Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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A question to Ponder

In a lot of my lessons, particularly those I planned for Opening Minds (combination of citizenship, values, PSHE and RE) would involve this activity.

It’s really simple, but encourages students to develop their thinking skills.

It’s called quite simply “A question to ponder”.

Student’s are presented with a question to consider, this can be at the start of a lesson, middle or towards the end. Sometimes I pose the same question two or three times in a lesson to see how their opinions and understanding develop through the course of a lesson.

Sometimes I get them to write down their thoughts, sometimes I get students to discuss in pairs before sharing with the class, other times I simply get student’s to verbally share their ideas with the class. It’s quite a useful approach to combine with Think, Pair, Share activities.

Here are some examples from geography and opening minds that I’ve used.

q2p 2q2p farmingq2p

I had an idea this morning whilst I planned year 12 lessons of introducing it as a plenary activity. Students will write their own Questions to Ponder based on the lessons learning and one or two will form the starter for the next lesson.

I will present the question on the board at the start of the lesson giving them time whilst they get settled to ponder it. We can then discuss the question for 5 minutes or so and link it into the next lessons work.

Hope you’ve been inspired.

Mrs Humanities


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Pass the Buck – Group Reading Technique

Pass the BuckSince Christmas one of the things I’ve been focusing on along side independent learning is encouraging more reading aloud in lessons. It’s something I’ve done every now and then in the past and has included reading textbooks, resources and student’s work.

However I find that many students in Humanities lack enthusiasm when it comes to reading aloud in class. Pass the Buck is one method I’ve introduced to work on this.

pass the buck reading

Forfeits should never be a sanction, at first my students wanted to set detentions but later realised they could have some fun with it. They’ve got students to teach what has already been read, make them read a full paragraph in a silly voice, questioned them on the prior paragraphs and so on. It’s become a challenge for them to catch people out.

One class has even started playing games within the activity to keep everyone on their toes by yo-yoing back and forth and when they think someone may have lost track passing to them unexpectedly.

It’s certainly improved student engagement in whole class or group reading.

Hope it’s a useful idea.

Mrs Humanities

 

 


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Developing Independent Learners

Indpendence

This term I’ve been using independent learning projects with some of my classes in year 7 & 8.

At the start of the topic I discussed with the students the success criteria for the topic and asked them how they would like to go about carrying out the scheme of work.

We discussed several ways of working on this SoW

a) a menu – where students select ‘items’ from the menu to produce over the term to produce a piece of work that meets Bronze, Silver or Gold standard.

b) personal choice – where students could make their own decisions on how to present their work

c) guided – where the teacher provides suitable learning activities to meet the success criteria

Each class voted for b – personal choice.

We then discussed whether working in groups or individually would be better. All of year 8 decided on groups of no more than 3 so they can easily learn what others have discovered.

The majority of year 7 decided to go with groups, again of no more than 3, but a few wanted to work individually as they felt they would get distracted working in groups. Very mature of them to admit so I was happy for them to work alone.

We then had a planning lesson; focusing on how we would learn what we need to learn. We discussed approaches to research, presentation and feedback.

As guidance all students have a copy of the Need to Know Questions and topics success criteria  both in the front of their books and in their planners. Here’s the year 7 version.

learning matrix yr 7

 

In the initial lessons we discussed the meaning of the command words e.g. describe, identify, locate, define and what these might look like at Bronze, Silver and Gold standard.

Support

To support and direct students with their learning I’ve put resources in the ‘Help Yourself’ Resource Station for students to access. 20160108_162028The main purpose of these has been to support students when they just can’t quite find the answers they are looking for or need focus on what it is they need to do. I’ve a variety of resources to enable students to meet the success criteria from information sheets like this…

info sheets

…to worksheets/activities like these…

population densitypopulationfeatures.png

…all intended to help them to learn about an aspect of the topic that could then be applied to their project.

Students have been very good at using the resources to develop their understanding and then apply it to their chosen project format.

