Geog-RAP-hers

It has been a pleasure to welcome a new colleagues into the Geography Department this school year.  They introduced a new and exciting geography curriculum across all years in the Secondary School, with students (and teachers – like me) having the opportunity to investigate and discuss topical issues in much more meaningful and creative ways. 

When I trained as a geography teacher, way back in the last century, I thought I was ahead of the game challenging students to produce story boards about natural disasters, and using drama and role play to explore the destruction of our rainforests, etc.  Fast forward to this academic year and by Christmas I have been assessing the student´s knowledge and understanding of our oceans by producing their own podcasts, and this week I have been amazed by their musical ability and confidence to write and perform rap songs about the urban decline of Detroit city in the US. 

I am a big fan of cross-curricular learning, and fully believe that enabling the involvement of skills and passions from other academic subjects, and a student´s personal interests, in your own lessons maximising the learning potential for all students in a classroom learning environment. 

I would love to claim the idea of reinforcing the concepts of urban decline and deprivation with the use of a rap based on a soundtrack from Detroit´s very own Eminem, but I can´t, and must thank my colleague and the rest of the geography team for their approach and willingness to collaborate in such creative ways.  It is refreshing to be able to improve my own teaching styles and ideas by learning from and observing others. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my students perform their raps in class this week and have included an example of some lyrics on this page. 

I hope you enjoy yo!

San Pedro

´The best views come after the hardest climbs´ (Unknown)

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I can see San Pedro from our front window.  He stands upright, out of place, in the forefront of the vast Sierra de Gaudarrama to the north of Madrid.  He is like a small-ish afterthought of vast tectonic movement from millions of years ago, beckoning you towards the much mightier snow-capped peaks of the Sierra.  Alas, San Pedro stands alone between Madrid and his superior peers, at a scalable height of 1450m, and easily accessible on a sky blue sunny afternoon (or not).  It was during lockdown that I first become drawn to San Pedro.

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As we entered phase one, we jumped into the car together for the first time for almost 3 months and headed towards the mountains, liberated.  We soon realised that all the car parks were closed and the national parks were still not accessible to the public, so we decided to head home and contemplate a family movie.  My daughter urged us not to though, and reminded us of the King´s Around the World Challenge and that we must do some physical exercise that would extend us beyond our normal routines.  At that very moment, whilst cruising down the M-607, San Pedro appeared within our left hand side windows, teasing us to take him on.  Two of us were well up for it, one was pretty neutral, and the other two not so keen at all.  So I offered the incentive of 5 Euros each on completion of the climb for the school challenge and to support the four school charities.  The challenge was on!  We parked the car at the foot of the mountain and started our ascent together and in high spirits, relishing the new found freedom of phase one.  The positive unity lasted barely five minutes as dissent and abandonment started to be expressed by certain members of the group.  Regular false promises of nearly being at the top became the only strategy to get everyone to the summit, very much at the expense of good moods and humour.  We made it though and soon realised how worthwhile the long wait, and difficult climb had been, to absorb the amazing 360 degree views together was a reward in itself and a satisfying family accomplishment. 

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We have now climbed San Pedro a number of times, and revert to him when seeking a closer to home challenge that doesn´t require a full day out and multiple ruck sacks full of sandwiches, snacks and drinks.  My daughter has suggested that we climb him every month, seeing as our last ascent was in early January, con snow!  A bold idea and challenge – accepted.

Let´s see how we go…

A Walking and Chess Christmas

I didn’t think I could fall in love with Spain any more than I did exploring the south of the country during the summer holidays.  Having to stay put for Christmas wasn’t what I had asked Santa for… but stay put we were resigned to do.  It, in fact, turned out to be a brilliant Christmas, a staycation to remember, with very little staying put actually taking place.  I gambled and bought myself my first Spanish book, detailing walks in north Madrid and the Sierra.  It gave me the confidence to really drag the family out and to explore what is on our doorstep, discovering the many hiking trails and unbelievable vistas within minutes of where we live.  We walked almost every other day, soon abandoning the guide book and following new paths to hidden gems.  Many that we will return to again and again.  We found snow (before it officially arrived in January) and took our sleds up high, dragging them along trails and through the pine trees, where nobody else could be seen. 

