Geography Plan - Scoil Naomh Áine NS

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Geography Plan

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Scoil Naomh Áine, Rathgarogue, New Ross

Geography Plan

This policy outlines the teaching and organisation of Geography at Scoil Naomh Áine, Rathgarogue.
This policy has been drawn up as a result of staff discussion and meetings over a period of time.  The implementation of this policy is the responsibility of all the teaching staff.

Geography is a valued part of the curriculum at Scoil Naomh Áine, Rathgarogue,
as it provides a means of exploring, appreciating and understanding the world in which we live and how it has evolved.  Geography explores the relationship between the Earth and its people.  It promotes environmental awareness and our duty of care to our surroundings.  It gives us an understanding and appreciation of different cultures and peoples of the world and teaches us to respect those differences.
Geography stimulates curiosity and imagination and we aim to build upon the child’s personal geography by developing geographical skills, understanding and knowledge through studying places and themes.
We encourage children to learn by experience.  We value working in the natural school environment, the school garden and school grounds.  We visit other local habitats  - The Church of St. Anne, the old schools, the disused railway,  Kennedy Park, Lacken Woods, as an integral part of the Geography Curriculum.  We recognise that Geography is an integral part of the S.E.S.E programme and as such is never an isolated aspect of it.

We strive to enable each child to reach his/her full potential.  We will create opportunities for the children to learn, to experience and to understand.  Our children will be enabled to acquire geographical knowledge and skills and apply them in everyday life.  As our school is based on a large site we will strive to open the children’s minds to their immediate locality and environment.

The aims of geography are
• To develop knowledge and understanding of local, regional and wider environments and their inter-relationships
• To encourage an understanding and appreciation of the variety of natural and human conditions on the Earth
• To develop empathy with people from diverse environments and an understanding of human interdependence
• To develop the ability to use a range of communicative methods, especially those concerned with the development of graphics (mapping and other non-verbal, non-numerical forms of data presentation)
• To encourage the development of a sense of place and spatial awareness
• To encourage the development of caring attitudes and responsible behaviour towards the environment, and involvement in the identification, discussion, resolution and avoidance of environmental problems
• To develop an understanding of appropriate geographical concepts

Broad Objectives

The broad objectives of Geography are to
• Develop knowledge and understanding of natural and human environments in the locality, region, Ireland, Europe and the world
• Understand some of the natural, social or economic processes which create, sustain or change environments
• Study the impact of environmental conditions on the lives of people in the locality and in other areas, and come to appreciate some of the ways in which humans use, modify or influence their environments
• Engage in active exploration of local and other environments as an intrinsic element of learning
• Acquire the ability to use and understand appropriate investigative methods in the study of natural and human features and phenomena in local and other environments
• Develop a sense of place: an understanding and appreciation of the major characteristics of different places
• Develop a sense of space: an understanding of how natural and human features are located and distributed in local and other environments and how and why they relate to each other
• Develop an appropriate cognitive map of the local area and extend the process to wider geographical settings
• Acquire an ability to understand, develop and use a growing range of plans, maps and globes
• Develop an ability to acquire, analyse and communicate geographical knowledge using a wide variety of sources, including oral, written and graphical forms, models and globes, information technology and other media
• Extend, refine and apply artistic, linguistic and mathematical skills
• Learn that the sharing, responsible use and conservation of the Earth’s natural and human resources are necessary for the continued existence of life
• Develop aesthetic sensitivity to the natural and human elements of the environment and to the repercussions of human actions
• Learn of and come to value the diversity of peoples, cultures and societies in Ireland and throughout the world, acquire an awareness of human interdependence and develop empathy with others
• Use and value creative, innovative thinking in the exploration and/or resolution of human and environmental issues

Curriculum Planning:

Environmental Education
Environmental Education forms an integral and important part of the Geography curriculum.  Within the strands and strand units there are units that lend themselves to developing the children’s knowledge, understanding, concern and care for the environment.
Staff and pupils began working towards the acquisition of the Green Flag in the school year 2007 – 2008 and were subsequently awarded the Green Flag. Subsequently during the school year 2013/2014 we were awarded our second Green Flag for Energy. Our good work in developing an awareness of environmental issues is ongoing and is encouraged and developed in the wider community.

