Thursday, November 30, 2006

So many maps - so little time !

There are lots of maps which can be produced.
A Mental Map is one which doesn't need paper, but which can be transferred onto other media.
A Mental Map is a map that we carry inside our heads. We all have different mental maps as have different life-experiences. These are our personal geographies.

Here is a description from Matt Rosenberg over at GEOGRAPHY.COM
I had a few e-mails from Matt some time ago about my GeoBlogs project.
"A person's perception of the world is known as a mental map. A mental map is an individual's own internal map of their known world.

Geographers like to learn about the mental maps of individuals and how they order the space around them. This can be investigated by asking for directions to a landmark or other location, by asking someone to draw a sketch map of an area or describe that area..."

All of you have a Mental Map of King's Lynn, which will be different to mine.

I also carry Mental Maps of the places I visit frequently, or not and know my way around. I have a reasonable mental map of these places: West Yorkshire, York, North Yorkshire Coast, Dundee, Leeds, Chester, Hull, Huddersfield etc. I have a very good mental map of these places: King's Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk Coast, South Yorkshire: Sheffield, Rotherham area, Derbyshire Peak District, Isle of Skye, parts of Cornwall etc. - about "Making the invisible, visible"
/ led me to a very nice Google Maps mashup...
This allows you to compare the area of one place with another: for example, if a description of f rainforest clearance says "the size of Belgium" then how much is that when compared with the total area of forest in Brazil ? How big would Mexico City or Los Angeles be if placed in the UK ? If one edge of the city was in King's Lynn where would the opposite edge be ?
Now you can find out with MAP FRAPPE

Lots of other MASH UPS listed on this site too e.g. one which shows the currently Active VOLCANOES at

While we're on Google Maps, mashups, check out
This is a wonderful site which has had a relaunch recently. It covers the whole country and features the latest updates on roadworks and road closures for you to check before setting out on a journey. Avoid those jams !
Also check out the awesome FOTOLAND
This links FLICKR to Google Maps and gives you some stunning images.

And how about this one: IF THE EARTH WERE A SANDWICH - it shows you where you would emerge if you were one of the pieces of bread in a sandwich - where is the direct opposite place on the earth ? Here is the opposite side of the earth from King's Lynn - SE of New Zealand's South Island - so my friend Phil really does live on the other side of the world !
Enjoy exploring these map sites, and thanks to GOOGLEMAPSMANIA for the details.

And what about our place ?
King's Lynn will feature in the media on Friday as the Sky TV cameras descend on the Walks stadium for the FA Cup tie against Oldham. Come on you Linnets !
And we were on Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares this week too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Thanks to Ollie Bray for introducing me to Splashr
This offers a great range of options for viewing FLICKR images.
Here is one of the presentation styles - if you're at school you won't see this. Why not sign up to Flickr, upload images of YOUR PLACE and make a SPLASHR presentation ?

My Presentation

A Century!

This is the 100th post on this blog. Thanks to all those who have contributed ideas, and who have read the blog. Please feel free to add comments to 'flesh out' the content of the posts and make it even more useful for centres teaching the Pilot GCSE.

England In Particular

We’re very much into the idea of “My Place” at the moment and images of England and King’s Lynn.

The definitive source book for this is a book I bought earlier in the year. It’s called “England in Particular – A Celebration of the commonplace, the local, the vernacular and the distinctive”, edited by Sue Clifford and Angela King, with numerous other contributors, and published by an organisation called Common Ground who also have 2 excellent websites:, and Common Ground and England in Particular. It’s a chunky book, and one to be dipped into rather than read straight through. It’s a glorious achievement, illustrated with black and white illustrations and woodcuts.

The following quotes, which I hope the authors won’t mind me drawing to your attention here, fit perfectly with the idea of “My Place”

It is about “the landscapes, buildings, people and wildlife that gives meaning to the places we know”.

“Everywhere is somewhere. What makes each place unique is the conspiracy of nature and culture; the accumulation of story upon history upon natural history”

“We are all familiar with our own fragments of geography: places where we live, work, visit. We mostly take them for granted, but their significance lies in their very ordinariness to us.”

“The invisible has to be seen through the visible”.

“To ground ourselves, understand our place, find meanings and take steps to cherish and enrich our own patch of land demands that we change our ways, share our knowledge, get involved.”

Click through to Amazon and buy a copy of the book.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Place: one of the highlights

This morning I was reminded of one of the highlights of the place where I live: the North Norfolk coast, when hundreds of Pink Footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) flew over, possibly some of the 40 000 that over-winter at the Snettisham RSPB reserve down the coast.

The Pink Footed geese arrive in October, and their early morning and early evening journeys inland from their roosting grounds in the Wash are one of the great spectacles of winter. On a good day, there will be thousands of geese in skein after skein, some Vs, some Ws, some ragged lines like an unravelling weather front on a synoptic chart.
There is an excellent RSPB page
It contains a rather nice illustration.

Cold Photo Blog

I was recently contacted (via a comment on a blog posting) by Laurel McFadden, who is currently part of the way through a year long photography project funded by a grant available to students in the USA. Here is the background to the project.

Laurel McFadden, Pomona College
Life in the Midnight Sun and Polar Night: Images of Arctic Survival
Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia
My project involves a photographic examination of social and personal strength in a variety of cultures coping with the extremes of the Arctic. Through photographic imagery, I will document patterns of communication, tradition, emotion, and social interaction as I participate in each
community living through a stage of the Arctic seasons. The project will entail capturing and effectively sharing the experience of living in the Arctic, displaying not only my personal experiences but also the social patterns of communities working successfully in climatic extremes.

