I was lucky enough to attend the first ever TM Geography a couple of weeks ago. The teachmeet was held at Saint Ignatius' College on Monday 5 and was hosted by Jessica Lonard.
Using infographics in assessment
Jessica Lonard, our host, began the presentations with a presentation on how to use infographics in assessment of student learning. The room was decorated with examples of her students' work. There are a range of programs that can be used to create these infographics. One of the easiest is Picktochart. Other programs include Infogr.am, visual.ly, and easel.ly.
For further information you might like to check out 10 free tools for creating infographics.
Spotlight - ABS
Sharon McLean presented a session on Spotlight from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which I have discussed in a previous blog: Australia's Population. This program brings population statistics about Australia to life by presenting them in a fun interactive voiced by Shaun Micallef.
Flipping the geography classroom
Ryan Gill presented a session about the challenges and successes of flipping his classroom including creating the videos, winning over parents and keeping students engaged. Flipping the classroom is a strategy where students are exposed to new material outside of the classroom through the use of videos, readings, etc and then class time is used to consolidate the new learning through activities such as discussions, problem solving and debates.
Google Tour builder
Mick Law from Contour Education showed us the latest and greatest mapping tools, concentrating mainly on the new Google Tour Builder. This seems to be a much simpler way to create a virtual tour than through Google Earth.
Kate Corcoran showed us how she uses Nearpod in her classroom. Nearpod is a program that allows you to set up interactive quizzes and surveys and enables sharing between groups. Students log into a group and can access the resources that the teacher has made available to them on their devices. The teacher can control the students' screen while they are part of the group.
Thinglink is a site which enables you to create interactive images. Di Laycock showed us how you can add comments, images, videos and music to create a multimedia experience from a still image.
Creating virtual field sites
I went through the process of creating a virtual field site to give students access to field sites which they would not otherwise be able to experience. This is done by combining videos, photos, google tours, and links to articles all combined with the use of a blog site or website builder like weebly.
Above: Photo from the Central Park sales building.
Yesterday I attended a forum on the use of green walls and roofs in Sydney. The forum was part of the Sydney Design series and put on by the Powerhouse Museum and City of Sydney Council. This was an examination of the issues associated with city living, the need for sustainability to be considered in city design, and the solutions offered by green roofs and walls. The presenters were Sacha Coles, a director at landscape architecture firm ASPECT Studios, professor Stuart White, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, and Lucy Sharman, Senior Project Officer Green Roofs and Walls, City of Sydney. I will attempt to do justice to their ideas.
What is a green roof?
Structurally a green roof consists of waterproofing, a membrane, soil and plants. To be considered as a "green roof" over 30% of the surface must be covered in vegetation.
What is a green wall?
The definition of a green wall is less restrictive. It can be something being grown up a wall (such as a vine), planter boxes next to a wall with plants reaching up and along the wall, or a vertical forest installation such as the work of Patrick Blanc.
Urbanisation and sustainability
An increasing proportion of people live in the world's cities. Initially we can see this as exacerbating the world's environmental problems with issues of housing demands, increased pressure on food supply from the farmland on the periphery of the city, photochemical smog, loss of open space, storm water pollution, and a raft of other problems. However, we need to think of cities as centres of sustainability. The increased density associated with city living can actually mean that cities can provide viable sustainability solutions. Increased densities result in decreased car dependency, easier transport solutions, less need to lay new roads, electrical lines and water (unlike new developments in new suburban areas on the outskirts of cities) . Architectural innovations such as green walls and roofs can provide cities with the ability to improve their capacity to feed themselves, filter their water and waste, and moderate temperatures associated with the urban heat island effect. Globally some cities are already making a grey to green transition. These include Chicago, Basel, London, Stuttgart.
How can governments encourage GRW?
Some cities around the world have begun introducing incentive program's to encourage GRW. These include:
- fee reductions
- reduced storm water & levee fees
- density bonuses
- education programs
- technical support and advice
- mandatory legislation
In Sydney there are still some barriers to widespread use of GRW. It is still quite poorly understood, there are technical issues and cost barriers, and industry is not quick to embrace it.
In the City of Sydney currently:
27 green walls
53 green roofs in Sydney
At least one DA each week which incorporates a green wall or roof.
Documents from the City of Sydney Council that support sustainability and Green roof and walls developments.
- Sydney 2030
- Greening Sydney Plan 2012
- Green Roofs and Walls Strategy
Check out other upcoming events at PowerHouse Museum as part of Sydney Design 2013.
Relevance to the classroom
So how can this information be integrated into the classroom? After all, this blog is supposed to be about teaching. If you are using Sydney as your large city case study in Year 12 Geography Urban Places, this fits in perfectly. I'm considering looking at Central Park specifically and how this development gives us some hope of the improved sustainability of development in the city. I will also tie it in with a number of other examples of development around the city. My previous blog about the Inner West Light Rail extension fits in well with this topic too. Click for lessons on Sustainability in Sydney for Yr 12.
There is scope to look at cities and sustainability in the broad sense in Year 11 Geography when you are examining the Population topic and looking at social, economic and environmental impacts of population growth. This also ties in with some of the presentations at the Australian Geography Teachers Association Conference in January from Professor Peter Newman about the transformation of Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul and Singapore as a biophyllic city.
You could also tie this in with Year 10 Geography Australia's Future as part of a broader discussion on sustainable development in Australia.
Why not create a vertical garden in your classroom or somewhere in your school? Flower Power currently sell a frame and planters to create your own vertical garden. It is only about 1m by 1m and will cost about $300 to set up but it would be a great way to attract some attention to your faculty or even your school depending on the scale. You may even be able to access a grant from your local council.
