Mrs Humanities

teacher . blogger . friend


Sharing Resources – TES


Since I’m moving on from my current role and won’t be needing many of the units of work and resources I created over the past two years, I’ve decided to upload and share them for others to access and use freely.

Although I’m happy for the new Head of Department to have them, I also want others to benefit from the time and effort I’ve put into making them (and there’s been a lot).

So to view the full units of work and download any of the resources follow the links below

I will add more links to this post as I upload to the TES.

The Powerpoints are all my work, most of the resources are but some I’ve edited and reformed into pieces suitable for my classes. If I’ve failed to give credit where credit is due (more than likely) please let know and I will amend.

Feedback is always appreciated as I like to know how to improve my work, however please don’t moan about the use of Open Dyslexic font (yes, it’s happened).

You can find other resources of mine through my TES shop (although everything is free).

Hope you find the resources of use.

Mrs Humanities


Need to Know Learning Matrix

learning matrixThis year grades 1-9 were  introduced into the tracking system for Key Stage 3. I struggled at first, in fact I still am, but the Need to Know Learning Matrix were my approach to tracking progress over the term for each of topics studied.


Not only does it allow me to track progress, outline Schemes of Work to the students and provide feedback, it encourages independent learning and reduces the time i spend marking and writing extensive feedback.

I started the year with simply listing need to know questions and success criteria but then realised that by coding the criteria I could provide quality feedback without the extensive write comments in the students books.

I simply use two different colour highlighters, fill in the key and highlight the coded success criteria. Firstly I highlight the criteria achieved in one colour, then highlight the criteria I would like the students to attempt in another; once this criteria has been achieved I simply tick it off.


I quickly l took to writing WWW and listing the criteria codes followed by the level up steps and the criteria codes I wanted the student to work on during DIRT. Sometimes I just write the criteria code with a tick to indicate it’s completion.


For lower ability students I may write questions to support them in achieving the coded criteria with a box to indicate the expected length of the answer.

level up2

If this has intrigued you can download my Need to Know Learning Matrix template here.

I’ve also uploaded a number of them on to TES, feel free to download and leave feedback.

Hope they’re of use.


Mrs Humanities



Developing Independent Learners


This term I’ve been using independent learning projects with some of my classes in year 7 & 8.

At the start of the topic I discussed with the students the success criteria for the topic and asked them how they would like to go about carrying out the scheme of work.

We discussed several ways of working on this SoW

a) a menu – where students select ‘items’ from the menu to produce over the term to produce a piece of work that meets Bronze, Silver or Gold standard.

b) personal choice – where students could make their own decisions on how to present their work

c) guided – where the teacher provides suitable learning activities to meet the success criteria

Each class voted for b – personal choice.

We then discussed whether working in groups or individually would be better. All of year 8 decided on groups of no more than 3 so they can easily learn what others have discovered.

The majority of year 7 decided to go with groups, again of no more than 3, but a few wanted to work individually as they felt they would get distracted working in groups. Very mature of them to admit so I was happy for them to work alone.

We then had a planning lesson; focusing on how we would learn what we need to learn. We discussed approaches to research, presentation and feedback.

As guidance all students have a copy of the Need to Know Questions and topics success criteria  both in the front of their books and in their planners. Here’s the year 7 version.

learning matrix yr 7


In the initial lessons we discussed the meaning of the command words e.g. describe, identify, locate, define and what these might look like at Bronze, Silver and Gold standard.


To support and direct students with their learning I’ve put resources in the ‘Help Yourself’ Resource Station for students to access. 20160108_162028The main purpose of these has been to support students when they just can’t quite find the answers they are looking for or need focus on what it is they need to do. I’ve a variety of resources to enable students to meet the success criteria from information sheets like this…

info sheets

…to worksheets/activities like these…

population densitypopulationfeatures.png

…all intended to help them to learn about an aspect of the topic that could then be applied to their project.

Students have been very good at using the resources to develop their understanding and then apply it to their chosen project format.


Students have set their own homework based upon their groups or individual progress. A few I’ve had to guide in the process but on the whole students have been self-motivated in and out of class.

