introduced many of us to the amazing Mentimeter tool for the first time (https://www.mentimeter.com), in order to gain some insight into our opinions about, and experiences of using, GIS.  Harry and Michael then focused on the ArcGIS online platform and covered basic data visualisation, spatial analysis and the use of ‘story maps’ to present findings. I found this session to be hugely enlightening and inspiring.  I intend to trial Mentimeter as a means of collating feedback at a forthcoming CPD workshop for teachers that I am delivering.  Now that I am aware of the ESRI schools programme being FREE for secondary schools, I will share this with colleagues at The Crypt School at a geography planning day next week and discuss how it might be used to support fieldwork activities at Key Stages 4 and 5.  It may even be that Harry West can come and work alongside teachers and students on such days.

Delegates were then split into two groups, with one attending a lecture on ‘urban geography’ given by Dr Andrew Tallon, Senior Lecturer in Urban Policy and Programme Leader for BA Geography at UWE, and the other listening to Joan Foley, a Senior Lecturer in Education and PGCE English Tutor at UWE, who spoke passionately about ‘place in literature’.  Both were incredibly knowledgeable and had the audience engaged throughout.  I have done much to promote literacy in geography over time, but it was great to pick up several new ideas from Joan, which will certainly feature in my future lessons with Key Stage 3 and 4 students at The Crypt School.  Andrew ‘zoomed in’ on the city of Bristol, identifying its key contemporary issues and outlining its many urban regeneration projects, past and present.  It was interesting to learn about Bristol’s ‘cargo zone’, a venture involving the conversion of cargo containers into food and drink outlets and so forth, that is now being replicated elsewhere.  It seems that Bristol is no longer a ‘copier’, but an ‘innovator’ of urban regeneration.  Andrew also suggested trying to portray a place through photographs and video clips; this would make a great fieldwork project around the Gloucester Quays with Key Stage 3 students at The Crypt School next academic year.

With rumbling tummies, we were keen to head towards the street cafe for lunch.  As usual, the catering team had done a fine job of preparing and presenting a delicious and varied cold buffet.  There was a real ‘buzz’ about the place too; individuals took the opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces, as well as introduce themselves to others. Geographers tend to be hugely multi-skilled; most are extremely sociable and have very enquiring minds, always keen to discover more!

The afternoon was referenced as ‘subject-specific CPD opportunities – consuming and contributing’ and slightly less formal.  It was divided into four sessions, namely:

1. ‘Future CPD for geographers’, which touched upon face-to-face and virtual networks, as well as communities of practice and the role of subject associations (Geographical Association and the Royal Geographical Society).

2. A ‘market place’, where delegates could trade ideas and contribute to discussions.

3. A ‘Teach Meet’, with contributions given by experienced teachers, NQTs and PCGE students.

4. ‘Final comments and ways forward’.

Since I had been given responsibility for the delivery of two market place sessions, I was only able to ‘dip into’ some parts of the afternoon.  However, it was great to witness such enthusiasm for the subject and have the chance to do a spot of networking.  There will definitely be a few individuals whom I will be e-mailing shortly, some approaches that I will put into practice once back in the classroom, e.g. Frankenstein exam questions, T marking, exit tickets, listening triads and web-links/resources that I endeavour to explore further, e.g. Oxfam: Mapping our world (http://www.oxfamblogs.org/education/mapping_our_world/mapping_our_world/l/home/index.htm).

My ‘market place’ contribution showcased a Global Learning Programme (GLP) KS2 to KS3 transition project that I had recently steered between four Gloucestershire schools (one secondary and three primaries) (see for further details: http://espley.creativeblogs.net/2017/03/03/global-learning-programme-glp-ks2-ks3-transition-project-cirencester-deer-park-school-cdps-gloucestershire/) and shared a number of new resources/web-links related to the Arctic region and climate change, e.g. Wicked Weather Watch (https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/) and Charles Rawding et al.’s efforts (https://www.wilabonn.de/en/projects/723-expedition-greenland-sustainability.html).  I took along some fliers about the Arctic Alive project (http://www.canadaukfoundation.org/arctic-alive/) that had been sent to me by the Canada-UK Foundation (http://www.canadaukfoundation.org/), along with a few complimentary copies of The Week Junior (http://offers.theweekjunior.co.uk/), a fantastic, topical resource for use with both KS2 and KS3 students.  Some participants had come across Arctic Alive and The Week Junior before, but all picked up some new resources/web-links and ideas for teaching about the Arctic, the tundra biome, cold environments, climate change, etc.