We are all used to running geography fieldwork for the physical geography topics like Coastal Management, Land and Water Management, Biophysical Interactions and Ecosystems At Risk. There are various companies that run great excursions for these topics, but when you get to the human geography topics it isn't so easy to find pre-organised excursions.
For my Year 11 Geography class I've taught the compulsory Population topic, and then Cultural Integration as one of the optional topics. We've examined the topic of refugees as part of an exploration of population movements, so I decided on a trip to Cabramatta to explore the impact of the Vietnamese community on this south-west Sydney suburb. I suggested this as an option on the online group Geography Teachers Online. As a result, I met up with a couple of teachers to thrash out some ideas about options for fieldwork.
Some of the ideas we came up with were:
- questionnaire of local residents
- land use survey
- urban transect of the Main Street
- environmental survey
- a photo essay based on cultural influences in the suburb
- an interview with a local government representative/Councillor
Cabramatta Library is located a short walk from the railway station. They offer a presentation on how the suburb has changed over time and are very obliging to school groups. They provide a half hour video on the development of Fairfield Local Government Area covering indigenous history, early colonial development, the market farms, education, rail development and migration. The presentation focuses on the Fairfield Local Government Area as a whole rather than Cabramatta itself, but this provides an excellent idea of the context in which Cabramatta developed. Following this there was a presentation on Cabramatta itself focusing on statistical information from the Census. It is also possible to organise a walking tour through the local council with a guide included, but they require about a months notice.
There are lots of opportunities for students to try different foods and drinks. For lunch, we went to Guan An Bau Troung, located on the main street, John St.The students all ordered a dish of their own and then I ordered a few different dishes for them to try and share. The food was really cheap and the servings were huge, even for boys who eat their weight in food in a single sitting. Obviously I had to check all the allergies, anaphylaxis risks involved, but I really think sharing a meal is a great bonding experience for a class.
If you want to have a look at the fieldwork activities we used the Cabramatta Excursion page of the www.preliminarygeography.hsieteachers.com site.
Back in the classroom we are going to analyse the field data a few different ways.
- Students' field sketches will be scanned and shared. An analysis of the various cultural influences will be written.
- We will create radar graphs from the environmental surveys
- The questionnaire results will be shared amongst the class. Results will be tallied, and the implications of results considered. Is this community self-contained? Do residents spend most of their lives in and around the suburb? Is the ethnic background of residents still predominantly Vietnamese?
The great thing about using Cabramatta as a fieldwork site in Year 11 is that is also a great case study for the following HSC year. You can refer back to it and draw on the students' experience when you are short on time and trying to maximise time in class. Cabramatta makes a great study for looking at ethnicity in Sydney as part of the Urban Places topic. You can find a summary of this part of the course that I wrote last year for HSC Online.
In the lead up to the Federal Election we are hearing a lot of "Stop the Boats" discussions. It is a good time to revisit this issue in our classrooms. I went past Villawood Detention Centre a couple of days ago. It looks like they are doing a lot of construction work. Many of the older accommodation and administrative buildings still remain, but the whole centre of the property is being redeveloped. Interestingly, compared to about 10 years ago there seems to be a lot less razor wire. There is still plenty of barbed wire around the perimeter but I wasn't able to see any actual razor wire. I guess that is a step in the right direction. There are a couple of different year groups, topics and even subjects where refugees can be discussed:
Year 11 Geography - Population (Population Movements) View...
Year 10 Geography - Australia and the Asia Pacific (Global Links)
Year 10 Geography - Australia and the Asia Pacific (Human Rights)
Year 8 Geography - Global Change (Human Rights)
Year 12 Legal Studies - Human Rights
Obviously you don't want to cover it too often or the students become desensitised to the issue and it loses its impact, but I think it is an important issue to address, whenever you choose to do it.
I visited Huntly mine as part of the Australian Geography Teachers Conference in January this year. I've finally put together the small snippets of video and the photos from the tour. I'm certainly no Francis Ford Cappola, but you might be able to use the video to introduce a case study for Natural Resources. Check out the video and some related sites.
It is interesting to look at how the mine operates, but perhaps more interesting is to look at the successes and failures of the rehabilitation of the mining sites. There are a few comments about issues related to rehabilitation towards the end of the video, but some of the articles specifically address this issue.
I've recently started putting my resources online for the Population topic for Preliminary Geography. Most people have probably finished teaching it by now, but perhaps you can use it for revision closer to the yearly exams.
If you are looking for some generic population videos I've embedded a good one from BBC and another from National Geographic. Check them out...
I've put some resources together for global fertility. I've selected a series of short videos so you can just get a quick overview of key ideas. I've also put some of the information in diagrams to make it a bit more visually interesting. I'll add a handout of the text soon. Check out fertility resources...
Lastly, I've uploaded an overview of population pyramids and embedded a video from the Distilled Demographics series from the Population Reference Bureau. Worth a look. A handout is attached. Check out population pyramids...
I've recently completed a week or so of Problem-based learning with my Year 11 Geography class. We had been learning about river regulation of the Mekong River as part of the Biophysical Interactions topic. The students were required to read a series of articles, concentrating only on the descriptions of environmental issues that were discussed. They had to list as many of these problems as they could and then categorise them. Students then had to find a way to incorporate as many of these problems into one general problem. They then had to think about the way the problems that they had originally thought of were all interconnected.
Students had to work collaboratively to come up with a range of solutions or management strategies to address their main problem. After exploring these solutions they had to develop a management strategy for the Mekong River incorporating local, regional, national and bilateral strategies.Click for more information and student handouts.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.
Student resource sites:
7-10 Geography pages have been retired due to the introduction of the new syllabus. The above links relate to current NSW syllabuses. All Commerce and Legal Studies resources have been moved onto this main site (search Commerce or Legal Studies below).