Our place a sense of local place
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Our place: a sense of local place. Sharon Witt February 2012. Aims. To know and understanding local place study requirements; To consider issues relating to teaching and learning within local place studies; To know Geography’s role within the wider curriculum;

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Our place: a sense of local place

Sharon Witt

February 2012


  • To know and understanding local place study requirements;

  • To consider issues relating to teaching and learning within local place studies;

  • To know Geography’s role within the wider curriculum;

  • To develop knowledge of physical geography.

A sense of place-1.2.12

  • The potential of Winchester for teaching Geography?

  • How could you creatively respond to Winchester?

  • What is the value in taking children out in local places?

A final thought?

He who has kept to the highway in his pilgrimage through a country has not seen much of it; it is by detours and false paths that we learn to know a country, for they compel us to pay keen attention, to look about us on all sides, and to observe all landmarks in order to find our way … Whoever has always kept to the highway of prescribed school experiences and of acknowledged truth, without the courage to turn aside and wander, has not seen very much in the land of truth. And long wandering means long remaining young

(Paulsen & Perry, 1895,208).

“We believe that geography has a distinctive role to play in the school curriculum. However, its potential and promise can be compromised if it is seen only as a body of subject 'knowledge-to-be-delivered'. Instead, we see geography as a resource that can enable students to better understand the world and their place in it. This is a kind of deep understanding that has an enquiry led approach to learning at its heart. In this view, geography teachers perform a delicate balancing act, drawing upon the student's experiences, the subject resource and their own knowledge and skills”. http://www.geographyteachingtoday.org.uk/curriculum-making/introduction/

Why teach children about the local area?

  • Fosters children’s curiosity and fascination with places

  • Widens children’s horizons

  • Develops spatial awareness

  • Helps develop their sense of scale

  • Helps children recognise the relevance of the rest of the world to themselves

  • Opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and skills of key geographical concepts

  • Challenges bias, stereotyping and emphasises commonality and diversity of human experience

  • Supports and develops children’s own sense of place and sense of identity

    Catling, S. (2002) Placing Places, Sheffield: Geographical Association,p.

Local area studies can contribute to:

  • Community Cohesion

  • Learning Outside the Classroom

  • Primary Review

  • Personalised learning

  • Sustainable Schools

  • Climate Change

  • Children’s Geographies

  • Futures perspectives

  • Active, informed local/global citizens

  • Place and community based education

Why place based education in the local community ?

  • Relevant

  • Authentic

  • Based on real life

  • A vehicle for making connections and linking learning.

  • Purposeful

  • Meaningful

  • Enjoyable

  • Exciting

  • Engaging

Sobel, D. ( 2005) Place based Education Connecting classrooms and communities , Great Barrington:MA ,The Orion Society

Everyday Geography

  • Recent call for “Everyday Geography” to be taught by Fran Martin


  • Using Children’s everyday experiences or “personal geographies” as a basis for curriculum development

    “The pupils in your classrooms will all have their own experiences to draw upon and it is important to elicit these for use as starting points”

    Martin, F. ( 2006) Everyday Geography Primary Geographer Autumn 2006,p.7.

What places are you connected to ?

Places visited with

school or other groups





Places visited with family

Flat Stanley – supports exploration of children’s personal geographies in the classroom


This is Ben Cruachan and there is a lovely view of Ben Cruachan from my Gran’s house and she only lives a few miles away from the mountain .I like to watch the clouds move over the top of the mountain – it is very calming.

Scrapbooking happy spots

What the teachers say?

This provided an opportunity to view children’s unique way of seeing the world and to formally recognise children’s immediate sensory encounters with places.

This was ‘therapeutic’, and the idea that there was no ‘right or wrong’ outcome began to really appeal.

Giving children a free rein to express themselves often leads to surprising, impressive and ultimately very creative outcomes.

With thanks to Jo Sudbury

Scrapbooking as a tool to record children’s personal geographies can be:

Creative Active Independent Fun

Captivating Thought Provoking

ChallengingStimulating Child-Centred

Relevant Varied Interesting EnjoyablePurposefulMeaningful Personal

Flexible Empowering Involving

Question Raising Inspiring Equipping

Child-Led Collaborative Exploratory

Geographical learning objectives for scrapbooking

  • To identify and describe what places are like?

  • To ask geographical questions

  • To collect and record evidence (if part of an enquiry approach)

  • To communicate in appropriate ways

  • To use appropriate geographical vocabulary

  • To use secondary sources of information

Geodoodling!Geo-doodle prompts included:

  • Photos from the local area

  • GoogleWorld views

  • World music

  • Landscape art

  • Webcam streaming

  • Sound clips from the local area

  • Newspaper articles relating to global issues

  • Artefacts

  • Scents

  • Visits to the locality - observing / smelling / listening

  • Reflecting on stories/picture books with a geographical theme.

With thanks to Jo Sudbury and

the children of Bishops Waltham Junior School

Nested HierarchiesYou can be in more than one place at a time !

Geographical learning objectives

  • To communicate in appropriate ways

  • To use appropriate geographical vocabulary

  • To recognise how places fit within a wider geographical context

    Zoom – Istvan Banyai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyla9p-pteU

  • Could you make your own version of ‘Zoom’ related to your local area?

  • Google Earth could be helpful to model the activity.