There are some fantastic images there already, and in January, Laurel moves to Longyearbyen on Svalbard where she will be documenting life there in the winter months.
Here are 2 earlier images from Canada: icebergs calving and a wonderful natural ice arch.Images courtesy of Laurel McFadden
For more pictures, check out the COLD PHOTO blog HERE, and I look forward to the Svalbard images in 2007.
Best of luck with the project Laurel !

Sunday, November 26, 2006

2nd chance to be involved...

This post seemed to disappear very quickly off the front page...
Here it is again..
KES is involved in this project, which is funded by the Action Plan for Geography.
Here is the description of the project on the Geographical Association website.

"This project features young people using their own geographies as a starting point. On a day-to-day basis young people are part of different social groups, they interact simultaneously with others at both a local level (friends, family) and at a global level (via the internet). They navigate very complex networks of participation from informal groups (friends, school groups, shared social activities) to organised activities (such as clubs, sport and music).

In addition their access to spaces and places is enabled and/or hindered by a range of factors and influences such as parents, financial considerations, age group, feelings of safety, identification with different groups, personal interests etc.

Through exploring such issues we hope to work towards the development of an appropriate 'cultural pedagogy' that will enable us to close this perceived gap between students' lived geographies, school geography and academic geography."

In other words, we want to teach the Geography that Young People want (and need) to learn, which might mean teaching things that we don't currently teach, using methods that we don't normally use.

We need to choose 4 people to represent the school. They will spend 3 days at the New Walk museum in Leicester during 2007, the first one being in the middle of January, which is why we need to move fairly quickly.
If you want to be considered as one of the people we take, you need to complete the task below. It can either be done on paper or sent to me by e-mail.

a) Choose one topic which you think we should be teaching you about in Geography and why
b) Choose a country which we don't currently teach you much about which you would like to study.
c) Tell us about a website which you think we should be using more in Geography lessons
d) What sort of homework would you like to be getting in your Geography lessons ?

We want you to be thoughtful and creative. We want to take people who we know have ideas and will be able to make a positive contribution to the meeting.

Also, will tell you more about Laurel and her Cold Photo blog tomorrow, but it's time for bed!

More Generator Blog goodness

Found via the Generator Blog.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wonderful image above is a postcard of Radiator Springs sourced from
My son got the DVD of 'Cars' today for his birthday. We saw the film a few months ago, but now have a chance to savour the little details that you miss the first time round. Lots of Geography in there: in particular the impact of the bypassing of Route 66 communities by the new Interstate highway (I-40 in the film) I love the James Taylor song "Our Town" and used it as the music for the King's Lynn PhotoJam.
Get out there and buy it for the Geography department !
For more on Route 66 and its history, there is a great WordPress blog by Ron Warnick here:

Friday, November 24, 2006

Buy Nothing Day

Just reading Mr. C's blog and reminded of BUY NOTHING DAY which was today - oh bugger, I went and bought a load of food from the Co-op and some diesel on the way home ... Oh well, maybe next year.
Having said that, I'm going to have to order this...

King's Lynn-opoly

Quick reminder that this DVD is released next month - we never got to see it in King's Lynn for more than a few showings, and I will buy a copy for the Geography department. Why not click through to Amazon from the GeographyPages bookshop and buy a copy or two...

OK, so after a lesson spent looking at the UK and researching images (remember that you need to find 10 for the UK, 5 for Norfolk and 5 for King's Lynn - we'll complete this next time), we spent some time looking at what is MY PLACE...
It will be interesting to see what you come up with as your typical English images!

I started with a PhotoJam of King's Lynn, continued by a quiz about King's Lynn: 12 questions - most of you did fairly badly, but you did recognise the point of the quiz - I'd missed out several important buildings which you thought SHOULD have been in there.

Monopoly is a great board game. It is, of course, protected by lots of copyright legislation...
We know that there are hundreds of varieties of Monopoly which have been developed over the years... We are going to develop some ideas for a King's Lynn version of the boardgame.

World of Monopoly is a great site to give you some ideas - keep refreshing the page for more pictures of different versions of the game.
I then showed you the format using the board game I have which is pictured below:Reminder:
  • decide on 9 streets / buildings arranged in sets / colours
  • decide on a price (if maximum price is £1000)


You may have noticed that I've followed the lead of several blogs I read and added a SNAP preview box. This displays a preview of the page that you will see if you follow a hyperlink. It means that you can see whether you want to continue clicking away.

Update: Removed.. "I don't like it..."

Will we be Supernovas in 2007 ?

Norfolk Childrens Services are running a competition for digital video making. These are the NOrfolk Video Awards or NOVAs.
The theme for the competition is FEELINGS and my thought was that we could consider the feelings that we have for our places.
We'll be able to use the PE department's resources - they have plenty of video cameras !
Teachers TV were in school today to film a series of programme snippets about the work that we do at KES to support work after hours...
There is also an online website called JUMPCUT which allows you to edit videos.
More on this in the new year...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Woophy - a new site with Svalbard images...

Tony Cassidy's blog led me to the new discovery of a site called WOOPHY. It is a photo site where each month has a particular theme and people send images of the place where they live. There is quite a good coverage of the earth and a nice interface which allows students to explore the world on a range of scales, then zoom in and out with the mouse scroll wheel.Here. for example is an image of Svalbard, contributed by namstoop.
A posting on SLN led me to the GLACSWEB site, which has tracked the retreat of the Briksdalsbreen glacier in Norway. Some frightening images of retreat (or is this just the natural cycle of things ?) Check them out by clicking the link below.