It might be a good idea to start a King´s Soto family walking group – possibly meeting up once a month and sharing our favourite walks?  If you are interested then please do let me know.

Back home in the warmth, and during rest days, we re-discovered chess (mainly due to a popular Netflix series!).  We spent hours with the board and pieces, honing our concentration and making sure that each of us made less mistakes than the other to win.  It has got quite serious in our household, chess, my eldest has beaten me for the first time ever (in fact three times now), and my youngest is getting quite competitive when he concentrates.  We are talking moves, defence and strategy… I even see them playing by themselves at times.  It is good to see and to share with them.  I am sure we will now take a chess board with us on our next adventure away from home. 

I think Chess Club will continue to be popular in school, it is every Friday lunchtime in room B2F.  It would be great to have some inter-school competitions and a Soto chess tournament on a Saturday morning in school in the near future.  If you would like to be involved then please do let me know.  

Happy New Year to you all.

Zero Hunger

The UN have set 17 challenges that are everybody’s goal, they are things that impact on the way we live, like zero hunger. We have decided to take up one of the challenges and improve Madrid. We are hoping people from around the world will see what we are doing and will try to spread the word so that all homeless people and people in poverty will be able to eat some food. By the end of 2030 these goals are hoping to be reduced by at least 50%. Will you take up this challenge with us?

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We are doing this to help homeless people that can’t afford food, so many people are struggling because they don’t have anything to eat . Now that we are in this pandemic of the corona-virus, people are struggling more and more with financial problems. We are also trying to help by using paper bags and recyclable materials instead of plastic.

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How much time will it take?

We think that it will take approximately a week to do this, since 2 days will be enough to prepare the food and things, and the other 3 left over days, the school council and some teachers will be able to talk to the homeless and comfort them and hand them the food.

We will need:

Baking paper to cover the food

Buns, cheese, ham and butter for the sandwich.

And fruit for a small desert.

THIS IS EVERYONE’S GOAL, SO HELP US ACHIEVE IT!

Zoe – Year 5

 

Mystery Guest Round

I was in Phuket, Thailand, attending an IB course for geography teachers in November 2003.  The course was great, challenging and collaborative, just as you would expect from the IB programme.  My priority though was finding a television, one with the right satellite connection, this was our time! 

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The England rugby team had made it to the final of the Rugby World Cup and were playing their great rivals, Australia (the Wallabies) in the final, right smack-bang in the middle of our IB Geography course!  Luckily, our facilitator was a fellow rugby enthusiast and we were able to motor through the agenda and finish in time to find a suitable venue and watch this momentous match.  It was a tight game, and at 17 – 17 the match entered extra-time.  The England scrum-half, Matt Dawson (number 9) made a darting break through the Wallabies tired defence giving England territorial advantage in the dying seconds.  Matt picked himself up, re-positioned himself and spun the ball back to the England fly-half (number 10) Jonny Wilkinson… the rest is history!  You can watch it here

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Matt Dawson is now a TV and radio presenter and pundit for the BBC in the UK.  One of the shows that he features in is called ´A Question of Sport.´ To raise awareness and to support the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, Matt has been doing as many quizzes as he can, joining people from all over the world, online, to complete a quiz.  We were very lucky and honoured that Matt was able to join us for our weekly staff professional development session last Thursday and complete part of our starter quiz.  This was Matt´s 108th quiz so far since starting less than two weeks ago.  It was a real pleasure to meet Matt and to have the opportunity to reminisce with him about the 2003 final.  He was interested in every one of us and how we are successfully adapting our teaching and learning during these testing times.  He also answered a number of questions asked by the teachers at the Meet.  It was a real highlight of the school week and we would like to thank Matt again for his kindness and sincerity in joining us.  #NHSHeroes #StayHomeSaveLives #DawsDoesQuizzes @matt9dawson

