Our main outcome of 2005-6 was introducing our learners to the main ideas
and basic skills of GIS through an activity whereby learners had to use the
internet and the Durham City Council GIS site to plan a weekend-long trip
from Luton to Durham. Learners were encouraged to find their own GI to
assist them in route-finding, activity planning and were taught the main
precepts of GIS in general (for more information on this activity please see
last years report).
We underwent some staffing changes during the year with Sergio Matias
moving on to be Head of Geography in a nearby Middle School. Sergio had
taken an active part in the project last year and now whilst at his new school.
We are a very open department, sharing ideas and good practise and
therefore Sarah Cowling did not take much persuasion in jumping on board
the GIS wagon. Sarah had prior experience of using GIS and had
participated in the Durham activity, using it with her own classes. Hence,
Sarah was in an excellent position to join the Spatially Speaking Project.
Having been much encouraged with our progress of using free-viewers we
were keen to further develop our skills in the use of GIS and the knowledge
and skills of our learners. We were particularly keen to find Luton-based GI to
make GIS even more relevant to our learners. The search was on!
Having hit various obstacles using particular GIS software packages we felt
that we would like to continue down the route of free-viewers. As a result of
our involvement with the Spatially Speaking Project we managed to acquire
ten laptops (shared with PE!). This meant that we could successfully work in
our own classroom situations using the internet as a tool to support research
for the GIS activities we designed.
As a result of searching the world wide web we located ‘The Luton
Observatory’ site – a service provided by Luton Borough Council providing
Census data, local statistics, population and household information, data on
service provision and Quality of Life indicators. We were excited to find that
such information was readily available for us to use.
Unfortunately we found that this site
nsus%20and%20Statistics%20data) was not only quite difficult to locate, it
was also quite difficult to navigate and to understand. As such we had a staff
outing to the council office to talk to the person responsible for the
maintenance of the site. The experience proved invaluable as he spent time
showing us around the Luton Observatory site. He also discussed the reasons
for changes to the site and future proposed developments for the site.
With our new gained knowledge we set out to develop classroom resources to
use in conjunction with the Luton material. We came up with various ideas
from looking to find the best routes to the football ground to finding the best
location for a new doctors’ surgery or sports centre. We finally focused on an
activity that learners, in the guise of Estate Agents, would use the information
and maps on the site to determine the best new home for their clients. We
called it ‘Home Sweet Home’.
Telephone Message Learners were given a brief
From: Mr and Mrs M. Aison
overview of their clients needs
To: Mr E. Agent / Ms E. Agent and were then directed to the
Request: Three bedroom property.
Luton Observatory site where
they could overlay data to
Easy access to the railway station (Mr
M.Aison commutes to London daily) and determine whether certain areas
within easy reach of the A6 (Mrs M. would fit the criteria for Mr and
Aison works in Bedford).
The three children will need to be placed Mrs M. Aison. They were asked
in a College, High School and Primary
School. Their middle child is in training
to find 3 properties that best fit
for the 2012 olympics and therefore a the Aison’s requirements.
nearby swimming pool would be an
The Luton site enabled learners to use
This is the GIS site for Luton. Use the
layers to see various services and Map Layers, Legends and Find buttons to
statistics for the various wards. This look at the properties you have selected.
allowed them to find the areas that
best matched the families’ needs. Use the Layers to see what facilities are in
the 3 areas you have chosen. Have a look
at the statistics for each area to help you
decide on the best choices for the Aisons.
This activity used more higher order skills than our previous GIS activity. Our
learners rose to the challenge and produced some very good work.
The Learners understanding and
Leaflet GIS skills were assessed through
observing the children as they
Include the following: worked and through the leaflet
Pictures of the suggested properties that they produced. In general
our learners were highly
Nearby services and facilities
motivated throughout this activity
Advantages of each location
Disadvantages of each site
and as always put our own skills
Your personal opinions with justification to shame. They constantly
surprise us with their insight and
the speed in which they pick up
new ideas and run with them.
Due to restrictions on the number of laptops this task was designed for group
work. Our learners were put into mixed groups which allowed for much peer
motivation with youngsters keen to support each other. As the task was
mainly computer-based, we felt that lower ability children would find this
activity easily accessible. When it came to the analysis of the properties the
higher ability children were more able to understand the links between places
and were more logical in their thinking. They produced more accurate
accounts of the various wards and through their ability of manipulating the
data were able to support their work with stronger arguments.
In the main we found this activity to be the perfect progression for our learners
from last year’s task. We feel that it has also provided for our learners a
further understanding of GIS and could be considered a building block for
them producing their own maps with the use of GIS. We would see this as
the next stage in our work with GIS in schools.
As an aside, Louise set one of her Year 7 classes the task of locating and
evaluating other free-view, internet-based sites. Again our learners rose to the
challenge and found a range of useful sites. As they were required to evaluate
these sites we have gained an insight into a range of sites that are available
and relatively user friendly.
Both Louise and Sarah are moving on to new schools in the autumn and are
looking forward to introducing the skills they have learnt thus far. Sarah has
really appreciated the opportunity to join the project this year and is looking
forward to gaining further experience in the future. Although not officially
started at her new post, she has been awarded an Innovation Grant of several
hundred pounds to develop GIS in her new school. Furthermore with the
generous allocation of Digital Worlds we hope to further develop our own
skills in GIS permeating these to our respective learners. Although not
working in the same school - or indeed town - in the future, we are still keen to
draw on each other and work together in the formulation of new ideas and
activities to make GIS a fundamental aspect of our teaching and curriculum