Due to the success of three webinar series over the past couple of years and further interest and demand, the Geographical Association (GA) approached me to see if I would be keen to lead another six online sessions via 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 have found the delivery of previous series to be both enjoyable and incredibly rewarding.
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:
- I know more about weather and climate.
- Recapping & refining knowledge.
- Difference between weather and climate, vegetation belts and biomes.
- Broader vocabulary and understanding about biomes.
- Helpful; better understanding.
- Subject-specific vocabulary revision.
- Loved the teaching ideas to try out.
- I now have a deeper understanding about biomes and vegetation belts.
When asked to list any of the suggested teaching ideas that they might ‘give a go’, many stated the following:
- Defining vocabulary.
- Use Google Earth Pro and have the photo box checked.
- The missing words in a paragraph to support writing. (x 2)
- Guess the key; Digimap for Schools; Google Earth Pro; double bubble activity; 8-way thinking strategy.
- Digimap for Schools. (x 3)
- Digimap for Schools with biomes overlay.
- Anagrams and starter activities.
Attendees were also encouraged to consider any changes that they might make to current teaching and learning in their school. These included:
- Specific vocabulary.
- Including plants and animals – always thought it was more science.
- Links with science – habitats and biomes. Ensuring children can make those links.
- Retention strategies.
- Content; comprehensive; length.
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’.