Noel Jenkins

Noel Jenkins is the owner of Digital Geography. He teachers in Somerset, UK.

Jan 272015

I’ve been teaching Year 8’s about coal mining.
To find out how coal is extracted, the class recreated modern long wall mining techniques, summarised in this illustration from UK Coal (who produce some excellent resources by the way)


Props included all the tables in the classroom, most of the chairs and deployment of the students in various roles as development tunnellers, coal face workers and some extremely scary recreations of the collapse of the roof behind the coal face which can’t really be mentioned in public. Apparently our department isn’t doing enough active learning (whatever that is) or group work – yeah? well we were all underground when you “dropped in” weren’t we?

Students also drew “living graphs” to describe the rise and fall of the coal industry. One objective was to get students to consider the social and economic impact of pit closures. I found that the video to Rewind the Film by the Manic Street Preachers fitted the lesson perfectly. The narrative is both simple, and haunting and led to some really good discussion questions. The video would work well for illustrating a variety of post-industrial geography issues at GCSE and A level as well.

Here’s to former colleague and Manics fan Dave Harris who got a number of mentions during the lesson. Hope things are going well back at the coal face ;)

What’s that? More you say??

Dec 262014

Back in 2009 I created a visual resource for GCSE students to illustrate the urban redevelopment of part of Exeter’s CBD. The case study perfectly fitted the AQA GCSE syllabus and proved very popular, but a recent change in the Google Maps API broke the linked maps.

Now that Google have helpfully provided the Google Views service that supports photospheres I’ve been able to improve the resource. I’ve also taken the opportunity to go through the pages updating links and trimming the student task. The panoramas are not as high quality as the originals and they lack the embedded hotspots but at least they now work with Google maps again. Click the image below to go directly to the linked photospheres of Princesshay or head over to Juicy Geography to find the updated resource in its entirety.


For AQA spec A the relevant parts of the Changing Urban Environments syllabus are:

Housing – the attempts to satisfy the increased housing needs of the population in different parts of the city.

Traffic – impact of increased use of road transport on the environment and solutions aimed at reducing the impact.

Revitalising the image of the CBD by improving the physical environment.

Recently I have used the presentation below to introduce and recap the case study…

Sep 072014

During the summer holidays I had some contact from Bob Harvey about the Geograph project.  Back in 2005, I really saw the value of the whole idea, but then along came Google Street View. Bob’s message inspired me to revisit the site and add some photographs that I’ve taken in the intervening years since I first joined. Most of my contributions are of locations that a Google camera will never get to see…

photo credit

As term time approached, I started to thinking about some ways that I could try and incorporate Geograph images into more lessons. Here’s a list of some ideas:

1) Teaching copyright issues

2) Lessons on landscapes – based on the ideas of Alan Parkinson and this resource from the Tate and resulting in work like this. One of the learning tasks in my SoW gets students to imagine a recipe for the British landscape and this could be suitably illustrated with a Geograph photo.

3) Overlaying map symbols directly onto Geograph photos in PPT (I need a copy of the OS symbols as individual png files with transparent backgrounds. If anyone has done this already, let me know!)

4) Recognising urban zones / different kinds of land use and general photo annotation practice.

5) Imagining the Geograph view using sketches (as it might have looked in the past / the future)

6) Drawing a sketch map based on solely on the view in a Geograph photo.

For my new Year 8 groups I decided to just rip the entire Geograph idea off and create a mini version for the local area. The idea is to get students to think about how to describe places using geographical terminology and link features with maps. They will use their phones to take an image from the local area. This will be uploaded using a form (Jot Form is perfect for this) and they will add location information using Digimaps. Finally they will describe the features of their photograph and the project will hopefully result in a nice piece of display work. Who knows, some might even contribute their work to the Geograph site!

Here’s the outline of the lesson: