Tag Archives: topical_vocabulary

‘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!

 

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).