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.


feedforward marking feedback pen colour


Promoting Peer Assessment

As you’re probably aware by now, I do a lot of peer and self assessment, feedback and directed improvement and reflection time (DIRT) in my lessons.

For some time now I’ve had students use different colour pens to make their peer/self assessment stand out. In the past I’ve used what I’ve had available, usually a combination of red or green pens.

Often my students have had time to perfect their work, in order to do this they use a pink pen to highlight their improvements such as SPaG corrections.

This year my main focus is incorporating this across my Key Stage 3 classes, since I’m at a new school as of September, it requires embedding.

This is how I’m doing it

a) Firstly I’ve focused on incorporating peer assessment in lessons. In order to do this I give students a set amount of time on a task, when they reach the end of this time they swap books and peer assess. Firstly they look at SPaG and will identify any errors in purple pen using the following coding system.


I ask students to also give a kind, specific and helpful comment at this point to identify how the student could improve their work. To start with I give suggestions on the board, but hopefully I can remove this scaffold in due course.

b) Next step is perfecting what has already been done. Students will take a pink pen and make any corrections to the work that has already been completed.

c) Students then take steps in the remainder of their work to meet the target set by their peer. They will write the majority of it in their usual colour pen, however when they do the thing their peer suggested, they write this in pink pen to make it stand out when I mark their books. This speeds up my marking process significantly.

d) When I mark the books I take note of key points such as SPaG errors, misconceptions, praise and any other next steps I feel are appropriate on a feedforward book look record sheet. I give any misconceptions and next steps a code and write this in student books. I then scan the sheet and display it on the board. Students then write down the comments that are relevant to them and act on them during a Feedforward session (aka DIRtime).

So far this year they’ve simply done this in their usual colour pen, however I’m introducing that this is done in green pen after the half term again so it stands out to me when I mark their books.

In order to support students I’ve created this poster to identify relevant colours and what they represent and what double ticks and the steps represent in their books.

feedforward colours.png

I have to say that this method is one way my evening workload has reduced so far this year. The instant feedback and resulting action being taken immediately is far more effective than receiving my feedback several lessons later.

What do you think? Opinions welcomed.

Mrs Humanities


Developing Independent Learners – The ‘Help Yourself’ Resource Station  

help yourself resource stationThrough the course of the last academic year one of my aims was to develop more independence in my learners.

I tried several approaches which I’ve documented in other posts, including seating plans, GCSE help yourself display and attempts at flipped learning.

I’ve learnt so much from the process as have my students, particularly those in year 7 and 8.

The ‘Help Yourself’ Resource Station was probably the most successful approach.

What is it?

Quite simply the ‘Help Yourself’ Resource Station is a table and display board with resources that will support my students in their learning.

It includes a wide range of resources and templates that students can access freely to support their learning.


What’s included?

The display board contained resources for each year group on the topic they were currently studying. These could have been in the form of information sheets, activities or worksheets.

In addition students had access to DIRT sheets and a support sheet for using historical sources and later the 5 Minute Help Yourself sheet.

At times, other useful information got added to the space on the board such as project sign up sheets and reminders.

The table contained a wide variety of relevant resources that students can help themselves to in order to scaffold and support their learning.

Resources included

-Literacy mats

literacy mat
– Timelines support sheets

-Note taking laminatenote taking laminate
-Key word lists

key word lists
-Topic support mats (placemats)

topic placemats

-Humanities Skills Mats such as the Using Sources Support Mat

skills mats.png

-Self and peer assessment sheets

self and peer assessment

-Templates and blank maps for classwork


Along side the resources there were whiteboard pens and equipment available for students to access when required.

How is it used?

Once set up the resource station runs itself, you will need to monitor and replenish now and then but on the whole it’s pretty simple.

Students  collect the resources they need based on their own decisions or your guidance. At first it took some training but by the end of the year students were happily helping themselves to the required resources.

For example I had some students that needed spelling support, they’d help themselves at the start of the lesson to the key word list and their literacy marking would focus on the correct spelling of those key words. If they spelt the word incorrectly, they would use the key word list to find the correct spelling and write it out 3 times and within a sentence. at first it took some reminding but eventually they become independent in the approach (with fewer spelling mistakes).

Often main activities in my lesson have an opportunity for choice in presentation and format, the templates and blank maps work effectively for this allowing students to make their own decisions in how they present their work.


Personally I feel it’s enabled many of my students to become more independent in their learning, in particular the high and middle ability. I felt low ability students needed more encouragement to use the resources available to them but eventually some of them were accessing them without prompt.

If I were to change anything I’d add a challenge section with generic activities that could be applied to any topic.

