Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Embedding Feedback: An Example

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

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

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

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

FEED-UP

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

FEEDBACK

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

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

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

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

FEEDFORWARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you find this post of use.


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Resource – UK Climate Inquiry

Teaching about weather and climate is probably one of my favourite topics to teach in Geography. I love the relevance, I love the theory and I love exploring the data surrounding it. To help my students understand the climate of the UK, the differences and the influences I created this UK Climate Inquiry.

Students are provided with a task sheet individually and a resource pack in groups.

The resource pack contains
– Climate data for 6 locations in the UK from the Met Office
– Precipitation and temperature maps for the UK from the Met Office
– Air mass diagram
– Factors affecting climate cheat sheet

Students are also provided with 4 climate graph templates to reduce the time spent creating climate graphs so they can focus on developing their understanding of the theory.

The task requires students to explore a range of resources to help them to understand how the climate of the UK varies and the factors that influence our climate.

Stage 1

Students start off by making predictions on the following using their prior knowledge

  • Which areas of the UK do you think get the most rainfall? Why do you think this?
  • Which areas of the UK do you think have the highest temperatures? Why do you think this?
  • What do you think affects an areas rainfall and temperature?

They then use the resources provided in the group pack to fill in the two tables.

Stage 2

Next they select 4 out of the 6 locations provided. Using an atlas students have to work out where the named locations can be found. Choosing one location to represent each section of the UK (North East, North West, South East, South West). To stretch and challenge students there is also a central location to encourage comparison between coastal and inland areas.

Stage 3

Next students create climate graphs for each of their chosen locations using the Met Office data found here.

I provide the students with climate graph templates so they spend less time deciphering how to set up their climate graph and more time analysing them. To stretch and challenge I do encourage students to create a climate graph of their own for the central location.

Stage 4

The next stage involves data analysis and interpretation. Students are required to describe the patterns they see for each section of the UK and offer reasons using the resources provided.

Stage 5

Finally students write a conclusion in their book to bring together their findings on how and why the climate of the UK varies.

Stretch and Challenge

For students that excel in the task, they are encouraged to compare central and coastal areas by creating their own climate graph for Sutton Bonnington. After doing so, they then compare the characteristics with the other locations, using the factors affecting climate cheat sheet to explain the differences.

If you’d like the resources, download it here.

Hope you can make use of the resource.
Best wishes,


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Meta-cognition in the Classroom

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.

What is Meta-cognition?

Put simply, it’s thinking about thinking.

However in reality is far more than just thinking about thinking. It’s active monitoring. It’s continual awareness. It’s our response and behaviours.

“Awareness of one’s own thinking, awareness of the content of one’s conceptions, an active monitoring of one’s cognitive processes, an attempt to regulate one’s cognitive processes in relationship to further learning, and an application of a set of heuristics as an effective device for helping people organize their methods of attack on problems in general”


Hennessey, 1999

It’s made up of two elements, meta-cognitive knowledge and regulation. The knowledge element being made up of the learner’s awareness of their cognitive abilities whilst the regulation refers to how learners monitor and respond to their cognitive processes.

Being able to consider, monitor and control how you learn, how you think and how you overcome struggles are vital qualities to build in our students in preparation for both exams and their futures.

“Metacognition describes the processes involved when learners plan, monitor, evaluate, and make changes to their own learning behaviours.”


Cambridge Assessment, 2017

Developing Independent Learners

I’ve posted many a time on strategies, resources and ideas for developing independent learners, but all to often I’ve not taken the time to discuss the use of meta-cognition in my drive to develop independent, self-directed learners.

I’m sure many readers will already apply elements of meta-cognition into their teaching but may not necessarily know it.

“Too often, we teach students what to think but not how to think.”


OECD Insights, 2014

I remember making use of some strategies back when I worked in EYFS between my PGCE and first teaching position. For instance when we were seeing what would happen to seeds grown in different locations I asked the children what they thought might happen and what made them think that, at which point they would apply knowledge they’d gained from other experiences. This led into a discussion of how they learnt that. Even at pre-school age they could think about what they knew and how they learnt it.

