Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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Using Padlet for Notetaking

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

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

Here’s a look at what I created

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

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

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

Hope it’s given you something to think about.

Mrs Humanities

 


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Experiences in Long Term Planning

Planning lessons, is probably one of my favourite parts of being a teacher.

If I’m honest it wasn’t until half way through my NQT year that I started to see that it’s not so much the planning lesson by lesson that’s important it’s the planning of learning as a whole over a period of time.

Initially I would lesson plan by looking at the SoW and planning each lesson by what the scheme said should be taught. I later came to realise I hated this, it made teaching rigid and meant I was pretty much teaching to the test.

When I became Head of Humanities I was provided with the opportunity to start from scratch. The school was in its first year of opening, the former HoD left nothing behind so I literally had a blank canvas to work with. Whilst at times it was hard, it meant I learnt a lot about structuring learning over time – for each topic for each year group I’d consider the knowledge and understanding required, identify the skills focus, create a variety of forms of summative assessment and organise opportunities for formative assessment.

In my first year (2014 – 2015) I was writing schemes of work like this…

SOW

These would be for each year group (7,8,10 & 11) for each topic (6 per year in KS3) for each lesson of the topic. This was the expectation. Since I was the only one in the department I had to plan each lesson, resource each lesson and then embed it all into the SoW.

Last year (2015 – 2016) I decided this was too time consuming and eventually started writing schemes of work more along these lines…

example

This was much easier, it simply outlined the topic title and skills focus, assessment weeks and data input weeks. The resources provided the lesson outline, resources etc. so why did I need to repeat it all in another document? The lessons were organised clearly into the department folder like so…

organised

…this meant that any other teachers teaching Humanities could quite simply find out which lesson they were on and find it in the folder along with all the resources necessary to teach it. All they needed to do then was differentiate to suit their classes.

For each topic I had the outcomes in mind and outlined at them at the start of the SoW. This meant non-specialists knew the aims and objectives for the SoW.

outcomes

From the feedback I received from non-specialists this made it a lot easier to know where they were in the SoW and where they were heading with it; making it easier to prepare for summative assessments and data input.

Over the long term, I’d look at the skills being taught across the year to ensure an even spread of each assessment objective (see table below) for the key Humanities subjects of Geography and History.  Each formative assessment would assess students ongoing knowledge and understanding and would focus on particular assessment objectives.

AOS

For example this assessment (below) focused primarily on source interpretation as part of assessment objective HAO3 Source Skills. However the task required students to draw upon their knowledge and understanding of the topic which meant they also covered aspects of other assessment objectives. This helped when providing holistic grades for students.

assessment

So this has been approach to planning over time, hope it’s provided some ideas to help you.

 

 

 

 


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Reducing the Workload – Marking and Feedback Ideas

marking and feedbackFor a while I had been considering how to reduce the workload when it came to marking and providing detailed feedback to students on their successes and areas for improvement. I’ve toyed with a variety of ideas over the past two years of teaching; some of which have been more time consuming than expected whilst others were such a flop (I won’t even share those ones).

Current Context

My usual approach to marking is that I identify spelling mistakes of topical key words throughout each piece of work. I use codes for simple things like underlining, adding titles etc. and dots to identify where punctuation and grammatical errors are within extended writing tasks.

I will add comments throughout and provide 1 to 2 questions where I would expect a response to be made during Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) as directed through school policy. However to be honest I’ve recently changed this technique as I’ve been faced with two issues. Firstly because books are marked every 4 lessons students have found it difficult to go back and answer questions or improve work from 3-4 lessons ago meaning I’ve had to explain what the task was again in order for them to improve it. Secondly I found that responses were short and lacked detail. I want DIRT to reflect improvements to work and to show progress, so towards the end of last term I decided to try a different approach – I now write several questions/comments or provide a ‘Level Up’ task, pupils then choose one piece of feedback to respond to and work on during DIRT. Sometimes in their books other times in a DIRT sheet This has encouraged a focus on a developing and truly improving work.

Marking is extremely time consuming and want to ensure it has impact on student progress, as I’m sure we all do.

Ideas

Here are a few examples of my efforts to reduce marking whilst retaining effective feedback.

