CPD workshop: Children as landscape detectives

ConsultancyGlosGeogWorkshops

GlosGeog, our local Geographical Association (GA) branch, was able to run this FREE half day CPD event for local teachers entitled ‘Children as landscape detectives‘ thanks to the support of Peter Vujakovic, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Canterbury Christ Church University and Odyssey Teaching School Hub at Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (https://www.patesgs.org/). Due to the format of the workshop and sets of resources available, we had to restrict numbers to 20, unfortunately. However, those that were unsuccessful in gaining a place this time need not worry; we shall be holding another similar event during the morning of Wednesday 10th April 2024 (send me an e-mail if you wish to be involved).

After formally welcoming and introducing everyone, I handed over to Peter to deliver the session. Peter began by outlining the ‘Mapping our future’ project and its key themes, namely supporting mapwork and fieldwork in geography and history, meaningful mapwork, settlement site and situation, sustainable futures and civic pride and community engagement. We then conducted a site analysis, considering the qualities intrinsic and extrinsic to a site, one of which is ‘woods’.

Peter had his audience engaged from the onset.

We later explored ancient woodlands on maps. Peter directed teachers towards Paula Owens’ fantastic ‘progression in mapping’ resource, freely available to download via Digimap for School’s website (https://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/learning-resources/resource/progression-mapping.html). We zoomed in on Year 5 and Year 6 to see what pupils of this age were expected to be able to do. Next, Peter shared definitions of ancient woodland. He played a short movie clip to exemplify why ancient woodlands are so important (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mG1NM-iI4g&t=39s). Not only did this explain the conservation and heritage value of ancient woodlands, but it also included evidence of age-old woodland management practices, such as coppicing. Peter discussed how we might determine whether an area of woodland on a map was ancient or not, projecting a slide with the distinct characteristics of each.

Easing us in gently!

Knowing what we now knew, we were challenged to complete an activity in pairs; using map evidence to draw conclusions about specific areas of woodland – were they ancient or recent additions? Individuals were keen to have a go despite many not having met previously.

Great teamwork!

Peter demonstrated how we could check our answers using the Natural England and DEFRA open dataset (https://naturalengland-defra.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/ancient-woodland-england/explore), as well sharing a number of other useful websites and resources.

We paused for refreshments, kindly provided by Odyssey Teaching School Hub, before regrouping to hear Peter talk about how we might detect our hidden heritage using assets, such as the National Library of Scotland’s OS maps and LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) imagery (https://maps.nls.uk/). He projected examples of LiDAR’s Digital Surface Model (DSM) and Digital Terrain Model (DTM), some from Kent and others located within Gloucestershire.

Finally, Peter distributed copies of local OS maps, and within our small groups, we discussed what mapping opportunities these might provide within the classroom. It was lovely to hear teachers sharing best practice and providing inspiration to their counterparts.

Before leaving, delegates were asked to complete an online evaluation form. The CPD workshop was rated as either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ by all participants. Some of their ‘concluding comments‘ can be viewed below:

Opportunity to discuss mapwork within the primary curriculum.

Great ideas and resources.

Really informative and useful to take back to school.

Fantastic use of maps.

Very useful.

Practical exploration of different maps.

Brilliant; useful; informative; inspirational.

Informative; useful websites shared; interactive.

Really informative with lots of ideas for resources to use within school. Great CPD.

Interesting; fun; useful; informative; new skills.

Informative; ideas; resources; discussion; examples.

Fantastic! Very useful and plenty to take back to share with staff in school.

Informative; thought-provoking; fun activities; accessible.

Helpful and informative linked to the use of maps.

Thanks for a brilliant morning. Really useful. Looking forward to doing some staff training on Monday using the ideas from today.

Thank you again for the workshop earlier – I found it really helpful and inspirational.

It would be wonderful to see/hear about your ventures in and beyond the classroom. Do share them with Peter and myself (peter.vujakovic@canterbury.ac.uk and emma.espley@gmail.com).

Many thanks to Peter for giving up his time to enlighten and inspire us and to those at Odyssey Teaching School Hub for their efficient organisation to ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible.

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