It is not very often that you get the opportunity to ‘come and hone your geographical skills, have a play with Digimap for Schools and conduct a fieldwork enquiry within the school grounds … all in the space of a day!‘.
Thanks to support from the Balcarras Trust and Darren Bailey from Ordnance Survey (OS), GlosGeog (Gloucestershire’s local Geographical Association [GA] branch), were able to offer today’s event at a highly subsidised rate to primary school teachers, both in and close to the county of Gloucestershire. Whilst we were a fairly small group today, it did mean that there was plenty of chance to interact/network, ask questions and gain advice specific to the needs and interests of each school/cohort.
The day began with registration, refreshments being served, a formal welcome and introductions.
Next, Darren led a map reading exercise. This was an interactive session, focusing on key mapping skills, including symbols, contours, four- and six-figure grid references and using a compass. Delegates were clearly willing to ‘have a go’ as can be seen from the photographs below:
Following a break for refreshments and a spot of networking, we embarked upon a data collection exercise. Using their smartphone, participants collected geospatial data around the school environment by employing apps, such as OS Locate, Plant Net and Decibel Meter. Darren then provided an in-depth dive into using Digimap for Schools. There was an opportunity to have a hands-on experience of using the service, looking at functionality, features, layers and how to integrate it into each school’s geography curriculum, as well as exploring potential cross-curricular links.
After lunch and time to chat with other delegates, we returned to the data collected earlier and used this to create data tables and maps. We also tackled an activity that utilised secondary data to map earthquakes.
Towards the end of the day, attendees were encouraged to spend a few minutes reflecting. A Google Form had been set up for them to complete. Some of their ‘concluding comments‘ can be found below:
Informative and useful. Feel full of ideas!
Extremely helpful and lots of great detail with practical examples.
Really useful and helpful with great ideas.
Informative; useful; doable; great value and use of time.
Well-delivered; informative; interesting; useful.
A very informative session with some useful ideas about how to use maps in the classroom.
Many thanks to Darren and Elizabeth Cullis, Jo Newman and Nicola Lambert-Masters at the Balcarras Trust for their input and efforts in ensuring a very worthwhile and interactive session was enjoyed by all.
We look forward to repeating this again in the not too distant future so that even more local teachers can benefit from such a valuable training session.