News, resources and support from member associations
Australian Geography Competition: Australian Team win two bronze medals at the 2018 International Geography Olympiad in Quebec City
Congratulations to the four young Australian geography students who represented Australia at the XV International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) held in Quebec City, Canada, from July 31 to August 6. The Olympiad was organised under the auspices of the International Geographical Union (IGU) with the support of Université Laval, North America’s second oldest university.
The four-member Australian team were selected through their outstanding performance in last year’s Australian Geography Competition (AGC) and Geography’s Big Week Out (from left to right): Phoebe Blaxill from St Mary's Anglican Girls' School, WA – bronze medal; Harry Hall from Trinity College (Gawler), SA; Hannah Wright from Walford Anglican School for Girls, SA – bronze medal, and Sophie Ohlin from Sydney Girls High School, NSW. The Australian team was accompanied by two team leaders: Kath Berg, Australian Geography Competition Committee and Liam Sloan, Geography Teachers Association of South Australia. Forty-three countries took part in this highly prestigious one-week international competition with the Romanian team declared the overall winners at this year’s event.
To test the best young geographers in the world, the iGeo programme involves three academic challenges over the course of a week: a written response test, a multimedia test and a fieldwork exercise requiring observation, cartographic representation and geographical analysis. The programme also included poster presentations by teams, a cultural session showcasing Canadian cultures, and visits to Old Quebec (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Forêt Montmorency.
The value of the iGeo experience cannot be underestimated; participating students appreciate not only the opportunity to travel abroad and challenge themselves, but also the experience of meeting and making friends with passionate geography students from all over the world. "The iGeo was a fantastic opportunity not only to learn about geography, hearing from bright minds in the field and undergoing insightful fieldwork, but also to make friends from all around the globe. Being around such a wide variety of international cultures, personalities and languages is a rare event, and because of it the experience was invaluable." said Harry Hall, participating student.
Kath Berg, Australian Team Leader commented that “The iGeo is a prestigious international contest. It inspires active interest in geographical studies among students and contributes to greater intercultural understanding through the friendships developed between students from different countries.” The Australian team has once again scored commendable results. This highlights the strength of Australia's Year 11 and 12 geography curricula in teaching students to think, analyse and interpret information. The role of geography in schools is continuously supported by the Australian Geography Competition. The pre-selection for the four-student team that will represent Australia at the 2019 iGeo in Hong Kong, China, is under way. Sixteen high-achieving Year 11 students from the 2018 Australian Geography Competition will soon be selected to take part in Geography’s Big Week Out, a six-day training/selection event, to be held on Kangaroo Island, South Australia in early October this year.
The participation of the Australian team at the International Geography Olympiad is made possible with the support of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, Australian Geography Competition and with sponsorship of the AGC from Monash University (School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment and School of Social Sciences), Macquarie University (Department of Geography and Planning and Department of Environmental Sciences), and The University of Queensland (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences).
The annual Australian Geography Competition is a joint initiative of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (www.rgsq.org.au) and the Australian Geography Teachers’ Association.
For further information about the Australian Geography Competition and its associated events, iGeo and GBWO, visit http://www.geographycompetition.org.au/.
Australian Geography Competition: Entries open
About the competition
- for students from Year 7 or younger to Year 12
- only $4 per student, with no minimum number of students or other registration fee
- flexible timing from Thursday 17 to Thursday 31 May 2018 to suit school requirements
- achievement certificates for all participating students, special certificates for top 1%, major prizes for highest performing students and schools
- competition entries close on Wednesday 21 March 2018.
- aligned with the Australian Curriculum: Geography
- puts Geography in the spotlight in your school
- based on innovative use of maps and graphics
- includes questions that aim to develop students’ critical thinking
- is easy to administer
- questions address current local and global issues
- provides question booklets that become valuable class-set resources.
Latest issues of Geographical Education
Latest issue of AGTA's Geographia
The October 2017 issue of AGTA's newsletter Geographia is now available. Contents include
- AGTA Membership
- AGTA Conference 2017
- AGTA Conference 2019
- Geography Skills Unlocked Textbook
- The GeoSix and the Bushfire Story
- New resources for teachers: Hunger in a world of plenty
- Affiliate Contribution
- Around the affiliates
AGTA 2017 Conference
A highly successful conference was held during January 2017 at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne. The conference attracted two hundred attendees from all Australian States and Territories as well as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Singapore and New Zealand. A pre-conference tour of western Victoria was one of the highlights as were the full and half-day fieldwork trips. Keynote speakers included Dr Rachel Carey, Professor William Cartwright, Professor David Lambert, Professor Bruce Rasmussen, Dr Michael Solem. Keynote, workshop and field trip presentations are available for download from this website.
