Adapting the Star Grid to study a locality
This article first appeared in MAPE Focus on Communications
The Star Grid
(http://www.vtc.ngfl.gov.uk/resource/cits/primary/ownership.html#star) can be modified to
serve as a planning tool for any piece of research. This usually involves rethinking the
prompts in some of the boxes, in particular where the information may be found and how it
will be used.
The prompts here are tailored to the study of a locality, either in the United Kingdom
1. What do I already know about this locality?
As usual, this is the best starting point for the research. Brainstorming as a whole
class or large group generates the most ideas here. This knowledge is almost always
greater than first assumed. For example all I could claim to know about Brixham is that it
is a coastal town in the West Country. But, on reflection I do have some general knowledge
of the characteristics of coastal towns (beach, fishing port, cliffs) and a few
preconceived ideas about the West Country (tourism, climate, access problems). By
combining this existing knowledge I am able to formulate some sensible questions.
2. What do I want to find out?
Of course the nature of the questions will depend on my purpose for studying the
locality. If I am contemplating a holiday in Brixham I need to know:
- Where is the place and how do I get there?
- What is the beach like -- sand or shingle? Busy or quiet?
- What is there to do -- cruises? Water sports?
- What is there to do on rainy days?
- Will there be constant traffic jams if we try to go for days out?
- What kind of accommodation is available -- caravans? Hotels? Camping?
However if I am contemplating setting up a business in Brixham I shall need quite
- What is the population? How many old people? How many youngsters?
- What are the employment levels in the area?
- How accessible is the location by road or rail?
- What other industries/businesses are situated there?
And if I am thinking of moving to live in the area I need to know
- What housing is available and at what price?
- What are the shopping facilities like?
- Are there good local schools? doctors? hospitals?
- What is there to do out of season?
- Are there interesting places to walk my dog?
3. What will I do with the information?
In studying any location children must establish at the outset what they plan to do
with the information once it has been collected. This involves thinking about audience,
materials and product.
The following five suggestions could be used for a study of any locality.
- Make a poster to advertise a holiday there.
- Prepare a verbal report to staff and governors at your school explaining the advantages
and disadvantages of using the location for a residential school visit.
- Write a letter to the Chairman of a fast food restaurant evaluating the location as a
potential site for a new outlet.
- Draw up a comparison chart comparing the locality with your own home to help your family
decide whether to move there to live.
- Produce an annotated picture map for tourists/ holidaymakers.
4.Where will find the information?
In addition to the usual reference materials, try:
- atlases (for far flung places)
- road maps (for places in Britain)
- local libraries (telephone if you cannot visit)
- local tourist offices (send for pamphlets or information sheets)
- travel agents
- embassies of foreign countries
- local schools (email or write letters)
- visiting the locality and talking to local people.
5. How will I gather the information?
- The important issue here is to develop strategies for note taking or collecting data
which will move children away from simply copying text verbatim. Highlighting or
underlining key words or crossing out irrelevant material on photocopies or printouts is a
good starting strategy, as is the production of a chart or table of data. It helps if the
output is very different from the information source.
The value of the Star Grid is that it is a planning tool applicable to a wide range of
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