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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Just browsing Tom Biebrach's Pencoed Geography site, and came across this little Earthquake widget which you can get by clicking the link through to myeqwatch: Earthquake Watch.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Geography and ElectricityGeneral Electric: an American energy company have a nice site called GEOTERRA which is aimed at exploring ideas of renewable energy by providing a series of FLASH games on an island, which explores issues to do with energy conservation such as blasting air at windmills and steering trains around a route.

Geography and Chocolate
Certainly eaten a lot of it in the last 10 days or so...
Charlie and Lola are a favourite of my kids. Was just browsing Amazon for some sales bargains, and found this new book, which is due to be published in February 2007, when it will cost £2.99 - you can pre-order now. Could be a good resource to use as a prize for younger geography students. Why not order several copies at that price... The book is to raise funds for COMIC RELIEF. There is going to be a RED NOSE DAY on the of March 2007, and the site is already up. You can download a set of excellent Interactive Whiteboard resources: 5 FLASH files which would make great starters for a development topic lesson (click on "At School")
We still use the excellent PA PA PAA photo and DVD pack which was produced 2 years ago. Not sure if it still available. It takes you through FAIRTRADE and COCOA and has some very useful teaching resources to go along with it. It was only about £8 or so...Pa Pa Paa is the slogan of the Kuopa Kokoo, who supply the Co-Op with their FAIRTRADE chocolate.
The Co Op offer a schools pack, and you can send off for a free CD ROM.
We will be taking part in FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT... More to come later...
Don't forget there are more resources on the DUBBLE site. DUBBLE is a Fairtrade bar.

If you haven't already, buy a copy of "an inconvenient truth"

And finally, don't forget to tune in to Today on Radio 4 on New Years Day.
HAPPY NEW YEAR... Will be back on NYD with the yearly round up of GeographyPages stats...

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I look like a celebrity... Get me out of here !

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for putting me on to this interesting little website tool.
Check out Tony's look-a-likes then mine...
Worrying that Rupert Murdoch is 75 years old !
Who do you look like ?

The one I'm really pleased about is Svante Arrhenius
He sort of 'discovered' the greenhouse effect, so big up to Svante.
Which reminds me that one of the highlights of my Christmas Day was watching "Ice Age 2: the Meltdown" - loved the sequence with the Sid Cult...


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Today Programme New Years Day
Just a reminder about this programme. There is a list of some of the ideas that are to be covered on the GA WEBSITE.

Also a good story here about Ollie Bray's journey home. Anyone else caught up in the fog ?

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

RSS FEED now available

One of my Christmas projects has now been completed!
You can now subscribe to an RSS FEED for this weblog.
There will be an icon on the right hand side of the screen...

Powered by FeedBurner

There will now be a short Christmas intermission.... Cheers!

...and thanks to Victoria for the very nice home made card. Merry Christmas !

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Guardian's Top 100 Sites
The Technology Guardian today has a list of the Top 100 sites (in their opinion) and just been browsing. Most are familiar to me, but did discover ICE ROCKET: Blog SearchAlso some 1940's OS MAPS
A bit blurry though...
Also going to check out some of the ZOHO tools.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
This year, the winner is.... ME! And anyone else who has used the Internet to create and share content... Congratulations to us all.
Read the story HERE.

Also, don't forget to set your alarm clock for 6.30am on New Years Day

Gift of a Goat Monday 1 January 2007 6:30-7:00 (Radio 4 FM)

Ethical gifts of goats to help poor African families have become a popular Christmas present. But what happens to the animals and the people who receive them?
Hermione Cockburn visits Uganda to see a goat scheme in action. She investigates the challenges of keeping the animals healthy and well looked after and discovers just what it takes to ensure that new goats help rural communities struggling to find a way out of poverty.

and then stay tuned for TODAY, from 7am - 9am, presented by the G Team.

Visited the website just now and discovered the Museum of London's rather nice "My London" Emotional Map of the capital.

Why not check out the site and add a memory of your own...

