Mrs Humanities

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Resource – Geography in the News Reading Review Sheet

During a lesson with one of my year 13 classes recently, it became apparent that I often ask “did you see in the news…?” after my students highlighted the fact that I regularly ask it and they always say “nope”.

It got me thinking about how I can get them to engage with current affairs, especially as so much of it is relevant to the IB Geography course particularly the higher level topics. This morning it came to me! As part of their revision process I’m going to get them to find, read and review news articles that link to the content they have covered. They will then share their findings with the class in order to develop discussion and a review of their prior learning. In particular I want them to be able to see the bigger picture of how much of the content links.

In order to help facilitate this process I’ve created this resource sheet.

It got me thinking about how I can engage other year groups in reading around the subject, especially as there are a number of students that excel in Geography every year and I encourage to read and watch the news to be able to draw upon other examples in their work.

I therefore decided to make a similar sheet for MYP (Key Stage 3) to use for Geography as a stand alone subject, for Individuals and Societies as a discipline and for IB Environmental Systems and Societies. For MYP I’m thinking I might set it as one homework per unit of inquiry.

I’ve made a further version which is more general and can be used with any year group.

To download editable version and a PDF, click here.

Hope you find them of use.


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Humanities in the News – Edition 3

Humanities in the News1// 2014, the warmest year on record

Towards the end of 2014 the BBC published this article suggesting that 2014 was set to be the warmest year on record.

It initiated the article identifying that the global average air temperatures for the first 10 months of the year had been 0.57 degrees Celsius above the average, whilst up until November in the UK we had produced an average temperature  of 1.6 degrees Celsius above the long-term average.  There was certainly a noticeable difference in the temperature throughout the Autumn months of 2014.

Then by the end of the year, NOAA published their annual global climate analysis which confirmed that “the year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880”.  This meant it broke the previous records  of 2005 and 2010. It’s scary to see that the top 10 warmest years have been since 1998.  The NOAA report makes for interesting reading, I recommend taking a look at it.

News Articles

1. Global warming made 2014 a record hot year – in animated graphics  –  A concise video at the end of the article on the #HottestYearEver

2. 2014 officially the hottest year on record –

3. 2014 warmest year on record, say US researchers –

4. Why has the year 2014 been so hot? –

5. What makes different years warmer or colder? –

6.  2014: a warm year for the US and the warmest yet worldwide –

7. 15 of the hottest spots around the world in 2014 –

8. 2014 was UK’s hottest year on record, says Met Office –

9. Climate deniers lost for words: 2014 set for hottest year on record –

10. Time is running out on climate denial –

Teaching Resources

Visit the National Geographic Education Blog for ideas on discussion activities on the topic.

The NOAA education site from NOAA has resources on teaching about climate with a variety of resources and links on climate measurements and the global temperature record.

2// Brazil’s Drought

At uni my passion was water resources; for my dissertation I investigated the sustainability of water resources for Ashford in Kent following the development of 32,000 new homes in an area that already had to seek alternatives due to water shortages.

This story is really useful for GCSE Geography, particularly Edexcel B. My year 10’s have just finished Battle for the Biosphere and are now moving onto Water World. This story leads on to the next topic perfectly.

In 2014, rainfall in São Paulo and the surrounding south-eastern area had been extremely low, with CEMADEN recording the lowest rainfall on record. The South Eastern region is the most populated area of Brazil, with over 20 million people living in São Paulo alone. The drought has been ongoing for some time but conditions are worsening and the impacts are being felt throughout the city and country. Brazil are looking to experts from overseas to help deal with the consequences of this drought but the issues are rapidly growing.

Lots of interesting articles both on the cause and response to the issue.

1. Reservoir hogs –

2. Brazil drought: Sao Paulo sleepwalking into water crisis –

3. Brazil’s most populous region facing worst drought in 80 years –

4. Sao Paulo’s water supply in ‘critical’ condition as drought bites –

5. ‘Brazil drought is linked to Amazon deforestation’ –

6. Drought hits Brazil’s coffee industry –

7. Brazil drought stokes worries over energy shortages –

8. Drought sees Rio’s main hydro plant turned off –

9. Brazil’s worst drought in history prompts protests and blackouts –

Teaching Resources

Drought in Brazil from Teachit Geography –  A great fact sheet on the drought in Brazil published in march 2014. This could easily be given as background information for a decision making exercise on what the government should do to deal with the issue.

Tutor2U has provided two videos explaining the drought in São Paulo.

Here on the TES are a whole load of resources from my NQT that make up a SOW on Investigating Brazil, why not incorporate this issue in this topic.


Sorry there are only two stories this term, time constraints and all that.

