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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yorkshire Floods: One Year On...




More to come...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Loving this...




Pilot GCSE Geography paper today - very fair and I feel we prepared students very well for it.
Thanks to GEOGRAPHYGEEK Helen Young for telling me about a new "Mr. Men do Economic Activity" video which is very entertaining...

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Clay Shirky at the RSA
Well worth watching this VIDEO.

More on Sir Ken Robinson to come soon...

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European Countries I have visited...
Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com
http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/map.php


A new service from BIG HUGE LABS.

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Monday, June 23, 2008


Caught a snippet on the news this morning which mentioned this website, which I have blogged about before, although not sure that the word 'geography' was mentioned at any point, despite it being a project in association with the RGS-IBG.

Activities all week related to Citizenship and 'Britishness'.


Wordle Word Cloud is for the statement by Rita Gardner describing the aims of the project.

Who do you think you are ?

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just installed...

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create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

Used this ages ago, but just reminded of it by CLS, and just added to Webwatch article, so thought I'd better try it...
These are the places I've visited: very eurocentric...

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Current reading material....Just 4 weeks of term left.
Almost completed the "grand clearout" of my room, and ready for the next stage of the succession...

Just watching a good programme on St. Kilda: "Britain's Lost World". For the next 6 days (and counting...) you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer. Click the image to go to the programme's page.
Wonderful images, especially the ruins of Main Street.

Also check out the great FLICKR images.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don't pick your own...

Interested in this story about a farmer near Cambridge who's stopped the Pick-your-own strawberry operation on their farm, because people were eating too many and then just paying for a few as they went round, some people even brought a carton of cream with them!

Remember doing this when I was a lad with my parents at a farm near Stone in S. Yorkshire.
Picture by Flickr user -Sel made available under creative commons license...

Any other PYO confessions out there ?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Norfolk Geography Conference
Monday 30th June

Stonehenge! 'Tis a magic place
Where the moon doth rise with a dragon's face
Stonehenge! Where the virgins lie
And the prayers of devils fill the midnight sky






This is a trail for the Norfolk Conference, at the PDC in Norwich, which has a keynote session by Sarah Watts.

I am offering a 55 minute session (ish) - you know I always over-run....

I have decided to mention a few new ideas for using Google Earth and also showcase a lesson designed by Noel Jenkins from Digital Geography.

This will go through the process of curriculum development that I hope will inspire the folks who come to my session to see how they can take an idea for a lesson and "run with it" and use a few of the new website tools to make it a little more creative and engaging...

Will also mention the guide made available at Digital Explorer by Jamie Buchanan Dunlop.

Will also be mentioning my new favourite website: WORDLE.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Food waste...
The EU has acted to loosen its regulations on FOOD DIMENSIONS. (BBC NEWS article)

These are responsible for food wastage as producers don't always meet the tight standards, and consumers don't get the chance to buy it even at a discount. It matters not to me how wonky my cucumbers are, but what they taste like...
Image by Flickr user banana custard, and made available under Creative Commons

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Mission Explore
One of my many side projects and interests is as a member of the GEOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE. One current project of the collective is the MISSION EXPLORE book.
Dan Raven Ellison, another founder member of the collective is going to be presenting a session at Russell Davies' INTERESTING 08 later this month related to the book.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hunter Wellies and Glasto

Festival season is approaching...
( Check out the track FESTIVAL on the new Sigur Ros album - superb ! )
It's less than 10 days to Glastonbury !

Check out the countdown here...

Music festivals have been criticised in the past for their impact on the environment. There is obviously a major carbon footprint involved in assembling a large number of people at any location, particularly some remote locations involved. Steps are being taken to give advice on reducing the personal impact of festival goers.

The RGS Geography in the News site has an article called FIELD STUDIES (nice title), by Chief Examiner Simon Oakes, which looks at the impact of festivals.

One of the largest is the GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL.

I would like to be at the Hydro Connect festival to see Sigur Ros, but it's the day before I start my new job...

Glastonbury is synonymous with floods and mud. Here's an image from last year...
Image made available under Creative Commons license by Flickr user kapungo

And when it's muddy you need wellies...


The GREEN GLASTONBURY section of the website explains a special link up with welly makers HUNTER.
I like their slogan "Outstanding in every field"....Hunter is teaming up with the charity WATERAID. WATERAID works in countries around the world.

Campers at Glastonbury will also be getting tent pegs which are made from potato starch.

If you're going, enjoy it !!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Image copyright: Michael Wolf, Transparent City (2008)

Have blogged about Michael Wolf's photography before: particularly his TOY STORY project. A newer project for 2008 is TRANSPARENT CITY, which is about Chicago's high-rise buildings.
Check out the images...
Great urban images...

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Liked this: "Drag and Drop World"...

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Thanks to Tony, via Noel, via Wordle.
Wordle is produced by Jonathan Feinberg, and is a toy for generating WORD CLOUDS from text that you provide, that can be pasted into a box.

