Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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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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A to (almost) Z of Feedback NOT Marking

All marking is feedback, but not all feedback is marking. Simple.

Build a toolkit of feedback strategies – as you develop the art of feedback, try lots of strategies to find what works for you, your students and your school.


Children need to understand the value of feedback to be able to make use of it effectively and to understand when and how they might receive it.

Don’t expect changing from marking to feedback to be easy, it requires…
Education – educate the school community on how feedback is provided so students and parents understand that written marking isn’t the only way to receive feedback

Errors – exposure to errors in a safe environment is beneficial, celebrate mistakes with students and explore how to correct them. I like to give ‘risk-taker’ commendations for those that share their errors with the class, promoting a sense of achievement in despite of the error. Additionally it builds resilience and works on the concept of growth mindset.

Feedup-feedback-feedforward cycles have changed the way I lesson plan, read more on these here.

Give no marking a try for a week or two or potentially longer, to help you to review the other ways in which you provide feedback to students. Make a conscious effort to look for the impact of different feedback strategies.

Hightlighters – so many uses for highlighters in the provision of feedback, you can use them during live marking, use them identify where work needs review, use them to highlight achieved success criteria or what to do next, use them for dot marking, highlight and improve or whatever else.

Introduce strategies to students. Explain to your students the why and how of each strategy you implement with them to enable them to understand the reasoning behind it and how it will benefit them.

Jot down notes as you assess work to feed-forward into your short, medium and long-term planning.

Knowledge, understanding and application (skills) – effective assessment ought to develop all these elements over time. I find it hard when teachers set targets for students that are only knowledge specific to the current piece of content or topic.

Live feedback, also known as live marking. Simple really, assess and feedback there and then in the lesson. More reading on live feedback here.

Model and scaffold effective feedback to students to help them to peer assess effectively. I start the school year with a few simple tasks that can easily be peer assessed, we peer assess as a class, in small groups and individually until independent. I will start off by providing relevant feedback comments/targets that students can select from and ask them to justify why they selected that comment/target. By Christmas the majority of students can carry out effective peer assessment with limited scaffolding.

Next steps – I find that using next steps promotes high expectations, even when work is complete and the student successful there’s always next steps that can be made to further develop knowledge and application. I praise successes but unless it’s a summative assessment students know to expect to be asked to do something else to their work to make it even better.

Outcomes – always keep these in mind. What do you want students to achieve in the long, medium and short term? How will feedback help students to achieve these outcomes?

Peer assessment can be powerful – creating a feedback friendly classroom is no easy feat. it requires teaching, training and persistence to get students to feedback effectively. The use of ACE and SpACE peer assessment has supported the development of effective peer-to-peer feedback in my classroom.

ACE Peer assessment

Quality over quantity – to reduce the amount of formative and summative assessment and thus quantity of targets students are asked to work on, in my department at KS3 we give assess two formative pieces of work and a summative. The formative tasks students receive constructive feedback on which allow them to create transferable targets that can be applied both in the summative task and the future learning. The summative task provides students with targets the next unit and future learning. At KS4 and 5, we assess 2-3 sets of past paper questions and a test for each topic. Feedback from the PPQs is given via feedback codes and share through whole class feedback, written marking is carried out and whole class feedback takes place on summative tests. Students annotate their work as whole class feedback is provided – making amendments there and then. Students set themselves transferable targets in response.

Research and reading – there’s lots of research and evidence out there on the role and value of feedback in the classroom. Here’s a few pieces to start you off:

The Power of Feedback, John Hattie
Visible Learning: Feedback, John Hattie & Shirley Clarke
Feedback, Education Endowment Foundation

Transferable targets – from my experience to date I feel transferable targets are the most valuable. Ask questions to help students to gain the correct answers but targets require a transferable element to them so there is the opportunity to act on them on the short and medium term.

Statements or questions? When it comes to ‘next steps’ I’m not sure which works best in helping students to progress, a question that helps them to reframe their thinking or a statement that tells them exactly what they need to do. Most of the time I use a mix of both to draw knowledge and understanding out from them.

Throw away your verbal feedback stamps! You do not need to ‘prove’ you are feedback to students verbally. It will be obvious in their work.

