Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Scotlands Places

Scotlands Places has some excellent resources on the country.

Monday, 21 December 2009

A changing landscape...

Pieter Bruegel: Hunters in the Snow (1565)

One of the really rapid changes that can happen in a landscape is a fall of snow... In a few hours, the landscape can be changed utterly and made magical... This is what happened in West Norfolk over the weekend and the snow is still here...
Below are some images I took yesterday in and around my village...

Melting snow is also the unveiling of the old landscape, and sometimes with slush, it looks quite drab after the sparkle of snow...

BORDER CHANGES on the border between Switzerland and Italy are part of this melting and its impact on the landscape.

See you in the New Year with more supporting material for "Look at it this Way"....

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Very flat, Norfolk

Just got my RGS-IBG Bulletin for Spring 2010.
Some good events coming up, and discovered that I'm featured on p. 20...
This is my lecture at the Norfolk GA branch in March, when I'm exploring ideas of PLACE in the context of Norfolk...

I'll be using a few articles from the Autumn 2008 issue of GEOGRAPHY.
Remember that if you're a GA member, you can download the last 5 years issues of the journal(s) you subscribe to.

I'll be trailing some elements of the lecture over at the LOOK AT LANDSCAPES blog in the next few months. Also plan to write the lecture up and produce a resource that other colleagues can use on the meaning of "place"...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Guardian Country Diary

Image by Alan Parkinson

A great source of writing about the landscape and our relationship with it can be found daily in the Guardian's COUNTRY DIARY column, which has been going for over 100 years.
These are also available in an ONLINE ARCHIVE, which has over 3000 entries.

As a taster for how good these are, I read a small section of some recent entries at the Suffolk Literacy session I have blogged about earlier on this blog.
There are 2 recent entries: one on the Lake District by Tony Greenbank, and one on Wenlock Edge by Paul Evans, which were written at the time of the Cumbrian floods.
The Paul Evans diary entry has a wonderful description to start it off:

"It's raining.
There's a saturation point where the soil can't hold any more water and turns to gravy.
We're past that.
There's a point where boots and jackets that were once waterproof let you know they are no longer.
We're past that.
There's a kind of equilibrium, where the amount of water in the environment seems equal to the amount of water in your own body.
We're past that tipping point too....."

Wonderful writing...

Tweeting the Urban Landscape

Dan Raven Ellison has launched a new project URBAN TWEET DAY.

URBAN TWEET DAY is a side project of URBAN EARTH.

The idea is to record our perspective on our urban lives and habitat through an online stream of tweets that describe urban events and experiences as they happen.

By the end of the urban day we will have created a collaborative narrative - a descriptive portrait of urban life..

To take part all you need is:
1. The ability to Tweet (
2. To be in an urban area on Saturday 9th January 2010
3. To include
#utday in each of your related tweets

We'll then be able to search the tweets to reveal our story.

Please do spread the word around, the more of us the better.. and leading up to the day, add the
URBAN TWEET DAY Twibbon to your Twitter profile picture. If you don't already, you can follow us on Twitter here.

Any questions, thoughts or ideas?

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Writing about Landscapes...

Are you sitting comfortably ? ... then I'll begin this post...

One dark morning, a middle aged man got up at 6am so that he could set off to drive 80 miles south to the Suffolk coast and arrive in plenty of time to work with some teachers from the county. He was going to spend the first 90 minutes of a Geography conference to talk to 40 colleagues about Literacy in Geography and Geography through Literacy...."

Was there a happy ending ? Read on to find out...

The presentation that I used on the day is available from SLIDESHARE, and is embedded below...
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.
Thanks to James Woolven for adding the various resources to the Suffolk Geography page of the Suffolk Learning Hub....

On the day, I also gave an update on GA projects. There was a range of other sessions: Colin Breeze presented a session on the work he had been doing on the flooding of 2007, and shared a comprehensive range of activities on the theme of flooding.
Also heard a useful phrase from the Suffolk Advisor for Humanities: Dale Banham.
He used the phrase "iceberg questions" - will come back to those in a later post...