Presentation of Work

Students opted for personal choice. This is enabled a variety of approaches to meeting the same success criteria. Some are making information booklets, others posters or PowerPoints. One group is demonstrating their learning as a blog another has created a Passport to Britain. The creative has been incredibly.

For example to meet the same objective one group have started to create a 3D relief salt dough map by interpreting a relief map from the Atlas.

relief(A work in progress, by the end of term this will have human and physical features located using cocktail sticks)

Whilst another group have traced a map of the British Isles and coloured in their relief map, they followed this by doing the same with population distribution so they could overlay and compare the two.

relief map


To check student progress throughout the lessons I have been having ‘progress’ chats with groups and/or individuals to check their understanding. During this process I tick off and highlight with them the criteria they have achieved and the criteria they need to focus on. I question them and challenge them to further progress on what they have learnt.

Having this time with students has enabled me to get to know more about how my students learn and what I can do to further support them on their journey to independence.

In addition to the chats they’ve done a few quick fire quizzes at the end of lessons and have completed exit tickets and entry tickets.

For example after the first week of lessons, students completed a simple exit ticket. I assessed their answers and those I felt hadn’t demonstrated enough progress were identified using traffic lights and answered the corresponding questions. This encouraged them to develop and level up the initial answers they’d put on the exit tickets in the previous lesson.

Then each lesson since they’ve then self-assessed their work and had discussions with me on the next steps to either reach gold or to securely meet the silver criteria outlined.

entry ticket week 2 yr 7.png


Students have either chosen the criteria they are aiming for based on their progress this year so far and their confidence in the task – most are aiming for gold. I’ve directed some to the criteria they should focus on however.

Some students I meet with at the start of the lesson and bullet point the criteria they need to focus on that lesson, some I will provide specific resources for to enable them to do so. The rest are either directed to resources or simply have mastered the independence and get one with it completely by themselves.

In year 8, groups have been awarding each other points for the following team work, leadership, creativity, out of a school work, self/peer assessment and personal effort.  They’ve been looking at the successes of others in their team and awarding one another what they see as suitable. It’s created a very collaborative environment with the icing on the cake being their explanations as to why the person deserves the points. Creates smiles all round.


Conclusion so far… 

These are my finding so far

  • Engagement across the board, students arrive eager and leave happy
  • A collaborative and supportive atmosphere is clear
  • My favourite phase has come to be… “Miss, did you know…” my year 8 students are frequently teaching me things about the adventurers and the explorers.
  • Students feel empowered in their learning
  • Opportunity to have conversations with students has enabled a greater understanding of how they learn best
  • Opportunity to share successes and excitement about the topic and their learning
  • Freedom to work at their own pace – some have spent more time on certain aspects whilst others have spent less
  • Consideration of what they already know has allowed for different starting points
  • Students are deepening what they already know
  • Marking and feedback has been on-going in lessons, students have accessed feedback immediately
  • I’ve been doing less ‘work’ in lessons and students have been doing more.

I can not wait to see the finished pieces and final projects.

Do you do anything similar? How could it be applied in your classroom.

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


Life after Levels – Taking GCSE grades into KS3

Life after levelsIt was decided at the end of last year that across the school the GCSE grades would be taken down into Key Stage 3 as an approach to life after levels. I truly struggled with this concept over the summer holidays and in fact still am, as a result I turned to twitter.

My goodness, the response was rapid; I’m clearly not the only one struggling.

I firstly mentioned that I had introduced the 1-9 grades to KS3 this week using a feedback grid. In the lesson we discussed what the GCSE grades equated to in terms of ‘old’ levels – my school have created a conversion from levels to grades 1-9 which are linked to progress points. The grades have then been broken down further into 4 categories; mastered, secure, developing and entering. Having a level to GCSE grade conversion makes things slightly easier for developing the new assessment system however a lack of information from the exam boards is making it more difficult.

From mentioning the introduction on twitter I ended up in discussion about the struggles we were having taking the grades down into KS3. Before long I was setting up a collaborative Dropbox for history and geography teachers to share ideas and to help others develop a 1-9 grading system at KS3.

