Geography magic

10th February 2006 at 00:00
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling, the chief wizard, Professor Dumbledore, explains to Harry what a Pensieve is: "I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my head," he says.

With the Pensieve he could examine them at his leisure. "It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand."

Revision for key stages 45 geography requires devices too and here are three I have used to help muggles learn and understand. "Soundbite geography" challenged my students to describe or explain a term, process or concept in 50 words or less. For sustainable development their best was "future-friendly living". This device also works well as a starter or plenary and can be a part of effective peer or self-assessment.

"Catchphrase geography", owes its origin to the TV programme Little Britain. "No but, yeah but", reminds students that in geography most issues have at least two viewpoints - for and against - that need to be understood to produce a balanced answer. In other circumstances it reminds them to learn advantages and disadvantages of an issue, concept or model. And in decision-making exercises it can remind them to not only justify their chosen option, but also to explain why they rejected the other options. So, an example might go like this: "Yeah but, nuclear power produces energy very efficiently. No but, where can we site the reactors and where do we store the waste?"

"Speed-date geography" challenges my revisees to explain an idea or case study in two minutes, then move on to a new partner. Perhaps the benefits will be academic and social, we'll see in August.

Sephen Schwab Cheshire geography advisor, Neston High School, Cheshire

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