For the same session, I asked my Twitter network to tell me about a book which they thought had excellent descriptions of LANDSCAPE. These were the results of the consultation....
Tynemouth – Thomas Hardy's "Return of the Native" – Egdon Heath

Isle of Islay – Iain Banks' "Espedair Street", Ferguslie Park, Paisley

London – "Bone People" – Kerry Hulme

Bedfordshire – "Waterland" – Graham Swift - description of the Fens

Newcastle – Wainwright’s Guides to SW Lakes

Portsmouth – "Touching the Void" – Joe Simpson – mountain landscapes

Sheffield – "Jamaica Inn" – Daphne du Maurier – moorland in Cornwall

W. Midlands – "Sunset Song" – Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Brighton – Sebastian Faulks – "Birdsong" and "Charlotte Gray"

Ipswich – "Around Ireland with a Fridge"

Ashford, Kent – Paul Theroux – "The Great Railway Bazaar"

Scotland - "The Lord of the Rings"

On the same morning, David Rogers was using John Davitt's Learning Event Generator to work with students on the Copenhagen Climage change conference, and challenged them to create some Army chats, which he then shared through Twitpic...

Thanks to Dale Banham and all the delegates and presenters for their work on the day.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Changing Landscapes

William Least Heat Moon is the author of a number of travel books. One of those: Prairyerth is described as a "deep geography", and is a resource I've used many times.

This CNN INTERVIEW provides a range of nice insights on how the landscape of the United States has changed during the time that he has been travelling.
I have ordered his latest book as part of my Christmas treat.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


Lessons 9 and 10 of the book are on the theme of glacial landscapes around Milford Sound in New Zealand.
One useful supporting resource is contained in the recently launched DISCOVERING THE ARCTIC resource from the RGS.
This has a range of interactives including a useful one on managing the movement of glaciers by changing levels of heat and snow. Worth visiting the site !

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

On the bestsellers lists...

"Look at it this Way" is the 4th best selling title in the GA Publications list since September 2009, and it only became available in November 2009...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Images of Castleton area by Alan Parkinson and Simon Hathaway

Lesson 3 of my toolkit looks at the impact of a road closure on a settlement.
It is based on the closure of the road below Mam Tor near the Peak District settlement of Castleton.

At a session in Gloucester yesterday, I talked about the connection with the settlements in Cumbria which have been affected by the closure of bridges following the unprecedented rainfall in the area over the weekend. There is lots of potential here for exploring the impact of sudden change, and the long term nature of that change...

I have uploaded an old resource of mine which I developed for use around the same time, but which didn't make it into the toolkit.
This is a "most likely to" activity based in the same area of Castleton in the Peak District. I used this extract numerous times throughout my teaching career, and it found its way into many a textbook and mapskills task...

This is another extra edition for those who buy the book or have an interest in buying it...
The book is available to buy from the GA ONLINE SHOP.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Careers in Geography

The last blog post was about an activity in my Geography Toolkit book: "Look at it this Way"...
Lessons 9 and 10 are related to a job interview for a tour company operating in the area around Milford Sound.


Great work by Richard Allaway - job interview in East Yorkshire.

This format by Richard was the original inspiration for the activity in the book.

Great for those teaching about coastal processes and landforms in the UK....

Monday, 16 November 2009

Suns of the Tundra

Suns of the Tundra

Lesson 9 and 10 has a starter movie made using music from a band called Suns of the Tundra. The music is a specially provided instrumental mix of a track from the album 'Tunguska', called 'Capricorn Gone'

This is a rather cool band as they feature a GEOGRAPHER as singer and lead guitarist, in the shape of Simon Oakes.

The music is used with kind permission of Suns of the Tundra / Shiny Mack Records Copyright 2006, and in particular to Simon Oakes for producing the music for me.

Check out the band's MY SPACE page for more. New EP now available.....

The lesson is a "double lesson" task, which involves preparing for a job with a company called Milford Vista Tours.
At the top of the blog post is a "bonus resource": a letterhead / logo for the tour company. More additional resources to be added to this blog. Keep coming back for more...