Time to get delegates working!

A quick starter activity … identifying links to the Arctic at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

Sharing teaching and learning experiences.

Many thanks for inviting me along today, Mark and Garry.  Excellent organisational skills ensured that this was a worthwhile, insightful and well-attended event.  I look forward to seeing you all again in 2018!

 

 

Online Safety Mark assessment, The Catholic School of Saint Gregory the Great, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Well, today, I had my Online Safety Accredited Assessor’s ‘hat’ on.  A couple of month’s ago, Ron Richards, Online Safety Consultant at SWGfL, asked me if I would like to pay a visit to The Catholic School of Saint Gregory the Great in the centre of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, as they were due for an Online Safety Mark re-assessment.  The school achieved an Online Safety Mark three years ago and it was time for them to apply for re-accreditation.  Would they be able to step up to the mark once again?

I received a warm welcome on arrival at the school.  I met briefly with the Head Teacher, Mrs Charlotte Blanch, and the Online Safety Lead, Miss Jo Fowler, to confirm arrangements for the day, before discussing the school’s completed 360 degree safe self review tool’s submission with them and the Computing Lead.  The school had undertaken a detailed review themselves, reaching the accredited level or above in all 28 aspects.  There appeared to be several areas of strength and only a couple of aspects that might be gleaned to be somewhat ‘weaker’.  I had a few questions to ask about points that had been noted, e.g. their Digital Online Safety Group, the taught curriculum, staff and governor training, parent/carer and community engagement, and was keen to discover more about their future plans.  Answers to my questions were forthcoming, positive and enlightening.

It was then time for the real interview stint!  Firstly, I met with a Year 4 teacher, who is also the School Council Lead, and members of the School Council, the Online Safety Champion and his deputy.  The children responded willingly to my questions and a lively discussion ensued.  I was impressed by both their level of digital literacy and awareness of online safety issues.

Next up, were parents/carers and governors.  The school’s communication with parents/carers is very good and an openness was clearly apparent.  Parents/carers admitted that they often learn about aspects of online safety following discussions with their child/children at home, as well as via newsletters and magazines sent from school, links displayed on the school’s website or items shared via their Twitter feed.  They also felt very comfortable approaching the school for support in dealing with online safety issues that might arise beyond the school boundary. Having a former Further Education computing teacher and GCHQ employee on the Governing Body is certainly helpful when reviewing and evaluating online safety policies and practices in school too!

After a short break, it was the turn of the support staff, representing a variety of roles, e.g. teaching partners, School Business Manager, Lead Pastoral Practitioner.  They provided additional information about online safety education and training and the expected procedures in school.  Our discussion also gave them a few ideas for areas for further development, e.g. to consider hosting another of SWGfL’s fantastic online safety briefings and inviting individuals from local schools too.

Being a two form entry school, it was great to have the chance to meet with professionals from a number of year groups, plus the Computing Lead again.  Teachers were clearly aware of online safety issues and how pertinent it is to relay related messages to youngsters that they teach.  Not only do they deliver a specific online safety module, but they team teach the eLIN computing curriculum alongside the Computing Lead, referencing online safety at regular intervals, as well as on an ad hoc basis in the classroom.  It was also pleasing to hear the same procedures being reiterated, suggesting that a consistent approach is maintained throughout the school.

I then spoke with Martin Treacher from Hempsted IT, the school’s out-sourced technical support and the Online Safety Lead once more.  Whilst I have liaised with Martin and his counter-part, Mike Webb, on numerous occasions before, I have never had to interview him formally.  Fortunately, Martin was extremely cooperative and did not put me on the spot! Seeing a familiar face, and knowing the expertise and insight that both him and Mike have between them, reassured me that the school is in very capable hands.

A 30 minute break to review the evidence and reflect upon what I had heard throughout the morning was much appreciated before feeding back to the Senior Leadership Team.  Although more material is available to access online in advance of an assessment today than even just a few years ago, it is always useful to have some time in situ to explore other documentation and seek any necessary clarification from the Online Safety Lead.

Following my lengthy discussions and perusal of relevant material, I was pleased to be able to give very positive feedback to those ‘at the top’.  The school certainly deserved to have their Online Safety Mark renewed and it was a pleasure to present them with a certificate of attainment.  I hope that they are able to truly fulfill their ‘next steps’ in the very near future and look forward to reading/hearing about their successes.  Remember to ‘get tweeting’!

