Mrs Humanities

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Mrs Humanities shares… T&L accounts to follow on Twitter

mrs humanities shares

This week I thought I’d share awesome twitter accounts for general Teaching and Learning inspiration.

So in no particular order… (although obviously I’ll start with mine)

Magpied Pedagogy

MP

Magpied Pedagogy simply collates the amazing practice shared on twitter. The twitter account simply tweets the posts from the webpage –https://magpiedpedagogy.wordpress.com/ – where you will find over 750 ideas collated from across twitter.

Pedagoo.org

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#PedagooFriday is probably one of those tags I find most inspiration from. If you’ve not come across Pedagoo Friday before you’re seriously missing out. I won’t lie, when I’m collating tweets to embed into MagpiedPedagogy it’s one of the first hashtags I seek out; there’s a huge array of ideas and subjects covered by it.

Pedagoo is a community of teachers learning through sharing classroom practice, you can join in at  or through the previously mentioned weekly hashtag: 

Pete Sanderson & Lesson Toolbox

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Collator of great ideas shared under the hashtag  

Pete shares ideas from far and wide. If you ever need a sprinkle of inspiration check out the Lesson Toolbox twitter feed or his site – https://lessontoolbox.wordpress.com/.

 

Try This Teaching

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Created by  | Try This Teaching shares and promotes a toolkit of T&L ideas based on the site http://www.trythisteaching.com/toolkit/  

Outstanding Teaching

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Affiliated with Andy Griffith & Mark Burns, the Creators of the Outstanding Teaching Intervention and the authors of Engaging Learners and Teaching Backwards, this twitter feed regularly shares tips, ideas and good practice from classrooms across the UK as well as links to research and publications.

Isabella Wallace

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Now technically it’s not Isabella that I’m recommending here, but more the pedagogical hashtag she created – . If you’ve not heard of the concept of Poundland Pedagogy, then let me briefly explain it to you. Quite simply it’s the idea that cheap products from shops such as Poundland and PoundStretchers can be used to enhance teaching and student engagement through creative and innovative approaches.

There are a huge range of ideas to be found under the hashtag and I highly recommend taking a look.

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 tips for NQTs

mrs humanities shares

I remembed my NQT year as incredibly stressful, more so than my PGCE. I found myself in a challengeing school with extremely high expectations for staff. Whilst my department were amazing as was the NQT co-ordinator and lots of the other staff from across the school were very supportive, it was a difficult year.

Within the 1st term Ofsted decided to turn up, madness struck by the October half term. Workload was relentless, constantly planning, marking and assessing progress. It was hard work but taught me so much. So I thought I’d share a few tips for those embarking of their NQT year soon, these are based on personal experiences and others may have different advice.

