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)

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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.

constellation

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:

May 172014
 
Real geography has real purpose, real audience and real outcomes

Chris Durbin (Early geography mentor)

Every year I try to add a twist to the Year 8 local enquiry; previously we’ve identified happy places, told geo-located stories and subverted town planning. This year I focussed on the former Fox Brothers Mill at Tonedale. It’s a very imposing listed mill building and one of the most important examples of its kind in the country.

Tonedale Mill Spinning Block 2014

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Tonedale Mill has given me a lot of pleasure over the years in a semi-unauthorized sort of way while it awaits conversion into residential use. I’ve written and spoken quite extensively on various ways of incorporating dereliction into local fieldwork and this wasn’t the first time that I’ve based a study on the redevelopment of the site. Unfortunately, at some point, the enthusiasm of students usually tended to supplant economic reality and theme parks and shopping malls come to dominate their regeneration agenda.

“A Millers Tale” May 2010

Millers-Tale

This year I wanted the students to engage with a real audience in the hope that the outcomes would be a little more feasible. While mulling ideas over, I happened to find myself at the Quay Climbing centre in Exeter, and cheekily suggested to owner Paul Russell that he might like to listen to Year 8 trying to pitch an idea for a new climbing wall in our town. Paul enthusiastically agreed and the challenge was on for the students…

Never under-estimate the power of a good external speaker

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Paul came into school to give a presentation about the criteria he used to select a location for his business and stressed the over-riding importance of the financial numbers. This really helped the class to maintain a sense of proportion when it came to considering their options for converting the Mill. The first task was to fire up Digimap and identify the main buildings on the site. Then with kind permission of the current owners, the class donned hard hats and walked around the outside of the derelict buildings while making notes and taking photos.

Tonedale Mill buildings March 2014

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Back in the classroom the students annotated their digital maps of the site and designed surveys to test out the market for their ideas. Two hours of public research and data analysis followed, and the class began to put their ideas together as a PowerPoint in preparation for Paul’s return. At this point it was clear that they lacked crucial design skills and so we headed over to Simon Jones’s Slideshare account to pick up tips from the master. This had a transformative effect on the quality of everyone’s work.

Paul duly returned to the school and the students pitched their ideas. Here’s an example of the outcome…

The final presentations were a great success. Paul was so impressed with the class that he offered them a free taster climbing session at The Quay, (though some of them are already pretty good!)
cw

I have an idea that next year we’ll look at a project that will map and record the collective local memories of the Tonedale site.

Edited 18/5/14
Reason: Quoting Chris Durbin accurately. Adding extra media.