Homework

Students have set their own homework based upon their groups or individual progress. A few I’ve had to guide in the process but on the whole students have been self-motivated in and out of class.

Presentation of Work

Students opted for personal choice. This is enabled a variety of approaches to meeting the same success criteria. Some are making information booklets, others posters or PowerPoints. One group is demonstrating their learning as a blog another has created a Passport to Britain. The creative has been incredibly.

For example to meet the same objective one group have started to create a 3D relief salt dough map by interpreting a relief map from the Atlas.

relief(A work in progress, by the end of term this will have human and physical features located using cocktail sticks)

Whilst another group have traced a map of the British Isles and coloured in their relief map, they followed this by doing the same with population distribution so they could overlay and compare the two.

relief map

AFL

To check student progress throughout the lessons I have been having ‘progress’ chats with groups and/or individuals to check their understanding. During this process I tick off and highlight with them the criteria they have achieved and the criteria they need to focus on. I question them and challenge them to further progress on what they have learnt.

Having this time with students has enabled me to get to know more about how my students learn and what I can do to further support them on their journey to independence.

In addition to the chats they’ve done a few quick fire quizzes at the end of lessons and have completed exit tickets and entry tickets.

For example after the first week of lessons, students completed a simple exit ticket. I assessed their answers and those I felt hadn’t demonstrated enough progress were identified using traffic lights and answered the corresponding questions. This encouraged them to develop and level up the initial answers they’d put on the exit tickets in the previous lesson.

Then each lesson since they’ve then self-assessed their work and had discussions with me on the next steps to either reach gold or to securely meet the silver criteria outlined.

entry ticket week 2 yr 7.png

Differentiation

Students have either chosen the criteria they are aiming for based on their progress this year so far and their confidence in the task – most are aiming for gold. I’ve directed some to the criteria they should focus on however.

Some students I meet with at the start of the lesson and bullet point the criteria they need to focus on that lesson, some I will provide specific resources for to enable them to do so. The rest are either directed to resources or simply have mastered the independence and get one with it completely by themselves.

In year 8, groups have been awarding each other points for the following team work, leadership, creativity, out of a school work, self/peer assessment and personal effort.  They’ve been looking at the successes of others in their team and awarding one another what they see as suitable. It’s created a very collaborative environment with the icing on the cake being their explanations as to why the person deserves the points. Creates smiles all round.

points

Conclusion so far… 

These are my finding so far

  • Engagement across the board, students arrive eager and leave happy
  • A collaborative and supportive atmosphere is clear
  • My favourite phase has come to be… “Miss, did you know…” my year 8 students are frequently teaching me things about the adventurers and the explorers.
  • Students feel empowered in their learning
  • Opportunity to have conversations with students has enabled a greater understanding of how they learn best
  • Opportunity to share successes and excitement about the topic and their learning
  • Freedom to work at their own pace – some have spent more time on certain aspects whilst others have spent less
  • Consideration of what they already know has allowed for different starting points
  • Students are deepening what they already know
  • Marking and feedback has been on-going in lessons, students have accessed feedback immediately
  • I’ve been doing less ‘work’ in lessons and students have been doing more.

I can not wait to see the finished pieces and final projects.

Do you do anything similar? How could it be applied in your classroom.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Classroom Ideas – Paperless Venn Diagrams

This week I had a class that were comparing the weapons and tactics used on the battlefield in the First World War. In order to do this we created venn diagrams to compare. However these were venn diagrams with a difference, we took them off of the paper and and used hoops and white board pens.

The pupils decided on the weapons or tactics they wished to compare and set up their venn diagram on the table. They then simply used the whiteboard pens to write on the tables. I recoded their work using the SeeSaw app.

image image

Simple but very effective.

Mrs Humanities


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Developing Independent Learners – Help Yourself Display and Resource Station

DIRThelp yourself resource stationThis year I’m striving to make my learners more independent. Last year many were making excellent efforts and this year I want to push this even further.

