Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Classroom Ideas – Information Collectors

I love using resources with students that encourage them to discover information for themselves. I regularly use information collectors with my classes right from from KS3 to KS5.

They are a simple concept, an A4 sheet laid out so that students can collect relevant information from the sources of information provided. Students are required to read the information, watch videos or carry out their own research to find the required knowledge.

Here are some examples…

info collector 3 gorges damks5china

Once students have had access to the resources for a desired time I get them to feedback by handing out whiteboard pens and having the students add information to a copy projected onto the whiteboard.

As students add to the whole class version we discuss additions and students add to their personal copies. These are then used in the creation of another piece of work such as an extended piece of writing, a project or an essay.

I encourage my older year groups to take a photo of the board and either print it out or use it to add detail to their notes.

Hope this gives you some inspiration.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Differentiation Strategies for SpLD

mrs humanities shares

Now I’m no expert in SEN or SpLD for that matter, but these are 5 strategies that I have found that work for my students over the past 5 years. These strategies have come from research or CPD I have undertaken.

1 // Pastel Colours for Powerpoints
Since I can remember I’ve been using pastel colours for PowerPoints and other digital documents. I read somewhere during my NQT year that pastel colours are preferable for students with dyslexia but are also beneficial for all students as white backgrounds can cause eye strain. Ever since then I’ve been using pastel colours for displaying information on the whiteboard. Yellow for task instructions, blue for information and green for assessment for learning. In addition the background is a light grey to reduce glare and sensitivity to bright lights.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

2 // Structure Scaffolds
To support students to develop their extended writing I’ve used a variety of scaffolding strategies over the years in order to enable students to break down the task and focus on demonstrating their knowledge as opposed to structure (initially). Some approaches include sentence_starters_mat, structure sheets/strips and tasks broken down into sections which come together as one piece in the end.

atstructure stips differentiatedtask break down

3 // Note Taking Supports
Students with dyslexia regularly struggle to take notes, the challenge of listening and writing at the same time is clear. In order to develop note taking skills, I’ve provided what many people these days call ‘Knowledge Organisers’ as a reference point and note taking supports to support laying out and recording information.

independent learners topic placematsindependent learners note taking

4 // Differentiated feedback
This really applies to all students, however there are things I focus more or less on with students with SpLD than others. For instance focusing on subject knowledge as opposed to spelling, punctuation and grammar, making students respond to questions as opposed to making improvements to a previous piece of work and editing as opposed to full re-writes.

5 // Words to use in a lesson
Really simple but effective way to develop subject specific terminology in SpLD students and their practice of spelling such terms has been the list of key terms to use during lessons. These appear as a list at the bottom of PowerPoint slides and students are given the key word list at the start of the topic. They’ve then been able to highlight the words for the lesson that they need to focus on using. These are the only spellings I have focused my attention on in the marking of their work and these are the only spellings I have had them correct. I found this worked particularly well with boys, particularly one higher ability boy in year 8 that particularly worried about the structure of his written work and SpAG, he’d focus too much on these rather than showing his understanding in written work. When we started to focus on the spelling of key terminology instead he wrote more about what he knew and understood. independent learners key word lists

I hope this post is of some use to you.

Share your approaches in the comments.

Mrs Humanities


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Guest Post from @Jennnnnn_x – Stretch & Challenge. A few ideas….

guest postStretch & Challenge. A few ideas….

How can we ensure all students are challenged every lesson? Here are a few ideas I have used to encourage challenge in my Geography lessons recently.

What can you find out?

“Learning happens when people have to think hard” Prof. Robert Coe – Durham University. How often do we make students think hard – looking back I know that I don’t do it as often as I probably should…

So here is one idea I have used at the start of my lessons:

This example was for a Year 10 introductory lesson to Urban Issues.

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I left my students with this image on the board/a copy each and then left them to think for 15 minutes (which felt like eternity) I then gave them some discussion time. Amazingly they came up with most of the ideas off the specification – they annotated their image to show their thoughts and added to them through discussion. I repeated this with my year 9’s and while there was more moaning, once they realised I wouldn’t help them they tried a bit harder and I had similar outcomes – they had summarised our whole topic in about 25 words and from one photograph.  Have a go – you might be surprised what they come up with!