The solar eclipse live

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On the 20th March 2015, staff and students at my current school gathered on the spacious sports fields to observe the first solar eclipse in this country since 1999.  This was an excellent opportunity to bring students of all ages together to share their knowledge and the experience, from our 5 year olds in Reception to our oldest A Level students in the Upper Sixth Form.   The school provided solar glasses for the students courtesy of Jonathan and Sarah Higginson, who kindly donated the glasses, in memory of their 10 year old son, who died in a traffic accident in 2009. George, was science mad, and especially loved astronomy.  Consequently, his parents are raising money to purchase a telescope which will be placed in Williamson Park, Lancaster, for everyone to enjoy.  The school collected monetary donations for the solar glasses which raised over 200 pounds towards the funding of the George Higginson Telescope.

This was a fantastic learning opportunity for the whole school, with most teachers just as keen as the students to be outside and observing the scientific phenomenon.  It is important to encourage authentic learning at every opportunity.  The students in the Junior School engaged in a great deal of research during the week in their science lessons about solar eclipses and a number of classes even made their own pin-hole cameras.  Other classes decided to use colanders or telescopes to cast the shadow of the eclipse onto white paper.  Senior school students wrote about solar eclipses in their English lessons after learning about how they have been perceived in literature throughout history.  Meanwhile Physics lessons involved looking at the science behind the process of an eclipse and why they occur in different places around the Earth at different times.

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Although the weather was not favourable on the morning, the school did manage to glimpse the eclipse at different stages through small breaks in the clouds in the build-up to 9.31am.  There was a great deal of excitement and dialogue taking place about what was happening amongst the student community.  This was made more impressive and poignant as Senior School students facilitated learning as they buddied up and mentored the younger students from the Junior School to provide further explicit explanations.  It was a successful and important coming together of the school community with everyone being positive and optimistic despite the disappointing cloud cover.  You can see the impact a whole school community event like this can have here.

Creating a string of useful habits

Kyu Bak preparing a presentation for the Global Issues Network Conference

Kyu Bak preparing a presentation for the Global Issues Network Conference

Post contributed by Kyu Bak Lee

I am a Korean national who grew up in Thailand. During my time in Thailand, I attended an international school that largely followed the British model. So, one can say that I saw the meaning of the word “education” being used and explained in many different ways. For the most part, due to my exposure to three different “worlds” (in a nutshell) from such a young age, my immediate answer to the question of ‘what makes a good education’ would differ tremendously in different cultures. However, now that I have gone through the likes of university, first job and now at a point where I can safely say that I have a career ahead of me, I have yearned for the ‘simple’ things in life.

A good education provides a student with a clear definition of what they are studying. Having a clear understanding of what they are studying provides not only guidance but fosters curiosity. Being curious is, and always will be, the pillar of human innovation.

A good education encourages the student to ask why and how.

A good education shows the student real-life case studies of what they have studied, so that they understand from the beginning that there are external and indirect factors that need to be considered.

A good education provides questions, discussions and potential scenarios for the student to show their understanding, and their ability to apply their knowledge.

A good education provides feedback that opens up a dialogue to foster more discussion with the interested parties.

Kyu Bak and Nics, a great Head Boy and Head Girl team - student leaders

Kyu Bak and Nics, a great Head Boy and Head Girl team – student leaders

I believe my time in University had the most profound impact on my life. You are at a place where everyone was a star pupil in their high school, the quarterback, the debate champion, the community leader, the superman of their respective school and organization. It was a place where I knew I had to challenge myself constantly. Not only that, but the responsibility that life threw me during my days as a university student was also a great lesson for me. From having your teachers, parents and friends help you one way or another to having nobody in a foreign land and culture put me on survival mode 101. I was excited to see myself change and adapt and I also learned to be appreciative of the people that I have in my life. I saw a new me that was scared, excited, sad and jubilant. Some turbulent times that proved that without education, there really is no basis in life that you can turn to. Another thing that I want to mention here is to look at “failures” differently. A profile in failure is as important, or even more so, than a profile in success. Failure should be welcomed if you want to better and further yourself in any given situation.

