Mrs Humanities

teacher . blogger . friend


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Mrs Humanities shares… my less is more approach to remote teaching.

Despite 2021 starting off with a bit of toing and froing from government on whether school buildings would open for students or not, at least now we know we are teaching remotely until at least February half term.

Know that teaching and learning for the coming weeks will be online makes it much easier to plan and prepare for the term ahead. We can use the skills and knowledge we gained since March and implement it well as we are not going to on the conveyor belt of uncertainty. Yay.

So for my first post for 2021 (and first since September 2020), I thought I’d share how I am approaching remote teaching with a less is more attitude.

Teams Set up

Firstly I’ve set up the following channels on each team
a) General (default channel – used for general communications with the class)
b) Classwork (instructions for each lesson and any resources are provided here)
c) Extend Yourself (any useful or interesting resources related to the topic or exam specification)

I have the following tabs on the general channel beyond the default ones:
– Document library – entitled ‘Resources – Key Stage … ‘, this takes students to SharePoint where all my teaching resources are available.
– Grades – this is a grade book for marked assignments (Teacher Only)
– Insights – this tab is useful to monitor student engagement within the Team. It provides data on communications, downloads, time viewing documents etc. (Teacher Only)

How to…
Add Tabs to Teams
Add a SharePoint page, list or document library

Remote Learning Routine

Prior to period 1, I use the announcement feature in posts to outline the lesson. In the announcement post I provide the following information:

  1. Time to join the Live Meeting (start of lesson)
  2. Outline of the work to be undertaken
  3. Resources needed for the lesson
  4. How I will check their understanding

My morning announcements look something like this:

At the start of the lesson I start the meeting by clicking ‘Reply’ to my morning lesson announcement. I then select the ‘Meet Now’ function.

The meeting opens and students can join. At present I don’t use the lobby function so students enter straight into the meeting. I found myself getting flustered whilst they entered, I tried to set up any resources and welcome them at the same time. So since Thursday 7th January, I’ve been starting the lesson with a holding screen that welcomes students to the lesson, which is just a PowerPoint slide that I share. Since it is only one slide it doesn’t take long to load and gives me time to get comfortable.

Image

After sharing on Twitter, I’ve decided that I’m going to introduce 3 recap questions to my holding slide and ask students to write their answers in the chat or similar. I’m aware that they might just copy each other but I’ll see how it goes for now.

My introduction to the lesson is usually quite brief. I tell the students the content they will cover, what they should know and understand by the end and quickly outline the content of the worksheet or booklet pages they will be completing.

Once I’ve provided the essential information for the lesson, I allow students to leave the meeting. However I keep it running for the entire hour so students can rejoin and ask any questions or seek support.

A few minutes before the end of the lesson, I send a message that lets students know the lesson is almost finished but to rejoin the meeting if they have any questions or issues. The last week I’ve also used the poll function to find out if they need more time next lesson.

How to…
Share a PowePoint slide or slides in a meeting (without screen sharing)
Change participant settings – so you can ensure students don’t take control of the slides 🙂

Work Set

I’ve tried to keep the work I set as simple as possible, so they require little instruction from me. However everything the student needs to complete the work is either included or linked within the document.

Worksheets or booklet pages general consist of the information, tasks, video links, reference to textbook pages and optional further reading. additionally, I try to include ‘extend yourself’ tasks for those that wish to go beyond the specification.

By providing worksheets with all the relevant learning materials, I hope that my students can then work through them at their own pace during the hour. At least then if they are experiencing any disruptions at home they don’t feel pressured to keep up with the rest of the class.

Here’s an example of a worksheet for GCSE:

Worksheet Example: GCSE Geography

Here’s an example of a section of a booklet for KS4:

Example of section of booklet: IB Geography

Up until this week I’ve not found it necessary to produce PowerPoints or videos for classes, but did create two short videos (Record PowerPoint, then Save as mp4 or wmp.) These were elements of the course content that students have found tricky, and despite showing a clear understanding of, some needed reassurance. The videos were uploaded to the class team and students could choose to watch them (or not).