Undervalued – we must move away from marking to feedback in our schools to reduce the burden of marking and increase the power of feedback in the classroom.

Verbal feedback is powerful. The power of verbal feedback often goes unseen, you may not see direct evidence of verbal feedback in books or classwork however if you talk to students they can explain how verbal feedback has helped them. It’s timely and can have immediate impact, don’t try evidencing it but instead work on embedding it.

Whole class feedback is nothing new, but how we approach it has changed. Many teachers now use crib sheets to guide the provision of whole class feedback. For more information and examples check out this post of examples.

X – not even going to try

You can’t evidence all feedback and nor should you have to. The evidence is in the progress made by students.

Z – again not going to try

Hope you enjoyed the post.

Best wishes,


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Guest Post from @TeachYesterday – Breaking down exam skills with ‘source windows’

Breaking down exam skills with ‘source windows’

Inference can be a tough skill to teach, particularly at KS3. The nuance and context that surrounds a source can be incredibly complex, but, like any other skill, improving a students’ inference can be achieved by the consistent repetition of good practice (easily said, I know).

During my training year, my SENCO emailed me a template of a ‘source viewer’ he had seen on Mrs. Humanities (a website which then became my professional life-raft), I decided to adapt the source viewer to make it suitable for my lower attainers (Figure 1).

Originally, I was trying to create a resource that would help them with the basic provenance of Time, Audience, Author and Place.

Figure 1


The students enjoyed using the laminated source viewers and asked to use them again. So following this mini success, I decided to adapt another version of the viewer (Figure 2) or ‘source window’, as the students had named it.

Figure 2

This one focused on the exam specific interpretation and source skills needed for the AQA GCSE History papers. This viewer had three sides which were colour coded; the purple panel included generic versions of all the source and interpretation questions found in the AQA papers. The orange and green panels featured questions that broke the required skills down, making the students’ answers more of a step by step process. The challenge for each student is then to attempt one question from the colour above at some point during the lesson.

Feeding Back

The students are directed to the colour panel of questions that is appropriate to them on feedback sheets I use to mark their books. I assess their source analysis using the AO skills sheets (Figure 3) and assign them one of the three colours.

I was then able to say to a class “Everyone answer questions 1-4 on the source window for Sources A, B and C” and the class would then be answering three versions of a GCSE question differentiated based on their level without me having to micro-manage three tasks to one group.

Figure 3

This was a big hit with that same SENCO as I was then able to differentiate by task on all my source work without any extra resources and at any point during the lesson.

Feeding Forward

After source analysis tasks students then consult their AO skills sheets (Figure 3) and assess their own answers and identify one skill from the next level of difficulty that they will work on in the future. I even make them write it in the ‘progress focus’ box to ensure each student is aware of their target. I then encourage them to refer back to this the next time we are doing source work.

Figure 4

I then stared to create other resources (Figure 4) that all use generic versions of KS4 questions which also break the required skills down into the same three levels. These resources allowed me to create ‘circuits of progress’ in students’ books that make the students’ progress clearer to the student themselves. This enables them to move up through the tiers refining their skills as they go, outlining a pathway so the students know exactly what they need to do to improve. I have shared my adapted source viewer on Twitter and other people, (some from around the world) have made their own versions adapting the questions to their own exam papers. Create your own and share it!

Thank you to @MrsHumanities for the inspiration

Mark Grantham – DCCA
Follow Mark on twitter @TeachYesterday

Newly created blog: http://mryesterday.com/

Download a copy here.


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Resource – The Power of Feedback Download

I know not everyone sees the power of feedback in the same way I do. I also recognise that not everyone that has tried implementing ‘effective feedback’ has been as successful at doing so. But I want to help others to see the benefits of continuing to attempt embedding feedback into their classroom practice.

That’s because for me feedback has been a major influence on my classroom practice, revolutionary even. Embedding feedback has completely changed the way I think about learning, the process and the approach. Embedding feedback alongside several other approaches such as planning backwards, scaffolding and simplifying my teaching strategies has had numerous benefits including (but not limited to):

  • reduced workload
  • pleasure in learning for student and teacher
  • strong student progress
  • student ownership

To help others to understand the value and power of effective feedback, I’ve put together this helpful document (download link at the bottom). Aimed at those that might be a reluctant to try, those that might be new to the concept or those with misconceptions.