In Europe at the Global Issues Network Conference with friends

In Europe at the Global Issues Network Conference with friends

So far, my greatest achievement that I have experienced thus far is surrounding myself with awesome people. I have always believed in the power of storytelling and discussions. If you are able to surround yourself with people that not only carry different experiences but also are able to effectively communicate that with you, then you have all the tools you need to succeed. Human beings have always seen each other as part of a collective unit; part of something much larger than them. It only makes sense that we are able to draw out the best of ourselves through the collective help of people and their diverse and dynamic experiences. Finding the “right” group is always hard and I am not saying that it will always come naturally, but how do you know what works for you and what doesn’t from the beginning? You always need to fail, to succeed and to achieve.

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My next challenge is to push myself and become the owner of my own business. One of the things that I learned about myself in university was that I liked the responsibilities, I liked the leadership, and I liked the fast pace and ever changing environment that I found myself in. This all pointed to one thing, and that was entrepreneurship. I tested myself with a few serious projects here and there during my time in university, but those all failed. They were absolutely fun and enriching, but they all went up in flames. The failures only cemented my view that I would need to be my own boss and it only made me content that I was fortunate enough to do what I wanted and fail at it, and be okay.

Being reflective

Being reflective

I would like to share what I wish I had heard when I was a student at school; which is “to create a string of useful habits from a young age.”

Get in to a habit of carrying a small notepad around to write down your thoughts and opinion at any given time. In this day and age, it could be an app on your mobile device, but I like my piece of paper and a pencil. People could argue that they have diaries that they keep but having to recollect your feelings and ideas at the end of the day is a daunting task. So, why not keep it simple by writing it down throughout your day? By doing this, you will find your own efficient way of note-taking and drawing diagrams that you can always go back to and reflect on your days, weeks and years.

Get into a habit of reading. Whether they are books, magazines or online articles; find your interest and passion, and read about them and other people’s, take them on to help you gain an all-round understanding of your interests and passions. This will not only put you closer to your interests, but it will also surprise you as it will expose you to thoughts and ideas that you would not be able to generate on your own.

Get into a habit of playing sports. Playing sports is a great way to make new friends and to learn more about yourself as well. How are you different to playing team games to individual sports? What is it that gets you motivated? Was it the spirit of competition and sportsmanship? Was it the chance to win something? If you play sports, you will always learn more about yourself.

Get into a habit of joining social clubs. If you are a part of a club, then you start experiencing different responsibilities that will be different to finishing your group project, or your homework or your class presentation. It gives you a glimpse of life outside of school that we all need to prepare for.

 

What will you achieve in 2015?

Public speaking

Public speaking

As we begin 2015 I thought it might be interesting to reflect on the the Global Citizenship Award website and to review some of the statistics so far.  I would like to thank everyone who has followed the development of the site and award over the last six months and especially to all those people who have contributed, commented and (especially) achieved their award – 9 amazing global citizens so far.  I am sure that there will be many more in 2015.

Patrick and a piano

Patrick and a piano

A London underground train holds 1,200 people. The GC Award website was viewed about 7,850 times in 2014. If it were a London underground train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.  The busiest day of the year was November 11th with 328 views.

The most popular post / blog was: One Man and a Piano.  This post was inspired by a talented young man, called Patrick, who we met at Heathrow Airport back in November.  He was playing one of those stand alone pianos and instantly caught the imagination of my two oldest kids.

A Christmas Gift

A Christmas Gift

The next four most popular posts in order were:

2. Thailand Reflections

3. The Rice Challenge – A Scottish Perspective

4.  A Christmas Gift

5.  Congratulations to Karen Partyka on achieving the Global Citizenship Award

 

Where are you reading about the GC Award?

Where are you reading about the GC Award?

 

People who have viewed the GC Award website are from 101 different countries; with the UK, Thailand, US, Australia and Brazil the top five countries that have made the most views.