How to…
Record a PowerPoint
Turn a PP presentation into a video

Assessment for Learning

Prior to this term, whilst teaching both in school and remotely, I’d been using Microsoft Forms to set an AfL quiz. I’d send the link about 15 mins before the end of the lesson as students start to finish off the main body of the lesson. Before the next lesson, I’d make note of any common errors or misconceptions and this would influence my planning. If they weren’t common, I’d make note of the student and check-in with them individually either in person (if in school), by commenting on their live work (if set as an assignment) or by email. If necessary, I’d provide individual support. Last week I didn’t find the time to produce them, but I want to reintroduce them this term as I found them really useful.

I ask my GCSE classes to upload their work to a ‘Classwork Submission’ assignment. Before Christmas this was after every lesson whilst they were learning remotely. I’ve now decided to make it weekly after our lessons on a Friday. I’ll do a quick check just to make sure they’ve done the work set. However, I don’t provide feedback on general classwork. Instead students can identify parts of the work they would me to review and feedback on for reassurance.

The other year I produced booklets for each topic of the IB Geography course (very grateful for that foresight now). Which has meant that Year 12 have been working from booklets since September whether they’ve been in school or at home. The use of Teams this year though has meant that at the end of the booklet, I can ask them to submit the booklet for checking. Which has been much easier than then emailing me their digital work or handing in their folders. This year I’ve also had year 12 doing an AfL quiz roughly once a week since September and this is something I will continue after the pandemic.

Additionally, I try to provide students with the answers to the worksheets so they can check and correct their own work at the end of the lesson or during the next lesson.

All of the above then support my planning. The following is an example of a resource produced for a review lesson based upon the AfL quizzes and classwork submission.

Review Lesson for Year 12 – Based on work submitted for checking and AfL quizzes

Assessed Work

My GCSE and IB students are continuing to complete PPQs at home in the same way we’ve always done using the AfL booklets they are provided with at the start of the course.

We cover content, AfL informs planning of next few lessons but no marking of classwork. After several lessons, students complete a set of past paper questions (PPQs) and submit via Assignments. PPQ influences starters, content review and revision lesson at end of topic.

Feedback

Feedback hasn’t changed much at all, well with the exception of less live verbal feedback.

KS3
Individual feedback on formative and summative assessed tasks through the rubric attached to the assignment. 4 topics, 7 formative assessed tasks, 4 summative assessed tasks across the year.

KS4 & 5

Individual Feedback
Self-marking AfL quizzes
Marks and codes on PPQs using Feedback function in assignments


Whole Class Feedback
Verbal feedback (via meeting), mark scheme and coded feedback shared.

Self-assessment
Students provided with answers to elements of worksheet at end of lesson, series of lessons or beginning of next lesson. Students self assess through check and correct process.

How to…
Set an assignment (and schedule in advance)
Create a feedback rubric

What my students say…
A number of my students have been kind enough to give me feedback on the approach I’ve taken. The most common being that the work is easy to follow, they’ve appreciated that by not delivering a lesson via PowerPoint they are able to work at their own pace and that because I’m live they can ask questions when they arise during the lesson and receive a timely reply.

I hope this outline is helpful to those of you that are perhaps feeling swamped and out of your depth a bit. Unless your school is really strict on their expectations (I know some are), you don’t need to overcomplicate things. Think simple. If you’re finding online delivery overwhelming, it’s likely that your students will too.

I’ve found myself to be quite proficient at using Teams, so I’m happy to answer questions. Feel free to leave a comment, tweet me or email.

Best wishes for 2021.


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Resource – MYP Inquiry and Feedback Templates

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

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

International Baccalaureate

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

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

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

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

Individual
Group

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

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

Template
Example

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

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

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

Feedback from MYP teachers very much welcomed.


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Creating a Coherent Curriculum: Geography

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

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

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

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

Step 1. Planning Backwards


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

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

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

Useful Resources

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

Step 2. Spiraling Curriculum

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

Our reoccurring themes were to include:

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

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

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

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

Initially we decided on the following:

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

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

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

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

Useful Resources

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

Step 3. Planning Assessments

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

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

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

feedback

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

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

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

Step 4. Planning Feedback

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

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

Template
In use

Whilst summative feedback looks something like this:

In action

The criterion changes dependent on that which is applicable.

