If you are keen to engage and extend pupils in geography, outside of the constraints of the curriculum, then you may be considering setting up an extra-curricular geography club, or ‘GeogSoc’, as it is known at my school. I read recently that heads of university admissions are placing more value on extra-curricular activities than they did ten years ago, as predicted grades are not always reliable. Whilst this may not have been the incentive for my Year 7 members to have joined Geography Club, it is a great way for them to channel their passion, as well as raising the profile of your department.
Here are my 5 top tips for running a successful club:
- Attend the local WorldWise Quiz. September is the best time to set up your club, not just because it is the beginning of the school year, but because the local round of the Geographical Association’s WorldWise Quiz will be taking place in your area in the autumn term. This is an excellent way to create a strong base of interested pupils. We spend the first few weeks of ‘GeogSoc’ completing the past quizzes (available on the WorldWise website) and running qualification rounds. This is easy to prepare and enthusiastic pupils will love demonstrating their varied geographical knowledge.
- Engage the assistance of keen sixth formers. It is useful to find some helpers who are looking to study geography at university. My sixth formers sometimes deliver the club and run activities, all of which looks great on their UCAS application form.
- Play geographical games. It’s important for the club not to be extra work for pupils. Every few weeks, we play games involving atlases or capital cities. For example, my pupils have found ‘the country with the most borders’, ‘countries with only one border’, ‘biggest countries’, ‘smallest countries’, and ‘countries beginning with certain letters’. We particularly like the capital city game where pupils stand in a circle and each take it in turns to ask the person to their left what the capital of a country is. If the person to their left answers correctly, the first person is out. However, if the person gets it wrong, as long as the first person knows the correct answer, the second person is out. We go around the circle until there is just one person left!
- Play Kahoot! One of my favourite activities is a quiz website called Kahoot. It involves students playing along to a quiz shown on the whiteboard using their smartphones. You log on to getakahoot.com and select a quiz. The pupils log on to kahoot.it, enter the game pin for your quiz, and play along. You can make your own personalized quizzes easily, but if you are short on time, there are thousands of quizzes already on there to choose from.
- Find some special guests. Whilst it might be hard to enlist the help of external speakers, use the talent already in your school. This is particularly good if you have a large department and I have invited the other geography teachers along as ‘special guests’ to give a short talk on their geographical specialism.
GeogSoc is one of my favourite times of the week. It is great to engage with a group of enthusiastic and interested pupils and introduce them to elements of geography that they would otherwise not experience. Do you run a geography club? If so, let me know what activities have worked for you.
Rebecca Priest is a Geography Teacher at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham. She is currently studying for a MA in Geography Education at the Institute of Education and presented a session on ISM at the GA’s 2015 Annual Conference.