Thursday, 8 October 2015

Desert Landforms Revision

Here is a PowerPoint I created to help you revise desert landforms (just in case the videos weren't enough!). Also see my post on salt lakes here.

Desert Landforms Video Competition!

Here are all the entries into my desert landforms video competition! I haven't decided on a winner yet so please vote for your favourite one (in terms of effort, geographical information and how interesting it is to watch) by giving it a thumbs up on YouTube or leaving a comment below.

Monday, 5 October 2015

How do Inselbergs form?

Well done to Megan and Stuart for this imaginative video on the formation of inselbergs! Please share and give them a thumbs up if you like it. It's not very long but they put a lot of work into it, sticking everything in place with blue tack and patiently moving the pieces for each frame.

Friday, 2 October 2015

What are Mesas and Buttes?

You may have seen my post last week about making desert landform videos with my students. Well here is the first entry on the formation of Mesas and Buttes! Well done to Bayley and Emilie for all the hard work they put into this (it's made up of over 500 photos!).

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Stuff You Should Know

Commuting, cleaning, cooking... all those things that seem to take so much time yet you don't seem to be achieving much, or having much fun! To make these times more productive (and more interesting, btw I'm talking about your routine cooking dinner rather than baking a nice cake) I like to listen to podcasts.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Desert Landform Videos!

So, each year I really struggle to teach landforms, for rivers, deserts, coastal, glacial - any environment. There are just so many different types listed and it's OK for the first few but then it just gets so tedious having to draw and label and explain each one.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Hydrology Key Terms Speed Matching Game

There are so many terms in the hydrological cycle it can all get a bit confusing. Test your knowledge of the key terms by matching them up to their definitions (click on the image above to get to the game). All you need to do is drag the correct word down to the definition at the top of the list to make it disappear, and you can also time yourself to see how quickly you get all the definitions to vanish!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A Plant's Guide to Desert Survival

Water. That's one thing us plants need on a regular basis or else we'll just shrivel up and die, right? If your owner is going away on holiday they damn well better get the neighbour to water us; or get some of those special hydrating crystals!

But did you know that not all plants are like this? Oh no, some plants can survive for yeeeaars without any water... some plants amputate their own limbs to survive! ... Some plants can even come back... from the dead!

How do they do this?! I hear you ask, is it magic?

Not quite, but it's close! These amazing plants have special adaptations that enable them to live right out in the middle of a desert! The last place you'd ever find me!

You can categorise these fellas into four main types. Let's have a look at them in more detail:

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Why Do Students Do This?!

During the first lesson of this term I got all my new AS students to read and sign the Homework Policy - homework always due in on Tuesdays unless stated otherwise; failure to hand it in will result in a contract, a college wide system, which if broken will lead to all sorts of problems involving parents and department heads.

This is what happened to me only 2 weeks in... (names changed to protect identity).

I decide to be extra kind and the only homework I set is to
finish off an 8 mark question that they already started in class.  

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Keeping Track of Geographical Skills

Here's some more organisational resources for you, this time for geographical skills.

When I first started teaching this course I found the sheer number of skills and the requirement to integrate them into lessons throughout the year to be a daunting task, especially because most of the textbooks seemed to skim over them so briefly or even not include them at all. It was hard enough interpreting the rest of the spec and planning lessons for that, let alone ensuring an even distribution of skills throughout the year!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Keeping Students Organised!

It's the beginning of term and once again I'm trying to come up with ideas to keep my students organised! Since the college agreed to provide every student with a folder this year I thought it would help them to have some dividers.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Describing Patterns and Using Locational Knowledge

A common question in the exam is to describe the pattern or distribution of something on a map. 

Many people lose marks on these questions due to poor exam technique. There are two things that can help you:

1. Make sure you know what distribution or pattern means and what words to use

Distribution = the way in which something is spread over an area

Pattern = they way in which something is arranged or sequenced

As you can see they are quite similar. You need to identify whether there is any overall arrangement or repeating sequence or shape to what you are looking at. Good words/phrases to use include:

Exam Technique - How to Describe

So, I thought it would be a good idea to write some posts on specific aspects of exam technique. Having marked many many exam questions over the years I am convinced that knowing what to do in the exam is just as important as revising information. Obviously you need to know the information first before you can apply it to the exam, but just revision alone is not enough for a top grade.

Understanding command words is key. Even the simplest one can be misunderstood. Let's start with 'DESCRIBE'. This is one of the most straight forward things that you could be asked to do. However, many people make mistakes with this command word and end up losing easy marks.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Learning about Salt Lakes with Top Gear!

One of my students suggested that we do a revision lesson on salt lakes using the Top Gear Botswana special, so I will be using this with my students next week. Thank to Chris for the idea!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Are YOU prepared for the GEOG2 exam?

One of the THE MOST IMPORTANT things you need to do to prepare for your AS Geography exams is to practice your EXAM TECHNIQUE. Hopefully this post can help you do just that!

As somebody who has used hours and hours of my life trawling through hundreds of exam answers and trying to figure out what mark to give them (or trying to figure out what the heck they even say in some, or dare I say many cases) it still pains me to see how few people actually manage to READ THE QUESTION, let alone employ any other examination skills, such as knowing the difference between describe and explain... or what a pie chart is...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

What Else Causes Deserts?