I’ve started with an explanation of the value and power of feedback, introducing the basics on the value of it. I’ve tried to keep it short and simple.

Next I’ve explored the 3 stages of the feedback cycle – feed up, feedback and feedforward.

In each section I explore how it maybe implemented and the value of each stage.

Before providing an example of how to embed a feedback cycle in the classroom based on this previous post on embedding feedback.

My aim is to help others to see the power of feedback for both students and the teacher.

If you’d like a copy for your own practice or to share, you can download the PDF here.

Hope you can find it useful.


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Embedding Feedback: An Example

When I first started investigating marking and feedback, I never thought it would change my practice the way it has.

During my PGCE and NQT years, I used to mark books, write a ‘what went well’ comment and an ‘even better if’ comment, then expect my students to read it, set themselves a target and act on that target at a later point. The likelihood of my students actually acting on or even learning from the feedback was pretty much non-existent. They’d read it, write down a “next time I need to…” and then simply forget. For me, marking was simply a tick box exercise I felt I had to do. For students it was an unnecessary activity that added little to their learning experience.  

Now I guess I plan around feedback. I think about what I want my students to learn over time and plan backwards. I plan what I will teach and how I will teach it over time. I carefully consider what I will model, what I will scaffold and what I will feedback on. Feedback will then influence my planning.

Here’s an example of how I’ve planned backwards to help my students to progress forwards.

FEED-UP

  • Students started the topic by completing a description that required them to fill in the blanks. This modeled what a good description looked like. Students self-assessed their answers after we went through the correct response as a class.
  • Next they use that exemplar to write their own as shown below.
  • Next students created their own description and explanation with the use of success criteria which was provided on the whiteboard. Students peer assessed using ACE peer assessment and then made improvements shown in pink. I then assessed their completed work against the shared success criteria.

FEEDBACK

  • A lesson later they used what they’d learnt from the previous lesson to write an unsupported answer to a question. You can see that this student has taken on board the feedback they’d previously received to give a ‘perfect’ answer.
  • Following on from description and explanation of patterns and trends, I wanted students to be able to use research effectively. I planned a lesson whereby I gave students the relevant information in a range of resources and they had to take notes. I went through a few examples of how students could take notes before letting them loose on the resources.
  • To follow this up they then completed a homework task which required them to summarise the information they’d collected using the description and explanation skills previously covered.
  • Next stage involved exploring effective research and academic honesty. Students were given the task to create an infographic to explain the cause and consequences of the One Child Policy in China. Students were given a range of sources to use, they had to cross-reference the sources and assess the reliability and effectiveness of each.
  • The feedback they then received on this piece helped them to develop their research and investigation skills which would make up a part of their summative assessment.
  • Next students developed their evaluative skills by exploring the three gorges dam and assessing the social, economic and environmental sustainability of it. This started with one lesson on collecting information, the next lesson writing their evaluation before peer assessing and making improvements (pink pen).

Throughout this process and up until this point I’d used a variety of feedback strategies including live feedback, whole class feedback (from me to my students and from my students to me) and reviewed their books noting down any misconceptions or areas to develop, all without actually having to do much marking myself.

Feedback has been embedded in my planning to ensure students get feedback so they know that what they’ve learnt is correct and I can assess what I need to do next to support individuals.

What I learn from feedback then feeds into the support I provide students, it helps me to review specific content with my classes and to undo any misconceptions. The feedback feeds forward into my planning.

FEEDFORWARD

  • Students brought all of this together by then finally producing a piece of work on life in modern day China and assessing the sustainability of modern-day China.
  • Each piece fed into developing their skills for the summative assessment. The summative assessment then feeds into what they will do in future topics.
  • Finally following feedback students reflect on the skills and knowledge they gained through the topic. They’re encouraged to consider their targets and progress through the course of study and reflect upon the implementation of the feedback in the summative task.
  • After summative feedback they set themselves targets to take forward.

Throughout the entire process I’ve think about what I want my students to be able to do and know by the end of year 13.

In this case I know it seems a long way off when they are in year 8, but I feel it’s all working toward what they need to be able to do once they leave compulsory education if they are to be successful life-long learners.

