Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Mrs Humanities shares… templates for teaching

One of the things I mention to people when I talk about how I’ve cut down my workload is how I have a template bank of ‘go-to’ resources.

My template bank includes resources for scaffolding, teaching activities, retrieval practice and feedback. Along with a PowerPoint template in which I’ve been using since 2014. So I thought I’d tell you a little about them and share a few with you.

PowerPoints

My powerpoint template is as follows:

I first created a template to suit students with SLCN and Autism during my NQT year, after doing some work with my SENCo at the time. I had a large number of students with SEN and wanted to ensure I was doing the best for them. My template has come some way since my first creation as I learnt more about dyslexia and other specific learning needs.

It’s quite simple. The learning objective and list of keywords for the lesson are repeated on each slide. Then each colour textbook represents different information as follows:

I’ve chosen pastel colours for textbooks and a light grey for the background. Reason being they are beneficial for dyslexic students and reduces eye strain associated with white backgrounds.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

My powerpoints are pretty small these days in comparison to what they used to be, usually a maximum 10 slides per lesson. Videos are embedded and instructions are made clear. Students are allowed to access the resources digitally in lessons via their phones or devices if required for SEN. Download a copy of the template here.

Example Powerpoint

Teaching Resources

Next I have a bank of go-to teaching resources and keep them in a template bank folder. I have about 30 in total for different skills I want students to develop and simply adapt to suit the content, class and students. I’ve put some of them into a document for you here.

In my resource template bank, I have resources for a wide variety of activities from activities to describe patterns or to encourage interpretation, analysis and linking to templates for revision and retrieval, peer assessment and teacher feedback.

They can all be easily adapted and either projected on the board or printed off.

More recently I’ve created a set template for our MYP (Key Stage 3) assessed work – formative and summative – along with the feedback to go with them which my whole department use. We simply project the instructions on the board and print out for those that need a hard copy whilst feedback is printed and highlighted during live marking and after completion. More information on these can be found here.

Self-assessment and monitoring

I also have templates for student self assessment and monitoring. At GCSE and IB students are required to regularly assess their own learning through the use of AfL grids/booklets.

The IB template provides space for the topic content, the case studies and the examples studied. I’ve simply copied all of this information from the specification.

IB AfL grid template
IB AfL grid example

The GCSE ones outline the course content with key terminology/skills and case studies or examples.

GCSE AfL grid example

I put these into a booklet for students to make it easier to check students are self-assessing. You can find out more about the GCSE booklet here and IB ones here.

Less is More

When it comes to planning and workload, the one thing that has helped me though has been to simplify what I’m doing in the classroom with my students. Rather than focusing on engagement, I now think more about the actual learning and what I want students to achieve and go with the motto that “less is more”. This then feeds into how I assess learning and provide feedback – it becomes part of a feedup-feedback-feedforward cycle – whereby I am modelling and clarifying, allowing students to work, assessing and then feeding back, all of which then feeds forward into my short, medium and long term planning.

How do you manage your workload? What are your top tips for reducing it?


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Resource – MYP Inquiry and Feedback Templates

One of the things I really wanted to improve in the last academic year was my departments approach to MYP criterion B – Investigation. In order to do so I set about creating inquiry templates to support our students to develop their approach to this criterion and to improve the teacher’s understanding and application of materials to support.

Criterion B: Investigating Students develop systematic research skills and processes associated with disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Students develop successful strategies for investigating independently and in collaboration with others.

International Baccalaureate

In order to achieve this, I looked into ways to develop investigation in the Individuals and Societies. Since my research proved challenging, I set about exploring the individual elements of criterion B which were:

  • creating research questions
  • formulating an action plan
  • collecting and recording relevant information
  • reflection

My research led me to develop inquiry planning sheets which initially looked something like this for both individual and group investigation.

Feedback from students had been positive however they highlighted some areas for improvement. Their feedback led to the creation of two versions, one for individual inquiry and one for group inquiry as well as increased guidance.

Individual
Group

As you can see, the template suggests that teachers ought to remove elements of the scaffold as students become more independent in their approach to Criterion B.

My research also led to the creation of an improved summative assessment instruction template:

Template
Example

I decided to keep the summative assessment feedback sheets as they were:

We are yet to reach a summative task, however feedback on the new and improved inquiry planning sheets have been positive.

