Lots more to think about

29th June 2001 at 01:00
MORE THINKING THROUGH GEOGRAPHY. Edited by Adam Nichols and David Kinninment. Chris Kington, pound;30.

Do you avoid sequels because you often find them disappointing? If so, don't worry - this latest contribution from the Newcastle-based team is not the geography teacher's equivalent of Speed 2. Like Thinking Through Geography (1998, edited by David Leat) it provides strategies which are often disarmingly simple yet encourage high-level learning, a "fly on the wall" view of some superb geography lessons and an approach that blends research-based rationale smoothly with classroom practicalities.

Eight strategies are presented, some new, others developments of existing good practice (such as concept mapping). "Predicting with video" involves active engagement with the material - a far cry from the common "watch and make notes" scenario - while "Maps from memory" is a lively way to help students remember visual information.

The teachers provide honest and thoughtful accounts of exemplar lessons for each strategy. Each has helpful annotations to link insights from current research with practice.

It is a joy to read quotes so clearly focused on students' interests and to learn how the teachers altered the strategies to suit classes of different ages or abilities. It is important to note that the approaches are used with less-able classes as well as more able.

To accompany the exemplars, the team provide four chapters of ideas and advice on using the strategies effectively, to embed thinking skills in schemes of work and to develop the difficult, but crucial, skill of debriefing.

A warning - this is not a book of ready-made lessons for photocopying and using in an hour's time. It is important to read the accompanying material and plan carefully, evaluate and adapt to capitalise on the possibilities for developing thinking and learning. This may take a little extra effort, but no geography department can afford to miss out on what this book offers.

Liz Taylor Liz Taylor is lecturer in geography education, University of Cambridge

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