Saturday, March 10, 2018

Share your special places please...

This is the 125th Anniversary year of the Geographical Association, and the conference in Sheffield in April will be very special.

One of the projects I'm doing (and have been doing for some time) is to tweet out a 'top tip' a day for 125 days on the GA Secondary Phase committee twitter feed. This is coming to a climax on the first day of the conference.

As part of the plans for the GA's celebrations, and connecting with my OS GetOutside Champions Role for 2018, I'm going to start collating a list of 125 inspirational places to visit in the UK.

We all have places from which we draw inspiration... This could be a beach, a particular walk, a historic building, a bench overlooking a viewpoint, a landscape feature or something more esoteric. 

The reasons behind the inspiration may relate to family members, an emotional reunion, or sad passing; they may be places that are visited often, or which left a lasting impression from a single visit. They may be places we remember fondly from childhood, or which we discovered later in life.

This project is connected to the 125th Anniversary of the Geographical Association in 2018. One of the projects which the association wants to develop is a list of 125 Inspirational Places to visit in the UK: human and physical landscapes and locations which sum up the best the UK has to offer.

The project also links to work being done by Alan Parkinson as an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion during 2018, and the production of a list with further guidance on visiting the places on it will be a project for Alan to complete.

There is also a joint project underway between Alan Parkinson, and Peter Knight of Keele University, who are working to produce a resource for teachers exploring Inspirational Landscapes and Changing Places at 

Here's an example for you:
Surprise View, in the Peak District
A bend in the road where the Hope Valley, Hathersage and Castleton and Mam Tor beyond suddenly come into view spread out below you - the light varies throughout the year, but the view is always exciting - one of the best in the UK
Be careful when driving! Park up and take in the view

OS Grid Reference: SK249800

I've produced a Google form which you can link to here, and help me out with if possible. Feel free to share the link to the form as well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Keep getting out of the tent...

I'm currently sat in the garage waiting for a repair on my car which has failed its MOT. Amongst other things I'm doing is looking at videos from the training expedition which the participants in the Women's Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition are currently undertaking in Iceland. I know quite a few people who are in Iceland at the moment, and the weather has been a bit gnarly for them.
I'm putting together some ideas for a teacher resource pack which will go on the website in advance of the expedition in April 2018.
Here's a taster of the expedition planning so far...

The last time I worked with Felicity, the result was the Pole of Cold teaching resource, which won an SAGT award.
Here's Felicity doing a talk on her solo skiing trip across Antarctica, if you want to hear of a previous expedition:

CIW: Explorers: Felicity Aston from Chicago Ideas on Vimeo.

I wonder how much longer expeditions like this will be possible, given the shrinking extent of the sea ice.
I've also been finding out about Barneo. This is a seasonal fly-in base camp operated by the Russians, which is going to facilitate the team's plan to ski the final degree to the North Pole.

More to come on this as the resource develops...

Monday, February 12, 2018

Beermeet at the GA Conference

One of the elements of the GA Conference for the last 8 years or so has been the Beermeet.
This has grown in size over the years, and we even managed to 'drink the pub dry' a few years ago in Guildford. This follows on from the Teachmeet now that has been added to the programme, and this year's venue has been revealed. I know it well, having stopped off there quite a few times over the years.

The Sheffield Tap is an excellent bar, which is located in the Railway Station in three splendid large rooms. The range of beers is superb, and there is a micro-brewery there too.

Click the link, or scan the QR code to find out more from the Facebook page, and please let us know that you're coming, or planning to come... and feel free to buy me a pint...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Twitter accounts to follow 2018

For many, using Twitter (or other social media sites...) is a quotidian experience. It helps them to keep informed about the world, and to make local and global connections.

I started using Twitter around 10 years ago, and have found it the most useful way to connect with thousands of other educators, source resources and ideas, and keep up to date with global events.
My account is @GeoBlogs - if you visit you won't be able to see my tweets unless you follow me. My account is protected.
This does however mean that because I have personally approved all the 4300+ people that follow me, I know that they are real people or organisations, and it is therefore a true follower figure, unlike most other accounts which are open and can therefore be followed by bots and have inflated reach.
It also means that people have wanted to follow me, and they tend to stay following once they have started.
For the last 4 or 5 years I've featured on the UKEdChat list of Twitter accounts worth following, which has grown in size over the years.
Checked earlier and good to say that I'm also on the 2018 version which can be seen embedded below or here.

Come over, follow me and let's start a conversation...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Favourite books of 2017

I read a lot of great books in 2017, and here are a few of the ones that I enjoyed the most...

'Outskirts' - John Grindrod
'Here we are' - Oliver Jeffers
'Oak, Ash and Thorn' - Peter Fiennes
'Ghosts of the Tsunami' - Richard Lloyd Parry
'The Island' - Barry Smith
'Lots' - Marc Martin
'The Explorer' - Katherine Rundell
'Thin Air'and 'Dark Matter' - Michelle Paver
'The Cure for Catastrophe' - Robert Muir Wood
'Reflections on Primary Geography' - Simon Catling
'Snow' - Marcus Sedgwick
'Trace' - Lauret Savoy
Uniform Annual 2017
'Empire of Things' - Frank Trentmann
'21st Century Yokel' - Tom Cox
'Off the Map' - Alastair Bonnett
'Nomadland' - Jessica Bruden
'Vertical' - Stephen Graham
'Land of Plenty' - Charles Pye Smith
'Icebreaker' - Horatio Clare
'Curiocity' - Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose
'The Making of the British Landscape' - Nicholas Crane 