I hope it will enable many educators from Humanities, Geography or History, who are struggling to develop a KS3 1-9 system to find a collaborative space to share ideas, research and approaches as well as an opportunity to gain feedback from other professionals. We are all approaching this with different experiences and ideas, hopefully with each other we can develop a system that works for each of us.

However this isn’t an attempt to create a standardised system but an opportunity to discuss and share to help us create something that works for each school, department and educator.

Please Note: Since we are in the dark in regard to grade descriptors at the moment yet have to create some form of assessment system, our assessment criteria may all change once grade descriptors are released.

If you’d like to join the list of contributors, send me an email at  or DM on twitter with your email address and I will happily add you to the list.

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

waterfall GIF

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Classroom Ideas – Making GIFs

making gifsThe other week I made a felt model of your typical stratovolcano to be used by learners during our dangerous world topic which you can see here. There are description cards and labels to go with the model to create a classroom teaching activity.

I then got thinking about other models I could make to demonstrate either features of a landform or the process of formation. Of course I asked twitter and got a few ideas I hadn’t already thought of.

So I went out and bought some more felt and proceeded to make a model to show the formation of a waterfall to support my learners in the rivers topic this year. Of course I got carried away and made my first attempt at making a stop motion video, which personally I think worked out quite well.

waterfall GIF

It was really easy to create, I used the app ‘Stop Motion Studio‘ which simply involves you moving small aspects of your scene and snapping a photo of it. However you can see from my video that making sure you take the photo at the same height and angle is important (although I also think it gives it a DIY lo when it isn’t). Next you need to play around with the Movie Speed to work out the appropriate frames per second; I played with this a few times before getting it about right. And then you simply save it in a GIF format. Done.

You can pay for add-ons but they are not necessary to make a basic stop motion GIF.

Since it was very easy and somewhat rather fun, I started thinking about ways of using it in class. In particular it got me thinking about how I could use this activity to develop learners understanding of the formation process of a variety of geographical features. I’ve decided that I will use it as a teaching resource, firstly my learners will use the pieces of felt to put the  model together, there are then a variety of routes we could go down. I’m thinking I’ll probably get them to then add the labels to the images and we’ll take a photo, then they will organise description cards to demonstrate the formation process. Once successful they will then use the school iPads to create their own short stop motion video which we can turn into a GIF. Perfect.

How could you use the idea in your subject? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.

Mrs Humanities

clouds gifts

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Reward Systems

RewardsI like rewarding my students for their hard work and determination, remember the topical rewards I created for Weather and Climate?

Towards the end of last year however I received some feedback from students that got me thinking about my approach.

clouds gifts

My Approach

In my classroom reward and praise has to be earned and my number one rule is don’t ask for merits. Usually because what they’ve asked for a merit for doesn’t deserve a merit in my eyes, yes you held the door open for a member of staff – just common courtesy; yes you put your hand up and waited to answer the questions – that’s school expectations; yes you said the correct answer after 2 other pupils got it wrong – but that’s called trying. I try not to reward the ‘small’ things. In my opinion you have to earn the reward and this requires effort and determination.

My personal approach for reward is for effort and attainment together. If pupils try hard, putting their full effort and concentration into a piece of work they will be rewarded with merits because they usually meet or exceed their working towards target for that progress point. Even if they don’t quite achieve their target, but they are focused when working then they will still be rewarded for their efforts.

What I don’t reward is a lack of effort, even if they meet their target (by fluke, substantial support or detentions which is usually the case).

The feedback had me considering this however over and over again, should I give reward for attainment even if effort is not substantial?

New Approach

None the less, I’ve taken on board what they have said and will be developing a new approach for the following academic year. I’m going to reward in two ways; firstly merits for effort, secondly merits for attainment.  I’m going to build this into the Feedback Grids I use so that is it clear which merits are awarded for what aspect.

In order to do this I’ve going to give a grade for their effort and the level achieved through one’s own efforts. I’m going to make it very explicit how merits are earned with a defined system of how many will be earned for what.


