Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Mrs Humanities shares… templates for teaching

One of the things I mention to people when I talk about how I’ve cut down my workload is how I have a template bank of ‘go-to’ resources.

My template bank includes resources for scaffolding, teaching activities, retrieval practice and feedback. Along with a PowerPoint template in which I’ve been using since 2014. So I thought I’d tell you a little about them and share a few with you.

PowerPoints

My powerpoint template is as follows:

I first created a template to suit students with SLCN and Autism during my NQT year, after doing some work with my SENCo at the time. I had a large number of students with SEN and wanted to ensure I was doing the best for them. My template has come some way since my first creation as I learnt more about dyslexia and other specific learning needs.

It’s quite simple. The learning objective and list of keywords for the lesson are repeated on each slide. Then each colour textbook represents different information as follows:

I’ve chosen pastel colours for textbooks and a light grey for the background. Reason being they are beneficial for dyslexic students and reduces eye strain associated with white backgrounds.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

My powerpoints are pretty small these days in comparison to what they used to be, usually a maximum 10 slides per lesson. Videos are embedded and instructions are made clear. Students are allowed to access the resources digitally in lessons via their phones or devices if required for SEN. Download a copy of the template here.

Example Powerpoint

Teaching Resources

Next I have a bank of go-to teaching resources and keep them in a template bank folder. I have about 30 in total for different skills I want students to develop and simply adapt to suit the content, class and students. I’ve put some of them into a document for you here.

In my resource template bank, I have resources for a wide variety of activities from activities to describe patterns or to encourage interpretation, analysis and linking to templates for revision and retrieval, peer assessment and teacher feedback.

They can all be easily adapted and either projected on the board or printed off.

More recently I’ve created a set template for our MYP (Key Stage 3) assessed work – formative and summative – along with the feedback to go with them which my whole department use. We simply project the instructions on the board and print out for those that need a hard copy whilst feedback is printed and highlighted during live marking and after completion. More information on these can be found here.

Self-assessment and monitoring

I also have templates for student self assessment and monitoring. At GCSE and IB students are required to regularly assess their own learning through the use of AfL grids/booklets.

The IB template provides space for the topic content, the case studies and the examples studied. I’ve simply copied all of this information from the specification.

IB AfL grid template
IB AfL grid example

The GCSE ones outline the course content with key terminology/skills and case studies or examples.

GCSE AfL grid example

I put these into a booklet for students to make it easier to check students are self-assessing. You can find out more about the GCSE booklet here and IB ones here.

Less is More

When it comes to planning and workload, the one thing that has helped me though has been to simplify what I’m doing in the classroom with my students. Rather than focusing on engagement, I now think more about the actual learning and what I want students to achieve and go with the motto that “less is more”. This then feeds into how I assess learning and provide feedback – it becomes part of a feedup-feedback-feedforward cycle – whereby I am modelling and clarifying, allowing students to work, assessing and then feeding back, all of which then feeds forward into my short, medium and long term planning.

How do you manage your workload? What are your top tips for reducing it?


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Teacher Truths: Drowning in Marking (and other things)

This article was created as part of Twinkl‘s worldwide teacher wellbeing campaign, TeacherTruths. Head over to their Year of Wellbeing page to read other’s views and find out how you can have your say.

TeacherTruths: Supporting teacher wellbeing, one conversation at a time.

If we rewind a few years back to October 2013. This was my marking pile for the 1 week half term.

This pile included Geography controlled assessments, KS3 and KS4 examinations and 2 sets of class books!

The following October half term was a little better as I was at a different school, mainly just a few piles of books, but that was only because the week before I’d had to mark exams and input data for all of the classes I taught. There was just a shift in when I did it. Booo.

Anyway, I found marking and assessment a struggle; firstly because it was just a tick boxing exercise and secondly because I didn’t quite understand the potential it held and thus didn’t fully implement an effective feedback system via my marking. I always felt that feedback was always too late for it to have impact on my learners despite the use of directed improvement and reflection time (DIRT). Marking books every 4 lessons just didn’t have the impact a more flexible system could have.

I was drowning in marking (along with lesson planning, curriculum development, assessment, behaviour etc).

So what did I do about it?

The first thing I did was ask for help. I kept a workload ‘diary’ and went to my headteacher at the time and said this is what I’m spending hours and hours and hours doing… please help me! How can I reduce this?

