The world at your fingertips

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
MAPPING OUR WORLD. Free interactive resource Oxfam. planetmappingourworld

DISCOVERING ANTARCTICA. Free website resource Royal Geographical Society and British Antarctic Survey.

This addition to Oxfam's excellent Cool Planet website will help students and teachers explore the difference between a map and a globe and show how different map projections affect our perceptions of the world.

Designed for whole-class work on an interactive whiteboard, this resource will transform students' understanding of the world and develop critical thinking. The site contains three lessons, each with a further three engaging activities for everyone to join in. Students can flatten a globe, merge different map projections and explore ways of seeing the world.

The content is delivered by a host of colourful characters. A particular highlight is the Larry Blinger Chat Show, where Larry tries to settle the argument between Peter's and Mercator's map projections.

Mapping our World has been designed to comply as far as possible with the guidelines for web content accessibility. The interface can even be adapted to suit left or right-handed people. The site supports the geography curriculum (KS2P3 upwards) and is ideal for bringing a global approach to citizenship, PSE and ICT. It is suitable for all abilities and learning styles and provides extensive support for teachers.

Anyone teaching about Antarctica could not wish for a more extensive resource than Discovering Antarctic. It is excellent for introducing the Wow! factor associated with Antarctica and has been designed so that teachers and students can "dip" into it depending on their needs and priorities.

The site is structured in 10 sections covering the key elements of any investigation of Antarctica from "Imagining Antarctica" which aims to instil a sense of wonder to "What Future?" which encourages students to consider how sustainable development can safeguard future generations.

Each of the 10 sections are divided into an "Icebreaker" with activities to introduce the topic, "Go with the Floe", the topic's main learning activities and "Meltdown", containing follow-ups to extend the topic or to review the main activities. Each section contains a cool fact, cool clip, downloads, a list of all the featured interactive multimedia activities, links, a glossary of key words and teachers' notes providing guidance on the section.

The learning activities are devised for individual, pair or group work.

Many are in a format for use on an interactive whiteboard or for students to complete individually. As well as using the content within each section, it is also possible to use it as a stand-alone resource. Acrobat files, images, audio, interactive flash content and video can all be accessed, providing great flexibility.

This is a "one-stop shop" for anyone delivering a unit of work on Antarctica. So take a journey through the site and start discovering Antarctica for yourself.

Gavin Richards is director of e-learning, at Kingsmead Community School, Wiveliscombe, Somerset

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