Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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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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Resource – ACE Peer Assessment

As I’ve spoken about already in my last few posts is the role of peer assessment in my classroom. This is something I particularly focus on with sixth form.

I want them to understand mark schemes and understand the exam style questions.

In order to help with this I’ve introduced with them ACE peer assessment.

Quite simply students swap their essays or answers to past paper questions and carry out the following using the mark schemes:

They tick if they accept what is written, they place a small triangle next to a point if they wish to challenge something, then pose a question at the end of the piece of work and finally place an asterisk next to anything they think needs extending in order to get full marks.

ACE peer assessment.png

Students do not give each grades, only how many marks they think have been achieved before improvements are made.

Students are then given time to make improvements to their work based upon the feedback provided by their peers.

I then check and give an overall mark for their work after improvements. However I keep a record of before and after improvements to demonstrate the progress being made following feedback.

Here’s a word and PDF version of the display posters I’ve created so I don’t have to keep writing it on the board.

What do you think of ACE peer assessment? Something you could use?

Mrs Humanities

 

 


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#TMHistoryIcons Presentation – Developing Independence in the Humanities Classroom

This is several months late, but here’s my presentation from #TMHistoryIcons.

DevelopingIndependenceFinal

In my presentation I outlined some of the ways I’ve been working on developing independence in my classroom.

Strategies I outlined included

Here’s a few of the slides.

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It was an absolute pleasure to present amongst so many excellent practitioners, can’t wait until next year.

Any questions feel free to ask.

Mrs Humanities


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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.

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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

timeline
-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

templates

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.

Success?

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

 

 

 

 


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Developing Independent Learners – Attempts at Flipped Learning

During Term 3 and 4 of this year I attempted flipped learning with one of my year groups. I came to the decision to attempt it based on their feedback, however it didn’t work out as effectively as I’d hoped.

This post will outline my approach and top tips, success and failures could be a whole other post.

Approach

Pre-Learning/ Homework

For a unit of work on rivers I wanted a particular year group to take some independence in their learning. I set up week by week pre-learning activities on SAM learning*.

Each activity would introduce key concepts, processes and vocabulary – the activities were always supported by a video or web link that students could use for extra support. The weekly activities were based around reading some information or watching a video clip and then either answering some multiple choice questions or fill the blanks. .

The activity for the term was  to create a project on rivers – this could be in any chosen form such as booklets, posters, models with info sheets, videos, PowerPoints etc. Their creativity was their only limit. I really didn’t mind how they presented their understanding.

Classwork

In the first lesson students were given a prior knowledge entry ticket, they were introduced to the project and given task sheets. Everything was explained to them and an introduction to rivers was given.

task

Each week then had a different focus.

  • Week 1 – Planning and research
  • Week 2 – Features of a River Drainage Basin
  • Week 3 – River Processes (erosion and weathering)
  • Week 4 – River Processes (transportation and deposition)
  • Week 5 – River Landforms (waterfalls and gorges)
  • Week 6 – River Landforms (meanders and ox-bow lakes)

The pre-learning covered the topic for the following week

  • Week 1 – Features of a River Drainage Basin
  • Week 2 – River Processes (erosion and weathering)
  • Week 3 – River Processes (transportation and deposition)
  • Week 4 – River Landforms (waterfalls and gorges)
  • Week 5 – River Landforms (meanders and ox-bow lakes)
  • Week 6 – Revision

Students were given the learning matrix for the topic which outlined the success criteria and how they could work their way up each band.

matrix

It outlined the ‘Need to Know’ questions and the links to the assessment objectives as well as outlining what they needed to demonstrate in order achieve each bronze, silver or gold in the topic.

Each lesson students had access to a variety of resources including information sheets in the ‘Help Yourself’ station, textbooks, revision guides and their SAM learning work. On occasions students also had access to iPads.

Assessment of Learning

— Prior Knowledge Entry Ticket

At the start of the topic students were given a prior knowledge entry ticket that looked like this.

prior knowledge

Students simply ticked off what they thought they knew. This was rather interesting to identify their starting points and perceptions on what they thought they knew. For the first few lessons I would question students based on what they thought they already knew, later I would question them on what they identified as not understanding. Students came back to this in the final week and in a different colour ticked off what they knew again.

– – Entry Tickets

At the start of each lesson students were given a entry ticket on arrival, before getting on with their projects they had to complete and peer assess the entry ticket. If students struggled with any aspects or did not achieve 80% they would be invited (or instructed) to attend an in lesson (or sometimes out of lesson) tutorial to support their learning.

— RAG Rated SAM Learning Activities

Each week I could see a RAG rating of student understanding. If a student achieved less than 60% they would have a tutorial in the lesson whilst the rest of the class carried on with the activity.

— Learning Matrix

Once in lesson tutorials were undertaken and students felt confident to move on, I would spend time discussing the work and providing feedback to students on their progress to far. To do this we would first look at the need to know questions and students would identify which ones they felt they had addressed so far. Next we looked at the banded success criteria and again students would identify the criteria they felt they achieved so far, I would then look at their work and discuss it with them. Whilst i did this I would highlight the criteria they had achieved in yellow and if there was something I thought they could do to improve I would highlight the criteria in pink.

Students then had the opportunity to go away and try to achieve the highlighted criteria, later on they would get it checked and signed off by me.

Top Tips

  • Introduce pre-learning over time – don’t introduce it all at once, embed  pre-learning over time and slowly introduce the use of pre-learning into several lessons over the term. Once achieved then introduce it across the whole term.
  • Use entry or exit tickets – these were a fantastic way of assessing student understanding. They were simple in terms of what they assessed – recall of subject knowledge – but allowed for instant feedback on what students were understanding from the SAM learning activities,  tutorials and classwork.
  • Use an electronic system for pre-learning – having access to a system such as SAM Learning meant I could track who was actively accessing the resources at home, how many attempts they made at the activity and if they were making progress over time in the scores achieved.
  • Give it a go – although I will put my hands up and say it wasn’t a complete success this time, I discovered more about my students and their ability to work independently; there were those that really struggled and just couldn’t cope and those that thrived with the opportunity  whilst there were also a whole load in between.
  • Finally have a back up plan – if you find individuals or groups of learners are not able to access the learning in this manner (which you will) ensure you have a back up. I ended up with one class split into those that worked with me in the usual style whilst the rest of the class worked independently, checking in with me for support and feedback when necessary.

I will save my success and failures for another time.

If you were thinking of trying flipped learning, I hope this post has given you ideas.

Feel free to ask any questions.

Mrs Humanities

*Note: I am not affiliated with SAM Learning in anyway, I’ve not been paid or asked to promote them either. I’m just referring to them in reference to my experience. There are many other fantastic sites that provide a similar service or opportunities for flipped learning including Edmodo, Show my Homework and Google Classroom to name just a few.