This is some amazing footage taken from the TIV2 (Tornado interception vehicle). The TIV is practically a tank operated by a series of film makers and scientists working in Tornado Alley. Their website can be found here http://www.tornadoalleymovie.com/. Can you imagine being inside this thing when a tornado passes over? Certainly different to the famous scene in 'Twister' ;-)

How could you use this in lessons? In terms of enquiry I think this is really powerful footage for creating the 'need to know'. I might play the audio only at the start of the lesson and ask students to hypothesise about what is making the extraordinary noise. Or you could play the video and ask students a series of multiple choice questions based on tornadoes e.g. what is the maximum windspeed recorded during a tornado? Students could also come up with their own questions based on the footage which they work towards answering in the lesson. You could show students an image of the TIV2 (see below) and ask them what they think this vehicle is used for before showing them this footage. How would you use it?
 
 
The last week at school has been global awareness week and my year group, year 8, have been taking part in lots of inter form competitions. The prize for the top student was the book "What's where in the world". I used to love DK books when I was a kid and it was hard handing this over! (I have since bought myself a copy). It is packed with brilliant looking maps covering hundreds of different data sets, just take a look at the contents page. I'm going to be using it in lessons for my students to work on their data analysis skills. Describing, analysing and explaining the patterns these maps show requires a great deal of geographical knowledge and skill. The maps look great and cover pretty much every topic we would want to teach.
 
 
Lots of my A Level geographers will be able to tell me that Iceland's energy mix is almost 100% renewable however there is another side to the story. We came across this page from an organisation call 'Saving Iceland' when researching the issue together which contains some interesting blog posts regarding the environmental impact of Iceland's utilisation of geothermal energy http://www.savingiceland.org/tag/geothermal-energy/. As with all sources of evidence they should be read with a critical eye.
 
 
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I am moving to a new school in September and have been given responsibility for the Year 7 and Year 9 schemes of work. My new HOD has asked me to rework their existing schemes to integrate more ICT and some more 'creative' ideas than are there currently. 

A couple of websites that seem very in vogue at the moment and might provide me with some material are http://geogussr.com and http://www.mapcrunch.com/. Alan Parkinson has thought of some useful ideas (blogged here http://livinggeography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/geoguessr-some-ideas-for-using-it.html) for how they could be used in lessons which I will be exploring further. I especially like the idea of students producing guides on how to make accurate guesses to be given to first time players of the game.

Part of the challenge of year 7 geography is catching their interest early and developing an understanding of what constitutes the subject in terms of human and physical geography. I think these websites could provide material for excellent activities addressing these issues. Students could use map crunch to fill out a table analysing five randomly generated images, they would have to pick out aspects of human and physical geography present in the image and justify their choices. Or they could decide what percentage of the image is human geography and what percentage is physical. These are just mind scribbles at the moment but they could have some legs.

 
 
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woke up this morning to news of two extreme weather events on either side of the globe. Only yesterday was I leading 
year 13 revision sessions on Tornadoes and Cyclones so reading the stories from Bangladesh and Texas this morning hit home. 

When teaching about hazards and disasters it is easy to get bogged down in the numbers. We drill students with the step by step physical processes that create these phenomena (well explained here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5328524.stm). We boil down impacts into bullet pointed lists of economic, social, political and environmental and evaluate responses with a focus on "hitting assessment objective 2 in the examination". There is a danger that our approach to the content is callously mechanical.  

Are we doing our students a diservice in this regard? Of course it is vitally important that they understand the subject well enough to get the grades that they deserve and as teachers it is our job to ensure that we provide them with the best opportunity to do so but sometimes I feel that the focus is skewed too far away from the human cost.

So as I discuss these events with my students today I will encourage us to take a moment to consider how the hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes in Bangladesh are feeling http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22537615. Or how those people who have lost their homes in Texas will pick themselves up and carry on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22549952. If students appreciate the power of natural processes and respect the human cost, they will write about them with more conviction, enthusiasm and sensitivity; something I expect of any serious geographer.