The UCGS Geo Enquirer

I love magazines. Always have, always will. A couple of years ago, i thought about creating a Geography magazine made up of articles kids write, photos of projects, lessons, fieldwork and the like.

I have now been making it for three years and absolutely love putting it together. The pupils submit articles, work, jokes, quizzes, ideas and photos and I just put them together. I publish them on youblisher, which does make them look a lot better than they actually are.

The photos are either taken by pupils or have a creative commons licence, just in case! I have found it really useful to stretch the most able and improve the depth and breadth of reading at A level and GCSE.

I have included the links to each issue in this post and I always post each issue on my twitter @therealwtuft

If you are thinking about it, it is honestly worth the time!



Encouraging pupils to get out and about on their own

As I have mentioned previously, I have been working hard on developing all my pupils’ interest in the world around them. I think this is one of, if not the most important, thing we as Geography teachers. Well aware of the fact that funding may be a huge issue facing the majority of my pupils, I have tried to find alternatives.

Being lucky as I am to live in the London fringe, there is a veritable cornucopia of bits and bobs to do where most pupils live so I have been drip feeding ideas, things to do and places to visit onto our department twitter feed and edmodo accounts. Here are just a few of the things I have suggested..

1.The RGS travel photographer of the year exhibition at the RGS. Free, great images and get to have a mooch around one of the most important Geographical places in the country.

2. Go to a lido. This was after a conversation with a pupil who did not know where to go swimming in London. I posted a map of possible locations on Edmodo.

3. Use the day time tube network. Hardly any of my pupils actually use the tube so encouraging them to get on and explore was a focus of mine. I highlighted which parks were the closest to some large stations and talked about them in the last lesson before the holidays. This was to encourage them to meet up with their mates as well, something which tends to be lacking with our pupils.

4. Set up scavenger hunts. I have been trialling this for a while and it’s popularity is growing. Set a group of pupils, usually, sixth formers, a series of challenges around a city to explore the urban landscape and the spaces around them. The next one I do will be a Christmas themed one based around globalisation which went down a storm last year.

5.The final thing has been more unsuccessful, but I am going to persevere with it anyway. This is a photo collation task whereby pupils all send the best photos they take in the coolest locations they can through to the twitter account and we print them to create a display of locations we have been. Not many so far but I would like to keep this one going to see what I can make.

Not all of these ideas will work for everyone, but from what I have seen, the pupils are actually getting out and about, enjoying and exploring the world around them. If that is the only thing they take away from Geography lessons, I would count that as a win!


Creating a library to encourage library use!

Happy holidays all!

Seeing as though tomorrow will ensure my head is in an education mindset, at least for a week, thought I would egt some work done today.

The library in my school is small and underused, particularly by those in key stage 4 and 5. This is partly because it is always teeming with smaller children. Therefore I am trying to create a small library in my room from which pupils can lend items. I am hoping that this will encourage them to engage with Geography on a day to day basis and to get on board with actual books, with a potential knock on effect that more than one person would have read the same book so could share ideas, even debate a few issues.

The secondary part of the library is going to be a dvd part. I am well aware that most pupils today will not actually watch that many dvds but the idea with the library is that they can borrow ( age specific) dvds, watch them at lunchtimes in my room, take them home, even watch them with family members, get some discussion going about the Geography behind the films.

I have a reasonably nice collection with the focus, especially with the books, being on difficult texts that may be tricky to get hold of for school age pupils.

Does anyone have any good ideas for them?

Many thanks,


Reflections on a year 8 project #1

We are mere days away from the end of our Brownfield development project with year 8 and I have come to a couple of conclusions about it.

1. IMAG0094[1]These have worked splendidly, the pupils have got really into a little bit of covert operations and the photo shows the last one that remains ( the final one to be found by the premises management team). I even found some other pupils reading one the other day and then telling me that it would be awesome if they did make the old huts into a playground for older pupils, complete with tunnels, swings and slides!

2. Sheep syndrome in projects is a pain. I now have 4 websites being built in one class and 3 guided tours in another. I may get them to randomly select next year and keep to that format.

