Thursday, February 6, 2014

Observation skills from the air

 Image above: Oblique aerial photograph of West Lakes, Adelaide.

Related links to Spatialworlds 
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

Where am I??  
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Observation as a skill when using oblique aerial photographs

Observation and questioning are important skills in the Australian Curriculum: Geography. Geographical Skills are described in the curriculum under five sub-headings representing the stages of a complete inquiry. Observing and questioning are highlighted as the first stage of inquiry.  

The ACARA site says that:

"Teachers could, for example, provide students with data to represent or analyse rather than have them collect the information themselves. Many inquiries should start from the observations, questions and curiosity of students. Inquiry will progressively move from more teacher-centred to more student-centred as students develop cognitive abilities and gain experience with the process and methods across the years of schooling."

This posting is dedicated to the potential of oblique aerial photographs as a resource to stimulate geographical questioning. In my class I have been using a set of photographs I have snapped out of planes (geography teachers love window seats!) in recent years, asking students to tell me what they see? It is fascinating what they talk about and the activity gives me an opportunity to turn a photograph out of a plane into a geographical discussion early in the course.

Here is a selection of the photographs I use for your interest and use if you wish (just increase size by double clicking on the image and then right mouse click to 'Copy Image' or 'Save As Image' as a JPEG). They range from suburban, coastal, rural, mountain to urban.

When I present the oblique aerial photographs to the students I ask them to:

*Firstly, try to describe all the natural and cultural features evident in the photography.  

*Secondary, look to see if you can see any patterns, distributions, trends in the features you have described in the photography

* Finally, try to explain why things are where they are - the 'why of the where' of geography

 Image 1:  Adelaide CBD

 Image 2: Snow covered mountains somewhere over Italy

 Image 3: Suburban Adelaide landuse

 Image 4: Farmland on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia  

 Image 5: Suburban Perth

 Image 6: Coastal engineering, south of Rome

 Image 7: Coastal South Australia

 Image 8: Sydney CBD

Image 9: Glenelg, South Australia

Image 10: New York