Virtual Primary Humanities Network meeting (Term 5): The power of ‘everyday geographies’

ConsultancyWorkshops

Trying to fit a virtual Primary Humanities Network meeting into Term 5 when the return from the Easter holidays was quite late, there was a Bank Holiday to be taken into account and SATs week to avoid has not been an easy task!  However, we managed to find a couple of hours this afternoon to gather together to share best practice.  Having been recently inspired by some fantastic speakers and events at the Geographical Association (GA)’s Annual Conference, I decided to carry the theme into our fifth virtual Primary Humanities Network meeting of this academic year; The power of ‘everyday geographies’ (including reference to geographical skills and fieldwork and challenging misconceptions).

Since we had a few newbies on board among the regulars this afternoon, I began with a brief introduction  and formal welcome, before outlining the aims and structure of the session (see below):

Firstly, I provided an ‘educational round-up‘, identifying key issues currently being discussed and debated, useful websites and new resources.  Links to some of those mentioned can be found below:

I paused for a few minutes so that participants had time to explore my suggestions further.  It also gave me an opportunity to address comments added to the chat feed and answer any questions that individuals had.  Judging by the smily faces added to the chat feed, the consensus seemed to be that there were many new, relevant materials that they were now aware of, which would help to invigorate teaching and learning both in and beyond the classroom.

Next, I spent some time considering the power of ‘everyday geographies’.  Firstly, I referenced Alan Parkinson’s enlightening and engaging Presidential Lecture at the GA’s 2022 Annual Conference (https://www.geography.org.uk/Hybrid-Conference-2022), outlining some of his key messages/thoughts.  His Living Geography blog is well worth visiting regularly (http://livinggeography.blogpot.com), as is the Teaching Toolkit: Lesson Blueprints that he contributed to recently (https://d3.youthmetre.eu/lesson-blueprints/).  The webinar that Alan delivered for Digimap for Schools a couple of weeks’ ago contains many quick, easy and cost-effective ideas for fieldwork in the local area (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydTAPKfp1dY and https://livinggeography.blogspot.com/2022/04/digimap-for-schools-webinar.html).  A recent article, The power of postcodes, published in The Week Junior (Issue: 334), links closely with one of the possible activities discussed (https://schools.theweekjunior.co.uk/).  Alan’s ‘everyday geographies’ theme spills over into WorldWise Week 2022‘s accompanying resource booklet as well (https://www.geography.org.uk/teaching-resources/Everyday-geographies).

Another insightful session at the GA’s 2022 Annual Conference relating closely to our meeting’s theme was that given by Dr Stephen Scoffham and Steve Rawlinson entitled Entangled worlds: geography and sustainability in classroom contexts (https://www.geography.org.uk/Conference-2022-recordings, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGhuXuH_kHg and https://www.geography.org.uk/Hybrid-Conference-2022).  I summarised their session and referred to their fantastic new book, Sustainability Education, so timely in light of the DfE’s new Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy launch (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sustainability-Education-Classroom-Stephen-Scoffham/dp/1350262072).  I also provided further links to a few of the innovative pedagogies mentioned, e.g. the meaningful maps project (http://meaningfulmaps.org/, https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/stay-home/meaningful-maps/ and https://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/54e40feb-96e7-4b6d-9668-284e73ce93bd – Summer 2020); 8-way thinking (https://www.geography.org.uk/Critical-thinking-and-fieldwork).

This flowed smoothly into the next item; quick, easy and cost-effective ways of developing geographical skills and implementing impactful and purposeful fieldwork.  I drew attention to Ofsted’s Research Review for Geography (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ofsted-publishes-research-review-on-geography), zooming in on the introductory section outlining the features of a high-quality geography education and its references to fieldwork.  We also looked briefly at the comments made in relation to geographical skills and fieldwork, including fieldwork, geographical skills, map skills, aerial photography and satellite imagery and Geographic Information Systems.  Next, I unpicked the National Curriculum programmes of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 to reinforce the expected progression.

