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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The latest version of the OS Mapping News magazine has just dropped on my desk.
Good to see plenty of information relating to the work of the GA, and some familiar names.

There was a report on the OS Free Maps for Schools: in 2008-9, a total of almost 700 000 free maps were requested.
pp. 8-9 has an article on geocaching, which I have done several times, and is a good 'geographical' activity to do with young children
pp. 10-11 features Val Vannet's excellent 'My Patch' activity using Get a Map and Geograph
pp. 14-16 features Tim Bayliss and Lawrence Collins' look at accessible GIS for schools
pp. 26-29 features my article on 'Bringing Maps to Life' based around the Ronald Lampitt-illustrated book 'The Map that Came to Life'

Final session has plenty on the GA projects, Living Geography conferences, and the Annual Conference plus launch of 'a different view'.

The latest version: SPRING 2009, can be DOWNLOADED FROM OS WEBSITE.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Flood Contingency map copyright the City of Fargo

Have been following a few stories recently, and using the idea of 'data mining' the 'Twittersphere' as a resource.
On the BBC News this morning, there was a report on the city of FARGO in North Dakota, where people were being evacuated due to record levels on the Red River..

For many people in the UK, 'Fargo' puts them in mind of the classic Coen Brothers film with the woodchipper... For others, it's paired with Wells on the side of stagecoaches in westerns...
For the residents of the city though, the current issue is that of record levels of flooding on the Red River, up to almost 41 feet above normal.
'Trending' on Twitter (i.e. one of the most popular current words or tags that are included in people's 'tweets') is the word FARGO
Using a service like TWITTER SEARCH or TWITTERFALL, the tweets with the word FARGO in them can be seen as they appear: sometimes 20 or 30 a minute... With the latter, they 'cascade' down the screen as they appear.

This is particularly useful because the nature of Twitter means that many users will post links to news reports, background reading, pictures of current events, or their personal thoughts, which means that an event is being 'broadcast' in a number of short inputs, but together these can be assembled to create an 'alternative narrative' for the events.

Reading the tweets is fascinating, as each one has a particular 'angle' or 'message', many offering a perspective on the story which makes one think about the event in a different way, and would provide tremendous material for some high-level descriptive or persuasive writing.

This is the sort of creative work that can act as a useful counterpoint to what we might call more 'traditional' resources and classroom activities. Used occasionally it might provide a useful 'news room' style event which could engage pupils and provide a memorable (even compelling) learning experience.

The city's website also has a great deal of useful information in the form of planning and floodplain maps HERE.

There are also other tags or hashtags e.g. #fargoflood emerging as the event develops.

The nature of these events is that they are ephemeral, and teachers would have difficulty planning a session in advance in many cases. The new KS3 PoS includes a deal more flexibility than in the past, and this means that there is a chance that if an event happens that is relevant to the particular units that are being taught in a longer term scheme, that time can be given to exploring events 'as they happen'... This sort of reactive, immediate work could prove to be valuable in preparing students for the sort of employment that they may well have in the future.

Of course, another issue is that what compels large numbers of people to 'talk' about the same thing is generally (although you can argue with me here) something 'negative', so we reinforce the idea of disaster geography, rather than reflecting on more positive changes and events. One can imagine that the next major earthquake, volcanic eruption etc. will all create a major outpouring of tweets... Are we still to have our first major post-Twitter disaster ?

In the meantime, my thoughts are with the people of Fargo as they watch the waters rise. My best wishes to you all, and of course to other settlements in the area, as although the focus may be on Fargo, other communities are also suffering....

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

A gentle reminder about Gapminder...

Thanks to Ollie Bray, who's in Vienna, for posting this link - if you haven't seen Gapminder before, you need to check it out... This was always fantastic for use with GCSE and 6th form groups. Visualisation is the new rock and roll...

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Some great work from Jo Blackmore and colleagues /students at Okehampton College on an URBAN REBRANDING fieldtrip to Exeter.
Good to see the EDEXCEL NING turning into a really positive outcome: useful images and an excellent model for a fieldwork booklet. Thanks for sharing...

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Photosynth: my first effort...

After the school run today, it was a quick trip up to Hunstanton to take 164 pictures of the famous stripy cliffs: the southern end of the cliffs near the promenade - thanks to my Nikon D40X that took about 5 minutes as I wandered from the carrstone boulders in the tidal zone, to the base of the cliff and zoomed in on some of the individual rocks in the red and white rockfall zones. The light wasn't ideal, but that wasn't really the point in this case.
I then batch-resized the images ready to create a PHOTOSYNTH.
Taking my cue from Ollie Bray's BLOG POST, I installed Microsoft Silverlight, and then PHOTOSYNTH itself (having to keep reminding myself to use Internet Explorer rather than my usual Chrome)
PHOTOSYNTH installs 2 programmes: a web-browser plugin for viewing the 'synths' and an application for creating them.
If you've read this far and are thinking "what's a Photosynth anyway ?", here is a DESCRIPTION.

