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Geographical Association's resources to encourage excellence in teaching and learning in geography
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Geographical Association's resources to encourage excellence in teaching and learning in geography


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Ruth Totterdell highlights the Geographical Assocation's resources for teachers. This presentation was given at the Geographical Information Day in Birmingham, 18th November 2009, hosted by the West …

Ruth Totterdell highlights the Geographical Assocation's resources for teachers. This presentation was given at the Geographical Information Day in Birmingham, 18th November 2009, hosted by the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

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  • Try to imagine the perfect school curriculum. How can we help children understand themselves in the world? An ideal school curriculum without ‘geography’ is almost beyond imagination. This is because it is almost impossible to imagine a young person to be considered ‘educated’ without a geographical component; one that allows them to grasp and be curious about planet Earth as their home. Geography tends to get a bad press. And yet, television is full of real, living geography: Coast, Rivers, Extreme Environments, Pole to Pole, Equator, Wainright’s Walks, Britain from the Air, Britain: a Natural History ... What is compelling about these programmes is that they are about people in the world, and the relationships people form with their environment. Geography is one of humanity’s big ideas. It literally means something like ‘writing the world’. Thus, traditionally, geography is associated with rich descriptions of places. For many years geographers were almost synonymous with explorers, bringing back data from all corners of the globe which could be added to the evolving map of the world. To this day, atlases and globes are a source of endless fascination; the names, the shapes, the distributions, the relationships … and these days brought to life through Google Earth and such like.As with all subject disciplines, classifying these data is vital. Hand-in-hand with this is the development of organising ideas, which help us make sense of the world in all its diversity. In this way, concepts such as ‘place’, ‘region’, ‘location’ and ‘interdependence’ have been developed which enable us to think geographically. For example, ‘tropical rainforest’ has particular characteristics and is found in certain regions around the world. Coniferous forest has different characteristic and distributions. There are reasons for this. And equally interesting and significant are the ways human beings use and sometimes abuse these particular environments.In the early years of the twentieth century, when geography as a discipline was in its thinking geographically was dominated by ‘environmental determinism’. This is the idea that people were pretty much conditioned or limited by their physical environment. But today, geography is the subject on the curriculum that helps children understand that environments are to some extent made by people working, more or less successfully, with each other and with the physical world (the land, water and air). So geography is concerned with the social, the cultural, the economic and the political choice dimensions of our lives, as well as the physical world in which we live (or ‘nature’). These are the corner stones of the challenging notion of ‘sustainable development’. Sustainable development has replaced environmental determinism.The school curriculum certainly should begin to build children’s geographical vocabularies of the world. For instance, they should learn about continents and countries, oceans and rivers, major climate regions, cities … and nearer home, features in the locality and local region and how this is situated in the nation, the British Isles and Europe. For without a vocabulary how can children think geographically? But such ‘locational knowledge’ is not a sufficient end in itself, and neither should it dominate. Although ‘geography as locational knowledge’ is what many imagine geography to be, in TV quiz shows and so forth, it is clear from the from the previous paragraphs that there is more to it than this. It is a means for children to understand themselves in the world.f there is any doubt about this, the results of a 2009 ‘World Issues’ survey, commissioned by the Geographical Association (GA) and conducted by Ipsos-Mori, should cause pause for thought. The full results can be found via the GA website, but in highlight it shows that: 93% of young people think it is important to learn about issues affecting people’s lives in different parts of the world. About the same number think it is important to learn about where the things they use, such as food, energy and water, come from. However, 63% of young people think that not enough time is spent learning about the wider world in school. The survey also shows that geography is the subject in which young people have most often learnt about or discussed the big issues they believe to be affecting their local area and the wider world today. These issues include: crime and anti-social behaviour, the economy and jobs, war and terrorism, the environment and climate change, and poverty and hunger. Furthermore, geography is the subject in which schoolchildren would expect to learn about these issues. 
  • Transcript

