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School: Presentation Secondary School, Loughboy, Kilkenny.
Teacher: Breda Donohoe.
Class; Transition Years. Mixed Ability.
Subject; Geography.
Periods: Taken on a modular basis, two periods a week.
Rational for the Choice of Subject. This is a subject that is covered in Junior Cert. in a very general, simplified form. It constitutes a larger element in Leaving Cert. Geography and I chose it because of this. Many students will not take Geography at Leaving Cert level, and still do this module. The understanding of earthquakes and plate tectonics is fascinating and of relevance to a student's general knowledge, this is my second reason for covering this subject in my geography module for Transition Years.
Click here for Sample Questions on earthquakes
Click here for answers

Oral introduction to the concept of Plate tectonics. Earthquakes; location, relationship to tectonic plates, damage effect. Examination of two earthquakes in depth. Volcanoes and tsunamis; their relationship to plate tectonics. A study of one volcanic site and one site of tsunamis. Plate tectonics; continental drift, constructive and destructive faults.

Rationale for Topics Chosen. The rationale here is to go from the known, i.e. earthquakes and volcanoes to the unknown. Students will build on their knowledge incrementally and can link knowledge acquired in the classroom to regular news items on the media relating to earthquakes currently happening. Preparation. Since almost all of this module is taught with computers, I have had to start from scratch, rooting out sites and information. The growing pains here were enormous, firstly we did not have any link with the internet for almost two months, expecting it every day. This was a time when I was searching sites at home for information. When we did eventually get linked up to the net, it often did not work, in fact for some further weeks it worked less often than it did work. Now I do not have any trust in it working on the day, and always have a contingency plan before I approach each of the classes. I had lesson plans made out for different sites and have not used them, for that reason. Where possible I have copied the sites on to my hard disk at home, brought them into school and set them up on the server to be used by the class. This has presented its own difficulties, as it is difficult to put diagrams and maps onto floppy disks. All in all this module has taken more of my out of school time, this year than all my other classes put together, and that for two periods a week. On top of this I would have to add the many hours that Jerry O'Dwyer, the I.T. co-ordinator has given to me in this area and to others working on the SIP project.
Method Used. First day I give an oral introduction to Plate Tectonics. Then I present information sites with questions attached. Finally I expect students to do a Powerpoint presentation on what they have learned or take part in a table quiz on the facts researched on each topic.
Class Management. On day one I open the module with an oral presentation on the topic, here I use the desks in the middle of the room. This is the only day I use the desks in the middle of the room. Students ideally work independently on their own computers. If they are stuck at a question I allow them consult with others, after satisfying myself that they have tried. At this stage I know that my questions work.
Desks. If the class were to be smaller next year, i.e. if there were four transition years, I would recommend that there would be fewer tables in the room to allow ease of movement for the teacher. They are useful for classes where the computers are not used, or for part of classes.

Resources; software and websites.
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Encarta
  • Websites
  • Blank World Map

    Click here for lesson plans (there will be web addresses included with these lesson plans where appropriate images can be accessed.)

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