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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Had a very pleasant day yesterday. Got the early train down to London, with my Vodafone dongle keeping me in touch with all things geographical. Across to Waterloo, a West Norfolk Cornish Pasty (not happy that they've changed the recipe on the vegetable pasties though - it's all tomato now !) Down through Clapham Junction ("Britain's busiest railway station" apparently) and past Kew Gardens, and out at Syon Lane.

Walked into an anonymous industrial estate, and there were the cluster of buildings that make up Sky News and Sports, and the various other broadcasting channels that are produced in the buildings. Security was very tight.

I was there to meet up with Lucy Verasamy: a former pupil of mine, who is now part of the weather presenting team along with Francis Wilson, Isobel Lang et al...

It was a 'quiet' weather day, with the 3rd or 4th consecutive day of anticyclonic gloom, which meant that the visit was possible. News wise, the Turkish airlines crash had happened that morning, so the news team were running with that story.

Had a long chat in the weather office. It was, I think, about 10 years since Lucy left school. She did a degree with Iain Stewart of "Power of the Planet" fame, and even back then was always determined to be a weather presenter. She was also very positive about the value of geography as a subject, and even thought that being a geography teacher might be an alternative career.

Had a tour of the SKY NEWS studio, which is surrounded by a walkway. There were a huge number of people involved in producing the various output: tv of course, Sky News radio, internet / websites and online video production, press and library
Martin Stanford was in the news room at the time, with his tablet pc. Also saw the Channel Five news room.

SKY NEWS has a FLICKR photostream.

Lucy also talked about the impact of the snow in London in February, and the very busy day she had, which started with a 4am journey to the studio. As she'd forecast the snow it would have looked bad if she hadn't made it in !

The WEATHER GIRLS on the SKY NEWS team also have their own BLOG which Lucy contributes posts to.

We talked about the place of weather and climate on the curriculum, and the tendency to focus on extreme weather events ...
The weather is very much part of the geography that students 'live' each day.
Hurray for weather...

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A video via a Twitter tipoff...
Shelter is a housing and homelessness charity.
Read the ROOF Magazine, and don't forget to make a donation to SHELTER.

There's an interesting article by Joan Bakewell in ROOF magazine, of which the introduction can be viewed.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

There are still a few places left on an Africa day, which is going to take place at the Royal Geographical Society on Friday the 6th of March. The day will be led by Graham Goldup, and focus on updating teachers' subject knowledge, and promote collaboration between schools and teachers that have an interest in the continent.
Full details are available by clicking HERE, or on the picture below.
There are some top-notch speakers and the event will take place in the august surroundings of the RGS.


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watched this earlier this week.
Great film...
Let's see how it does at the OSCARS.
How could it be used in a geography classroom ?
It's a certificate 15, so you're looking at GCSE groups at least.
How about the issues of possible "slum voyeurism" or the apparent amounts paid to the child actors compared to the lead actors ? How accurate was the reporting here ? How easy is it to 'assume' things in this way ? (remember the Sceptics' Toolkit)
What about the British orientation of the workers in the call centre ?

Again, BLOGGERS introduce some interesting additional detail and suggestions.
Marc Silvers National Geographic blog (link above) contains an interesting interview with Thomas Chandy of Save the Children (India)

It’s great that the movie talks about poverty, it’s great that the movie is about hope. But let’s move the debate beyond this: The reality is millions of children are working when they should be at school. Can we move beyond talking and do something to change this reality?
Plenty of potential avenues to explore at the WIKIPEDIA article on the film.
Also an interesting BLOG POST here on the "urban geography" of slums, with interesting maps and diagrams.
Or how about this quote from David Denby of the New Yorker:
As slum children, Jamal and his friends are enchantingly beautiful, but the supersaturated color makes not just the kids but every surface and texture shine glamorously, including the piles of garbage that Jamal and his brother live among. Boyle has created what looks like a jumpy, hyper-edited commercial for poverty—he uses the squalor and violence touristically, as an aspect of the fabulous.... Besides the children, what I will remember of “Slumdog Millionaire” is a disorderly exploitation of disorder, a kind of visual salad of glowing rotten fruit, constantly tossed.
So - how are YOU going to use this film in your classroom ?

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London 2012: both sides of the coin...
My daughter is currently doing some half-term homework: designing a 50p coin to commemorate and celebrate the London 2012 Olympics, as part of a competition being run by Blue Peter...

Meanwhile, here is Noel Jenkins with the first of a planned series of videos looking at the impact in Portland, where the sailing events are going to be held.


