#GeoEdChat October 16th 2013: How can school grounds be used for teaching Geography?

This post is a thinkpiece for #GeoEdChat to help people think of ways they have used or plan to use their school grounds to teach Geography. As Geographers we love working outside the classroom and believe in the power of this in aiding student learning. Along with the obvious examples of learning with field work, we often use the school grounds in creative ways.

Here are a few of the ways I have used the school grounds over the past 2 years:

  • Muriwai in chalkThe courtyard outside of our class was turned into our coastal environment and the students became the wave trains approaching the coast. In this way we were able to physically see the process of wave refraction occurring and discuss the reasons why to add depth to the annotated diagrams we drew in class.
  • Guerrilla LanguagesI have used Guerrilla Geography in many classes to get students thinking and provoking further thinking of others in the school. In the example shown in the photo above, this class had been studying Globalisation and were now sharing important messages about Globalisation that related to their lives at school. This activity had students working in groups, thinking of their audience and picking the important points out of their previous learning – a great revision exercise.
  • Mt Ruapehu

    Mt Ruapehu

    The school grounds are brilliant for preparing students for fieldwork activities. Before taking Year 12 Geography students to Tongariro National Park for their field research, we used the school grounds to train the students in their field procedures. Steve Smith has devised a series of activities to achieve this. Driveway slopes turn into quasi rivers to measure river velocity, gardens are great for Vegetation Transects and slopes overlooking the fields, perfect for slope profiles. Precis sketches are also very easy to practice by purely walking to a different part of the school and practising your sketches.

  • The final activity was one used for learning about perspectives. I had students all in one place writing a description of what they had seen. We then shared these descriptions and discussed how different people noticed different things from the exact same view. A great introduction for these students as to how perspectives shape our actions!

How do you use your school grounds to teach Geography?

Do these activities add anything to your classroom learning?

How do you know?

Love to hear your thoughts in #GeoEdChat at 8pm your local time on Wednesday 16th October.

#GeoEdChat Poll 1 with David Rogers

The first #GeoEdChat will happen on the 6th Feb.  I’ve put my head above the parapet and volunteered to moderate the first session. If you want to know who I am, check me out on Twitter or have a gander at my blog.

As moderator, I get to put forward a few ideas for what we focus the conversation around. The best bit is that you get to vote for what you’d like.  Here are my choices:

a. Putting geography at the centre of your school. 

Us geographers are always harping on about how our subject is so great and linked to other subjects.  How can geography and school geography departments take control of whole school initiatives?

b. Getting guerilla with school geography.

Geography is all around us but it’s getting more and more difficult to get out into the wider world.  How can mini-explorations and naughty learning allow children to develop their sense of place?

c. Using school grounds for exploration and fieldwork.

Similar to the second topic but more focused on the development of exam skills on and around the school grounds.

d. Setting up an overseas field-trip.

This one is all about getting out there.  We could focus on how to make the case for an overseas adventure, the planning, risk-assessment and ensuring that young people learn

.