Using Images in Geography #3 Thinking like a geographer

Increasingly students are being expected to ‘think like a geographer’ by applying skills, knowledge and understanding to unfamiliar contexts.

The use of photographs and question stems is a useful way of encouraging students to ‘think like a geographer’. After all, students have to learn how to ask questions to be able to apply themselves to unfamiliar contexts.

Before this can be done, students need to have a basic understanding of what geography is, and this post is based on the premise that they have an awareness of the main geographical concepts your curriculum is based on.

The first step in achieving this might be to introduce the concept of using images to think like a geographer. Modelling how a geographer might use a photograph to consider the geography of a particular location to demonstrate the process through thinking aloud would provide cognitive strategies that students could adopt. Thinking aloud by the teacher will provide students with a way to witness expert thinking, usually hidden from them.

The next step in encouraging students to think like a geographer could be to provide scaffolding and model geographical questions using images.

General question stems, applicable to most geographical photographs,  could be introduced to less experienced students of geography. Examples could include:

  • What are the main geographic features shown in the picture?
  • What are the human features of _____________?
  • What are the physical features of ___________?
  • How are the physical and human features of __________ linked?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of _______________?
  • How does ________________ affect ________________?
  • How does ________________ link to ________________?
  • How does the location compare to __________________?
  • What processes cause ________________________?
  • How would changing ____________________ affect ____________________?
  • How is this _________ interdepedent?
  • What issues relating to sustainability affect ____________?
  • How does __________________ link to what you have studied in geography in the past?
  • What do you not understand about _______________________?
  • In what way is _____________ related to _______________?

Alternatively, you could use more concrete prompts to encourage students to think like a geographer. Examples include:

  • Identify the geographical concepts evident in this image
  • Write a sentence/paragraph to reflect what is shown in this image
  • Use these words as a prompt to figure out the main geographical issues evident in this image.
  • Select two details that elaborate on the main geographical issues in this area and are important to remember
  • How might changes in this area have a positive/negative impact?
  • Describe and explain the issues of sustainability in this image.
  • Explain the potential impact of climate change on this area.
  • What are the human and physical processes in this area and how do they interact?

As students become more experienced asking geographical questions, the teacher could then move onto providing students with prompts such as who, what, when where, why and how before removing the scaffolding completely. Of course, this can be done at any time that is appropriate for individual students.

As students are analysing the photograph it is a good opportunity for the teacher to circulate and check and challenge student thinking. Providing hints, prompts, suggestions, and feedback when students encounter difficulties is encouraged at this stage.

Following this, targetted questioning is a useful way to check understanding and address misconceptions that students might have.

Anthony Bennett

Related posts: 

Using Images in Geography #1 Identify, classify, rank and justify

Using Images in Geography #2 Scroll it

Further reading

The Use of Scaffolds for Teaching Higher-Level Cognitive Strategies

Slumping at Hornsea March 2019 – One week on

Map your photos using Google Maps

Using Google Images and Google Maps you can easily create a map using an album of geotagged photos. Geotagged photos are those that include data on the location they were taken. Most modern mobile phones have this feature as do some digital cameras. If you are not sure a quick search on the Internet will tell you if this option is available and how to enable it.

Below is a map showing the location of a number of images taken in and around Hornsea on the Holderness Coast using an iPhone and a drone.

Looks complicated? Don’t worry, it’s not! Just follow the steps below.

To begin with, you will need to upload your geotagged photos to a new album in Google Photos. To do this login to your Google account and go to https://photos.google.com. Next create a new album by clicking +Create in the top right corner, then select Album.

Give the folder a title then upload the images you want to map.

Next, go to https://www.google.com/maps/d/ and select +Create New Map (top left corner). Your new map will open and be called Untitled map. Give your image a suitable title by clicking untitled map in the top left window.

Rename your map

Rename your map.

Click Save.

Next click Import (under the first layer which is called Untitled layer).

Click import

Click Import

Click the Photo albums tab. Next, locate the album where your photos are stored. Select all the images you want to import onto the map.

Select images you want to import

Select images you want to import

Next, click Select. The photos will then be copied onto your map.

This will create at least one layer containing your images and an icon of each image will be displayed on the map.

Imported images and new layers

Imported images and new layers

You will notice that each photograph has been given a title based on the location it was taken. You should go through these and rename them as appropriate. Once you’ve finished you can share your map with others by clicking Share > Change > On. You can then share the URL. You can also embed the map on a website by clicking the three dots next to the map title. Then select Embed on My Site.

2018 Natural Hazards and Disasters Poster

2018 saw a range of natural hazards affecting people and places across the planet. We’ve collated some of the deadliest and most powerful natural hazards of 2018 and put them into the infographic below. Ideal for the AQA Challenge of Natural Hazards Unit.

Have you seen our Natural Hazards Memory Geoggers? 

Click the image below to download an A3 colour copy of the poster for free.

How can coastal fieldwork data be presented on Google My Maps?

Using images in Geography #2 Scroll It

Using images in Geography #1 Identify, classify, rank and justify