1 // Simple method. Before marking, I’d write a general statement with options for the skills developed in the lesson. After reading the work, I’d simply cross-out the skills that were not applicable and any of the statement that did not apply to some individuals. I’d then write in their target level and highlight the statement/s the student needed to do to progress.
skills based feedback

2 // Another relatively a simple method, but slightly more time consuming.  Before marking I would look at what we covered and write a series of comments usually linked to the learning objectives of the lesson/s. After having read the work I’d use the traffic light system to demonstrate how well they achieved the objective/s i.e. green = met fully, amber = almost there,  red = not achieved. I’d then highlight the statement on how they could improve and progress.

marking and feedback

When I used approaches 1 and 2 it was in my previous school, I’d never even heard of DIRT at that point.  As a department we’d give pupils time to read feedback but if I’m honest little was done to act upon the advice and feedback given. Once a term I would get pupils to read through their feedback and write themselves 2-3 targets on how they could improve over the rest of the term but I felt marking had little impact. The SOW were very intensive and left little time for going back to previous classwork without it impacting upon assessments – if content wasn’t covered, they would have been unable to complete assessments in full. No fault of my previous HoD, she inherited them when she was flung into the role. However this time since I have control over the schemes of work, I’ve ensured that DIRT has been incorporated throughout each term.

3// My third attempt has been more recent was mainly created to support non-specialist staff in my department. However since they both teach split groups with me as the other teacher – I have been left to do the marking.

As you can see I suggested two approaches to my non-specialists. First approach involved the teacher writing the letter and number in the pupil’s book, then during DIRT or as a starter the relevant comments were displayed on the board. Pupils then wrote down the associated comments . The other option was that the teacher simply wrote the comments themselves which was more time consuming for them, but meant pupils could immediately act upon feedback when the time was given.

When I trialled the first approach it worked to some degree, however I felt it took up valuable time when pupils could have been responding to comments and improving their work.

marking code

4 //  My final and most recent approach was inspired by this twitter post from @fiona_616. 

Some kind of marking grid feedback-esk idea had crossed my mind in the past, but I felt it would be too time consuming to create plus I didn’t know where to start. After see this tweet I felt inspired to give it a go and guess what it was easy. Since I was often writing the same or very similar comments, it has worked out much easier to mark and provide feedback using marking grids.

Already I’ve used them to provide feedback on a variety of pieces of work.

I started with using the feedback grid to provide group feedback for a group project and presentations. Here I highlighted two stars and then one wish.

presentation feedback

Then I used the grid to provide feedback on a levelled task. Again I used the two stars and a wish technique.

Levelled Task feedback

And more recently I used them to provide detailed feedback on end of topic assessments. Here I simply highlighted all that applied in the successes and 2-3 areas for improvement.

assessment feedback LA assessment feedback

In the last week of term 3 my students received their assessments and feedback grids. We spent an entire lesson learning how to peer assess effectively and how to take on board the feedback that was given. It proved to be a very effective lesson.

Initially students started by reading their feedback, the successes highlighted in one colour and the areas for improvement highlighted in another. I highlighted the level they achieved overall, but for some omitted the non-applicable details of the criteria. I provided kind comments for most in the general comments box and for some gave them a question or task to level up on – not needed for the majority though.

Next students passed their assessment and feedback to a friend who then read it and in green pen they made comments on the skills achieved. They then read the feedback I’ve provided and we discussed it. Most felt the feedback was relevant, phew. They then spent time providing kind, specific and helpful comments in the students book.

Finally the work was returned to the student and they created a mind map on the skills they needed to develop or what they felt they needed to do to reach their target levels. I must admit that after the lesson I was humbled and impressed by their comments to one another, not only had they been specific and helpful, they were kind and respectful taking into consideration each others needs, abilities and feelings. They were demonstrating ownership of their progress and when some questioned what the level equates to in terms of GCSE grade they showed a desire to improve.

Here’s an example of a marking grid I have on display in the window (sorry for photo quality). The green pen are the students comments on the skills achieved in this piece of work by their peer.

Example

I’d definitely recommend using marking grids. Although it may appear like more work initially, once you fly through the sets of books it’s totally worth it.

Tomorrow my students are using them to peer assess homework. A winner if you ask me. homework feedback

Thanks for the inspiration Fiona Old.

Hope these ideas are of use.

Mrs Humanities


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The Marking Frenzy by @TeacherToolkit

Since I started teaching I’ve always over-marked (opinion of my previous school). When Ofsted visited in my 7th week of teaching two years ago in my feedback they highlighted the outstanding feedback they felt I provided my students. Although I know the importance of marking I often feel it weighs me down. I’ve no time to complete in school hours, so I have to do it at home. With Humanities I teach 10 different classes twice a week and 2 classes once a week, that results in taking home a set of books every night and a set for the weekend for good measure. It’s exhausting and I’m always looking for ways to reduce marking whilst still providing high quality feedback to ensure progression.

I like using DIRT after marking books once a fortnight but I find that due to time limitations with the curriculum taught there is not enough time to allow pupils to go deep into their responses and redraft work. We have to get on with the next stage of learning to ensure the whole topic is taught. Is it just me that finds this?