Free Online Earthquake Teaching Resource

natural-disastersNatural Disasters: Earthquakes

The British Red Cross, supported by the Geographical Association, has launched a new, free educational resource for geography teachers. Natural disasters: earthquakes is a curriculum-led geography teaching resource that draws on the recent experience of the  Red Cross during the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Using case studies, maps and eyewitness accounts, this latest British Red Cross teaching resource provides a unique perspective on how individuals and communities prepare for, respond to and recover from earthquakes.

The British Red Cross, which provides a range of educational resources for teachers to download online, created this resource in response to research that showed geography teachers were looking for case study content that brought human stories into the classroom.

With the unique perspective of the Red Cross the humanitarian impact of a natural disaster is explored alongside understanding how earthquakes happen. Resources start with activities for all students and then differentiate into activities for Key Stage 3, GCSE and A level, a curriculum mapping document shows how the resource can contribute to the curricula of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Natural disaster: earthquakes and can be downloaded for free from the British Red Cross website.

The resource will help students:

  • Learn about the physical geography, hazards and risks which can cause a natural disaster such as an earthquake.
  • Explain and analyse the varied impacts an earthquake may have on individuals and communities.
  • Gain insight into the role of the Red Cross in disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
  • Explore the concept of resilience and what might make a community more able to cope in a crisis.

New Review Game – Connect Fours

ClasstoolsThe brilliant Russell Tarr from has created a great new review game called Connect Fours. As with all the fantastic tools on the website, they are free and can be hosted on blogs, websites etc. and require no password or signup. The game consists of a wall with 16 clues which then need sorting into 4 rows of connected items. A sample game can be tried out here.

ConnectFoursColdEnvironmentsThere are many good ways to put this to use as a little starter or plenary activity on the IWB to check understanding and to act as a stimulus for class discussion. I am going to try it out as a starter for a forthcoming Year 12 revision lesson to practise categorising landforms in cold environments.

Richard Byrne from Free Technology 4 Teachers has created a short youtube clip showing how to create a review game using Connect Fours. also has a fanpage on Facebook with frequent useful updates and is worth a follow!

Random Group Generator

Having talked about random name generators – a quick reminder that SMART notebook has a good tool for generating random groupings which can fit well into a SMART presentation. The SMART generator is available straight from the Lesson Activity Toolkit in the SMART notebook programme itself. Well worth looking at if you teach a subject in which you are often dividing students into groups. All groups can be set up at the begininng of the year (as with random name generators) and saved so you can bring them up at any time.Random Group

As with most of these things there are lots of other useful tools for this which are based online or are apps which can be downloaded.

iPad Weekly Bulletin – Issue 5 (apps focus – Science)

Here is this week’s iPad bulletin – the fifth so far. Amongst other things it explores the “Stage” app for use as a simple IWB / document camera and has a large number of suggested apps for the Sciences – Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Click here to download the bulletin

iPad 5

New online KS3 Geography resource on the Coffee Trade – Costa for Schools

Costa for SchoolsTeaching about trade? A fantastic new interactive online physical and human geography resource aimed at 11-14 year olds has just been launched supporting the KS3 geography curriculum. The site provides a great set of free online resources from the Costa Foundation exploring the coffee trade around the world and how it affects the lives of coffee growing communities. There are a vast range of detailed case studies and lots of resources and teaching ideas. Although it is mainly aimed at KS3 there is a vast array of case study material here which could be adapted for use with older students.

interactive map

There is an Interactive Map providing an online journey of the coffee bean from crop to cup with detail on exports of different countries and a more detailed focus on ‘case study’ countries. The map links to case studies from the Costa Foundation and Rainforest Alliance’s work in the coffee belt countries, from Guatemala to Vietnam, and really brings Human & Physical Geography to life!

Tracking the journey of the coffee bean, students learn how the coffee trade helps these communities grow and protects ecosystems:


Students ask and understand:

•           where coffee comes from

•           how coffee can improve lives

•           and how it can make the world a better place.

Case Studies

There some great free resources for teachers, including comprehensive lesson plans that cover core aspects of the KS 3 Geography curriculum including:   Space,  Interdependence, Cultural understanding and diversity, Graphicacy. (Curriculum links are detailed in accompanying teachers’ notes).

As well as an introductory PowerPoint which provides a history of coffee farming and the processes involved from crop to cup there are 3 key lesson plans..

Lesson 1 – Where does our coffee come from, and why does it matter?

Lesson 2 – How can coffee improve lives?

Lesson 3 – Can coffee make the world a better place?

Each lesson can be downloaded as a zipfile – they can be used in conjunction with the website for interactivity where internet access is available or they are also designed to be able to be used off line and there are a range of worksheets / information sheets and powerpoints.

Making the most of a 1 iPad classroom…

We are just entering Phase 2 of our iPad trial and whilst more staff are involved in using iPads we are still in the situation where there is only 1 iPad in the classroom. Nevertheless there are still many great opportunities for enhancing teaching and learning. One of the key things is being able to utilise the iPad in a way which shares resources as a group and facilitates interactivity in a way which can benefit everyone. Here are two key ways that you can put your iPad to maximum use in a 1 iPad classroom:

   1. AIRSERVER  – this allows you to project what is on your iPad through your projector / IWB

Airserver is an AirServerAirplay receiver which effectively allows you to stream content between devices. This allows you to ‘mirror’ your iPad onto your IWB so that you can share any content on your iPad with your students during lessons. As well as images, videos etc.. this will therefore enable you to use apps purchased through the apple store in a whole class lesson situation.