Hexagons

An old one, but a good one. I remember seeing hexagons everywhere a few years ago but I had forgotten about them until I came across an old example when tidying my classroom. So I started using them again and I remembered why I like them so much! There is no right answer – which means there is lots of room for discussion and often the students come up with links that you might not have thought of.

I used this idea to support an exam question in a year 13 lesson looking at LDC countries. I put images onto the hexagons and the students cut them out, stuck them next to others and then annotated the links between them. They then used this to plan their essay. It worked well due to two reasons – it supported lower ability students as the photographs helped as a prompt to start different sections but it also challenged the higher ability students because the ‘link’ is usually where this class fall down – they forget to link their ideas to both the question but also other topics.

Here is an example:

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IDEAL analysis

Command words – are the one thing every time I mark mock exams I wish my students understood. Despite doing a range of activities linked to command words and having them stuck around my room and on the table in front of them, I till find students explain when the question asks them to describe and vice-versa.

With the new examination changes and the increasing level of literacy needed to interpret some of the questions the focus on command words is more important than ever!

I went to a PIXL conference back in November and saw Rebecca Chew (@MissChewBeka) present her ideas on stretch and challenge… I have used every single one of them in various lessons since but my favourite is most definitely the IDEAL analysis.

It is based around a need for students to understand the different command words, but also that as we move through the word IDEAL the difficulty increases.

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I – identify – what is it that you can you see?
D – describe – what does it look like, where are different objects/landforms?
E – explain – why is it like that, what are the reasons for what you can see?
A – apply – where else might this happen, how might it be similar/different?
L – link – how does this link to wider geography, other topics, other places?

Students seem to like it and more importantly find it useful. I recently marked a year 10 mock which asked students to use a figure (a photograph of the devastation caused by an earthquake) to support their answer and saw many of them plan their answer using IDEAL.

Below is also an example of a differentiated worksheet given to support some of the students in my class.

45

There are some more examples on my twitter if you want to take a look (@jennnnnn_x)

Hope some of these ideas are useful,

Jen (@jennnnnn_x)


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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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UK County Word Cloud Project by Alan Parkinson

You may have already spotted this project from Alan on twitter or on his site Living Geography since there have already been a solid number of responses.

If you haven’t, then you can read more about the project here. It’s a great link to this year’s Young Geographer of the Year theme and something that could be done in class.

Add your contribution to it by filling in the form below.

I look forward to seeing the results in the summer.


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Guest post from @ploguey – Differentiation ideas that work every time

guest post

I’m really excited to share with you the second in the series of guest posts on the site. I love how everyday differentiation has continued to change and develop since I wrote my last post on it some years ago.

If you have an idea or something to share, get in touch.

Hope you enjoy this one from Paul, @ploguey.

differentiation

It’s a feeling we all have very often. Your class is exiting the classroom door and you have that sinking feeling, and the thoughts begin to cross your mind:

  • I didn’t do enough differentiation in that lesson.
  • I didn’t do any differentiation in that lesson.
  • Students could have made more progress.
  • I was sure that they all would have got that done with no problems.

Scenarios like these really stress me out. It also means that I tend to try and overcompensate the next time I see that class, forcing hours of extra planning upon myself. Once, for a lesson observation, I differentiated for every single student in the class. Yes, you read that right. The lesson was a huge success; however, the main piece of feedback was that I need to focus on improving my work-life balance.

The best aspect of EduTwitter is the virtually unlimited access to teaching and learning styles from teachers all over the world and from other subjects. It’s been my absolute joy to try and test out strategies and make them work for my classes.

These are my favourite methods to use, as they are easy to plan, not time consuming, students enjoy using them and they are designed to support students to produce high-quality work. I have shared these ideas at our differentiation CPD recently.