Extra Svalbard

A few further Svalbard links have come to my attention recently.
The WWF has a very useful page which looks at the impacts of CRUISE TOURISM on the islands, and has a day by day account of a cruise taken by someone working for WWF.
This gives the sort of detail that would be useful if using Tourism as the basis for your coursework.
Also on the same site is the archive of a project from 2004 to track 2 Polar Bears, along with an ANIMATED MAP.
Coming soon - some more of Steve Johnston's images.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I have added a ClustrMap to the blog. You'll find it at the bottom of the right hand bar, below the various weblinks, images etc.
It will fill in to show the countries where people who are visiting the blog are from. If you have your own blog why not get one ? They're free! (my favourite price...)
Thanks to Rob Chambers for suggesting it, which reminds me that I really should mention his blog. If you're reading this blog because you'd like to do the Pilot but are currently doing the 'old' OCR Specification, Rob's blog will be a crucial stop off for you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blog Safety

It would be great if you were to start your own blog.
At Childnet they have a very useful leaflet on how to blog safely.
Click the picture to the left to go to the page and download the leaflet.
Remember to check the blogs of 2 of Tony Cassidy's pupils: I'm particular impressed by Stringy's blog!

How many of you have My Space accounts, Bebo accounts, Face Party accounts, Second Life avatars ?
How long do you spend on MSN ?
Is this your 'virtual' or cyber-PLACE ?

Feeling Saucy ?

HP Sauce is a great British Icon, but it is under threat. The new owners: Heinz are apparently planning to close down the Birmingham factory and move production to the Netherlands.
Keep HP SAUCE in England ! Some great movies at the BROWN SAUCE site, and a Geography movie created by virtual colleague Helen Nurton.

Young Peoples Geography Project - do you want to be involved ?

KES is involved in this project, which is funded by the Action Plan for Geography.
Here is the description of the project on the Geographical Association website.

"This project features young people using their own geographies as a starting point. On a day-to-day basis young people are part of different social groups, they interact simultaneously with others at both a local level (friends, family) and at a global level (via the internet). They navigate very complex networks of participation from informal groups (friends, school groups, shared social activities) to organised activities (such as clubs, sport and music).

In addition their access to spaces and places is enabled and/or hindered by a range of factors and influences such as parents, financial considerations, age group, feelings of safety, identification with different groups, personal interests etc.

Through exploring such issues we hope to work towards the development of an appropriate 'cultural pedagogy' that will enable us to close this perceived gap between students' lived geographies, school geography and academic geography."

In other words, we want to teach the Geography that Young People want (and need) to learn, which might mean teaching things that we don't currently teach, using methods that we don't normally use.

We need to choose 4 people to represent the school. They will spend 3 days at the New Walk museum in Leicester during 2007, the first one being in the middle of January, which is why we need to move fairly quickly.
If you want to be considered as one of the people we take, you need to complete the task below. It can either be done on paper or sent to me by e-mail.

a) Choose one topic which you think we should be teaching you about in Geography and why
b) Choose a country which we don't currently teach you much about which you would like to study.
c) Tell us about a website which you think we should be using more in Geography lessons
d) What sort of homework would you like to be getting in your Geography lessons ?

We want you to be thoughtful and creative. We want to take people who we know have ideas and will be able to make a positive contribution to the meeting.

Shop til you drop and PhotoJam shared...

Here's a game I've been playing since my son got it for his birthday at the weekend. Links to People as Consumers as you have to load and unload the trolley and avoid making it collapse. Why not follow the link and buy one from 'Toys backward-R Us'

Have now removed the shared link to the PhotoJam I used today. E-mail if you want to see it.

PhotoJam is a great piece of software you can download from HERE.
I am going to be adding a task shortly for those students who want to be considered to be involved in the Young People's Geographies (YPG) project.

King's Lynn

Image above from Norfolk

We're sat in King's Lynn in Norfolk at the moment.
What is this place like ?
Have you ever been to King's Lynn ? What were your experiences of the place - positive / negative / ambiguous ?
What sort of images would you have of the place ? Here are some of mine:
  • the view down King Street from Tuesday Market Place towards the Customs House
  • the Mart - annual fair which arrives in February
  • the Samphire man - the horse and cart may be gone, but he's still to be found
  • a pint of ale in the wood panelled front bar of the Tudor Rose Hotel
  • the markings in the entrance to St. Margaret's church showing the levels of previous floods.
Websites give an impression of the place perhaps. What images are featured ?

Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk : 3 smiley faces, the Great Ouse and a cottage by a village pond
About Britain: Customs House, King John Cup, Greyfriars Tower, Morris Dancing, the Mart
The Lynn News: the twice weekly local paper - plenty on the forthcoming FA Cup tie of 'The Linnets' against Oldham
Bryan Howling's Tour of the town. Useful images.
Can your recommend any other sites on the town ? (Don't forget FLICKR if looking at home)
Joe Bridge: nice images.
And don't forget the award-winning multi-storey car park.

What / where is 'YOUR PLACE' ?

This is something only you can answer.
You need to think about a place which you consider to be YOUR place. This could be:
  • a country
  • a county
  • a town or village
  • a district of a town or village
  • a street of a town or village
  • a particular building
  • a room in a building
  • a place: bench, tree, river side, patch of ground
  • a state of mind
Where is YOUR PLACE ? You have been asked to write a 100-150 word description of your place but you will be asked to represent it some other way as well, perhaps in some sort of photo story. This could involve thinking about the SOUNDS that you hear in your place, or the SMELLS that you smell, or the PEOPLE that you would meet, or the EMOTIONS that you might have. I know it's all a bit 'new age' but that's Geography ! What are the boundaries of your place ? How do you know you've reached it ? You might have a mobile phone video perhaps ? Maybe your place is portable ?
What does your place mean to other people ? Do they see it the same way as you do ? If not, why not ?
Lots of questions here. Do you have the answers ?
I'll tell you about MY PLACE next time. Why not add a comment below telling me where your place is.