New AGTA publication
Geography Literacy Unlocked has been written for secondary geography students seeking to improve their literacy skills. It includes a focus on written, visual and oral literacy.
Geography Literacy Unlocked is published by the Australian Geography Teachers Association and written by Dr Grant Kleeman. One of Australia’s leading geography educators.
- An engaging, easy-to-navigate design
- A student-friendly approach featuring step-by-step explanations and annotated exemplars
- A focus on the basics of effective written communication – spelling, punctuation, tense and the use of connectives
- Descriptions of the principal text types used in geography, supported by annotated examples
- Guidance for writers in quoting, paraphrasing, summarising and referencing the work of others
- A focus on the responsible use of social media
- A comprehensive coverage of the principal forms of visual and oral texts students encounter in geography
- Templates or scaffolds to support the interpretative skills students are expected to demonstrate.
Geographer awarded Order of Australia (AM) in Queen's Birthday Day Honours
Associate Professor Alaric Maude has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2017 Queen's Birthday honours. The AGTA Board congratulates Alaric on receiving this award which recognises his significant service to education in the field of Geography as an academic, researcher, author, and mentor. Alaric made a notable contribution to the development of the Australian Curriculum: Geography as a Lead Writer and Writing Coach. He has authored an impressive list of peer reviewed papers and numerous books as well as having provided presentations at national and State Geography conferences.
Evidence for learning and feedback resources
Effective feedback practice is shown to increase student progress by as much as an extra eight months over a year. AITSL in partnership with Evidence for Learning have developed new materials to support teachers and school leaders to enhance feedback practices with students in their context.
The resources draw upon global evidence and research-based approaches, including from AITSL’s own Board Chair and world-renowned education researcher, Professor John Hattie. The suite of materials is free to access from the AITSL website and includes the following:
- A spotlight research summary – Reframing feedback to improve teaching and learning – to describe the underpinning research on effective feedback.
- Written and video case studies that profile effective implementation of feedback within Australian schools.
- Implementation resources, such as a readiness check, planning overview and an introductory presentation, to help schools introduce an effective feedback strategy.
The AGTA Board met in Sydney in October 2016 for the biannual meeting and AGM.
There were some significant changes to the Executive. In a changing of the guard, Grant Kleeman completed his term as President and was replaced by Trish Douglas. As such, Malcolm McInerney also completed his term as Immediate Past Chair. AGTA would like to formally express their thanks to both Grant and Malcolm for their outstanding leadership and support of the organisation and for the teaching of Geography in Australia.
The AGTA Board Executive 2016-17:
Chair:Trish Douglas (VIC)
Deputy chair: Darryl Mitchie (WA)
Secretary: Susan Caldis (NSW)
Treasurer & Immediate Past Chair: Dr. Grant Kleeman (NSW)
National Committee for Geography
National Committee for Geography has made more progress on the Decadal plan for geography. It has been decided to develop a program called Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences. This will assist in explaining the role of geography to policy makers and decisions maker. This will include the development of an educative document organised around the Federal Government list of the five main focuses for strategic research to be delivered by March 2016. Working parties will be formed to investigate and report on these five strands:
- Living in a changing environment
- Promoting population health and well being
- Managing our food and water assets
- Securing Australia’s place in a changing world
- Lifting productivity and economic growth
All of these have explicit links to geographical research and the importance of geographical knowledge in the classroom. There will be a sixth working party focussing on school geography and developing support for the foundational nature of Geography and the fundamental need for compulsory Geography F-10 in schools. More information is available on the Geographical Sciences — Australian Academy of Science website. AGTA has supported this initiative by contribution to the seeding funding to begin the project. Look out for opportunities to get involved.
Have you developed an exciting new teaching resource? As the conference program begins to take shape don’t forget about the AGTA awards. The entry details will be added to the website soon. Bookmark this link for further information.
