Ken Polkinghorne, TES author KPolkinghorne, shares his vast experience as a geography teacher and offers his top tips for successful lesson resources
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Before I retired, I was a classroom teacher for 33 years, mainly in the fields of geography and history. Since then, I have travelled extensively and this has allowed me to continue making resources using first-hand experience and my own photos. I like to have personally been to a place, and collected all the information required whilst there, before publishing a resource about it on TES.
What type of resources do you create?
I often use PowerPoint presentations because I can display a range of activities and questions combining both written and visual content. I always balance questions that need a precise answer with open-ended ones which fuel debate and discussion. Ultimately, learning is about leading students towards answers in an enthusiastic way.
How do you make sure your resources are up-to-date and relevant for teachers and students?
In the case of landforms, which evolve over geological time, the notion of being up-to-date is largely irrelevant. However, it’s important to remember that geography is not just about the world as it is in the present. It is about future trends as well as the consequences of human impact, so in that sense the content is always relevant.
I like to develop resources that stimulate discussion on global issues like endangered species, deforestation or Indigenous peoples and land rights as these issues are a part of the world our learners will inherit.
What would you like both teachers and students to experience when they use your resources?
I would hope that they would be excited! Geography is about examining a part of our world and exploring how it is connected to other things is eye-opening. The content is alive and both teachers and students should be enthused by that. As a subject, it doesn’t deserve to be boring or sidelined in the curriculum because it is relevant to the present and future of the world.
What are your top 5 tips for creating successful resources for the geography classroom?
- Use images
Geography is all about the real world and visual content is a great way to engage students.
- Map it out
Overcome the lack of understanding about world geography by making use of maps for identifying places and looking at where they are situated in the wider world.
- See things from another angle
Resources are for learners, so take a step back and allow space for students to share their thoughts, for example when dissecting a photograph.
- Encourage creativity
Set tasks that require a mixture of responses and remember that contribution at any level is valuable for learning.
- Keep learning!
Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to a student’s question. Research it and use it as material for the following lesson.