I was given a day off timetable to catch up with planning for the next term but nothing else was done to support. And so, I continued for a few more months, but the workload didn’t relent and so I went back and asked for help again.

This time my Dad was the influence, he told me to write down everything I did over the period and keep track of the hours spent doing each task.

Over 17 days, I taught 49 hours yet did 184.5 hours of work.

I took this data and asked for help again. I was told “leave it with me”. That was the last I heard of it until my back to work meeting after time off sick in April 2016 due to burnout, when it was exclaimed “well if you didn’t keep a diary of your workload…”

After little support, I decided I had to take things into my own hands and find ways to reduce my workload for myself. Marking was one of my biggest time consumers so that was where I was going to start.

I started investigating other ways of assessing and marking. I came across a variety of ideas and was reminded of some of those I’d used as an NQT such as that below and decided to implement some of these strategies again to see how they worked.

During my NQT I’d create these before assessing any work based on the all, most and some learning objectives of the lesson. Students would read the feedback and then use it to write a target for themselves. Did they ever act on the target? Rarely! (My fault not theirs).

So I tired these again, however this time I looked into how I could give them the success criteria in advance and then make use of the feedback to drive learning forward. I realised that I had to know myself what I wanted my students to be achieving and what that would look like before I planned any learning. Reading ‘Engaging Learners‘ and ‘Teaching Backwards’ were both influential in helping me to understand this.

I tried numerous strategies to find what worked for me and my students at the time but that would still meet the criteria of the school’s marking policy.

Some of these strategies included:

marking codes DIRT
dot marking DIRT
WWW and EBI marking and DIRT
self assessment WWW and EBI marking and DIRT
generic peer assessment DIRT

But the one that worked best for me was the feedback grid…

feedback grid DIRT

After seeing this tweet by @fiona_616 I decided to give the feedback grid a try.

It was slightly more time consuming initially to set up, but once created they were easy to adapt. I started using them in a variety of contexts since they saved me a lot of time when it came to planning, assessment and marking as outlined in this post ‘My Marking Saviour – The Feedback Grid‘.

The following year when we were required to provide an outline of topics and progression on the front of books, I explored how I could combine this along with feedback to make my workload more manageable.

Along came the Learning Matrix

learning matrix assessment for learning

These combined the topic outline, assessment objectives and success criteria along with what would later become feedback comments. During the assessment process I’d simply highlight the criteria achieved in one colour and the criteria for students to act upon in another.

marking and feedback

When marking books, I would write the corresponding code in the students book in the appropriate location.

marking and feedback

In line with school policy students would have time to act upon the next steps criteria during DIRT.

Unfortunately, reducing my workload from marking and feedback felt like the only area in which I could take control. I still felt overwhelmed with work and eventually experienced a breakdown due to burnout in April 2016 – more on that experience here.

However my exploration into marking, feedback and assessment led me into a topic I now find of great interest and I’m fortunate to be in a position to now be writing a book on the topic to help schools, departments and individuals move away from marking policies and into feedback systems. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from 10 fantastic case study schools, 5 departments and a range of individuals in the process and I can not wait to share the book with you next Spring/Summer.

Until then, I’ve plenty more to inspire your journey from marking to feedback here.

Share your teacher truth…

What challenges have you experienced during your time in the profession and how have you overcome them? Share your Teacher Truths with others and develop the conversation on teacher wellbeing.


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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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Mrs Humanities shares… why I’ll continue to talk about teacher wellbeing and mental health

If you’re a twitter user, you may have noticed that this weekend a prominent, highly-regarded teacher offered an opinion about mental health and wellbeing that was rather controversial and for some, including myself, upsetting to come across.

The tweet read:

Twitter at your best: Sharing ideas. Pooling resources. Generating debate.
Twitter at your worst: Droning on about your mental health / wellbeing as if you work down a Victorian bloody coalmine. Get a grip.

I’m not going to name and shame as the tweet has now been removed. However before it was deleted there had been a barrage of more than 250 responses striving to counteract the statement made. It was pleasing to see that not a single response had been in agreement and that so many came out in support.

A bit of a shock!

When I first read the tweet I was flabbergasted that a member of the teaching community that I held in high esteem, could say such an insensitive thing. I retweeted with a comment explaining how I was ever grateful that I’ve been able to talk about my mental health and wellbeing over the last 3 years and left it at that.