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

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

Useful Resources

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

What changes have taken place?

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

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

What does it look like completed?

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

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

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

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

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

Useful Reading

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Best wishes,


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Planning Shoutout

Are you planning on spending some of this half term planning lessons, SoW etc? Why not try to save yourself some time and give a #PlanningShoutout.

It’s pretty easy, head over to Twitter. Write a tweet outlining what it is your planning and add the hashtag. You might want to include any subject specific tags such as #TeamGeog, #MFLTwitterati or #TeamEnglish.

It’s a simple idea so we can help each other to reduce our workloads and spend more time relaxing in our well deserved breaks.

So far there have been quite a few requests and lots of replies with offerings.

Enjoy the half term.


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Planning for Progress – A 5 year plan

This post began in December 2015, as I finished planning essentially what would be a 5 year GCSE course I started writing how I’d done it (Yes, how I had done it since I was a single person Humanities department with a few non-specialists teaching lessons). But for some reason I never finished it, but recently it’s been a topic of discussion so I thought I would come back and finish the post.

At my last school I developed a programme of learning that would take students through from year 7 to year 11 in Geography and History. Each step of the way setting foundations, building knowledge and strengthening their application of it. They would spiral through the content and skills time and time again, with each visit they would be strengthening what they had previously covered.

I left before implementing it at GCSE, so I’ve no idea how successful it was. The first cohort that went through the process sit their GCSE this year, 2018.

Rationale

The idea behind this 5 year outlook of learning was that students would learn the general content of a GCSE course in Key Stage 3, then if they decide to continue with that subject at GCSE they would build upon their knowledge and understanding to a much greater depth with greater focus on complex skill development and exam practice.

You could say that I considered that Key Stage 3 would teach the breadth of the course whilst Key Stage 4 would be the time in which they go into the depth of the course.

At the time I teaching Humanities through 2 hours a week, so I had to consider how the foundations would be set in both Geography and History.  Therefore I also considered it important that the content covered at Key Stage 3 would provide students with sufficient knowledge and understanding of the subject for their futures whether they were to choose the subject at GCSE or not.

What would be the benefits of a 5 year plan?

  • Prior knowledge of subject content before GCSE course starts
  • Can go into greater depth of subject content as not teaching from scratch at GCSE
  • More time to focus on higher order skills
  • More time on exam practice
  • Retrieval practice

However I wasn’t naive to the challenges this would also create for instance how would I ensure that students weren’t bored by returning to previous learning, how would I ensure the learning was age appropriate and how would I show progress and development of knowledge from prior knowledge?

Choosing Topics

In order to decide the topics to be covered at Key Stage 3, I worked back from the required content and skills of the selected GCSE courses for Geography and History.

From there I created topics that would cover the foundation content needed for later on, which ended up looking something like this. Pink topics are those that combine Geography and History, yellow are solely historical topics and green solely Geographical.

KS3 Outline

Many of the topics in year 7 and 8 were thematic inquiries. For instance I broke the historical topics in year 7 and 8 into inquiries across the ages, year 8 for example studied Conflict through the Ages by investigating changes to armour, weapons and fortification from the Anglo-Saxons to WW2 along with the reasons for conflicts through time.

Programme of Learning

If I’m honest I hate schemes of work, they are restrictive and too prescribed. I prefer an outline of the content and skills to be covered so that teachers can choose the appropriate format and approach to teach their classes. I’m very much a facilitator of learning, I like my students to explore the content in which they are studying with the ability to digress somewhat to explore avenues of interest.

Therefore after having spent the first year at the school writing ridiculously detailed schemes of work which had to have ALL of the work embedded in it prior to teaching I rebelled and merely wrote a outline for each year group.

Scheme of Work for one topic…. 

schemes of work

Programme of learning for the entire year… for Humanities and Opening Minds

outline

Tracking Progress

This was the final challenge. At the time, grade descriptors were yet to be published and I felt like assessing students was a minefield; yet it had to be done. The school wanted students to be assessed by grades 1-9 at both KS3 and 4 as well as a further break down into entering, developing, secure and mastered within each grade band. Mind blowing!!!