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Slide Share is a website which allows the sharing (natch) of Powerpoint presentation slides. They can then be viewed and embedded into websites and blogs (as you can see below...)

The slide show above was shared by staff at BUSHLOE High School.
Also good to see a few more SLN regulars getting the blogging habit. More on this shortly...

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Cards
Did you know that on average we receive (and possibly throw away) 17 cards each on average - that's over 100 million cards.
The Woodland Trust offer a recycling scheme, and there are posters that you can download for use in your school. I always arrange a collection in the Geography Department and then take several thousand of them in one go to Tesco to reduce the carbon footprint of the school (allegedly) Why not organise a local collection, and perhaps publicise it ?

Also came across the Christmas Song Generator from Generator Blog

So here it is, merry Christmas,
Everybody's having fun.
Look to the geography now,
It's only just begun.

Merry Christmas
from the Christmas Song Generator.

Get your own song :

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Monday, December 18, 2006

This is a new post in B13

(Posted during training for RE colleagues on use of Interactive Whiteboard in teaching Religious Studies - see new GEOGRAPHYPAGES page for more)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Geography Cup in the News
Dan Raven Ellison and the Geography Cup are in the News...
The competition, which runs until New Year's Eve has been featured in a YAHOO news article.
Nice one!

BETT Article published
My latest piece of journalism: an article for the Educ@Guardian's BETT Supplement was published this Tuesday.
Have been waiting for an online version to link you to, and they are now online.
HERE is the general page for the supplement.
And HERE is my humble contribution, which begins below:

Bring maps to life and save the world

Treasure hunts, electronic mapping, sustainable development, and exploring Britain through panoramas

Alan Parkinson
Tuesday December 12, 2006


Geography is a subject looking to the future, giving students skills to interpret the world of tomorrow. Geographical information - its collection, analysis and presentation - is another strong theme as schools are encouraged to use the best technology.

Famous for 15 seconds again...

More good news is that my new DELL Computer arrives at the weekend - I'll finally have a reasonably up to date machine again for the first time in about 6 years...

Also exploring the use of some new tools from NeoWORX - more later...

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Head over to the GEOGRAPHY TEACHING TODAY website to download an excellent article by Peter Jackson "Thinking Geographically" (PDF format)
One to get you thinking...

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KFC St Petersburg

KFC St Petersburg
Originally uploaded by annesImages.
Test posting from FLICKR Group: Geography Teacher Resources
Image from annesimages

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Oh what a night !
Late December back in '63..."
Of course Frankie Vallie wasn't referring to the main event: I was born then...
He wasn't referring to the inclement winter weather either.
The winter of 1963/4 was the coldest and winteriest ever!Now this has been celebrated in a new book written by Ian McCaskill and Paul Hudson, and with a nice tagline "when winters really were winters". It looks at the winters of 1947, 1963 and 1979, which were particularly hard winters. Some great images and details. This book would make a perfect gift for the Geographer in your life. Hint ! A good SCOTSMAN interview here.

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Are you a Collaborator or an Isolator ?Click the image above to get a larger view.
Now read the description - which are you most like ?
I can confidently identify myself as a collaborator. This could also be shown on a continuum with the two types at either end. If you're an isolator at the moment, what could you do to become an isolator ? Why not begin by starting a blog of your own!
Thanks to Quentin d'Souza for the use of his diagram which he posted on TEACHING HACKS.
Let's all aim to be more collaborative!

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

I have been following the current journey of artist OLIVIER KUGLER which is being printed in The Guardian.
He is one of my favourite illustrators - his work has a great 'sense of place', and he has the knack of identifying the key aspects of a location, or a person that he has interviewed. His travel journal is great. He has an online portfolio from which I've borrowed the image below (which I will, of course, remove if there is a problem...)
This gives you an idea of the style of the work, and there is an illustrated biography HERE. Check out his work.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Don't forget to track SANTA this Christmas Eve at NORAD SANTA site.
The answer to the picture puzzle...
The place pictured is CHRISTMAS ISLAND!

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All change

The Geography and all that Jazz Blog has moved to BETA BLOGGER.