AGTA has been active in the provision of PL opportunities for a range of teachers across the whole country. Contact your local GTA for information about upcoming events. Also look out for exciting new opportunities in 2016. AGTA continues to fund experts to attend workshops and forums in different locations where a need has been identified. If you would like more information about this please contact AGTA via this link to see if we can help.
Membership of AGTA: as of the last board meeting in October with a new constitution; AGTA now has 15 directors. These consist of two directors from each member affiliate, one being the President of the Affiliate Association and the other being nominated by the affiliate. Individuals can only make representation to AGTA and connect with your local associations. New South Wales Northern Territory Queensland South Australia Tasmania Victoria Western Australia through their association to bring issues to the national attention. AGTA exists as a national body representing the interests of Geography Teachers across Australia. If you have an issue that you believe would merit national attention you can raise it through your local state Geography Association. You can inquire about membership. In addition AGTA have a range of resources available to support the teaching of Geography and they can be investigated here. AGTA continues to support the work of the AAAE as a peak body representing Education Associations. They are an active group and have produced several positions papers on a range of contemporary issues in education which are useful professional reading. AGTA has developed an Action Plan:
- Posters - development of a new set of classroom posters. These will be available for purchase from Affiliates and directly from AGTA
- AGTA Roadshow — further implementation of the travelling roadshow to support the implementation of geography in the classroom. The aim is to offer the roadshow in each state as many times as required
- Textbook - AGTA is seeking to produce a text book to support the implementation of the AC:Geography. This will help support the development of the key skills and inquiry methodology.
- Brochure - the development of a reproducible resource for use in schools advocating for the range of careers that the study of Geography can support. Useful in subject counselling and careers events. √ Work with RGSQ regarding the Geography competition in order to further develop the project and to initiate a primary school version.
- Response to HASS — AGTA has already developed a response to the AC: Geography review and is continuing to respond to the push for a single HASS curriculum. The AGTA Board will monitor and respond to further developments.
Tim Costello to continue as AGTA Patron
AGTA is delighted to announce that Tim Costello AO has agreed to continue in the role of patron. Tim has a long standing interest in the promotion of geography as a key part of the curriculum in developing active citizens who are willing to strive against inequality in any level. You can read more about Tim here along with some of the articles he has contributed in support of geography.
Don Biddle Award — Wayne Sutton
The Don Biddle Friend of Geography Award is named in honour of the founding president of AGTA, Dr Don Biddle. The Award is made by the AGTA Board based on the recommendation of a selection committee comprising three members of the Board. Current serving members of the AGTA Board are not eligible to receive the award. It was awarded posthumously to Wayne Sutton in recognition of the enormous contribution he made to AGTA and to the consolidation of geography within Tasmania.
Review of the Australian Curriculum
The newly elected federal government announced a comprehensive review of the curriculum to be held that would hear all submissions and report back by the middle of the year. AGTA developed a response document on behalf of all affiliates and Grant Kleeman was asked to appear before the review body to present this document and answer any questions.
The review panel had very specific areas of focus – the curriculum development process and potential bias and the applicability of the cross curriculum priorities. The review panel did not appear to have closely read any of the submissions.
AGTA was given a series of questions to respond to focussed on the process of the curriculum development. AGTA highlighted the role that state jurisdictions ended up having especially with regard to specific agendas. Also raised the issue of multiple hats – writer, reviewer, adviser, and jurisdiction representative could be the same person and this did impact on how the curriculum was developed. AGTA supported the notion that the relationship between AGTA and ACARA was supportive and was only superseded in the final moths where the pressure of the timeline took over.
The most likely outcome appears to be that recommendations are made to strip back the AC to a very basic and general series of core content statements – with contextual information, priorities or competencies left to the jurisdictions. On behalf of AGTA Grant Kleeman lobbied for more geography teachers to be trained. More information will be available here.
AAAE Founding Membership
AGTA is proud to be a founding member of the newly formed AAAE.
AAAE is a body specifically formed to represent the interests of teacher professional associations at a national level. There are 23 founding member associations, and the AAAE will be able to lobby at a federal level on issues affecting teachers and their professional practice. More information will be available later in the year but in the meantime checkout the website for further details.
Decadal plan for Geography
This is a new initiative by the Academy of Sciences to work on a long term plan for the development of Geography as an academic discipline with strong and real connections to developing the key skills needed in the 21st Century.
