Apr 082014
Two boys surviving winter in Norway in a small wooden hut

Connor (Year 9)


I first came across this extraordinary independent film at the 2014 Banff Mountain film festival. It’s won countless prizes and awards and deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. It’s downloadable at Vimeo on demand from this link. The teaser pretty much sums up the plot line…

I was curious to see how the film would be received by students of different ages and took the opportunity of an enforced absence to set it as cover. I set three simple tasks to complete after watching:

1) Where’s the geography? (Why do you think you are being shown this film?)

2) What questions do you have after watching it?

3) Sum up the film in a sentence

Collating the key words from the responses to the first question highlighted interesting variations in the way the film spoke to different year groups. Despite evidence to the contrary, Year 7  have not done any work on recycling, although the landscape project is still fairly recent in their collective memories and we did make reference to Svalbard at the start of the year. It does look as though they’ve been exposed to a degree of “greenwashing” (though hopefully not in my lessons.) Year 8 on the other hand, did weather last term, and clearly thought that the film was being shown for that reason. Year 9 have just finished a unit of work on development which included a reference to Bhutan’s slogan “Gross National Happiness is more important than GNP”  so I was very happy to see several students reflecting on the film’s references to quality of life vs standard of living.

Year 7


Year 8

Year 9


Responses to the second question were perhaps more predictable, with many students asking somewhat disappointingly what the two characters were trying to “achieve”. It’s quite telling that few students seem to be able to conceive of outdoor adventure and fun being an end in itself. Encouragingly, several wanted to know where the beach was located, which is slightly more encouraging and would make a good piece of detective work. (I found it in about 15 minutes on Google Earth)  More interesting was the student from year 8 who wondered if they could have managed without mobiles and a supermarket.

As a potential offering for the four word film review site, Ellie from Year 7 managed to be the most concise with…

“Surfing til dawn”

and Kathleen from Year 9 offered…

A truly amazing winter


I’m certain that there’s a great deal of potential learning to extract from this wonderful film. Despite the prevailing orthodoxy, occasionally there is a strong argument to be had for not splitting films into bite sized chunks, and instead just give students the chance to be captivated. Whether the theme is landscapes as part of a “fantastic places” – type unit, the impact of latitude on weather and seasons,  a comparison place study, or extreme tourism at GCSE, the film has a lot to offer. I suspect it could be a good precursor for introducing the John Muir Award into a school.

If you do discover the location of the beach – do keep it a secret. I might even see you there next summer!

North of the Sun on Vimeo


Mar 172009

I’ve been meaning to make this film for ages. It’s a simple time-lapse of a day in my classroom. My camera was mounted on a tripod and I used a fisheye lens to capture the whole room. The 700 photos were batch resized in seconds using an Apple Automator script and the film was made instantly in Quick Time Pro. I added the music in iMovie.

a day in the life of my classroom from Noel Jenkins on Vimeo.

The day started with a free period, so I’m on the computer doing some SEN reviews. I taught a lesson on floods to my year 7, then it’s break. Afterwards it’s my GCSE class doing a case study of Darfur, followed by Year 8s looking at different volcanoes. Lunch time is spent with the camera club then it’s registration and a final year 7 lesson.

Oct 012008

Here’s my entry for the One World Film competition organized by the ring leader of the particpatory geography movement in UK secondary schools Dan Raven-Ellison. Not a great production by any means, but I loved the concept of 60 second films to explain a point, and would really like to to get more of my students making short films for their own (and the wider community’s) benefit. Although I made the film several months ago, I can finally show it in a lesson since Year 11 are about to embark on a coasts topic.

Extreme Geography: Perfect waves from Noel Jenkins on Vimeo.

Some Year 10 students showed some short films they’d made about Dubai today. I was really pleased to see how far their editing skills have progressed since Year 9. I noticed that some of the students had discovered BBC Motion Gallery independently, though no-one had actually done any original filming. How I would love a few Flip DV cameras for my classroom!

Flip web site

David Rayner has recently explained on the SLN site that the BBC News School Report represents a great opportunity for KS3 Geography students to develop their investigative and reporting skills. What better motivation to get students into short film making?

Sep 202008

The Ordnance Survey’s brilliant, and free publication for schools, Mapping News contains an article that I wrote about my Google Earth Stonehenge decison-making exercise.

The introductory video is here:

and you if don’t get a chance to catch up with Mapping News, the article can be downloaded directly from here. One error – I am not an Education Consultant, as the article claims!

Apr 142007

Surely the long awaited moment when video can be embedded in Google Earth placemarks is almost upon us? Click this link and then the placemark balloon to see video of a lightning strike on the Empire State Building.


Digital Urban demonstrated this new feature of Google My Maps; more information can be found at Google Maps. I’m looking forward to seeing students creating their personal geographies via multimedia Google Maps.

Ed Parsons likes the “2.5D” rendering of buildings in Google Maps, sadly not happening for the UK any time soon!