Been an interesting week as I made contact with some developers who are buiding a Millennium Community in South Lynn, King's Lynn
Do you recognise this place ?
(Image copyright Morston Assets)

On the way into work today, I was queueing as usual by the White Horse in Gaywood waiting for the lights and the poster board by the River Lane Fish Bar contained a large advert for YOURS SOUTH LYNN, offering the chance to "Move in for just £99" and houses from £99,950. It refers to a new community I mentioned in my previous post (scroll down to read it)
Click the image below to be taken to the website shown...
Website images copyright Yours South Lynn
The night before I'd attended a public meeting at Hunstanton Town Hall, where I was one of just 3 people to turn up on a blustery night to hear about the new Millennium Community which I posted about a few days ago.
I chatted to Tom Harrison, Chief Executive of Morston Assets: one of the companies involved in the new development, and heard about the development of the new community, and its goals and ambitions for the future. We discussed the possibility of involving KES pupils (particularly Pilot pupils) in trialling some educational and publicity materials which they have in preparation, and continuing to follow the development.
There are some interesting issues for FUTURES and SUSTAINABILITY.

One aspect is the development of HOME ZONES. These are streets where people and traffic have equal priority, and where 'quality of life takes precedent over ease of traffic movement'.
More to come on this in the future...

It's a study in Sustainable Low Carbon living, and the session aims to tell people:
  • What are sustainable communities ?
  • How can we reduce carbon emissions by lifestyle changes ?
  • Using alternative energy sources and lowering running costs
  • Managing environments to the benefit of the environment
  • Alternatives to travelling by car
  • What's a home zone ?
  • Do new homes stimulate the local economy
  • Find out about SEXYBIZ (‘Sexybiz’ (Space Exclusively for Young Business) facility, developed by the Norfolk Charitable Trust, will offer FREE office space for residents, with overheads covered for the first 12 months to help you get your start-up business initiative up and running.)
I investigated more and came across the ENGLISH PARTNERSHIPS website.

The seven communities which are being developed as examples of best practice are:

The locations span a variety of environments – including a market town (South Lynn), a seaside town (Hastings), a city estate (New Islington), a new town (Oakgrove), and a larger urban village (Telford). They all offer housebuyers a real opportunity to buy into a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as a new home.

Map of the Community Plan is from the YOURS SOUTH LYNN site.

More on the SOUTH LYNN plan here.
Why not browse through the YOURS SOUTH LYNN site. Each house will come with 2 free bikes and be built with high standards of insulation... It will be interesting to see how the community develops. All part of the larger NORA development scheme.

Also been exploring Google Earth using my SPACE NAVIGATOR.

Also a TORNADO in Kensal Rise in London making the news - rather worrying was the severity and the fact that it occured in DECEMBER !

Plenty of other activity, but I have to go and get my weekend kick-started!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Where is this place: labelled as "The Settlement" top left - image copyright Google and associated Google Earth imaging partners...
It's topical !


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Just been writing an article for the new e-magazine which is going to be launched in January 2007 called "The Global Geographer", and I've found myself referring back frequently to the work of an American author called Barry Lopez. I've been following his work for well over 20 years !
He is most famous for a book called "Arctic Dreams". In a book called "Crossing Open Ground", in a piece called "Landscape and Narrative" he talks about the idea of MY PLACE, and ends "the shape of the individual mind is affected by land as it is by genes"

His most recent project is one called HOME GROUND.
I've also found an article which I clipped out when it was published by another great author I mention: Robert MacFarlane, who produced a piece for the Guardian on Barry Lopez.

It ends with this paragraph:
Global warming is now depleting Arctic summer sea ice at a rate of 10% per annum. A plausible consequence of this depletion is that polar bears, about which Lopez writes with such rapt wonder, will be extinct 20 years from now. Arctic Dreams , composed as a celebration of the polar landscape, might well turn into its elegy. Seen in such a light, Lopez's gracious spiritualism, his drive to reconnect the cultural and the natural, comes to look less like piety and more like an alarm call.

