Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Michael Palin: Around the World in 20 Years

Last night this great documentary from Michael Palin was on BBC1. It is based on his hit documentary series Around the World in 80 Days. He revisits place he went in 1988 and embarks on a new voyage to find people that he met 20 years ago. Catch it on iplayer now!!

The first part is perfect for those of you in Year 7 and Year 9 who will be larning about Fantastic Places this term! Click on the image above to take you to the documentary on BBC iplayer.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Solving global warming

Whilst searching for images on Flickr, I found this great mind map image of ways to solve global warming. Thought it was well worth a post on here...
Click on the image to see the full size version at Flickr. Found using Creative Commons License.
There is another mind map just on global warming and its causes/evidence/solutions here.

Monday, 29 December 2008

January retakes for Year 13

Here's some examples of the 10 mark case study questions that you can expect in your retakes in January...


  • With reference to named examples, examine the impacts of river flooding on people's daily lives.
  • With reference to one or more named examples, explain the benefits of environmentally sensitive river management.
  • A number of hard engineering methods have traditionally been used to combat coastal erosion. Briefly describe two of these methods and for a named location explain why each was chosen.
  • With reference to more than one country, examine the factors that influence government coastal management policies.
  • For a located coastal ecosystem, explain how a study of the vegetation pattern can illustrate the process of succession.
  • For a named stretch of coastline, examine to what extent sub-aerial processes have affected the coastal features.
  • With references to named examples, examine the consequences of human activities on river environments with respect to one of the following: (a) urbanisation, (b) dams and reservoir construction, (c) water quality.
  • With reference to one or more named examples, examine the relationships between the hydrological cycle and one of the following: (a) soil moisture budgets, (b) local storm events, (c) river regimes


  • With reference to specific examples, examine how urban environments can be made more sustainable.
  • Using specific exmamples, examine the conflicts arising from developments in the rural-urban fringe.
  • Choose two contrasting rural environments. Examine the reason why the vary in character.
  • Referring to named examples, examine the success of attempts to revive city centres.
  • Referring to examples, explain how conflicts may arise between different groups when rural villages undergo rapid change.
  • With reference to specific examples, examine the ways in which rural environments are being modified by one of the following: (a) changing farming practices, (b) the development of resources in the countryside, (c) tourism
  • With reference to any named urban areas, examine the ways in which decision makers are attempting to manage one of the following: (a) traffic flows, (b) ethnic and/or religious segregation, (c) water and waste pollution, (d) provision of affordable housing.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Week in Rap

American news delivered through rap!

The Week in Rap 12-19-08 from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Managing Change in Human Environments retake

For those of you in year 13 retaking this unit, here are the two revision packages I made a couple of years ago to go with the human exam. The key to success in this exam is knowing your case studies as that constitutes 30/90 marks. I will add some examples of the case study questions to this post once I have found them! We will go through past exam papers in their entirety as soon as we return to school, but the most important thing will be learning the case studies and being able to apply them to the 10 mark extended answer exam questions.

Rural Environments Revision Package
Urban Environments Revision Package

The Animals Save the Planet

Created by Aardman, The Animals Save the Planet are a series of funny animated short films that feature tips from animals on how to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.

The Animals Save the Planet website hosts the videos in a high quality version. The cows is my favourite!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Planet Earth Online

Planet Earth Online

An excellent resource from the Natural Environment Research Council full of relevant articles for the World at Risk unit.

Urban Earth

A geography teacher, Dan Raven-Ellison, has been creating short films of a number of cities, including Mumbai, Bristol, Mexico City and London. They have been created by walking across these large cities, taking a photo every 8 steps! Here's an example...

To see the rest, go to Urban Earth.

Year 13 coursework estimates

Please remember that these are estimates only. I am not an A Level examiner so have only gauged where each essay is, using the mark scheme!