1. Strands and strand units

Each teacher is familiar with the strands and strand units, content objectives for all class levels and there is continuity and progression throughout the school. As a staff we decided on topics to be covered in each class to avoid repetition and overlap. Occasionally a topic may be covered in a certain class informally or at the discretion of the class teacher.

The three strands of the Geography curriculum are:
•  Human Environments,
•  Natural Environments
•  Environmental Awareness and Care.

We are aware that one of the key messages in this Geography Curriculum is that children start developing geographical concepts by exploring their local, immediate environment. In this way, the children get a strong sense and appreciation of their own place. This will be reflected in our teaching at all levels.  
Overview of the Strands and Strand Units for each Class Grouping

Strands → Human Environments
Strand Units ↓
Infant Classes
pp. 17-27 • Living in the local community
First & Second Class
pp. 29-43 • Living in the local community
• People and places in other areas
Third & Fourth Class
pp. 45-61 • People living and working in the local area
• People living and working in a contrasting part of Ireland
• People and other lands
• County, regional and national centres
Fifth & Sixth Class
pp. 63-84. • People living and working in the local area
• People living and working in a contrasting part of Ireland
• People and other lands
• County, regional and national centres
• Trade & development issues

Natural Environments
Strand Units ↓
Infant Classes
• The local natural environment
• Weather
• Planet Earth in space
First and Second class
• The local natural environment
• Weather
• Planet Earth in space
Third and Fourth class
• The local natural environment
• Lands, rivers and seas of my county
• Rocks and soils
• Weather, climate and atmosphere
• Planet Earth in space
Fifth and sixth class
• The local natural environment
• Lands, rivers and seas of my county
• Rocks and soils
• Weather, climate and atmosphere
• Planet Earth in space

Environmental Awareness & Care
Strand Units ↓
Infant classes
• Caring for my locality
First and Second class
• Caring for my locality
Third and Fourth class
• Environmental awareness
• Caring for the environment
Fifth and sixth class
• Environmental awareness
• Caring for the environment

Scoil Naomh Áine Collaboration and continuity

Discussion and agreement by our school staff in relation to the headings on the grid below have  provided an overview of the geography programme throughout the school, in order to promote continuity and progression and minimise unnecessary overlap and duplication.  

Strand Units Content Selected
3rd Class
People living and working in a contrasting part of Ireland                   Co Galway
People and other lands
• 1 location in Europe                                                                              Denmark
• 1 location in other part of world                                                           Egypt
County, regional and national centres                                                     My County(Wexford)
Land, rivers and seas of my county
Natural Environment of Wexford incl Rivers, Seas, mountains
Land, rivers and seas of Ireland                                                               **Counties     **Provinces

4th class Strand Units
People living and working in a contrasting part of Ireland                        Co Kerry
People and other lands
• 1 location in Europe                                                                                  Italy
• 1 location in other part of world                                                                China
County, regional and national centres                                                        Towns and cities
Land, rivers and seas of my county                                            
Human Environment of Wexford incl roads, bridges, towns & railways
Land, rivers and seas of Ireland                                                                   
** Rivers **Lakes

5th class   Strand Units

People living and working in a contrasting part of Ireland                    Communications
People and other lands
• 1 location in Europe                                                                             Britian
• 1 location in other part of world                                                         
Africa/The River Nile
County, regional and national centres                                                   
Irish and European citizen
Trade and development issues                                                               
Story of Chocolate- Fairtrade
Trade or famine  or  Development & Aid
Land, rivers and seas of Ireland                                                              Mountains
Physical features of Europe and the world                                             Countries of Europe

6th class Strand Units

People living and working in a contrasting part of Ireland                     
Fishing, Forestry and Farming
People and other lands
• 1 location in Europe                                                                               France
• 1 location in other part of world                                                            USA
County, regional and national centres                                                      
Focus on people at work
Trade and development issues
Trade or famine  or  Development & Aid                                                The famine
Land, rivers and seas of my county
Land, rivers and seas of Ireland                                                               
Exploring the coast of Bays and headlands
Physical features of Europe and the world                                               Contintents

** We decided as a staff it would be most beneficial to teach the counties and provinces in 3rd class and Rivers and Lakes in 4th Class.