The article has links to other pieces in a series called COMMON GROUND, and also mentions another author in my article: Jonathan Raban. Check these pieces of writing out ! Great geography in here on 4x4, rock and landscape (another great author called Tim Robinson) and some great tips on writing about landscape which I suppose could also apply to writers of blogs...

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon.
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted,
And human love will be seen at its height.
Live in fragments no longer.
Only connect...

E.M. Forster, Howards End

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Geography and IsobarsImage Copyright: BBC - visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather for the latest forecast !

An isobar is a line joining places which are experiencing equal atmospheric pressure.
Last night was a very windy night down in Norfolk, and across most of the country - the synoptic chart above is for mid-day today, but yesterday's chart showed the classic pattern of a mid-latitude depression. The sycamore tree in my garden lost all the leaves it had been clinging on to, and bushes were tapping against the windows. On the way home from a fancy dress party, my Noddy Holder hat blew off and I ended up in someone's front garden chasing it round in a gyre...

Of course the storms were nothing compared to the problems created by the weather in the Philippines.
See this BBC NEWS article for more on the effects of Hurricane Durian. Interestingly, durian is one of the top search phrases on Google for leading people to GeographyPages - not sure why...

Geography and Music (Cont...)
This weekend I have been enjoying the new Bruce Hornsby box set I bought recently: "Intersections" is a collection from over 20 years of music from the big man: a combination of pop, rock, jazz, blue-grass, country and various other styles. Some great jazz trio work, and new versions of familiar songs, particularly on tracks like "Gonna be some changes made" and above all some great instrumentation and orchestration on all the tracks. Lots of good geo-friendly lyrics too..

Look out any Window
There's a man workin' in a field
See's the rain and it's burning
He's saying this can't be real
As he sees the color of the fields turning
Far away the men too busy getting rich to care
Close their eyes and let it all out into the air
Hoping nobody else would care
Lyrics B.R Hornsby and John Hornsby

Head off to Amazon and buy a copy!

Also been writing a piece for the Global Geographer. See my earlier post and subscribe. Click the banner below to go to the GGiP blog. Look out for my piece next year (assuming it's accepted..)

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Geography and CountryfileCountryfile is one of those programmes you might not have watched. It's on Sunday mornings, and actually contains a lot to interest geographers (although the G word is seldom mentioned)
This week, the team visited North West Norfolk and there was a great sequence with a pink sunrise and thousands of geese rising off the marsh and moving inland.
There were visits to Titchwell and Abbey Farm, who deliver organic vegetable boxes in my local area.

One of the interesting aspects was the possible changes that may take place. The EU are reducing the subsidies that they pay for the growth of sugar beet. At the moment, sugar beet is supported by the EU, and is a high-energy food for the geese. If farmers grow something else, it will probably be a spring crop, and the farmers will have to scare the geese off the crop. Most farmers are very happy for the geese to be on their land at the moment, but this could change.

There's an interesting OXFAM document which gives more background on the subsidies.

Excellent site for exploring this area is a site called FARMSUBSIDY.ORG

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Geography and ICT (Cont...)
You'll remember (perhaps) an earlier posting related to an article in the Guardian by Phil Beadle on the usage of ICT in schools.
I came across a posting via Peter Ford's blog on the response by Gareth Davies to this article.
This led me of course to explore Gareth's excellent blog, which had this post about how some schools are turning off wireless networks due to parental safety concerns ? what next ?

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Geography and YouTube
This will not be viewable if you're looking at this at school as it's filtered out.

It's a video made to accompany a track by Eric Prydz and featuring a sample from Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" - some good parkour and a message at the end - and all in moody black and white to save colour...
Thanks to Tony Cassidy for bringing it to my attention.


Just a few hours after that video was posted, Ollie Bray brought another video to my attention. This one features the same music track, but different images.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Geography and Levels
That old question has been debated on a recent thread on the SLN Forum.
Should we be levelling / can we level ? individual pieces of work...

Here is the response on this from David Lambert. He is Chief Executive of the Geographical Association, but this is his personal view.

I think he has it spot on! Thanks to Christine Lloyd Staples for starting the thread.