Images of My Place

OK, so today we were exploring the images that represent 'My Place': starting off with "Images of England (or Britain), then Images of East Anglia (or Norfolk) then Images of King's Lynn.
MY PLACE involves 4 of the 5 themes (FUGIS above)

We started with a little PhotoJam I put together. If you want to see this, I'll add a link shortly to where you can watch it online. The music I used was 'Land of Hope and Glory'.
There were some good ideas coming through, and what we are going to do is collate the images that you come up with and produce a Top 10 for the group of the images we think best represent our place to people from other places, times or planets...

What about my own Top 10 ? Well, it would have to include Fish and Chips (Wikipedia image below was taken in Hunstanton - spooky!)I'd also want to include something from Yorkshire, a pint of ale - Tim Taylor's Landlord for preference, sitting on Scarborough beach in a deckchair on a cold Bank Holiday perhaps...
What are your images of 'My Place' ? Why not add a comment below and explore the ICONS site for more.
Remember that the images don't have to be pictures. They could be:
  • the first lines of poems
  • the titles of books
  • songs
  • films
  • plants or flowers
  • sounds: leather on willow anyone ?
  • smells: freshly cut grass ?
  • items of clothing
  • seasonal events in the calendar
  • festivals or annual activities e.g. cheese rolling...
Think perhaps about what you would most miss if you went to live abroad ?
Then narrow the focus to your particular county, and then your particular town...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Starting off "My Place"

Well, it's been another one of those weeks.
I hope to get some time with Mrs. Clarke soon to mark your 500 words pieces. A reminder to add any final parts to the posters within the next week.

New resources arrived today from BP: an oil company. This particular product aims to tell you your Carbon footprint, a lot of which is created by your consumption of… guess which product ?

The CD ROM is well produced, and I went through the simple questionnaire which is aimed at telling students the size of their footprints, so that they can then be turned into a footprint for the class and for the school.

My carbon footprint was apparently 12 tonnes of Carbon dioxide per year, which is higher than the average for the UK of 9.85 tonnes per year. The majority of my CO2 comes from my cars, so I would appreciate a train line being opened from my home village to my place of work, or failing that any donations for a more environmentally friendly car will be gratefully received.

Any other suggestions for how I might reduce my footprint can be added as comments.

OK, so now we are looking at the topic of MY PLACE.

Which sites would give you the idea of what it means to be English or British, or East Anglian ? What images do you have when you think of England ? Are all those images positive ?

Do a GOOGLE image search for UNITED KINGDOM and see what comes out on the return.

You’ll find some interesting pictures which are not perhaps what you would expect.

A reminder that we are going to be doing a planning enquiry related to the future of King's Lynn in the next few months, and collecting some primary data - I'm looking forward to it - it will make a change for all those polar bears.

Speaking of penguins (which we weren't) there's a new film called "Happy Feet" about a tap dancing penguin and last weekend it took more money in the USA than the new James Bond film !

What would be your images of the UK if you were trying to represent them for a foreign visitor ?

Also recommend you check out Tony Cassidy's latest additions. His coursework piece sounds like an interesting way of approaching the exploration of Antarctica.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

GTT Website

This blog is now featured on the Geography Teaching Today website. A warm welcome if you've followed a link from there recently. There are over 70 posts and they can be reached by following the links from the right hand side. Scroll down to the Archive. Enjoy...

Bought the book to your right today at Leicester railway station. Some interesting sections, and would be a useful resource for considering the theme of FUTURES.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Made HERE.
For more, see the Generator Blog

And new is the GEO GREETING site, which puts a message on Google Maps which you zoom in to read. Why not make one ? Try one I've done for you HERE.

Why not send me one back ?

Coming soon: some coursework samples...

Young People's Geographies and the Action Plan

Off to Leicester early tomorrow - Norfolk is a hard place to get out of in a hurry - for a meeting related to one of the projects funded by the Action Plan for Geography. More on this to come after the event. It will involve some pupils from KES at a later date.

Do you want to give your brain a bit of a workout and check whether it is actually working ? If so, you need to get over to the Radio 3 website here today or tomorrow and choose to LISTEN AGAIN to a lecture which was broadcast a few days ago.
The lecture was delivered by Doreen Massey, a well known Geographer. Mrs. Clarke, I discovered today, had lectures from Doreen Massey when she was doing her Masters degree. The lecture is HERE
Here is the description - it very much fits the theme of MY PLACE.

Is The World Really Shrinking?

Professor Doreen Massey delivers the first Open University Radio Lecture.

The globalisation gurus tell us the earth is "shrinking", and that our world is now "flat". They say that distances are reducing, places are amalgamating, local culture is homogenising and geology is irrelevant.

Doreen Massey lays out a manifesto of why its time to put the geography back into such global thinking. Is the world really shrinking? Not as much as we'd like to think. And geographers, says Professor Massey, can explain why. We need to think more about our globe itself, if we want to understand the processes of globalisation. And Liverpool, home of Free Thinking, is a natural focus for some of these ideas.