However it stuck with me throughout the night and by morning I was rather angry. I had to respond directly so I outlined how being able to talk about and share by experience online meant I was able to accept my experience and later recuperate from the depression and breakdown.

However I also felt ashamed, firstly ashamed that others could feel this way about such an important issue and secondly because it brought back how I felt before I brokedown in Spring 2016 when I’d been too scared to face the reality of my mind and emotions. It’s really hard to hear others speak of mental health and wellbeing like it doesn’t matter, because when you’ve come so close to ending everything because of work-place stress, you know full well it’s not something to dismiss.

Worst thing is I’m not alone.

As a result of willingly sharing my experience, I’ve been in the position whereby not one but two fellow teachers have contacted me to discuss their mental state. One told me what they were planning on doing at the time, the other didn’t until weeks later. It was heartbreaking to hear, however, if they hadn’t reached out on those nights it could have been a very different story for them, their families and their schools. That’s two people that needed to talk, but there are countless others in similar circumstances. For instance, the Education Support Partnership year-on-year are seeing rising numbers contact them, in the year 2018/19 they saw a +28.1% cases compared to 2016/17. What a rise.

But there are also those that never reach out, that keep their challenges hidden and those that eventually leave the profession because it gets too much to deal with. We can’t hide from the issue.

We’ve got to keep talking!

Mental health challenges are easily hidden and without talking, how are we to uncover them? How to we de-stigmatise them? How do we make people feel okay about how they feel? How do we get people to reach out for help?

We need to talk and we need to look after and out for each other; be it ourselves, our colleagues or our students. We need to normalise the discussion, we need to normalise any need for support and we need everyone to know that it is okay to not feel okay. Society and individuals need that as much as schools do.

We all deserve to be happy.

Staff in schools have as much right to positive wellbeing, to be happy and to live free from excessive work-place stress just as much as the young people we work with. No body should be made to feel ashamed about their mental and physical health or their wellbeing and no one should be made to feel ashamed about talking about either.

I’m in a fortunate position whereby I have been able to publicly verbalise how many others are feeling. I’m contacted daily by teachers, school leaders and support staff about their wellbeing or lack of as the case usually is, each one fearful of saying anything whether it be to their schools, their loved ones or a professional. They don’t want to be seen as weak, inadequate, failing or add in any other negative connotation. But having the ability to speak to someone that has been through similar helps, it most certainly helped me. I was kindly offered support by a highly experienced geography teacher that had been through several of his own breakdowns and mental health challenges. His words lifted me on some of my darker days because he understood better than any of my friends or family could. Not only had he had similar mental health challenges, he was a teacher too. He understood. And that’s what is needed. Understanding and empathy.

Too many of those I speak to, meet or listen to say their school leaders, line managers, head of department or the like, lack it. That they’ve been told to get themselves together, that they’ve been told to grin and bear it, they’ve been told that everyone finds it hard they’re not the exception etc.

That’s not how we should treat one another; that’s not how we normalise mental health; that’s not how we save lives.

Teaching broke me. But it also helped me.

I’m stronger, braver and prouder now than I’ve ever been and that’s thanks to teaching and Edutwitter. I know I’ve been able to help others, whilst so many have unknowingly helped me. And so…

I’m standing proud and owning my mental health.
I’m standing proud and talking about mental health.
I’m standing proud and normalising mental health.

Why?

Because mental health matters and so do you!

Need help? Who can you talk to?

The Education Support Partnership are the only UK charity dedicated to improving the wellbeing and mental health of education staff in schools, colleges and universities. They have a 24/7 helpline if you need to talk about anything, whether it be professional or personal they are there to help.

Alternatively, find someone with #Talk2meMH on twitter. They are happy to talk not as a professional but as a friend. Some have been through their own challenges others have significant understanding and empathy.

Either way, if you need to reach out and talk, ensure you do so.

Best wishes,

P.S. I’m fundraising for Ed Support by walking 100km in 48 hours from London to Brighton next May. To find out more or to donate check out my Just Giving page here.


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Resource – Metacognition in Lessons

If you haven’t already read my post on metacognition in the classroom, I’d suggest starting there as it provided some context to the resource I’m sharing in this post.

