Mary Cruickshank reports on the inspirational geography resources that claimed a prize in the Geographical Association's annual awards
The judging process for the Geographical Association's (GA) annual resources awards is commendably democratic. Every entry is sent to two judges selected from the association's 10,000 membership, who evaluate the publication's "significance to geographical education" in terms of its accuracy, originality, design and accessibility. If both like it, it goes through to the next round. If they disagree, a third judge acts as a mediator. At this stage, the views of teachers, advisers, academics and GA council members contribute to the discussion.
This year, the final judging panel of four teachers and teacher trainers had to choose between 30 entries, including atlases, textbooks, global citizenship resources, artefacts packs, assessment materials, websites and CD-Roms. Such diversity is impressive, but presents its own problems; how do you compare a stunning collection of aerial photographs, for example, The Earth from the Air for Children (Thames amp; Hudson) with a fair trade simulation game (Trade Rules, Christian Aid) or a sustainable development resource with a mainstream textbook?
The GA's awards went to resources that inspired the student and supported the teacher, whatever their format. All winners demonstrate new thinking, whether in the originality of their case study material or in a design which encourages inquiry and learning. Geography teaching may be in the doldrums, but geography publishing is flourishing. This year's winners offer plenty of choice for teachers looking for new ideas.
ESSENTIAL MAPWORK SKILLS. By Simon Ross. Nelson Thornes pound;9.95
"The best new geography resource for 20 years, put together with loving care and real conviction," said one judge about Simon Ross's Essential Mapwork Skills. Another had already bought 30 copies for his GCSE class, but found it just as useful with key stage 3 and A-level students.
This book is exactly the sort of resource the GA's awards aim to encourage, full of exciting new case studies, ranging from volcanic activity in Montserrat to the rebirth of London's Docklands (see below), all beautifully illustrated with satellite, aerial and ground photos linked to the maps. It brings a fresh approach to mapwork skills and was praised for its practical, durable spiral-bound format and "remarkable price".
JUNIOR GEOGRAPHY KIT. By Stuart May and Paula Richardson. Nelson Thornes pound;25 (teacher's resource book)pound;50 (pupil resource file and CD-Rom)
This ambitious resource "takes primary geography forward" and in another year would have been a strong contender to take the GA's Gold Award. The kit contains resource books for teacher and pupils with high-quality photos and maps and a support CD-Rom. Links are provided to the QCA scheme, but they are not slavishly followed and the judges welcomed the ample opportunities for fieldwork and inquiry, the satisfying ICT activities and the supportive teacher's guide.
CORAL REEFS: Ecosystem In Crisis? By Sue Warn. Field Studies Council pound;7.50
Although increasingly popular as an A-level topic, the coral reef ecosystem is often neglected by textbooks. Described as a "must" for Edexcel B (and written by the chief examiner), this 48-page book was praised for integrating physical and human elements, its wide variety of sources and data and for its strong links to sustainability and citizenship. "The first definitive and inspiring text on corals at this level," commented one judge.
EARTHWORKS PLUS. By John Widdowson. John Murray, pound;37.50 (teacher's book)pound;9.50 (pupil's book)
The Earthworks series has always proved popular with the GA and this new addition for key stage 3 was welcomed for its links to citizenship, literacy and ICT. The case studies are refreshing and well-developed and the book "makes geography real and alive," said one judge. Particularly suitable for the more able student, the book could also be useful at key stage 4.
USBORNE INTERNET-LINKED CHILDREN'S WORLD ATLAS. By Stephanie Turnbull and Emma Helborough. Usborne pound;14.99
"An innovation in geography publishing: an atlas for children that captures the wonder and romance of the world through maps and websites." The judges welcomed the break from "the familiar browns and greens of the contemporary atlas relief map" and predicted that a school paperback edition at two-thirds the price would prove popular with teachers. They praised it for being "clearly designed, packed full of information and encouraging inquiry about the world".
AEGIS 3. By Diana Freeman. The Advisory Unit: Computers in Education pound;100 (single-user licence), pound;200 (20-station network licence), pound;300 (full-site licence)
"An excellent and innovative resource, much improved on earlier versions," said the judges about this mapping software package. They praised the quality and range of the interactive worksheets, and recommended those who hadn't yet introduced geographical information systems into their teaching should look at this.
GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP: the handbook for primary teaching. By Mary Young with Eilish Commins. Oxfam EducationChris Kington pound;25
Geographers are well placed to introduce global citizenship into the curriculum, but non-specialists can find the subject daunting. The user-friendly activities in this book provide good starting points for any school and link geography with other aspects of the primary curriculum, particularly literacy and PSHE. "Every primary school should have a copy of this exciting new handbook," said the judges.
SUSTAINABLE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. Peace Child International. Evans, pound;8.99
A cross between a textbook and an information book, this publication is based on a United Nations programme and records young people's stories of development in their own communities around the world. It is well illustrated with excellent maps, diagrams and data and the judges considered the analysis exceptionally good. They said: "Sustainable development is an area of the curriculum where geography teachers are searching for new information, so it is a real pleasure to find a resource with such a wealth of information."
Greg Cracknell, lecturer in primary geography, University College, Northampton; Peter Home, head of geography, Clifton College, Bristol; Ian Selmes, director of Oakham Key Skills, Oakham School, Ratuland; David Roberts, assistant head teacher, Middleton Technology School, Manchester. Chair: Mary Cruickshank, assistant editor TES Teacher