I’ll be doing this in 3 ways

  1. Tabletop resources
  2. A ‘Help Yourself’ resource station
  3. Personal Interest Projects

In this post I’m going to share my ‘Help Yourself’ resource station.

The idea behind it is that learners use the resources to help themselves to learn and progress.

I’ve created two areas, one for key stage 4 and the other for key stage 3.

The first, the KS4 area, consists of a noticeboard for GCSE Geography students.

This board contains past papers, exam questions and information sheets for Unit 1 and Unit 2 of the course for learners to access freely. Then there are topic specific help sheets for the current area of study in the ‘Current Topic’ resource holder. Learners have already been directed to these when they were unsure of how to draw the diagrams to demonstrate river erosion processes and will be encouraged to continue to do so.

I’m slowly training them that this is where they go in the first instance if they need help, they then ask another student and if they are still unsure they can ask me; 2 lessons in and so far this seems to be working effectively. Hope it continues.

The display also includes a notice board for important announcements so that they’ve no excuse to forget important information such as exam dates or deadlines; an outline of what should be covered from their work booklets each lesson from now until their GCSE exams as well as a sheet that outlines all the places they can get help if they find themselves stuck. GCSE display

My final addition to the board is a progress to target reward board. Next week I will ask each student to give themselves a personal target grade influenced by their end of year target, each time they achieve that grade in an assessment or exam question they can date the reward chart. After 3 successes they receive a reward, each reward is of greater value than the last. It’s a male heavy GCSE class so I hope a little competition might be of encouragement to them. GCSE reward

The second, the KS3 area, consists of a resource station. In the resource station there are a variety of resources to support my learners. This includes key word sheets, literacy mats, topic mats, reference books, sentence starters, scaffolding support sheets, DIRT and Curriculum Link sheets as well as textbooks for student reference.

I’ve made a variety of resources over the last 3 years which end up stuffed in a cupboard, folder or filing cabinet after a couple of uses, despite all of them being designed  to support learners. The resource station gives learners access to these support devices when they need them.

help yourself resource station

I just need to add labels to each shelf to identify and to give a brief description of the resources available so learner’s can make decisions on which one’s would be of use to them.

Once complete I will share the resources that make up my resource station.

How do you encourage independence?

Mrs Humanities

waterfall GIF


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Classroom Ideas – Making GIFs

making gifsThe other week I made a felt model of your typical stratovolcano to be used by learners during our dangerous world topic which you can see here. There are description cards and labels to go with the model to create a classroom teaching activity.

I then got thinking about other models I could make to demonstrate either features of a landform or the process of formation. Of course I asked twitter and got a few ideas I hadn’t already thought of.

So I went out and bought some more felt and proceeded to make a model to show the formation of a waterfall to support my learners in the rivers topic this year. Of course I got carried away and made my first attempt at making a stop motion video, which personally I think worked out quite well.

waterfall GIF

It was really easy to create, I used the app ‘Stop Motion Studio‘ which simply involves you moving small aspects of your scene and snapping a photo of it. However you can see from my video that making sure you take the photo at the same height and angle is important (although I also think it gives it a DIY lo when it isn’t). Next you need to play around with the Movie Speed to work out the appropriate frames per second; I played with this a few times before getting it about right. And then you simply save it in a GIF format. Done.

You can pay for add-ons but they are not necessary to make a basic stop motion GIF.

Since it was very easy and somewhat rather fun, I started thinking about ways of using it in class. In particular it got me thinking about how I could use this activity to develop learners understanding of the formation process of a variety of geographical features. I’ve decided that I will use it as a teaching resource, firstly my learners will use the pieces of felt to put the  model together, there are then a variety of routes we could go down. I’m thinking I’ll probably get them to then add the labels to the images and we’ll take a photo, then they will organise description cards to demonstrate the formation process. Once successful they will then use the school iPads to create their own short stop motion video which we can turn into a GIF. Perfect.