What my students learn through this unit, both skills and knowledge, they take forward into the next.

Teaching backwards and embedding feedback into my classroom practice has been revolutionary in terms of what I can get my students to achieve. It’s changed the way I plan lessons completely and has enabled my students to make excellent progress whilst I no longer have the marking workload.

For further reading on feedback and teaching backwards I recommend the following books

Hope you find this post of use.


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Mrs Humanities shares… 10 useful blog posts about feedback

When I first started writing about marking and feedback back in February 2015, it was an issue for many but it was barely on the radar of bloggers and #EduTwitter.

It was a period of research for me and often the main resources I would come across were academic papers or books by the likes of John Hattie, Dylan Williams, Helen Timperley and Doug Lemov. There were a few blog posts I came across such as David Didau, Ross McGill, Geoff Patty and Joe Kirby but on the whole it was barely discussed online. I found myself digging really deep to find relevant (and free) resources to guide and support my practice.

Now though if you look up marking, feedback or even ‘feedback not marking’ in Google now there are a huge number of relevant hits (including mine).

feedback not marking google search

One of the biggest influences on the discussion came after the publication of the Department for Education’s ‘Reducing teacher workload: Marking Policy Review Group report‘ in March 2016 which put marking (and feedback) in the spot light. This along with the evidence provided by the Education Endowment Foundation’s from their work looking into the value of marking and feedback on student progress, it has grown into a regular topic of discussion and more so a movement of change.

I thought I would share a few that I’ve come across that I have found useful for sharing with colleagues within my school and further afield this year.

  1. Marking and feedback are not the same from David Didau. Starting with the basics, this post simply outlines the distinct difference between feedback and marking. Too often the two are seen as a single entity when in fact feedback is so much more than marking. They can often be seen as synonymous when in fact they are distinctly different and must be treated as so. Michael Tidd says similar here.
  2. A policy for feedback, not marking from Michael Tidd
    This post looks at moving from a marking policy to a feedback policy from a Primary perspective with the provision of the policy at the end of the post. Useful for schools taking a whole school approach toward feedback rather than marking.

  3. Insights into assessment from ‘what does this look like in the classroom from Research Schools Network
    This post provides a snapshot into what feedback looks like in the classroom taken from ‘What Does This Look Like In The classroom?: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice’ by Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson. If you’ve read the book, it’s an insightful read but if you haven’t time for the whole thing this post is a useful summary.

  4. Marking and Feedback recommended reads from Mr Barton MathsThis post effectively recommends a variety of research papers on the topic. Mr Barton highlights his takeaways from each one to give the reader useful insight into whether or not the pursue the article.
  5. Live Marking: Feedback in Lessons from Ross McGill (Teacher Toolkit)
    A 4 minute read on the value and use of live-marking. A useful post for evidencing the value of verbal feedback and how to apply.

  6. Whole Class Feedback & Crib Sheet Handout from Mr Thornton TeachA very short post but it’s the resource that’s useful. In this post Mr Thornton shares a handout he produced for a session entitled ‘How we can use crib sheets to improve marking and develop better feedback’.
  7. Giving feedback the ‘Michaela’ way from Reading all the BooksIn this post the author discusses how they started to implement a no-marking approach. A useful post for anyone new to the idea of feedback not marking. Here’s an additional post from Doug Lemov on feedback at the Michaela school.
  8. No Written Marking. Job Done. from Andrew PercivalThere were parts of this post I highly agreed with, others that I weren’t too keen on such as ticking each piece of work to show it has been checked. Why? Anyway, I think it’s a useful post to support the moving away from written marking and focusing on feedback.
  9. Designing a Feedback (not Marking) Policy from Jemma SherwoodThis post outlines the move from marking to feedback within Maths. I shared this post to highlight the use of Exit Tickets. Personally though I would say these are most effective for Maths and lessons without the subjective nature of assessment, so I tend to use exit tickets for very specific content e.g. names of processes, facts and stats associated with case studies, definitions of key terms etc.
  10. Do You Understand Your Mock Exams? from DI thought this one was an interesting an interesting post about the value of mock exams. For many secondary teachers, mock exams create a HUGE amount of marking but also provide valuable insight into student’s understanding and application of knowledge. But to what extent are they really useful? The argument at the end is rather interesting.