The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

M y del.icio.us tags...2 obvious preoccupations of Geography and Resources, with a sideline in Google Earth and Blogging... Even a bit of teaching in there ;)

I like this site WORDLE a lot, and it has some potential I think for representing in graphical format the key points in a passage of text and giving a textual, albeit graphic, representation of a textual landscape (or something...) In other words, it can give a new view on a dense passage of text. For example, here's a paragraph from an article I wrote recently for a forthcoming publication:

Can you tell what the subject is ?
I'm going to pursue this a little further....

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Ewan McIntosh talking about social networking and its power...

Important stuff here...

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Blogging on Slideshare
This weekend, am going to be posting links to a range of useful presentations that have been made available via Slideshare.
Watching, reviewing and responding to some of these presentations could count as CPD...
Here's the first one on BLOGGING.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just started to read this - some fascinating sections on the growth of processed foods, the value added by differentiation and the rise of companies like Nestle.The second book I read about in The Observer at the weekend. HUNGRY CITY has a supporting website. I may have to get this as well...

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008



New on Slideshare from me...

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New laptop arrived... A very nice Dell PRODUCT (RED) laptop.

Using it to stream the new Sigur Ros album, which is superb !
Having a few problems tonight: GeographyPages server down for maintenance (apologies for that) and also some issues with Slideshare. Wanted to upload some new stuff there too...
Normal service will be resumed, and all that...

Also, wishing "the Major" CJD a speedy recovery from his recent debilitating 'condition'...
Here's a nice pic from the trip down to Rochester before half term to cheer you up...
"The Major" checks an interpretive sign for accuracy, as Mr. C scampers up the steps with his English Heritage card in hand...

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Geography and Literacy

Not everybody may have picked up on the connection that has been made with some resources on the GA's WEBSITE, with the NATIONAL YEAR OF READING.

The theme for JUNE is based around TRAVEL and HOLIDAYS, and a DESERT ISLAND READ.
Would make a good end of term activity.
Good opportunity for some creative literacy work...

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Geography Webcasts

As part of the new KS3 resources, there is now a webcast and forum discussion on the QCA/GA/CfBT/DCSF website HERE.

You'll need to register and login to view and/or participateRuth David

A chance to see the National Subject Leads: David Rayner and Ruth Totterdell expressing their views on the potential that this offers for re-engaging with the subject and participating in CPD through the process of curriulum making: as David Lambert, Chief Executive of the Geographical Association has said in a recent article, for teachers to "delve deeper and linger longer" with their subjects...

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Interesting that as none of the UK teams have qualified for this tournament (it's Football by the way) the BBC and other broadcasters are making a lot of the fact that we have pockets of people from different countries living in the UK. There has been a push to support Poland by certain retailers, who are keen to sell products as they will miss out on the bonanza that occured in 2006. The cost could be as much as £2 billion in lost sales.

Some local towns have links with certain places.
The TIMES had a very useful article on Saturday looking at why some retailers are supporting certain countries:

Two years ago the World Cup in Germany helped Tesco to sell more than half a million St George’s flags, 400,000 footballs and 50,000 two-pint glasses in the shape of the tournament’s trophy.

This summer the supermarket is again draping its shelves in red and white: it is backing Poland.

Tesco has brought in extra supplies of Polish snacks and beer at 150 stores in areas with large Polish communities such as Slough, Hammersmith and Glasgow.

“There are three good reasons to support Poland,” a Tesco spokesman said. “They’ve contributed a lot to our economy, they’re underdogs, and they’re in the same group as the old enemy - Germany.”

THETFORD has a large Portuguese community.

Useful GUARDIAN article on a similar theme.

Using BBC's BORN ABROAD site, can you suggest which country these retailers should be supporting ?

  • An off license in ...
  • A cafe owner in ...
  • A sportswear retailer in ... etc.
Also check out the excellent mapping produced by Danny Dorling and co at Sheffield University on their SASI site. There is also the excellent HUMAN GEOGRAPHY OF THE UK site.

Add a comment below - who are you supporting and why ?

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

We-Think Geography is going places...
Just read this book, and it is going to feature prominently in a lot of forthcoming projects that I will be involved with, and has already put a range of ideas in my head. Head over to AMAZON now and buy your own copy. Highly recommended.

The book has an interesting history. A draft of the book was placed online for people to edit and comment on. This took place back in 2006, and it has then been another 18 months until the book has emerged. It explores the growth of social innovation, and the power of mass collaboration to trigger innovation.

So far, so not-that-geography-related.

The trick is to relate this to the creation and sustaining of geography teacher networks, and the growth of geography projects which involve large numbers of teachers collaborating: something that I will be involved with full time from September.
There is a 5 stage process which is mentioned in the book (although the progression from one to the other isn't necessarily linear...) I think it relates quite nicely to the growth of sites such as the Staffordshire Learning Net forum for example, which is now one of the most important places for Geographers to visit.

The 5 principles can basically be summarised as:

CORE
CONTRIBUTIONS
CONNECTIONS
COLLABORATION
CREATIVITY

Although I've changed them a little. Creativity is the key idea really. I discussed some ideas relating to this on Saturday with some GA colleagues in some very early stages of preparing for 2009's GA Conference, and it was clear that we viewed creativity as an important SKILL for young people, and yet some approaches such as AfL perhaps constrain pupils too tightly, and LA filtering doesn't allow the use of websites which would allow some of these ideas to develop.