The total raw marks available for Unit 5 is 120. The grades are awarded as follows: A 94, B 87, C 80, D 73, E 66. As there are two elements to this unit (coursework and exam), I have halved the marks to get the boundaries for the coursework. This will also give you an indication of what you need to get on the hazards exam to fulfil your expected grade.

Estimated Coursework results

Jonny 41/60 (Grade C)
Breakdown of marks: I=9, R=10, U=8, C=7, Q=7

Elliot 50/60 (Grade A)
Breakdown of marks: I=9, R=12, U=13, C=8, Q=8

Alex 42/60 (Grade C)
Breakdown of marks: I=8, R=11, U=11, C=6, Q=6 (you had several spelling errors still remaining and a lack of ongoing evaluation which sadly limited your marks in the conclusion and quality of writing)

Daisy 44/60 (Grade B)
Breakdown of marks: I=7, R=12, U=12, C-6, Q=7

Beth 47/60 (Grade A)
Breakdown of marks: I=8, R=12, U=13, C=6, Q=8

This is a massive relief, bearing in mind how much of the coursework had been written up until about 3 weeks ago!!! As you are aware, the hazards work was put on hold whilst we tackled the coursework. It is now time to refocus on your hazards research. I will be compiling a revision package as I always have done, but this needs to be matched equally by your preparation. It would be such a shame to bring down your coursework marks with a poor exam performance.

Thank you for your focused efforts over the last few weeks and well done on these great results!

Happy Christmas.

Friday, 12 December 2008


Some useful geography in the news today on the issue of global warming. EU leaders have reached a deal to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. Take a look at the BBC article here.

Whilst you are on that BBC page, check out some of the other links, especially with reference to the IPCC. There's also an animated guide to the greenhouse effect and a great link to 'state of the planet, in graphics'.

Seeing this in the news reminded me of one of my favourite images...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Stop Disasters Game

This simulation is based on the idea of Sim City, but instead you have to manage a region prior to a natural hazard. You get a certain amount of time to prepare for the hazard before it hits. Then when disaster strikes you can see how effective your hazard management has been! Click on the image to take you to the game...

Mr Gurney and myself used this with classes ranging from year 10 to year 12 on Thursday and it went down a storm. It is clear we are in the presence of the hazard managers of the future! If you haven't tried it yet...have a go!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Year 13 Hazards exam in January

To your delight, you have 'Global trends in hazards and hazard management' as your generalisation to be examined in January. To kick off this post, here's a list of possible essay titles. Remember what I said, all questions are a variation of the generalisation, so they should not be a complete surprise!

Possible titles...
  • Critically evaluate the view that natural hazards appear to be occurring with increasing frequency
  • To what extent can hazard prediction reduce the effects of hazards?
  • Evaluate the future issues associated with living with natural hazards.
  • Using a range of natural hazards comment on our future ability to predict and reduce their effects
  • How effective is hazard prediction in reducing hazard impact?
  • Comment on the assertion that the future of hazard management will rely on reducing their effects rather than their causes.
  • Critically assess the statement that natural hazards are occurring more frequently.
  • For a range of hazards outline prediction methods currently used and assess their effectiveness
  • What are the issues surrounding the use of prediction as a "solution" for hazard management?
  • To what extent can technology improve hazard prediction? Illustrate your answer with reference to at least three types of hazard.
  • Discuss the view that it is not possible to prevent hazards but only to lessen their impacts.
  • With reference to two contrasting types of hazards, examine the extent to which prediction can reduce the impacts.
  • With reference to a range of prediction schemes evaluate their success.

As with your coursework reports, I shall keep adding relevant information to this post to support your independent research. Keep checking it for updates!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

20 of the world's most dangerous places

In looking for something completely different, I stumbed across this. The Travel section of The Telegraph has put together an In Pictures feature on 20 of the world's most dangerous places. The map of the world below shows you the countries involved. Not all of the places are the entire country. For many places, they are perfectly safe for tourists to visit, but certain areas are very dangerous indeed!

