A couple of weeks ago, we attended the Geographical Association (GA) conference in Manchester. This is a conference for geography teachers, student geography teachers and the people who train them. We talked to many who taught their students the geographies of trade through researching their own clothes. We went to a talk where Hannah Campion, a newly qualified teacher, explained how she sparked her students’ curiosity about these geographies using some of our teaching resources. With the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse only a few days away, we are publishing what she said…
A £4 t-shirt
My name is Hannah Campion. I am an NQT at The National Church of England Academy, Nottinghamshire. My fascination around the Geography of my ‘stuff’ developed from undergraduate study of commodity chains, commodity fetishism and Cook’s (2004) ‘follow the thing’ approach at the University of Nottingham. An assignment during my teacher training course on ‘Fantastic Geographies’ gave me the opportunity to bring this controversial issue into the classroom, to enable pupils to investigate and to develop a curiosity around the lives of our everyday commodities. The initial scheme is a 5 lesson sequence unveiling and unpicking the life of a plain white £4 t-shirt from production through to consumption. In 2014, I was asked to display my work at the Geographical Association conference in Guildford as part of the Ideas Zone exhibition. Since then, I have written an article for Teaching Geography (Campion 2015) and presented a Teacher-to-Teacher session at this year’s GA conference entitled ‘Behind the seams: global connections in the classroom (KS3)’.
Over the course of the 2013-4 academic year, we’re following seven school teachers and they use and adapt followthething.com in their classrooms in England. Our second post is by Natalie Batten. She reflects on how she encouraged her students to use our site last year to help compare and contrast multinational corporations. This year, she will be using one of our new game-based teaching resources to encourage her students to better appreciate corporations’ diverse policies regarding workers’ rights and monitoring.
I covered a similar topic to the one discussed in Oprah’s #followtheteachers blog post – that of globalisation and multinational companies. This scheme, however, was implemented for AS Level Geography students (studying the OCR exam syllabus). This highlights the versatility of followthethings.com site as a resource for a variety of student ages, even when covering the same topic area. For example, while Oprah used the site to introduce globalisation at Year 7, I used it at A level to consolidate pupils’ prior learning and provide them with examples and case studies for their exams.
The pupils were not familiar with the site, so time was incorporated into the scheme of work for them to explore it. They really liked the layout and navigation of the site and its recognisable format – like other online stores such as Amazon – which made the site personal to them and their interests.
The different forms of data presentation on the site (eg. film reviews, travel journals, newspaper articles and Lego re-creations) provided opportunities for differentiation with more able pupils challenging themselves through interpretation of more abstract research sources. In particular, some used the Ford Car Seat page – based on a 2006 film called ‘Made in Dagenham’ – to explore social and historical geographical topics such as feminism and women’s rights. This was important as it allowed pupils to ‘find the geography’ and make synoptic links to other geographical topics during their MNC research task.
An extension to a task like this could be to incorporate followthethings.com’s new teaching resource – Ethical Trade Trump Cards as a way to compare and contrast global MNCs on categories such as worker’s rights, policies and monitoring in an exciting and familiar game for pupils.
Both they and myself as a trainee teacher took a lot of positives away from this activity and I will certainly be using followthethings.com in my future teaching for this and other topics.
This summer, we have been working with Alan Parkinson – legendary Geography teacher, ‘Living Geography‘ blogger and GeoBlogs tweeter – to develop some new pages and downloads for school teachers and their students. Our site has been open for almost two years, and we have found that these ‘shoppers’ are (among) our most enthusiastic. But we’ve also had feedback from some saying that it’s difficult to know where to start with our site: guidance and teacher-generated ideas were needed.
Today, we publish the first completed resource from our work together – a guide to how Geography teachers in England and Wales can use our site in the light of changing National Curriculum requirements. This document will, we are sure, be helpful for many other teachers across disciplines, in different kinds of schools, and in many countries.
This is where we’re publishing it first. You can download it by pressing the button below. We’ll update it as the Curriculum develops. [We made up the NC logo].
This, along with many other resources, will be published on followthethings.com later in the summer. As soon as each on is finished, however, we’ll publish it here!
Please send us any feedback and ideas by commenting on this post or emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org And, if you have already been teaching with followthethings.com, we would love to see how! Please get in touch and join our ﹟followtheteachers project on twitter (see below).