Encouraging and engaging learners to think about how they learn, the struggles they experience, how they overcome them and how to apply responses to future learning is essential to building independence in the classroom, so that when our students leave compulsory education they have the resilience and tools to be lifelong, responsible learners.

Below is a video of Dylan William discussing the importance of young people being able to reflect on their learning and how this has impacted his teaching practice.

In the Classroom

Until I started exploring meta-cognition, although I was applying elements in my classroom already I hadn’t been using it to its full potential. Once I got to grips with the theory, evidence and strategies I feel my practice developed and improved along with my understanding of my learners.

In my classroom you’ll see elements of meta-cognition on a regular basis from the planning stage to the reflection stage by both myself and my learners.

If you take my average year 8 extended writing task we will do the following:

Planning Stage
– discuss the aims and objectives of the task
– identify prior learning that will be relevant
– discuss prior strategies and struggles in applying the required skills e.g. evaluation
– review targets and identify which will be of relevance to the task or seek out new ones
– consider application of targets in this piece of work

Monitoring Stage
– as students work, meta-cognitive questions are asked about their progress and how they are monitoring their progress towards the aims and objectives of the task
– students are asked about the challenges they have experienced so far and how they’ve overcome them
– students peer and/or self assess the work against specific success criteria or using the ACE peer assessment strategy

Evaluation and Reflection Stage
– students are prompted to consider their success in the strategies they applied to achieve the aims and objectives of the task or learning goal either through questioning or written review.
– students are asked question such as
‘How well did you do at….?’
‘Is there anything that didn’t go well? What could you have done differently?’
‘What did you find hard with this task? How did you overcome this?’
‘What will you try to take away from this that you can apply to future work?’.

Impact

When I started at my current school there was a class I started with in year 8, I taught them again in year 9 and continue to teach some of them in year 10 at present. Over that time, I’ve witnessed their ability to self-regulate develop and grow as has their independence and enjoyment in the learning process. The ones I still teach, I do less for them now when it comes to meta-cognition. They’ve been scaffolded through the stages, supported in developing their independence and I’m now there to facilitate and support their self-regulation through meta-cognition. It really does support learners independence.

Useful resources

The EEF last published some useful resources on Meta-cognition and self-regulated learners including the summary sheet below.

Metacognition and self-regulation evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation

Metacognition and self-regulated learning from the Education Endowment Foundation

Getting started with Metacognition from Cambridge International Education Teaching and Learning Team
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Metacognition from Cambridge International

Meta-cognition: A Literature Review from Emily R. Lai

Hope you find the post of use. Feel free to share any other useful links in the comments.


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Mrs Humanities shares… 10 useful blog posts about feedback

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

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

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

feedback not marking google search

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally…

Feedback (and marking) links

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

I hope you find this post useful.

Here are some of my other posts on #feedbackNOTmarking

Moving from marking to feedback

Workload reduction

Strategies

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

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… 10 Tweachers to follow in 2019

The great thing about twitter is it has opened my mind, inspired my teaching and introduced me to hundreds of fantastic people, many of whom I would call friends.

The following are some people I would recommend following this year if you don’t already. In no particular order then…

1 // Adrian Bethune. Tweets as @AdrianBethune

Adrian is the author of ‘Wellbeing In The Primary Classroom’, Primary Teacher and creator of teachappy.co.uk. 

I first met Adrian at the Festival of Education, we were both on the Education Support Partnership panel as part of the discussion on wellbeing in schools. We later met again at Pedagoo Hampshire. He’s an inspiring, down to earth person so go follow.

2 // Sarah Larsen. Tweets as@sarahlarsen74 

Sarah has been an influencer in the #feedbackNOTmarking movement. After having taken ideas to her senior leadership team, she’s been able to influence change in her school to reduce workload and improve feedback.

Part-time teacher, full-time mum. Go follow her.

3 // 𝓝𝓲𝓸𝓶𝓲 𝓒𝓡. Tweets as@NiomiColleen

Niomi has so much positivity to share. A new mum and Primary school teacher, I’m sure there will be lots of interesting perspectives coming from her this year especially once she’s back from maternity leave. Until then, adore the many baby photos.