2. Skills and concepts development

• The geographical skills and concepts will developed as work is completed on the strand and strand units listed under each class. The topics to explore in Geography and the knowledge to be acquired by the pupils provide the context within which children will develop geographical skills and concepts.
• The geography curriculum will be taught using activity based learning and self discovery to facilitate the use and development of geographical skills.  The school environment is used exploring a sense a space, as natural environment, for mapping etc.
• The strategies used by each class to develop the child’s skills and concepts development are under the three headings
o A sense of place and space
o Maps, globes and graphical skills
o Geographical investigation skills.

• These strategies used listed in the Curriculum pp. 22-23 Junior & Senior Infants; pp. 34-37 First & Second; pp. 50-53 Third & Fourth, pp. 68-71 Fifth & Sixth

3. Children’s ideas

We use the children’s ideas of place and space and personal knowledge and experiences  as a starting point for all geography activities.
The following strategies are used to find out what the children already know.
• talk and discussion
• questioning
• listening
• problem-solving tasks
• drawings
• KWL charts
• brainstorming
• teacher designed tasks and tests

  Teaching and Learning
In Geography class teachers strive to:
• Design activities which help pupils answer the geographical questions such as:- Where is it?     What is it like?     How has it changed?     Why has it changed?     How will it change next?      What will happen to it?     How might it be better?     What can be done?     How do I feel? What am I learning?
• Share with pupils what they are expected to learn and how to learn it.
• Provide a variety of learning activities that are used regularly including observation, enquiry, investigation, games, puzzles and problem-solving.
• Encourage pupils to critically evaluate information, ideas and different viewpoints.
• Encourage pupils to describe, explain, predict and evaluate geographical patterns, processes and environmental changes.
• Plan for pupils to make and use maps, to research through atlases and globes regularly, in order to locate places being studied and make use of models for exploration.
• Provide plenty of opportunity for pupils to work individually, in pairs and in groups.
• Encourage discussion so that pupils clarify their thinking.
• Provide pupils with regular feedback about their work and about what they need to do next in order to improve and further understand.
• Use assessment, through teacher observation, correction of pupils’ work and the use of focused questions to determine the pupils’ knowledge and understanding, before, during and after units of work.
• Expect pupils to record their work in a variety of ways, including diagrams, illustrations, pictures, letters, posters, annotated drawings and maps, reports and accounts.  As appropriate, pupils make oral presentations of their work.

4. Approaches and methodologies
The following methodologies are used when teaching the geography programme.
o Active learning
o Problem solving
o Developing skills through content
o Talk and discussion
o Co-operative learning
o Use of the environment
o Collaborative learning
o Interviews and surveys
o Fieldwork
o Story
• The teachers use the following  sequence in teaching geography  – local, regional, national, European and global and then reflecting it back to their own location.  
• The following  approaches and methodologies are used in learning about places : photographs,  internet, e mail, artefacts, stories, food, maps, personal experiences, music, clothes, money etc.
• The following approaches and methodologies are used in learning about the environment including fieldwork, exploratory trails, photographs, maps etc
• In Scoil Naomh Áine we have a large yard with many trees and grass areas, which we use for fieldwork including mapping skills, environmental audit, weather station, trails, mini beast hunts etc.
• The approaches and methodologies used to investigate human environments include including  fieldwork, surveys, photographs, artefacts, speakers,  environmental audit  etc
• The approaches and methodologies used to investigate natural environment are fieldwork, trails, photographs etc
• The approaches and methodologies used in learning about other places include use of  artefacts, atlases, globes, interviews, photographs etc
• Mapping skills and mapping concepts are developed as part of the geography programme using local maps, plans, aerial photographs, internet, models etc
• Names of our county, country, Europe, world and globes are displayed in different classes  in the school. Children use individual atlases in fifth and sixth class.

5. Linkage and integration

English- Work in Geography provides opportunities for pupils to apply their language and literacy skills.  In Junior Classes (Infants – Second Class) pupils are expected to extend their technical vocabulary, to talk about what they see and read and communicate this in different ways.  They are expected to look for similarities and differences and engage in finding out answers to questions about where and why. In the Middle and Senior Classes pupils are expected to use technical vocabulary in their oral work, reading and writing.  They are expected to use the index of atlases in order to locate places.  They apply their writing skills in reports and accounts for different audiences.  They read fiction and non-fiction to find out about different places and apply their comprehension skills to drawing inferences and locating information which is particularly relevant to the work in hand.  They use geographical language and draw maps and diagrams to communicate geographical information.