And finally…

Feedback (and marking) links

Just a useful post from NDHS Blog Spot of lots of useful links on Feedback (and marking).

I hope you find this post useful.

Here are some of my other posts on #feedbackNOTmarking

Moving from marking to feedback

Workload reduction

Strategies

If you’re looking for other ideas check out the hashtag (#FeedbackNOTmarking) on twitter for a wide range of ideas for providing effective feedback.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… the 10 most viewed posts of 2018

2018 was quite an incredible year for me, it went from being offered a book deal to appearing on BBC Breakfast. In 2016, when I went through depression and a breakdown, I could barely envisage a future in teaching, to be able to use the experience to help others has been life changing for me. But I’m not here to talk about that but you can read more in my review of 2018 here.

What I am sharing in this post are the top 5 most viewed posts of 2018. They were bloomin’ popular. So here goes…

1 // Resource – GCSE Case Study and Exam Question Revision Booklet

In this post I shared a revision booklet to facilitate student independence in the revision process. Designed for AQA Geography but easily adaptable for other specifications.

The booklet provided students with a list of case studies, templates to summarise the case studies and exam questions to apply the content. With over 5,000 downloads of the booklet, I hope it’s helped students (and teachers) across the country.

2 // Resource – How to Revise in Geography

Creeping in just behind was the ‘How to Revise in Geography’ guide. Inspired by Greg Thornton’s post on How do we revise for history? which I recommended in my post on Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Epic History Revision Resources I decided to make a resource for my Geography students. It clearly hasn’t just been of benefit to my students, with almost 5,000 downloads of the document I’m hoping it’s been of help to many young people beyond my own classroom and school.

3 // Mrs Humanities shares… 10 Great Geography Revision Resources

I’m starting to see a theme now. Clearly revision has been on the minds of many this year. Perhaps it’s the pressure of accountability measures, maybe the tougher nature of the new 9-1 exams or maybe teachers just want to improve their student’s approach to revision, either way most popular post number 3 was another revision one. This time I shared and highlighted the work of a range of Geography teachers from the Twittersphere including
@teachgeogblog , @Jennnnnn_x , @InternetGeog , @GeoNewbz  and other. Many of these I have made use of in my own classroom.

4 // Zombie Apocalypse Atlas and Map Skills SoW

This one is always a popular post. In it I have shared resources to the scheme of work I produced to develop and embed atlas and map skills through the scenario of a zombie apocalypse. I’ve taught it a couple of times and every time it has been loved by the students.

I’ve seen it (via twitter and emails) used in classrooms across the world, which is incredible. It’s been adapted into other languages (Welsh and Chinese) and has been download over 40,000 times since I first published it back in Autumn 2015.

5 // Resource – Differentiation Strategies CPD

Next up was a resource I produced to support teacher training on differentiation. The presentation provides a variety of tried and tested strategies for differentiation and scaffolding to support and challenge students. You can even download the ready-to-go PowerPoint presentation.

6 // Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Whole Class Feedback Examples

Unsurprisingly the next few most read posts of 2018 are associated with feedback and marking. In this one, I shared 5 examples of whole class feedback to support teachers, departments and schools making the move from marking to feedback.

7 // My Marking and Feedback Toolkit

Since publishing this post in January 2017, it’s been a popular one. In this post I share the strategies that make up my marking and feedback toolkit. I tried and tested a range of strategies over a couple of years to find what worked best for me, my style of teaching and most importantly my students. In that time I changed schools and had to start again with the narrowing down process but it didn’t take me long to find what worked. This post goes on to highlight those 5 strategies.

8 // Mrs Humanities shares… 6 Epic History Revision Resources

Back to revision again, this one shared 6 epic resources for revision in History. I no longer teach history but I do like to keep up with pedagogical developments and resource sharing just in case I ever return to it. This post needs up-dating as I’ve seen many more fantastic resources since I first posted it, that will happen in due course I promise.*

*but please don’t hold me accountable if I do completely forget 🙂

9 // Marking, feedback and DIRT

This is one of my first posts on marking and feedback from way back in June 2015. The area of interest has come along way since then, but it’s a great post for those new to the profession or those being introduced to the idea of #feedbackNOTmarking.