I first came across the term ‘meta-cognition’ 4 years into my teaching career when I attended a Stretch and Challenge Conference back in 2015. Yet I’d been applying meta-cognitive strategies since I started teaching. Once I was able to put a name to the strategies I employed it opened up a world of other examples, evidence and approaches. Since then it forms a regular part of my teaching practice and is fundamental to the feedup-feedback-feedforward cycle that’s constantly implemented in my classroom.

As a subject leader however, I didn’t feel it was as embedded across my department as I would have liked. So over the summer I set about creating a resource that would help my team to apply metacognitivie practices in their classroom. It started with a PowerPoint split into two parts, first part information and guidance on metacognition for staff whilst the second part consisted of question slides for use with students. I don’t use the resource myself, however these are the kinds of questions I ask students as we plan, as they work, as they reflect and as we evaluate.

I hope the PowerPoint is a resource from which my colleagues will extract ideas from for their own lesson planning.

Teacher Slides

I’ll be making use of these in the first subject collaboration session later in this term to outline what metacognition is and how it should be applied within geography as part of our day to day teaching practice.

Student Slides

These slides are simply a range of questions associated with the following stages of the teaching process used in MYP Geography:

  • Planning (feed-up)
  • Monitoring (feedback – student to teacher, peer to peer)
  • Evaluation (feedback – student to teacher, teacher to student)
  • Reflection (feedforward)

One of my objectives for the last academic year was to develop student understanding of MYP I&S Criterion B – Investigation (more info here). This meant developing our students understanding of inquiry planning, effective research, academic honesty and assessment of sources within the context of geography. Many of the questions incorporated in the student slides I’ve incorporated into the resources I’ve been building to develop the elements above (I’ll write more about these in due course).

If you’d like a copy of the Powerpoint, simply click here. Hope you can find it of use.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… useful Google Drives from generous teachers

I’ve come across some very useful tweets whereby teachers are sharing resources they’ve created via a Google Drive (or similar) as opposed to Tes or other resource sharing platforms. But since they tend to highlight their resources via twitter it can often be hard to come across them in a web search. In order to help highlight the fantastic resources others are kindly sharing I thought I’d put together a list to share with you, with many thanks to their creators. If you know of one I’ve not yet listed, please feel free to comment or tweet me with links.

This post will appear on both MrsHumanities.com and Magpied Pedgagogy and will be updated as and when I come across new ones so you may wish to bookmark it.

NOTE: As most of these are Google Drives you will probably find that you need to login to Google otherwise the folders will appear empty.

Let’s start with something I set up a while ago but never launched. One for all the Geography teachers.

National Geography Department Google Drive is a way of geography teachers to upload and share resources. Simply upload to this folder and they will then be moved to one of the other folders which can be found here. Once moved the resources are view only. Please name documents by topic and key stage they are designed for.

General Resources

Jamie Clark @XpatEducator has quite a set of accomplishments. I first came across their resources some time ago back when I was Head of Humanities. Their profile now says they are Director of Digital Integration and Enlgish Teacher along with Apple Distinguished Educator, Producer of The Staffroom Podcast and Author.

Jamie Clark’s DropBox

Humanities

Mr Classics @MrClassics3 is a classics KS4 Latin and Classics teacher
Mr Classics Google Drive

Denise Freeman @geography_DA is a geography teacher and teaching school lead working in London.
Denise Freeman’s Google Drive

TeamGeog @GeogTeam is a platform to share resources for Key Stages 3,4 and 5 and is managed by @m_chiles and @jennnnnn_x
TeamGeog Google Drive

Rachael Speed @BeingMissSpeed is a Geography NQT based in Hampshire.
Rachael Speed’s Google Drive

Simon Beale @SPBeale is a Head of History, a @ssat lead practitioner and co-founder of @historybookgrp and critical conversations pod.
Simon Beale’s Google Drive

Morwenna Chapman @MorwennaChapman is Head of Department and Geography teacher. She has created a lovely set of resources for stretch and challenge. Grab a copy here in Morwenna Chapman’s drive

Science

I Teach Boys @ITeachBoys92 is a Science Teacher in London.
I Teach Boys Google Drive

Louise Cass @louisecass is a Science Teacher and former Forensic Scientist.
Louise Cass Google Drive

Miss Keloglou @MissKeloglou is a chemist and chemistry teacher. You’ll have to explore the folders to see their helpful resources.
Miss Keloglou Google Drive

Adam Bilton @heroteach is a Science teacher.
HeroTeach Google Drive

Dr Sue Thaw @aegilopoides is a Head of Science and has shared their revision resources. Again you’ll have to open the folders to see the resources.
Dr Sue Thaw Google Drive

Hope you find these of use and please do highlight to me any others you come across.

