Book reviews: KS3 Geography Teachers’ Toolkits

The Geographical Association has been somewhere I have continued to turn to as a source of teaching resources and support throughout my teaching activities at various educational levels – from the PGCE when the Secondary Geography handbook was an introductory guide to the geography classroom, the fantastic annual conference, to some of the top-spec toolkits to inspire ideas for developing sessions with students who were about to study geography at university.

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

Two publications from the GA that I’ve been looking at recently are part of a series of Teachers’ Toolkits, alongside others on rocks, glaciation, China, Africa, landscape of the UK, flooding, climate change, water supply and demand, Kenya’s flower industry, human and physical geography of the UK, population change, and urban regeneration (and even more if you look at the toolkits produced for KS4, and the top-spec kits for post-16 groups).

These toolkits provide all the resources you need for some packed lessons, with plenty of activities, as well as enough information to make sure you know enough about what you are teaching, a glossary of key terms, plus lots of links to places with further information. A medium term plan is included to show how you might structure a scheme of work, with lots of detail including key questions, objectives, activities, resources and assessment activities. While this is shown for a whole scheme of work on the topic you could easily adapt this to fit around some materials you may already use. Both toolkits I have here come with a link and code for the GA website where you can download a set of resources to accompany the book too (activity sheets, information sheets and powerpoints).

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkitIn ‘Introducing India’, Catherine Owen asks ‘What are the Opportunities and Challenges for the future?’ The book begins with a question I have often heard when talking with teachers on how to teach about a particular country: ‘How can we teach about this complex country without falling into the trap of over-simplification?’ Her answer: be selective. And while that might seem like an obvious answer, what is provided here is an excellent selection of lessons to do exactly that.

A series of 10 lessons include: Incredible India (human and physical characteristics of India); Growing India (population and economic change); Diverse India (different features across India and its challenges); Changing India (urbanisation); Innovative India (TNCs); Industrious India (poverty and fair trade); Thirsty India (water management); Destination India (tourism); Future India (opportunities and challenges for the country), and What have you learnt about India? Each lesson includes a starter, main activity, and plenary as well as helpful teaching tips.

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

I particularly like the lesson on urbanisation which involves the students playing a board game to explore the various processes associated with urbanisation.

In ‘What’s the use?’ Richard Bustin asks ‘How can we meet our resource needs? highlighting how important it is that we teach about resources and sustainability, as an ‘increasing demand for resources has created a complex global geography’ (p.5).

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

A series of 10 lessons include: The stuff  we use (resources and their distribution); Resources forever (sustainability); Power to the people (electricity); Black Gold Russia’s Oil (Russia, oil and the UK); Something fishy going on (tuna and marine ecosystems); A net result (sustainable fishing); Diamonds are forever? (diamond’s as a resource); Sierra Leone’s resource curse (diamonds and Sierra Leone); Made to Last? (resources and the human population); and Costing the Earth? (global resource futures).

I’ve written in the past about natural resources, and when trying to create resources for schemes of work on the topic I’ve found it quite difficult because there are so many resources which could be covered, and so many different issues which could be included. However, in this set, using a consistent theme of sustainability the lessons provide a good overview of some of the key issues related to natural resources with some vivid case studies to illustrate. I particularly like the lessons on tuna and sustainable fishing. I think the ocean as a natural resource has been overlooked in the past (compared to other resources like coal or oil, and diamonds) – although as shown, here this is changing.

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

I have not yet had the chance to teach any of the activities from these books but I have already integrated some of the activities into some of my future lessons and lectures. Whatever age group you teach, if you are covering topics related to India or natural resources then I would highly recommend these toolkits, (and likewise the other toolkit volumes in the series) as a great starting point, providing information, ideas and inspiration, and ready-made resources.

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