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Geography concepts: What, why and how?

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1 Geography concepts: What, why and how?
Liz Taylor University of Cambridge

2 (This slide showed an image of an exercise book page from 1947 – lots of small pictures showing characteristics and products of different regions of France.)

3 (This slide showed a detailed map in coloured pencil of the relief and key features of Spain and Portugal.)

4 A more recent example… Ecosystems
Elements in an ecosystem (biotic, abiotic, food chains and webs) Rainforest ecosystems Desert ecosystems Mediterranean ecosystems Geography concepts: what, why & how?

5 An even more recent example…
Geography of crime Defining and categorising crime Crime in the local area Mapping crime (GIS) Preventing crime Geography concepts: what, why & how?

6 What’s the big idea? Key concepts can be used in planning to give focus, to aid selection of content, to organise. Geography concepts: what, why & how?

7 A detailed knowledge of content is important
concepts methods (processes, skills) knowledge (range, content) Geography concepts: what, why & how?

8 But which concepts should we use to organise it?
Geography concepts: what, why & how?

9 Different people, different purposes, different lists…
Schools Council Project History, Geography and Social Science (1976) in Marsden (1995) Leat (1998) Jackson (2006) communication power beliefs and values conflict/consensus continuity/change similarity/difference causes and consequences cause and effect classification decision-making development inequality location planning systems space and place scale and connection proximity and distance relational thinking Geography concepts: what, why & how?

10 Which concepts? Concepts are classifiers – tools for making sense of the world Which are most powerful for constructing school geography around (in this time and place)? Geography concepts: what, why & how?

11 Key concepts in the 2008 NC place space scale interdependence
physical and human processes environmental interaction and sustainable development cultural understanding and diversity Geography concepts: what, why & how?

12 Geography concepts: what, why & how?
Perception & representation Change Interaction Diversity Geography concepts: what, why & how?

13 Place, space, time central
Diversity SPACE PLACE TIME Interaction Change Perception & representation Geography concepts: what, why & how?

14 The proof of the pudding…
… is in whether thinking about these ideas helps us to plan geographically rigorous, engaging and challenging sequences of learning… Geography concepts: what, why & how?

15 …so how can this happen? Enquiry sequence…
short, focussed sequence of lessons a good enquiry question (pith & rigour) driven by a particular big concept outcome activity which answers the question and is integral to the sequence Geography concepts: what, why & how?

16 Constructing a good question is vital!
A question the pupils will want to answer (pith) A question which will encourage careful and challenging thinking about a geographical topic (rigour) Geography concepts: what, why & how?

17 Do these have pith & rigour?
What are the human and physical factors which have affected coastal erosion in the Dunwich area over the past 50 years? Olympics in China: good or bad? Should people be allowed to destroy the Amazon rainforest? Geography concepts: what, why & how?

18 It’s not easy, but it is important!
Some work in progress… How far has my mobile travelled? (interaction/globalisation) Glastonbury: environmental friend or foe? (interaction/sustainability) Where should the Smiths live in Australia? (diversity) Lake District 2050: What will it be like? (change) Geography concepts: what, why & how?

19 Achieving focus… Question setting Planning sequence (selection)
Which key concept? Outcome activity Geography concepts: what, why & how?

20 Conclusions Why? What? How? Geography concepts: what, why & how?

21 Challenges for future development…
Long term progression Synthesis Geography concepts: what, why & how?

22 More info… GA website – big concepts thinkpiece
(www.geography.org.uk/projects/gtip/thinkpieces/) Teaching Geography – summer ‘08 CPD course 2009 – Thank you! Geography concepts: what, why & how?

23 Geography concepts: what, why & how?


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