Best wishes,


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Resource – Welcome to GCSE Geography (AQA)

Whilst many of us are getting ready for heading back to school I thought I’d share with you my resources for the first few lessons with my GCSE students. Although it’s all one PowerPoint, I break it up as required.

I start the year off by outlining the course, the examinations and specification content.

Followed by the course outline, what they can expect and what they need to get started. At this point I’l give out books to those that wish to continue working in a book and ensure those that wish to use a folder have paper.

Next I explore the support available to students and how we encourage them to ask for help if they need it.

Next I’ll go into reviewing subject content. This year I’ll be getting students to return to subject content from year 9. They covered The Challenge of Resource Management in terms 5 and 6 and therefore I’d like to see what they can recall.

I’ll be starting with a bit of retrieval using a question grid.

Students will then self-assess as we discuss and review the answers.

Students will then use what they learnt in all three topics in year 9 to the discuss the link between resources and conflict.

This acitivity has been inspired by this resource on TeachItGeography.

I’ve taken the images out of my PowerPoint but you can find them at the above link if you wish to use them.

I’m then going to introduce ACE feedback to those I’ve not taught before by getting them to peer assess.

If time, they will make improvements and then peer assess again using PA Points focusing on terminology. Again inspired by the resource above.

In one of the following lessons, once the Assessment for Learning booklets are printed and ready to go I will then cover being responsible learners, assessment for learning and feedback in Geography.

I find that explaining feedback to students particularly useful in supporting them to understand how, where and when they will receive feedback and what to do with it. I also find it important to help them to understanding that the teacher is not the only one that can help them in their learning.

In addition I give students a copy of the ‘Welcome to Geography’ sheet and ask them to glue into the front of their book or folder for reference. This provides them with essential information as suggestions for GCSE Geography Revision. This year however I’ve added it to the AfL booklet.

If you’d like to download the powerpoint and sheet click here.

A few others have adapted and made their own versions for other specs.

OCR (A) Geographical Themes by Vicki Reed, @VickiLouise17

OCR B – Geography for enquiring minds (J384) by Natalie Batten, @Nat_Batten

Both can be found in the folder above.

If you’ve made use of the ‘Welcome to GCSE Geography’ document for other Geography exam boards or other subjects, get in touch and I will add them to the post.

Hope you can find the resources of use.

Best wishes for the new academic year.


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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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Mrs Humanities shares… A peek inside my department handbook

Recently I’ve had a lot of requests for copies of my department handbook. Is there a sudden surge in people being asked to create them or is it just the time of year that people are updating those they already possess? Hrm?

Anyway, due to it being a school document that I have partly created during the school day I don’t feel I have the right to share it. Therefore instead, I will explain what mine consists of along with a few screenshots. I hope that helps those of you that are creating or updating yours, but please do not ask me for a copy as I will not be able to send it to you I’m afraid. However, I have created a template that you may wish to make use of, find it here.

Contents

  1. Academic Statement
  2. Department Vision
  3. Department Staffing – roles and responsibilities
  4. Teaching load – who’s teaching what
  5. Other responsibilities – e.g. extra-curricular, extended essays etc.
  6. Curriculum – break down of KS3 (MYP), KS4 (GCSE) and KS5 (IB)
  7. Assessed work expectations
  8. Lesson Observations – expectations and responsibilities
  9. Lesson Planning – expectations for teaching and learning over time
  10. Feedback and Assessment – expectations and strategies
  11. Student Assessment for Learning – outline of the AfL sheets we use with students
  12. Revision and Exams
  13. Reports
  14. Behaviour and rewards
  15. Trips and Fieldwork
  16. Day-to-Day housekeeping

I’ve learnt a thing or two this year which means I’ve put a bit more in, with the aim of making things explicitly clear to aid consistency and professional development.

Academic Statement and Department Vision

These two pieces layout the basis of what it means to teach our subject, the former, the academic statement, seeks to set out the role of Geography.

Why is it worth studying?
What value does it have?
What do we want students to take away from their geographical studies over the 3, 5 or 7 years in which they study it?

The latter, the department vision is then an outline of how we as a department are going to achieve the above and how our department fits into the whole school vision and development plan.