Ghost Forest

Thanks to Paul Cornish for another interesting tip-off.
This time to a GHOST FOREST.

Ghost Forest is an original and ambitious project by Angela Palmer that seeks to raise public awareness of the connections between deforestation and climate change. It involves taking a series of 10 rainforest tree stumps, most with their buttress roots still attached, from a regulated, commercially logged tropical rainforest in Ghana. The tree stumps will be presented as a “ghost forest” firstly in Trafalgar Square in London, and then in Copenhagen to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference in December.

Ghost Forest Art Installation. Trafalgar Square, London. U.K.
16-22 November 2009

Pity I'm not in London until the week after...
Would love to hear from anyone who manages to see the trees in situ....

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Road

"The Times" this Saturday named Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" as the book of the decade. I have no problem with that nomination: this is an incredible book, and the plot and setting are utterly compelling.

Not sure what to think about it being made into a film. The trailer is HERE: film opens tomorrow in the USA.

There has been much discussion about the setting, and comparing it to real places, and plotting the route that the father and son take....

The descriptions of the post-apocalyptic landscape are bleak and unremitting, but also entirely convincing...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Maps and the Language of Landscape...

The Ordnance Survey Free Maps for 11 Year Olds are arriving in schools - you may already have had yours...
When you get the maps, you will also find a couple of (much sought after) hard copies of a publication called "The Language of Landscape"
The booklet is supported by a series of downloads from the NATURAL ENGLAND website.

I have created a SURVEY MONKEY SURVEY for those who have got their maps, and have also made use of the "Language of Landscape" to help students use the maps: whether inside or outside the classroom (or ideally both...)

Click Here to take survey

If you have used the maps and the book, please fill in the survey.

All completed questionnaires by 1st of December will be entered into a Prize Draw to win a copy of the KS3 Teachers Toolkit title: "Look at it this Way", a copy of the Geography Collective's "Journey Journal" and a few other geographical goodies....

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Travel Writing Task - ready for SAGT

I have uploaded these resources as a supplementary resource to the resources that are contained in the KS3 Teachers' Toolkit book. You will need to purchase the book to get the full value out of these presentations. It's available from the GA Shop. (Members get a big discount of course...)

They will be available to download for the next couple of weeks, as I am going to use these in my presentation on the 31st October at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers conference (SAGT)
The first is a lesson activity using a booklet....

the second is a list of possible travel writers who might produce inspiration for the extracts that might be used in this lesson...
Travel Books And Writers
View more presentations from GeoBlogs.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Tepui: amazing landscapes...

Image copyright: Disney-Pixar Studios

Here's another superb image from the Disney Pixar film: "UP", which I saw on Sunday and which is superb.
It shows the setting for the action for most of the film: the TEPUI of South America.

Why not take the opportunity to explore this fantastic landscape, perhaps as part of an AMAZING PLACES scheme of work...

More to come on this for SAGT....

Monday, 19 October 2009

Primary Geographer

The latest issue of the GA's "Primary Geographer" magazine has a focus on LANDSCAPES.
Some excellent articles which would provide inspiration for secondary teachers as well as primary colleagues.

Landscape Photographer of the Year

Coming shortly to this blog will be some supporting image sets for each of the lesson ideas in the toolkit book...

Before then, here are some great LANDSCAPE images, which were prize winners in the Take a View: Landscape Photographer of the Year competition.

The winner (reproduced above) was taken on the Isle of Skye by Emmanuel Coupe and is titled: Sunrise over the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

I've been up to the Old Man of Storr, but sadly it was a grey day, and not ideal for photography...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Journey Journal

Spent some time yesterday with Dan Ellison pinging e-mails backwards and forwards with the rather wonderful designers at Can of Worms putting the final touches to the Journey Journal before it went off to the presses for the first print run of 3000 books.