4 // Kim Constable. Tweets as@HecticTeacher

Kim is a wellbeing warrior, cat lover and all round goody. I’ve met Kim a number of times over the course of the last few years and she’s as lovely in person as she is online. If you teach Sociology or PSHE, well your in for a treat; her website HecticTeacher.com has a huge array of resources. Additionally Kim shares resources and ideas relevant for any classroom.

5 // Fearghal O’Nuallain. tweets as@Re_Ferg

Teacher, Geographer and Adventurer. What more could you ask for. You may not get much in the way of teaching resources from him but you get a hell of a lot of inspirational photos, stories and links. I love the break Fearghal creates in my twitter feed from all the ‘Edu debate’. Much appreciation.

6 // Tom Rogers. Tweets as@RogersHistory

History teacher, Tes columnist and Founder of @tmhistoryicons. Tom is a top bloke and one I’m proud to call a friend and colleague. We may not work together in the same school or even country but being part of the #TMIcons team is fantastic. Tom has helped me to open many doors, the first of which was overcoming my lack of confidence and presenting in front of a room full of history teachers at TMHistoryIcons way back in March 2016.

If you follow Tom on Twitter you’ll find lots of tweets saying the things so many of us are thinking but daren’t say aloud. Tom says it for us, we all need people like him fighting for our profession.

7 // Kathryn. Tweets as@Arithmaticks 

Kathryn will be leading #TMMathsIcons, the first #TMIcons event for Maths Teachers. How cool is that? I’m sure there will lots of inspiration posts over the coming year from her.

8 // Natalie Scott. Tweets as@nataliehscott 

Natalie has been quiet throughout 2018, she’s been through some hellish experiences over the course of the last year but she’s back and excited for 2019. Who knows what 2019 will bring for her, but I she’ll be sharing lots of educational inspiration over the coming year. Check out her heart felt blog post on the WomenEd blog here.

9 // Patrick Ottley-O’Connor. Tweets as@ottleyoconnor

Patrick is a leader with heart. He cares about his staff and students, he creates change and posts plenty of positivity. If you enjoy travelling, bonus! He’s guaranteed to inspire with his holiday snaps. Enjoy!

10 // Martyn Reah. Tweets as@MartynReah

If you’re not already following Martyn, why ever not? At times a man of few words, but his enthusiasm and positive nature is contagious. It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting Martyn and becoming part of the #Teacher5aday movement. Without him and it, I probably wouldn’t have made it through the academic year 2014-15. He’s one to follow for wellbeing advice, ideas and inspiration.

Okay that’s my top 10 to follow at the start of 2019. Check them all out on twitter. Many of them have blogs too so be sure to take a read.

A few honourable mentions

Stephen Schwab. Tweets as @schwabs52
Marcus Cherrill. Tweets as @ICanTeach_uk
Kristian Still. Tweets as @KristianStill



Best wishes for 2019.


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Mrs Humanities shares… the 10 most viewed posts of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

2 // Resource – How to Revise in Geography

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

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

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

4 // Zombie Apocalypse Atlas and Map Skills SoW

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

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

5 // Resource – Differentiation Strategies CPD

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

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

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

7 // My Marking and Feedback Toolkit

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

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

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

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

9 // Marking, feedback and DIRT

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes for 2019.


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Resource – GCSE Revision G.Y.M

This is a project I’ve been meaning to do for a while now to support revision and recall inspired by Jen Monk’s ‘Geog your memory’ resource.

The idea is that through the use of a mail merge you create a variety of ‘geog your memory’ resources which can be used at the end or throughout the course.

It’s nothing fancy but super easy to do.

First create your template in word.

Next create your spreadsheet and collate your questions in whatever order suits you and your needs. I’ve done it mixed to support revision with my year 11 class. I’ve used the sample paper questions and created some of my own to test student knowledge and recall.

Next is the mail merge. These are super easy once you get the hang of it.

Here’s a step by step guide.