Mathematics- Geography provides an excellent context for mathematical investigations.  In addition, many tasks in geography require numerical skills such as collecting numerical information, data processing, data presentation.  Pupils apply their numerical skills in the use of grid references, scale, distances and bearings in map work and analysis of data.

ICT- ICT is used in various ways to support teaching and motivate children’s learning.  We have interactive whiteboards, visualisers, cameras, computers, laptops and audio-visual equipment.  The Internet is used judiciously to find information, to expand on research and to enhance the learning experience.

Religious Education- Geography provides many rich opportunities for spiritual development, for example, to appreciate the beauty and scale of geographical features of the world in which we live, the influence of natural phenomena on our lives and in the lives of others.

SPHE- Geography contributes significantly to the teaching of social, personal and health education.  Firstly, the subject matter lends itself to raising matters of citizenship and social welfare e.g. children study the way people re-cycle material and how environments are changed for better or for worse.  Secondly, the nature of the subject means that children have the opportunity to take part in debates and discussion.  Geography in our school promotes the concept of positive citizenship.

6. Children with different needs
The Geography lesson is appropriate for most pupils.  Children benefit from participating, watching and listening to other children demonstrating and explaining their ideas. A pupil whose difficulties are severe or complex may need to be supported with peer pairing, extra help from the class teacher or, at times, one-to one with the LSRT Teacher.  More able pupils will have the opportunity to take the research options to a further level, or be given a group leader role with extra responsibility.  Teachers will involve all pupils through differentiation.

7.Equality of participation and access
We are committed to providing a teaching environment conducive to learning.  Each child is valued, respected and challenged regardless of ability, race, gender, religion, social background, culture or disability.

8. Assessment and record keeping
Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning.  Assessment may be based upon teachers’ judgements of pupil attainment and progress.  It is built in to the planning of learning experiences and clearly related to the learning outcomes that are proposed.  Assessment activities will be wide ranging and matched to the pupils’ ability.  It will be differentiated by task or by outcome, through appropriate support and resource provision.
Activities resulting in written or oral work, project material, models, practical fieldwork, role-play, video/audio presentations, factual recall, observations and display work may provide a basis for assessment.  Pupils will be encouraged to evaluate their own work as this is a most beneficial learning progression.

The assessment of pupils’ work will provide information for pupils, teachers and parents:
1. To enable pupils to reflect upon and celebrate achievement.
2. To help plan for progression, continuity and to inform planning for future work of whole classes and individual pupils.
3. To communicate achievement and identify areas for future development to pupils, parents and teachers.
4. To evaluate the effectiveness of teaching and learning

Display of Pupils’ Work
Stimulating and interesting displays of Geography topics covering all abilities and ages will communicate learning processes and celebrate pupils’ achievement. Our notice boards, website and newsletter will often portray the children’s work

Organisational Planning

All our classes are single classes with mixed ability and lessons are planned from the strands and strand units from the Revised Primary School Curriculum for Geography.  Within these lessons there will be a good balance between whole-class work, group teaching and individual practice.

9. Timetable
The time allocated to the teaching of Geography  for Infant Classes is 45 minutes per week and for all other classes, First – Sixth Class one hour per week.  Geography is a cross curricular subject and is integrated with most subjects throughout the day.

10. Resources and ICT

Scoil Naomh Áine uses the many resources in our area, school based resources and artefacts we have purchased for use in the classroom.  Pupils are facilitated to become aware and knowledgeable of the subject area and to explore it in a “hands on” way.  Pupils will also discover how to be active citizens, both in school and at home in relation to each theme of the Geography programme. The Parents Association have donated garden implements and seeds to the school.

Other Resources
Individual teachers keep resources including reference books, globes, maps, photographs and posters in their classrooms which they share with fellow teachers as required.  Each classroom and the learning support room has full internet access and to use many of the recommended websites.

ICT is used in various ways to support teaching and motivate children’s learning.  We use interactive whiteboards, visualisers, software,  cameras, computers, laptops, iPods, flip cameras and the internet (see internet usage policy)  The Internet is used judiciously to find information, to expand on research and to enhance the learning experience.  Ipods are used in each class to research information and for games to improve their geographical skills. Computers are also available in each classroom to aid an support learning.