Journey Journal is a rather wonderful book for upper secondary / lower secondary age pupils.
It is designed to be used when on a "journey" of some kind, perhaps as one of the millions of days which are taken as authorised absences every year, or maybe on a foreign exchange / activity / cultural trip.
It's a quirky and creative way of recording the visit, and encouraging young people to take notice of their surroundings.

Coming soon to an educational establishment near you.

Get in touch via the GEOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE website for more details of how to order....

Saturday, 17 October 2009

All 10 toolkits together...

First sighting of the full set of GA Toolkits, at the Wrexham Living Geography event earlier this week. All available from the GA Shop.

And thanks to Anne Greaves for giving "Look at it this Way" pride of place on the newly re-designed GA website.


Image by John Lyon...

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Toolkits are (really) in the building...

Thanks to my colleague Paul for letting me know that the Toolkit books, including the fabled, and possibly apocryphal "Look at it this Way" are actually in existence, and are now sitting in boxes of fifty in the GA warehouse, and can be ordered from the GA shop.


Editors’ Preface
Chapter 1: Look at it this way: What are your views on landscape?
Chapter 2: Medium-term plan
Chapter 3: Lesson plans

  • First Footsteps
  • Are we nearly there yet?
  • The Road to Nowhere..
  • Gone with the Wind?
  • Made in England
  • First Class Landscapes
  • Journeys through Landscapes
  • Living on the Edge
  • Mountains on my mind
Chapter 4: Glossary
Chapter 5: Links for further ideas and resources
Chapter 6: Assessment framework

The resource contains:

  • CD-Rom with resources needed for each of the lesson plans.
Thanks to those people who helped in a major way with the book. I'll be sending a copy to you...

Coming soon: some more out-takes from the final book.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Sketch to Photo

Thanks to Neil Winton for leading me to this fascinating idea.
Draw a sketch and it creates an image...

PhotoSketch: Internet Image Montage from tao chen on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Toolkit books are "in the building"

....actually they aren't...
but the container in which they are stored has arrived from China at Felixstowe according to my colleague Paul, and the next phase is for them to go through customs, and then be dispatched to the GA.. so expect them sometime in the next few weeks. Will let you know when I finally have my hands on them...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Landscapes of sound

Have mentioned the SOME LANDSCAPES blog before, and if you are teaching about landscapes this is worth adding to your FOLLOW list.
The AUTUMN LEAVES sound site is rather good.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Countryside Quality Counts

Regular readers of the blog may remember some recent posts on the idea of LANDSCAPE CHARACTER.
Came across an old map when sorting through some stuff in the loft at the weekend which showed the whole of the UK split into different areas.
On it was a website, which turned out to be out of date, but did lead me to the Countryside Quality Counts website.

Some useful resources here for exploring local landscape change...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Travel Writing

One aspect of the book is a look at TRAVEL WRITING.
There was a good article on the future of the genre in Saturday's Guardian.

A few good quotes from the piece, from two of my favourite authors:

"A good travel writer can give you the warp and weft of everyday life, the generalities of people's existence that are rarely reflected in journalism, and hardly touched on by any other discipline. Despite the internet and the revolution in communications, there is still no substitute."
Colin Thubron

"Old travellers grumpily complain that travel is now dead and that the world is a suburb. They are quite wrong. Lulled by familiar resemblances between all the unimportant things, they meet the brute differences in everything of importance."
Jonathan Raban

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Big Picture

A nice idea taken from a FLICKR GALLERY by user Kristal
A landcape made from a series of images for sky, horizon and foreground.
Similar to the activity in the book looking at images as a mosaic a la Rolf Harris.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Norfolk Coast Management Plan

Got a copy of this document on Monday night via the Norfolk Coast Partnership
It's the proposed plan for 2009-2014.
It includes some useful sections on landscape, and something called landscape character. The whole of the Norfolk coast has been split into sections which have a particular character.
I live on the border of the North Norfolk AONB: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which then extends all along the coast from my village.

What is Landscape character ?
Put simply, landscape character is what makes an area unique. It is defined as "a distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements, be it natural (soil, landform) and/or human (for example settlement and development) in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse".

Natural England have a range of landscape character resources on their website.