How could you use the idea in your subject? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.

Mrs Humanities


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Word Walls

Originally posted on http://staffrm.io/

Original Post – Word Walls

One of my classes really seem to struggle to remember and use key terms in their work. My focus this term has been to develop their use of and revise key terminology.

This week I tried out ‘Word Walls’. As a starter task students quite simply drew a wall of 6 bricks and filled each brick with a key word/term they knew the meaning of.  The more able were encouraged to add more bricks to their wall.

In the next step they highlighted 3 bricks and passed their book to a friend. Pupils then had to write a definition for each of the highlighted terms. If they didn’t know the meaning they were encouraged to use their friends book to find the answer. Failing that they could ask somebody else in the room. Once complete they returned their books and confirmed whether or not the definitions were correct. They were encouraged then to use these key terms in their work.

Having reflected on the task I’ve thought of so many other ways this could be developed. In fact I’m thinking I might do this with plastic bricks and whiteboard pens. As a class each time a pupil uses a key term appropriately they get to write it on a brick and add it to the wall. I’m sure this male heavy group will love the challenge of getting it as high as possible.

Some other uses

– At the start of topic add already known topic vocabulary and then add to the wall as their vocabulary develops throughout the topic
– As a starter put a letter in each brick, pupils to find a topical key word starting with each letter
– Pupils or the teacher could fill the word wall with key words to be used in a lesson or during a piece of extended writing as a type of success criteria, tick off as they are used.
– As a started pupils could fill the word wall template to provide a friend with words to use during the lesson, sort of like a word wall bingo card.
– Start the lesson with a blank word wall worksheet, each time a key term is used verbally pupils add it to the wall. Add more bricks as required.

Follow Up

I later made use of this idea again with 2 year 8 classes and the plastic bricks. To be honest I experimented with the concept, both lessons were very different, first lesson had a focus on questioning whilst the second lesson had a focus on using key terms. Both turned out to be effective in their purpose. My pupils even suggested using the activity before assessments to revise and develop their understanding of key words.

Here’s one example…

word wall

The group started with two key words from the starter task and had to add 3 more that related. They went on to write questions that gave each word as an answer to quiz the class. They later swapped their bricks and used the words to write a PEE paragraph about the topic ensuring they included the words in their wall.

Definitely one to be used again.

Mrs Humanities


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Resource – UK Population Distribution

UK Population Distribution Resources
Last week it was our self-evaluation week so observations galore. Fortunately we know in advance when we will be observed, giving us time to prepare.

I was booked in to be observed teaching a low ability year 7 class. The topic of the lesson was UK population patterns. I’ve taught the topic many times over the last few years but had never come up with a way to make it distinctly ‘active’. Usually it has involved discussing population distribution in the classroom, demonstrating sparse and dense population densities and looking at a few maps to describe and find reasons for the patterns.

I knew this would not be engaging enough this time. I struggled for ideas initially but eventually came up with this…..differentiated task pots

I’d set similar tasks to those I carried out in the past but created more choice, challenge and engagement.

There were cards sorts instead of a powerpoint, worksheets instead of well a powerpoint… I’m sure you get how it’s been carried out before.

I started by creating 3 levels of task, identified by a spice grading.

l3 worksheet l4 worksheet l5 worksheet

(please note I do not own the copyright of the maps used, they were in resources I’d used at a previous school and I’ve taken them out of the versions you can download)

I’ve used spice rating many a time before but thought I’d add some intrigue to the task by placing the card sort materials into takeaway cartons. And yes, it worked, the students were eager to engage with the tasks in order to open their carton.

spice 1 spice 3 spice 2

In each container there were cards suited to the task set on the worksheet.

Level 3 (spice rating 1) – cards to sort into sparse or dense
Level 4 (spice rating 2) – cards to sort into those relevant to London or the Scottish Highlands
Level 5 (spice rating 3) – 4 location cards and both picture and text cards to help explain why there would be a sparse or dense population.

