Map missions using the AQA OS Maps from 2018

Geography teacher, Nik, has kindly shared a set of map missions based on the OS map extracts from the 2018 AQA GCSE geography exam. You can download the questions and answers below.

Woolacombe Bay Extract (figure 10):

River Severn Extract (figure 12):

Cairngorms Extract (figure 15):

If you have any resources you’d like to share with the wider geography community please send them over to admin@internetgeography.net.

Strategies for embedding geographical enquiry into the GCSE curriculum

Geographical enquiry is a fundamental element of geography and is now firmly established in the geography curriculum, at least on paper, across Key Stages 2-5. There is little or no doubt that students who are involved in geographical enquiry will develop essential skills for learning. However, perhaps more importantly to us, geographical enquiry helps students in constructing geographical knowledge. There is general agreement that this implies an active approach to learning geography which encourages pupils to ask questions about real issues, to search for answers using a wide range of skills and information and to think critically about issues rather than accept the conclusions, research and opinion of others passively. (Davidson, 2006; Naish et al., 2002).

The new GCSE specifications all have an element of geographical enquiry. Take the AQA specification as an example, which assesses the enquiry process in the following ways:

  • Questions based on the use of fieldwork materials from an unfamiliar context.
  • Questions based on students’ individual enquiry work. For these questions, students will have to identify the titles of their individual enquiries.

In practice, however, opportunities for geographical enquiry are often missed as we plough through the copious content of the new GCSE specifications.

Like many geography teachers across the country, I have been guilty of focussing on the individual enquiry’s students need to complete while paying limited lip service to addressing fieldwork from an unfamiliar context. Having asked geography teachers on Twitter how they prepared students for unfamiliar fieldwork enquiry questions, the results did not surprise me.

Twitter results

It is probably fair to say, even based on this limited sample, geography departments across the country tend to focus on the two compulsory fieldwork investigations but spend little or no time on other aspects of geographical enquiry. Having re-read the AQA GCSE geography examiner’s report for paper three, it is clear that enquiry skills, particularly in the unseen context, is an area for development.  Misunderstandings such as the difference between data collection technique and data presentation technique are also highlighted.

In all honesty, and after considerable reflection, I think we are doing both our students and our discipline a disservice if we are not including geographical enquiry throughout the curriculum. However, we face significant challenges in addressing this. Many are finding the increase in the content covered in the new GCSE curriculum a problem to get through. Additionally, an increasing number of schools are reverting to a two-year key stage 4.

Despite these challenges and without ripping up the curriculum and starting again, simple tweaks can be made to the curriculum, our practice and delivery that will allow us to better address geographical enquiry. We should do this not just for the sake of meeting the needs the expectations of the specification but more importantly, to make our students better geographers.

Let’s get tweaking…

In the AQA specification students will be questioned on fieldwork from an unfamiliar context including, but not limited to:

  • identifying geographical questions/hypothesis
  • identifying risk and strategies for managing this
  • identifying appropriate investigation techniques
  • identifying appropriate presentation techniques
  • completing unfinished data presentation
  • describing/explaining data
  • completing data analysis (mean, median, mode etc.)
  • forming conclusions

There are many opportunities to embed unfamiliar fieldwork throughout the AQA GCSE Geography course, providing students with multiple opportunities to hone their enquiry skills. Students exposed to unfamiliar fieldwork, little and often, are more likely to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding to complete effective fieldwork investigations and improve their enquiry skills.

Most units in the AQA GCSE Geography specification provide opportunities for addressing unfamiliar fieldwork. At an appropriate point within a unit, when students have acquired a strong foundation of subject knowledge, geographical enquiry can be introduced.

So, how might this look in practice?

If the first GCSE unit covered is ecosystems, introduce an unfamiliar fieldwork enquiry by showing your students an image of a deciduous forest ecosystem (once they have studied this aspect of the course). Next, model several examples of geographical questions/hypothesis for this environment, then ask them to develop more. Paired or group work might be appropriate at this stage. You could also address the risks associated with completing fieldwork in this environment and examine risk management along with some basic data presentation and interpretation.

Identify enquiry questions and risks associated with the deciduous forest

Identify enquiry questions and risks associated with the deciduous forest

In the next unit, present the students with another image and ask them to formulate questions independently, identify risks along with strategies for managing the risk and complete data presentation and interpretation. Next, spend time examining the fieldwork techniques that will support investigating the geographical question(s)/hypothesis. The students can then select appropriate data collection techniques for their enquiry questions/hypothesis (perhaps from a list of methods suitable for the environment) and justify their choice.

