Geography is one of education’s oldest disciplines. It is a subject rich in heritage and scholarly tradition, reaching back 2000 years. As a scientific module of the curriculum, geography was traditionally known for its adoption of forward-thinking technology and research practices.
Unfortunately, in the modern classroom, geography pedagogy lacks the technological innovation of STEM subjects. ClassFlow — a free, cloud-based edtech software — could provide a solution.
To get the best attainment from geography lessons, educators have to inspire pupils to understand natural hazards as well population, topography, urban, economic, and health issues. This is best achieved through hands-on, problem-based teaching with edtech tools.
In preparation for our annual report, The State of Technology in Education 2017/18, we polled teachers and other educators about the use of tech in specific subjects. We found that:
- Only 3.6% of respondents believe technology is being used to teach geography; one of the lowest results across the curriculum.
- This is a stark contrast to STEM subjects — results were the highest among computing (69%), design and technology (41%) and maths (39%).
Geography, therefore, is in desperate need of an injection of innovation to uphold its traditional ethos, as well as keep pupils inspired, educated and motivated to learn.
ClassFlow is an interactive edtech teaching platform that encourages teachers in all subjects to embrace new pedagogical technologies and to improve pupil engagement.
With ClassFlow you can:
- Create charts and plot data with ClassFlow’s graphic calculator to measure changes in environment and atmosphere
- Deliver interactive, collaborative lessons with the dynamic flow of information between teacher and student devices (e.g. Interactive whiteboards, ActivPanel, tablets, notebooks, laptops, Chromebooks, etc.)
- Integrate hands-on activities into your geography classes
- Facilitate problem-based learning practices
- Use polling to keep students interested in the outcome of a query
- Customise content, tasks, lessons and assignments depending on the ability of each pupil/group
- Build more collaborative classrooms
- Share learning in real-time with the whole classroom, increasing class discussion and participation
How ClassFlow works
Classflow is a powerful tool that allows teachers and pupils to send each other information, present knowledge, evaluate understanding and to bring lessons to life. Here’s how one geography teacher, Alison Lydon, uses ClassFlow to enhance her geography lessons.
To explain the holistic benefits of this edtech, Alison asks us to think about the main structure of an average lesson. This includes the hook, the chalk and talk, the activity, the feedback and the plenary.
ClassFlow can be used in many ways to hook children into wanting to learn about a specific concept. Some of these methods are familiar to teachers such as showing a traumatic tsunami video, a picture stimulus or a question and gathering of ideas at the front of class. However, ClassFlow throws some new ideas into the mix.
How about a quick poll with instant anonymous/named results? Or an embedded video sent to each child’s device?
Chalk and talk
To teach a lesson, teachers can prepare material in a similar way to PowerPoint, Promethean Flipcharts or Smart Notebook files. However, this is just the start of this flexible and versatile piece of software.
Teachers can choose to send the cards they are presenting to the children’s devices as well as, or instead of, the classroom display or they could send a different card to broaden the subject matter. Children can write, draw, type or add a photo they have taken on blank cards.
For example, whilst watching a video of a volcano erupting on the main class display, a series of diagrams could be sent to the children to refer to. The video could then be stopped, a blank card sent from ClassFlow for them to ask a question, write bullet points or answer a question before the video is resumed.
Alternatively, a specific item such as an image taken from Google Earth can be added to the card for the children to annotate and send back, allowing the teacher to assess knowledge at different stages of the lesson.
Whilst teaching, activities develop conceptual understanding or increase knowledge. As part of the lesson, the main activity could be undertaken digitally through ClassFlow. Sending diagrams to students as creative cards allows them to annotate and return them to the teacher. This could be undertaken as a group, pairs or individuals, depending on the stage of understanding.
ClassFlow allows a teacher to send a variety of tasks or materials to a class via digital cards. These materials ensure enthusiasm and interest are maintained throughout the lesson.