A detailed GEOLOGICAL GUIDE of the cliffs can be viewed here (PDF download)


You will need to use INTERNET EXPLORER to VIEW THE PHOTOSYNTH...

Also embedded below: needs SILVERLIGHT TO VIEW, and to be viewed in IE or Firefox

Let's try to collect together a GEOGRAPHICAL library of Photosynths...
If you've made one, please let me know....

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


GA HQ on Street View - Image copyright Google and associated imaging partners...

Today is the launch of the widely anticipated Google Street View. I had an invitation to attend, and would like to have been there, but had another appointment today pre-booked.
Just following the LIVE LAUNCH on Sky News, which is also going out on TWITTER. People on TWITTER noticed it last night before the official launch.

UK cities covered so far

England
- Birmingham
- Bristol
- Cambridge
- Coventry
- Derby
- Leeds
- Liverpool
- London
- Manchester
- Newcastle
- Norwich,
- Nottingham,
- Oxford
- Scunthorpe
- Sheffield
- Southampton
- York
Northern Ireland
- Belfast
Scotland
- Aberdeen
- Dundee
- Edinburgh
- Glasgow
Wales
- Cardiff
- Swansea

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Down to London yesterday on another spring day for the final presentations of Save the Children Fund's EYE TO EYE project.
I caught a slightly earlier train than I needed to, to give me the chance to walk around the St. Paul's area: a part of London I hadn't been to before (or at least not for a long time). St. Paul's itself was very impressive of course (good to see a nice whisky shop just outside the precinct as well)
Across the Millennium Bridge, with a view of the crowds outside the Globe Theatre, to Tate Modern, which had loads of school groups wandering around.
Tate Modern for the first time. The turbine hall was filled (ish) with an exhibit called 'London 2058'.


Walked back over the bridge as the City of London school 'kicked out', and to the Save the Children HQ just round the corner from Smithfield market.

The occasion was the final showcase of the EYE TO EYE PROJECT, the funding for which ends at the end of the month, but which has seen the publication of a book and resource pack to allow teachers to take the project further within their own classrooms.
A presentation showing the background to the scheme was shown, and a chance to meet some of the teachers involved in the development of the project, and the resources which grew out of it, such as this game of MIGRATION DOMINOES. (PDF DOWNLOAD)
Good to meet some familiar faces, and some new ones, and particularly to meet some very enthusiastic geographers who were loving the new 'Living Geography' approaches to teaching the new KS3 curriculum, and also some GeographyJazz followers. Nice work !

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Noel Jenkins in action...
This exciting video by Noel shows him in the classroom...
Lots of movement, and gives a flavour of the energy needed to be a classroom teacher... Nice work !


a day in the life of my classroom from Noel Jenkins on Vimeo.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Age of Stupid

Premieres were yesterday...

The Age of Stupid: final trailer Feb 2009 from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

It's been a few weeks since my article on the BBC Box was featured in the GA Magazine.
A recent e-mail from James Woolven, who teaches in one of the GA's CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE reminded me to check on the box, and it has recently arrived in BRAZIL.
The BBC website follows some of the goods that arrived in the USA from China into the stores where they were sold.
The box was then loaded with a cargo of 'household goods'.
The box is now in Santos in Brazil, and there is another very useful BBC ARTICLE describing the changing economic circumstances facing Brazil. This would be very useful for 'A' level GLOBALISATION topics.

Thanks to James for also telling me about the AIS Ship Tracker website. It has a map which shows the current position of container shipping vessels around the coast of the UK. Click on a ship to find out more details of what the ship is carrying and where it is heading...

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Red Nose Day


Don't forget to donate to Red Nose Day

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bought a cheap copy of Billy Connolly's 'Journey to the Edge of the World' in a well known supermarket yesterday...Visit the ITV website for more details on the series, which would be good viewing for those people studying Extreme Environments (perhaps for the new OCR 'A' GCSE)
There are some good descriptions of the changing landscape of areas like Nunavut, the majesty of icebergs and glaciers, and the experience of climbing one of the Tuktoyaktuk (also known locally as 'Tuk') pingos.
The ITV website has an interactive map and video footage, and you can catch up with episodes on the ITV PLAYER for the time being. There's also a GALLERY OF IMAGES.

Plenty of associated press and blog posts as well to flesh out the content.
The DVD is available from next monday, and features Billy's travelogue, which may provide an engaging classroom resource, although it has a 15 certificate, so there could be some 'fruity' language...

Here's a taster...


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Get your twitter mosaic here.

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