Hope they are of use though.

Mrs Humanities







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Humanities in the News Classroom Display


Some pupils and I have created our Humanities in the News display. We’ve started with a profile on the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the cyclone in India and the discovery of a Viking horde in Scotland.  Great array of reading. I’ve a pupil working on an Ebola piece this weekend and hopefully after the half term a few more articles will role in. I’m hoping this will encourage my learners to take an interest in the news and expand their global knowledge.  I thought it would be a great way to stretch the more able and engage all learners. 

The idea is that the display will be regularly updated as pupils discover and report new stories. All ‘previous’ reports that have done their time will be kept in a file which pupils will have access to for reading and research.

I look forward to many more updates on the board and pupil participation in the project. 

Do you do anything similar?  Would you try it? Tell me your views in the comments.

Mrs Humanities

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Humanities in the News – Edition 2

geography resourcesThe last 2 weeks have been interesting both in school and in the news. Pupils have brought up topics such as the Scottish Referendum independently and we have spent a good 15 minutes or so discussing it. It may not be part of the lesson plan but if it develops their interest in the news I’m all for it. Ofsted may not agree.

1// Scotland voted NO!

Following from Edition 1 the Scottish Referendum had an interesting turn out, 55% of the Scottish population that voted decided they wanted to stay in Great Britain. I honestly thought the Yes vote was going to win.

This however I feel sets a precedent for change and many questions for pupils to consider.

How will this outcome affect future elections? With Alex Salmond stepping down from the SNP, who will take his place? Will the SNP remain as Scotland’s largest party?
Will there be greater devolution of power to enable Scotland to implement what Scotland feels in best for them?
Why did 45% of the population that voted want independence so much?
Will the people of Scotland get along in peace or will there be clashes for years to come?
What does this mean for Wales?

Here are some articles that have been published recently that maybe used for dicussion and debate

1.In Record Turnout Demographics Shape Scotland’s Emphatic No Vote –

2. Politicians ponder Scotland’s future –

3. Salmond to quit after Scots vote No –

4. Cameron pledges devolution revolution after no vote –

5. Police separate rival groups in Glasgow –

6. Queen urges referendum ‘respect’ –

Teaching Resources 

Whilst I haven’t found any resources,  I do like the idea of taking photos from these articles and using them as a discussion point with pupils. Encourage the pupils to consider the story of the image, perhaps get them to match images to headlines.

2// 11 Billion People

A new report estimates that the global population could reach 11 billion by 2100. With rapid population growth, exponential urbanisation, overconsumption and dwindling resources the ability to sustain ourselves presents more and more challenges. I love teaching the topic of population change and the challenges it poses but the exam specifications I feel make it so boring. There’s so much to cram in that its difficult to take the topic off on a (relevant) tangent and really explore the issue. In the past I have enjoyed teaching population to KS3, we’ve had the time to explore the problems of overpopulation and the role of a variety of factors in population change such as industrialisation and ageing populations.

Whilst the following articles do not explore population alone I wanted to include them as they would make interesting talking points in relation to population growth and the issues presented by a growing population.

1.  A World With 11 Billion People? New Population Projections Shatter Earlier Estimates –

2. Humans: the real threat to life on Earth –

3. It’s not overpopulation that causes climate change, it’s overconsumption –

4. We need to develop a new urban agenda – let’s start on World Cities Day –

5. Africa’s Population Will Quadruple by 2100. What Does That Mean for its Cities? –

Teaching Resources

There are so many resources on population and population growth, so many to choose from.

My favourite, the Jelly Baby Population Game. A winner all round. I have adjusted it slightly when I’ve used it but this is the original one I’ve adapted. It works well with all learners from Ks2 to Ks5.

There are a selection of ideas on the National Geographic site – Population 7 Billion. I like the idea of the Pasta Population Map. Might try it at some point.

There are an array of resources on the TES,  I like this lesson on Malthus and Boserup.

3// Explosive Eruption

Last one is short and simple, If you haven’t seen the amazing footage of a sonic boom created by the eruption of Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea, watch this clip. It demonstrates the a sonic boom created by a volcanic eruption. Amazing!

1.  “Holy Smokin’ Toledoes…” Volcano Sonic Boom! –

2. Volcanic Sounds –


Hope it’s useful. Please share with friends and colleagues.


Mrs Humanities



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Humanities in the News – Edition 1

Humanities in the NewsEach week/fortnight I will be picking 3 stories in the news that I find interesting. Sometimes I will share my opinion of it and then provide links that maybe useful or interesting to further outline the story or issue.