It was a pleasure to present the Head Teacher, Mrs Charlotte Blanch, and Online Safety Lead, Miss Jo Fowler, with their new Online Safety Mark.

 

 

 

Twilight staff training: Abbeymead Primary School, Gloucester

My task this afternoon was to deliver a twilight training session centred upon ‘taking learning outside the classroom’ for all staff at Abbeymead Primary School on the outskirts of the city of Gloucester.  Fortunately, the weather was fine and dry, so we were able to spend some time outside replicating a few of my suggested activities … this does not always happen when fieldwork is planned, believe you me!

To begin with, we based ourselves in a classroom.  Here, I outlined the aims and format of the session, before promoting the importance of fieldwork.  I shared some research conducted by a group of primary Head Teachers on behalf of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), which listed the ‘hallmarks’ of an ‘outstanding curriculum’, many of which have strong connections to a powerful geography curriculum.  It also helped to signal the ways in which geography can contribute to the aims and values of the whole school and the personal development of every pupil within it.  We accessed the National Curriculum programmes of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 and ‘zoomed in’ on the sections entitled ‘geographical skills and fieldwork’.  Next, I projected the Geographical Association’s (GA) ‘framework’, which exemplifies progression very clearly and includes age-related expectations in geography, as well as communicating their thoughts regarding fieldwork.  I briefly talked through the enquiry approach, which is fundamental in geography.  I referred to the updated Ofsted handbook and the direct implications that this has for geography, along with a recent geography survey visits report and a couple of outstanding school case studies.  These items were added to a folder on the school’s network in case teachers wished to delve into them more deeply at a later date.

With time at a premium this afternoon, I was keen to move on.  My prime aim was to showcase quick, cheap and easy activities that could be conducted beyond the four walls of the classroom and the achievements of similar schools locally, many of which have been supported by funding from the Frederick Soddy Trust.  Examples included:

  • ‘geographical glasses’;
  • ‘secret street detectives’, with case study material from Calton Primary School in Gloucester;
  • Andrea Mosaic;
  • emotional mapping with Quikmaps;
  • den building;
  • journey sticks;
  • The Geography Collective and Mission:Explore;
  • ‘Go the Extra Mile’ competition run by the Frederick Soddy Trust and the Geographical Association, with an ‘abridged version’ from Hempsted C of E Primary School in Gloucester;
  • Digimap, including reference to a Year 2 geography day for pupils based at The Christian Adventure Centre at Viney Hill in the Forest of Dean.

Geographical glasses.

Younger/SEND pupils could use images instead of text, making this an accessible activity for all.

Developing good observational skills.

After providing an overview of the application process for a Frederick Soddy Trust School Award to unlock the potential of the local environment for fieldwork, I decided to take staff outside and challenge them to a few ‘missions’ from the original Mission:Explore book.  The aim was to demonstrate how they too could easily take learning outside the classroom, even if there was only half an hour to spare.  The teachers appeared to really enjoy this, as can be seen from the photographs below:

Mission 19: Collect A to Z.

Great teamwork!

Proposing to be the gifted and talented group … not content with just collecting one image to represent each of their designated letters of the alphabet!

Making use of technology outside the classroom.

Discovering other ways to use their outdoor learning area.

Mission 26: Swatch nature.

A perfect colour match!

We came inside ten minutes before the end of the session for the ‘plenary’.  Each member of staff was handed a set of footprints.  They were asked to use the footprints to record their next steps once they left the room, starting from the big toes and working outwards.  Each step could be as simple or as complex as they wished.  Later, participants were asked how far they managed to reach and many voiced their ideas/thoughts in the short discussion that pursued.

Finally, each member of staff was given a blank postcard.  They were invited to sum up today’s twilight training session in five words/a sentence or two.  It was suggested that they might take the WWW/EBI approach, although this was by no means compulsory.  They could add their name and position or remain anonymous.  Instant feedback such as this is really useful for me when planning future CPD sessions, in addition to giving SLT some indication of any further support that might be appreciated or required.

‘Very informative and fabulous.  Thank you.’

‘Lots of simple, practical, yet inspiring ideas for excellent teaching and learning in geography.  Thank you.’

‘Interactive; helpful; interesting; pacey; creative.’

‘Valuable; helpful; interesting; useful; resourceful.’

‘Practical outdoor ideas for children.’

‘Range of ‘cheap’ tasks.  Practical. ‘Outside the box’ missions.  Revisiting geography. A stronger focus on Upper KS2 depth, perhaps?’

‘Explorative work outdoors with technology!’