I am writing in a personal capacity on this one … Sorry, it is quite long!

As a result of the KS3 Review, the PoS for geography will look quite radically different. The current proposals will be published in full in the January 2007 issue of Teaching Geography (it is not too late to subscribe by joining the GA – do spread the word!!). The PoS will be accompanied by commentaries from David Gardner, Di Swift and myself.

The changes to Level Descriptions are unlikely to be very far reaching. Though the way geography is expressed in the PoS is different (for good reason), the geography pretty well remains intact, and the Level Description as valid as they ever were (though I hope with some minor adjustments of emphasis etc).

The purpose of Level Descriptions also remains the same. These were designed to be used for helping teachers come to a judgement at the end of the Key Stage. They are rough hewn in this sense. They are not designed to be used as if they were assessment objectives. They were not designed to be broken down into elements and strands – they were designed to be kept whole as ‘best fit’ descriptions. This means they were to be used to ‘come to a rounded judgement’, not to require the assemblage of evidence to prove every line has been attained. Each level represents at least two years ‘progress’ – they are that rough hewn – they are not, - repeat: never intended at all – to be used as instruments to assess individual tests or homework or class based exercises.

They are useful in providing a structure to KS planning. They provide a view of progress in geography, a view of where students are heading in their acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills. At the end of the key stage (or at a pinch, every year) they can be used to report where, in the teacher’s rounded view, each student has got to.

They are not suitable to be used in any other way. It is the case that school leadership teams, possibly under pressure from outside agencies and assumptions about what ‘the system’ requires, have encouraged their misuse. For example, it is understood that the LDs are rough hewn – therefore (the argument goes) ‘let’s subdivide them and make them more fine grained’. This is madness and puts intolerable pressure on subject practitioners to invent spurious exactitude. The result is akin to a massive professional confidence trick – where, say, 58% in the test is said to be Level 5 (or seven, or whatever).

I am for the use of Level Descriptions for the purpose they were designed to fulfil.

I am against their misuse.

They provide a backdrop for formative assessment, but I am afraid I am still wholly unconvinced by arguments that assert the benefits of such spurious numerical data that give the impression of ‘precision’. What a distraction from the real task, which is to get to know students, get them to focus on their learning (not their ‘level’) and for us to find out how to flick their switches!

I am for formative assessment (assessment for learning) and I am aware that the research tends to show that grades and numbers get in the way of this. Grades and numbers are used effectively for summing up assessment judgements – ie summative assessment. Occasional summative assessments are of course useful, for teachers, students, parents etc But the overuse - the misuse - of Level Descriptions has tended to replace formative assessment with ‘serial summative’ assessment. Frequent summative assessment is not the same as formative assessment.

This is probably not what a good many colleagues want to hear, having invested so heavily is designing assessment regimes to fit school policy requirements or whatever. I understand fully the need to make the practical circumstances ‘work’. However, the GA’s position on the principles has been consistent.

Thank you for opening up a new discussion on this matter. The GA will respond more formally with a position paper, soon, either on www.geography.org.uk or through the pages of Teaching Geography.

David Lambert

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Geography and Whisky

Those of you who read the blog regularly will know that I like a nice single malt of an evening…

Read today in the Times about the auctioning of what is supposed to be the oldest bottle of whisky in the world. The bottle is a Glenavon whisky, bottled in Speyside between 1851 and 1858 and was sold for £14,850

No ice for me please...


Geography and Weblogs
A nice mention for the GeoBlogs project on Tony Cassidy's weblog.

"There are a number of Geography blogs springing up at the moment, I find reading blogs a useful tool for professional development, for student readers its a great way of gaining a little extra knowledge and to see what other students are doing. Why not set up your own personal blog? It doesn’t have to be about Geography…

Most of us are indebted to Alan Parkinson, Mr P of GeographyPages fame, I believe he lead the way, his original Geoblog and links to other interesting examples are here. I remember when I started teaching, there were few very good geography sites on the web and Alan’s was like a little flame in a very dark cave."

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