Why connected teaching is the way forward

The MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured an Ash plume from Eyjafjallajokull Volcano over the North Atlantic at 13:20 UTC (9:20 a.m. EDT) on April 17, 2010. 

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted Wednesday, April 14, for the second time this month. The volcano is still spewing ash into the air and the ash clouds are impacting air travel in Northern Europe.

Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response Team

To read more go to:  <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/iceland-volcano-plume.html" rel="nofollow">www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/iceland-volcano-plume....</a>

<b><a href="http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/home/index.html" rel="nofollow">NASA Goddard Space Flight Center</a></b>  is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

As a geography teacher it is really important that we cover what is happening now.  The recent events in Iceland are an excellent example of an opportunity to introduce ‘Floating Topicality’ (a term coined by Jeff Stanfield the Hampshire Geography Inspector) into the curriculum. This post aims to demonstrate that this is a relatively straight forward process if you are a connected teacher.  I define this to be a teacher that involves themselves in continuous CPD through online communities.


There are plenty of great resources being put together by teachers out there.  I had to focus on getting some guidelines for Controlled Assessment together so didn’t have time to find resources myself.  The lesson went like so:


As the class entered the room a Flickr slideshow of Iceland volcano images was playing.  In addition, a playlist of volcano related tunes were playing thanks to my Twitter network.  I also added a live feed via tweetdeck searches: #ashtag and ‘volcano stranded’. Notifications were set up so that they popped up during the photo slideshow.




Students had to guess the topic and discuss with a partner what they knew about the topic, for example, did any of them know someone who had been trapped.  This starter led to a number of discussion points, including translating tweets not written in English.  We also found out that Chris Moyles was stuck in New York.

These ideas were very simple and effective.  I give my thanks to:

I then recapped briefly volcanic eruptions to Year 9 (who had looked at volcanoes during the Autumn term) and introduced them to Years 7 and 8.  For this I used the featured video from the excellent BrainPop site. The video was just over 3 minutes, but allowed me to introduce the basic mechanism of volcanic eruptions and some key terms.  If you haven’t subscribed already I fully recommend that you do!

In the tracks

The rest of the lesson then centred around an outstanding resource produced by Rich Allaway. Rich contacted me through Twitter offering his creation.

So what lesson have I learned from being a connected teacher?

  • Nothing is ever great ‘straight off the peg’. Even the very best resources, like those above, need some adaptation. Whether that be for ability, local context, time of day, interest. If using other people’s resources I think that it is essential that they are adapted.
  • It’s important to acknowledge to the class where you have got the resources from.  I think that this is great modelling of collaboration to young people.
  • Within a small timescale, I had gathered enough resources to tackle this topic well.  Without them I would not have been able to deliver a quality learning experience.  In addition, I wouldn’t have been able to put as much time in the preparation of Controlled Assessment resources for the Geography team.
  • I am more likely to share in the future 🙂

Photo links all used via Flickr and a Creative Commons Licence:




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