Tag Archives: geography

‘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!

 

‘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!

 

 

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!

Regional Primary Geography Conference (Contemporary Geography)

It was great to see the inspiring and engaging duo of David Weatherly and Jeff Stanfield once again for their annual roadshow (http://www.contemporarygeography.co.uk/contemporary_geography_training_opportunities.html).  Due to my strong links with schools and individuals across the county, I was invited by David and Jeff to attend today’s event … often, I am able to support them in their delivery of material by adding local snippets of information.

This year’s theme was ‘Developing mathematical fluency and language and literacy through geography‘, hugely relevant in light of the big focus on mastery, not only in maths, but now in many other areas of the curriculum.

The key aims were to:

  • demonstrate to colleagues how and why expertise in English and mathematics is vital in enabling high quality learning outcomes in geography.
  • design key question-led enquiries in geography, which integrate numeracy and mathematical fluency and language and literacy to enable children to perform better in geography.
  • ensure learning in geography, which connects with English and mathematics through the curriculum, is outcomes-focused and progressively challenging for children.
  • know how to plan effective assessment methods (beyond levels) matched to subject performance descriptors to identify achievement in learning connected to English and mathematics.

Following registration and the chance to grab some refreshments, David and Jeff introduced themselves and welcomed delegates, some of whom I had met before at previous conferences or they had been participants on CPD workshops that I have run locally; others were newcomers to the field of geography.

David began his session with reference to the historical master, Mercator, and his recognisable map projection.  He then went on to discuss real mastery and how we can teach it in geography. David emphasised that geography provides real life contexts for learning and applying literacy and numeracy.  He referred to National Currciulum links, as well as comments from Ofsted, e.g. evidence suggests that children do better in English, maths and geography when such an interconnected approach is undertaken.  David talked about the ‘flat-lined’ progress that is frequently seen between Years 3 and 6.  ‘Getting better’ is often linked to knowing more, but it is far more than this.  Mastery is not about the rote learning of information, but has three parts to it: teaching discrete facts and information; identifying concepts and applying/contextualisation.  We must ensure that we deliver a progressively challenging curriculum.

We had a short break for refreshments, which also provided the opportunity to chat briefly with other delegates, as well as David and Jeff.  Afterwards, Jeff took over, exemplifying good practice at Key Stage 1.  It was brilliant to see him ‘zoom in’ on Greenland and polar bears here, a topic that I have explored with youngsters this academic year, both in the classroom and via a Global Learning Programme (GLP) Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition project.  Jeff showcased the infamous ‘secret street detectives’ approach to enquiry, referred to Blooms taxonomy to ensure the shaping of outcome-driven learning objectives, highlighted that everything we do has an explicit link to geography and reinforced that written work is not always necessary; talking is good!  He led us through a scheme of work that he had recently produced, based on the well-loved book, ‘The Jolly Postman‘ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and which addressed the theme ‘Our place, our locality‘.  This gave the opportunity for some ‘hands-on geography’ and further interaction among delegates.  As always, Jeff’s anecdotes were a pleasure to listen to and incorporated some live entertainment as well!

After a lovely lunch in the hotel’s airy dining room, we were certainly not allowed to slump! To begin with, David elaborated on the mastery approach and shared some very valuable tips with us. As teachers, we should plan by the outcome required.  We should not take a resource and then think what activities we could do with it.  All learning requires an activity, but not all activity constitutes learning – there must be an element of challenge and progression.  There must be no low-level activity as time is at a premium; instead, there needs to be rigour. He suggested that the mastery approach works well for boys as it is fast-paced, involves much verbal feedback and limited writing.  He quizzed us on how often we differentiate by gender; there are very few instances when we do this.  Girls frequently out-perform boys in schools because curriculum planning plays to their preferred style of learning.  Later, David demonstrated the mastery approach by talking us through an example of key question-led, enquiry-based learning, e.g. ‘How is India saving the tiger?‘  This was, undoubtedly, a fresh means of studying the country of India and very apt as it was the central theme for a Global Learning Programme (GLP) Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition project that I was due to deliver the following day!

A period of reflection and action planning was allocated to the final part of the conference. Unfortunately, I had to leave a few minutes before the end as I was tutoring after school. From my perspective, the day had enlightened me further about the mastery approach, inspired me to put it into action the next day when at Birdlip Primary School, provided new ways to explore India with youngsters and an innovative take for ‘secret street detectives’ enquiry work.

Thank you, David and Jeff, for inviting me today.  I hope that I did not ‘chip in’ too much!  Glad you liked the Arctic Alive (http://www.canadaukfoundation.org/arctic-alive/) and Wicked Weather Watch/Polar Ocean Challenge links (http://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/ and http://polarocean.co.uk/).  Look forward to seeing you both again before too long.

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.

 

 

Wicked Weather Watch (WWW)/Polar Ocean Challenge (POC)

Nearly there!

Last summer, I spent quite a bit of time creating a scheme of work and associated resources for Wicked Weather Watch, a charity set up to support the Polar Ocean Challenge (POC), led by David Hempleman-Adams (now, deservedly a ‘Sir’ after being knighted in January 2017).

I trialed the unit of work and accompanying materials with Lower Key Stage 2 pupils whilst undertaking a maternity leave cover at Tibberton Community Primary School during Terms 1 and 2 of 2016-2017.  The children were intrigued by what was, and still is. happening within the Arctic region, keen to follow Benji Edwards’ as he set off to establish a new world record (to be the youngest person to sail around the Arctic Circle in an anti-clockwise direction and within one season) and enthralled by Annie Green’s recall of the first leg of the voyage when she came into school to share her experiences with them.

We are now in the last stages of production; making a few minor tweaks and ensuring all material is branded before offering it free online to educational professionals.

Do keep an eye out for the direct web-link, which I will share with you very shortly.  In the meantime, why not explore both Wicked Weather Watch’s and the Polar Ocean Challenge’s websites to gain further insight into this fascinating region and the issues that it, unfortunately, faces?

http://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/

http://polarocean.co.uk/