In the post I share a range of strategies I’d tried in order to improve feedback but reduce workload. These then made up part of a CPD session for new and current staff at the school I was working at. The post also provides a downloadable resource with all the strategies included.

10 // Mrs Humanities shares… 10 fantastic displays for the Humanities

The final most popular post of the 10 was this one where I shared 10 fantastic display ideas for Humanities. The post shared 10 great examples of displays I’d come across on Twitter from the likes of @mrsrgeog @sehartsmith @MrJPteach  @EduCaiti and several more.

And that sums up this post on the 10 most popular posts of 2018. Hope you’ve found something of use and inspiration this year. Thank you for the continued support throughout 2018.

Best wishes for 2019.


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Mrs Humanities shares… how I cut down my marking workload.

mrs humanities shares

If there is one thing that has had the biggest impact on my work-life balance it has to be assessment and marking. There was once a time when marking took me several hours an evening and several over the weekend. I had a marking timetable and felt I had to rigorously stick to it to ensure I ‘passed’ book scrutinises.  I’d worry if my books weren’t up-to-date yet also felt that marking has little impact on student progress.

Nowadays I spend a few hours a week out of directed time marking and assessing. No longer do I drag a bag of books home with me. No longer do I have a books and assessments piling up by the door over the holidays, calling and beckoning me to mark them instead of resting. Yet I see more progress taking place in my classroom than ever before. How? Well here’s my secret, I started to refuse. I rebelled. I researched. I implemented. Okay, there was more to it than that, here’s how…

  1. Adapt to School Policy
    My last school had a every 4 lessons policy; books required success comments and next steps to act on during directed improvement and reflection time. To start with they were written comments then I started to use a feedback grid instead – these consisted of a bank of comments in which I’d expect students to achieve, followed by a bank of comments that students may need to do to improve their work.
    GCSe exam questionHaving these in place helped me to live mark and ensure the feedback I’d given was evidenced to save having to write verbal feedback in books. I’d carry a highlighter and highlight the achieved criteria, would put a dot on the criteria to work on next. When I’d collect in the work, I’d already done half the marking and could simply finish it off and highlight one or two of the ‘next steps’ criteria for students to do during DIRT.
  2. Meticulously planned feedback
    Next step has been planning when and where to give feedback across the school year. My department and I have looked at the work we get students to complete and figured out how we can assess progress over time. We’ve introduced a spiralling curriculum in which skills and content repeat throughout topics allowing us to spread out formative and summative assessment. The provision of feedback has been carefully plotted to ensure students can act on it in a timely fashion but so they can also make use of it in the long term when they come back to similar skills or content.
    Assessment outline.png
  3. Less is more
    Alongside careful planning of feedback across the year, we’ve reduced what we mark to ensure that feedback is high quality and effective. For example at GCSE we give students 3 sets of exam style questions for each unit to assess their understanding of the content, we don’t mark their notes unless students ask. We use assessment for learning strategies in class to check understanding and to pick up on misconceptions along with verbal feedback. The exam style questions are roughly undertaken every 2-3 weeks. Despite not marking the classwork, I know where my students are through discussions, live marking and assessment for learning strategies.
    booklet pages
  4. Create a feedback-friendly classroom
    I’m a huge fan of feedback-friendly classrooms whereby teachers are not the only providers of feedback. I teach my students from day 1 how to feedback effectively. It takes times, scaffolding and persistence but it pays off.

    By the end of the year students are highly effective at self and peer-assessing. They do not take my place as the professional provider of feedback but they provide one another with feedback on their work and they have time to act on the feedback before they submit work. I feel it’s an important skill to teach to support students in becoming independent learners. More on peer assessment here.