There is also a large reading list of sources at the end of the book which provides a whole range of interesting angles to head off in as well. These have already triggered an interest in following up on the following ideas:
  • Microsoft PhotoSynth, and ideas of looking at places from different viewpoints or angles - Flickr's look around idea...
  • Why do people contribute to networks and forums ?
  • The analogy of LEGO: although all the bricks are different shapes and colours, there is a modularity that allows them to fit together - what sort of modularity can we use to allow for teacher contributions to be assembled and collated in a way that allows them to grow into something even more useful...
  • The idea of having a Google Earth KML file with some coding already provided. Users would download this file, and edit it to reflect their own particular contribution, and then return it so that it could be added to an ever growing file of placemarks with images and information - or perhaps a 'chain' KML ?
  • The link with jobs such as teaching
Some interesting quotes:

"Careers have become more fragmented. A job is now a set of tasks rather than a craft demanding devotion. Leadership has become little more than bonus-driven performance management..."

"Any successful organisation must do 3 things well: it must motivate people to make the most effective contribution to the collective endeavour; must co-ordinate the contributions of many people to make sure the work gets done in the right order; and must innovate by encouraging people to learn and adapt."

"Good institutions...do not just serve people, but create capabilities in people, support initiative rather than supplant it." (Ivan Illich, 1972)

  • How do we make sure that the innovations we come up with are what the consumer wants ? - what about the concept of having "Use by" or "Best before" dates on case studies ? or textbooks ?
  • The question that should be asked at CPD at the start of the day: "What do YOU want ?"
  • The DORITOS Ad that was used in Superbowl 2007: User generated content - how could this be used in the geography classroom and beyond ? Students creating a record of fieldwork, or recording student presentations ?
  • Need to read up on the work of Edmund Phelps, and his views on consumption and innovation
  • pp.147-150 examines schools - this needs some thought...
  • Also mentions Ivan Illich, who I remember reading when doing my PGCE 20 odd years ago...
  • Work of sociologist Duncan Watts on social networking...



A YouTube video made available by Charles covers the basic points in the book succinctly, and in an engaging way...



Also Charles Leadbeater at TED talks...




Illustrations by Debbie Powell

Look forward to exploring some of these avenues further after the summer...
If you found what I said of interest and have something to add, please get in touch via comment below...

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Job going in Norfolk...One of the best resourced departments going....

Another bit of gratuitous publicity on the GEOGRAPHYTEACHINGTODAY website.

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Came across this quote today, via my webmail news feed. J K Rowling was receiving an honorary degree from Harvard University, and made a speech:

"We do not need magic to transform our world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already; we have the power to imagine better."

"Imagination is…the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation.”

"In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity; it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

J.K. Rowling, Harvard University, June 2008

Was thinking about how this could apply to our "geographical imagination", particularly the final section of this.
How important it is that students empathise and share experiences with people they have never met, but who they experience through their geography work...

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London: setting for so many novels...

Via OSOCIO.

GET LONDON READING: uses an interactive map to explore the locations of books in London.
A good use of Google Maps.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's official...
My name now added to the Action Plan for Geography team on the GeographyTeachingToday website.

Alan Parkinson: Curriculum Development Leader (Secondary). This post is also permanent. Alan is well known for his innovative curriculum work nationally and has been involved with much of the secondary Action Plan activity.

New edition of TEACHING GEOGRAPHY now available to download by GA members.

Also added presentation I used yesterday at a meeting of Norfolk Geographers to look at the new 'A' level specifications, particularly fieldwork, and also 14-19 provision.





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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Gratuitous award picture

GCSE Today
It was the day of the GCSE exams today, and it seems to have got the people visiting GeographyPages. I had one of my busiest days ever yesterday, with almost 3500 visitors (and almost 23,000 'hits' (which is a misleading statistic of course...))
Hope I helped some visitors to a better grade.
Best wishes for any further papers that you might still have.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ordnance Survey Award for excellence in Geography teaching

Had the great honour of receiving this award yesterday at the Royal Geographical Society.

Congratulations to Louise Ellis, who won the 2nd Ordnance Survey Award, and thanks to the fellows and colleagues who nominated me. Congratulations also to all the other medal and award winners, and thanks to Vanessa Lawrence for presenting me with the award.
Left to right

Roger Jeans, Education Manager, Ordnance Survey
Louise Ellis, Ordnance Survey award recipient
Dr. Vanessa Lawrence, Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey (and also Honorary Vice President of the GA)
Alan Parkinson (that's me...)

Went down to the RGS yesterday to collect the award: a chunky piece of glass and a welcome and unexpected financial bonus, plus very nice scroll. Enjoyed the whole occasion. We had a tour of the society including some of its archive of objects, and also the Reception in the evening. Good to meet my new 'boss', and also plenty of enthusiastic geographers. This was a great honour, and many thanks to all involved in making it happen.

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Monday, June 02, 2008


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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Thanks to Mark Ollis (and the Independent newspaper) for creating this little starter for the first day of the new half term...

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