Read, Edit, Improve

An idea I magpied from @JamieClarke85. This method is designed to support students in answering exam questions and builds upon the WABOLL method (What a Bad One Looks Like). Students are given a poor question response and annotate the mistakes and problems with the response. They then feedback and offer ways to improve the answer in the ‘edit’ section. Finally, they improve the exam question. It’s been highly successful in assisting lower ability students.  It’s one of my favourite methods because students end up practicing exam skills and doing exam questions without even realising it!read edit improve

@jennnnnn_x and @geographyhanna have done wonderful adaptions of this.

read edit improve 1read edit improve 2

Structure Strips

One of my newest methods and I love it how easy it is for students. We are following the new AQA 9-1 Spec and 9-mark questions are very tricky for students to manage.structure-strips.jpg

The structure strip breaks down the question into manageable paragraphs and supports students with the knowledge and skills necessary needed to be successful. Again, it’s been great in supporting my lower ability students in Year 10, but it’s also allowing my higher ability students to reach the top end of expected responses while they adapt to the new accepted writing style. Over time, I tend to take away the targeted questioning for the higher ability students to ensure they are being challenge.

Originally inspired from @_Jopayne and @MrsSpalding.

 

IDEAL analysis

My students love this one, particularly my Year 11s. A simple restructuring of a stimulus question by focusing on the five main geographical skills of interpretation: Identify, Describe, Explain, Analyse and Link. This allows students to build up their answers through probing.  I’ve seen Year 11 students writing this on their mock papers and using it to answers 6- and 8-mark questions.

IDEAL Analysis 1ideal-analysis-2.png

Chilli Challenges

Inspired from the easily recognised Nando’s menu, it offers students a choice of task that suits their understanding and ability. I have found that the ‘Red Hot’ challenge is by far the most popular one, so careful consideration is needed to be given to ensure that students are not pushing themselves too far and struggle as a result. Adaptions included differentiating by target grade, flight path etc.

Chilli Challenges

Thanks for reading.

Paul (@ploguey)


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Flexible Seating

This week I tried flexible seating with my year 8’s. They just finished their inquiry on global interactions and sustainability in China and have started their summative project on the sustainability of modern day life in the country.

I decided that I would give flexible seating a go. The idea behind it is similar to that you might find in a Primary classroom whereby different areas of the room are for different activities.

For my classroom the flexible seating divided the room into several areas:

Recap and research – tables set up with resources we’ve used throughout the topic as well as other suitable resources such as textbooks and news articles. Resources had to remain here.

Collaboration corner – an area where students could collaborate their ideas and discuss their projects.

Progress check – an area for students to have their work assessed by me or to ask questions in relation to their work

Individual workers – an area for students to work by themselves with potential for support from their peer if need be

Got this! – The ‘Got this!’ tables were for those students that were just getting on with their projects. They knew where they were going and could just work.

flexible seating

Students could move around the room and pull up a chair to where they needed to be. Students made the decision as to where they would start and where they needed to go. Throughout the lesson students were moving around, for instance some started at the Progress check table, they wanted reassurance that they were going along the right lines, once confident they moved some went to the Got This! table whilst another went to the Recap and Research area.

It truly felt like a MYP classroom, students reflecting on their learning before and during the work process, moving around to meet their needs, self-led and student-centered.

When I asked a few students at the end of the 1st lesson like this, they said how they liked it as it meant they were thinking about their learning and could move to what they needed to do. Thumbs up I think.

 

 


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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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My Marking and Feedback Toolkit

marking and feedback toolkit #feedbackNOTmarkingI think we all know by now that I actually love providing feedback in all shapes and forms. Over the past 3 years I’ve tried a large variety of methods to find what works best. Some methods are my go to approaches, a few I come back to now and then, others I’ve tried the once and binned.

feedback toolkit

I thought I’d share my top 5 feedback approaches that have become my #feedbackNOTmarking toolkit.

ACE Peer Assessment or the more recent take on it SpACE Peer Assessment.

