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About the project

Making My Place in the World was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and aimed to help students develop speaking and listening skills and geographical knowledge by exploring their local area, supported by two community geographers John Lyon (Geographical Association) and Sue Bermingham (Manchester Metropolitan University).

It built on GA projects including Where Will I Live, Making Geography Happen, Young People’s Geographies and Living Geography which endeavoured to make school geography directly relevant to young people’s lives. The project evaluator was Geoff Bright (Manchester Metropolitan University).

Project summary

The overarching aim of the project was to help young people develop their speaking and listening skills within a geographical context. It explored how young people see their world and how they talk about their places. They looked at who manages and controls the way places change over time and how, through their actions, they themselves may have impacts on the local area.

It also encouraged students to play a part in shaping their community as active citizens by promoting conversations about the places in which they live. Through these conversations, students developed their speaking and listening skills, increased their knowledge of the local area and developed confidence, self-esteem and awareness of themselves as participants and agents of influence in the world.

Activities and fieldwork

Each school interpreted the project in their own way, however all students engaged in a number of starter activities to get them talking about their local areas and their hopes for the future. This discourse enabled us all to find out how sophisticated their vocabularies were. The activities included value lines, active listening, photo and map tasks and word circles.

In one school the students went on two guided walks around the local area – one which was planned by their teachers and another in which they planned the route entirely and, using their local expertise, became the guides to showcase their selected areas of importance.

Resources and activities used before, during and after the fieldwork included eight way thinking, doorstep geography, globingo, frames, maps and photographs. They also used smartphones, video cameras and iPads during their walks.

Virtual fieldwork

Two schools took part in a virtual fieldwork experience set in two different areas of Sheffield. The aim was to get the students thinking about change and local planning officials got involved in the project to talk to them about the past and future of these parts of the city.

Prior to the exercise the project leaders created Google maps which included photographs, podcasts and historical imagery that the students could use together with Streetview to explore the areas. After the virtual fieldwork the students were taken to visit the sites where they were given tracking devices and cameras to record their investigations.

Outcomes

Many of the activities and resources from the project are now available on this website together with summary reports from the schools involved.

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