Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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Recommendation – Twinkl Secondary Resources

Recently I’ve started to make use of the newly added Twinkl Secondary Geography resources.

The variety of resources is huge with 12 pages of material so far covering everything from tectonics and coasts to tourism and urban issues. The most common of geography topics all make an appearance.

At present there are plenty of resources for Key Stage 3 and a growing number for Key Stage 4 linked to the AQA, Edexcel and OCR specifications. Key Stage 5 is currently bare but an area for future development.

Each of the lesson packs are fully resourced, many of which have eco-print versions, as are many of the stand alone lessons or single activities.

Personally I really like the opportunity for differentiation in the lesson packs, they are a great starting point to differentiate up or down depending on your students. Some resources even have differentiated versions already. I wish they’d had these when I worked at my last school, they would have been of massive benefit and would have saved me so much time with planning, differentiation and scaffolding.

My personal favourites are

But don’t take my word for it, check the resources out for yourself over at Twinkl.co.uk

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Guest Post from @Lisamoniquepool – Teaching History in a specialist school

guest post

Teaching History in a specialist school: a peek at life as a non-specialist specialist.

Even with just two years experience in a specialist school, there are lots of thoughts to share about the experience as a History teacher.  The school is a specialist provider for dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and a range of other learning difficulties and it was, to be honest, a tentative leap for me to accept the job without the specialist SEND training I thought would be essential. Pupils at this school are well-behaved, polite, largely tidy, funny, caring, flexible, motivated and deserving the absolute best service possible.  They also usually have negative baggage from mainstream struggles, late identification of needs and anxiety.  The science behind children developing these difficulties is an area I don’t yet fully understand. I haven’t cracked the best way to help them learn yet – but  the door has just chinked open a little.

‘Back in the day’, in 1999, trainees learned to deliver and develop a subject and SEN understanding was limited largely to differentiation, an overview of some ‘common’ learning difficulties and the behaviour management that could result from pupils ‘kicking off’ due to inadequate meeting of needs;  I’m not aware it has changed much, and the chances of emerging as a qualified teacher with a parallel, comprehensive specialist knowledge of SEN, are still rare.  Therefore, schools with specific areas of expertise like mine, employing subject experts needed to meet national curriculum demands, means 3 things: a very steep learning curve, dependence on advice from experts  & quality CPD, & a sense of justice.  Achievement for our pupils is the high bar it is anywhere else, & it is up to me to make sure I don’t do them the mightiest disservice by not helping them learn their way.

So, the scene is this.  Small classes, no more than 8.  A full gamut of subjects and the expectation to sit GCSEs.  No TAs.  Pupils dropping in and out for therapy sessions.  The usual ‘no pen, Miss’ and ‘X is winding me up’ but no extraordinary behaviour (in fact, the opposite – the energy required, the latent frustrations and anxieties, previous learning experiences, developmental lags should imply some really difficult pupils but there are none, behaviourally).  Classrooms are typical – some over-busy and jolly (guilty), others more functional.  Chairs get left untucked, bags forgotten, pupils loiter when you secretly need a coffee.    Breaktimes are lively and way more important than the bits in between (obvs) but boundaries are clear, routines set (& quite often known!)  In short, nothing really different to any mainstream school, it might seem.

So what does it mean to teach History in such a school?  At a crass & simple level (& no disrespect to my pupils with the generalising), pupils struggle with writing, generally have reading ages considerably lower than chronological ages (at worst, by half), struggle with spelling (‘Lebensraum? Harsh, Miss!’).  So reading and writing are onerous?  Hmmokay.  They find sequencing illogical and taxing, find chronological sweeps of time impossible to fathom.  Right, so cause and consequence is an early obstacle, and don’t even start thinking about change and continuity.  They can struggle with empathy and inference, so sourcework & interpretation is really confusing.   Memorising 10 key words & meanings is a massive feat, so let’s not even contemplate how hard pure exam-based GCSEs will be (4 topics crammed with content – yikes).  Formulating ideas and communicating non-verbally is tough.  Getting started and knowing how to organise thoughts can be a spaghetti mess.  Time-pressure is a nightmare – where all pupils have 25% extra time as a minimum, how to manage a 1-hour lesson and accelerate all pupils’ learning simultaneously?  Letters on a page – even a well-crafted, colour-coded, diagram-based page – jump around and have a party.  Dates?  Well… Recording understanding and ideas, when nearly all pupils are entitled to a Scribe in exams, is either uncomfortable or impossible, or anything in between.

