Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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A Spiraling Curriculum?

Now this post is just about thinking aloud, sharing my thoughts and ideas. Nothing is set in stone and apart from initial ideas discussed on a recent course with one colleague, nothing has been discussed with the rest of the team. So this post may or may not make much sense, but I’d love your ideas and feedback.

I first started to consider the spiral curriculum model when my last school introduced mastery as a way of assessing student progress, although the approach didn’t quite work it made me aware of it. Later when I went to a CPD course on Developing the More Able, it cropped up again and it quickly got me thinking about how to incorporate such an approach. Unfortunately due to the system in place, it wasn’t possible to implement. However the concept has stuck in my mind.

More recently I was inspired to look at it again whilst on an IB Diploma Geography course, despite not being related to Key Stage 3, it got me thinking.

So what is a spiral curriculum? 

The ideas was first developed by J.Bruner and essentially involves the return to topics and concepts over time. Learning is essential spread out and material is revisited repeatedly with development and progression on the initial learning. Each time a topic, skill or concept is revisited new details are introduced and the complexity of thinking develops whilst at the same time the basics are reemphasized until mastery is achieved.

 

 

How is progression achieved?

Progression is approached through the development of the same concepts and skills but each time with increasing complexity and sophistication. Not only is the breadth of knowledge developed so is the depth as learning takes places.

Progression is therefore not only vertical through increasing complexity but also horizontal as the range of knowledge and application of understanding develops.

 

My Plan

So the school I’m currently teaching at covers the IB Middle Years Programme at years 7, 8 and 9. Students then undertake GCSEs and return to the IB at Key Stage 5.

Before starting I knew very little about the IB programme, but amazingly so much of it fits with my approach to teaching. Anyway whilst away on the IBDP course my mind started whirling and I was inspired as to how a spiral curriculum can be developed through an inquiry approach.

Firstly my thoughts started with teaching by country/region/continent.

regions

Next step was deciding on reoccurring themes. What’s important to geographical knowledge? I’ve considered these 6 themes to be of most relevance to our students and the world in which they are growing up. In addition I considered what knowledge in particular would be required for GCSE and IBDP Geography – or A levels if students choose a different route. What do you think? Suitable as reoccurring themes?

themes

I want themes that are applicable to students and their life long learning of geography and/or humanities.

 

Then my favourite part was deciding on core topics to run through each country/region/continent of study.

topics

Next I need to make the topics and content relate to the MYP assessment criteria, key concepts for Individuals and Societies and related concepts for geography.

content

Surprisingly it was a lot easier than I had anticipated, I must be getting the hang of all they MYP terminology malarkey.

So the idea is that for each region students will develop their knowledge and understanding of the reoccurring themes through inquiry into the core topic/s for each country, region or continent of study.

Whilst the units are split into countries, region or continent slowly but surely the topics will start to make comparisons with other countries. For instance whilst looking at the tectonic landscape of Iceland, not only will students look at the impact of eruptions there they will make comparisons with an LEDC such as Montserrat.

With each unit, the students will develop their skills and understanding in relation to the reoccurring themes and their application of their knowledge. For instance in year 7, students may create graphs to show the population size of a selection of European countries, then when looking at the UK start to look at population density and describe patterns with evidence. By Iceland they will be able to use the population density maps and describe and explain the trends shown. Initially being scaffolded in the process so that by the time they come to producing an inquiry on a country of their choice in year 9, they would have mastered the skills in preparation for GCSE and will be able to carry them out independently.

My ideas for monitoring progression are as follows

  1. Formative assessment of the reoccurring topics which students will cover in each unit will be assessed on shared success criteria for the bands entering, developing, secure and mastered. A target will be set which will be returned to the next time they covered the reoccurring theme.
  2. For each unit there will be an assessed piece of work related to the learning taking place in relation to the core theme of the unit. These will relate to the MYP assessment criterion.

Here are my ideas so far…

assessments

Okay so these are my initial ideas. They are just my thoughts and ideas, nothing set in stone yet. What do you think? Could it work? Anything you would suggest?

