Geography » GCSE

How to Tutor Geography GCSE

Posted 4 days ago by Alice Farrell

Geography is one of the most popular subjects for GCSE students. This is due in part to the breadth of topics studied. From climate change to urban environments, Geography GCSE aims to equip students with the tools and knowledge necessary to tackle some of society’s most pressing problems. Yet, Geography’s disciplinary diversity is both a strength and a weakness. Students can quickly become overwhelmed when faced with such a wide range of topics.

I see my role as a tutor as not only helping students to improve their knowledge, but also showing them the value of taking a geographical approach to understanding the world.

Preparing for your first tutorial

Start by finding out what exam board your student is with; Geography GCSE can be very varied so it’s important to make sure you’re teaching the right syllabus. Some schools won’t teach all the modules within a course but will instead focus on specific topics. Make sure you ask your student which modules they’ve studied and which case study material they’re familiar with.

Next, talk to your students about what aspects of geography they like and dislike. Find out the reasons for these preferences and think about how you might adjust your teaching accordingly. For example, if they don’t like learning about weather and climate because they find it hard to grasp the scientific concepts, then think about other ways you can make these ideas more tangible and digestible, perhaps using diagrams or real-world examples.

It’s also important to get a clear idea of your student’s ability so you can pitch your sessions accordingly. Ask them about their marks in recent tests or homework, and go through some practice questions or a past paper.

Finally, set aside some time to find out what your student wants to get out of their sessions, and use this to plan for future lessons and set achievable goals.

FAQs

There are so many case studies. How can I remember them all?

One of the biggest challenges students face when studying GCSE geography is the sheer volume of case study material they need to learn. The key is to marry up case studies with conceptual information throughout your teaching. This way, students are exposed to case studies early on, and find it easier to understand the key theories and concepts. For example, if your student is studying globalization, don’t just focus on abstract concepts, definitions and theories, but think about how they can be revealed through a case study about China or India. Similarly, if you’re looking at coastal erosion, don’t just go through long-winded explanations about hydraulic action, but think about a recent example of coastal erosion in the UK.

One of the biggest challenges students face when studying GCSE geography is the sheer volume of case study material they need to learn. The key is to marry up case studies with conceptual information throughout your teaching.

When preparing for exams, the trick is to make case studies as ‘mobile’ as possible so that they can be used to answer a range of different questions. Encourage students to condense their case study information into a paragraph or less. Flashcards, mind-maps, or websites like ‘memrise’ are all useful in helping students memorise case study material before an exam.

I’m only interested in Human/Physical Geography. Why do I have to study both?

This is a common question from GCSE students. Whilst some exam boards allow some module choice, the reality is that students will have to study both physical and human geography at some point during their course. Explain the value of studying geography as an integrated discipline. You might like to discuss issues like climate change, hazard management, and resource depletion, all of which can only be fully understood with reference to their human and physical dimensions. More broadly, think about how you integrate the two parts of the discipline in all of your teaching. This way, students don’t have to spend too long studying the part they don’t like in isolation.

I’m okay at the core concepts paper, but I find the skills/techniques exam really difficult”

Most GCSE courses require students to take a geographical skills or methods paper alongside the core content paper. This part of the exam is often neglected in schools but can actually prove an opportune way for students to improve their grade. The trick here is to include some skills training throughout all your sessions. I’ve found that it works well to marry up parts of the skills paper to different parts of the core course. This might involve teaching OS maps alongside river environments, frequency diagrams during transport topics, and choropleth maps during population modules. I’d recommend going through at least one technique question each session. This shouldn’t take more than five minutes and means they won’t come as too much of a shock when it gets to the exam.

Resources

GCSE

Green Field Geography contains a wealth of resources relevant for both human and physical geography. Although geared towards the ‘Cambridge iGCSE’ course, the material is broadly relevant to most specifications.

GeographyPods contains a range of teaching and learning resources for students aged 11–18. The website includes detailed lesson plans which can be given as homework activities or used to structure your sessions.

Geography all the way is a subscription service which provides teaching and learning materials for students studying GCSE Geography. For a small fee you can access a range of worksheets, lesson plans and visual resources which can be set as homework or used as part of your teaching.

Encourage your students to keep up-to-date with the news and current affairs to ensure that their case study material is topical and relevant. Recommend that they regularly read a broadsheet newspaper/magazine like The Guardian or The Economist. YouTube, iTunes-U and the Apple Podcast app also contain a wealth of audio and visual resources that students might find useful.

Encourage your students to keep up-to-date with the news and current affairs to ensure that their case study material is topical and relevant.

Why I love tutoring Geography

I love teaching geography because I really do believe in the value of a geographical approach as a way of understanding and analysing the world. Geography is so broad that it invariably contains something for everyone and I love to see students find their niche and develop a passion for the subject.

Written by - Alex Manby

Alex Manby graduated with a 1st in Geography from St John’s, Oxford, and is now studying for a masters in Geopolitics at Royal Holloway.

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