In my experience so far I’ve found that teaching students about the different scales of local, national, international and global to be of great importance.
I’ve found that when the year 7’s arrive in September they tend not to understand the difference, that’s always one of my first steps in the first term. My next step is getting them to locate where they live on different scales. Some of them get this straight away but others can find this concept difficult to comprehend, this is where a visual approach comes in useful. I’ve used Google Earth for this in the past. I’ve started by locating the school, then zoomed out to give a view of the county, followed by a view of the country and finally a continental view. We’ve then tried it with other examples around the world.
In my previous school I would come back to this often, particularly in the Global Issues. I felt it important that pupils understood that a global issue such as climate change can have impacts on different scales and they would need to refer to the different scales of impacts to achieve the higher levels of KS3. To help the pupils understand the scale of impact in the first lesson I would carry out this little activity.
It’s a really simple resource that can be adapted to make it relevant to your local area or current events. Basically on each wall I place a scale card: Global, National, Local or Personal, each with a definition.
Each pupil is then given a card with an issue and they must locate themselves around the room. At first I tell the pupils they can not discuss with anyone their card, ideas or opinions.
Once all pupils have located themselves, I get them to ask two other people in their group if they agree or disagree. Often you will find a few move, make note of who they were and ask them later on why they moved.
I ask for a few examples from each group and ask them to justify their decision. I find this can create some debate amongst the class and it’s quite interesting to see how the pupils begin to see the links between some of the issues. The last time I did this activity a lot of the pupils were of the opinion that many of the local and national problems were a result of the global problems. For instance one young lady pointed out that she thought the card which said “There is a low harvest of apples in the UK” was a result of the “Low water levels (drought) in the South East of England” which was overall a result of Global Warming and Climate Change which she had recently studied in Science.
We then discuss the issues and they come up with their own examples to demonstrate their understanding of the different scales. Finally I get the pupils to sort the cards (and themselves) into order from the most important issues to be dealt with to the least important. This creates lots of discussion and debate, a timer is well advised.
Cards to give to individual pupils – Issues Cards
Cards with scale and definitions – Scale Cards
How do you teach different scales in Geography? Share your ideas and links in the comments.