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Resource: Revision Knowledge Organisers for Environmental Systems and Societies

This academic year I started teaching the International Baccalaureate Diploma course – Environmental Systems and Societies. It’s a course that I was completely new to but I love it. I started making revision knowledge organisers for my year 13 students to support their revision. topic-1

It’s not the type of Knowledge Organiser that are doing the rounds at the moment where all of the information is already present for the student to learn from, but instead it is a way for students to recap and organise their knowledge and understanding using their notes and assessed work.

example

Students quite simply fill in the boxes with relevant information from their notes, work and textbook. I had a student email me recently to ask if I would be making more of them because they are finding them particularly useful for developing their revision technique.

I’ve done them so far for the topics that I teach (ESS is split between two teachers) and will be making a start of the topics that I don’t teach shortly.

I will be uploading them as they are completed to the ESS revision resource google drive here. Please feel free to download and use them with your students.

Hope they are of use.

Mrs Humanities


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Resource – 3 Gorges Dam Information Collector Sheet

I love an information collector activity and use them regularly with KS5 in preparation for writing essays.

I haven’t used one in a while with KS3 so thought I’d make an activity for my year 8 classes this week. We are investigating the social, economic, environmental and political impacts of the 3 gorges dam.

3 gorges dam information collector geography

Students will be given a set of resources and will use them to fill in their sheets. Nice little task that encourages student inquiry. Students will then use the information they collect in an extended writing task.

I’ve compiled a selection of facts, statements and images from a variety of sources for the students to use.

You can download a copy of the resource here.

Hope its of use.

 

Mrs Humanities


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Resource: 5 Starters

I’m of the generation of PGCE students that were introduced to teaching with the three part lesson and it’s a hard habit to kick.

I admit my lesson almost always starts with a starter activity, a hook for the lesson or something to draw upon prior learning.

In this post I share with you a few of my favourite 5 starter tasks.

  1. Question it!

    question-i
    Quite simply students are given a stimulus such as a photo, sound, object, key term etc. and they draw up a series of questions. In year 7 I start students off with what makes a good question and introduce the question grid to develop their practice in this area so eventually they are creating their own awesome questions. In my new school I set up the questions to ponder area, students have posted some of their questions there and we come back to them throughout the topic.

  2. 5 in 5 minutes

    Students are given 5 categories and are given 5 minutes to write a list of 5 associated with the category given. 5-in-5For instance recently in a lesson on ecosystems and the cycles of the ecosystem the categories were as follows
    1 – Biomes
    2 – Climates
    3 – Water cycle stores
    4 – Carbon cycle stores
    5 – Transfer processes in the water cycle
    I find it useful as a recall activity to activate prior learning.

  3. Senses Starter

    senses-starter
    As a teacher of Humanities I loved this activity to stimulate the senses at the start of a lesson, to get the students engaged and questioning what they would be learning. Using YouTube I’d find a suitable clip for the students to enter to, sometimes the sounds of a battle field or the fauna of the rainforest, a tornado or trench. Sometimes an image would be displayed alongside the sounds, other times simply the sound clip. Initially students to head straight into asking questions but the refusal to answer and reminder to the task on the board soon quietens them and quickly engage their senses. This has worked through for me through the key stages, although the older they get, the less likely they are to want to close their eyes and engage fully.

4. Find your Match

find-your-partner

This one usually requires a bit more planning than the others. As students enter they are given a card which has a corresponding card such as a key term and definition or map symbol and description or part of a key term. Quite simply students have to find the person with the corresponding card. Sometimes this is used to partner students up or to create a new seating plan. Other times it initiates the learning for the lesson and other times it is quite simply used to recall learning.

5. Mind the Gap

mind-the-gap

A simple activity to get students practicing the spelling of key terminology. These can be made as simple or complex as you wish. I differentiate on occasions by providing several lists of varying challenge or will give particular words to students that keep making the same reoccurring errors.

What are your go to starter activities? Share yours in the comments.

Mrs Humanities