Step 1 – Data Source

Open up your template in word. Go to the ‘Mailings’ tab and click on the ‘Start Mail Merge’ icon. Select ‘Normal Word Document’. Then go to ‘Select Recipients’ as shown below. Select the option ‘Use an Existing List’. This will open up a the ‘Select data source’ window. Just find your excel spreadsheet in your files and select OK.

Step 2 – Inserting your data

Next you want to add the data to your mail merge. Place your cursor where you want to insert information. You can see I’ve clicked in the first definition box. Once your cursor is placed, click on the ‘Insert Merge Field’. Then from the dropdown list select the data option you want to insert.

Insert the fields into the remainder of your document.

Step 3 – Finish and Merge

Once your data fields are inserted into the template document you’ll want to merge the data into the file. Click on the ‘Finish & Merge’ icon. From the drop down menu select ‘Edit Individual Documents’.

When the pop-up opens, select ‘All’ and press OK.

This will open up a new document with all of your data inserted into several versions of the original template.

And there you have it, a whole selection of ‘Geog your memory’ sheets for students.

If you don’t want to make your own, guess what I made some for you to download and amend. Download the Word Template, the Excel Spreadsheet of questions for AQA Geography and the document with 30+ GYM sheets ready-to-go by clicking the button below.

Hope you find the resources and tutorial useful.


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Resource – Learning to Revise Guide for KS3

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work on revision and recall; primarily this arose from a number of concerns students expressed last year about not knowing how to revise. 

To support my students,  in February 2018 I was inspired to create a ‘How to Revise in Geography‘ booklet for Key Stage 4 and 5 students. I have two versions of the booklet one suited to AQA GSCE Geographers and another for IBDP Geographers. 

Last year I also covered a few different revision techniques with my form group to help them prepare for assessments. However I didn’t think to make them a ‘how to revise’ guide until more recently. 

I was spurred on a when a colleague mentioned that another might be in contact soon to discuss revision support for Key Stage 3. Consequently I figured a booklet for Key Stage 3 might be of use. 

The terminology is similar but less technical and it has far fewer strategies than in my GCSE and IB version but I hope it will be just as useful for suggesting suitable strategies for Key Stage 3. 

Click the download button to get an editable copy.

Hope you can make use of it with your students. 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 8 reasons why I love to teach.

After all my recent anxieties, the first day was fine. I’m sure tomorrow will be too, Wednesday the same…

Anyway, I’d like to share some positivity around teaching so here are a few reasons why I love teaching. Would love to hear your reasons, feel free to add them in the comments.

1 // Learning is awesome. Seeing my students engaged, enjoying their learning is a fabulous feeling. I love it when a class is fully engaged and I can step back and see the learning taking place.

2 // Planning learning is also awesome. It’s great sitting down and planning the process in which my students will participate to learn what they need to learn. It’s a beautiful moment when it all comes together and you know the kids will love it.

3 // Students teach me as much as I teach them. Whether it’s pedagogical, subject based or something a little more personal like something about them, I love that I learn from my students. One of my favourites is when students take our learning in a different direction due to their curiosity, it’s inevitable that I will learn something too.

4 // Students help me to forget my worries. Teaching takes me out of my mind, the best distraction possible. My students make me want to be happy, to want to be the best possible me. They deserve that so I strive for it. That includes taking charge of my wellbeing, to be the best teacher possible we need to be healthy, rested and present.

5 // Developing lifelong learners. Knowing that the skills, knowledge and understanding my students develop in my classroom they will take forward into their futures is empowering. I want them to be the best possible version of themselves now and in the future.

6 // Responsible citizens. In the last 7 years I’ve seen a huge shift in the attitude of young people. In general they are more politically engaged, more open-minded and more emphatic to the experiences of others. When the world is becoming increasing fractionned, the rise of the far-right is evident and leaders aren’t exactly the best, it’s a relief to see that young people want to see change. Our job is to empower then to engage and be work towards that change. I love it when students start to be the change they want to see.

7 // Teachers are great people. Generally speaking, most are caring, supportive and helpful. Sometimes that means we are taken advantage of but it also means there are some incredible people who’ll have your back.