11. Health and Safety
In their planning of activities, teachers will anticipate likely safety issues.  They will also explain the reasons for safety measures and discuss any implications with the children.  When undertaking Geographical activities, children will always be encouraged to consider safety for themselves, others and the environment and the resources they use.  (See health and safety policy)

12. Individual teacher planning and reporting
Teachers will plan using the whole school Geography plan and the curriculum objectives suited to each class level.  Strands and strand units will be used to create termly schemes of work. A two year plan of work is in place for the senior classes 3rd-6th. Strand units and objectives planned will be listed in fortnightly's and those achieved recorded in Cuntas Miosuils. Integration with other subjects will be taken into account while planning.  

13. Staff development
The Geography curriculum is implemented by the individual class teachers. There is frequent co-operation and sharing of ideas, approaches, methodologies and resources amongst the staff. Teachers are informed via the staff notice board and local Education centre of any upcoming professional development courses in Geography.  

14. Parental involvement/Community links  
We encourage parental involvement in the formation of our school policies.  Draft policies are provided to the parent's Association so parents are given the opportunity to contribute. The Board of Management and the Parents Association are given draft copies of our policies and plans and bring them to the attention of the wider community.  We encourage parental involvement particularly when a parent has a skill or interest they wish to share. Parents help with other aspects of the geography curriculum when they are asked to do so. Occasionally thematic projects and events are facilitated within the school.  Also on occasion members of the community come to the school to share their knowledge and support the schools Geography program.
Success Criteria

We will use the following criteria to assess the success of this plan

How will we know the plan is implemented?
• Our yearly and classroom planning is based on the Whole School Plan
• There is a balance between skills and content
Has the plan achieved its aims?
• Evidence that pupils are engaging in studies at an age-appropriate level.
• Inspectors reports and suggestions.
• Teacher and Parent feedback
• Children feedback

Has the plan prompted the key considerations when implementing the geography programme?
o Integrated themes are being developed, on occasion, across the school, using a whole school approach.
o That the curriculum is spiral and developmental in its structure
o Classes are engaged in outdoor observation and trails of the local environment
o Procedures outlined in this plan are consistently followed throughout the school
o Development of geographical skills throughout the classes.

Roles and Responsibilities
All the teachers are responsible for the implementation of the Geography curriculum in their own classrooms. Teachers will be encouraged to present feedback during reviews of Geography  whole school plan. The plan will be monitored on an ongoing basis by all staff.

We have implemented the plan since May 2006. It was reviewed in 2011 and during a summer course in July 2014 a further review took place. Updates and revisions were made as necessary. All staff were involved in the review of this policy.  Parents’ representatives on the Parents’ Association and the Board of Management will be involved in its continued development and review.

Monitoring & Review
This policy was compiled initially in May 2006, after staff attended in-service training provided by the Department of Education & Science.  It was brought before the Board of Management in May 2006.  It was reviewed again in November / December 2011. During the summer course in July 2014 this policy was reviewed and updated in line with staff changes and current practices in the school

All staff will be  involved in monitoring this Whole School Plan. A further review will take place during the school year of 2016/2017.


Local Resources
BBC Schools  What is weather  
Google maps Fire Station Guided walk in New Ross
Local Woodlands Former schools in Rathgarogue
scoilnet Local Farms Railway house and line
ask about Ireland School Environment Library
Ordinance Survey Kennedy Park/Orienteering Co-op in Ballywilliam
EPA Recycle Centre New Ross Beaches in Duncannon etc
Oxfam Bridges of  Ross/Road signs
Snaith Primary School (See resources listed in Science Plan)
Resources in School

People at Work Posters Research – weather station Folders – Tanzania – Games, artifacts etc
Interactive globe Homes Australia – artifacts + ‘ Wally’s Geography World’
Maps Old railway (local) – Picture       India
Blackboard  with map of Ireland       Antartica
Jigsaws:Counties and Europe Books – Children of world  Wally Geog World – Margaret
1-3 plastic balls with maps  Animals of world  National Geographic  Kids – Sinéad
Old 1950 World Map  Wonders of World              Class Libraries have age appropriate books
400 postcards 1950 to present  Trocaire resources              Folders – Tanzania – Games, artifacts etc
Thermometers Research – weather station
Ordinance survey of area Homes

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