Here are some examples:
- Videos can be embedded into cards so children can watch when they are ready. Questions on the videos can be displayed at the front of class, so children can work through them at their own pace.
- Websites such as http://online.seterra.com/en/vgp/3051 can be sent, on which children are tasked with identifying European capital cities, and get instant feedback.
- Maps like Ordnance Survey (OS) or Google Maps can be sent to pupils, asking them to answer a set of questions on the geographical area. Teachers can task pupils with annotating the land or asking them to turn the Google image into a plan view. Contrasting images can be displayed on the main display and the pupils’ devices in ClassFlow, so teachers could present a current map on the board, send an old map to the children, asking them to note the similarities and differences.
- Online quizzes such as http://www.yourchildlearns.com/mappuzzle/europe-puzzle.html can be embedded so children can recognise the shapes of countries.
A fun, digital activity using ClassFlow cards could be teaching pupils about the water cycle.
This could be sent as a creative poll to groups to fill in the gaps, to test their learning in the process and encourage group collaboration. The teacher could have the answers on their own teacher Classflow card, if extra help was required. World maps, capital cities and river attributes would also work well in this instance, to name just a few.
Read more about the importance of collaborative and cooperative learning.
Here are some other examples of how pupils can benefit from ClassFlow in a geography lesson:
- Graphs. Ask pupils to draw and send a graph to show rainfall in a country. All pupils could create a graph for a different country, individually or in groups. Show the class each one and compare together.
- Google Images. Ask students to search on Google for ‘erosion’, send the images to ClassFlow with or without annotations, and discuss as a class.
- Photos. Take pupils on a walk, ask them to take photos of clouds and then send to the teacher who can then send back out, asking the learners to identify them in a creative poll.
- Blank images. Send an image of a blank settlement area and allow pupils to create their own settlement and share with the class. Alternatively, give students a blank classroom outline and create a plan of the room
- Aerial photographs. Aerial images can be displayed on the board with a blank card sent to each child’s device, asking them to create a list of items they can identify.
During a lesson, ClassFlow allows the teacher to gain an insight into the thinking and the depth of knowledge children have. Either used at the start of a topic, during discussion work, or as a plenary, ClassFlow has some great features which allow the teacher to gather class opinions.
For example, the class could be asked to rate the most important reasons there is low/high GDP or life expectancy in different countries. The teacher could send 5 options to the children and gather results.
Discussion in class could then be based on the opinions collected, asking pupils to explain their thinking. Excitingly, ClassFlow has a feature called ‘dynamic graphs’ where a poll can be started at the beginning of the lesson and opinions can be gathered and compared as a lesson progresses.
As the teacher engages with the class, polling can continue and questions such as ‘what has influenced your change in thinking’ can help to deepen students’ and teacher’s understanding of the learning process.
Traditional paper-style assessments are easy to incorporate into Classflow with a wide range of question types available. The advantage here is that, in most cases, the teacher does not have to mark, just look at the data collected, identify poorly answered questions and children who have performed better or less well.
The purpose of a teacher’s plenary is to find out what children know and what the next steps are. Some great ways to recap the end of the lesson have been identified above, such as the dynamic poll.
Visually attractive ‘activities’ also allow for fun and quick assessment. Matching, sorting and ordering are a few of the ways to assess what children have understood or retained. For example, parts of a river could be matched to images, the main causes of erosion could be ordered in importance, and map symbols matched to words.
The blank creative poll could be used to ask questions such as ‘how does pollution change our world’ or ‘why do rivers meander?’ to see if understanding has increased, or even to annotate a compass rose.
ClassFlow is a free, simple-to-use, intuitive platform that helps geography teachers construct a better learning environment for their pupils. With this software, teaching never gets boring; pupils are engaged across every step of the learning experience. Students benefit from a hands-on experience of different topics that will deepen their understanding, and spark more inspiration to learn.
With so many ways to use Classflow in your geography pedagogy, we suggest you go and explore for yourself.