BUT how many teachers like myself have wanted to open the lesson up to students for a discussion on a topic and got blank faces back?
How many have had students utter the words 'I couldn't / can't find anything?'
Well I've taken it upon myself to train students to do a daily dose of reading into the world we live in. This sounds a vast concept and my initial effort llobgeog.posterous.com / llobgeog.blogspot.com got a little confusing after 2 weeks when students said
'Sir you said look on that site but there was loads of stuff we're not doing, so I couldn't find anything on our topic'
My response naturally wasn't oh that is ok but to challenge 'why wasn't the other topics relevant? Can they be related in anyway? Examine a word mat and see if any reoccurring geography terms appear that could link it to your topic. Categorise aspects - human, physical, environmental geography. Produce a ringed linking diagram to see if any overlap.. Etc
Anyway I evolved this to include twitter and added a hashtag to a tweet and add the blog link e.g #llobgeo7 indicating the tweet related to year 7 and when they clicked on the hyperlink they were taken to the correct page. This worked better BUT hashtags only last a week so via twitter that link would be lost and if a student missed it they would have to come back to me about it.
ANYWAY so to my current evolution. I've seized to add tweets or so many to my unofficial geography twitter account other than to link students to a specific topic of reading materials that focus students reading but actually allow overlap occasionally but also open up students to select additional interest reading into topics they might not be learning about currently but like I said have an interest in.
Another reason why I changed it to a single site for students is to limit them getting lost. More than 2 clicks and the student is struggling or capable of getting lost in their research.
The sites I've developed are as follows then i'll go into my reading technique each morning and night and which I expect students to do for 20 minutes each day and to eventually to take ownership of and to build up the extensive reading material as they home the technique to suit them for geography and other subjects to make them well oiled research learners.
The sites may look long to type in but they are quite obvious titles for the students and I haven't had snubbed come to me saying they couldn't find it.
The tnl one is there for tools as I find them that students should experiment with and other teachers as well.
Each morning I come downstairs with my iPad and I search the following sites to see if any obvious geography has occurred. I say that as geography is everything we do and get involved in and the future but for school curriculums and old fashioned core topics what current news would fit.
1. The BBC app. I search the headlines, world, uk, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, science and nature, technology, health sections and then tweet to #geographyteacher so that I can come back to it and news blog later that day on. I also do this for other teachers of geography if they don't have time to read up in depth different sites so that they can have a quicker reading experience.
2. I go to sky news app and do the same
3. I go to google news and repeat the procedure. I love this site as it reviews lots of papers into a similar theme of story. This is a great site to get students to read in greater depth on a news story that crops up that is relevant for say a case study. Google news also creates a nice line graph which highlights stories that most journalists have covered on a particular search that you have conducted or around a similar theme to that written about on that day that has caught your eye. It can help give students a quick evaluation form as to what might be worth reading and what not Alternatively topsy turvy it and why is one article less popular? has it been written badly and so the message hasn't been portrayed well? How could the students make it stand out more? could it be the headline or the bulk of the story or the imagery used?
4. Personalised research news apps like Zite. This app is excellent as it allows you to custom the content to be of specific themes. You can even type a key term in and have that as a search for it to do and it will give you a back Catalogue of material on that theme.
I have found that this has really deepened my reading and made a lot of my teaching comments CURRENT. Through time I'll blog findings if students reading and see if it improves discussion lessons.
I love a comment by @anguswillson who I greatly admire for his wisdom that getting students to read their local media coverage will help get them to make connections with their own neighbourhood experiences as well as the global events as I'm sure many geography teachers have faced the question but why are we looking at this place!?!?! I', never going there I DONT CARE! How the local media portray global issues could assist students. Local concepts could open more doors for making the difference geography. Students could be more likely to get involved with assisting local issues and creating a difference than global.