  5. Feed-up, feedback and feedforward
    Feed up, might be better known as modelling expectations or to clarify the objective, before allowing students to engage with a task. Take feedback from students through assessment for learning and use it to forward plan. For this I quite like using the whole class feedback approach, I review all of the books without writing anything in them. Instead I go through the feedback with the class the next lesson. Feedforward Book Look Record
    I use the information I’ve gained from their work to then plan the following lesson or series of lessons to review ideas or misconceptions, to challenge and extend or change the course of the learning taking place.
  6. Live mark
    I love discussing work with students there and then in the classroom; the ability to identify successes with students and areas for improvement in the classroom is incredibly powerful. I carry a highlighter with me as much as possible and will highlight areas for improvement or put a dot in the margin to identify an area to review. I discuss progress with my students and encourage meta-cognitive questioning.
  7. Simplify feedback
    Make it simple. Use strategies such as marking codes, dot marking or comment banks to reduce your time spent writing feedback. More ideas here
  8. #FeedbackNOTmarking
    Since starting at this school in September 2016, I’ve strived to ensure marking and feedback is manageable, meaningful and motivating for myself, my team and my students. In doing so we’ve moved from marking to feedback as part of our departmental policy.

    For me, not having a set number of lessons in which marking has to take place has been freeing. I much prefer using the time I’d have once spent marking, planning lessons that actually lead to more progress. I use the feedback from student work and the discussions I have with them to integrate work that covers the targets I would have otherwise spent several hours writing into their books. Personally I prefer that to writing a comment that may never be acted on. More on the 3 pillars here.
    3 pillars of effective marking and feedback

At PedagooHampshire I was extremely surprised to hear of schools either still implementing excessive marking policies or even introducing them. I would have thought that with the Governments recent publication of the workload reduction toolkit along with all the reports on reducing teacher workload and evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation on feedback that there would be more schools moving away from such policies.

For more of my posts on #feedbackNOTmarking click here

Feel free to share any other ways you’ve reduced the workload associated with marking, feedback and assessment in your school.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 simple feedback strategies

mrs humanities shares

1 // Feedback Grids

Not only do feedback grids allow you to live mark, they provide students with success criteria. Get your grids made up before students undertake an extended piece of work; you then know what you expect from your students and they do too. As students work, visit them and discuss what they have achieved so far and tick off or highlight. Highlight through a dot, steps or other way the criteria you want them to focus on next.

Here’s an example…

levelled work feedback grid

I would simply highlight in yellow the achieved criteria and during live marking would put a dot next to the content I wanted them to focus on next. Once the task was complete, I would highlight in pink the ‘you could improve by…’ criteria and give the students some time to make these improvements.

2 // Dot marking

There are a vareity of ways you can use dot marking. Firstly you can use it as you live mark, put a dot on the students work where an error or misconception exists; students then have to try to work it out or are given verbal guidance from the teacher. Another approach can be that different colours indicate different successes or areas for improvement as shown here by @LDNHumsTeacher .

dot marking code

3 // ACE feedback

The teacher take on ACE peer assessment. Quite simply the teacher ticks and flicks successes, puts a question mark for mistakes or misconceptions and an asterick for an extension. The teacher can either write comments and questions in the book or write these for the whole class to see and share them on the board. These maybe indicated specifically to the student through codes.

ace teacher

4 // Whole class feedback

As I’ve shared many times before, whole class feedback is exactly that feedback given to the whole class. Students maybe required to write relevant comments into their books or act on specific feedback shared with the class. For more information on whole class feedback check out this post.

5 // Highlight and Improvehighlight and improve

Really is that simple, highlight work that could be improved. Use alongside verbal feedback, dot marking, ACE feedback or what ever other strategies you wish to use. Encourage students to reflect on their work and identify errors or improvements for themselves.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Resource – DIRT Sheets

updated DIRT sheets

Recently I shared a tweet with a link to my DIRT sheets and realised the link I’d added had been for the wrong set. I then noticed how my DIRT sheets were shared in several different posts and were a challenge to find. So to clear things up a bit and to make my resources easier to access I thought I’d put them all into one post for you to access and download from.

I’ve a variety of DIRT sheets which are used during Directed Improvement and Reflection Time for students to write their improved answers.

These are the first versions I created back in 2015, these can be found in the first generation folder here .

DIRT Sheets

Then I made these which allowed students to identify their area of focus and I could identify whether they had met the target or whether there was room for improvement.
DIRT Template

This led me to create subject specific versions which are associated with levels and can be found in the second generation folder here

Finally I created some associated with grades, which can be found here.

You can access all of my DIRT sheets here. Feel free to download them and use as you will.

Hope you find them of use.

Mrs Humanities