What do you notice about where 20 of the world's most dangerous places are located? Is there anything that surprises you? Why are they considered dangerous - is there a pattern?

What am I getting for Christmas?

A few of you have now asked me what's on my Christmas list this year. Well, ever since hearing about these gadgets, I've wanted one! It's called Flip Video and is a pocket sized camcorder that holds 60 minutes of video. You can also capture still photos from the videos. So many times I've seen some great geography when I've been out and about, but have had no way of cheaply and easily recording it. So look out for new bits of video in your lessons in January! Be warned year 12, it will be everywhere with us when we go to Slapton FSC in March.

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Box

The Box is an ambitious and unique year-long project for BBC News to tell the story of international trade and globalisation by tracking a standard shipping container around the world.

The BBC have painted and branded a BBC container and bolted on a GPS transmitter so you can follow its progress all year round as it criss-crosses the globe.

The Box will hopefully reach the US, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and when it does BBC correspondents will be there to report on who's producing goods and who's consuming them.

To track its progress, go to the BBC In Depth News section for 'The Box'

Here are some of the direct links and videos to show you where the box has travelling so far!
The Box ready to start journey (with video)
The Box arrives in Singapore
The Box unloads in Shanghai (with video)
The Box leaves China for the US
Economic hardship greets The Box in LA (with video)

Keep a look out for updates to this post!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Where's Santa?

'NORAD tracks Santa' goes live at 11am on 1st December at where you can find new games and activities every day leading up to Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, get up-to-the-minute reports and streaming videos from key stops on Santa's trip around the world. Google software will output live images from NORAD's high-speed digital “Santa Cams," and Google Maps and Google Earth will follow Santa as he travels around the world.

Here's a glimpse from last year!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Year 13 Coursework Report advice

I will keep adding ideas, links and resources to this post to help you with your coursework report. There is an excellent guide to the report writing, which includes a model coursework report that achieved 55/60, which you can collect from my room. This post will be divided into sections according to the question.

For all of you, here is a site from another school with advice on the coursework report. Although it is from a different year so the questions are different, the advice remains the same.

1. To what extent is an unfair world trading system the root cause of the widening development gap between very rich and very poor countries? (Alex)

Here's a useful clip from BBC Learning Zone connected to trade patterns for rich and poor countries. Refering to various sources will give you a greater range of evidence.

For all of you, check if there are any clips relevant to your reports here.

Don McKinnon: Trade is a potent tool in combating global poverty The Independent
Rich nations 'renege on pledge to reform trade and help poor' The Independent
Leading article: Fair trade is growing – and working The Independent
Hamish McRae: Free trade is not just about goods. It is also about money, services - and people The Independent
World Trade: Facts and Figures The Independent

Great article from Voice of America news - The Global Rich and Poor Gap Widens
Detailed article from infochange Consumption on a global scale: The gap widens
Africa's natural resources are a potential gold mine The Independent

2. Aid which supports grassroots development is usually the best way to improve the quality of life for deprived groups. Evaluate this statement using examples from contrasting locations. (Beth and Daisy)

A fantastic case study of a grassroots project in which plastic bags scavenged from rubbish tips in Delhi, India, are made into fashionable bags sold in London boutiques!
From bags to riches: the recycling project which starts in India's rubbish tips The Independent

If you do a search on the World Bank website for 'grassroots development', several articles appear about developments in Papua New Guinea.

3. To what extent is the North-South divide (the Brandt line) still relevant when analysing disparities at a global scale? (Jon and Elliot)

China 'can be engine of growth' BBC News
This report from the World Socialist Website discusses global inequality in wealth, with a short mention of internal disparity in the USA - Report documents extreme levels of global wealth inequality

Don't forget all of you, you can add any questions you might have regarding your coursework report using the comments option at the end of this post!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

River Exe flood prevention scheme - a Google Earth Tour

On another blog, Digital Geography, there's a link to a kmz file that overlays a tour on Google Earth of the flood prevention scheme on the lower River Exe. Here's a couple of screen shots to show you what's in store!