The Resources

I’ve uploaded a load of the resources I’ve used here. Many of them I have not made from scratch and instead have used or amended resources I’ve collected over the years. If one of them is your, please let me know and I will add credit where credit it due.

If you have any questions about the ‘Help Yourself’ Resource Station, just ask.

Hope you’ve been inspired.

Mrs Humanities





Using Sources Support Mat history

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Resource – Using Sources Support Mat

Using Sources Support MatAs part of the ‘Help Yourself’ Resource Station, I’ve been making ‘slow’ progress on creating resources for my students to use to develop their independence in the classroom.


The idea is if a student is stuck they can collect relevant resources from the station to support them. Resources come in two types – topic specific such as information sheets on the subject content stored in the Current Topic or skill support such as literacy mats and source analysis overlays stored in the trays on the table below the board.

Last term one of my year groups focused on source interpretation in their History topic, next term they are looking at source analysis. To help them become more independent with this I’ve created a support mat, this is likely to be used in conjunction with the Source Overlays from ActiveHistory and on their own later in the topic/year.


Download – Source Mat

Hope it can be of use to you.

Mrs Humanities


Developing Independent Learners – Help Yourself Display and Resource Station

DIRThelp yourself resource stationThis year I’m striving to make my learners more independent. Last year many were making excellent efforts and this year I want to push this even further.

I’ll be doing this in 3 ways

  1. Tabletop resources
  2. A ‘Help Yourself’ resource station
  3. Personal Interest Projects

In this post I’m going to share my ‘Help Yourself’ resource station.

The idea behind it is that learners use the resources to help themselves to learn and progress.

I’ve created two areas, one for key stage 4 and the other for key stage 3.

The first, the KS4 area, consists of a noticeboard for GCSE Geography students.

This board contains past papers, exam questions and information sheets for Unit 1 and Unit 2 of the course for learners to access freely. Then there are topic specific help sheets for the current area of study in the ‘Current Topic’ resource holder. Learners have already been directed to these when they were unsure of how to draw the diagrams to demonstrate river erosion processes and will be encouraged to continue to do so.

I’m slowly training them that this is where they go in the first instance if they need help, they then ask another student and if they are still unsure they can ask me; 2 lessons in and so far this seems to be working effectively. Hope it continues.

The display also includes a notice board for important announcements so that they’ve no excuse to forget important information such as exam dates or deadlines; an outline of what should be covered from their work booklets each lesson from now until their GCSE exams as well as a sheet that outlines all the places they can get help if they find themselves stuck. GCSE display

My final addition to the board is a progress to target reward board. Next week I will ask each student to give themselves a personal target grade influenced by their end of year target, each time they achieve that grade in an assessment or exam question they can date the reward chart. After 3 successes they receive a reward, each reward is of greater value than the last. It’s a male heavy GCSE class so I hope a little competition might be of encouragement to them. GCSE reward

The second, the KS3 area, consists of a resource station. In the resource station there are a variety of resources to support my learners. This includes key word sheets, literacy mats, topic mats, reference books, sentence starters, scaffolding support sheets, DIRT and Curriculum Link sheets as well as textbooks for student reference.

I’ve made a variety of resources over the last 3 years which end up stuffed in a cupboard, folder or filing cabinet after a couple of uses, despite all of them being designed  to support learners. The resource station gives learners access to these support devices when they need them.

help yourself resource station

I just need to add labels to each shelf to identify and to give a brief description of the resources available so learner’s can make decisions on which one’s would be of use to them.

Once complete I will share the resources that make up my resource station.

How do you encourage independence?

Mrs Humanities



D.I.R.T Display

One approach to marking that my school is keen on is the provision of constructive feedback and Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT).

I’ve always marked in detail, but in my previous school a large number of students would fail to read it and act upon it; Therefore it often felt like a waste of my time spending 3-4 hours marking a set of 30-36 books a night for it not to be read.

I was pleased to find that my new school was keen to use DIRT as a means of engaging learners in their progress and demonstrating their achievements over time. Since I’m planning the Schemes of Work from scratch it means I can ensure there is time within them to carry out DIRT within lessons.

This is how it works in the Humanities Department…

Assessments take place in the 2-3 weeks before the end of term due to data submission. This usually gives us time for one DIRT session before assessments. Usually pupils respond to feedback in their books, set personal targets and consider what skills they need to focus on for the rest of the term based upon the progress displayed on their level ladders. Time well spent however it is the week after assessments when DIRT really comes into play within my department.

During this week pupils spend almost an entire lesson self-assessing, peer assessing and responding to feedback surrounding an individual piece of work from the term, whether it be the assessment they completed or classwork from a previous point. They look at how to improve work and do it.