Since I made a nice complicated and extremely long PowerPoint and accompanying worksheet for the first two causes of aridity, I thought I should probably procrastinate my Masters assignment a little longer and make an equally time consuming set of resources for the other 2 causes - Mountains and Cold Ocean Currents.

Please leave me some feedback and tell me what you think!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

What Causes Deserts?

At last! I have finished this extremely long and carefully edited PowerPoint and accompanying worksheet explaining the causes of aridity, well, 2 of them at least! I do plan to do another lesson on ocean currents and mountains for next week so please let me know if you would like those too.

When I first taught this topic I found it quite a complex topic, so I have tried to break it down in an easy to understand way and explain it step by step with the help of PP animations.

You can fill in the worksheet as you go through the PP, or do it afterwards to test your learning.

Since it took me such a long time to create this I thought I'd share it here in the hope that someone else gets some use out of it too. Please leave me a comment with feedback!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

How to do the Mann-Whitney U Test

I thought it was about time my A2 students got back into some statistics since the ones they learnt at AS so this week I introduced them to the creation of Henry Mann and Donald Whitney. Sadly some of my students seem to have a phobia of maths and the very mention of statistics sends them into a panic and they start expressing regret at having even chosen geography for A-level in the first place.

I had a similar experience myself at university until one of my good friends on the course showed me that it's actually quite simple once you approach it with an open mind! Since statistics forms an important component of many courses, not just geography, you may as well just accept it and do you best to understand, and you'll see, as I did, that it really isn't that bad! It's actually quite satisfying when you realise you can do it.

So, here are the resources I used for my lesson where I have tried to break it down to make it easy to understand.After re-capping which statistics they need to know for the AQA A2 Geography course, we did an example of MWU altogether on the board, then everyone tried out a second example on their worksheet. Hope it helps!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Infographic Competition Winner!

After careful consideration and comments from colleagues and geography experts I have decided to go with my initial decision and announce the winner of the 2014 Geogarific Infographic Competition!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Man who Set Himself on Fire

Another Strangers episode for you here, this time relevant to the geography of war and conflict. This was one of the most interesting episodes of Strangers I'd heard in a while (even though they are all great so it's hard to chose! btw I don't work for them in case you were wondering but they really do brighten up my commute!!).

Friday, 16 January 2015

Which Case Study? Rivers and Population Resource

So, a common error in the exam, particularly with essay questions, seems to be accidentally using the wrong case study and ending up not really answering the question properly. Understandable, since the pressure of being in an exam could make you panic and write about the first case study you can remember.

You don't want to end up like I did in my first year at university and go into the exam hoping the question on 'sea ice' would come up. After frantically scanning the question options for the words 'sea' and 'ice' and not seeing them anywhere, I resigned myself to answering a question on climate change using nothing but what I could remember from 'An Inconvenient Truth'. I still passed, but only just, which did not do justice to my weeks of hard work and revision.

The point is, upon leaving the exam I bumped into a friend who expressed her great relief that the sea ice question had come up. 'What?!' I exclaimed with a look of horror, 'are you talking about?!'.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Strangers of Hurricane Katrina

I recently discovered this podcast called Strangers, which has been keeping me company on my commute the past few weeks. Each episode is  a different real life story around the theme of strangers; how strangers can become friends and family, and how people you already know can become strangers to you in different ways.

Last week I listened to this episode, which featured a man who became a stranger to his own daughter before being reunited years later. Part of his story was about his experience of Hurricane Katrina and his personal account of how this event changed his life.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Case Study of a Face Eating Parasite

After marking hundreds essays about HIV over the summer, the typical case study of an infectious disease, and becoming increasingly bored of the lack of variation when there are so many other important infectious diseases in the world I decided it was time to introduce my students to something new: a FACE EATING parasite!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

How much do You know about the Kalahari Desert?

I recently signed up for a free trial with Netflix and last night I came across David Attenborough's Africa series and watched the first episode and part of the second (ok I know it came out a year ago and I need to get up to date!).

Anyway, I enjoyed it immensely, the stunning photography, the narrative, the sound track - all beautifully put together. It starts with the mystery fairy circles, which I had never heard of but immediately diverted me for half an hour of Google searches and made me wish I could do a field trip there to take some soil samples and see whether I could find any environmental gradients. Or get hold of some remotely sensed images to examiner their distribution and see if there was a pattern.

The stories of the animals really draw you in, from the nightmarish invasion of the giant ground crickets, to the mischievous drongo, the amazing cartwheeling spider and the romantic encounters of black rhinos under the stars.

And if all that isn't enough, it's narrated by Sir David Attenborough, so how could you not like it! (Although I was sad to discover a few weeks ago that not only had some of my AS students never heard of him, one of them even asked me if he was a paedophile?! =O).

Of course, the best thing about it was that I couldn't help noticing all the links to geography. I found myself wishing all my students were watching it too! So, I decided at 11pm last night it would be a good idea to make a quiz to go with the first episode. It could either be used in class or set as a homework, but particularly relevant for anyone studying arid environments (deserts).

I hope it's useful to somebody, let me know if you'd like me to make quizzes for the other episodes too. By the looks of it they will be very geographical too, and I definitely plan to watch them all so I may as well make up some questions as I do! 

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