Anyway I created grade descriptors for grades 1-9 that could be taken down to KS3 from GCSE based upon what I already knew, what I’d learnt and what others were doing. Setting up a collaborative dropbox helped majorly and I learnt so much from other practitioners.

The descriptors were based on the assessment objectives from AQA Geography and History and looked something like this…

his 1his 2his 3

geog 1geog 2geog 3geog 4geog 5

Finally in order to help me to identify whether students were progressing effectively I created the following so called flight paths. These would then help me to identify the grades and where in the grade students were –  entering, developing, secure or mastered as mentioned above.

progress

Since the school required frequent data drops for all groups at the same time, I then decided that I would monitor progress through the use of a learning matrix for every topic as shown below. These essentially outlined what would be covered in the topic, what students would need to know and the extent to which students had demonstrated their understanding – these were associated with the colours white, bronze, silver, gold and platinum as shown above.

learning matrix assessment for learning

The best thing about these has to be the fact that they reduced my marking workload whilst demonstrating student progress. Simply I would write the code of the criteria achieved in the students book where it had been achieved, I or my students would then highlight it yellow. I’d then draw steps and write the code of what I wanted students to do next and again one of us would highlight it, this time in pink. Once the student had acted on the feedback I would tick it off if achieved. This clearly showed to students the progress they were making and helped them to identify and verbalise what they needed to do to improve.

Unfortunately doing all that alone in addition to the day-to-day of teaching, led me to burnout and I left the school before full implementation. I’ve taken so much away from the process however and can clearly see similarities in the approach my team and I have developed in my current school.

I hope you find this post of use, feedback welcomed as usual. Also feel free to get in contact if you want copies of any of the resources here.

Best wishes,

Mrs Humanities


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Guest Post from @Jennnnnn_x – Stretch & Challenge. A few ideas….

guest postStretch & Challenge. A few ideas….

How can we ensure all students are challenged every lesson? Here are a few ideas I have used to encourage challenge in my Geography lessons recently.

What can you find out?

“Learning happens when people have to think hard” Prof. Robert Coe – Durham University. How often do we make students think hard – looking back I know that I don’t do it as often as I probably should…

So here is one idea I have used at the start of my lessons:

This example was for a Year 10 introductory lesson to Urban Issues.

1.png

I left my students with this image on the board/a copy each and then left them to think for 15 minutes (which felt like eternity) I then gave them some discussion time. Amazingly they came up with most of the ideas off the specification – they annotated their image to show their thoughts and added to them through discussion. I repeated this with my year 9’s and while there was more moaning, once they realised I wouldn’t help them they tried a bit harder and I had similar outcomes – they had summarised our whole topic in about 25 words and from one photograph.  Have a go – you might be surprised what they come up with!

Hexagons

An old one, but a good one. I remember seeing hexagons everywhere a few years ago but I had forgotten about them until I came across an old example when tidying my classroom. So I started using them again and I remembered why I like them so much! There is no right answer – which means there is lots of room for discussion and often the students come up with links that you might not have thought of.

I used this idea to support an exam question in a year 13 lesson looking at LDC countries. I put images onto the hexagons and the students cut them out, stuck them next to others and then annotated the links between them. They then used this to plan their essay. It worked well due to two reasons – it supported lower ability students as the photographs helped as a prompt to start different sections but it also challenged the higher ability students because the ‘link’ is usually where this class fall down – they forget to link their ideas to both the question but also other topics.

Here is an example:

2.png

IDEAL analysis

Command words – are the one thing every time I mark mock exams I wish my students understood. Despite doing a range of activities linked to command words and having them stuck around my room and on the table in front of them, I till find students explain when the question asks them to describe and vice-versa.

With the new examination changes and the increasing level of literacy needed to interpret some of the questions the focus on command words is more important than ever!

I went to a PIXL conference back in November and saw Rebecca Chew (@MissChewBeka) present her ideas on stretch and challenge… I have used every single one of them in various lessons since but my favourite is most definitely the IDEAL analysis.

It is based around a need for students to understand the different command words, but also that as we move through the word IDEAL the difficulty increases.

