Since the two, 3.5 hour sessions that I delivered last July were well-received, it was decided to stick with this revised format and repeat these at the start of the new academic year. Further details about the series can be found by accessing the web-link below:
On board today were teachers from all over the UK and with varying degrees of experience. All were very enthusiastic, supportive of one another and keen to share best practice, as well as contributing willingly.
The aim of these sessions is to enhance delegates’ subject knowledge of several key geographical themes, as well as increasing their confidence to teach such topics both in and beyond the classroom. Many teaching ideas are suggested and participants are given the opportunity to trial some of these during the sessions too. There is also a chance to ask questions, discuss issues, either as a whole group or in ‘breakout rooms’, and add contributions to the accompanying chat feed.
After introducing myself, providing some background information about the Geographical Association’s website (https://geography.org.uk/), its Professional Award (https://geography.org.uk/events-cpd/cpd-toolkit/ga-professional-award/) and Primary Geography Quality Mark (PGQM) (https://geography.org.uk/quality-marks/), we moved swiftly on to explore ‘climate, biomes and vegetation belts’. 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. Delegates were challenged to a number of activities throughout the first webinar and given fifteen minutes at the end to explore some of the web-links and resources at their leisure. There was an opportunity to ask questions, either by unmuting themselves or via the chat feed too. Afterwards, we took a short comfort break.
Next, we looked at ‘mountains and volcanoes’. Mountains can be tourist attractions, national symbols, a country’s borders, the source of a country’s mineral wealth, inspirational, spiritual and challenging, in addition to being loved by artists, climbers and engineers alike. The connection between mountains and volcanoes lies at the molten core of our planet, where the gradual cooling of the Earth’s core over millions of years has formed the mountains and volcanoes we see today. This geological formation of Earth is constant. Often, in the News, volcanoes demonstrate the raw power of nature and are a stark reminder of how our world was so violently created and how our human existence is dependent on a thin crust of the Earth’s surface that lies above these primal, elemental forces beneath. Again, during the webinar, participants were invited to complete several tasks and allotted time at the end to explore some of the suggested web-links and resources. I also answered their questions and directed them towards additional websites or materials where necessary.
Following another brief screen break, we reconvened to investigate ‘latitude, longitude, day and night’. Learning to tell the time is an early primary skill; understanding how time works through night and day and across different places around the globe is a more complex, but equally essential geographical skill. I referenced Digimap for Schools lots and we seized the opportunity to ‘have a play’ together. Some teachers were reasonably familiar with the tool, whilst others had not previously really engaged with it. All were very impressed with its scope for use both in and beyond the classroom. I allocated a few minutes for independent exploration and to take any questions from the audience before moving on to the plenary. At this point, individuals were asked to complete a Google Form, which gave them time to reflect upon the morning’s activities, as well as providing those at the GA and myself with invaluable feedback.
Some of their ‘concluding comments’ can be viewed below:
Sum up today’s webinar in five words or a sentence or two.
Very informative and helpful being new to a Geography Subject Leader role.
Informative session to ensure CPD knowledge is up-to-date and that our curriculum is secure.
I found the different activities and links to resources amazing. I thought there might be more aimed towards leadership.
Very useful and inspiring, reminding me why I love geography!
Really useful subject knowledge about key areas in the curriculum.
Thank you very much for this morning. I feel quite inspired and looking forward to sharing the ideas with colleagues.
Clear, informative and helpful.
What did you enjoy the most today and why? (WWW)
I enjoyed some of the examples of bringing it into the classroom, such as the mountain activity.
All the activities, links and ideas.
Teaching and practical ideas to do in the classroom.
Learning more about different aspects, finding new games and resources.
Using/looking at the resources and taking part in the tasks.
Ideas for activities to incorporate into classes straightaway and seeing further resources that could support our topics in school.
What did you enjoy the least and why? (EBI)
I just personally found it difficult to access the session as we needed to go through the meeting ID and passcode at our school to load the Zoom call, and as this wasn’t on the email, we struggled this morning.
Thought there would be more aimed towards leadership and how to incorporate these aspects into the curriculum.
Would be good to have access to the slides to have a look at the links during the breaks.
Need to watch the parts I missed. I enjoyed getting new teaching ideas more then increasing my knowledge.
Could have done with the multi-media presentation beforehand as I wanted to go back to a few of links to write notes when it had moved on.
PDF downloads are also available to purchase via the GA’s shop, either as ten individual titles or as a full set (https://portal.geography.org.uk/shop/index?profile=In%20the%20Know). 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 teaching with confidence.
I look forward to another enlightening morning on Thursday 28th September 2023.
Submissions for the most spectacular sunrise or sunset can be found below: