Friday, 8 February 2008

Sharing Plans

I have received two sets of initial plans so far and what a great start. I hope that other members in this project find them useful and inspiring. I have decided to put any initial plans that I get for sharing on the same post - yes it's the one entitled 'initial planning' so check there to view these plans and read and / or leave comments.

The blogs (this one and the one by my partner Wendy North) are to enable quick responses if needed and just a reminder that the finished projects will find a more appropriate home on the Geographical Association web site when they are completed. In the meanwhile, please have a look and make use of these sites.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Initial Planning from our participants

The True story of Little Red Riding Hood - Jonathon Kersey
I thought I would share Jonathon's initial planning frame for his 'Young geographers, Living Geography' project. Please don't think you have to send or present your initial planning like this - I've just coloured and highlighted the original word doc to make it more 'web friendly' - I hope.
Also - if you don't want your initial planning published on this blog - don't worry it doesn't have to be.

Many thanks Jonathon and I hope others enjoy reading it!

The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood

What Difference Can I Make? - Sue Parsons

Thank you Sue for sending this planning starter. Sue Parsons uses stories and poems as a starting point for environmental evaluation. These pupils will be thinking about their role as citizens and the potential they have to improve their school environment.

View Sue's initial plan 'What difference can I make?'

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Living Geography Questions

I am hoping that participants in our project will use this site to ask questions and share ideas but that doesn't mean it's intended exclusively for us - so if you're not involved but want to contribute please feel free. If you are a teacher involved in this project please do give us a post!

If I don't know the answers to questions posted I'm sure there will be other colleagues who can help.

Meanwhile ... I'm looking through the initial questionnaires that our teachers filled out and at some of the areas highlighted where they would like to extend their knowledge. I will try and post some information - links and resources in response to these areas.

Don't forget to check out the ks 1-3 courses, primary section on geography with ESD, Citizenship and ICT on the web site. There are ideas and resources you might want to use. Also the GA main site has always got lots of useful and exciting information.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Quality Geography Conference

The Geographical Association held one of its Quality Geography conferences in London today and it was a real pleasure to meet so many committed primary geographers. One of the real issues that came up was Fieldwork - and it was interesting to hear about some constraints and issues from different schools. Do have a look at the wealth of resources on and .

I have uploaded a 'Risk Assessment' powerpoint as an example of what could be legitimately used with pupils in curricular time. It was interesting that those teachers who did this kind of thing with pupils prior to a field trip didn't necessarily view it as the kind of thing you could include in the formal curriculum. I found it really helpful to devote quality time to this with pupils to:
  • determine what they already knew, in terms of language, spatial undertanding, misconceptions etc;
  • prepare them for what they would encounter and raise questions before the trip;
  • rehearse the sequence of the day / session;
  • practise and develop visual literacy and speaking and listening skills;
  • provide good and relevant content for focused geography and literacy (the latter through speaking and listening and perhaps note taking skills);
  • develop self esteem and participation;
  • evidence aspects of ECM (be safe).

Some of you asked me to upload the other powerpoints we looked at and I think that thee may be on the main GA site shortly. I do have some other relevant powerpoints about starting to plan with Geography that may be of use or may prompt discussion. I have put these below.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Thinking about Living Geography

Geography has hit the headlines again this week and while Ofsted have underlined just how important and relevant this subject is to our everyday lives, they have also stated that teaching and learning has room for considerable improvement. The report draws on information gathered over the last few years and I believe that progress has been made since this last audit was done . The Action Plan for Geography, for example, has engaged with many teachers and schools around the country and there has been some fantastic and relevant work produced during the past year. There are also many schools out there where geography has been, and is still, valued and given the profile it deserves within a meaningful curriculum. But there is still a lot of work to do. Hopefully, adequate funds will ensure that the many positive developments in geography continue to flourish.

At the Geographical Association, we have been keen to talk about 'Living Geography' as a phrase that captures the essence of exciting, interconnected geography and its relevance to our everyday lives. Ofsted say that geography should be engaging pupils with current important issues (such as climate change) and offering pupils more fieldwork opportunities -this is all part of Living Geography. For primary children, Living Geography hinges on using first hand experience of their locality to make sense of their place in the world - how they connect to wider global communities and their role in possible futures. The world is a rapidly changing place and more than ever before our pupils need to be able to recognise, understand and evaluate their role within it.

Wendy North is my GA colleague and has a fantastic blogspot She has particular responsibility for ICT and the guidance on map making using online software is very helpful. This is my first attempt at blogging and she has really inspired me to have a go. Another reason I am keen to get this up and running is to share information about a Living Geography project that we have both just started.

