Geography: Making the most of topical events this half term

Interesting lesson ideas to help you cover topical events, such as the general election, with your secondary geography classes this half term

Chris Powell

Geography, Secondary, End Of Term, Project, Topical Events, Lessons, General Election, Sports, Eclipse, KS3, Year 7, Year 8, Year 9

One geography teacher shares his ideas for keeping lessons engaging and relevant in the last few weeks of term

The countdown to the summer holidays has finally begun. And while there is still plenty of content to get through with my GCSE and A-level classes, I find that my schemes of work are starting to run a little thin for KS3. Especially as I like to deliver the meatier topics around options time!

Thankfully, the summer months often provide a great deal of inspiration for creating lessons about topical events that also lend themselves well to the development of key geographical skills. And with the general election, the World Athletics Championships and an upcoming solar eclipse, this year is no exception.

Election-focused ideas

When it comes to teaching around the election, this six-minute video offers an excellent overview of factors, such as locality, that can impact voting decisions and, as such, makes a good starter activity.

There are several different avenues to go down from here. If focusing on human geography, I'll get my class to explore the age breakdown of the voters for each party before getting them to create population pyramids. Equally, I could use this as an opportunity to join the dots between different parties' policies on a range of issues. Take, for example, this well-structured lesson on migration.

From a physical geography perspective, I’d get my students drawing choropleth maps to compare and identify patterns between the 2015 and 2017 election results in our local area. If short on time, I might prepare the maps myself and ask learners to analyse the data as part of a more structured task, similar to this step-by-step activity created for the US election last year.

Other topical events

With the World Athletics Championships on the horizon, why not ask pupils to research one of the countries competing using a handy template*? There’s also room for map work. I’ll get my classes to explore the reasons some countries send fewer athletes than others, and use this simple scatter graphs lesson as the starting point for investigating the relationship between GDP per capita and gold medals won at the last Championships in Beijing.

In conjunction with the science department, I'll also cover the solar eclipse taking place in America in August. This introductory lesson* includes an engaging activity requiring learners to recreate eclipses using their phones. Which, let’s face it, might be the closest they’ll get to a real one given that the next total eclipse for the UK won’t be until September 2090!

Quick links

Election-focused ideas Other topical events
Election geography video Country study booklet*
Politics and migration lesson Introduction to scatter graphs
Data analysis activity Solar eclipse lesson*

*This resource is being sold by its author

Chris Powell was talking to Nicola Davison. He is a geography teacher and ITT lead, currently teaching at Parmiter's School in Hertfordshire

This blog post is featured in June's geography newsletter from Tes Resources.

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