‘Informative; eye-opening; practical.’

‘I enjoyed the practical activities.’

‘Great ideas for getting children into geography.’

‘Fun; hands-on; informative.’

I sincerely hope that teachers now feel far more confident about taking learning outside the classroom and look forward to hearing about, and seeing evidence of, their mini adventures shortly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CPD workshop: Let’s go on an awesome, Arctic adventure!

The Gloucester Farmers’ Club was the venue for our CPD workshop, entitled ‘Let’s go on an awesome, Arctic adventure!’, and what an ideal one it was too!  We had a well-equipped room with lots of space to spread out, were supplied with plentiful tea and coffee (supplemented with some home-baked goodies, chocolate fingers and a tub of Heroes that I brought along with me), were surrounded by stunning gardens and had a large, free car park at our disposable. Gill Johnson, from Wicked Weather Watch, also joined us … it was great to have her presence and hear about some of the charity’s exciting developments ahead.  I will certainly consider using this venue again for further CPD events.

The session began with a formal welcome and introductions, before the aims and format of the workshop were outlined.  I prompted delegates to think and become involved from the onset by challenging them to a quick starter activity … to review their current school curriculum and identify any links to the Arctic, either at Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2, or both, depending on whether they were based at an infant, junior, primary, middle or special school.  Participants then shared what they had written down, which also gave me an insight into termly themes covered within their establishments.  As several were non-specialists, new to the Geography/Humanities Subject Leader role or recent entrants to the profession, I dedicated a significant amount of time to ‘unpicking’ the National Curriculum for geography and highlighting the many, possible links to the Arctic region.  I also displayed the progression framework that the Geographical Association produced when the new National Curriculum was launched.  This lists the expectations of pupils at 7, 9, 11, 14 and 16 years old and is a useful reference when planning.

Next, I accessed Wicked Weather Watch’s website and provided an overview of the new Key Stage 2 scheme of work and its accompanying resources that has been produced and tested in local primary schools.  Whilst this is, perhaps, best suited to those in Years 5 and 6, it can easily be utilised with both younger and older students … there is a huge amount of content to ‘cherry-pick’ from.  We looked at the Polar Ocean Challenge’s website briefly and Gill added some information about Sir David Hempleman-Adam’s next adventure … he is off to Greenland with Northabout and crew this coming June and is integrating a land expedition to one of the North Poles. I relayed information about a Global Learning Programme, Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition project between four schools and relating to the Arctic that I had steered a couple of weeks ago too.

After a brief refreshment break, delegates were given time to explore a number of recommended web-links, browse resources that I had brought along with me, network, seek school-specific advice and ask any questions that they had.  Being a relatively small group, it was lovely to be able to spend some time with individuals … an effective means of seeing and hearing what goes on in the great variety of schools that we have, both within the county and beyond.

Spending one-on-one time with individuals.

Sharing Wicked Weather Watch’s new Key Stage 2 scheme of work and accompanying resources. An opportunity to deliver some high-quality geography, with many cross-curricular links incorporated.

Providing further suggestions to ensure specific school and individual interests and needs are met.

Participants appreciated having the time to explore resources and web-links at their leisure.

Finally, participants were given a set of footprints and asked to use these to record their next steps once they left the room at lunch-time.  I advised them to start with the big toes and work outwards and stressed that each step could be as simple or complex as they liked.  It was very encouraging to see that all identified a step for each toe.  Our subsequent discussion was lively and clearly reinforced how individuals had been enthused by the morning’s session.

Participants were asked to outline their next steps once they left the room today. They were encouraged to work outwards from the big toes and see how far they could reach. Steps could be as simple or complex as they wished.

Rising to my challenge well!

This proved to be a very thought-provoking exercise, and one that I will certainly repeat again.

Quite a few next steps identified … a productive morning!

Delegates were requested to use the blank postcards left on their tables to offer feedback about the workshop.  They were advised to consider what went well (WWW) and even better if (EBI), as well as noting any additional resources that they would like Wicked Weather Watch to generate.

Some of their concluding comments can be read below:








‘Thank you.  It was a great morning.  I feel very inspired.’

‘Many thanks for this morning’s CPD event.  It was very beneficial.’

All in all, not a great money spinner for me, but extremely worthwhile knowing that I have supported and truly inspired many individuals.  Hopefully, some high-quality geography will be taking place in local schools before too long!