DIRT feedback grid

Rewarding Effort

Each term reports are sent home to parents with the student’s current level and grades for effort and homework. I’m going to use the same grading system in class with 1 = outstanding effort whilst 4 = unsatisfactory. I’m going to start getting students to reflect upon their own effort in lessons as well, so they can begin to understand why they are achieving the effort grades they are achieving each term.


effort reward system

Rewarding Attainment

Secondly based upon feedback I’m going to reward attainment as follows

attainment rewards

I hope this will make things clearer for pupils, so they know exactly how they are rewarded.


So here’s the new Humanities Reward System. It ties in with the school reward system but has a departmental approach to it. Fingers crossed it works, if not we’ll try something else.

reward system

What’s your approach to praise and reward?

Do you have an individual approach to rewarding students or is it the same across the school?

Love to hear of other examples.

Mrs Humanities


Classroom Ideas – Felt Models

Classroom ideas - felt modelsYesterday I wanted to use the computer to do some prep for September, however other half decided he also wanted to use

MY computer. Being the kind of person I am, I let him.

So I tried to do some crafting, had a serious lack of inspiration initially until I decided to combine my two favourite things – craft and geography.

Out came the felt, scissors, pencils, paper, glue… I basically made a mess.

I decided to make a felt model of a destructive volcano to aid learning, primarily targeted at year 7 but ended up thinking that some of my older students with appreciate it.

volcano model I’ve thought it could be used in a variety of ways firstly by putting the volcano together and then

  • labelling the parts of the volcano
  • matching process descriptions to the model
  • using the model to create a stop motion video to show the formation process

I’ve decided I’m going to create more over the holidays for other topics to demonstrate processes and parts of a physical feature. If felt were so expensive I’d have the students making them but budgets and all…

It got me thinking though, why do we not employ many primary ideas into secondary? I’ve seen felt models being used in numerous primary schools, they help younger children to learn so why are we not utilising it in KS3 and possibly KS4? We get out the play-dough to demonstrate formation processes? Why not felt? Too childish perhaps? I leave that as a pondering thought.

What do you think? Felt, useful for the secondary classroom?

Mrs Humanities


Directed Improvement and Reflection Time Sheets

I’ve always felt marking to be an important yet time consuming aspect of the job. Throughout my NQT year I felt that my marking went unnoticed by the students most of the time; they just wanted to know what grade they got and didn’t take notice of the advice they were given. A  lot has changed since then and I’ve realised the power of meaningful feedback.

This year I’ve worked on engaging learners in the feedback process by developing meaningful self and peer assessment as well as incorporating Directed Improvement and Reflection Time into the planning of my schemes of work.

I feel if we spend the time marking, it might as well be beneficial and productive for the students; it should have an impact and encourage development of their work. Therefore a few months ago I set about creating some DIRT sheets, which I’ve used with my classes in a number of ways. For instance after GCSE students completed an exam question, they were given feedback and re-wrote their answer to the same question – it was quite clear when marking it the second time around that the feedback had been beneficial and they’d progress. Another way I’ve used them has been after KS3 pupils have created a piece of extended writing, pupils were given feedback and then had the choice to either improve their SPaG, to level up or to quite simply improve their answer.

Since creating my original DIRT sheets which have been used across the school, as well as my departmental DIRT display I’ve become more and more interested in marking and feedback. I was recently invited to take part in the work scrutiny which I found really insightful and have since been researching additional techniques.

Whilst I was thinking about and researching marking and feedback, I decided to make a few subject specific DIRT sheets for other staff to use.
English directed improvement and reflection time geography directed improvement and reflection time history directed improvement and reflection time maths directed improvement and reflection time science directed improvement and reflection time tech directed improvement and reflection time
French directed improvement and reflection time tech directed improvement and reflection time

Can you work out the subjects?

How to use

The idea is that once learners have read and taken on board the feedback in which they are given, they then improve or level up their work on a DIRT sheet.

I’ve found they help to make the improvements stand out in their books and for some reason they help to improve presentation, which is never a bad thing.

If you’d like to use my DIRT sheets, you can find them here. 

Feedback is always appreciated.

Mrs Humanities