About @DanRavenEllison

Follow me on Twitter at @DanRavenEllison.

#GeoEdChat 8 with @DanRavenEllison – How can #play be used to improve geographies?

There is a strong link between geography and play. Geography is simply a giant game of hide and seek. Mentally and physically we’ve always played the game. From our first smiles playing peekaboo to the war games (and battles in theatre) that are played out by our military and political leaders, much of our lives are spent searching, evading and finding.

Play can be a powerful way for us to learn about places. Indoor games like The Settler’s of Catan draw from the ‘real world’ and can be an engaging way for us to learn about trade, strategy, inequality and theory (as this game is based on Central Place Theory). With parallels to the famous Trading Game by Christian Aid, indoor (board)games are effective and largely uncontroversial learning tools. A good exception being those created by my good friends at Terrorbull Games (check out the print-and-play games).

Outdoor play is far more controversial than indoor play for some teachers, parents and communities. We all know about the concerns for ‘safety’, curriculum time and other barriers that prevent children from benefitting from outdoor play, learning and exploration. Countries like Scotland have a very forward thinking approach to outdoor learning, but in England, the United States, Australia and other ‘developed’ countries the picture is far more bleak. Despite a raft of evidence revealing the benefits of us (all) having time and space to playfully learn outdoors, too many children just don’t get the right opportunities.

There is much that the professional ‘geography’ and ‘play’ communities can learn from each other. Playworkers, play rangers and playground designers are all inherently interested in creating valuable, meaningful and appropriate places for children. As well as micro-play environments like sandpits, many people in this thriving community are working hard to change the geographies of their communities by creating play streets and helping parents to rethink the real geographies of risk in their local area. Equally, geography educators can learn much from the way that playworkers create opportunities for free play (and learning) and conceptualise how this play can be of benefit to us.

An ever increasing movement of individuals and organisations are working to help the gatekeepers unlock opportunities for us – not just the children – to spend more time exploring, playing and learning outdoors. My work with Mission:Explore, the programme by the John Muir Award, the awesome personal drive of Juliet Robertson with Creative STAR and campaigning by Play England are just tiny sample of what is happening in the UK.

Empty Classroom Day on Friday 5th July is one of the most exciting. It’s a simple idea and one that we should all support. It’s aim is simple – that every school in the UK (I reckon this should say on Earth) there will be an empty classroom and pupils will be learning in their playground, local park, farm, seaside and the great outdoors.

So, my question for #GeoEdChat this Wednesday is this. Given that Empty Classroom Day is just around the corner..

  • How can play be used to improve geographies?
  • What outdoor games can you recommend that help us to learn outdoors?
  • How can play improve the geography of your community?
  • What can you do to support Empty Classroom Day?

#GeoEdChat now takes place for 24 hours every Wednesday with a focussed meet-up at 8pm in your timezone. I’ll be dropping in and out of the chat all day. Tweet with you then?

@DanRavenEllison is a Guerrilla Geographer and National Geographic Emerging Explorer.  He is one of the people behind Mission:Explore, a project to inspire young people to explore, learn and play outdoors. You can follow his blog here.


#GeoEdChat – We’ll be back soon!

#GeoEdChat will be back soon… and will be more regular. After a few weeks of experimenting we’re going to make #GeoEdChat better. Come back soon, follow this blog or our Tweets to find out when we’re going live again.

What do you think of #GeoEdChat?

#GeoEdChat has been going for a few weeks now.

  • What do you think of it?
  • How could it be better?
  • Do you think we should move to a regular time and day, rather than skipping between time zones each week?
  • Should their be more or deeper blog posts?

Please comment below and between us we can experiment with this experiment to make it even better. Thank you!

#GeoEdChat 2 Tonight with @NormalGeo & @CanGeoEdu – How do you use social media and Web 2.0 resources to teach geography?

Today’s #GeoEdChat is at 8pm Eastern (UTC -5), or tomorrow if you’re the other side of the International Date Line. Focussing on the question “How do you use social media and Web 2.0 resources to teach about geography?” the chat be being moderated by Kevin Suess (@NormalGeo), a Geography Teacher & Department Chair,  National Geographic Grosvenor Fellow,  National Board Certified Teacher and the V.P. of Illinois Geographical Society.

Many thanks to Canadian Geographic Education (@CanGeoEdu) who will be looking after the @GeoEdChat Twitter handle today.


Today’s #GeoEdChat: Putting geography at the centre of your school with David Rogers

The first ever #GeoEdChat is today and focuses on the important theme of “Putting geography at the centre of your school”. The chat is being moderated by David Rogers who has prepared a short ‘Think Piece’ on the topic which you can read and comment on here.

Taking place at 8pm (UK), 11pm (Iraq) and 3pm (Eastern USA) I hope that you can join us and help to turn #GeoEdChat into a rich and worthwhile meeting place of geography educators.  You can read more about how #GeoEdChat works and our plans for it here.

See you later!