AGTA is keen to be partner in this as a major player in the teaching and development of geography in schools. There will be some funding available for affiliates to get involved in the process and to ensure that school based geography remains a major focus for the work. An example of a decadal plan for space science can be viewed here.
National Geography Competition
The RGSQ continues to offer the National Geography Competition for schools and students and in 2014 over 70 000 students took part.
It is a great opportunity to inspire your students and to identify high achievers at your school. Winners of the competition can also be invited to join the Geography at your school. Winners of the competition can also be invited to join the Geography Olympiad team. The Olympiad team represents Australia in 2014 at the international competition to be held in Krakow, Poland.
Further details about the National Geography Competition are available here.
The GeogSpace website developed by AGTA and Education Services Australia (ESA) is now live. AGTA thanks all members of the writing and development teams for their outstanding contributions to this resource which will support the teaching of the Australian Curriculum: Geography. AGTA will be running special professional learning programs to support teachers in their use of this wonderful new resource. Further information about these programs can be obtained from AGTA Chair Malcolm McInerney.
Australian Geography Competition
The Australian Geography Competition is an initiative of AGTA and the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (RGSQ) and is proudly sponsored by National Geographic Channel.
High-scoring students are announced in early May and the results distributed to schools at the end of May. Australia’s team to the next National Geographic World Championship is chosen from this Final. Our team to the International Geography Olympiad is selected from high-scoring students in the Competition’s senior division.
The GeogSpace project team has been hard at work throughout the second half of 2012 writing resource units for this project which is being undertaken with Education Services Australia (ESA).
AITSL llustrations of practice
AGTA has completed three Illustrations of practice to be published by Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). At present one of these titled Sustainable cities has been added to the AITSL website. It is expected that the two dynamic illustrations will follow shortly.
Australian Curriculum: Geography
The draft geography F-12 Australian Curriculum: Geography went live on-line for consultation in October 2011 and is available for feedback until 28 February 2012. If you want to have a look at the draft scope and sequence for geography just go to http://consultation.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ and log-in. The draft includes the Rationale, Aims, Concept definitions, General Capabilities and Cross Curriculum priorities for geography, F-12 content descriptions, elaborations, skills and inquiry sequences and achievement standards.
Well done to all involved - quite an achievement to finally have a draft curriculum public and ready for feedback. ACARA looks forward to being overwhelmed in commentary from geography teachers around Australia. Don’t hesitate to make your points heard.
True Blue Geography
‘True Blue Geography’, is an Op-Ed article from Bill Pritchard and Nick Hutchinson
Geography teaching positions
Looking for a Geography teaching position? Register your profile at this website and schools looking for a teacher with your qualifications and/or experience may contact you. Alternatively, you can search the online databases for positions currently available.
Sprol is a blog dedicated to pulling sweet images off of GoogleEarth, and using the images to motivate interesting (and often very public-health-relevant) stories about the environment. In their own words, “sprol shows the visual macroscopic effects of the decisions and behavior of our society
Spatial education resources
A collection of free GIS classroom activity templates for use with ArcGIS or other GIS software can be accessed here.
Professional standards for accomplished teaching school geography
AGTA was a partner, along with Melbourne University, the GTA V and VIT, in a project to develop professional standards for teaching school geography. The national Professional Standards for Accomplished Teaching of School Geography are designed to describe a continuum of capabilities and expectations appropriate to the Australian teaching profession at four levels; graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead teacher.
Teachers are advised that Destination Spatial is a newly created education sub-committee which includes representatives from the spatial industries, tertiary institutions and subject associations, including the GTAV and Careers Teachers association. Careers in the spatial industry are underpinned by Geography and offer a number of opportunities in Australia and overseas with excellent wages and future prospects.
National Regional Profiles: The One Stop Shop for data about a geographic area
National Regional Profiles (NRP) available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website provide ‘snapshots’ for over 2,000 regions across Australia. The profiles contain a range of data from both the ABS and other sources, for geographic areas such as Local Government Areas, Statistical Local Areas up to States and Territories. The data are presented for a number of years (2004-2008) where it is available, and therefore provides the opportunity to compare regions over time. The National Regional Profiles are found on the left hand navigation bar of the home page of the ABS website.