Global Learning Programme (GLP) KS2-KS3 transition project – Cirencester Deer Park School (CDPS), Gloucestershire

Today, I set off rather early for Cirencester Deep Park School (CDPS) in order to deliver a whole day’s workshop, centred around the Arctic, to nearly 70, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils and accompanying members of staff.  The secondary school had kindly offered to host the event and their Year 8 selected ‘ambassadors’ warmly greeted youngsters and their teachers from three, nearby primary schools, namely Cirencester Primary School (CPS), Down Ampney C of E Primary School and Rodmarton Primary School.  Rebecca (Becs) Lillington, Head of Geography at Cirencester Deer Park School, had done a sterling job reproducing the prepared resources and booking rooms to ensure that the day went as smoothly as possible.  I was supported by two, other consultants; Kathryn Minchew, a former MasterChef semi-finalist and now a professional chef running her own business (http://www.pyromaniacchef.com/), and Sarah Shaw, an AST for primary dance.  In addition, due to my freelance authoring and consultancy links with Wicked Weather Watch (WWW – http://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/), we were privileged to have a visit from Rob Hudson, a retiree, who had recently completed part of the Polar Ocean Challenge (POC – http://polarocean.co.uk/) led by Sir David Hempleman-Adams, for some of the day.

On arrival at Cirencester Deer Park School, Key Stage 2 pupils were immediately paired with a Key Stage 3 student and given a jigsaw puzzle to complete together.  The intention was to ‘break the ice’ and encourage interaction from the onset, as well as providing a clue as to where we might be heading for the remainder of the day.

Key Stage 3 ‘ambassadors’ helping Key Stage 2 pupils cut out their puzzle pieces and, subsequently, piece together the jigsaw to discover where we were heading off to for the remainder of the day.

After a formal welcome and various introductions, I outlined the learning objectives and format of the day.  Pupils were then allocated to a group, named after countries located or represented within the Arctic Circle.  Next, we embarked upon three, very different activities to acquire some background knowledge and understanding of the Arctic region and promote higher order thinking and communication skills.

Unfortunately, as access to Google Earth was restricted at this point, I was unable to take the children on a virtual journey from Cirencester, Gloucestershire to the North Pole as originally intended.  Instead, I drew on my dependable, inflatable globe and invited pupils to the front to explore it with me, pointing out key physical and human features, explaining certain phenomena and posing a number of questions to them, relating to distance, direction and the time required to reach the region.  The overall aim was to develop their place and locational knowledge.  I also discovered that a couple of students had already ventured to the Arctic, having been lucky enough to go on a trip to Lapland!

Secondly, pupils formed a Venn diagram with two plastic hoops and sorted facts about the Arctic region into one of three categories; those which they believed to be TRUE, FALSE or were UNSURE about.  I later asked students if there were any facts that surprised them and why this was the case. Some did not realise that the Arctic was not a continent, which also helped to emphasise fundamental differences between the North and South Poles, or that it was also known as the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ and why this was.  It was rewarding to see teachers engaging with pupils and learning alongside them too.

Sweden was first to finish and very nearly right!

Great to see youngsters from different schools interacting from the start.

Having experienced, external consultants delivering the workshop meant there was time for teachers to mix with students, supporting them with explanations of topical vocabulary or challenging them to answer more open-ended questions.

Thirdly, pupils worked in their country group to match a series of images and captions connected to the Arctic.  Afterwards, they were asked if the Arctic region was as they expected it to be.  The subsequent discussion revealed that many were surprised by the variety of wildlife that existed, e.g. it is not only the land of the polar bear, that it is not all snow, ice and water and that people actually live there.  We mentioned briefly about the threat to wildlife habitats and the potential for the development of tourism linked to whale and iceberg watching.

Key Stage 3 ‘ambassadors’ taking the lead and helping younger pupils access the more demanding and topical vocabulary contained within captions.

Sitting back to admire their efforts. A first class performance!

As we were a little behind schedule due to the late arrival of one school, we were, unfortunately, unable to complete the final starter activity that I had planned.  It was hoped that each country group would list ten words that they felt best described the Arctic region.  These would then be collated and a word cloud generated by a couple of Key Stage 3 pupils using www.wordcloud.com.  However, it was suggested that this might be completed by teachers with their pupils at school tomorrow or early next week – a great means of reinforcing topical vocabulary and as an aid for any future, themed literacy tasks.

For the main part of the day, three countries merged to form a larger group and they rotated around three, separate activities.  One placed an emphasis on geography, developing place and locational knowledge further through a series of tasks, including a spot the difference, mix and match, diamond nine and card sort activity.  These explored recent changes, longer term Arctic climate trends, the impacts of climate change on natural systems and people, as well as questioning whether climate change was real or not.