Young Geographers
A Living Geography Project for Primary Schools

This project has been set up by the GA with funding from the TDA. Wendy is leading a group of ten colleagues from her Sheffield base and I am leading another group of ten in Kent.
We are working on some defining principles of Living Geography which include:

· it embraces young people’s geographies
· it is current and futures oriented
· it is often `local’ but always set in the wider (global) context
· it investigates changing environments
· it encourages critical understanding of `sustainable development’

The work that we do via this project emphasises four key aspects:
  • Engaging in practical 'curriculum making'
  • Capturing the sense of motivating 'living geography'
    Learning Outside the Classroom
  • Education for Sustainable Development

Both of our first meetings with colleagues revealed how committed these teachers are to developing ideas and activities within a framework of Living Geography. I am hoping to develop this site now to share ideas and post materials that we have used.

We have 20 participants involved in this project and the map shows just how far our colleagues are willing to travel to take part. Click on 'view larger map' below to zoom in and use this feature.

View Larger Map

Young Geographers: A Living Geography Primary Project
What do participants have to do?

We had our first meeting on January 18th 2008 and will meet again on March 14th 2008 to review what we have done and share our experiences. In between - colleagues will have to plan for and teach a small unit of geography that uses some of the thinking about Living Geography - i.e. it uses real life issues and has a fieldwork component.

How much geography do participants have to do?

As a minimum, colleagues are asked to develop three or four activities that either make a very small unit of work or are taken from a larger unit. These activities or lessons could be in sequence or not. They can be taught in a discrete block or over several weeks. The challenge facing colleagues is in planning for the activities and carrying then out in time to write a draft evaluation before March 14th.

Why can't they use existing schemes of work such as the QCA?

There's nothing to stop colleagues doing this if it works for them as long as it is only used as a base and they have developed it to suit their pupils' needs and school context. It would be great if colleagues think about planning from the National Curriculum and develop their own ideas.

How far do colleagues have to go to 'do fieldwork'

For Key Stage 1 pupils, fieldwork can take place in the school grounds or within the close vicinity of the school grounds. For Key Stage 2 pupils, their local area is defined as the wider school locality in which they live and move about in their everyday lives. This project has a very tight timescale and we are pragmatic about what can be achieved in such a relatively short time. It definitely does not have to involve a coach trip!

What kind of things might be done then?

Hopefully, colleagues will share their developing ideas on this site. The world around us is changing at a very fast rate and there is so much scope to focus in on our locality and ask questions.

Take any important issue such as food, housing or energy for example and stop to consider how our surroundings are influenced by our needs and practice. Or, a completely different approach, think about how our surroundings affect what we do and how we feel. Zoom out and think about the effect of local actions on the wider world - putting such jigsaws of place, space and scale together is all part of geography.

Do we have a say? Can we evaluate and envision? Yes we can and we should - it's our world too! That's why it's so important that pupils have the skills, knowledge and understanding to participate.

What kind of questions might be asked?

A very useful approach in geography is an enquiry approach which builds on pupils curiosity and develops questionning techniques and strategies for gathering and applying relevant information. Useful questions might include the most obvious ones:

Where is this place?
What is it like?
How it is changing and why?
What do I think about it?
How does this place connect to the wider world?
Why should I care?

What else do participants have to do apart from plan for and teach geography with an outdoor learning element?

The teachers involved with this project have a funded day off timetable to write an evaluation of the teaching and learning. We will share this on our final meeting as well as other highlights - there is already talk of short video media from two schools and of course there will be lots of photographs, pupils work - perhaps even some press cuttings if schools realise that this is a really good press opportunity!

The evaluations and materials gathered by the project leaders will then be put onto the Geographical Association Website as examples of Living Geography and curriculum planning development to give other teachers ideas and confidence.

We have asked our teachers to talk about their project in school too and share their developing ideas with other colleagues - either informally or more formally - e.g. during staff meetings. We know that many teacehrs are not entirely confident about teaching geography. This is an opportunity to share and discuss good practice.

Supporting documents for participants

All participants are asked to use the background information sheet to record key details about their school and work with pupils. Young Geographers: background information

Participants will be thinking about starting points for a unit of work and then developing their ideas. These are two sample templates that could be used.

Planning starter 1 a sample template for thinking about initial ideas for a unit of work.

Planning starter 2 another sample template using key geographical concepts as prompts.