River fieldwork techniques

River fieldwork techniques

For homework, they can re-visit their ecosystems enquiry and identify suitable data collection techniques (again, from a list of possible approaches), explaining their choice.

As you move through units, expose your students to further aspects of the enquiry processes, including:

  • data presentation
  • data processing
  • describing, analysing and explaining data
  • forming conclusions
  • evaluation

In addition to addressing unfamiliar fieldwork in class, assessments should include unfamiliar enquiry questions from the beginning of the course. Start small and build throughout the course.

Unfamiliar fieldwork questions - rivers

Unfamiliar fieldwork questions – rivers

Below is an outline of resources available to Internet Geography Plus subscribers to support with the enquiry process.

I will be sharing further thoughts on how to embed enquiry in the geography curriculum in future posts.

Comments are welcome below!

Anthony

Internet Geography Plus resources to support with enquiry

To support the above approach, we are developing a range of resources for AQA units that cover fieldwork in unfamiliar contexts. These will include:

• exam questions and mark schemes covering unfamiliar fieldwork contexts
• a PowerPoint resource to support the process of tackling unfamiliar fieldwork contexts in a range of units
• examples of techniques used in a variety of fieldwork investigations
• example fieldwork enquiries

Our first set of resources, available to Internet Geography Plus subscribers include:

Did you know? Our Geography Curriculum Tracking Tool allows you to plan for progression in developing enquiry skills. The tracking tool is useful, not just for planning for progression, but is handy if you suffer a ‘deep dive’.

If you have any resources to share in this area, please send them over to admin@internetgeography.net.

Questions based on students’ individual enquiry work

We are currently developing resources to support students in the enquiry process. These guides will take the students through the enquiry sequence and will provide examples of what they need to consider. The A3 resources are fully editable so you can customise them to meet the needs of your students. Each resource pack also contains an overview of the enquiry process and a summary document they can complete at the end of the investigation to support revision.

Fieldwork investigation guide – rivers (available to download in the Internet Geography Plus area)

You can download our first draft of a river-based investigation guide and presentation.

These documents will be updated as we build more online guides to support data presentation techniques etc.

Look out for additional resources shortly.

Acronyms in geography to improve writing

Acronyms are a great way of supporting students when writing like a geographer. They provide a simple framework for students to follow when answering different types of geographical questions. If embedded throughout key stage 3 and 4 they are powerful tools for learners to draw on in the tension-thick exam hall.

Having reached out to Twitter for acronym suggestions, we’ve pulled together a range of strategies that may be useful to you and your students. Many thanks to everyone who contributed!

We do not recommend teaching students all of the techniques below. It is more useful to cherry-pick a small number to try. Also, while acronyms provide support and structure to students there is a risk that answers can become too formulaic. Students need to be taught how to use these acronyms effectively – knowing when and how to confidently apply or deviate from them.

If we’ve missed out a useful acronym please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. If you have any resources you’re prepared to share based on these strategies please send a copy to admin@internetgeography.net.

Acronyms for thinking synoptically

STEEP – Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental & Political (includes Historical)
Why use it?
A useful way of encouraging students to make connections.

The image below, provided by @geojosie, provides a structure for using STEEP.

STEEP - encouraging learners to think synoptically

STEEP – encouraging learners to think synoptically

Acronyms for answering geographical questions

SEE – State, explain, example
Why use it?
Provides a simple structure when answering questions. Students will give an answer (state), explain it and back it up with an example.

PEE – Point, explain, example
Why use it?
Provides a simple structure when answering questions. Students will give a point, explain it and back it up with an example.

The video below, by Kit Rackley of GeogRamblings, explains the technique in a geographical context.

PEEEL – Point, explain example, evaluation and link
Why use it?
Further development on the PEE acronym.

PEDaL – Point, evidence/explain, develop, link
Why use it?
Useful for explaining answers and making links back to the question.

PETAL – Point, evidence, this means that, as a result, link.
Why use it?
A development of PEDaL that provides further structure to explanations and considers impacts.

PELE – Point, explain, link, evidence
Why use it?
Legendary footballer!

SHEEP 🐑 Social, historical, economic, environmental, political
Why use it?
Supports development of answers, particularly for high tariff questions.

Acronyms for geographical distribution/patterns/locations

CLOCCK – Continent, latitude/longitude, ocean/sea, country, compass, kilometre
Why use it?
A technique for describing geographical locations on a map.

