As a geography teacher, I’m often asked how to set up links that have a global connection. Indeed, as a geographer I am often called upon to teach about places, concepts and processes that I have no direct experience of.
This is an extract of the article published in the May 2015 edition of UKEdMagazine. You can order the printed edition of the magazine by clicking here, or view the web edition freely by clicking here.
I’ve been lucky in the past to be involved in setting up a school link with a secondary institution in South Africa, and the British Council (britishcouncil.org) can help here greatly. However, global links needn’t be epic to be memorable and, through new technology, it’s possible to bring the idea of global development into the classroom. Here are five simple tools to help open up the world:
The digitalexplorer.com team are brilliant. A dedicated team that share expeditions and explorations with the classrooms around the world. In particular, check out their Oceans Live initiative. This brings schools the opportunity to connect, live via Skype in the Classroom (education.skype. com), with Ocean researchers live from the field. Arctic Live (bit.ly/uked15may12) starts in May.
In terms of global cultural understanding, check out these pages that compare life in the UK with Pakistan. Some powerful learning opportunities.
It’s hard to think that some geography teachers may not already know about Gapminder.org. This powerful tool visualises development information from around the world. Students find the interface really engaging. The site can be used to reinforce mathematical skills (such as describing and predicting correlations between variables) as well as exploring some of the factors affecting development.
Mapping the Tweets of London
twitter.mappinglondon.co.uk is a really interesting resource to start off a unit on global connections. Start with asking students to describe how the distribution of Tweets in each language is spread around the capital before starting to research the areas. Use Google’s Streetview to see if there is any evidence in the built environment to reflect the concentrations, for example, do the tweets match up to the location of embassies?
Bing start page
Whatever you think of bing.com as a search engine, it’s daily image is a stunning way to introduce different places around the world. Display the image with a simple thunk, such as ‘What evidence is there that this place is developed?’ This can create some lively classroom discussion before students delve deeper into the location. It’s a very useful way to tackle the misconceptions that students have about how development can be measured.
Another useful little tool for demonstrating the connections that young people have with the world through their surnames. Set a homework …