Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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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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Resource – The Hydrological Cycle

I created the foundations for this lesson in my PGCE year but have recently updated it for my year 8’s.

It’s quite an engaging activity and my students have taken a lot of the key terminology from it in the past. This version is for higher ability students but it’s pretty easy to differentiate or scaffold.

Activity Set Up

  1. Set the room up into ‘stations’.
  2. Place one ‘station card’ at each station along with dice.stations.png
  3. Student’s start at a station and record their location.
  4. They roll the die and look up the corresponding instruction.
  5. Students move to the identified destination.
  6. As they do so they record the transfer process that allowed them to move from one part of the cycle to the next.
  7. After 8-10 minutes students should have moved around a considerable number of the stations to be able to create a systems diagram.

Follow Up

To follow up from the activity I have students each other about their journey around the hydrological cycle, at which point they tend to compare and contrast.

I then select a few students to feedback to the class. Usually they forget to explain why they transferred from one part of the cycle to the next. So I will ask other students to improve upon the answer given when they outline their journey.

New Tasks

This time I’ll be getting my students to create a systems diagram of the stores and flows of water in the cycle. Before doing so students will come up and add to the list either side to enable students to differentiate between stores and flows. systems diagram.png

Finally my students will be answering a question that I offer them 8 marks for. We will discuss the different between describe and explain and then look at the example given. Students will reflect upon the example to explain why it has only achieve 4 marks and what they would do to improve.

question.png
After that students will write their own answer and peer assess what is produced.

peer assessment.png

If you’d like a copy you can download it here.

Hope you can make use of it.

Mrs Humanities


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Zombie Apocalypse Atlas and Map Skills SoW

I have a confession, I really like post-apocalyptic fiction.  Last year I wanted to take some of this enjoyment and create some tension and fun in the classroom.

I decided to make my favourite resource of all time, a geographical scheme of work based on the concept of a disease spreading around the world, through Europe and into the UK. I wanted to add a sense of excitement and tension through challenges that led to learning and the practice of key geographical skills.

I spent a number of hours last summer creating the perfect project and thoroughly enjoyed teaching it. Unfortunately my students at the time didn’t quite get my enthusiasm and eagerness, oh well.

Within this scheme of work is a booklet, as students work through the activities they have challenges to complete in order to find their way to safety.

They start with 12 hours (6 lessons), each mistake they make in the work costs them 1 day. Their challenge is to make it to the end with as many ‘days’ left as possible.

Front page.png

Ideally students work in groups to complete the challenges, sharing the workload and supporting one another through the tasks. Each mission is essentially a lesson depending on the ability of your students.

Missions look something like this…

Mission Objective 1 – Map Infected Cities across the World
Mission Objective 2 – Decode the message, find the identified locations
Mission Objective 3 – create a map to show the spread of the disease in the UK
Mission Objective 4 – Locate supplies and feed directions to the team on foot
Mission Objective 5 – Locate and Find Survivors
Mission Objective 6 – Locate to Safety

There’s plenty of room for extension for your more able students with Missions to Extend at the end and possibility for differentiation throughout.

extension.png

In addition each mission has success criteria and resources for self/peer assessment.

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answers.png

So I guess here’s the part you’re waiting for… the resources.

Yes… they’re coming.

You can find them here for free, all I ask is that you do not edit and share.

Feedback is welcomed!!!

Hope you can make use of it.

Mrs Humanities

Creative Commons License
MrsHumanities Zombie Map and Atlas Skills by Victoria Hewett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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Experiences in Long Term Planning

Planning lessons, is probably one of my favourite parts of being a teacher.

If I’m honest it wasn’t until half way through my NQT year that I started to see that it’s not so much the planning lesson by lesson that’s important it’s the planning of learning as a whole over a period of time.

Initially I would lesson plan by looking at the SoW and planning each lesson by what the scheme said should be taught. I later came to realise I hated this, it made teaching rigid and meant I was pretty much teaching to the test.

When I became Head of Humanities I was provided with the opportunity to start from scratch. The school was in its first year of opening, the former HoD left nothing behind so I literally had a blank canvas to work with. Whilst at times it was hard, it meant I learnt a lot about structuring learning over time – for each topic for each year group I’d consider the knowledge and understanding required, identify the skills focus, create a variety of forms of summative assessment and organise opportunities for formative assessment.

In my first year (2014 – 2015) I was writing schemes of work like this…

SOW

These would be for each year group (7,8,10 & 11) for each topic (6 per year in KS3) for each lesson of the topic. This was the expectation. Since I was the only one in the department I had to plan each lesson, resource each lesson and then embed it all into the SoW.

Last year (2015 – 2016) I decided this was too time consuming and eventually started writing schemes of work more along these lines…

example

This was much easier, it simply outlined the topic title and skills focus, assessment weeks and data input weeks. The resources provided the lesson outline, resources etc. so why did I need to repeat it all in another document? The lessons were organised clearly into the department folder like so…

organised

…this meant that any other teachers teaching Humanities could quite simply find out which lesson they were on and find it in the folder along with all the resources necessary to teach it. All they needed to do then was differentiate to suit their classes.

For each topic I had the outcomes in mind and outlined at them at the start of the SoW. This meant non-specialists knew the aims and objectives for the SoW.

outcomes

From the feedback I received from non-specialists this made it a lot easier to know where they were in the SoW and where they were heading with it; making it easier to prepare for summative assessments and data input.

Over the long term, I’d look at the skills being taught across the year to ensure an even spread of each assessment objective (see table below) for the key Humanities subjects of Geography and History.  Each formative assessment would assess students ongoing knowledge and understanding and would focus on particular assessment objectives.

AOS

For example this assessment (below) focused primarily on source interpretation as part of assessment objective HAO3 Source Skills. However the task required students to draw upon their knowledge and understanding of the topic which meant they also covered aspects of other assessment objectives. This helped when providing holistic grades for students.

assessment

So this has been approach to planning over time, hope it’s provided some ideas to help you.

 

 

 

 


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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