Nested Hierarchies

Geographical learning objectives

  • To communicate in appropriate ways

  • To use appropriate geographical vocabulary

  • To recognise how places fit within a wider geographical context

  • To identify and describe what places are like.

    Acknowledge children’s prior experiences :

    • Make a personal geographies key ring;

    • Record personal geographies on concentric circles;

    • What places do children know?

      Local,Regional, National,Global

Essence of place !Create a mood board for a place

  • What is a mood board?

  • A mood board is a collage of materials (images, text, colours, textures, website screen shots, etc) which captures the ambience or feel of a place and is widely used in interior design and advertising.

  • http://www.ilikecake.net/hci/envisionment/moodboards.htm

Why make a mood board for a place?

  • Encourage children to explore feelings about a place

  • Develop emotive vocabulary when describing places

  • Visual representation of children’s response to place

  • Used as a journal or diary to record events/thoughts/ feelings about a place

  • Collect ideas about a place to stimulate an enquiry

Ideas for creating your place mood board?

  • Paint samples of colours that match the environment

  • Rubbings and /or small swatches of fabric to represent the textures found

  • Objects / artefacts collected from the place

  • Photographs

  • Sketches from observations

  • Words / Ideas

  • Shapes

  • Sound maps

Recording routes

  • Quik maps

  • Trip geo

  • Google maps

  • Walkjogrun ?

Responding to place – vocabulary, description and feelings

  • Emo-scan

  • Field sketching

  • Photograph mat

  • Wordscapes

  • Emotional Mapping

  • Personal stories – edible maps!

  • Quikmaps

Class 3W ‘s cool wall !

Categories :

  • Sub- zero!

  • Cool!

  • Uncool!

  • Seriously Uncool !

    Place your local place photographs on the wall !

    What places would impress…?

    The class can decide the categories …

Idea from workshop run by Solent Architecture and Design Centre

“Local focus has the power to engage students academically, pairing real- world

relationships with intellectual rigor( sic) , while promoting genuine citizenship and

preparing people to respect and live well in any community they choose “

Rural School and Community Trust 2005 in Smith and Sobel (2010) p. 23.

Making homes to attract elves to the woods !

Place making

Principles of good practice – experiential

“Through making their own places children start to carve out a place for themselves in the world“.

(Sobel, 2002,p. 47)

Tuesday Rocks !

  • What colour is the gas/rock as it erupts from the volcano?

  • How much rock does a volcano make?

  • How do rocks go together after the volcano erupts?

  • How high does the lava spurt?

  • What are the types of rocks/stones/crystals?

  • How do volcanoes start in the sea?

  • Do they have fossils in the volcanic rocks?

  • What kind of crystals are there?

  • Why were volcanoes invented?

  • How do people build houses to survive earthquakes and volcanoes?

  • How hot is lava?

  • How do earthquakes happen?

  • How deep is the river of lava?

  • Why do volcanoes suddenly erupt?

  • How do we know when they are going to erupt?

  • How does a volcano start?

  •  Can the students take us to Intech?

  • Can we go to London to the earthquake room?

  • Will they bring us models?

  • Can they do experiments with us?

  • Can they bring us pictures and films?

Teaching topicality

Geography is best taught through the soles of your boots

  • Fieldwork is a fundamental part of Geography and one of the most effective and inclusive ways to teach.

  • “Doing” helps pupils to understand

Principles of good practice- constructivism

A constructivist view of learning recognises that students must be actively engaged in making sense of the world for themselves, they need to be able to connect new knowledge to what they already know and construct their own meanings.

Roberts, (2003) Learning from enquiry ,

Sheffield: Geographical Association ,pp 27-33

Creativity and physical Geography

  • Teach physical geography features e.g. plateau, cliffs, gorges etc -

  • Then take the pupils outside and use their imaginations to explore comparable features in the grounds e.g. walls, flat roofs , alley ways

  • Consider the landscape as a living thing . Get pupils to imagine what the sea or river feels

BBC Class Clips

How do we influence coasts?

Create a river

  • Where is the best place to build a house?

Principles of good practice – subject knowledge developed in a creative, exploratory way


  • Catling, S. (2002) Placing Places, Sheffield: Geographical Association;

  • Clarke, H. Egan ,B Fletcher, L and Ryan, C (2006) Creating case studies of practice through Appreciative Inquiry ‘ Educational Action Research Vol4,no.3, September 2006,pp407-422

  • Greene, M.(2000) Releasing the imagination: essays on education, the arts, and social change, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2000

  • Major, B.(2011) ‘Geography as journey and homecoming’ Geography , Vol 90(1) p.39-43

  • Martin, F. ( 2006) Everyday Geography Primary Geographer, Autumn 2006,pp4-7;

  • Morin ,E. (1999) Seven Complex lessons for the future, Paris, UNESCO Publishing available from : http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001177/117740eo.pdf (accessed 26/1/12)

  • Paulsen, F. and Perry, E.D. (1895) The German Universities: their character and historical development, Macmillan and Co., New York and London.

  • Payne , P. G. And Wattchow, B(2009) Phenomenological Deconstruction, Slow Pedagogy, and the Corporeal Turn in Wild Environmental / Outdoor Education, Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 14, 2009,p. 15-32 .

  • Smith, G.A. and Sobel, D. (2010) Place and Community – Based Education, New York: Routledge

  • Sobel, D. ( 2005) Place based Education Connecting classrooms and communities , Great Barrington: MA The Orion Society.

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