It was a privilege to be one of the presenters at the Royal Geographical Society with IBG (RGS-IBG)’s first Primary Geography and History Teachmeet this evening. This event was held in conjunction with the Historical Association (HA) and encouraged teachers to share their ideas and innovation in geography and history teaching with the teaching community. With over 160 in attendance, there were plenty of eyes and ears watching and listening, along with lots of typing taking place in the accompanying chat feed!
Teachmeets are an effective means of finding out what fellow teachers are doing in the classroom and beyond and a great way to mingle with the primary community online. Delegates were able to view eight individual sessions from a variety of primary teachers, freelance consultants and university lecturers and take away a range of ideas, resources and experiences.
Claire Brown, Manager: Educational Professional Support in the Education and Outdoor Learning Department at the Royal Geographical Society with IBG (RGS-IBG), launched the proceedings with a formal welcome and outlined how the event would run.
The first presenter was Kirstin Hoey from Castle Court School in Dorset, who explored ‘Embedding map work into the primary curriculum’. She divided her presentation into four parts, namely ‘thinking’, ‘analysing’, ‘realising’ and ‘resources’. Whilst I have used or was familiar with many of the activities and resources that she discussed, it was lovely to see photographs of the children at her school engaging with maps of all different sizes and forms.
It was then time for me to have some input, showcasing a recent multi-schools event that I had co-delivered with Adriana Meirelles (‘Let’s go on a scintillating South American adventure!’). This was funded by the Geographical Association (GA)’s Initiatives Fund and enabled 248 pupils and 20 teachers and TAs from five schools across the Gloucestershire/South Gloucestershire/Bristol area to be taken virtually to the heart of the Amazon and explore the tropical rainforest biome, discover more about global issues, such as deforestation and climate change, and learn about the lives of the indigenous people (https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/10/15/lets-go-on-a-scintillating-south-american-adventure/).
Next, Caroline Freedman of Martin Primary School exemplified ‘Using texts to link geography and English’. She referred to a number of books, some of which I had heard of or utilised myself in the classroom, and shared work that pupils had produced in conjunction with these texts. Nonetheless, there were a couple of books that I am looking forward to ordering and dipping into, including ‘When the giant stirred‘ by Celia Godkin, ‘One plastic bag‘ by Miranda Paul and ‘The Promise‘ by Nicola Davies.
Afterwards, Rob Nixon from The Berkeley Academy was in the ‘hot seat’. He looked at ‘History and geography in the new EYFS Framework: key changes and how to adapt them to your setting.’ ‘Understanding the World’ has undergone significant change, now being sub-divided into three key areas, namely ‘ELG: Past and present’, ‘ELG: People, culture and communities’ and ‘ELG: The natural world’ (relating to history, geography and science respectively), and with technology now integrated throughout the new EYFS Framework. Having recently attended a EYFS training event led by David Weatherly and Sheena Wright, I was aware of such changes. Nevertheless, it was good to hear Rob reiterating some of the things that both David and Sheena had emphasised; a focus on personal experiences, visits, stories, and vocabulary/language.
Kerry Somers’ (from Halterworth Primary School in Romsey, Hampshire) talk was entitled ‘KS2: We are all historians!’. She looked at asking questions to encourage historical thinking and shared approaches that she had used to promote this, e.g. ‘line of agreement’; helping children to organise their thoughts; ‘significance web’; ‘living graph’ and ‘snakes and ladders’. I would love to be one of the pupils in her class as history appeared to be so exciting!
Then, it was over to Glenn Carter, the man behind History Rocks (https://www.history-rocks.com/) and a teacher at Ingleby Mill Primary School in Stockton on Tees, to demonstrate how to ‘Bring[ing] the humanities alive with Mosaik3D’. Glenn outlined the reasons for using technology in the classroom (its engaging; its interactive; it speaks to the children) and then gave us a whistle stop tour of Mosaik3D, highlighting its key features and explaining how he has utilised it to support teaching and learning.
Dr Susan Pike, the current President of the Geographical Association and based at Dublin City University Drumcondra, spoke about ‘Marvellous Maps 5-11’. During her informative and inspiring presentation, she mentioned a wonderful old book, ‘The map that came to life‘ by Ronald Lampitt and James Deverson (https://www.maproomblog.com/2016/10/the-map-that-came-to-life/, http://www.fulltable.com/VTS/aoi/l/lampitt/map.htm and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ9QcnVSZ_g), which I must explore further!
Finally, Claire Brown drew the event to a close with her overview of ‘Resources and CPD for primary geography’. You can find out more about the RGS-IBG’s work with schools (and their free resources for primary) at www.rgs.org/schools. Meanwhile, Mahemma Chanrai represented the HA and provided insight into ‘Resources and CPD from the Historical Association’. You can find out more about the HA and how it can support you (plus resources and more) at https://www.history.org.uk/.
Presentations from the event are now available online at https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/primary-teachmeet-2-march-2021-speaker-presentatio/.
Well done to all involved; a productive and enjoyable way to spend a Tuesday evening in lockdown! I am also looking forward to the next Teachmeet, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.