Ah ha, you say – all those skills that historical thinking and understanding are built on?  Well fundamentally, yes.   However, as the Historical Association freebie postcards told us a few years ago, History is ‘gossip well told’ so, provided I can crack the methods, everyone loves good gossip so what’s the problem?   The solution is to go west and differentiate, my friend!   In fact, differentiate like never before – pupils at my school are not weak learners, or unlikely to achieve – far from it on both fronts and the school motto of ‘the same road by different steps’ suggests that, at one level, History teaching is no different to any other school, as long as you target it appropriately and personally, which is what we’re all supposed to do anyway.  Pupils at my school have extraordinary intelligences, probably more unorthodox, sometimes disguised, more empowering and more unique than I ever understood so, hey, if I can tap into these intelligences, I’m flying, right?   Well yes.  But how does it work? What needs to be done that is different?    ‘Bespoke learning’ & ‘tailored lessons’ may be fashionable eduspeak but actually, it comes down to that basic bottom line – knowing pupils’ needs and ensuring they can access, enjoy and stretch.

In a typical day, I need to consider font size.  Paper colour.   Chunking instructions.  Colour.  Processing time.  Key words and meanings.  Access to sensory tasks.  Which pupils need a finger fidget.  Which pupils need an escape card.  Which pupils can read comprehensively and still understand very little of what they have read.   Who needs to fire up the laptops immediately (&who needs to process instructions before tippy-tapping).  Who needs scaffolding.  Who needs more, much more, teasing out of thoughts.  Who needs extension work that fits.  Who needs 3 chances to clarify instructions.  Quite a list, but is it THAT different to the thoughts of (history) teachers in any school?    I’m not sure whether my SLT team would agree, but I believe that the development in History learning & teaching is a 60-40 balance:  60% tapping into, planning for my student’s individual needs and 40% how much I love my subject.  How can I explain how very cool and clever David Low was?  How can I make it easy to understand the physical lapse of time between Alfred’s victory at Edington and the Battle of Hastings?  How can I best relay the consequences of the consequences of the Boston Tea Party?  How can I explain that a non-King – William Marshall – was as important as a King in 1216?  It’s about thinking more creatively than ever and making resources specifically for my pupils.

Visually fantastic clips that appear to tick all the content boxes have narration that is too quick.  There’s no chance to process before the next bit is up.  Powerpoints often have captions that also move too quickly – pausing and re-reading helps, but loses the impact and flow.  Textbooks are an enigma: all those letters on a page, partying away & dancing around.  The weight of reading material, and even the content expected to be processed, can cause alarm, disengage pupils and immediately elevate the subject into ‘wordy’ and therefore to be avoided/loathed.  But at the same time, should my pupils be deprived of that overview, reference point, glossary etc?  The chance to look through and get a holistic ‘feel’ for the topic?  I suspect, despite the convention that most textbooks don’t work for us,  that actually they would.  Trial to start in September!

Please be sure, I’m no guru.  I don’t have the background knowledge about what creates special educational needs and disabilities.  I don’t have a teaching legacy in SEND.   I don’t have a full armoury of every strategy ever developed, but I’ve made a start.  I do have no-singing, no-dancing lessons.  I do occasionally have lessons that would horrify Senior Leader or Ofstedians.   I do get it wrong, quite often.    But it’s a superb challenge, with infinite possibilities and I think I’m getting a bit more of a handle on it and, really exciting, it’s probably helped me celebrate my passion for History because it’s the one resource I have, for free, in spades.

Lisa (@Lisamoniquepool)


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Mrs Humanities shares… 8 RE Teachers to follow on Twitter

mrs humanities shares

For the third in the series of Mrs Humanities shares… I thought I’d go ahead and recommend some of the fantastic RE teachers out there that far too often get forgotten when it comes to the Humanities.

Whilst at my last school I had been setting up the Humanities department from scratch, whilst RE wasn’t taught as a stand along subject I tried to incorporate it as often as possible. I often looked to twitter for inspiration.

