Monthly Archives: January 2013

Thanks to recent views.

The last three weeks as January saw a return to school have seen little or no posts. Life seems to be on fast forward a lot of the time. It is great to see that a few visitors have read some of my older posts and it has been very satisfying to have been recommended on Twitter by several people for my posts on the Solo taxonomy.

So, why so busy? Next week is my big treat and adventure – a work day at BETT 13. I usually attend on the Saturday in my own time, however this year I applied for leave of absence back in October. So, what do I do there? The last few years I’ve collected details of resources that may prove useful to colleagues which I’ve passed on in the following fortnight. I’ve kept a record of the responses received – it’s nice to open people’s eyes to new opportunities. In 2012 I’d discovered Twitter and managed to meet up with friends face to face, some for the first time.

2013, what’s different? After a year where I’ve got much more involved in Teachmeets I’ve secured a ticket for the biggie – the BETT Teachmeet. I’ve signed up to possibly present if selected by the random fruit technique. I’m helping to organise the raffle after an enjoyable evening in November helping with this at TMiPad with Anthony Evans in Redbridge. Meet a few people and wander around? Well yes, but also signed upto present two Teachmeettakeovers. One with Dawn Hallybone about geography apps ( a follow up to TMiPad and a link to my role on the Geographical Association ICT group). The second with Sheli Blackburn on Digital leaders, we met up at the RaspberryJam Teachmeet at Cambridge in July and decided we’d try to combine together at some point in promoting the development of the Digital Leader Network.

Other people to visit: Caroline Wright at BESA who has offered me some opportunities that I have been unable to take up so far; Andrea Carr and the Rising Stars team with Switched on ICT; Promethean to see which of the team who I work with as an Activadvocate; Stone computers whose stand involve talks from – Dave Smith from Havering SIS, Lady Lumley school, York on secondary digital leaders and more. Many twitter friends are planning to be there and I am looking forward to meeting them in person. It’s going to be a full on day and evening with the Teachmeet and teacheat and one I shall be talking about to colleagues for weeks or months.

So I envisage a rush of blogs soon.


PGCE days, Uni Leicester 87-88

Post Two of old pictures. Four from my PGCE year and a variety of topics a memorable year where geography was good, fieldwork was encouraged more ( I even wrote an essay about that) and I learnt some ideas that I still use 25 years later.

Picture 1: Teaching attachment. We were the group working with a sixth form between Leicester and Loughborough. The Head of Department was a Dr David Livingstone and it was made very clear that we were not to be doing any …”presuming” in our introductions! ( If this does not make sense, look at the history of African exploration, the reused to be a really good Ladybird book about it, when I was young!).

We were developing a unit of work for the 16-19 course on hills including a local field trip that we would organise. This picture was a practice day where the physical geographers amongst us trained the others. I’m still in contact with two of the group, neither teaches anymore which is a great shame. There was lots of laughter that morning,numerous David Bellamy impressions and a lot of legs disappearing into rabbit holes under the bracken. Fieldwork – bring it on.


Picture 2: the charity fundraiser. Ok I was fairly involved in proving that “postgrads are not boring” and “life is not a rehearsal”. In the summer term, essays and finalTeaching practice over we relaxed. A group of us put on a show in the SU and followed it with a Barn dance. The picture shows my solo ( no, on my own, not #SOLO) cello piece presented in a semi formal style and also shows a fine pair of Troll climbing attire ( see last post; Memories lol).


Picture 3: we finished our course with a subject week which different courses to choose how to use. The geographers (not on interviews) went to the Lake District for a week where we studied a mixture of geography topics. Our tutor was the late Patrick Bailey, a keen advocate of The Geographical Association, which I have continued to belong to. Patrick did have his own way of doing things and we clashed at times but he was a true geographer through and through and I was privileged to train under him. Some of the skills practiced on our trip some of use had done a lot having taken physical geography / geology based courses, so on occasions I would wander off to take pictures of the others. This picture shows Patrick working with Chris Ryan on his field sketching of a glacial valley’s features.