How will we make Geography a subject worth studying?
How will we demonstrate its value in the curriculum and beyond?
How will our department contribute to the whole school vision?
How will our department contribute to the school's development?

I believe this section needs the buy in of all staff. During my first year here, I sat down with those in my department to create both of these. I had my ideas, but I wanted to have their input too. Since then I’ve had a new member of staff join the department each year due to the progression of others and I’ve failed in creating the statement and vision collectively.

This September we’ve two new members of staff joining the department, meaning a fresh start really as the other remaining member of staff joined us this academic year. My plan for our CPD day in September then is to sit down together and create a new academic statement and department vision as a collective. I believe it’s important for everyone to feel they have a contribution to make to the success of the department and a say in how we do it. I want us all to be aiming for the same thing and to be able to see where we are going together collectively.

Additionally, I know my vision has changed since I started as subject leader 3 years ago. These statements need to reflect the developments in my geographical knowledge, practice and general pedagogy as well as whole school changes.

Department Staffing, Teaching Load and Other Responsibilities

What this section includes is quite self explanatory really.

The staffing table outlines the position each person plays in the department, the responsibilities of their role and their teaching load. This is to enable staff to seek support and guidance from the right people, it’s to help teachers collaborate across year groups and key stages and to allow staff to identify their strengths in the provision of other responsibilities e.g. trainee mentors, extra-curricular, field-trips etc.

Curriculum

This section breaks down the curriculum by key stage, providing vital information about the topics and specifications studied, the examinations undertaken and the options selected.

This section also refers the user to important documents such as the exam specifications, the programme of learning for each key stage and the assessment for learning booklets and documents.

Assessed work expectations

We don’t mark general classwork at GCSE and IB, just past paper questions which are undertaken throughout a topic. This equates to 1 set of PPQs every 2-3 weeks. This is how we assess student’s application of knowledge. In lessons we then use assessment for learning strategies to check for understanding.

For consistency, expectations for assessed work are set out explicitly in the handbook.

This year I’m introducing a change to our testing procedures. Rather than giving end of topic tests at the end topic, students will not sit the test for a minimum of 2 weeks after they have finished it. Although I am considering making it so that end of topic tests are done at the end of the next topic, however I’d like input from my ‘new’ department and line manager on this before any final decisions are made.

Lesson Observations

This section merely outlines what should and what doesn’t need to be provided for a formal or informal lesson observation in accordance with the whole school policy. It also directs staff to lesson observation documents such as the observation feedback form, 5 minute lesson plan etc.

Lesson Planning

Really this section should be called learning planning, but I don’t like how it sounds so I’ve stuck to lesson planning.

It is something I’ve added this year for consistency and is an outline of what should be evident in teaching and learning over time. It would not be expected to see evidence of all of this in a lesson observation, nor evident just in books.

Instead sources of evidence would include discussions with staff, classwork, homework, lesson resources, assessment for/of learning, data, conversations with students, collaborative planning, units of inquiry, etc.

Feedback and Assessment

This section discusses the importance of feedback and assessment for/of learning in all its forms. Here staff are referred to the Power of Feedback document for further reading for the logic and evidence for the strategies outlined.

This section then provides a range of feedback strategies that staff have the autonomy to mix and match providing that students receive regular feedback from the teacher or peers to enable them to develop and progress.

More on the strategies that make up our Feedback NOT Marking ‘policy’ here.

Student Assessment for Learning

In supporting our students to become independent learners, we use assessment for learning sheets at KS3 and booklets at KS4 & 5. These enable students to track their progress along with set and track their personal targets.

This section aids the teacher in explaining to students how to use their AfL documents.

The remainder of the handbook

The remaining sections are just basic details that outline where to go for information on and resources for revision, exams and reports

There’s a bit that outlines our departmental approach to rewards and behaviour. There’s an outline of responsibilities for trips and fieldwork and some general day-to-day information that maybe of interest to new members of staff.

I hope this is of use.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #5

Wow, what happened to that gained time after my GCSE and IB groups left? This term has been hectic so there’s been a lack of posts this month. But here’s a small one with my most recent twitter highlights. You’ll notice a bit of a theme with the geography highlights.

Hope you find something of use!

Geography

History

Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

And this one…. well it’s about me *chuckles*

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

My book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is now released.Click the image to find out more about it.