This technique I use frequently with my classes. Often when students are working on an extended piece of writing  or a prolonged task I will get them to stop where they are (usually about half way into the task) and get them to ACE their peers work. Students will peer assess in purple pen using the coding system and write comments/questions at the end or in the margins. Once peer assessed the work is returned to the student and they act on the feedback there and then in pink pen. They then continue with the task and each time they make the suggested improvements, these could be anything from the spelling of a key work to the use of data as evidence, they do it in pink to clearly demonstrate the improvements and progress they have made in the remainder of the work. I usually use this approach with Key Stage 3.
I also however use ACE peer assessment with my 6th formers however rather than being carried out during a piece of work, students will peer assess at the end of an essay or extended piece. They are given time to act on the feedback before submitting the work as complete.

Marking and Feedback Grids
I use these in one of two ways. Firstly as a students work through an extended piece or assessment they are given the feedback grid as an outline of the success criteria they need to meet; as they achieve the criteria it is highlighted and discussions occur in relation to the next steps that could be taken to improve it. Depending on the age range and ability, sometimes I will write what to do next, highlight in a different colour next steps or give a specific task that will enable the next steps to be completed. The second way in which I use them are for the summative assessment of piece of work, I will create the feedback grid as a way of identifying the successes and areas of improvement for the student. Students will read and then reflect upon the feedback to identify their own targets and next steps to focus on through the next topic or piece of work. GCSE graded work

Double ticks, successes and next steps
This approach I use for formative assessment throughout the term. I quite simply single and double tick pieces of work. Double ticks identify to students that these are particularly strong aspects of the work and they have to explain through annotations in the margin or at the end why it was double ticked – this is in relation to the skills used within the work such as use of evidence, use of case study facts, stats and specifics and so on, rather than topic specific achievements. At the end of a marking session I will write a brief and concise comment in relation to their successes and next steps. Students will then act on the next steps feedback if it requires to so for instance a question to move their understanding on or to develop an answer they’ve given or it can be a target they need to focus on in the remainder of the topic again to move their learning and progress on. When possible I  also carry out double ticks as I walk around the classroom looking at and discussing work with students, usually we will verbally discuss why the double tick has been given.

Whole class feedback and feedforward
Sometimes it is not necessary to write diagnostic comments in students books, particularly in relation to everyday classwork so I use the whole class feedback approach. On a regular basis I will take a look through students books and record which students require praise for any particularly outstanding work, any students with unfinished work, any reoccurring misconceptions and SPaG errors and next steps that apply to more than 1 student on my feedforward sheet. Feedforward Book Look Record.png

I then use this information to plan the next sequence of lessons to ensure misconceptions are dealt with and students have an opportunity to act on the next steps. The whole class feedback sheet is shared with the students by scanning and projecting it onto the whiteboard. In the assessment of understanding section I RAG the students understanding of the work undertaken and those with in the Red section I deal with first in class to ensure their understanding is clear and their learning and move forward. I no longer display this aspect to the class and cover it up; this is just me to help with support students with appropriate in class intervention strategies. Students write down comments relevant to them. To find out more on how I use this, head over to my original post on it here.
Verbal Feedback
This is my most powerful feedback tool, my voice. Before starting an extended piece of work, a project or a summatively assessed piece we feed up by discussing the success criteria, what a good one looks like, what the mark scheme might want from us, what skills will be used etc. Sometimes we discussed work that has been similar in terms of the skills used and think about the challenges faced and how they could be overcome this time around. We do this verbally, usually discussing in groups, with discussion as a class followed by confirmation from me.  Students then start the work and are provided with verbal feedback as they work through it, this might be from myself or their peers. Simple discussions of where the work is going and how it could be improved. It’s timely and purposeful. Verbal feedback isn’t just given for extended pieces of work but also those little tasks, usually in the form of discussions of clarification. The last verbal approach is feeding forward, whereby students and I discuss as a class, individual or in groups the successes and potential improvements for future work, students discuss the challenges they faced and may then make note of their reflections in their books for future reference.

Well there’s a guide to my feedback toolkit, I hope this post is of some use to you.

What approaches make up your toolkit? Feel free to share your ideas.

Kind regards,

Mrs Humanities


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Resource – SpACE Peer Assessment

resourceHaving shared ACE peer assessment, I was recently introduced to a step up on the concept. Taking ACE to SpACE simply by adding spelling to the assessment criteria thanks to Kim (@HecticTeacher) for the inspiration to step it up.

space-peer-assessment-1