Impact of the 2012 Olympics on a local business from Noel Jenkins on Vimeo.

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Let it Snow
Nice work by Jo Blackmore of the GREAT GEOGRAPHY blog, and an example of how to take stories from the news, and turn them into a resource which has merit: this uses mapskills, classification and a range of presentation skills to map the impact of the recent snow on the SW of the country...


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bought one of these to have a play: pen can be used to control the desktop and carry out basic activities.

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Just had 4 days 'off the radar' (a little) in York.
Managed a few cultural highlights.
First of these was Disney's BOLT, which was really great: a great pace to the film, nice "Incredible Journey" subtext in the middle with the road trip section: loved Rhino the hamster...



Second was SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which was exhilerating: great claustrophobic soundtrack and gripping. Below one of several films from FOX Official Movie site.



Sure both these films have their place in the GEOGRAPHY classroom...
Also had a nice meal in the Assembly Rooms, which is now an Ask chain restaurant, just round the corner from York Minster, Guy Fawkes' place and all...
Also took in a rather fine Bruichladdich 16 year old which had been in a Margaux cask - rather delicious, and did some serious shopping in the (never ending) sales: some nice North Face and Rohan, plus a soft-shell jacket.
Trip over to Harrogate as well to meet up with Val V and listen to some live jazz in the Harrogate Brasserie.

Catching up on a few other things as well:
1. Nice BLDG BLOG post link to article on the suburbs: the 'new American slums'.
2. Goathland in the North Yorkshire moors fighting to save its 'HEARTBEAT' - importance of tourism to rural economies - more on that to come...
3. Noel's updated WWW REVISITED Web 2.0 links - looking forward to some Olympics 2012 'action' as well...
4. Browsing nearly 900 pictures in #uksnow FLICKR photoset
5. Got a royalty cheque for £15.06 after my WALKING WORLD WALK was downloaded quite a few times last year. Thanks to all those who downloaded it and walked it...
7. Made a superhero thanks to the SUPERHERO FACTORY (thanks to Angela Maiers for tipoff)

Driving up noticed that I passed through an area of Lincolnshire that had been rebranded as districtnk and a guide which had the name yorkshiresouth rather than, er, South Yorkshire.


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A Noel Jenkins production....


GoAnimate.com: The Polish shop closes down


Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Brighton
A series of posts from my trip to Brighton earlier this week are now on LIVING GEOGRAPHY. One of the highlights of the trip was the early evening display by the starlings on the remains of the west pier, as captured on my Flip Video.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Just had one of those days where you can't make up your mind.
Tomorrow I have 2 sessions: a brief input to a CfBT Regional Conference in Derbyshire, then a Google Earth training day at the Magna centre near Sheffield (in the old Templeborough works where my dad was a steelworker)
So I looked at the BBC forecast and it said snow would come through and then clear within a few hours. Decided to go for it, and drove up, and for the last hour or so it was a bit snowy to be fair... Tried to remember the last time I drove in heavy snow and it's been years ! Remember Pete R in his VW Beetle crossing the M62 with me in the back when it had been closed to traffic around 1983, and a journey back from a concert at the NEC in Birmingham...
Anyway, it was quite fun, and now here I am in my favourite Travelodge in north Nottinghamshire, just 20 minutes-away from the conference venue, and with a big Sainsburys just 2 minutes away for breakfast in the cafe.
And tomorrow we're set for the arrival of a winter storm.

Just following the GRAMMY's on TWITTER and Peter Gabriel has won for 'Define Dancing' from Wall-E soundtrack which is a sublime instrumental track... and also for 'Down to Earth' - the end credits song... superb....

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Create a Graph
More Flash stuff, including a nice SEATING PLAN GENERATOR.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Geography of Whisky

Regular readers of the blog will know that I have a long standing intention to do a unit on the Geography of Whisky.
After all, there are plenty of geographers who write about other forms of industry, and even other forms of alcohol: the brewing industry, and the geography of wine spring to mind...

This has got a little closer thanks to the arrival of a kind gift from Val Vannet. A book published by the British Geological Survey, and written by Stephen and Julie Cribb.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snow Day


Another load of snow arrived in West Norfolk. 65 schools closed at the moment in West Norfolk.
All the family off school - as I was working from home today, I don't really get the benefit...
Just added my details to the #uksnow map that Ben Marsh produced.Join the map by tweeting #uksnow then first part of the postcode, then score out of 10

e.g. #uksnow S66 8/10

Also check out OLLIE BRAY's POST on making use of this in the classroom along with Google Earth.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New videos have now been added to the QCA Secondary Curriculum website.
You will need to log in - then look for the VIDEO button from the RESOURCES section.
They were filmed as part of the CfBT funded KS3 Geography programme, and feature two excellent lessons.
Interesting label saying BEST PRACTICE: I thought we were 'supposed' to use the term 'good practice' ?