    • 1. To encourage and support excellence in teaching and learning in Geography
    • 2. Ipsos Mori Survey
      The Geographical Association commissioned research with 11-14-year-olds to inform its role to promote geography.
      The research examined the issues that Key Stage 3 pupils think are important and whether they feel they are learning about them. It explored:
      • The wider world issues that pupils think are important
      • 3. Whether or not they have learnt about/discussed them at school
      • 4. The lessons in which they have learnt about/discussed them
      • 5. The importance they attach to learning about these issues
      The great majority of young people think it is important to learn about issues affecting different parts of the world, particularly how the world they live in may change.
      Most young people think that not enough time is spent learning about the wider world in school.
    • 6. A statement of beliefs and priorities that makes a forward looking and compelling case for geography in education
      Supported by a whole range of
      resources, free activities and photographs
      A different view a manifesto for Geography
    • 7.
      Resources and Support
    • 8. Sets of images
      Energy flows
      Moving stories
      Between heaven and Earth
      To the ends of the earth
      Vanishing points
      Running free
      Producers and consumers
      Appearances can deceive
    • 9.
    • 10.
    • 11. Secondary publications
      Our secondary publications cover key stages 3 and 4, post-16 and beyond
      KS3 Geography Teacher’s Toolkit – 10 title series designed to help you meet the challenges of the new KS3 curriculum
      Planning your key stage 3 geography curriculum – providing help in designing a curriculum for the new KS3
      The Secondary Geography Handbook - supports the professional learning of geography teachers, and promotes worthwhile and stimulating learning for students
      Learning Through Enquiry – explains the what, why and how of enquiry at key stage 3 and supports teachers in their CPD
    • 12. Geography as a resource
    • 13. Web Resources
      Our extensive and recently redesigned website is designed to support all teachers of geography. Key areas you should visit are:
      News : what’s happening in the GA and the wider geography community
      Projects: outcomes from projects like Planet Sport and Geography of Disease
      EY & Primary: latest news and projects for primary teachers
      11-19: resources and news for secondary geography teachers
    • 14.
    • 15.
    • 16. GIS for A Level Geography
      £29.35 (members)
      £39.14 (non members)
    • 17.
      The official site for the Action Plan for Geography – funded by the DCSF and led by the GA and the RGS-IBG
      Providing up-to-date support, resources, fieldtrip ideas, guidance on curriculum making and opportunity for professional recognition
    • 18. Our Professional Journals
      Published three times per year, you will have your printed copies delivered straight to your door, as well as online access for downloading additional materials
    • 19. Teaching produced for secondary teachers and helps keep you informed of recent developments, classroom practice, new resources and professional development opportunities
      Issues include:
      • articles showing how schools and colleges implement change
      • 20. a file of research work
      • 21. ‘teaching file’ ideas, activities and resources
      • 22. a forum section and regular features on ICT, assessment, CPD and reviews of resources
    • Geography
      ... is the GA’s international journal designed to meet the needs of lecturers, teachers and students in post-16 geography
      Each issue includes articles on:
      • recent research by leading geographers
      • 23. specific studies in human and physical geography
      • 24. enquiries into environmental issues
      • 25. discussions of standards in geographical education
      • 26. reviews of recent publications
    • GA Conferences
      Annual Conference and Exhibition
      University of Derby;
      8-10 April 2010
      The theme for the 2010 Conference is Geography: The Big Picture
      Great value for money and fantastic, subject-focused CPD
      Members receive a substantial discount on registration fees
    • 27. Primary Geography Quality Mark
      - recognises quality and progress in geography leadership, curriculum development, and learning and teaching in schools
      Secondary Geography Quality Mark
      - enables subject leaders to raise the standards of geography in school, supports the teaching of quality geography and promotes department leadership and management
      '... Within my own department, the SGQM was both a fantastic CPD and self evaluation process. As a team we were able to reflect on and evaluate our current practice ...’
    • 28. GA Magazine
      Sent to all members, this termly magazine is packed with news and information about the world of geography and geography teaching
    • 29. Worldwise Challenge
      Worldwise Challenge: Juniper Hall and Malham
      Students are selected for this free fieldwork weekend according to their performance across a range of Worldwise activities
      The Challenge
      • To identify why Box Hill is such a unique geographical environment,
      • 30. To make a pitch to the board explaining why the area is ripe for investment.
      Equipped with a GPS and waypoints, map, compass, camera and photographs, the students planned their routes and set off to explore the area, encountering tutors at set points along the way.
      Worldwise is our range of freepupil activities
      Online Quiz questions are added at the start of every term
      Geography Awareness Week resources cater for Early Years to post-16
      My Places lets pupils upload descriptions and photographs of their favourite place to share with others
      Main sponsors: the Field Studies Council and the Ordnance Survey
    • 31. Networks
      The GA has a variety of specialist geography networks including:
      About 40 local GA Branches that
      arrange their own programme of events
      For the benefit of the geographical
      community in the area.
      Special Interest Groups for each phase and dedicated Working Groups ranging from ICT to Citizenship to Environmental
    • 32. GA York and District Branch
      Lectures held at Bootham School, Boothamgate, York.
      Antarctic Exploration25 November 2009, 7:15pmDr FaustoFerraccioli, British Antarctic SurveyJoint RGS-IBG / GA lectureCurrent Issues on the Holderness Coast20 January 2010, 7:15pmMike Ball, Principle Engineer, East Riding Yorkshire CouncilAge of Stupid10 February 10, 7:15pmThe Age of Stupid is a film set in the year 2055 looking back at footage from 2007 and asking why we did not do more to stop climate change.Sixth Form Conference: Changing Climate in a Changing worldMonday 1 March 2010, time TBADr Alison Willows, University of Brighton / Open UniversityA practical, issue-based session looking at climate change, carbon calculators, and technological solutions to global warming.
    • 33. A NING
      It takes a matter of minutes to set up, costs nothing, and can be used to host resources. It is a great way to encourage a learning community at no cost (other than time), and also has the benefit of exclusivity through the development of sub-groups which could be based on interests, or geographical locations.
      Postings can be made to a ‘blog’, discussions can be started on a ‘forum’ page, personal messages can be sent to NING members, photos can be uploaded to albums, audio and video files can be viewed via embedded links from YouTube (most video sharing sites provide a code to ‘embed’ videos)
      There are currently 4 ‘GA’ Nings:
      The general GA Ning at– open to all
      The NQT/PGCE Ning at – invitation only
      The Geography Champions Ning at, which has spawned other networks
      The Spatially Speaking NING for members of that project
    • 34. ‘……To be educated is not to have arrived at a destination, it is to travel with a different view’
      R S Peters