3. The role of cross curricular learning has been crucial in this project and something which I think I should be working on more. This project has seen me embed a task, starter or teacher talk in various lessons. For example, RMT have talked about the costs of different building materials in their lamp project and directly referenced my project, enrichment have been focusing on teamwork skills and made explicit links to our project, drama have looked at voice projection and how useful that would be in addressing a whole hall (where we present) and maths have looked at budgeting, embedding the actual data from their costings into their work.

This has taken a lot of work and I hope when I see the presentations in the lessons on Thursday and Tuesday, all the hard work will pay off. Now I just need some prizes! Any ideas?

I will add a second post once I have some footage of the actual presentations.


Creating a spectacle in school

I have issues with presentations. They remind me of sad, middle management meetings in grey offices all over the world, where lots of people nod and look pleased with themselves. My year 8 classes have just finished a small presentation task around limiting water usage in the UK. They were not bad, if a little far fetched. But the most annoying part was the lack of spectacle so for their end of term assessment ( a pitch for a brownfield development of the school site) I have chosen something different.

To enhance the idea of spectacle and the fact that we have had some practice on public speaking, I have booked the hall for the final lesson. Now there are no exams and PE are outside, we are going to crank up the sound system ( each group has to have a theme tune to walk on to), turn the spotlights on and focus in for the razzledazzle of redeveloping our school. To heighten the tension, SLT members have filmed the design brief to start the task and will decide on the best pitch.

To add a bit of guerrilla Geography ( shout out to Dan Raven-Ellison)  to the task, once the pupils have decided on how to redevelop the school, they have to complete the attached planning permission sheet and post it in the correct location in the school. This is without telling the caretakers, so that could be interesting, but has meant they are quite excited about where they are developing.

I am hoping that exposing the pupils to this kind of environment will help them build confidence in their public speaking, really think about how to present their information and hone their talents of presentation. I will post some photos once they are done, but I am thoroughly looking forward to it!

year 8 brownfield development fieldwork

year 8 Planning permission


Fieldwork across the years

Fieldwork is crucially important. At this point in time, where many activities for children exist indoors, it is more important than ever that pupils are allowed to explore and interact with the environment around them. People like Dan Raven Ellison and his London National Park concept are at the forefront of this nationally but as Geography teachers we must offer as many chances to interact as we possibly can do.

This year, we have had a real focus on combining the exploration nature of fieldwork with a series of guided building blocks to create a piece of Geographical fieldwork.

In year 7, a little bit of doorstep Geography looking at pollution levels on the school site and fully scaffolded report structure. Trip to the Dorset coast to explore and marvel at some features they had not seen before and undertake 1 A3 sheet of reporting using the guided headings and data collection methods from previous work. Cross curricular with English by creating a documentary style piece of filmmaking.

Year 8 has a focus on not just exploring but gaining knowledge from a fieldtrip. Off to RHS Wisley to explore rainforest like conditions and feed back on plant adaptations with a focus on creating  plants. Cross curricular with Biology to allow pupils to understand links between subjects.

Year 9 off to the New Forest to look at Tourism, Honeypot Sites and impacts. GCSE style and content but heavily guided with regards to data presentation, complex methods and conclusions linked to hypotheses. Ideally, some linkage with Art/Graphics as the level of sketching and mapping may require cross curricular skill.

A residential trip to Somerset/Exmoor in year 10 with a focus on data collection methodologies and independent methods- allowing challenge for the more able and hopefully a chance for pupils to move put of their comfort zones to structure their own work and time.

Year 11 has a day trip for controlled assessment ( although this will be gone in the near future) to a tourist hotspot for pupils to create their own work with very limited guidance and scaffold. A chance for them to show off and hopefully engage with a different location!

Sixth Form get a week in Snowdonia, seeing the features that their Cold Environments work tells them about. This is more about bonding as a group and refreshing the fieldwork skills that have been used in the previous years!

All in all, fieldwork NEEDS to be integral to each year group and particularly in areas where fieldwork opportunities are limited outside of school!