One activity that could be tried would be to come up with some new types of landscape character for the area around your school, or perhaps to try to identify the landscape character of local areas from images and other resources.

More to come on this later...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Language of Landscape

The Ordnance Survey are sending their free maps into schools once againthis term. Make sure you have registered to receive yours.
This year, in addition to the usual maps, stickers, map skills guide etc. there will be a 12 page booklet produced with Natural England.

Natural England website now has all the resources.
You can read about the scheme, and the booklet, which is called "The language of landscape" is available to download as a PDF.

The booklet is accompanied by a series of other PDF downloads to support the activities, which could contribute up to 4 lessons to a Year 7 Scheme of Work, such as these fab ACTIVITY CARDS (PDF download)Thanks to Mark Jones and Val Vannet, and also to Ian Gilbert for inspiration for part of this resource. Those credits didn't make it into the final document...

If you use this, please let me know what you thought of it, how it went, whether you invented some other activities etc.
Also send any pictures of work that grows out of the resource - that would be cool !

Update: now featured on Natural England home page.

Please let me know what you think....

Friday, 4 September 2009

Thought for the Day

Travel is mostly about dreams—dreaming of landscapes or cities, imagining yourself in them, murmuring the bewitching place names, and then finding a way to make the dream come true. The dream can also be one that involves hardship, slogging through a forest, paddling down a river, confronting suspicious people, living in a hostile place, testing your adaptability, hoping for some sort of revelation.

Paul Theroux

Read more:

New GA website now live....

Not necessarily related to landscapes but...

The GA web team: Anne Greaves and Ben Major, have been working away for months with designers Ledgard Jepson on a new website for the Geographical Association, and it is now live, after several weeks of beta testing and tweaking. Visit the GA URL to see the new site.

The site looks a lot brighter, clearer and easier to navigate, and uses more of the screen’s width. Thanks to a major effort on tagging the resources, it is also easier to find things using the ‘Search’ function if they are not immediately obvious from the home page, and a new ‘Resource Finder’ should help you find something appropriate to the key stage and topic that you are interested in quickly, or items written by a particular author.

A one page user guide to the new site and how it’s laid out can be downloaded by following the link (PDF download):

Members can also bookmark their most useful sections of the website on their own personal homepage. Logging in to the site will provide members with details about their account, and allow access to the journals which you subscribe to.

There are plenty of new items in the shop, which are displayed in a scrolling window, which will also suggest items that might be of relevance to you if you login.

News is easier to find, and has all been updated.

If you are not already a GA member, this is a good time to join and take advantage of the many membership benefits.

The website is also home to all the resources supporting the GA’s manifesto for school geography “a different view”.

Download the latest GA MAGAZINE from the site now

Friday, 28 August 2009

Free OS Maps for Schools....

The OS Free Maps for Schools scheme is underway once again.
Schools will receive letters in September relating to the scheme. As in previous years, schools can claim a free OS Explorer 1: 25 000 map for each 11 year old pupil.

This year, schools will also receive 2 copies of a booklet called "The Language of Landscapes" along with the maps, produced in assocation with Natural England and the Geographical Association.

Nick Hand's Slow Coast

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. Ernest Hemingway

Nick Hand is currently cycling around the coast of Britain. His website is SLOW COAST.
Along the way, he is creating some wonderful short films, called SOUNDSLIDES made up of interviews with artisans and images taken at various locations.

A recent addition was the famous Monday auction held on the green at Burnham Market.
This gives a real "sense of place" and it instantly got onto the planning sheet for a lecture next year on Norfolk and "sense of place"...

These would be relatively easy to make with students, as they need a sound recorder, and Audacity to do a spot of editing, plus a set of images.

You can follow Nick on Twitter too: @nickhand

Thursday, 27 August 2009

WDWTWA and a different view

It may be that you haven't yet visited the Who do we think we are website.

WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE has a very useful section written by Professor David Lambert, which provides an excellent summary of the appropriate links between geography and identity.

