Monday, 12 March 2012

Guest Blog: From Kirkbie, Kendal to Sendai, Japan

Restless Earth Geography Workshop at Kirkbie Kendal School – Tuesday 21st February

On a dark, wet and wild morning the British Cartographic Society blew into Kirkbie Kendal School, Kendal. The recently broadcast drought in the Southeast of England seemed a distant memory as Cumbria delivered its famous rain!

During the Restless Earth workshop our GCSE pupils participated in a hazard mapping task based on the Japanese Tsunami 2011. They were able to work in groups each taking on a specific roles within the team; Humanitarian; Military; Search and rescue; Medical; Co-Ordinator roles.
The challenge was to use the maps to produce two hazard maps that would show where helicopters could land, where supplies could be delivered, which roads were accessible, the implication of the Fukushima nuclear power plant exclusion zone and where survivors could be taken.

The Restless Earth workshop enabled our pupils to actively engage with maps and use them for a purpose. It was inspirational to see our mixed ability pupils all engaging with contemporary content and exhibit a real sense of curiosity.

The current Ofsted Geography criteria states that an outstanding department must make , “…very effective use is made of ICT and Geographical Information Systems (where relevant) to promote learning and enable pupils to use data and information sources to search and select, organise and investigate and refine and present information skilfully and independently.” ( , Jan 2012).

In the past this has often been difficult to meaningfully implement; the expensive nature of the software packages, difficultly accessing ICT in schools and linking it to the curriculum in a cohesive fashion rather than tacked on are often limiting factors. The BCS workshop allows departments deliver this element successfully.

The way in which the BCS workshop was planned and delivered allowed all our pupils to gain skills and in many cases has been a highlight of this academic year for pupils and staff. Pupil feedback included; “You can think about if you were in that situation what you would do. It also helps you take on a revision but in a different way.”
“I enjoyed solving the problem (e.g. where would the hospital go?) but it did get a little confusing as there were so many things to take in to consideration!!”
“I enjoyed learning more about maps and practising map skills. I also liked the way everyone had their own task to complete.”
“The teamwork, I really enjoyed looking at maps and feeling like we were actually planning it all.” Although we did have one pupil comment that it would have helped if the maps of Japan had not been in Japanese!

It was delightful to see different geography communities collide – the sharing of skills from the British Cartographic Society, the support of the Geographical Association ambassadors, Geography teachers being supported in embedding skills and the opportunity to see pupils engage with new concepts. It was genuinely an exciting experience and we hope that collaborations such as this continue to be an area supported by the BCS and the GA.

Fiona Derbyshire, Head of Geography, Kirkbie Kendal School

Find out more about The BCS Resltess Earth Workshops

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