Thursday, 19 July 2012

End of term and some Toltec wisdom to mull over the summer

So I started up a Twitter account recently, @jsbgeography, as I thought it would be a good medium through which to share information, network and encourage students to connect with the subject outside of the classroom. So far things are going well but Twitter does require the account holder to keep up to speed a.k.a tweet frequently and for a teacher near exhaustion at the end of the summer term this can be quite a challenge; nevertheless, I will stick with it as I feel this form of social network does have the potential (when compared to VLEs e.g. Fronter) to connect the learner with what is a very dynamic and topical subject. Next term I am looking forward to setting some prep using Twitter and seeing how I can use it in the classroom with a heavy dose of common sense!

Now enough of the teaching and learning diatribe and onto some cultural geography wisdom which i picked up from a recent Inset - it is called Toltec wisdom and originates from, yep you've guessed it, the Toltec tribe (900-1200AD) which literally means "Master builder" or "Reed people". Essentially Toltec wisdom can be distilled into the following 4 points:

1. Be impeccable with your words
2. Take nothing personally
3. Make no assumptions
4. Always do your best

Food for thought for all of us at this time of year and on that note I wish you a happy summer holidays - it's time for me to switch off and disconnect...


Monday, 2 July 2012

The importance of podcasts in connecting with today's mobile learners

After two years of being a loyal Blackberry supporter, with the shift of the company towards its focus on the business community and the lure of Apple and its Apps, I succumbed last week to getting an I-Phone 4S and my my what a revelation.  Although the touch screen keypad is a little frustrating (ahem..predictive text), the power of the I-phone has surpassed my expectations.  It epitomises how EASY it is to connect to the Global Village (M. McLuhan)and in particular share ideas, links, resources, tweets, podcasts etc etc etc.

Podcasts are particularly useful and still, in my opinion, not utilized effectively by many teaching practitioners.  Obviously the tech savvy student in comparison to his more Luddite orientated teacher (apologies for the gross generalisation) may already listen to popular podcasts on comedy, sport (probably football), and radio shows.  However, there are a plethora of GREAT Political, Economic, & Geographic (a.k.a PEG) podcasts which students can download and listen to on their phones - hence, independent learning on the go, and it's not reading 'dull' or 'long' books!

As the UCAS drum starts to beat again, students (and teachers alike) are trying to prove WHY they love their particular subject through the medium of the their personal statement. If you are lucky enough to live near London, then the LSE Event lectures (free) and RGS Monday evening lectures (free to school members) offer a tangible and dynamic medium to engage with Geography at a higher level. However, for those a little further away, podcasts make geographical distances insignificant and allow any student with a decent smartphone and internet connection to engage with their subject at a higher level and through a medium which they may indeed find more engaging and time efficient. 

Below is a brief summary of some of the podcasts I like to listen to and tweet about (@jsbgeography). Check them out, select the ones you like and add any new ones to this post to share ideas and build up a resource bank!

If you are also interested in keeping up-to-date with topical news stories and have an I-Phone then download the free FLIPBOARD app; a great way to collate and browse topical news stories which interest you!