8 // Teaching is like a jar of jelly beans. It’s fun, full of variety, colour and flavour. Every handful is different, so is every day in the classroom. Embrace it.

Why do you love teaching?


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 reasons teachers are leaving the profession

mrs humanities sharesThis is a post I’ve had on my mind for a while but haven’t wanted to write but then I decided that actually I would as I’d also do a post to counteract it with 5 reasons to stay in teaching.

We need more teachers; teachers are leaving the profession and few are being replaced. The numbers of teachers in secondary schools has fallen whilst the number of teachers leaving for reasons other than retirement has increased by 34,910 between 2011 and 2016. Yet the number of students is set to increase by 19.4% between 2017 and 2025.

So why are teachers leaving?

The following five reasons are based on my experiences and those of many teachers I have spoken to over the years.

1 // Accountability

Current accountability structures were introduced originally in 1988 as part of the Education Reform Act with the introduction of Ofsted and league tables yet it’s been Gove’s legacy that has had the most significant impact on teacher and school accountability in my opinion.

Accountability is important to maintain sufficient standards of education for all but it’s the way it has been implemented more recently and combined with performance related pay that has impacted teachers the most.

Ofsted and league tables already have a widespread impact on teacher workload, wellbeing and stress. In my first two schools, I feel as though I heard the word Ofsted more than I heard the word student; yet we are in our schools for the benefit of our students. Everything we do should be for them, not for Ofsted, not for the LA, not for the MAT boss making big bucks but for the students in our care. There are many examples from schools across the country whereby strategies have been implemented not for the benefit of students but to tick box in preparation for Ofsted. Strategies that have had little to no benefit for the students; so why were we doing them in the first place? It takes a brave and honourable leader to stand up and say ‘other schools maybe doing it, but we are not because it doesn’t impact on learning’.

But the introduction of performance related pay for something with so many external influences is damming.

In 2013, the DofE released details on how schools will be able to link teachers’ pay to performance allowing them to pay good teachers more. By that September schools had to revise their pay and appraisal policies to outline how pay progression would be linked to teacher’s performance. The advice suggested schools assess teachers’ on their performance in some of the following

  • impact on pupil progress
  • impact on wider outcomes for pupils
  • contribution to improvements in other areas (eg pupils’ behaviour or lesson planning)
  • professional and career development
  • wider contribution to the work of the school, for instance their involvement in school business outside the classroom

For many this meant setting specific targets for pupil progress and specific targets for performance in observations and scrutinises of different kinds.

For me, one of my appraisal targets looked something like this…

PM v2

These targets were set by the school. The lack of autonomy in the PM process for many and the implementation of specific targets, some of which are impossible to achieve due to external factors has massively increased the stress experienced by teachers to perform whilst also leading to a great deal of micro-management in order to help others to meet their targets. It’s been crazy for many, stressful for others and downright impossible for some.

2 // Unnecessary Workload

Resulting from the introduction of greater accountability and new performance management measures, teachers have also been finding their workload increase exponentially over the last 5 years or so. Often the workload has been associated with either doing it to cover ones back or to tick boxes for Ofsted, Mocksted, parents or performance management. Too often workload has increased not a benefit to learners but merely to say it is being done.

Take class profiles for instance; in my first school class profiles were introduced to give to any observers. These outlined the class, their achievement, progress, concerns etc.; imagine doing every term for 12 or more groups of students. I never felt this helped me to improve my students learning; instead just a tick box exercise of justifications.

profiles

In my opinion the unnecessary tasks that distract from the assessing of learning and planning of progress are the biggest distractions to improving education in our schools.

3 // Constant change

Along with unnecessary workload, another major influence on teacher wellbeing and the workload crisis is the impact of constant change. So far, I’ve been through just two governments in my teaching career, yet it feels like many more as a result of the political input into the UK’s education system. Each time there’s a change of Secretary of State for Education there are new policies and changes to implement; that’s 4 to date for me and despite the name change of the role, others have seen many more ‘in charge’ of education in the UK.

Along with changing ministers, comes changing examinations.

