Last November, I was approached by those at the Geographical Association (GA) to see if I would be interested in delivering six webinars aimed at primary school teachers and linked to their popular ‘In the Know’ series. The ‘In the Know’ series is designed to help primary school teachers with their background knowledge of geographical themes and topics that they are expected to teach. I agreed and am pleased that I did as teachers and Geography Subject Leaders need as much support as possible during these very challenging and unprecedented times.
A course programme and overview, along with its overall aims and outcomes and fees, can be found by accessing the web-link below:
The first webinar, which focused on ‘Climate, biomes and vegetation belts’, took place this afternoon. Pupils learn about weather from the beginning of their primary years. However, understanding the relationship between weather and climate and how they affect the habitats of different animals and plants, creating biomes, is a complex geographical concept. For example, did you know that boreal forest is the largest terrestrial biome, Antarctica is a desert or that more than half of Earth’s plants and animals call tropical rainforests home? As the human effects on the climate become increasingly apparent, it is imperative that Earth’s future custodians have an understanding of the interconnections that link all life on our planet.
Judging by the reflections in the chat feed towards the end of the session, participants found the webinar to be extremely useful; a quick, easy and cost-effective means of boosting their subject knowledge. Some of their ‘concluding comments’ can be viewed below:
‘Interesting; useful; informative.’
‘Refreshed knowledge of biomes.’
‘Have more knowledge, more ideas and more confidence.’
‘Really useful subject knowledge.’
‘Definitions, informative and more understanding.’
‘Great ideas to help with our vocabulary focus throughout the school.’
‘Fantastic recap of key terms and phrases; great overview of the subject; practical ideas to use in class.’
‘Vocabulary; biomes; subject knowledge.’
‘Informative; thought-provoking; improved subject knowledge.’
‘Clarification of terms; informative.’
‘Difference between biome and vegetation belts; links between ideas; key vocabulary lists.’
‘More subject knowledge; I understand the vocabulary now!’
‘Increased subject knowledge; definitions; vocabulary.’
When asked to list any of the suggested teaching ideas that they might ‘give a go’, many stated the following:
- matching key words to definitions;
- gap filling exercises/cloze precedure text (works well for Zoom calls and ‘live learning’);
- biome map work;
- completing the key on a map;
- picture clues.
Attendees were also encouraged to consider any changes that they might make to current teaching and learning in their school. Majority wished to provide clearer definitions and give greater attention to subject-specific vocabulary. Others were keen to include more practical tasks and make use of technology.
- Loved the practical ideas for teaching it.
- The interactive element was really engaging rather than a lecture style.
- Access to the resources.
- Instant chat.
- I liked that we didn’t have to look at ourselves! First use of Adobe Connect and it was good.
- Clear and concise information.
- It has enhanced my knowledge, I loved the practical ideas and the focus on the vocabulary.
- Nice level of interaction.
- More practical ideas for the classroom.
- Just need more time to read the accompanying materials – thank you!
- In the current climate, are there any plans to include remote learning ideas?
- The maps and tasks could be provided separately with the course material.
PDF downloads are also available to purchase via the GA’s shop, either as ten individual titles or as a full set (https://www.geography.org.uk/ebooks). These provide straightforward, accurate and trustworthy background knowledge, explanation, diagrams and glossary on topics in the geography National Curriculum so that teachers can develop their geography teaching with confidence.
I look forward to the second webinar next Thursday afternoon, which explores ‘Rivers and the water cycle’.