GSE Generally, specifically and exception
Why use it? 
Useful for distribution/location questions

Acronyms for graphs/data

TEA – Trend, example, anomaly
Why use it?
Useful for analysing graphs.

TREE – Trend, rate of change, examples/evidence, exceptions
Why use it?
Useful for analysing graphs, this structure ensures students cover all possibilities when analysing data.

TEAL – Trend, example, anomaly, links
Why use it?
Useful for analysing graphs.

PALMS – Pattern, anomaly, least, most, stats
Why use it?
Useful for analysing graphs and maps.

PADL – Patterns, anomalies, data, links to topic(s).
Why use it?
Ideal for resource-based questions.

PDA – Patterns, data, anomalies
Why use it?
Ideal for ensuring students include data in descriptions.

FART – Figures, anomalies, rate and trend.
Why use it?
The students will remember it! Useful to remind them of rates and trends in data.

GEE it’s a graph! Generally, examples include, exceptions include…
Why use it?
Particularly useful for sentence starters.

TRASH – Trend, range, anomalies, smallest, highest
Why use it?
A comprehensive range of areas to cover when investigating data.

Acronyms for factors affecting climate

WORLD – Wind direction, ocean currents, relief, latitude, distance from the sea
Why use it?
Simple structure for explaining factors that affect climate.

Acronyms for exam technique – reading the question

GAMES – Geography (what knowledge will I apply?), ask (what is the question asking me to do with that knowledge?), marks (how many is it worth and how will I get top marks?), extra (do I need to use resources, maps, graphs etc.)
Why use it?
A great way to encourage students to consider what the question is asking them to do.

BUG – BOX the command word, UNDERLINE the key term/topic, GLANCE back at the question regularly.
Why use it?
Sometimes students can be guilty of regurgitating their geographical knowledge in an exam without actually answering the question. BUG the question is a great technique for students to deconstruct exam questions and increase their chances of picking up marks by writing an answer appropriate to the question.

Acronyms for decision making

MADASS – My choice, advantages, disadvantages, alternatives (compare to), sustainability, sum up.
Why use it?
A great way to encourage students to consider balance when completing decision-making activities.

If you are an Internet Geography Plus subscriber you have free access to the new resources we’re developing to support students in the use of acronyms to improve their answers to geographical questions. Click the image below to access. Get a low-cost subscription here.

PETAL Geography

Creating simple topographic profiles

Creating Simple Topographic Profiles

Pontypridd Profile

Pontypridd Profile

In this post, David Caplin illustrates a simple way of capturing topographic profiles using free, online tools. 

Topographic Profiles are a very good visual way of representing a section of terrain. There are a number of different uses for topographic profiles in Geography. In terms of Coastal Management, they can be easily used to illustrate how the coastline has changed under the presence of erosion or deposition.

There are a number of ways of producing profiles, and which one to use largely depends on what you actually want to use it for!

If you just want a simple profile, for a river valley, for example, or cross-section of a mountain range, you don’t need mm level accuracy and up-to-date data, you just need a general overview of the terrain. A brilliant tool for this is the HeyWhatsThat Path Profiler tool.

Hey What's That Path Profiler Tool

Hey What’s That Path Profiler Tool

The Path Profiler tool is very simple to use. It has a Google Maps Interface, and by left clicking on the map, you can create points on the map. A line will be drawn between the two points and the profile drawn automatically in the little window above it. Here is an example of it:

Example of a line drawn on HeyWhatsThat Path Profiler tool

Example of a line drawn on HeyWhatsThat Path Profiler tool

If we want to have a look at the valley profile in this section of the Taff Valley in South Wales, we can drop our two points either side of the valley, and the profile is generated from that transect:

Pontypridd Profile

Pontypridd Profile

You can customize the display of it through the settings on the page, for example changing units. The profile can be copied/pasted or saved for further use.

Now, this is a really quick and simple tool for producing profiles, but it is neither up-to-date nor especially customisable. If you’re looking for something that is much more customisable, and able to use the latest data, you’re going to need to use a fully-fledged GIS package, such as QGIS.

By David Caplin

Lecturer in Agriculture
Bridgend College

 

Coastal Environments CPD – Erosional Landforms, Coastal Management, Deposition and Fieldwork on the Holderness Coast

How can river data be presented on Google My Maps?

Exam Question Modelling – AO1 and AO2

Exam Question Modelling – AO1, AO3 and AO4

CLOCC Location Descriptors