Princesshay case study: Google photospheres to the rescue…

 Google Maps, ICT, Photographs, Public geographies, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Princesshay case study: Google photospheres to the rescue…
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…

Designing Geography

 ICT  Comments Off on Designing Geography
Jan 142014

Via Alan Parkinson, I came across the work of Simon Jones whose Slideshare contains a great selection of presentations that combine cutting edge “pedageography” with professional design skill.

Better PowerPoint design has been a recurring theme from bloggers that don’t have to teach a full timetable but the simplicity of Simon’s design language has inspired me to think again about my own resources and I began with a re-work of an old lesson about the issue of ageing population…

There was a dramatic improvement in engagement with the new resource which I think was partly down to the improved design, or maybe I just had a little more confidence in my delivery with better support from the visuals?

I really look forward to see how Simon’s new business venture will turn out. I’ll be subscribing that’s for sure! Follow Simon Jones on Twitter to keep up to date with his work which includes the new Vimeo channel Geography Soup and a sister resource on Slideshare.

Using Digimap in coursework projects

 ICT, iPad, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Using Digimap in coursework projects
May 052013

Digimap for Schools is a subscription service for OS maps. The service represents exceptional value for money and works seamlessly in all current browsers as well as iPad. With a range of very user friendly annotation and measuring tools and simple printing options, Digimap is far more than just a map viewer. It also comes with some excellent free teaching ideas by Alan Parkinson.

Here’s a short guide for students on how to make the most of Digimap in coursework projects.

RSA Animate style meanders: Teach Less!

 ICT, Student work, video  Comments Off on RSA Animate style meanders: Teach Less!
Jan 102013

Over the holiday I happened across a super blog post from US educator Paul Bogush describing a sequence of lessons where his 8th grade students created RSA animate style videos to tell the story of the Louisiana Purchase. It seemed like a great idea, but I felt the planning and logistics were a little ambitious for my own circumstances.

Roll on to the new term and the majority of my GCSE class were completing their coursework projects.  Three students finished unexpectedly early and required a task that would lead them into the next topic. I considered for a moment what esteemed Lazy Teacher Jim Smith would do, given that I wasn’t in the position to be able to give any time at all to the students, what with assessment having to be Controlled these days. The idea of an RSA Animate style video sprung to mind; but circumstances dictated the most minimal of instructions…

  1. Discover what an RSA Animate style video looks like.
  2. Find out how meanders and oxbow lakes form. (The students hadn’t studied river landforms before.
  3. Work out how to replicate the RSA Animate style  using a Flip, a whiteboard and some dry pens.

No other instructions were given, and I didn’t see the students at all until their allowed time (2 1/2 hours) had elapsed. They made two 30 second films which I edited together. This is the result…

I’m really pleased with the video which will make a nice teaching resource. There’s obviously plenty of scope for improvement, but that in itself makes the video compelling.

Some ideas for using SketchUp in the geography classroom

 Google Earth, ICT, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Some ideas for using SketchUp in the geography classroom
Jun 292012

As I mentioned in the previous post, I played a little with SketchUp when it first appeared. Having learned how efficient the process of simple geo-modelling is, with the help of  Beryl Reid and Allyson McDuffie, I thought about how I might use the application with students, possibly in conjunction with Design Technology or ICT colleagues.

The first step would be to teach the basics of Sketch Up with a view to getting students to create a 3D model of the school. Maybe getting them to model their own house is a good place to start. It worked for me!

Rewarding though this activity may be for some students, I’d want to be sure that geographical thinking remains integral to the learning. With that in mind I came up with a couple of ideas:

Environmental improvements: 

Using Sketch Up components students could populate an existing 3D model of the school with ideas for environmental improvements, for example, new trees, litter bins and furniture. This would be a great introduction activity. (Actually the 3D model is not a pre-requisite now that the UK is entirely covered in high resolution imagery.)

Plotting spatial data as polygons / SketchUp components:

Once a 3D model has been created, there are opportunities for studying spatial phenomena like micro-climates, weathering processes, ecology etc. These results can be displayed directly in Google Earth using proportional polygons to represent data, or by plotting data inside place marks using Rich Chart Live or GE Graph (Windows only) I believe that Tom Biebrach of Pencoed School was first to exploit this idea. Of course, it would be possible to use SketchUp components to generate complex pictograms drawn precisely to scale.

Building redesign:
Students could redesign existing buildings, maybe to visualise the impact of solar panels, alternative lighting or different exterior renderings on buildings.
Here’s our Sports Hall with added renewable energy features…

The impact of a new building on the surroundings can also be evaluated using the shadow tools.

I’ve mentioned before that my Visualizing A Safer City lesson using Google Earth as a GIS to identify the site for a new hospital could be extended by modelling the proposed building in SketchUp. This activity would lend itself to an homework extension activity for 3D enthusiasts.

Finally, it would be great to make a 3D model of the school that can be shared on the public website. Extra information could be added to the building place markers, and linked to department web sites, video clips etc.

An excellent series of video tutorials for geo-modelling in SketchUp can be found at this Google site.