If you do not have Google Earth, download it here. Thanks to Noel Jenkins for creating this excellent tour!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Figure 3 Future changes in the Arctic region

Here's the colour figure for your current exam question practice...

Thank you very much for your excellent efforts in Thursday's lesson. Very much appreciated!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Year 12 practice exam question on climate change

On Tuesday afternoon you will have your first experience of the new assessment materials/exam questions for the World at Risk unit. As promised, these are your key areas of revision...
  • short, medium and long term methods of investigating climate change
  • the arguments for natural or human causes of climate change/global warming

Here are two absolutely fantastic learning zone clips from the BBC which support everything we covered when learning about the above two bullet points...

1. Evidence of climate change: This clip looks at two main pieces of evidence for climate change; the effects of temperature on tree ring widths over the shorter term and ice cores as evidence of longer term fluctuations. It finishes by sugeesting that continental drift has a part to play over the longest time scale.

2. Causes of climate change: The clip covers climate change over a range of timescales Long term changes include changes in the suns output, the orbit of the earth, the tilt of the earths axis, wobble in the earth's axis of rotation. The clip finishes by looking at how changes in albedo and increased urbanisation and industry have influenced global warming through increased pollution.

Dawn French uses to the G word!

I have just embarked on my reading challenge, as set for me by some of the lovely 7y4 boys! I'm reading Dawn French's autobiography and was very excited to see that she used the G word! Here's the paragraph...

"I think I was about four years or so when you were posted to RAF Leconfield and we all moved to Yorkshire. Only now do I realise that I've lived in Yorkshire at all - I was so unaware of our personal geography then. I did know it was a long way from Grandma and Grandad French in Plymouth because I clearly remember those endless hours in the car on numerous family visits."

Saturday, 15 November 2008

World population

Year 10 have just started Population. We have started to look at the distribution of the world's population and played population top trumps. We also recorded the world population (using this world population clock) at the start of the lesson and at the end to see the rate at which it is increasing. Here's a couple of useful things related to population. Firstly, a BBC learning zone clip on 'Is the world's population spiralling out of control?'.

(Thanks to Odblog for highlighting this)

Secondly, this is the map that was used to describe the distribution of the most densely and sparsely populated places in the world. The map came from worldmapper where there's a whole host of similar world maps which have been resized to show different characteristics.

Finally, a fantastic tool using statistics to graphially show different characteritics of countries and their population. Here's one showing the relationship between life expectancy and income per person. The size of the circles shows the total population. Click on the graph to play around with the example one, or go to the gapminder site to create your own graph.

Monday, 10 November 2008

The Day After Tomorrow

8x2 have finished their assessment one week before the next rotation, so we are wrapping up the Sustainability unit by looking at the depiction of climate change and the potential effects in the film 'The Day After Tomorrow'. We are ultimately deciding whether it is scientific truth, environmental pressure, or just a disaster movie. Here's the YouTube trailer for the film...

We discussed whether the hailstorm scene in Tokyo is realistic or not. Check out this YouTube video...

Now what do you think?

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Geo Challenge on Facebook

For those of you that use Facebook, try adding the Geo Challenge application. It quizzes you on your knowledge of the flags of world, outlines of countries and the location of cities. Be warned though, it is very addictive! Add your scores as a comment on this post...good luck!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

My sustainable house

Two excellent simulations about sustainable housing. Click on the images to take you to the sites!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Using text messaging in your lessons?!

Year 10 tried something a bit different to kick off their first lesson of the new half term...writing geographical text messages. They had to explain the problems that exist in shanty towns in 140 characters (the same as a SMS text message!). Here's an example...

Probs in shanti towns-ovacrowdin leadz 2 spred of diseez.Por facilities n hygeen.High crime lvls n no way of disposin waste-dis leadz 2 pollushun.No wata.Wel poor!
(by Katie Curnow)

A site called lingo2word converts normal language into text language and vice versa. This is what I used for the instructions, but the students had to come up with their text message without any help. It proved rather too tricky for some!