It is becoming evident that after 2 terms of this they are now applying their skills in the rest of the Humanities lessons. Considering what they need to do to improve and how they can progress, the level ladders are no longer a sheet on the front of their books telling them what skills and knowledge they need to meet their target level this term. They are referring to them in lessons, asking what they need to do to improve their work and considering where they are on the ladder.

It’s pleasing to see, particularly with one of the hardest year 8 class. Getting them involved in DIRT has been a struggle, but we are getting there. At the end of last term we spent an entire lesson looking at peer assessing a piece of work from another group. They boxed text that met success criteria, they highlighted key words and then gave kind, specific and helpful feedback. This helped them to work out what they need to do to get out of the level 3-4 brackets and in to level 5. I hope they will apply it to their work this term.

D.I.R.T Sheets

After the previous two terms I felt that I needed something to do two things:-

Firstly I wanted pupil’s responses and improvements to be more than a line or two.
Secondly I wanted something to make the improvements pupils made to their work stand out.

…so I created and introduced these D.I.R.T sheets. 

DIRT SheetsDIRT sheet

I have to say I’ve been flabbergasted at the response from students and staff. They have made such a difference to the effort put into improving classwork during D.I.R.T during term 3.  A few misinterpreted the instructions and literally wrote what they needed to do to improve rather than doing it, but we can work on that.

Whilst after seeing my Levelling Up strategy my during a work scrutiny, my line manager asked me to share my D.I.R.T sheets and Level Up idea with staff. They’ve been very complimentary of it and I’ve even witnessed a number of teachers using it in their classrooms. It’s weird to see but great because as a school we have a consistent approach.

Levelling Up

I came up with the idea of “Levelling Up” over Christmas. Prior to that I had been writing questions in pupils books that would encourage them to work at their expected level for the current Progress Point if they weren’t doing so. I found however that pupils were not answering these questions in full sentences or to the best of their ability. So I decided to start using “Levelling Up”.

Last term in order to do this I looked at the level ladders and printed off a question or task that would help students meet their expected target grades. Based upon the work in their book I decided on an appropriate Level Up task and glued it in. Those that had one of these tasks or questions in their book had to work on it during the mid-term D.I.R.T session.

If pupils were meeting or exceeding their expected progress point grade then they had a choice of tasks such as improving their spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) in a piece of work, generally just improving an answer they’ve written or they could choose a piece of criteria from their level ladder to level up further.

level up

D.I.R.T Display

I created a D.I.R.T display with two things in mind,

One – I want to show off excellent examples of the pupil’s work to demonstrate to the rest what I am looking for from self-assessment, peer-assessment and D.I.R.T.
Two – We are expecting the dreaded Ofsted any time soon, so I wanted to make it explicit to anyone that walks into the room that pupils respond and improve based upon feedback in my classroom. You know, just in case.

DIRT wall display peer assessment display

I created these pieces for display over the half term and have used them in a number of PowerPoints and resources I’ve created for next term. Once I am comfortable that the pupils understand their meanings and purpose within a lesson I’ll share them with other members of staff.

DIRTlevel upland based WWWEBI

Do you have D.I.R.T display? Would love to see it.

Hope this is of inspiration.

Mrs Humanities

plenary display board


The Interactive Plenary Board

Plenary BoardAfter 3 weeks of working on it here and there since the beginning of term, the Interactive Plenary Board is finally complete.

I’m really pleased with the results plus the kids are enjoying it so far.

It built up slowly, going from this…
plenary display

to this…
finished extend assess reflect - plenary display board

I now have peer assessment guidance and have identified what WWW and EBI stands for as no matter how many times we do it somebody ALWAYS has to ask what it means. I’ve also printed off smaller versions of the tickets with WWW and EBI guidance on the back to support learners in writing appropriate feedback.

So far I’ve only really been able to use it with year 8 since year 7 are currently working on their Dangerous World project; they’ve been completing Exit Tickets each lesson to demonstrate their understanding so far.

Year 8 however are engaging with the activities and particularly like the social media based ‘Assess’ activities. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing however!

Since I only see my classes twice a week so far reminding them of the new procedures when they finish the main part of the lesson has been important. Encouraging them to choose a suitable task for the time left e.g if they’ve 10 minutes to go they should choose an ‘Extend’ task; whereas if they have 5 minutes they should pick an ‘Assess’ task or roll a plenary to decide on the plenary task. The ‘Reflect’ tasks I feel need more direction, so I’ll be the one to decide when they do these, once they have practised them a number of times they should hopefully be able to recognise how long they need and choose accordingly.