I started my teaching career in 2010; just as Gove become the Education Secretary and since then I’ve taught the following GCSE exam specifications

WJEC (1 year)
Edexcel A (1.5 years)
Edexcel B (2.5 years)
AQA IGCSE (1 year)
AQA 1-9 (2 years)

I’ve taught with levels and without levels. I’ve taught with the national curriculum and without it.

I’ve taught in a comprehensive converting to an academy, an academy, a MAT and a free school. All within 6 years. Some of this was chosen change, others were enforced change all of which those increased workload as it wasn’t possible to just ‘transfer’ resources from one situation to another. Each school their own way of doing things; each exam spec was different; each had new implemented strategies that had been noted in another school as good practice and thus we had to implement just in case.

The change to qualifications, curriculum and testing has probably had one of the largest impacts on workload, in my eyes especially for those teachers in schools teaching both GCSE and A-Levels. The introduction of new testing; the removal of levels and new qualifications have meant a lot of change all at once for schools, subjects and teams to implement alongside dwindling resources and money. All of which has increased workload, stress and poor mental health of teachers.

4 // Limited Autonomy and Micro-Management

Tom Rogers shared this on twitter just the other day

A fine example of micro-management and poor leadership. Limited autonomy has a huge impact on teachers; imagine being faced with a school leader that tells you what you can and can’t do in your classroom; that tells you to do things you damn well know will have little to no impact on your students; that tells you to follow me and you’ll be outstanding; that doesn’t let your own way shine through. Imagine how uninspired you’d feel, how your enthusiasm would drain; how ticking boxes to please that person rather than to benefit your students becomes your norm. No thank you.

Yet too many people have experienced this. The list of non-negotiables. The do it this way or take the highway out of here routine. Or worse still the you’re with us or against us, so we’ll put you on PM measures that mean you’ll hate working here and we can soon get rid of you approach. This micro-managing and in some instances, bullying is driving teachers out of the classroom.

We train to teach because we want to teach. We want to give something to our students. We want them to take knowledge away. We want them to develop skills. We want them to be life-long learners. We want them to enjoy and be happy in school and life. If we’re not allowed to do that; our souls become drained. Our happiness withers. Our love for the profession dwindles. We leave.

5 // Societal Opinion

Ever had the kid turn around and say, “my mum says you’re just a teacher, so I don’t have to listen to you’? Thankfully it’s happened just the once; but who has the right to say that? No one is ‘just a….’. We work hard in our jobs, whatever job you do whether a truck driver or dentist, teacher or neurosurgeon you’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve put time and effort into your job and/or career. Everybody is worthy.

Just because we’ve chosen to be teachers doesn’t mean we couldn’t have been something else if we wanted to. Teaching is incredible, every day is different, every student is different. We learn as much from the kids as they learn from us; what we learn is just slightly different.

Yet people envisage that we have 13 weeks paid holiday where we go galivanting around the world, sunning ourselves and relaxing. When in reality the majority of us spend much of our time working over the holidays or recuperating after the last slog of several weeks of hard and tiring work.

A recent survey by the Education Support Partnership found that teachers expect to work eight days over the holidays up from six days in in 2013 and that’s just from the 811 surveyed.

I’ve been guilty of working far more days in the summer than 6-8; as I know others have been. Fortunately, I’ve now I’m working in a school that considers workload and have developed my own strategies for reducing my workload meaning I’m sure I can limit my time working to less than 8 days.

Teachers work hard for their students and those that don’t are few and far between. Teaching as a profession needs higher recognition in the UK simple as. Greater recognition for our professional status, greater emphasis on professional development and efforts to retain rather than recruit will help to maintain numbers.

Conclusion

There are so many other reasons teachers are leaving teaching other than those above. What would you add to the discussion? Feel free to leave comments.

// Useful Links

Teacher recruitment and retention in England

Factors affecting teacher retention: qualitative investigation

Teacher workforce statistics and analysis

Teacher Retention and Turnover Research

// Posts from teachers that have left teaching

Why I left teaching – Philip Duncalfe

Why I’m leaving teaching – Annabeth Orton

Mrs Humanities