GeoCapabilities 3 Case Study Lesson Planning

Lesson Planning with curriculum artefacts

Moving from vignettes writing to lesson planning and then to teaching, teachers found the notion of a curriculum artefact to be a helpful tool. The sources used in vignette writing were often used in the classroom, so becoming the key curriculum artefact.

The deliberation of the special meaning (the additional educational value) of the curriculum artefacts is a key step to developing specific aims for the lesson/educational activity. This deliberation – moving from vignettes of geographical thinking to classroom activity – is a part of how geography is recontextualised by the teacher.

The artefacts played a significant role in most of the lessons taught by associate teachers. They were used as evidence and data for discussion and dialogue with students, helping them to evaluate how far the geography in the vignette stage, was learned by pupils.

The complex use of vignettes and artefacts to teach migration with social justice in mind reflects all five of Maude’s (2016) PDK typology. Being aware of the Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge (PDK) types, teachers reflected on their own knowledge and thinking about geographies of migration. Maude’s typology is a tool to help teachers to think about PDK (including to select the relevant PDK to be taught) and, structuring the development of that geographical content in lessons.

Download an example lesson plan (in French)

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The teachers enabled students to access a range of different knowledge, including ‘knowing that’ and ‘knowing how’. For example, teachers planned to equip students with ways of data analysis, different perspectives of the issues, interconnectedness of the problems, geographical concepts, regional and global knowledge, and vocabulary. Moreover, students began to follow and participate in relevant debates, to examine and reflect on the decisions made by other people, to consider the ethics of policing and managing migration movements. In some cases, students began to identify choices in their lives.


The process of vignette creation was often not simple nor smooth, especially for teachers who may be out of the habit of challenging themselves with deep geographical thinking. Therefore, almost all associate teachers emphasised the importance of meetings, discussions, sharing possibilities and collaborative work with colleagues (academic geographers, geography educators, geography teachers). Specifically, they mentioned that meetings with academic experts on migration helped them to better understand (and subsequently to responsibly select and better teach) key concepts of migration. Through dialogue, teachers often used new language or familiar concepts, but in more nuanced ways.

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Discussions with geography educators helped teachers to start thinking critically about their teaching. Collaborative work in a supportive atmosphere (in national and sometimes international groups of teachers) helped the teachers to become familiar with the process of vignette writing and the critical geographical thinking. This collaboration helped them create their own vignettes.

Moreover, teachers very much appreciated being able to share their experiences, discuss lesson plans, jointly evaluate lessons, and discuss teaching and learning challenges with other teachers and geography educators.

The last, but very important, finding was that collaboration boosts innovative thinking. A systematic and long-term collaboration provides teachers with a welcome support to continue thinking and teaching in innovative ways, even when this means initial failures to learn from. Collaboration is itself a very important tool that enables teachers’ own geographical thinking and innovative teaching.