She argues:
  • Distance hasn't been abolished - it's simply been crumpled and distorted.
  • Even then geography is about more than distance; it's about the existence of simultaneous variety - of peoples, places, and cultures.
  • The cultural gaps, the social distances, the gulfs in understandings of the world, despite everything, remain strong. And increasing inequality ensures this is so.
  • The very argument that we should all become the same is a vision provoking its precise opposite - the reassertion of local specificity.
  • In fact, we persistently evade the starkness of these differences. Imagining other cultures as stuck at the back of a historical queue - 'developing' countries waiting to become 'developed', for instance, diminishes their actually-existing difference now.

So, Doreen Massey asks, what kind of an identity of place can there be for cities like Liverpool in a globalised world?

What clearly doesn't work today is the romanticism of place that depends solely on a sense of the character growing somehow 'out of the soil'. Instead, places today are 'meeting places', where a host of different life stories become entangled in physical proximity. Each place is a particular mix, born out of a specific history, and has to be negotiated between rich and poor, between incomer and old-established resident.

As a result, says Doreen Massey, the local needs to look outward, as well as within. We need to rethink the notion of the identity of place, away from ideas about ownership and towards the recognition of responsibility - including towards the global relations and peoples - upon which any place depends. Liverpool's Slavery Museum is an attempt to recognise the global iniquities upon which its past splendour was built. Ought we not also to enquire into the wider conditions that underpin our present local places?


What is your PLACE ?

Where do you feel is your home ?

Do you consider yourself to be BRITISH ? ENGLISH ? a NORFOLK person ? a KING'S LYNN person ? a _________ street person ?

Thanks to 3DFlags for the excellent animated flag: available from

Where is your place ?
How can your place be represented ?
What do you know already about your place ?
How do you feel about your place ?
Why is your place important to you, and to other people ?
What links your place to other places ?
What is distinctive about your place ?
How is your place influenced by other places ?

These and many other questions will be answered over the next few months.
Come prepared to talk about MY PLACE...

This is an interesting article too: So you think you're English ?

"Ice Floe: Nowhere to Go" - the End of Extremes (Cont.)

Picture by J.L. Sollid from CICERO site.

Just a reminder of the content of this 'final' lesson on Extreme Environments:

a) Hard copy of the 500 word piece (Task B) into my folder by the end of the lesson, and an electronic copy saved in the Pilot GCSE folder on Pupils on Curriculum (U) - might also be worth adding the details of the task itself (available by looking for the labels down the right hand side of the blog page)
b) Hard copy of the portfolio slides for your blue exercise books - File, Print, Select printer (not that annoying default Primo PDF), Print What ? Handouts, then choose 3, 4 or 6 handouts per page.
May also want to INSERT, Slides from Files and add some of the slides from the Boardworks presentation which look at the effect of GLACIATION on the landscape. Remember that there are glaciers on Svalbard.
You SHOULD be able to !

c) Collect hard copy of the replies from Steve Johnston. I shall add more of these when I get the chance, but it's a time consuming job. There are some excellent pictures still to come - a pity we can't see them all at school.

Final things to add:
The cold temperatures experienced in Svalbard and other cold non-glacial climates result in the ground freezing solid. The top few centimetres thaw out in the summer and then freeze again in the winter - this particular part of the soil is called the ACTIVE LAYER. The reason for the name is that as the ground thaws out, large quantities of water are released, and the ground starts to move (it's a process called SOLIFLUCTION) - it results in a very hummocky landscape with lots of surface water called THAW LAKES (I have a 'thaw' finger from all this typing....)

CICERO is the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo. There is an excellent illustrated page HERE. This is a great place to start for explorations into the impact of this thawing of the permafrost on Svalbard (and in other parts of Norway and the Arctic too...)

I suggest you take a look at the WIKIPEDIA page on Permafrost, and take a look at some of the weird and wonderful things that happen to the surface when it is constantly being frozen and thawed out. This produces a whole range of new Geographical vocabulary: Palsas, Thufurs, Ice Wedges, Stone Polygons, Stone Garlands, Stone Stripes, Felsenmeer, Pro-Talus ramparts, Naleds and Pingos...

No, not Pingu....Pingu being animated: from Japanese Pingu page

There are some good penguin related resources on Tony C's weblog (see the link to the right...)

Incidentally, some people think that Penguins are found in the Arctic. They are generally only found in the Southern Hemisphere (and the odd zoo...) so Polar Bears wouldn't eat penguins (although if you offered them a dead one who knows ?) Came across this useful site of FAMOUS PENGUINS. I never knew there were so many famous penguins ! Nor did I want to know really...

Permafrost around the world is thawing, in some cases for the first time since the Ice Age 10,000 (ish...) years ago.
The BBC picked up on this story some years ago, but more recently on BBC News 24 there was a half hour programme about the thawing permafrost. Unfortunately the tape copy I made seems to have gone weird, and the audio is scrambled so people sound like they've been inhaling helium...
There are some of the relevant news stories available on the BBC WEBSITE, with stories HERE,
HERE (all about the possible effects on Global Warming as methane is released when the permafrost thaws)

Why is this a problem for Svalbard ? The CICERO page gives some ideas on this. It's something you could also do with knowing...

Final reminder: please add the printouts to your book. Label everything up, and bring your exercise book to the next lesson!

I also recommend Ice Age 2 as a suitable film for this topic. The website for the film has some amusing Flash elements. Please note that this should not be seen as the definitive resource on glacial landscapes and processes...DVD available from all good retailers...

And finally, while looking for a few websites to give you for this topic, I came across a particularly good ARCTIC THEME site by the US based NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) This has numerous links to related websites and images such as the one below:Image from NOAA Photo Library
This is called PANCAKE ICE - can you see why it's called that ?
What other types of sea ice are there ? (Tony C will be able to tell you more...)

