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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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  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’.

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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.

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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