Playing ‘spot the difference/s’ together. Looking at satellites images of the same area within the Arctic region at the same time of year, but a few years apart (September 1984 and September 2016).

Quizzing a trainee teacher too!

Considering the impact of climate change on people and natural systems via a diamond nine activity conducted in their country groups. This encouraged pupils to appreciate that not all impacts might be negative and stimulated much in-depth discussion too.

Lovely to see teachers working and learning alongside pupils.

Another session focused on science and D&T (food technology), looking at the different states of water and considering how vital a resource it is, reinforcing what is happening in the Arctic region at present, making cookie dough and footprint biscuits, promoting issues, such as Fair Trade (since Fair Trade Fortnight is soon approaching), and discussing how we might all reduce our global footprint.  When one youngster admitted that this was the first opportunity they had had to bake and how much they had enjoyed it, Kathryn felt all the stresses and hurdles that she had overcome today (a broken boiler meant no hot water for washing up; the temperature of some ovens was rather questionable and equipment was a little ‘stretched’ at times) were truly worthwhile.

Ready for our Great Arctic Bake Off!

Discussing where the ingredients came from, emphasising the importance of Fair Trade, eating seasonal and local wherever possible to reduce food miles and our global footprint.

Seeking guidance from our professional chef.

Great to see Key Stage 3 students having a go too!

Key Stage 3 students watching and advising Key Stage 2 pupils.

Making progress!

Learning new skills.

Cutting out their footprints.

Getting stuck in!

A real team effort.

Proud of their country’s efforts.

And, the best part … time for the taste test!

The final activity incorporated an element of dance and drama. Sarah very cleverly created a dance/drama to enter into the world of the Arctic.  The youngsters were transported to the Arctic, becoming explorers, setting off over the snowfields and across the great glaciers.  On the way, they met wildlife on land and in the sea and came to appreciate how their habitats are under threat due to climate change.

Perfecting their group’s dance.

Preparing for the grand finale.

Putting themselves in role well and being observed by a real Arctic explorer too!

At lunch-time, students were invited to meet Rob Hudson, one of the crew from the recent, record-breaking Polar Ocean Challenge.  Rob had brought along some of his kit to show the children and shared many, fascinating stories of his travels with them, providing further insight into the Arctic region.  Rob later sent me an e-mail, stating that it had been a pleasure to be involved in the day:  ‘… I enjoyed helping … it got very busy towards the end, and there was a lot of interest and some very good questions.’

We returned to the hall for the plenary.  It was intended for pupils to show their dance/drama productions to each other, but the layout of the room meant this would be too difficult. Instead, Sarah talked through the three scenes that had been ‘brought to life’ by the youngsters, inviting those that had taken part to add their own comments too.

Pupils sharing their dance/drama experiences with others.

I then prompted pupils to reflect upon the day’s learning/experiences, asking them to identify an aspect that they had particularly enjoyed, something that they had learnt about the Arctic region and a skill that they felt they had developed.  Whilst some mentioned baking and eating their sweet creations afterwards, others found the exploration with Google Earth fascinating or enjoyed participating in the dance/drama production.  Many were able to cite new facts about the Arctic.  Skills that were enhanced ranged from baking, communication, interpersonal, teamworking, decision-making to being able to justifying their thoughts fully.  Next, we reviewed the learning outcomes together using thumbs up/thumbs down signals (majority had their thumbs up held high in the air for all to see) and contemplated three, quite probing questions:

  • What do you think the Arctic will be like in 2050?;
  • What now needs to be done in order to secure a positive future of the Arctic?
  • Is there anything that you could personally do?

Students had some interesting responses.  One Key Stage 3 student suggested that things will go one of two ways and it is largely down to us – either the Arctic will continue to decline or it will turn itself around as awareness is raised and our actions change.  It was agreed that by ‘us’ we are thinking about those at all levels, from governments, international bodies, organisations to individuals, like ourselves.  Students were forthcoming with ideas as to what they might do, e.g. simple and easy activities that would reduce their global footprint.  Their comments certainly demonstrated that they had absorbed much from the different sessions that they had participated in throughout the day.

Many thanks, once again, to the other consultants and all staff involved from each of the four schools for their cooperation, support and enthusiasm.  Hopefully, they gained as much from the day as the students did.  Thanks, also, to the Geographical Association (GA), for funding the event as part of their contribution to the Global Learning Programme (GLP).