Virtual ‘In the Know’ webinar (Session 1), Geographical Association

Consultancy

Due to enquiries from several individuals, the Geographical Association (GA) decided to schedule a repeat of the two webinars conducted at the very start of this academic year and asked me, once again, to deliver them.  Further details about the series can be found by accessing the web-link below:

https://portal.geography.org.uk/event/view/E000092

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 contribute willingly.

The aims of these sessions are to enhance delegates’ subject knowledge of several key geographical themes, plus increase 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 myselfproviding 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 a few 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 jot down their ‘quick wins’ on sticky notes and 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 useful with lots of practical ideas.

Was a great emersion into the world of great geography teaching.

Great revision of three areas of the geography curriculum. I already feel far more knowledgeable.

Lots of quick activity ideas and online links.

What did you enjoy the most today and why? (WWW)

Very knowledgeable host.

Some great ideas as to how to improve geography teaching around the whole school.

All the ideas and resources links – will be very useful.

Collecting some useful links.

What did you enjoy the least and why? (EBI)

N/A.

That I was late to join as my e-mail was wrong.

Nothing.

Noticing my gaps in subject knowledge (good to know though).

List your key takeaways from today’s webinar.

Practical, easy to understand ideas that I can take away.

Geography Association website and Digimap for Schools.

There are a lot of resources readily available that can bring lessons to life.

Digimap for Schools.

Consider your next steps.  List three things that you intend to do.

Add practical ideas to my short term planning of certain units. Share ideas with staff. Research some websites that were recommended in the session.

‘Read around the world’ display, joining the GA and subscribing to Digimap for Schools.

Using Digimap fro Schools/Google Earth Pro/webcams to make lessons more fun. Linking stories/authors covered in literacy with geography. EYFS resources to explore. Look at possible virtual fieldwork opportunities if the school budget allows.

Get a subscription to Digimap for Schools; the continuum line activity.

Additional comments inserted in the accompanying chat feed or from follow-up e-mails:

Thank you so much – it’s been great.

Thank you! See you next week.

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 Tuesday 12th March 2024.

Competition time!

Submissions for the most spectacular sunrise or sunset can be found below:

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