Tag Archives: diversity

‘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!

 

 

Gloucestershire schools head off to India!

And, what a great time we had too!

It was a little bit of a squash and a squeeze this morning as 63 pupils and their teachers packed into Year 5 and 6’s classroom at Birdlip Primary School, Gloucestershire, for another Global Learning Programme (GLP)-related, Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition project.  This time, Birdlip Primary School were playing host to students and staff from Cranham C of E (VA) Primary School, Coberley C of E Primary School and Ribston Hall High School, and they proved to be exemplary ones at that!  We received a very warm welcome and much forward-thinking and thorough planning had clearly taken place to ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible.  The day had an India theme since Birdlip Primary School already have a link with School of Scholars in Nagpur in central India and had expressed a wish to develop pupils’ place and locational knowledge of this wonderful country and their understanding of the cultural differences that exist.  In order to give students an authentic experience, I was joined, once again, by Sarah Shaw, an AST for primary dance, and Bharti Tailor, a freelance consultant and, currently, Member of the European Council of Religious Leaders and Vice-President and Trustee Religions for Peace UK.

After a formal welcome and various introductions, I brought out my India box of goodies, as I so often do when delivering this country-themed workshop in schools.  I invited the youngsters to explore the contents of the box with me to see if they could guess where we might be heading for the remainder of the day.  I tried to be quite clever by selecting a few more obscure objects and disguising the bag of rice, poppadoms and naan bread until the very end! Those at Nepalese Chef (http://www.nepalesechef.co.uk/gloucester/), an amazing, local Indian restaurant that we frequently visit, were kind enough to provide an array of culinary ingredients to add to my usual items.  The objects proved to be a brilliant stimulus for introducing key ideas, themes, issues and concepts, which were investigated further as the day progressed.

I had hoped to access Google Earth to take pupils on a virtual trip from Birdlip in Gloucestershire to New Delhi, the capital city of India.  However, their technical support team had only visited the school yesterday to upgrade the system and Google Earth had been disabled in the process.  With little time to download it and restricted administration rights, I had to resort, once again, to my inflatable globe.  This did not matter too much, but it does not quite have the all ‘singing and dancing effects’ that Google Earth has!  We talked about the direction that we would have to travel, the distance involved and how long we imagined it would take if we were travelling by air.  It was also an effective means of showing a different type of map to youngsters … not all are flat and pinned to the classroom wall or found in an atlas! After outlining the learning objectives and format of the day, pupils were placed in mixed -school, -age and -gender groups, named after India’s most populous cities, e.g. Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Surat.

Developing place and locational knowledge using my fail-safe, inflatable globe!

Following our starter, students rotated around three, different sessions within their city group for the main part of the day.  One had a geography focus, developing place and locational knowledge via a series of short tasks (a mapping exercise, online quiz, mix and match text and captions activity and similarities and differences challenge).

Attempting to locate key physical and human features on a base map of India.

Key Stage 3 students supporting Key Stage 2 pupils with their learning.

Not a bad effort!

Key Stage 3 pupils challenging Key Stage 2 pupils with higher order questions to develop place and locational knowledge.

Intrigued. This Key Stage 2 pupil took it upon herself to explore the region further.

The competitive element begins to kick in! Cities competing against each other to complete an online quiz all about India.

Making effective use of technology to support their learning.

Lovely to see teachers engaging with pupils too.

A Key Stage 3 student acting as a scribe and directing the learning of others within her city group.

Great teamwork! Matching images and captions to discover more about India.

Key Stage 2 pupils discussing similarities and differences between their lives and that of a 10 year old girl in India.

Another ‘zoomed in’ on the culture and religions of India, classifying various images according to their commonalities, before groups competed against each other to complete the best rangoli, a form of Indian art.  As can be seen from the images below, their designs were pretty incredible, especially given the fact that it was the first attempt for many and time was at a premium.

Exploring a selection of images and attempting to classify them.

Justifying their card sorting approach, e.g. why they chose to group certain cards together.

Bharti Tailor sharing her expertise with the children.

And, now, time for the youngsters to ‘have a go’ themselves.

Great teamwork!

Experimenting on sugar paper with special rangoli powders.

Wow, what concentration! Such an intricate technique.

One Key Stage 3 student clearly very impressed with her initial attempt.

Some talented students!

Progressing well.

The last activity had a dance/drama element.  Sarah worked with groups to re-tell the story of ‘The people who hugged the trees‘.  Do read this if you can – it is a lovely, short story with a profound message woven within it.  Students from Ribston Hall High School also shared their recent Bollywood dance experiences with younger pupils.

And, the dancing/drama begins!

Re-telling the traditional, true story with vigour: The people who hugged the trees.

Clearly enjoying themselves.

Incredible what can be achieved in such a short amount of time. Well done, Sarah and pupils!

It was intended that the more creative sessions would highlight the ‘richness’ that exists within India; it is not all about ‘poorness/poverty’ as is so often portrayed in images found within the media or by charities/organisations.  I think you will agree they managed to do this very well?

The plenary, initially held in Birdlip Village Hall and later back in the classroom, was enlightening. Sarah introduced each group’s dance/drama brief and the youngsters performed their production in turn.  Combining their efforts was hugely impacting – the story of ‘The people who hugged the trees‘ was ‘brought to life’ for old and young to truly appreciate.  Next, I embarked upon a reflection of learning/experiences with pupils, bringing out my large, bright, infamous dice.  They rose to my challenges well.  When asked to sum up the workshop, pupils were very positive, stating words such as ‘enjoyable, exciting, educational, interesting, amazing and fun‘.  They mentioned skills that they had developed in the process, e.g. the ability to work as a team, organising information, communication.  The youngsters also considered how they might transfer today’s learning to other subject areas or activities outside of school; many Key Stage 3 students had learnt new dance moves, for example, which they intended to include in future performances that they choreograph.  It was pleasing that they were able to recall much topical vocabulary at this stage too, e.g. deforestation, castes, sari.  Many pupils were keen to explore Indian food and traditional dress when asked what they would like to discover more about.

I finished with a review of the learning outcomes via thumbs up or thumbs down signals. Majority of students held their thumbs up high in the air for all to see, demonstrating that the day had been a worthwhile, thought-provoking and stimulating.  Teachers were appreciative of our input and added that they had learned something too, which made the workshop even more rewarding.

Many thanks to Birdlip Primary School for hosting the event and for Ribston Hall High School for supplying a driver, minibus, teacher and impeccable students.  Thanks, also, to the Geographical Association (GA) for funding the day in conjunction with the Global Learning Programme.  Many of the teachers and children here today would not have been able to have such an engaging and inspiring learning experience if it had not been for this project – the cost of three, highly competent consultants would, unfortunately, be well beyond the budget of these small, rural primary schools.