  1. Forget progress in the first term. 
    Honestly spend the first term getting to know your students; how do they learn? What learning activities do they enjoy? What contributions do they make to school life? What hobbies do they have outside of school? Get to know the young people you are teaching. Build those all important relationships and make it clear what your expectations are in the first term. Personally I wished I’d done exactly that during the first few weeks of my NQT year rather than worrying about whether students were making progress. I now like to spend the first term finding out where my students are in regard to their subject knowledge, a bit about them and making my classroom expectations explicit. I make sure they are doing the little things that make the bigger things easier e.g. keeping their book tidy, meeting homework deadlines etc. and if they are not I crack down on it immediately – detentions, phone calls home, no second chances.
  2. Set up clear routines.
    My first school had a clear routine for students once they entered the classroom. Collect books, get out equipment, write the date, title and learning objective and underline them and then get on with the starter task until the register had been taken. This made it easy to set up initial routines. If your school doesn’t have a specific start to lessons, create one. Students like consistency and knowing what to expect. Lay that out for them from day 1; once they know they then know your expectations as well.
    However it’s not just the start of lessons you need to set up routines for. Consider routines for some of the following:
    – End of lesson
    Peer/Self assessment
    Class discussions
    – Handing books in
    – Toilet requests
    The list could continue but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone.
  3. Know your expectations
    Ensure you know what you expect from your students before the first day of school. It’s important when setting the foundations with your classes that you are clear in regards to what you’d expect from them and what they can expect from you. You will find yourself spending the first few weeks constantly repeating these rules and expectations but once your students are clear on them and are able to remember them (if you work in secondary, remember they will have numerous teachers with different expectations and routines they won’t instantly remember yours) you can then start to focus on the bigger picture – student progress. Word of caution though, ensure your expectations are achievable – if students feel there is no way or chance of them meeting your expectations you maybe faced with some behavioural issues.
  4. Know the school rules
    Consistency is important, ensure you know and understand the school rules and behavioural routines before you start teaching. In the long run it makes life in the classroom easier for you; give warnings clearly, set detentions and chase them up. Phone home if you have to. Once student’s know they can’t mess you around and that you a consistent and follow through life in the classroom eventually becomes a little easier. Also it’s really annoying when you constantly follow school behaviour routines and find that others are not, it makes your teaching life a lot more difficult if staff are not consistent and following the school wide routines. Firstly students know what to expect if they consistently come up against the same routines, also they can’t argue back if you do what everyone else is (or should) be doing. Be firm, be consistent. Ensure that you and other NQTs know and follow the routines set out.
  5. Smile before Christmas
    I’m sure you would have heard plenty of words of wisdom like the old ‘don’t smile before Christmas’. Ignore it. Greet your students on their way in and around the school. Talk to them off topic now and then. Tell them little snippets about yourself. Be human. Personally I tried too hard to be ‘a teacher’ and not a human teaching other humans; I felt I had to be 100% the professional and didn’t feel it was acceptable to share anything about myself with my students. I later realised this doesn’t work. It makes you unapproachable and unrelatable. Once you’ve established routines and expectations you can begin to ‘relax’ a little with your students and let them see a bit of you – you’re favourite colour (often related to the colour pen a student is using for their notes), your favourite parts of the topic (*insert excited face here* don’t get me started on climate change, I could talk about it for hours), your favourite books (oh,  I see your reading….I love it, have you got to the part where…. whoops was that a spolier?). I’m sure you get the picture. Have those conversations with your students; let them see you are human too.

I hope this is some use to you, feel free to ask questions or for the more experienced of you feel free to add your top tips in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

Mrs Humanities


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Mrs Humanities shares…5 Simple Starter Ideas

mrs humanities sharesI’m of the generation of PGCE students that were introduced to teaching with the three part lesson and it’s a hard habit to kick.

I admit my lesson almost always starts with a starter activity, a hook for the lesson or something to draw upon prior learning.

In this post I share with you a few of my favourite 5 starter tasks.

  1. Question it!

    question-i
    Quite simply students are given a stimulus such as a photo, sound, object, key term etc. and they draw up a series of questions. In year 7 I start students off with what makes a good question and introduce the question grid to develop their practice in this area so eventually they are creating their own awesome questions. In my new school I set up the questions to ponder area, students have posted some of their questions there and we come back to them throughout the topic.

  2. 5 in 5 minutes

    Students are given 5 categories and are given 5 minutes to write a list of 5 associated with the category given. 5-in-5For instance recently in a lesson on ecosystems and the cycles of the ecosystem the categories were as follows
    1 – Biomes
    2 – Climates
    3 – Water cycle stores
    4 – Carbon cycle stores
    5 – Transfer processes in the water cycle
    I find it useful as a recall activity to activate prior learning.

  3. Senses Starter

    senses-starter
    As a teacher of Humanities I loved this activity to stimulate the senses at the start of a lesson, to get the students engaged and questioning what they would be learning. Using YouTube I’d find a suitable clip for the students to enter to, sometimes the sounds of a battle field or the fauna of the rainforest, a tornado or trench. Sometimes an image would be displayed alongside the sounds, other times simply the sound clip. Initially students to head straight into asking questions but the refusal to answer and reminder to the task on the board soon quietens them and quickly engage their senses. This has worked through for me through the key stages, although the older they get, the less likely they are to want to close their eyes and engage fully.

4. Find your Match

find-your-partner

This one usually requires a bit more planning than the others. As students enter they are given a card which has a corresponding card such as a key term and definition or map symbol and description or part of a key term. Quite simply students have to find the person with the corresponding card. Sometimes this is used to partner students up or to create a new seating plan. Other times it initiates the learning for the lesson and other times it is quite simply used to recall learning.

5. Mind the Gap

mind-the-gap

A simple activity to get students practicing the spelling of key terminology. These can be made as simple or complex as you wish. I differentiate on occasions by providing several lists of varying challenge or will give particular words to students that keep making the same reoccurring errors.

What are your go to starter activities? Share yours in the comments.

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)