The site also has a NEW interactive area, which contains ideas for teaching about cultural diversity in various contexts...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Animoto now with added video...

Animoto has been used while creating the resources for the toolkit book.
Many teachers may also use it to link together images of landscape, or as an assessment piece....

Animoto now has the ability to have video clips embedded...

Here's a quick video I put together to try it out...

Now when people ask me at CPD sessions "can you put videos into Animoto" I can say, "Yes, yes you can...."

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A visual representation of changing coastal landscapes...

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for reminding me today via a post on SLN about the "Lines of Defence" project, which highlighted the rate of coastal erosion along a stretch of Suffolk coastline.
View on YouTube to see larger...

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Devon Coastal Landscapes

A little Flickrslidr slideshow of some of my favourite Devon images from my recent family holiday...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

New book....

Received a copy of this resource in the post today, along with the CD pack that comes with it: my contribution was the product of my Easter break. It looks rather good now that it's all complete...

Disclaimer: other specifications and accompanying resource packs are available...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Additional Image

Milford Sound Collage
For use with Lessons 9 and 10
Produced with Picasa Picture Pile
Original images by Simon Hathaway

Fieldwork Guidance

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Coming soon to the blog... and GA website...

The plan for the KS3 TEACHERS' TOOLKIT is to support the printed books with additional resources.

The additional materials that I will be adding here, or on the GA website will include:
  • Additional sets of starter images (Creative Commons licensed)
  • Further detail on New Zealand to support Lessons 9 and 10
  • Snowdon Cafe mystery and resources (additional lesson and assessment task if required)
  • Landscapes Bingo activity - bingo cards and image set
  • Further mountain resources
  • 6x6 Story writing activity (as featured in OS Mapping News article)
  • Information sheets on using a range of software to develop the activities in the book
  • 5 W presentation and images
  • "Monopoly" activity resources
  • Travel writing: text extracts to use
  • Google Earth file of locations in the textbook

Monday, 3 August 2009

Tate Map: Then and Now

Another Twitter tip-off (have I convinced you to give it a go yet ?)via Liz Smith
The TATE Google Map has a selection of landscape paintings.
You can navigate to the location shown in the painting and compare the view with what it looks like today...

This would go very nicely with the lesson in the Toolkit book which looks at the representation of landscapes in art.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


Book now at the printers....

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


BBC Clip

Happisburgh is mentioned in the Starter activity for Lesson 8 of "Look at it this way"

Monday, 27 July 2009

Off to the printers....

After two years, the final proofs have been checked, and the book "Look at it this Way" is in the final stages and should be in stock for the start of the new Autumn term (early October at the latest: it has to come from China...)
Great news !

This blog will hold a range of additional ideas and resources to accompany the book. These will include:
  • further weblinks on the theme of landscapes
  • further images of landscapes for use in the classroom
  • some 'out-takes' that didn't make the final textbook
  • further ideas for developing the lesson ideas in the book
I will also add new 'labels' to the posts which will identify which lesson from the book is being supported. There will also be further materials and support on the GA website, as part of a recognition that a book should not 'end' with the actual physical product itself.

I will also be looking to showcase work that colleagues have prepared in response to the content of the book, and would be very pleased to see examples of student work. I already have some examples of that, but others can be sent to me at the GA.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Landscape Photography Competition

Take "a different view" of the British landscape, and get involved in the TAKE A VIEW landscape photography competition.

This BBC NEWS article provides further information on the competition, which has a number of categories which would provide a useful context for a geography homework assignment, or perhaps a summer holiday task...

Why not hold your own school based competition and enter the winners into the national competition ?

Please note that there is an entry fee for this competition.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Latest progress report...

Over the last few days, I've been dealing with some last minute queries with Anna before the final proofs for the book come my way. After that it's the proof-checking then the printing (sounds straightforward...)

A few final issues were the sourcing of some TRAVEL WRITING and some images. This is for one of the activities which casts the students as travel writers.

Writing has become an important element of a lot of the work that I do: the creation of narrative. This adds the extra layer to mapping, which relates to the idea of Living Geography...

