Last Saturday I headed to Guildford for my fourth GA conference. Below is a summary of some of the sessions that I went along to and some of the ideas that I picked up.
Student leadership and inclusive fieldwork - Steve Rackley
Steve had some really interesting ideas about how to not only make fieldwork more student inclusive but also how to involve students in the geography department in a more meaningful way. I have a group of enthusiastic Year 10 student ambassadors who would be very willing to come along to department meetings as Steve tried at his school. He included representatives from each demographic of the geography student body, including PP, SEN, A/A* and C grade students so that they all had a voice. The student representatives were able to plan the fieldwork and he trained a number of the students before the trip so that they were able to lead their groups in collecting the data.
I hope to implement some of these ideas in my own department and there are some good opportunities in this term to perhaps train Year 9 students to teach Year 7 students. This would encourage them to become more independent, learn skills needed at GCSE and give them a sense of responsibility, at a time when traditionally Year 9 students often lose their motivation and enthusiasm!
Let's play! Geographical games and simulations - Raphael Heath
This session had a huge number of resources and ideas that could be introduced into schemes of work. A number of them would involve time before creating the resources but would be worth to have in a department. The link below will take you to the resources (including free online games, a shanty town game, trading games and a rainforest DME)...
Using data as evidence - Margaret Roberts
At a GA conference I always make sure to attend a session by the legendary Margaret Roberts. She made some interesting points about teaching geography based on evidence at a time of fake news. She argued that resources should be based in reality - show students where the resources came from, don't just use stereotypical views and attribute viewpoints to real people. I found this really thought provoking as my enquiry style lessons always lead to students asking me if the people involved are real.
Students should be given opportunities in geography lessons to question the reliability of sources of data and should always look at more than one source.
Margaret suggested that students should consider the key five points of a graph instead of answering data response questions. They should explain which five points they think are most significant and use evidence from the graph to support.
Layers of inference (often used in history lessons) is also a good technique to judge a source and decide what it shows/what it does not show.
As Margaret argued throughout, teachers have a responsibility to enable students to judge the reliability of data.