3.png

I – identify – what is it that you can you see?
D – describe – what does it look like, where are different objects/landforms?
E – explain – why is it like that, what are the reasons for what you can see?
A – apply – where else might this happen, how might it be similar/different?
L – link – how does this link to wider geography, other topics, other places?

Students seem to like it and more importantly find it useful. I recently marked a year 10 mock which asked students to use a figure (a photograph of the devastation caused by an earthquake) to support their answer and saw many of them plan their answer using IDEAL.

Below is also an example of a differentiated worksheet given to support some of the students in my class.

45

There are some more examples on my twitter if you want to take a look (@jennnnnn_x)

Hope some of these ideas are useful,

Jen (@jennnnnn_x)


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Guest Post from @MrBishopGeog – Tools for rebuilding a Geography department

guest postTools for rebuilding a Geography department

Geography: 35% A*-C

School: 70% A*-C

Was the information I was presented with at the start my data analysis task in the interview. “What was your reaction to the data you were presented with” Was a question I was asked in the subsequent discussion interview.

Well, from the outset I knew it would be a challenge and certainly different from the outstanding school and department I worked at in my previous position, but it was a challenge that I was excited about and felt I was ready for.  A year in, Mrs Humanities’ invitation to write a guest blog presented me with a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what I have done as well as to look at some of the tools I have used to help make steps towards becoming an outstanding Geography department.  I hope that others will find them useful and would love to hear others’ experiences, this is in no way meant to teach people to suck eggs, so apologies if this is all obvious! I have put some of the resources from this entry on Google drive: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BzjsXrvgQ2-mMUo0U2JxS2YxUWc?usp=sharing

 

  1. Ensuring assessments are rigorous and accurate:

I was very lucky to stumble across the Edexcel Progression Grids early on last year and developed a way to track back so that every assessment had descriptors which would:

  • Challenge the students appropriately
  • Work in line with the new GCSE specification
  • Fit the school’s “Emerging, Developing, Secure, Mastery” Progress descriptors

The idea was that we could work our way back to make sure that students predicted any grade in Year 11 would be assessed and tracked accurately no matter what year they are in.  All assessments would be based around the Exam board criteria by using the table below:

1

The grids themselves are far too complex for students/ everyday teaching, so once I have worked out what I will be assessing/ in-depth marking I adapt the language to make them more accessible allowing teachers, including non-specialists to use the same marking + feedback.  Below is an example of how I have used the Edexcel grids to create ‘student friendly’ feedback for Year 8 climate graphs assessment.

1.5.png

  1. Developing Academic literacy:

Early on I realised that students’ exam experience was lacking, not only did they not feel confident about writing their answers but they were also intimidated by the possible range of questions which could occur.  As a result I developed the following ‘command word wheel’.

2.png

At the centre are all the command words for GCSE Edexcel B.  The rings then explain what the command word is asking for, then give an example of a key question that could be asked and finally give them a hint/ example of a sentence starter.  Students in all KS4 classes have adopted this into the front of their books and if in doubt will check what is required, as they get better practiced there is less need for referring to it! Not only do we use this in Geography but it was also used in a Year 10 skills workshops which went down well.

  1. Targeting students for appropriate intervention

Having only worked at one school previously I was surprised when at my new school there wasn’t the use of transition matrices, either on programmes like 4Matrix or in any other form, so I asked around and was told that staff didn’t find them useful – I love them!  It really helps me to judge which students in my classes/ in Geography need extra support with making progress. At school I have a target list of all students ‘making less than 3 levels’, ‘at 3 levels’ and ‘exceeding 3 levels’ of progress.

3.png

I found that ‘easy wins’ (closest to the 3 levels of progress area and particularly more able) appease senior management, and give a boost to the department’s confidence in being able to make an impact.  More long term intervention is then aimed at students who are further away from 3 levels of progress, intervention is then both appropriate and challenging.