National Fieldwork Week takes place from 6th to 10th June and I showcased a number of resources that have been produced to support teachers ‘taking learning beyond the classroom’ (https://www.geography.org.uk/National-Fieldwork-Week).  I proposed that individuals should explore a number of articles that have been published in previous editions of the GA’s Primary Geography journal, e.g. https://www.geography.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/Support%20and%20guidance/Examples_of_articles_about_fieldwork_in_PG_2009-2021.pdfhttps://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/a8b48041-9c02-46d1-8f83-b5b4dd562255https://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/046dbc89-deb9-49d9-b766-a0f92565befahttps://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/69525df0-ab07-4d5e-b301-ffaa39e445dehttps://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/26a58433-b1d4-4dcf-b1c6-3e7ba5b0640b.  I also recommended a couple of items on sale within the GA’s online shop that teachers may find useful (https://www.geography.org.uk/eBooks-detail/ee8194a4-4977-436e-a29d-168ab38615f1; https://www.geography.org.uk/eBooks-detail/4fac795b-2699-4563-ade2-468b01178d24; https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/The-Everyday-Guide-to-Primary-Geography-Fieldwork/9781843773672; https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/The-Everyday-Guide-to-Primary-Geography-Maps/9781843773306; https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/The-Everyday-Guide-To-Primary-Geography-Locational-Knowledge/9781843774686 and https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/Product-type/Fieldwork/Primary-fieldwork-fold-out-guides-/9781843773863).  A must watch is the latest GeogLive!8 available on You Tube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6Os3UNHlao).  Here, members of the GA’s Early Years and Primary Phase Committee (EYPPC) each shared an idea for a fieldwork activity during the session; plenty of new ones to explore with youngsters!

Moreover, the RGS-IBG has several resources promoting local fieldwork; type ‘fieldwork’ into the search facility and customise according to the Key Stage that you wish to explore (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/?categories=Keystage1&loadall=0&pageindex=1&searchterm=fieldwork).  Their Stay Home Stories project is brilliant and could easily be adopted, adapted and/or developed by schools (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/stay-home/).  It includes an array of fieldwork activities that could be conducted with different age groups too.

In addition, Digimap for Schools is invaluable when undertaking fieldwork (https://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/).  Its learning resources relating to primary, locational knowledge, Early Years, maps and symbols and outdoor learning are all worth investigating further (https://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/learning-resources/).

I directed attendees towards The Ernest Cook Trust’s Outdoor Essentials Grant (https://ernestcooktrust.org.uk/what-we-do/everything-outdoors/outdoor-essentials-grant) as I believe many may be eligible.  When I previously accessed this, the application process seemed to be fairly straight-forward too, which is always a bonus!

Again, we paused for ten minutes or so to enable participants to explore some of the afore-mentioned websites and resources, ask any questions that they may have and share best practice via the chat feed or by unmuting themselves.  It was lovely to see many doing the latter with very little prompting.

Afterwards, we looked at challenging misconceptions.  Firstly, I asked participants to complete the activity below:

Dipo Faloyin, author of Africa is not a country, provided the keynote on Day 2 of the GA’s 2022 Annual Conference (https://www.geography.org.uk/Hybrid-Conference-2022https://www.geography.org.uk/Conference-2022-recordings).  Extracts from his thought-provoking and hugely revealing book can be viewed here, one of which I shared with teachers and asked them to note in the chat feed what they had learnt about Africa after reading it: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Africa-Not-Country-Dipo-Faloyin/dp/1787302954.  I linked to Dipo’s Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/DipoFaloyin) and website as well (https://www.dipofaloyin.com/).

Once again, we referred to Ofsted’s Research Review for Geography to review what it stated about misconceptions and how a high-quality geography education might address these (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-review-series-geography/research-review-series-geography).  I then challenged delegates to the below activity, which generated much lively discussion:

We concluded with two, short activities, namely:

Some of participants’ ‘concluding comments‘ can be viewed below:

  • Thanks for another fab session.  Thanks to everyone for their contributions, it’s really good to get to know other Subject Leaders.
  • Many things to investigate further!
  • Full of ideas to implement … again!
  • Inspirational; new knowledge; great ideas of resources.
  • Informative.  Great new ideas to try.  Meeting other Subject Leaders is really helpful too!
  • Incredibly informative.  Helps keep me updated on current offerings and information.
  • Great resources for undertaking fieldwork.
  • Lots to explore and share with colleagues.
  • Very informative and encouraging.
  • Lots of ideas of how we can provide teachers with more help/information.
  • Informative; up-to-date; full of ideas to takeaway.
  • Often apparently challenging areas of the curriculum (fieldwork) can be overcome with the simplest of ideas and approaches.
  • Thank you – so many ideas to reflect and research.
  • Thank you very much!
  • Thanks for a great meeting.

Possible themes for future Primary Humanities Network meetings included:

  • Supporting SEND. 

A positive end to a busy week!

Good luck!  I look forward to hearing all about your teaching and learning missions at the beginning of our final meeting of this academic year, most likely to be held in late June/early July.

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