Details of how to download Airserver can be found here – it is very reasonably priced and for schools requiring more than 20 licences there is a very reasonably priced commercial licence.

Once Airserver has been purchased and installed and activated on a machine to airplay from your iPad simply click the home button and a bar of shortcuts will appear at the bottom – slide your finger to the right until the play, pause, volume etc. buttons appear. The Airplay symbol will show here.

To prevent potential ‘accidental’ mirroring of your iPad to colleagues boards in other rooms around school it is strongly recommended that you set up a password system. This will prompt you to enter a password to mirror your iPad to the board. Setting up a password is easy, once you have downloaded and activated AirServer on to your PC simply click on the airserver icon in the system tray (bottom right) (if can’t be seen click on the little white arrow head) – then select settings and enter password. We have found that due to some staff teaching in several different rooms it can help to have a standardise way of setting a password (for example including the room number with a keyword) so that it enables colleagues to use AirServer wherever they are teaching.

The following video summarises the functionality of AirServer

2. SPLASHTOP – using the iPad to wirelessly operate your PC splashtop2mac_icon-100029268-gallery

This enables you to operate your PC in your classroom using your iPad – i.e. the iPad mirrors your PC and in doing so basically turns the ipad into a ‘mini interactive whiteboard’. You can pass your iPad round and ask students to ‘drag and drop’ or complete an activity which will be mirrored to the board and shared with the group. This also frees you from the front of the classroom, enabling you to show, navigate and interact with presentations such as Powerpoints, SMART notebook files etc. wherever you are in the room.

Details of products and pricing can be found here and the app is currently £6.99 on the App store.

The following video summaries the functionality of Splashtop:

iPad Trial – 1. Aim of the project

This academic year I am co-ordinating a small scale iPad trial in school with a  group of 12 teachers looking at the potential use of iPads in the classroom. We are meeting on a regular basis to share good practise and collectively look at and evaluate the potential use of iPad’s in enhancing teaching and learning in the classroom, whilst also facilitating the general role of the teacher. I would be very interested to hear from any other teachers that have been using iPads in the classroom and what their experience has been. As part of the trial I am researching and trying to draw together links to existing research, trials  and other online documents relating to the use of iPads in the classroom.

One local school in Cambridge (The Stephen Perse Foundation) has already rolled out a 1-1 iPad project, and examples of how the iPads are being used are summarised in the video below.

Another example where significant research has already been carried out is at Longfield Academy in Kent where the impact of iPads in the school has been measured over a couple of terms and research carried out on behalf of NAACE has been summarised as a report “The iPad – A Tool for Education”

Our trial is very small scale in comparison, with only a small number of teachers involved and only one iPad being available in the classroom, but I am looking forward to seeing how the iPads can be put to good use. We are already beginning to see benefits and I am hoping to record our ‘iPad journey’ and thoughts through fairly regular posts on here.

This useful scoop it page “How schools are using iPads in education in the UK” is a particularly interesting and uptodate set of links with regards to the use of iPads in education and one which is well worth keeping an eye on and I am also tweeting any particularly useful links I find on my @RobGeog account.

Twittertastic! – using Twitter in Education

Danny Nicholson has recently published a new blog post on his Whiteboard Blog, called “Ten Twitter Tips for Teachers“. Danny has written a short guide to Twitter for Teachers before, but as the name of his recent post suggests, here he provides 10 quick tips for people interested in getting started with twitter.

I often hear people being quite sceptical of twitter, but this is usually before they have actually tried it! I have been using twitter for about 3 years now and have found it invaluable for professional development and the reciprocal sharing of ideas and links with fellow educationalists not just from the UK but around the world. Give it a go and be amazed by the links and professional development opportunities it opens up. You can soon find people with simillar subject specific / pedagogical interests who you can follow!

Educational Use of Twitter

This blog post by Steve Wheeler of Plymouth University considers the use of Twitter a as a teaching tool – it includes an interesting “top 10 uses of twitter for education”. There are many other ideas and links to suggested ways of using Twitter in education on the EmergingEdTech website here.

A collaborative online book on Twitter for Teachers is also a growing resource for teachers keen to look at the potential of twitter.

New MFL Website – MYLO

A new website for Modern Foreign Languages from the Department for Education, called MYLO, has been launched today. It is aimed at KS3 and KS4 language learners and offers online learning opportunities for French, German, Spanish and Chinese.

The aim of the site is to engage learners in languages, raise competence and to encourage them to continue studying languages. The site is arranged as a series of challenges. It includes many games and activities and is free to anyone! Whilst individuals can register, by registering as a school you can create a group with unique access codes for your learners and it allows teachers to track the work of individuals and review progress.

Further information and updates can be found on the MYLO blog .

Using the Pull Tabs in SMART notebook

I have had some people express experience interest in using the Pull Tabs in SMART notebook which can be found in the Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0.

They are great for a variety of purposes such as aims and objectives, homework, notes for cover supervisors etc.. and can easily be tucked away so that only the tabs shows and displayed only when required. Great for example for reminding students about aims and objectives or even as an AFL tool to reveal assessment criteria when looking at question/answer analysis.

I have written a brief guide to using the Pull Tabs which can be downloaded here: Using Pull Tabs in SMART notebook.