If you’d like access to the templates, click here.

Feedback from MYP teachers very much welcomed.


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Creating a Coherent Curriculum: Geography

Creating a coherent curriculum is no easy feat. I know because I once did it from scratch single-handily for Humanities!

Thankfully, I’m no longer in that position and have a fantastic team around me to develop ours. In the 3 years I’ve been at this school, I’ve been making slow changes to our MYP (KS3) Geography curriculum.

What I inherited was okay, but it desperately needed a revamp and some coherency. In that time there have been two new IB specs one for Geography and one for ESS, along with the new 9-1 GCSE spec, MYP unfortunately had to take a back seat. However this year, it’s turning into what I’ve envisaged for the past 3 years; a coherent curriculum, and I’m excited.

I’m going to outline the steps taken but do note this has been a slow process and not all in one go. I didn’t want to change everything at once.

Step 1. Planning Backwards


The first step has actually been getting my head around the new IB and GCSE specs and considering how everything we do prior to exam years is foundation setting whether it be skills or knowledge and understanding.

I carefully unpicked the assessment criteria and content of the IB and GCSE specifications in order to work out exactly where we were going to go with our curriculum. Some questions that drove my thinking included:

  • What do they need to be able to do at the end of GCSE?
  • What do they need to be able to do at the end of IB?
  • What would we want them to take away from Geography if they decided not to carry it on at GCSE or IB?
  • How were we going to develop and enhance our students understanding and experience over the 5 or 7 years in which they study geography?
  • How were we going to enable them to get the most of their studies?
  • How could we support and facilitate them in becoming independent learners?
  • How could we take their learning beyond the specifications?

Useful Resources

Start at the End -A Case for Backwards Planning
How to use Backwards design for effective lesson planning!
Outstanding Teaching: Teaching Backwards
TEACHING BACKWARDS TOPIC PLANNER

Step 2. Spiraling Curriculum

Before the next step I investigated the concept of a spiraling curriculum and from there considered with my team at the time the themes, concepts and skills we felt should be built upon from year 7 to year 13.

Our reoccurring themes were to include:

  1. Physical geography
  2. Population and Demographics
  3. Culture and Society
  4. Sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals
  5. Global Interactions
  6. Geographical Skills

Since I didn’t want to change everything at once, I decided it would be beneficial to make as much use of what we already had in place and instead refocus and develop it. So with that in mind we decided upon the overall topics of study. They were to be as follows:

Year 7Year 8Year 9
Geographical SkillsSustainable Development Development
SettlementsBiomes and EcosystemsWeather and Climate
ResourcesPower and ConflictTourism
Tectonics

Then we decided on some regional or national areas of study to locationally focus the themes.

Initially we decided on the following:

Year 7Year 8Year 9
EuropeBrazilNorthern Africa
UKChinaUK
IcelandMiddle EastThe World

I wrote about my initial ideas here towards the end of year 1.

However the following year when we actually started to implement a spiraling curriculum, we decided to change some of our initial plans. We removed the topic on tourism and replaced it with a topic from GCSE – The Challenge of Resource Management.

In doing so we made our Weather and Climate topic the unit in which we assessed all 4 MYP I&S criterion to be able give students an overall grade for their MYP experience when we then wrote their reports in the Summer. We created a unit which provided lots of insight into and knowledge of the topic and then allowed students to follow the avenue of inquiry they found of most interest.

Useful Resources

Research into Practice: The Spiral Curriculum
The Evidence People: Jerome Bruner’s constructivist model and the spiral curriculum for teaching and learning

Step 3. Planning Assessments

Next step was looking at the formative and summative assessments we already had and considering how they fitted in. Initially there had been too many assessed pieces of work in the units; I wanted to strip that back and look at how they actually fed into one another across the unit, across the year and across the key stage.

To do this I looked at the content, the skills and summative assessment for the unit as well as how we were going to build upon that from the units came before. It required big picture thinking.

What I came up with was a formative and summative assessment similar to that outlined below:

feedback

This example is for year 8. It identifies the assessed work for the topic, both formative and summative and who should be assessing and feedbacking on it. Tasks that required students to be provided with the opportunity to feedforward on the piece of work were also identified.

In the first topic, the feedback for the first two pieces of feedforward work came from the teacher so as to set up expectations and demonstrate effective feedback that allowed for action. From there the teacher could develop effective peer assessment routines that allowed students to feedback to one another before acting on that feedback prior to teacher assessment.