I have plenty piled up to read in 2018 too, starting with Jon McGregor's 'Reservoir 13'
After the last couple of years when I had lots of textbooks published that I'd co-written it was a fairly quiet year for writing. I had a chapter in 'Debates in Geography Education' - 2nd Edition edited by Mark Jones and David Lambert.
I also wrote a few articles for 'Primary Geography' one of which will appear in the next issue, and finished off the year with some work on answers for two revision guides for OCR GCSE Geography and a few other smaller pieces and resources, including my Ice Flows work, and Data Skills in Geography work for the RGS-IBG.
I've been working on some plans for 2018, and will be sharing it all here of course... 

For 400ish books for Geography teachers, check out my GeoLibrary blog of course...

Looking forward to this film...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Shackleton Whisky

One of my favourite presents for Christmas was an engraved bottle of Shackleton whisky. This is a recreation of a whisky which was taken by Sir Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica in 1907.


What3Words - the photo app

what3words is a global grid of 3m x 3m squares where each square has been pre-allocated a fixed and unique 3 word address.
75% of the world suffers from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems.
This means that around 4 billion people are invisible; unable to report crime; unable to get deliveries or receive aid; and unable to exercise many of their rights as citizens because they simply have no way to communicate where they live.
It means that in remote locations water facilities can’t be found, monitored and fixed; and schools, refugee camps and informal settlements remain unaddressed. Even in countries with advanced systems, people get lost, packages aren’t delivered and businesses aren’t found.
Poor addressing is costly and annoying in developed countries, but limits growth and threatens lives in developing ones.
what3words means everyone and everywhere now has an address.

Source: What 3 Words website.

Over the Christmas period, they launched a new photo app.
This can be downloaded for iOS and Android.

It allows you to add the three word location to any image, which means that its location is shared and anyone with the address can find their way to the place where the photo was taken...
The new iPhone X can add GPS locations to images.

The Last Jedi

Recommended as a film to watch over the Christmas period...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Dark is ... reading

Today is Midwinter's Eve: the 20th of December
It it today that the action starts in Susan Cooper's 'The Dark is Rising'.
This year, I will be re-reading the story in the company of thousands of others in a reading which has been orchestrated by Robert MacFarlane and Julia Bird. The hashtag #TheDarkisReading is trending on Twitter in the UK in the Top 5, so a lot of discussion around the book.

I've just read the action that takes place today, as Will Stanton prepares for his 11th birthday tomorrow, and the snow starts to fall, the rooks behave strangely, and "the Walker is abroad"...

If you have a copy, join the action, and if not then buy one or get it on Kindle Unlimited or some other way....

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Classroom Geographer Journals - memories from the 1970s and 1980s

Christmas holidays are a chance to catch up on the fun projects which have to be pushed to one side during term time. I've got quite a few lined up for the next few weeks to keep me active...

One project which has been staring at me for months now is the box of Classroom Geographer journals kindly donated by Neil Sealey.
This journal was the first to really offer a chance for teachers to read what other teachers were doing in their classrooms, as there were few opportunities to network in the 1970s and 1980s.
There was much talk of the 'New' Geography, and of traditional topics and approaches being replaced by the quantitative ideas of Central Place Theory, statistical models and early simulation games. It was published through the 1970s and 1980s, starting out at 20p per issue (including postage), with around 5 issues a year. It's been a good few hours now spent reading through the journals in date order, and finding interesting perspectives on Geography (so far from quite a male dominated perspective, and with more contributions from Geography masters, or university lecturers than classroom teachers...)
There have been a few familiar names cropping up so far, and I'm tweeting some things that appeal to me on my Twitter feed @GeoBlogs

I'd love to hear from anyone who has memories of this journal. I'm grateful to those people who have already shared their memories on how it influenced their practice, and introduced them to the work of other teachers at a time when few got to see what other teachers were doing beyond their own school.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


This is starting in just over a week's time...
I shall be taking part.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


For the last couple of years, there has been a teacher-led CPD event called Teachmeet HistoryIcons. It was developed by a group of history teachers, and runs very successfully with some sponsorship and support from companies and individuals, which mean the event is free to delegates. The next event is taking place in March 2018.

A group of geography teachers has been working on developing a Geography-related event which, with the backing of our History colleagues has now been organised by a rather fine group of  teachers, with a similar logo, and which will be hosted by the lovely folks at the University of Birmingham.
It will take place in June 2018.

You can sign up to join the Waiting List for a ticket from the Eventbrite page.
Tickets are FREE, but SOLD OUT.

The event has a keynote from a teacher and an academic, although Teachmeets don't traditionally have a keynote, this one does... and for some reason the very lovely and generous Mrs. Humanities, who is on the organising team, asked me to do the teacher highlight talk, and I was delighted to say yes.... There have been some very kind comments on Twitter as a result of this news going out yesterday...

To follow the developments as the event gets closer, particularly any possibility of further tickets, you'd be best to follow @TMGeogIcons on Twitter.
And of course you can follow me. There has been a flurry of new followers over the last 24 hours.

I look forward to seeing some of you in June. I'm starting to think about how I can make my talk memorable, useful and profoundly geographical... I've got a few ideas...