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’:
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.’
- ‘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.