At the same time, each assessed piece of work assessed different MYP criterion. We looked carefully at the spread across the year to ensure all criterion could be built upon as students progressed.

Step 4. Planning Feedback

Final stage in all of this has been planning feedback, although this had been considered throughout it was only at the end that I could make it all explicit. I set about creating success criteria and feedback sheets for formative and summative assessed MYP work.

The feedback sheets for formative assessed work now look something like this:

Template
In use

Whilst summative feedback looks something like this:

In action

The criterion changes dependent on that which is applicable.

An example of how I use and embed formative and sumamtive feedback in my MYP classroom can be seen here.

GCSE and IB were somewhat easier to plan for. We only assess past paper/exam style questions – these equate to assessed work every 2-3 weeks. More info here. Therefore assessment for learning, self and peer assessment and verbal feedback is vital in lessons to ensure students leave feeling confident in what they have covered and so the teacher can effectively plan future lessons based upon the feedback they receive from the above.

Useful Resources

https://mrshumanities.com/2019/01/02/mrs-humanities-shares-10-useful-blog-posts-about-feedback/

What changes have taken place?

Many!
Towards the end of the last academic year, I sought to update the MYP curriculum in which we’d developed, particularly our year 7 curriculum. Since only 2/4 of us would be here come September, we both worked together to redesign our year 7 experience to give a global insight which would lead to national/regional studies in year 8 and 9.

Whilst this year we are exploring the embedding the themes implicitly rather than explicitly in year 7 and whilst maintaining the explicit themes in year 8 and 9.

What does it look like completed?

To start with, we are still working on this. My team has changed this year so their input into the development of the curriculum I feel is important. My aim this year to improve on our collaborative unit planning and resource sharing to ensure consistency in experience across geography.

So this is what our MYP curriculum looks like at present.

The following is an example of a unit of inquiry from our MYP curriculum. You can see that it outlines the objectives, content and assessment.

At GCSE we follow AQA and at Key Stage 5 we follow the IB. The development of these is a whole other post.

So for now I’ll leave you with some useful reading to support the above approach to curriculum planning.

Useful Reading

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Best wishes,


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Resource – Metacognition in Lessons

If you haven’t already read my post on metacognition in the classroom, I’d suggest starting there as it provided some context to the resource I’m sharing in this post.

I first came across the term ‘meta-cognition’ 4 years into my teaching career when I attended a Stretch and Challenge Conference back in 2015. Yet I’d been applying meta-cognitive strategies since I started teaching. Once I was able to put a name to the strategies I employed it opened up a world of other examples, evidence and approaches. Since then it forms a regular part of my teaching practice and is fundamental to the feedup-feedback-feedforward cycle that’s constantly implemented in my classroom.

As a subject leader however, I didn’t feel it was as embedded across my department as I would have liked. So over the summer I set about creating a resource that would help my team to apply metacognitivie practices in their classroom. It started with a PowerPoint split into two parts, first part information and guidance on metacognition for staff whilst the second part consisted of question slides for use with students. I don’t use the resource myself, however these are the kinds of questions I ask students as we plan, as they work, as they reflect and as we evaluate.

I hope the PowerPoint is a resource from which my colleagues will extract ideas from for their own lesson planning.

Teacher Slides

I’ll be making use of these in the first subject collaboration session later in this term to outline what metacognition is and how it should be applied within geography as part of our day to day teaching practice.

Student Slides

These slides are simply a range of questions associated with the following stages of the teaching process used in MYP Geography:

  • Planning (feed-up)
  • Monitoring (feedback – student to teacher, peer to peer)
  • Evaluation (feedback – student to teacher, teacher to student)
  • Reflection (feedforward)

One of my objectives for the last academic year was to develop student understanding of MYP I&S Criterion B – Investigation (more info here). This meant developing our students understanding of inquiry planning, effective research, academic honesty and assessment of sources within the context of geography. Many of the questions incorporated in the student slides I’ve incorporated into the resources I’ve been building to develop the elements above (I’ll write more about these in due course).

If you’d like a copy of the Powerpoint, simply click here. Hope you can find it of use.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities explores… How the fight against climate change is more than just school strikes and protests.