Picture 4: well I dodged the field sketching but one of the trip’s highlights was to be a walk to England’s highest point from Boot, in the Eskdale Valley where we were based at he YHA. Only three of the group had much hillwalking experience and I was asked to plan a route for the next day.
A great day was had with many memories that I will always treasure. So how do you show some unfit, non-walkers what lies ahead?

A) use the map – no they weren’t too good at contours and found interpreting the map too hard

B) show them an aerial picture / satellite image – RWD this was 1988 not available

C) draw them a picture and talk them through the route and things to consider, like how long it would take (that shocked them – although reality was longer because of maters arising). So I had a “blackboard” and a box of chalks and probably my best ever map interpretation that I ever produced – saved only because I took a picture. Remember picture 2 – look at the signature on the bottom right and guess what my nickname was.


All comments / feedback welcome on here or @aknill on Twitter. Thanks for reading.

Memories lol

This week a group of fellow tweeps and I were discussing running attire and I found myself going upstairs to find items of clothing that have been “stored” for a while and took a picture- you have to be “brave” to wear some of these out of the house, let alone run the GNR in the closer fitting ones. One of the manufacturers mentioned was Troll who used to market a range of more colourful and exuberant trousers for climbers / walkers. It turned out that two of us had both owned “Jesters” a multi coloured patchwork design. Mine are long gone as they didn’t fit me in the ’90s let alone now. However, today Alan (@Geoblogs) posted a picture of him in his Jesters from 1991and I found myself off to the loft to search through old pictures for evidence of mine. I am now going to publicly submit myself to possible ridicule and show these pictures online. I am also going to show some other pictures that show similar fashion decisions and also how teaching technology has changed. So sit back and prepare for nostalgia time.

Item 1 – the items of running and walking attire I still own


Working our way down the picture are two pairs of Troll walking trousers from 1989/90 made from a man made material called Tactel. Windproof, fast drying, packed into a trouser pocket lining and in attractive colour schemes.
Then we come to the running attire – the black and white pair were part of my staff leaving present from my first f/t teaching post in 1992. I also wore them for the GNR 1992.
The second pair from 1994 were part of a 30th birthday challenge to my brother to buy me the most revolting pair of running tights he could find – didn’t he do well. Worn for the GNR 1994 where the crowd of runners was so thick that o spectators started to make fun of them until mile 10+ as we got to South Shields.

The worse news (is that possible) is that the trousers have both been worn on non uniform days to teach in at previous schools – and no most people couldn’t cope with them either!

item 2 – the Jesters and an earlier set of Trolls which I and a fellow worker wore to teach Outdoor Pursuits in on theIsle of Wight in 1987 for two companies: Dolphin Holidays and TOPS adventure.


Yes, I was 23, slimmer and I looked a lot younger. secondly that is a teddy bear wearing the yellow and red trousers. HIs name was Edgar, he was about 4 feet tall and we caused quite a stir when people saw us wandering around the Edinburgh festival.

I think a new post for the next set of pics…

Afternoon 2013

A great start to the year with this morning’s walk. So exercise done, but no a stuffy head so after lunch left the others to watch a movie and off out again. Music in the ears – Boo Hewardine, starting with Geography – what an appropriate track. I followed an old route from my running days and set off. The cool air was refreshing and the clouds were still few and far between. The High Street was quiet and most places were shut. Then back through the park where I had been this morning, the cafe still open at 4pm obviously business had been good today. Around the park and lake and some late afternoon shots to bring the walk to a close.




In total about 5 miles walked today, a grand start to a new year and all fresh air exercise, not in a gymnasium.

Morning 2013

The new year has begun and a great start – the sun is shining and the park cafe is open. So a walk,see the ducks, geese, coots and grebes all at play. Families starting to appear with scooters and bikes and small children in tow.

Onwards 2013