Category: Site use

Guest blog: developing global perspectives on sustainability with followthethings.com

In February this year, Ian, Charlotte Brunton and Jenny Hart contributed to a Pedagogy Cafe seminar at Plymouth University’s Centre for Sustainable Futures. They talked about Geographies of Material Culture coursework (a university lifestyle catalogue and a singing heart pacemaker) now published on our site. What happened next was surprising. Plymouth lecturer Helen Bowstead  talked about her use of ‘follow the things’ research to teach English as a Foreign Language. Here’s what she said.

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International students discuss complex and overlooked understandings of things.

The benefits of group work have been well-documented: Gibbs claims working as a group “has the potential measurably to improve student engagement, performance, marks and retention and usually succeeds in achieving this potential” (Gibbs 2010:1). However, successfully implementing and assessing a piece of group work is also often fraught with challenges, particularly when the students do not share a common language and/or cultural background. In groups where some or all students are non-native English speakers, there may be an ‘imbalance’ in power relations, as the ideas and views of the students with ‘stronger’ language skills often end up dominating. In many instances, non-native speakers find themselves side-lined within the group, sometimes because their language skills are weaker than other members, but also because, due to cultural and educational differences, their knowledge base is perceived as having less ‘value’.

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Our 2nd #followtheteachers blog post

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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.

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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.

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Click the seat!

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.

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Click to play!

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.

followthethings.com and the National Curriculum

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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].

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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 fttclassroom@yahoo.com 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).

Preview: classroom page

This is the week when the work that we’ve been doing this year with and for school teachers is brought together and made available on our site. We’re bringing together ideas and resources developed with student teachers, undergraduate students, followthethings interns, and educational consultant Alan Parkinson.

We’ll explain more about our longer-term project with teachers –  #followtheteachers  – in another post. Below, for those who like advance warning, is a screengrab showing roughly what our new classroom page will look like.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please post a comment, tweet us @followthethings or email us at followthethings@yahoo.com.

Thanks!

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Our searchmap under construction: test drivers please!

As part of our ‘classroom project’ we’re creating a searchmap for our website which will appear on it’s new classroom page.

This will allow followthethings.com shoppers to see where the stories on our site’s pages are located. It’s organised via department (the blue cars are pages from the ‘Auto Department, etc.). You will probably have to click the link to the larger map to make the most of this feature!

This map is currently ‘under construction’. It’s being put together by summer interns Nancy Scotford and Tommy Sadler. If you think you might search our site this way one day, please test drive it for us now and let us know your thoughts in a comment on this post. We’re keen to get this right.

Thanks!