Due to the success of two webinar series last academic year and further interest and demand, the Geographical Association (GA) approached me to see if I would be keen to lead another six online sessions, this time using Zoom. 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. Of course, I agreed as I am well aware that teachers and Geography Subject Leaders need as much support as possible, especially given the recent challenging times that we have been through.
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’ (summing up their learning in five words or a sentence or two) can be viewed below:
- Much clearer on the difference between climate, biomes and vegetation belts.
- Interesting; educational; provided ideas to move forward with.
- Comprehensive. Detailed. Interesting. Interactive. Thought-provoking.
- I know the different biomes and the difference between weather and climate.
- Better understanding and thought provoking.
When asked to list any of the suggested teaching ideas that they might ‘give a go’, many stated the following:
- Get children doing more activities with vocabulary and definitions and then applying that knowledge as they progress through school. We liked the anagram activity.
- Digimap for Schools and Google Earth Pro.
- The activity with the torch and the globe.
- Looking at the distribution of the sun’s rays and how that impacts biomes.
- Definitely more repetition with vocabulary ideas.
- Definitely interested to find out more about the Digimap for Schools ideas and your ‘Amazing Amazon Adventure’.
- Google Earth Pro (we have Digimap for Schools, but need more info/help).
Attendees were also encouraged to consider any changes that they might make to current teaching and learning in their school. These included:
- Changing the curriculum so will be looking at using these ideas within.
- Use vocabulary activity for retrieval practice.
- Adding more to do with biomes to our LTP – we think we need to have more coverage of biomes and ensure it is taught throughout.
- We teach savannah in Year 2, deserts in Year 3 and rainforests in Year 4; however, we need to ensure that our pupils have the full picture.
- The ideas and interaction (despite me being on the phone to a parent – sorry!).
- Lots of activity ideas.
- Clear explanations!
- Clear understanding.
- The interaction and ideas … thanks.
- Teaching ideas.
- Clear explanations to share with staff.
- Clear ideas that can be used cross-curricularly.
- I had the link to join the webinar so that I could join on time.
- It will definitely be great to have the links so we can find out more about some of your brilliant ideas. Thank you.
- Put the ppt on full screen please – struggled to see.
I have just enjoyed your webinar. … Thank you – you have helped me clarify my own understanding!
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’.