Under the roll a plenary board, there is a folder with additional activities such as key word and definition match up games and top trumps. These are for pupils to practice what they are learning, most of which have been created by the kids as part of their homework and sometimes classwork.

You can find out more about where some of the resources came from here and here.

Thanks for reading.

Mrs Humanities


Update – Interactive Plenary Display

UPDATE 2 – Almost finished the interactive plenary display; KS3 have started using it and have really engaged with the choice available. They love it, particularly the social media options. Phew.

Almost there

How it works  – Once a pupil finishes their work and have completed any S&C tasks or available extensions they visit the board. There are a variety of choices for their next step. They can simple choose a task from the extend, assess or reflect choices or roll the dice to provide them with a plenary activity. So far pupils have only used the assess option or  the Roll a Plenary board.

Just need to print a A3 version of my peer assessment guidance and signs for WWW and EBI as depsite using it several times a term they still ask the dreaded question “what does WWW and EBI mean?” like seriously you do not remember?

UPDATE 1 – Today I finally managed to find the time to make a start on the interactive plenary display. You can read more about the idea here. I’ve decided to use an Extend, Assess and Reflect set up for the plenary display along with a roll a plenary board.

So far I’ve pinned plastic wallets to the display board like in the photo below, guess you could describe it as step like. Plenary display

I didn’t quite have the time today to sort and finish the display but under each heading there will be activities to extend students in their work and understanding, assess what they learnt and how they are progressing  and finally activities that encourage pupils to reflect on their learning journey.  In the wallet underneath the roll a plenary board will be a variety of top trumps created by my pupils to play with if there is time.

In the folders are a wide variety of plenary activities. Whilst I created a number of the print outs I also found and used these amazing resource from @misstait_85. How great are they?

Finally In the top right hand corner I will be adding a section on self and peer assessment to encourage positive and specific feedback from such assessment. Often it’s one or the other, they will get it by the end of the year I promise.

I can’t wait to start using this in class, had a little taster today when some pupils used the roll a plenary board and it actually engaged a usually rather disengaged student. Winner! Just hope it continues.

I will share the final results in due course until then have a good week.

Mrs Humanities


A Work in Progress – The Interactive Plenary Display

In recent weeks I’ve found that my classes have been so caught up in the learning that we’ve not managed to complete plenary activities despite them always being present in my PowerPoints. Now I know they are not always needed but sometimes I’ve found that some pupils need the extra 5 minutes to finish off whilst others are packed away and ready to leave but I can’t change the slide because other are work. I usually just make something up on the spot like write down 5 key words from the lesson and show how they are linked or decide which LO you think you achieved today and explain why… but I’ve decided I want to get my pupils involved so have come up with the idea of an interactive plenary display.  Once a pupil has finished the main tasks of the lesson and providing it’s within the last 10 minutes of the lesson, they can head over to the display and choose their plenary task.

Originally I was thinking of creating plenary dice but realised that it would be some what difficult to store them on a notice board so came up with the idea of a plenary grid. After a quick search on Google I found it wasn’t an original idea and rather than create my own from scratch I decided to use an editable version of the original roll a plenary. A great time saver.

I decided to change a number of the plenary activities to suit my classes and the techniques I use regularly within my department. This is my version of @ASTsupportAAli & @tombrush1982 great work.

roll a plenary grid


I’m going to print it onto A3 paper, laminate it and pin it to the board. Alongside I will store some dice in a pot and encourage the pupils to engage with the Roll a Plenary when they are finished. Other times as a class we’ll Roll a Plenary together and all carry out the chosen task. My plan is to have copies of exit tickets, jigsaw sheets, social media style print out etc. stored on the board in plastic wallets for easy access.

Once completed I will update this post with pictures of the display and copies of the plenary print outs.

How do you finish a lesson? Do you think a plenary is always needed?

Mrs Humanities

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Humanities in the News Classroom Display


Some pupils and I have created our Humanities in the News display. We’ve started with a profile on the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the cyclone in India and the discovery of a Viking horde in Scotland.  Great array of reading. I’ve a pupil working on an Ebola piece this weekend and hopefully after the half term a few more articles will role in. I’m hoping this will encourage my learners to take an interest in the news and expand their global knowledge.  I thought it would be a great way to stretch the more able and engage all learners. 

The idea is that the display will be regularly updated as pupils discover and report new stories. All ‘previous’ reports that have done their time will be kept in a file which pupils will have access to for reading and research.

I look forward to many more updates on the board and pupil participation in the project. 

Do you do anything similar?  Would you try it? Tell me your views in the comments.

Mrs Humanities