In no particular order then…

Dawn Cox

Dawn Cox
RE Teacher and T&L
From Dawn you will find a huge wealth of knowledge and information on RE teaching as well as teaching and learning in general. There’s always something up for debate or discussion on her feed; whilst I rarely get involved they are often enlightening. Take a look at her site missdcoxblog.wordpress.com for inspiration.

Andy Lewis

Andy Lewis
Assistant Headteacher / Director of RE
Andy was a regular source of information, he often shares insightful links that are helpful to the non-specialist and specialist RE teacher alike. You can find out more about Andy and his contributions to the teacher community at his site mrlewisre.co.uk.

Laura Passmore

Laura Passmore
RE teacher
This lovely lady is a good tweacher friend and often provided snippets of inspiration. Whilst Laura doesn’t share so much in the way of teaching practice from her classroom, what she does provide is an array of links and ideas from across the web that can be useful for both RE and teachers in general. Passionately promotes teacher well-being and is a member of the #teacher5adaybuddybox community.

Miss Westbury

Miss Westbury
Second in Department
A variety of smashing pieces of good practice can be found on Miss Westbury’s feed along with links, articles and general teachery goodness.

SN RE Teacher

SN RE Teacher
Head of RE
Often you’ll find snippets of what is going on in Sue’s classroom, along with plenty of links and re-tweets of helpful articles and sites.

Clare Nolan

Clare Nolan
Leader of KS3 RE
Relatively new to the teaching profession but an active member of the teaching community with a wee blog at clareenolan.wordpress.com although no new content as of late. Often you’ll find snippets of what’s going on in Clare’s classroom along with how she works with the Girl Guiding Association.

Corrine Guntrip

Corrine Guntrip

Trust RE and Ethos Lead
Plenty of positive inspiration can be found on Corrine’s twitter feed; more recently in terms of her own work/life balance (especially with the cutie that is Buddy, I think that’s the dogs name?!) but also plenty of re-tweets of relevance to RE and education.

Jo

Jo
Newly appointed Research Lead at CHS.
Lots of inspiration for the RE and other Humanities teacher. Good balance of subject specific, wellbeing and T&L inspiration available.

And one little extra one

 

Jessica Nield

Jessica Nield
RE and Humanities Teacher
This one’s not posted much (yet) but she’s my sister-in-law so I had to add her for encouragement to get more involved in the T&L community.

Hope you’ve found someone new to follow.

Feel free to add any other recommendations in the comments. I might even add them to the post as I’d like to take it up to 10 recommendations.

Mrs Humanities

 


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History on TV

history on TV

Whilst I set up Geography on TV I thought I should probably set up a History on TV.

Since I do like a bit collaboration, I’ve set up a collaborative google doc might be useful. It’s pretty simple, if you know of a show or have watched a show add it to the week it will or was broadcast. Then other teachers can see what’s on or what will be on.

history template

If it’s already been broadcast well don’t worry, add it anyway. With the power of technology these days, it can then be searched for on one of the many catch up sites or channels. Simple.

Here’s an example for Geography for the week commencing the 12th June.

12th june

If you’d like to help create this it’s really easy to collaborate. Simply click here to be taken to the google drive folder. Find the relevant week, organised by week commencing and add the following details

  • name of show
  • time its on

If it’s on a channel not listed as the ‘core’ channels add it to the ‘Others’ row and all include the channel name.

Hope we can produce something useful for each other and our students.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Geography on TV

geog on tv

Recently I asked if anyone produced a TV schedule for Geography on TV at all. I was informed that @DreamTeachGeog used to produce one but stopped at some point last year. A shame, as it’s only recently something that occurred to me as I was thinking of how to further stretch and develop inquiry within my learners.

As always I like collaboration and decided that a collaborative google doc might be useful. It’s pretty simple, if you know of a show or have watched a show add it to the week it will or was broadcast. Then other teachers can see what’s on or what will be on.

template

If it’s already been broadcast well don’t worry, add it anyway. With the power of technology these days, it can then be searched for on one of the many catch up sites or channels. Simple.

Here’s an example for the week commencing the 12th June.

12th june

If you’d like to help create this it’s really easy to collaborate. Simply click here to be taken to the google drive folder. Find the relevant week, organised by week commencing and add the following details

  • name of show
  • time its on

If it’s on a channel not listed as the ‘core’ channels add it to the ‘Others’ row and all include the channel name.

Hope we can produce something useful for each other and our students.

Mrs Humanities