  1. Developing fieldwork

My new school had never run a residential fieldtrip and I was determined to make this a corner stone of our department! I really believe that residentials add a huge amount of extras and deserve the extra funding required.  Students gain so much more by being embedded into the environment they are studying, we get more time with them so that they can reflect properly on their learning, and it also helped me to get to know the cohort better through the inevitable ‘fieldwork bonding process’.  I know other departments are having issues with fieldwork so I have shared a letter/ proposal on the Google Drive linked that I put together to help support our case…

Ironically with the sudden increase in Geography’s popularity and further cuts we have now been told that the residential aspect of fieldwork may not be able to happen next year…!

  1. Sharing good practice!

I am not a technology kind of guy, but over the last year and a bit I have seen the wonders of sharing practice on Twitter.  Not only does it reduce the workload enormously but I get a wonderful sense of community from sharing and stealing!  I am constantly inspired by others online who drive me to challenge my practice and create new exciting material. So thank you to everyone out there for sharing their thoughts and ideas.

 

There are many more challenges to face before I can confidently talk about our Geography department being an outstanding department but I am happy we are making baby steps towards that.  I have the luxury of an incredibly supportive colleague, who on many occasions I feel could/ should be doing my job!

As I say, I hope people find some of this useful and not all obvious!

Enjoy the summer holidays!

Ben (@MrBishopGeog)

 

 


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Recommendation – Twinkl Secondary Resources

Recently I’ve started to make use of the newly added Twinkl Secondary Geography resources.

The variety of resources is huge with 12 pages of material so far covering everything from tectonics and coasts to tourism and urban issues. The most common of geography topics all make an appearance.

At present there are plenty of resources for Key Stage 3 and a growing number for Key Stage 4 linked to the AQA, Edexcel and OCR specifications. Key Stage 5 is currently bare but an area for future development.

Each of the lesson packs are fully resourced, many of which have eco-print versions, as are many of the stand alone lessons or single activities.

Personally I really like the opportunity for differentiation in the lesson packs, they are a great starting point to differentiate up or down depending on your students. Some resources even have differentiated versions already. I wish they’d had these when I worked at my last school, they would have been of massive benefit and would have saved me so much time with planning, differentiation and scaffolding.

My personal favourites are

But don’t take my word for it, check the resources out for yourself over at Twinkl.co.uk

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Using Padlet for Notetaking

During the course I attended over my half term I decided that instead of taking notes in the traditional manner, I would use Padlet to make them interactive and memorable.

I’ve used Padlet before as a revision tool with a GCSE group and thought I could easily use it to share the earning and key information with my department and school on return this term. I was right.

Here’s a look at what I created

MYP humanities geography individuals and societies notes
I found this approach useful for the following reasons

  • could add links to course material
  • easy to sort and organise
  • simple notes could be added as discussions took place
  • could instantly look up and add links to anything I found of particular interest that I want to return to later on
  • digitally stored so easy to share
  • can be public, private or password protected

I’ve decided this is going to be my new way of note taking… well once I get an iPad or something similar that is. Can’t be lugging my laptop to school just for meetings and it would just look unprofessional if I used my mobile.

Hope it’s given you something to think about.

Mrs Humanities

 


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A question to Ponder

In a lot of my lessons, particularly those I planned for Opening Minds (combination of citizenship, values, PSHE and RE) would involve this activity.

It’s really simple, but encourages students to develop their thinking skills.

It’s called quite simply “A question to ponder”.

Student’s are presented with a question to consider, this can be at the start of a lesson, middle or towards the end. Sometimes I pose the same question two or three times in a lesson to see how their opinions and understanding develop through the course of a lesson.

Sometimes I get them to write down their thoughts, sometimes I get students to discuss in pairs before sharing with the class, other times I simply get student’s to verbally share their ideas with the class. It’s quite a useful approach to combine with Think, Pair, Share activities.

Here are some examples from geography and opening minds that I’ve used.

q2p 2q2p farmingq2p

I had an idea this morning whilst I planned year 12 lessons of introducing it as a plenary activity. Students will write their own Questions to Ponder based on the lessons learning and one or two will form the starter for the next lesson.

I will present the question on the board at the start of the lesson giving them time whilst they get settled to ponder it. We can then discuss the question for 5 minutes or so and link it into the next lessons work.

Hope you’ve been inspired.

Mrs Humanities