The videos feature clips and background from 2 lessons:

1. Nic Sheehan from Teignmouth College teaching about GIS and Learning outside the Classroom to explore pupils' journeys to school...

2. Paula Cooper from King Edward VI 5 Ways teaching about the impact of food price rises. When you're watching this one, can you guess which particular "multimedia presentation with images and music" is being referred to ?

Go and take a look !

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My World in 60 Seconds

This is an opportunity for student films to be shown on the BBC's BIG SCREENS in cities around the country.

For full details go to the GA WEBSITE, or read on....

Important update: Relaxation on format for submissions

When we launched the competition last year, a number of e-mails were received which queried the limited format for submissions for the My World in 60 Seconds project.

Following further discussions with the BBC, we have been able to widen the format for the submission of completed films, which we think will make it a lot easier for schools to submit their work and take part in the project. The emphasis still needs to be on the HIGHEST POSSIBLE QUALITY OF VIDEO FILE.

New formats that are now available are: a HIGH QUALITY DVD or HIGH QUALITY QUICKTIME FILE.

A reminder of some of the basic rules follows. All entered films must meet these guidelines, and:

Be made by students aged 11, 12, 13 or 14

Be no longer than 60 seconds including titles and credits
Only contain music if you have composed and played it yourself
Have permissions from all people that feature in the film
Be friendly and not contain any rude or obscene material
Arrive as a high quality DVD, QuickTime file or a MiniDV tape along with an entry form no later than 1 May 2009
Be posted to My World Films, Geographical Association, 160 Solly Street, Sheffield, S1 4BF

For further information see the GA website

http://www.geography.org.uk/myworld

Contact Alan Parkinson at the GA for further queries.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


"We're very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they're like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They're two distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water."
Derek Smalls in 'This is Spinal Tap'

Today, as with yesterday is a 'snow' / 'duvet' day across many parts of the country. The BBC NEWS reported the traffic problems in and around the country. They didn't mention that much about other parts outside of the capital, mostly London yesterday, but anyway. The snow has now moved North, and the chaos continues.

At lunchtime yesterday it was out to collect my kids from their primary school, which has closed early due to the weather forecast being a worsening situation. This morning was an interesting slippy walk, but they were safely delivered.

Today, the newspapers have some very creative headlines and stories, and there have been some interesting journeys to work by a lot of colleagues.
For the first time, the ice and snow has prevented me getting up to Sheffield.
Instead, I'm working through a range of projects the deadlines for which seem to have piled up this week.
One additional resource that I have been putting together is for some UEA PGCE colleagues.

Meanwhile, over in Australia, there is a record breaking HEATWAVE which has led to parts of daily life grinding to a halt.

Back to the snow finally, The Register: the satirical website had a funny report, although it has a rude word, so you can find it yourself if you want the full version.

There was also a good map on the GOOGLE MAPS MANIA website, which was related to TWITTER, and is mentioned in this BBC NEWS REPORT.
A #uksnow map...

Worth collecting the various impressions of the impact of the snow.

One ironic one was that the cost to the British economy was apparently over £1 billion, which is of course small change these days....

The Daily Mirror had the best headline of the day !

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Tomorrow's Teacher is a competition being run by TEACHERS TV.

Thanks to Twitter follower/ee Dan Sutch for the details on this.

There's a TEACHER competition and a CLASS competition.
A chance to win some cash for your thoughts on the future of education...

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Monday, February 02, 2009


Are you up to date ?
The latest version of Google Earth has been put on the website to download.
It's Google Earth 5
It features the much anticipated Ocean flood and surface data, plus new historical imagery and improved touring facilities.
Get yours today.

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This site is rated five star by Schoolzone.co.uk

5* Award for the "functional rather than pretty" GeographyPages

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Any geography teacher reading this blog / post who is not a member of the GA or RGS, would you possible drop me an e-mail a.parkinson AT gmail.com as I have a few questions for you which will only take a moment of your time...
Much appreciated...

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As the 4 Seasons sang
"Oh what a night, late December back in '63.."
and it was, because I was born then.
Theo K, a Twitter contact led me to this classic YouTube video showing the snow of that winter, and how the trains kept running....



and today....

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