The opportunity to write on the tables with a white board pen I imagine helped make the activity engaging.

population distribution task

I used for the first time WAGOLL  (what a good one looks like) to demonstrate to the students what I would be looking for as part of the level 5 card sort task. It helped them to focus on what my expectations were and how they should go about it. Will definitely use WAGOLL again.

WAGOLL

The feedback from the lesson was very positive (judged Outstanding, even though I don’t like gradings).

You can download my resources below.

I’ve take images out but you can easily replace them.

level 3 worksheetlevel 4 worksheetlevel 5 worksheetpopulation distribution card sort population distribution

Hope the resources are of use.

Mrs Humanities


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Resource – Source Analysis

source analysisLast month on twitter I spotted this post and knew I could make use of this idea.

I responded to the tweet and they very kindly sent me a copy of their source analysis overlay along with the original idea by @russelltarr aka @activehistory. I immediately made my own version following the inspiration.

original source overlay

It’s quite simple to create the overlay, you just cut out the ‘white’ area of your printed sheets and laminate or pop them into a plastic wallet like I did.

I’ve used the idea twice so far. First time I used it was with year 8 to help them to interpret primary and secondary sources; initially they used it to make sense of the source and then they started to consider how useful the source had been to their enquiry about farming and land use change in Kent. The discussion and interpretation was interesting to hear. Although I think this group need a lesson on the difference between wine and beer 😉

IMG_0365 (2)

They’ll be using this approach again this week, but I’ve changed the questions a bit to encourage them to make interpretations of the sources they are looking at rather than assess the usefulness of the source.

source overlay

The second time I used it with year 11 in their study of Rosa Park’s actions on December 1st 1955 and the resulting Montgomery bus boycott. The task encouraged them to interpret and assess the usefulness of the sources. Something I’ve had to spend a lot of time on since taking over the department. They said they felt ‘wrong’ writing on the tables which really seemed to engage them, it’s not often that I have such a quiet classroom with this class. The next lesson they wrote an extended piece of writing using success criteria, which clearly demonstrated their progress from this lesson.

yr 11

You can download my templates by clicking on the images or download them here.

If you use them share the results with me on twitter and I’m sure @activehistory would be keen to them as well.

Hope it’s another useful idea.

Mrs Humanities

plenary display board


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The Interactive Plenary Board

Plenary BoardAfter 3 weeks of working on it here and there since the beginning of term, the Interactive Plenary Board is finally complete.

I’m really pleased with the results plus the kids are enjoying it so far.

It built up slowly, going from this…
plenary display

to this…
finished extend assess reflect - plenary display board

I now have peer assessment guidance and have identified what WWW and EBI stands for as no matter how many times we do it somebody ALWAYS has to ask what it means. I’ve also printed off smaller versions of the tickets with WWW and EBI guidance on the back to support learners in writing appropriate feedback.

So far I’ve only really been able to use it with year 8 since year 7 are currently working on their Dangerous World project; they’ve been completing Exit Tickets each lesson to demonstrate their understanding so far.

Year 8 however are engaging with the activities and particularly like the social media based ‘Assess’ activities. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing however!

Since I only see my classes twice a week so far reminding them of the new procedures when they finish the main part of the lesson has been important. Encouraging them to choose a suitable task for the time left e.g if they’ve 10 minutes to go they should choose an ‘Extend’ task; whereas if they have 5 minutes they should pick an ‘Assess’ task or roll a plenary to decide on the plenary task. The ‘Reflect’ tasks I feel need more direction, so I’ll be the one to decide when they do these, once they have practised them a number of times they should hopefully be able to recognise how long they need and choose accordingly.

Under the roll a plenary board, there is a folder with additional activities such as key word and definition match up games and top trumps. These are for pupils to practice what they are learning, most of which have been created by the kids as part of their homework and sometimes classwork.

You can find out more about where some of the resources came from here and here.

Thanks for reading.

Mrs Humanities