The New Year has arrived and what better time than to make new targets and to challenge yourself to bigger and better things through learning and reflective practice.

Personal target setting

Personal target setting

The GC Award team would love to hear from you and will monitor and celebrate your progress as we bring new ideas and developments together through a global citizenship approach to education. Remember you can choose to submit all 16 Identities together once completed (see these Global Ambassadors for example) or submit them one at a time as individual reflections / posts (see this post by Manoj on service learning).  You can submit your post / reflection/s here.

We will always give individual constructive feedback and can guarantee that your achievements and experiences are inspiring others elsewhere around the world at the same time helping you to build a digital portfolio of personal achievement through global citizenship learning – something you will always have and use in the future.  Don’t let those amazing opportunities and experiences be wasted.  2015 is your year – go grab it!

The Season of Giving

Contributed by Brittany Tang

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Here in Michigan, the winter months seem to set a much needed peaceful atmosphere in the hustle and bustle of exams. As the snow falls gently from the sky and accumulates on the ground, sparkling ever so slightly, a quietness blankets the city of Ann Arbor. Students study in the warmth of the residential halls and cozy up next to soft velvet blankets, sipping hot beverages as they work hard to make their mark on the world. I’ve met some very inspiring individuals who are motivated to constantly do their part to benefit others. They lead organizations that help the impoverished, raise money for better education/health systems overseas and work hard to share with others their philosophies of kindness and global citizenship.

As Christmas approaches, I think of those who aren’t so fortunate to have a warm place to sleep during the bitterly cold and windy evenings. I also think of the children and adults who have limited access to medical and educational resources whose Christmases are consumed with worry and distress. In my local community, these people are the homeless. They roam the streets during the summer, spring and fall seasons and desperately seek shelter during the winter. I do my best to help these individuals by volunteering in the Food Gatherer’s kitchen in the basement of the homeless shelter. We make hot soups, pastas, and steam vegetables. There is always coffee, juice and water as well as fruit and dessert and all of the food that is used to make the meals is donated by local grocery stores and educational institutions. It is so heartwarming to see volunteers filling the kitchen with smiles, enthusiasm, excitement and the hope that they can help make a homeless person experience a few moments of joy by eating a delicious meal.

Is it about giving or receiving?

Is it about giving or receiving?

The giving doesn’t stop there. It’s wonderful! In my residential hall, students are collecting donated hats, gloves, mittens and scarves in an event called the “giving tree” with the hopes of sending these donations to Safe House. This organization provides support for individuals who have been impacted by domestic violence and/or sexual assault. We are also holding a knitting session one evening to make our own winter attire to donate.

The holiday mood has engulfed my dorm. The halls are decorated with paper snowflakes and the doors are covered in Christmas wrapping paper. Despite the small stresses of university, joy is in the air and the desire to help others is prominent and it is a beautiful sight!

To read other posts by Brittany please click here.

The gap effect

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

Challenged with a sense of personal adventure

Post contributed by Dan Bowie

Just thought I’d update you on my latest exciting news! Today I found out I got the QUEST Scholarship – sponsored by VINCI.  It’s an amazing opportunity not many get to experience and to say I’m pleased is an understatement. Sheffield University seems to be a bit of a hot spot for successful candidates so – as I’m sure you can imagine – a few celebratory drinks will be had!

There is a teacher in everyone

There is a teacher in everyone

I want to take the opportunity to say thanks, the experience I gained in Thailand is without a doubt the reason I got in – especially when I look at the high standard of unsuccessful applicants. Accepting me into the Gap Programme was a stepping stone that has (and will continue to) lead to so many amazing opportunities. So thanks to all who supported me at the school.

Trekking in the north of Thailand

Trekking in the north of Thailand

Uni life is very good, the course is fairly intense and I’ve already handed in coursework and completed online tests that count towards my 1st year grade, which is a little surreal.  The social side is definitely a change from Thailand, but a change I am very much liking. I have joined the hockey team and this of course means socials (and some hockey!).  I will keep you posted.

If you liked this post then read more about gap year experiences here.