Climate change in our World: A new vision of climate change through Google Earth

Explore and learn about the impacts of climate change and find out how you can make a difference with Climate Change in our World. The Met Office Hadley Centre, British Antarctic Survey and UK Government have harnessed Google Earth technology to present you with an interactive animation showing how climate change and global temperature rises could affect our world over the next 100 years.

When you click on the Met Office or DFID icons, a boxes appear providing various information on how people in that place are coping with the effects of climate change.

Find the KML file that will create the layer for Google Earth here. (Make sure you have Google Earth installed on your computer!). This video demonstrates how to use layer.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


This is a new tool for you to watch out for in your geography lessons. Animoto is a site that allows you to upload images to create a 30 second slideshow.

Here's one I made earlier on the theme of shanty towns; a feature of urban growth that the year 10 are currently studying. If you would like to have a go at your own, click here.

Smart choices for the carbon conscious...

Brought to you by the BBC
Want to know what actions can have the biggest impact on your carbon emissions? Bloom helps you choose actions tailored to your home and lifestyle, then lets you compare them by how much CO2 they save, how cheap they are or how easy other Bloomers have found them.
Experts at the BBC have studied over 50 things you can do to tackle climate change (with many more to follow soon). Each action is represented by a seed. Their 'gardener' will ask questions to identify which ones suit you best. When you find an action you plan to do, or one you've already done, plant the seed and watch it bloom. Your collection of Blooms shows the progress you've made!
Click on the image to go to their site...perhaps you can could have a go as a household?

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Why could Miss Blackmore's dad not get to work today?

You all know I'm a fan of mysteries in Geography!

The town of Ottery St Mary, east Devon, was cut off this morning by torrential overnight storms which caused 6ft high drifts of hailstones! More than 3 inches of rain and hail fell between 6pm on Wednesday and 8am this morning. More than 100 people had to be evacuated from their homes. Cars were buried up to their roofs in hasilstones. It is thought that the situation became so severe because hailstones blocked drains and caused serious flooding as more rain fell.

Click on the map above to see it in more detail!

To find out more, check out these articles...
October's weird weather continues as village is inundated by 6ft drifts of hailstones
'Freak' hail causes flood chaos (includes video)
Freak storm leaves Devon town like 'lunar landscape' under 2ft of hail (includes video)
Arborfield blog (look at the amazing pictures on this blog!)

Not forgetting the mystery question, my dad couldn't get to work today because he works in the town of Ottery St Mary, which was this morning under as much as 6ft of hailstones and floodwater!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Youtube videos on climate change

Year 8 have been studying Sustainability this term. As part of the unit, we looked at various youtube videos connected to climate change.

Here's the most recent Act on CO2 advert...

Here's a couple of your favourites

Tetris and geography? Surely not...

"Statetris is an interesting game mixing aspects of the popular game 'Tetris' and geography. Instead of positioning the typical Tetris blocks, you position states/countries at their proper location. Fun, challenging and educational!"
Believe me, you'll be hooked!
Thanks to Miss Ellis for this gem.

South Georgia Webcams - Seals and Penguins!

The sub-Antarctic islands of South Georgia, 1,390 kilometres from the Falkland Islands, is a great place!

There are two webcams monitoring the seals and the penguins. The webcams show new images every 3 minutes! Take a look for yourself here: Webcam1 and Webcam2

To find out more about South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, take a look here.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Geography Map Games!

Test your knowledge of countries in different continents with these excellent quizzes...

jeux-geographique banner

When you've mastered those, try the capital cities quiz...

geography-map-games banner

Good luck and have fun!

Animaniacs - Nations of the World

This video showing the nations of the world has proved a big hit with the year 7 geographers. Now you can watch it over and over again! Enjoy...