Do you have a favourite travel author ?

Friday, 26 June 2009


Image Alan Parkinson

Poppies are a glorious temporary part of our landcape...

We have also attached additional cultural resonance to them with their association with remembrance day...

What other examples of these temporary landscape aspects can you identify, or your students record ?

Why not use the NORFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST's poppy field sighting record cards (link goes to PDF download - survey was carried out originally in 2006)

Poppies are the county flower of Norfolk, and there are certainly plenty in the fields around my village.

North Norfolk (particularly the area around Cromer and Overstrand) is known as 'poppyland' and there are many fields full of these flowers at the moment.

The local Eastern Daily Press reported that the particularly impressive blooms of poppies that can be seen at the moment are the result of changing farming practices...

Farmers growing rape in particular are keen to keep the growth of poppies to a minimum as the plants compete for the available soil moisture and nutrient.
A weedkiller was also taken off the market at the end of 2007, and it was apparently a windy spraying season which means that application would not have been as thorough as it would have been in more ideal conditions.

Interestingly, an article in the Times from last year suggested we may see fewer poppies in the future.

Also noticed fields full of poppies on the approach to Cambridge from the train yesterday evening.

‘Neath the blue of the sky in the green of the corn,
It is here that the regal red poppies are born!’
Clement Scott

Glacial Landscapes

Me at the Folgefonna, Norway - 1980s (check the hair and nonchalant pose !) - image by Conor Kostick

Now up on the Geography Teaching Today website is a new unit on Glacial Environments.

Some interesting ideas on teaching about ice, and the landscape changes that it brings about, with 6 resourced units of work.

Don't forget that ice doesn't just produce the dramatic upland landscapes but was also involved in shaping the undulating lowland landscape of Norfolk...

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

GIS: maps and aerial imagery

The WHERE's THE PATH application (which my colleague just reminded me about) is a good way to visualise the relationship between a map and the landscape. Useful for interpretation of height and the impact of landscape on human activity.

It's powered by the OS OPEN SPACE API.

More on this later...
The image above shows the location of the GA in Sheffield.

Image copyright relevant imaging organisations and Ordnance Survey

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Richard Long: Landscape as art...

Recently visited the Richard Long exhibition at the Tate: Heaven and Earth. Always been a fan of landscape-based art.

There are numerous connections to be made here with geography and the creation of narrative as a response to a landscape. Many of the projects I have been involved with recently are related to this idea. Plenty of student-centred projects, and cultural aspects coming out...

Loved the Norfolk flint circle in particular...

I'd like to see students participating in the creation of more text works relating to the landscape.
Check out Richard Long's textworks: click the titles to see the works...

Some very impressive typography on the walls of the exhibition space at the Tate: wonder who had the job of sticking on all the letters ? Quite a feat ! Anyone know ?

Also worth checking out the work of Hamish Fulton
And of course Andy Goldsworthy

Plenty of inspiration here too...

Good review on the SOME LANDSCAPES blog, which is a useful resource to keep an eye on as well for those teaching about landscape.
Also had a quick TWITTER SEARCH: generally positive reaction to it...

Landscapes in Sound

The use of SOUND is vital in lessons...

I have recently been exploring the work of CHRIS WATSON, via my favourite site SPOTIFY.
This allows streaming of the music, or in this case sound stories into the classroom.

This has 3, 18 minute tracks

Ol-Olool-O: Kenyan savannah...
The Laipach: a Scottish glen in all weathers
Vatnajokull: a glacier sailing in Arctic waters

The weather has created and shaped all our habitats. Clearly it also has a profound and dynamic effect upon our lives and that of other animals. The three locations featured here all have moods and characters which are made tangible by the elements, and theseperiodic events are represented within by a form of time compression. This is Chris's first foray into composition using his location recordings of wildlife and habitats -- previously he has been concerned with describing and revealing the special atmosphere of a place by site specific, untreated location recordings. For the first time here he constructs collages of sounds, which evolve from a series of recordings made at the specific locations over varying periods of time : namely Kenya's Masai Mara, Scottish highland glens and ancient ice formations lurking deep within the Norwegian sea.

