Friday, 18 April 2014

Geographical Association Conference 2014

This year I attended my 2nd GA conference. Last year, I walked away feeling inspired and buzzing with new ideas. This year was no different.

Below are my highlights of the conference and some ideas that are definitely worth sharing! By far the best were David Rogers and Margaret Roberts who both inspired me and encouraged me to move beyond the viewpoint of my job is too hard and I never have any time to create exciting things.

Lecture Plus 2 - The future of assessed fieldwork, R. Lucas

Fieldwork ideas

·         Use top trumps  to understand the local area – e.g. local Somerset villages – which is the most urban? Can also be used as a sampling strategy to choose locations.

·         Use a laminated grid of boxes to draw a field sketch to ensure that nothing is missed.

·         Verbal field sketches – in pairs facing each other. Person A describes the landscape behind them to Person B. Then peer assess description using a mark scheme, e.g. level 1 – describes simply, level 2 – application of geographical terms, level 3 – application of geographical language and recognises the bigger picture.

·         Geography parrot – only ever says one sentence ‘so what?’ Encourages students to move on to the next step from basic labels in field sketches. Processes – consequences – implications – future scenarios.

·         Breaking news – either in the classroom or on site. Create newspaper headline, e.g. ‘River meanders’. Then create the rest of the article: brief summary, details and facts, analysis and letters to the editor (to show different arguments using results from fieldwork).
Lecture 2 – The new National Curriculum, D. Rogers
The new National Curriculum should not be seen negatively but instead as a positive opportunity to restructure schemes of work. The curriculum also sets out to engage and fascinate students so that they remember Geography for the rest of their lives – surely a positive thing that we should all be aiming for?
One idea that I want to use in my KS3 schemes of work: Using creative writing to describe a volcano – imagine you were there. Read out a piece of creative writing to help students understand what a good and vivid description is. See the following blog link for further ideas...
Workshop 30 - Mark my words, R. Kay
Marking is one of the current focuses at my current school and I will trial these ideas over the next term to see if it improves the time efficiency and effectiveness of my marking.
Use take-away menus to peer/self assess. Teacher marks books using the menu and writes down some numbers for the students to improve during DIT. The student writes down next to the number the task they need to undertake and then spends time improving their work. The numbers can also show progression as the higher numbers are more advanced. Assessment grids can also be placed in exercise books to show progression.
Purple pen marking  – when the students complete DIT they colour/shade their work using purple pencils so that it is clear that it has been completed.
Lecture 15 – Learning geography through enquiry, M. Roberts
This was the highlight of the conference for me. As a strong advocate of enquiry learning Margaret has some excellent ideas to get the students thinking instead of the teacher dictating.
Geographical evidence: using sources
5 key points – students find the key points from the data and then share information (e.g. a table of data)
Layers of inference – on an A3 sheet of paper a series of boxes. Source (e.g. map/photo); What does this source tell me? What can I infer? What doesn’t it tell me? What other questions do I need to ask?
The world according to... Students draw their own world map using their knowledge of the world.
Thinking geographically
Argumentation – claim, reasons, facts and backing, counter-arguments, does evidence need qualifying, conclusion of a claim. These can be used to investigate newspaper articles.
DART transformation  – reconstruct text as a diagram. First underline causes/effects/solutions (analysis of text) and then reconstruct pictorially. This forces students to read the text carefully.
Concept mapping  - making links between concepts.
Applying criteria – projects are assessed against assessment criteria. E.g. Peak District Sustainable Development Fund can be used to assess different National Parks.
Workshop 40 - Fieldwork beyond the textbook, N. Lapthorn
Built on the article, ‘Risky Fieldwork’ from Teaching Geography, Summer 2012. Should the students be carrying out more 'risky' fieldwork which might not achieve the perfect results? Should we as teachers be telling students what and how to investigate? Some really thought provoking ideas that made me reconsider how I teach fieldwork and how it could be improved...
How to introduce risk – allow students to decide own question/hypothesis/methodology
Data presentation – already risky to some extent but students should be given chances to create their own ideas of data presentation methods.
Questionnaires/surveys – provide students with a few categories and then they create the rest.
Ofsted requires improvement fieldwork – “formulaic and focused on meeting examination criteria”

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