Yesterday as a number of my students chose to discuss the school strikes on climate change with me, I decided it was time to talk to them about how the fight against climate change goes far beyond policy change. That politicians, governments and world leaders aren’t the only ones that need to take action.

Starting the Discussion

When student’s asked me my thoughts I decided it was time to talk to them about behavioural change. I asked many of them to consider the actions they take to fight climate change. Many of them had little to say except we recycle.

We discussed the benefits of raising awareness through protests and strikes and that through such action we can ask for change, but it also requires us to change.

As a Geographer I teach the science, the evidence and the impacts. We touch on ecological footprints throughout and consider ways to reduce ours, we explore in detail mitigation and adaptation methods too. But I’ve forgotten to put taking action into my curriculum design.

Helpless

Often I think young people feel helpless when it comes to global issues. They have little say in the matters that will concern them in the future. Take the EU referendum for instance, I’ve worked in two schools during the entire process from proposal to now, both very different contexts. However, the EU referendum intrigued the students and engaged them in politics. I remember the day the results were announced and it was all many of my students talked about for the rest of the day; many disappointed, a few pleased others just unsure. But what they understood was that their futures were influenced by the decisions of others and that they had no say in the matter. They felt angered by this. Many of my current students feel the same way.

But acting on climate change is something they can do. We need to empower young people to see that dealing with world issues isn’t beyond their control. If they want to see change in the world, they mustn’t be apathetic about it. Small changes make a big difference. Our choices influence decisions being made my others. For instance, if we start to boycott instead of supporting polluting brands, they will eventually change their ways.

Behavioural Change

Prior to training to teach I worked for several months with Global Action Plan on their EcoTeams project.

EcoTeams originated in the Netherlands in the 1990s and since then over 150,000 people have participated worldwide.

An EcoTeam is a group of householders who get together once a month over a five- to six-month period to follow a step-by-step process of manageable actions on sustainable living. Team members measure their household’s environmental impact, share their experiences and agree together on practical lasting changes.

NSMC
Source: https://www.thensmc.com/resources/showcase/ecoteams

The project involved providing workshops to EcoTeam leaders that would then set up EcoTeams in their local area. The idea being that each team would take weekly changes to their behaviour with the ultimate aim of reducing resource consumption, their ecological footprints and their environmentally detrimental behaviours.

Reflecting on the climate strikes has got me thinking about how we as teachers, school leaders and adults can support young people in changing behaviours, attitudes and ultimately influence policymakers.

Going Forward

Working in an International Baccalaureate schools means we provide opportunities for ‘Creativity, activity, service’ within the diploma and at KS4. We’ve introduced the community project to year 9’s this year and students started to explore ways of taking action in their school community.

Whilst there are plenty of extra-curricular opportunities. This has got me thinking about how to develop this into the curriculum right from year 7.

At present we are teach about energy resources in the UK and within the topic they learn about the UK’s energy mix, the pros and cons of renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels, we explore and debate fracking and consider how the UK could become a ‘Zero Carbon Britain‘. I’m now considering how we can develop activism and behavioural change into this unit.

How do you develop student actions on global issues? Would love to here more on what others are doing, feel free to leave a comment.


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Resource – Geography in the News Reading Review Sheet

During a lesson with one of my year 13 classes recently, it became apparent that I often ask “did you see in the news…?” after my students highlighted the fact that I regularly ask it and they always say “nope”.

It got me thinking about how I can get them to engage with current affairs, especially as so much of it is relevant to the IB Geography course particularly the higher level topics. This morning it came to me! As part of their revision process I’m going to get them to find, read and review news articles that link to the content they have covered. They will then share their findings with the class in order to develop discussion and a review of their prior learning. In particular I want them to be able to see the bigger picture of how much of the content links.

In order to help facilitate this process I’ve created this resource sheet.

It got me thinking about how I can engage other year groups in reading around the subject, especially as there are a number of students that excel in Geography every year and I encourage to read and watch the news to be able to draw upon other examples in their work.

I therefore decided to make a similar sheet for MYP (Key Stage 3) to use for Geography as a stand alone subject, for Individuals and Societies as a discipline and for IB Environmental Systems and Societies. For MYP I’m thinking I might set it as one homework per unit of inquiry.

I’ve made a further version which is more general and can be used with any year group.

To download editable version and a PDF, click here.

Hope you find them of use.


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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