Also check out "Outside the Circle of Fire" for more sounds...

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Urban Earth Day

URBAN EARTH: DAY is a side project of urban earth. The idea is simple, text based and all going well will result in a 24 chapter book.

The idea is to gather together a subjective view of our urban habitat through a series of simultaneous global walks. What we sense, feel and think will posted as twitters as we go, creating a spontaneous urban portrait of where we all are.

The first walk will take place on a Sunday at 12:00(GMT)... but we will work around the clock. Two weeks later the walk will take place at 13:00(GMT).. until after 24 hours and 24 walks we have 24 chapters of a book... made up of our 140 character twittered thoughts.

So you'll need an hour, a city and a mobile phone for this one.

How to take part...
1. Set up a twitter account. Have a play.
2. Find a city or urban area.
3. At 12:00AM GMT on 24.05.09 go for a walk... If you are in the Solomon Islands, yes - walk at night!
4. Twitter as you go.. feelings, smells, thoughts, prices, ideas, colours, shop names, (ab)normal and (un)usual stuff... making sure you include #ueday in each and every twitter.
5. Go home and visit
6. Spread the word and watch out for hour 2... 13:00-14:00GMT


Monday, 11 May 2009

Exploring the URBAN landscape

Dan Ellison has another plan...

Another URBAN EARTH event - but just an hour and you may well not need to go too far to take part... Let's all do this one....

URBAN EARTH: DAY is a side project of urban earth. The idea is simple, text based and all going well will result in a 24 chapter book.

The idea is to gather together a subjective view of our urban habitat through a series of simultaneous global walks. What we sense, feel and think will posted as twitters as we go, creating a spontaneous urban portrait of where we all are.

The first walk will take place on a Sunday at 12:00(GMT)... but we will work around the clock. Two weeks later the walk will take place at 13:00(GMT).. until after 24 hours and 24 walks we have 24 chapters of a book... made up of our 140 character twittered thoughts.

So you'll need an hour, a city and a mobile phone for this one. Who's game?

Check out the URBAN EARTH NING to sign up....

Tweet using the hashtag #ueday

Friday, 8 May 2009

A few new images of Norfolk landscape...

One of the chapters in the book, which is being worked on right now (available in Autumn) is on the Norfolk landscape.
Here are some images I took yesterday around Ringstead.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Geography Collective

Exploring your local landscape in a different way...

New on Twitter are the Geography Collective at Mission Explore....
The book is now in pre-production...
Watch for more exciting multi-media Exploring ness from the Collective.
Visit the blog for some sample missions, including some BRAND NEW ONES !!

"Great news for the young, and the young at heart" Iain Hallahan

Saturday, 4 April 2009

New Zealand

Those of you who buy the book when it's published - lots of people I hope - will find an activity based on the landscape of New Zealand.
The images were taken by my friend Simon Hathaway.Here's another of his great images: this one of Mt. Cook...

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Natural England Consultation

A current consultation is going on with Natural England, over a document / strategy relating to 'FUTURE LANDSCAPES'.
Plenty of geography here, and a good excuse to explore how our landscapes are changing...

One change for the future was made today, when the SOUTH DOWNS was finally granted NATIONAL PARK status after decades of waiting.
Those lesson plans and worksheets which ask how many National Parks there are will all have to be changed now ;)

OS Mapping News - Spring 2009

Plenty of ideas for looking at landscapes here...

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.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Latest book news...

The proofs of the book are currently being created and I will have some editing to do in the next few months or so once they are completed...
Publication looking like being AUTUMN now, which will be after the GA Conference unfortunately, but there's always next year...

Photosynth: a '3D' landscape

Quick trip up to Hunstanton this morning to take 164 pictures of the famous stripy cliffs: the southern end of the cliffs near the promenade: 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)


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

How about putting together a GEOGRAPHICAL library of Photosynth LANDSCAPES or LANDSCAPE FEATURES.
If you've made one, please let me know....