Personal readers – links are provided for further reading
Teachers – links are provided for further reading and most of which will  be suitable for use with Secondary school pupils to enable them to create their own understanding and opinions of the stories and issues discussed. I will aim to find teaching resources linked to the stories where possible for use in the classroom.


Here are this weeks top 3 Humanities in the News stories and issues.

1//   The disappointing adventures of  the Bárđarbunga  volcano.

Primarily I’m a geographer, so the possibility of a major eruption comparable to the Laki Fissure eruption of 1783 was quite exciting. However so far (fortunately)  it all appears to be quite calm with little ice melt and therefore little ash expulsion. Phew. Whilst the possibility is exciting the impact of the Laki fissure eruption had little positives for the people of Iceland and Northern Europe yet life was significantly different then and I wonder what would the impacts of a similar eruption be today. How would societies in northern Europe adapt to a sudden change in climate? * What would the economic impact of a comparable eruption be? I imagine the costs of the Eyjafjallajökull would be small in comparison to the potential impacts of an eruption similar to that of the 1783 Laki Fissure eruption.

*yes I am aware that the impact of Tambora and Laki on climate is debated but my degree research made me pretty confident in their influence.

Here are some interesting articles and links related to the recent  Bárđarbunga eruption and volcanoes in Iceland

1 – Iceland issues new Bardarbunga volcano alert

2 – Icelandic Volcano Eruption Leads to Air Travel Warning

3 – Iceland examines Bardarbunga volcano ‘cauldrons’

4 – Global Volcanism Program Background information on Bárđarbunga

5 – Q&A: Why Iceland’s Volcanoes Have Vexed Humans for Centuries –


2// Scotland’s Future

Being a member of the United Kingdom means a lot to me these days. After having taught about the geography of the British Isles and in particular what it means to be British in modern Britain over the last few  years, it has made me appreciate the country I live in. The diversity of our little island is amazing both environmentally and socially. Our country has been influenced by the invasion and migration of multiple groups over the centuries, first we had the Celts and Picts followed later by the Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Then later came the migration of African men, women and children as part of the (thankfully now abolished) Slave Trade in the 1700’s followed by Indian and Irish migrants in the 1800’s. The list goes on…

Our wonderful country is massively influenced by the history of other countries, making it a unique place to be apart of. In my opinion I’d be disappointed if Scotland were to be independent of the rest of the UK. Now I believe strongly in greater devolution of centralised government, giving the power of decision making to local governments and councils that know and understand what is best for their area as opposed to a centralised government makes sense to me and I believe it would benefit Scotland (as well as Wales) far greater than independence.

To find out more check out the following links

1 – Scotland Decides –

2 – Scottish Independence

3 – Yes Campaign

4 -Better Together

5 -Devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

And something different  for you –  Aye Art A collection of posters to encourage the 15% of undecided voters to make a decision

Teaching Resources

Referendum resources

How to teach … the referendum on Scottish independence


3// Thames Estuary Airport

Now the Thames Estuary Airport debate has been going on for sometime. This week a report has been published just days before a final decision was to be made on whether to eliminate the Thames Estuary Airport dubbed ‘Boris Island’ from air travel expansion plans. The report that suggests that a third runway at Heathrow would increase noise pollution and would be a disaster has added fuel to Boris Johnson’s fire for his airport on Boris Island. You can probably tell my opinion on the issue so I won’t bore you with it, however I think it’s an interesting topic when looking at sustainability and conservation.

Last year at the end of a rivers topic my previous pupils looked at the argument for and against the plans for Boris Island, they undertook research and were given the option of creating a piece of work either for or against the creation of Boris Island and the Thames Estuary Airport. Apart from a small handful the class really weren’t interested in nature conservation however following their own independent research they ALL created a piece  against the development of Thames Estuary Airport. Says a lot right?  They were given links to resources to both sides of the argument and they were unanimous in their decision, this really shocked me.

Here are links to help discuss the issue and consider the options

1 – New Thames Estuary airport proposal unveiled

2 – For and Against: Thames Estuary Airport

3 – Thames Estuary Airport

4 – Options for Thames estuary airport expansion

5 -Thames estuary airport plan costly, risky and a potential failure

6 -Thames Estuary airport wildlife move ‘would cost £2bn’

7 – RSPB Thames Estuary

Teaching Resources

The expansion of air travel is a good thing 

 News-based lesson: ‘Boris Island’: time for a new airport?


Please note that the opinions expressed above are solely my opinion and are not written to cause offence, the links I have included are chosen to give readers both sides of any debates. I want to allow you to create your own opinion of the issue. Whilst I am happy for you to disagree with my opinions please do not be rude or offensive if you wish to leave a comment, young people may wish to read this.

That’s all for this week


Mrs Humanities