And that's a wrap...
Coming soon: MY PLACES (for a preview check out GeographyPages...)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Physical Features and the end of the Extremes...

This week sees the last of the Extreme Environments work for a while, until we return for the revision period in April next year.
We need to finish off with a few physical features to get the background to Svalbard completed in as much detail as we can.
We will then be moving on to MY PLACE - you might want to start thinking about what you see as being your 'place' - where do you spend most time ? where do you know the best ? how can it be mapped ?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Icons of England

When you think of England, what images come to mind ?
That's the sort of question that you will shortly be asked when it comes to the next unit of the course which is called MY PLACE.
Your place is of course King's Lynn and the surrounding area, and you need to relate this to the rest of the UK.
There is an excellent website: ICONS which has been established to try to identify the ICONS which best represent England. So far, several 'objects' have been voted in as being typically ENGLISH... They are listed on THIS PAGE

The site gives you a chance to vote for more icons to be added from the ones which have been nominated.
I put in a vote for the '99', the chip butty, the sandwich and the Remembrance Poppy. What would you vote for ??
There are also lesson plans, quizzes and good activities. I particularly like the 3D ANGEL OF THE NORTH fly around.

On a related note, Mr. Stone recently passed on information about his own birthplace: a small town called Ripley in Derbyshire. Actually, when I started teaching, many years ago now, I used to pass through there most mornings on the way to work. Apparently this place has recently been identified as the "most English place" in England. Mr. Stone no longer lives there...


Coming soon: some resources for People as Consumers relating to the iconic iPod

Coursework due in

Just a reminder following today's lesson that on Monday I need to have hard copy of any remaining projects handed in to me (max 500 words and no cut and paste!) and you will also need to have completed your concept maps, so that I can staple the report to them and then Mrs Clarke and I can start to mark them and give you feedback.
Thanks for all your hard work on this.

Also check out Tony Cassidy's new BLOG layout and the report on his recent trip to Berlin.

What's the weather forecast ?

Click the logo for the latest weather forecasts on Svalbard.
How does the weather compare to the UK ?

Student Life on Svalbard

Pictures from UNISS.NO
There is an excellent website produced by UNIS: the University Centre in Svalbard.
It has several sections which would not be part of the typical university prospectus of a university in the UK.
The Student life in Svalbard website has lots of tips for living at 78 degrees North. Here are some of the interesting ones as they relate to our topic:
For example, here are the student halls of residence in Nybyen (picture by T Jansson)
"As Svalbard is in the Arctic, it tends to be quite cold from time to time. So you definitely need to bring at least one pair of warm trousers and one warm jacket. And gloves. And goggles are helpful. And a scarf. And because it is cold, it also sometimes snows.... so bring your ski's or whatever downhill stuff you have. But really, didn't you think of those things yourself?

If you have, bring your laptop. Because - finally - there is an internet connection in every room.!

If you're a student at UNIS, why not get in touch with us ? We'd love to hear what life is like for students at UNIS.

"There are 3 kilometers from Nybyen to UNIS, so many of us prefer to use a bike. Sometimes it may be a little cold and you may find yourself blowing off the road. It's a good idea for winter to buy a face mask and some goggles. Be careful at the turn at Svalbardhallen, the road is often slippery. Watch out for reindeer and birds, since they have no fear. Watch out for cars. They show no fear either. It is quite cheap or free to bring a bicycle by plane. It is a good idea to wrap some carton around it as it may get some rough handling on the plane. It is also possible to buy a second-hand or even a new bicycle in Longyearbyen. Check the board at the reception at UNIS, the post office, or Svalbardbutikken. A useful second-hand bicycle will cost you a few hundred NOK. You need reflectors, and according to law and safety you should use lights when it gets dark. Buy some blinking diode."

Melk = Milk
Brød = Bread
Knackebrød = Crisp bread
Ost = Cheese
Brunost = Norwegian brown cheese made from goat milk. It tastes strange, but good.
Lutefisk = Traditional Norwegian fish soaked in lye. KEEP AWAY!
Finnbiff = Reindeer in bags. Easier than shooting one ourself, but more expensive
Øl = Beer
Vin = Wine

I also like the reviews of the places to eat and drink.

Huset (5)
Beneath old mine 1. One-in-all. Cafeteria with disco, restaurant, cinema, kiosk, beautiful girls and strong boys, only a short distance from Nybyen. Be there before midnight, otherwise you will pay 50,- NOK for entrance and 15,- NOK for wardrobe (obligatory if you bring a jacket) to some of your fellow students. Normally immune to bribes... The cafeteria is the town's dining hall and offers fast food for reasonable prices, but has little atmosphere considering that there is no service and an angry voice will shout a number when your food is finally ready. The restaurant is more comfortable, but incredible expensive. This is the place to invite your family to buy you a dinner.

Café Fruene
Located in Lompensenteret (8). Very good food. Even better cakes. And everything to reasonable prices.

Cafe Busen
Located in Lompensenteret (8). A little more expensive than the cafeteria at Huset. It seems to be the town's lunch hall. OK food. Service like Huset. Large cups of coffee with refill option. "Busen" is the name of the miner. The concept is the former canteen in Nybyen (Stormessa) when Longyearbyen was a real mining town. If you do not have the appetite of a miner, you can order half portions of the main courses. The cups lack handles. The reason is that the miners didn't mind that the cups were hot and it was easier to drink this way.

Carlsberger Pub. (8)
Extensive opening hours because of a Danish bartender who enjoys working a lot.

Spitsbergen Hotel (2)
Situated on top of Haugen not far away from the school and the sports hall. The restaurant, "Funktionærmessen," is relatively expensive and features delicious nouvelle cuisine Arctic specialties like whale carpaccio. If you aren't in the mood for eating a full dinner, many students like to relax in the "leather paradise" of the bar. It is decorated with a fireplace, bil-liards table, many nice prints and maps, and a "library." Really cosy place.

SAS Polar Hotellet (4)
Restaurant Nansen Quite formal. You pay a lot and get little. The cheesecake is excellent, but quite expensive. If you are hungry, go somewhere else. There is an exceptional view towards UNIS, good to watch students on their way home, blowing away in the wind. Try the breakfast buffet. Nice place for the family visit.

Barents Pub (4)
Small and informal pub. OK. Not good at serious drinks.

Kroa (3)
The inn, located behind Basecamp, with 'trapper-style' decoration. Nice place, if you like dead animals hanging on the wall and driftwood furniture. Quite expensive food, but large portions. Most students order pizzas - be sure to try Gruve 1. Classic Pizza. Small place, expensive but good pizza and kebab restaurant. Delivery service for rich and lazy ones.

I think I need to apply for a PhD at UNIS. Anyone want to sponsor me ?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How very convenient !

A fantastic icy image which was posted by FLICKr User Tervaaja - great work ! Really gives a nice impression of an icy landscape, and shows what is available out there on the net.

A few things...
First of all, from Friday at the Majestic Cinema in King's Lynn next week is the Al Gore film: "An Inconvenient Truth". I recommend you go along and see it - I'll be there at some point. Click the widget below to pledge: put in a 5 digit number for the ZIP. I'll also be buying the DVD for the Geography department as a resource.

Second thing is that there is a useful site relating to climate change put together by Ben and Jerry's, who make ice cream.
They offer a chance for people to become ambassadors and visit foreign locations. Some useful resources on the site. Click the picture below to take a look at what is on offer.
and finally, a nice page of images from Galen Frysinger HERE.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tuesday 7th November

OK, so I will arrive around 9am today.
By then you should be well under way with Task B from the Coursework. As a reminder, here is the task again:


So what do YOU think the future holds for Svalbard? What human and physical changes might occur as a result of global warming? What is your vision for a future Svalbard?

Write a 500-word report to describe and explain your view of a likely possible future for Svalbard.

You may choose to take an overview of the human and physical characteristics of the Islands


You may focus on one broad aspect such as the landscape

OR you may even like to refine your report and focus on one aspect such as ecosystems or even polar bears.

Your intended audience of readers is a group of KES geographers from Years 10 to 13. You may wish to write for another intended audience, consult your teacher.

Folow the ‘Top Tips!’ below to help you.

Top Tips!

  • Incorporate the idea of sustainability within your answer: the idea that we need to use resources in such a way as to allow them to remain viable for the future
  • Show you understand likely future changes on Svalbard
  • Describe and explain these changes.
  • Refer to who might be affected by the changes.
  • Refer to human and physical changes.
  • Refer to local, regional and global implications of this change.
  • Present and justify your own view.
  • Include diagrams, maps and photos to support your view. At all times make sure that you credit your sources.

Possible aspects to include on your concept map or diagram:

Oceans around Svalbard.

Climate of Svalbard.

Glaciers and ice caps on Svalbard.

Landscapes, landforms and processes of Svalbard.

Land-based ecosystems of Svalbard.

Ocean-based ecosystems of Svalbard.

Human activities on Svalbard.

Culture and peoples of Svalbard.

Scientific exploration of Svalbard.

You could focus on some or one of these in your report.

Planet Earth : Ice Worlds

I hope you watched this last night. If not, it's available to view again tonight (Monday)
Excellent images of extreme environments, and the struggle to survive, particularly the Polar bear sequence, and the little huddle of shivering baby penguins lost in the blizzard...
There is an excellent WEBSITE to accompany the series which includes a FLASH EARTH, which you can rotate and then zoom in to see video clips.
You'll need a recent version of Flash on your PC to use this application.
For more on the animal and plant species which live in extreme environments, visit ARKIVE.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Christmas is Coming, and it's coming from China !

As I said on Friday, we'll be finishing off the Svalbard work next week.
Around the middle of December we'll have a quick sneak preview of the work on the People as Consumers unit when we look at CHRISTMAS and the consumer aspects of this holiday.
This weekend, Felixstowe made the news as the largest container ship in the world (it can carry 11 000 containers!) arrived full of goods from China.
Its arrival was reported on the BBC NEWS site, and the GUARDIAN also had a useful article.
The container ship is called the EMMA MAERSK. It will apparently take about 3 days to unload the UK consignment of materials. Felixstowe is one destination on a route which included Gothenburg, Yantian (China), Hong Kong and Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia)
The ship is a quarter of a mile long !

There's a very useful PHOTO STORY following a toy car from design to sale here.
An interesting article here on SANTA's LITTLE HELPERS: children not elves...

The ship contained the following items according to the 'Independent on Sunday':
2 million christmas decorations
thousands of electrical goods
12 800 mp3 players
33 000 cocktail shakers
150 tons of New Zealand lamb
thousands of frozen chickens
138 000 tins of cat food

I will be absent from the first part of the lesson on Tuesday as I have a meeting. I will of course let you know once more what to do, but it will also be posted here on Monday. Remember that both Task A and Task B need to be completed.

Bagpuss and Global Warming

Also, some time ago, I posted some images which linked the Clangers and Ivor the Engine with the issue of Global Warming.
The link here is Oliver Postgate who, along with Peter Firmin produced some of the most memorable TV programmes in the 1960's and beyond, including Bagpuss, the programs above and one of my personal favourites: Noggin the Nog.
A few weeks ago, he took out a full page ad in The Times to point out the errors of our ways, and the need to change if we were to avoid the problems of Global Warming.
This is a Greenpeace posting about the article.
And I am grateful to another new blog find: ONE LESS CAR, for posting the text of the article from Oliver:
“I am walking along the path behind the cliff and I see, over the fence, that a small child, not more than two years old, is blithely toddling straight towards the brink of the cliff. Now the ground inside the fence is private property, with stern notices, so I have no right to enter on to it. But all the same, I have a duty to jump over the fence, run across, pick her up and carry her, bawling blue murder, to safety.”

Human society is that child, that happy, greedy, outraged moppet, totally self-centred and lovable, but it too has no grasp of its situation and now it is also toddling towards the brink.

Is this our fault?

Not particularly. In our civilisation, in which a nation’s economic success is measured by its “growth”, consumer-spending is a vital component. It is a competitive commercial world in which, for the economic health of our nation, we are honour-bound to over-eat, over-spend and over-waste. As units of consumption that is our function.
The side-effect of this function – global warming, was recognised long ago, and successive governments have worked hard to avoid coming to terms with the inconvenient fact that our “conspicuous consumption” has been slowly poisoning the whole climate of the world.
Now we have run out of time. Global warming is on the brink of becoming irreversible!
If the human race is to avoid having to face slow, irreversible extinction in a disaster torn world, it must, as a race, take immediate draconian action to reduce carbon emissions to a level which will not only eliminate the green house effect but also cause the planet to cool away the vast heat charge it has already received during the years of neglect.
Personal economy is necessary and can help, but the bulk of carbon emissions come from larger sources which only government legislation can deal with.
The present government has been making a show of tackling this, but the task it has given to its scientists is not simply to find a way to end global warming – they could do that at once – but to do so “without cutting either our economic growth or our living standards”.
As these are the two main causes of global warming, this task does, as they say: “present some difficulties” in that, from among the many different speculative predictions on offer, the scientists are being expected to seek and select, as definitive, the most “politically practical”.
To do that is potentially suicidal. As nobody can pretend to know for certain what is going to happen to the climate, the only safe and sensible thing to do is to deal with it now. So GLOBAL WARMING IS A GLOBAL EMERGENCY – Our duty is to see that it is fully dealt with, now.
Oliver Postgate
October 2006. - new George Monbiot site which supports his new book, which I bought at Edinburgh Airport the other day...

Also, on Friday morning, I set the Sky+ box to record an excellent pair of programmes which were produced in consultation with 2 friends of mine. They were produced by BBC Scotland, who still seem capable of producing interesting programmes whereas south of the border they still apparently think Brazil 2000 sounds up-to-date...
The programs were on River landscapes: 2 x 20 minutes which looked at 2 contrasting rivers: the first is the River Devon in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, and the second is the River Cuckmere in the SE (see picture below)

A good job by Val Vannet and Dave Rayner, the 2 Geography consultants on the programmes. If you have Sky, you can see BBC Scotland.

Speaking of TV, coming up in March or so next year will probably be the Class Clips programme with the Geography of Happiness clips which we filmed in Dublin.

And finally, Tony Cassidy should be posting again soon following a trip to Berlin.
Off to hunt out the fireguard and poker: cold weather is finally arriving and it's time to get the open fires going and turn down the gas central heating.
Interesting question: which costs less / has the least environmental impact ??

Updates: the Rivers video listed above now has a companion website which is HERE
It has some flash elements to test knowledge of hydrographs and the drainage basin system.
Some good material here.
Also the Class Clips Programme referred to above is shown in late February. The Happiness materials didn't make the programme however...

Filtering and Fold Mountains

Hopefully this blog will soon be back to normal.
The local authority decided to filter out all the pictures last week, and I have arranged for the block to be lifted. We'll see how long it takes. The pictures are vital for most of the posts, especially given the efforts made by Steve Johnston.
Coming soon to all schools in the country is a copy of Michael Palin's "Himalayas" book, as part of the Action Plan for Geography.

The Geography Teaching Today website has a new section of ideas on using your new Himalayas resource.
Some schools will be using the Himalayas as their Extreme Environment case study.

Also coming soon will be more details on the project we're involved in as part of the Action Plan for Geography. We will be setting a task to sort out the pupils that we take with us. Mrs. Clarke and I willbe going over to Leicester in a couple of weeks time for a planning meeting.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Conference Call & Christmas is coming...

Two brief things to distract me from my marking and report writing...
First of all, I'll be off school (what again ?) tomorrow attending an e-learning Conference in Norwich which includes a keynote session by Peter Ford, someone I contacted when I was doing the GeoBlogs project all the way back in 2003. Was also reminded that 2 and a half years ago I did a workshop on Blogging at the PDC, and it's also 2 years since the GeoBlogs article in Teaching Geography.
Also decided to reestablish the link to my famous CHRISTMAS BLOG article which has come back each year for the last 3 years or so. It would be a useful resource for the PEOPLE AS CONSUMERS section of the course.

Planet Earth back again...

Yes, it's time for Hoppipola again and the latest run of 'Planet Earth' - image copyright BBC
The first of the new run is called 'Pole to Pole' and has some footage of Arctic as well as Antarctic landscapes and wildlife and will presumably be as stunning as the first run. Set the Sky+ box now.

Also, apologies if you can't see the images when reading this blog at school. That is a real pain, but as usual it's the LEA's rather clumsy filtering system which is to blame. If you read the blog at home all the images will be shown, as well as the video clips.