Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


12 Comments

Planning for Progress – A 5 year plan

This post began in December 2015, as I finished planning essentially what would be a 5 year GCSE course I started writing how I’d done it (Yes, how I had done it since I was a single person Humanities department with a few non-specialists teaching lessons). But for some reason I never finished it, but recently it’s been a topic of discussion so I thought I would come back and finish the post.

At my last school I developed a programme of learning that would take students through from year 7 to year 11 in Geography and History. Each step of the way setting foundations, building knowledge and strengthening their application of it. They would spiral through the content and skills time and time again, with each visit they would be strengthening what they had previously covered.

I left before implementing it at GCSE, so I’ve no idea how successful it was. The first cohort that went through the process sit their GCSE this year, 2018.

Rationale

The idea behind this 5 year outlook of learning was that students would learn the general content of a GCSE course in Key Stage 3, then if they decide to continue with that subject at GCSE they would build upon their knowledge and understanding to a much greater depth with greater focus on complex skill development and exam practice.

You could say that I considered that Key Stage 3 would teach the breadth of the course whilst Key Stage 4 would be the time in which they go into the depth of the course.

At the time I teaching Humanities through 2 hours a week, so I had to consider how the foundations would be set in both Geography and History.  Therefore I also considered it important that the content covered at Key Stage 3 would provide students with sufficient knowledge and understanding of the subject for their futures whether they were to choose the subject at GCSE or not.

What would be the benefits of a 5 year plan?

  • Prior knowledge of subject content before GCSE course starts
  • Can go into greater depth of subject content as not teaching from scratch at GCSE
  • More time to focus on higher order skills
  • More time on exam practice
  • Retrieval practice

However I wasn’t naive to the challenges this would also create for instance how would I ensure that students weren’t bored by returning to previous learning, how would I ensure the learning was age appropriate and how would I show progress and development of knowledge from prior knowledge?

Choosing Topics

In order to decide the topics to be covered at Key Stage 3, I worked back from the required content and skills of the selected GCSE courses for Geography and History.

From there I created topics that would cover the foundation content needed for later on, which ended up looking something like this. Pink topics are those that combine Geography and History, yellow are solely historical topics and green solely Geographical.

KS3 Outline

Many of the topics in year 7 and 8 were thematic inquiries. For instance I broke the historical topics in year 7 and 8 into inquiries across the ages, year 8 for example studied Conflict through the Ages by investigating changes to armour, weapons and fortification from the Anglo-Saxons to WW2 along with the reasons for conflicts through time.

Programme of Learning

If I’m honest I hate schemes of work, they are restrictive and too prescribed. I prefer an outline of the content and skills to be covered so that teachers can choose the appropriate format and approach to teach their classes. I’m very much a facilitator of learning, I like my students to explore the content in which they are studying with the ability to digress somewhat to explore avenues of interest.

Therefore after having spent the first year at the school writing ridiculously detailed schemes of work which had to have ALL of the work embedded in it prior to teaching I rebelled and merely wrote a outline for each year group.

Scheme of Work for one topic…. 

schemes of work

Programme of learning for the entire year… for Humanities and Opening Minds

outline

Tracking Progress

This was the final challenge. At the time, grade descriptors were yet to be published and I felt like assessing students was a minefield; yet it had to be done. The school wanted students to be assessed by grades 1-9 at both KS3 and 4 as well as a further break down into entering, developing, secure and mastered within each grade band. Mind blowing!!!

Anyway I created grade descriptors for grades 1-9 that could be taken down to KS3 from GCSE based upon what I already knew, what I’d learnt and what others were doing. Setting up a collaborative dropbox helped majorly and I learnt so much from other practitioners.

The descriptors were based on the assessment objectives from AQA Geography and History and looked something like this…

his 1his 2his 3

geog 1geog 2geog 3geog 4geog 5

Finally in order to help me to identify whether students were progressing effectively I created the following so called flight paths. These would then help me to identify the grades and where in the grade students were –  entering, developing, secure or mastered as mentioned above.

progress

Since the school required frequent data drops for all groups at the same time, I then decided that I would monitor progress through the use of a learning matrix for every topic as shown below. These essentially outlined what would be covered in the topic, what students would need to know and the extent to which students had demonstrated their understanding – these were associated with the colours white, bronze, silver, gold and platinum as shown above.

learning matrix assessment for learning

The best thing about these has to be the fact that they reduced my marking workload whilst demonstrating student progress. Simply I would write the code of the criteria achieved in the students book where it had been achieved, I or my students would then highlight it yellow. I’d then draw steps and write the code of what I wanted students to do next and again one of us would highlight it, this time in pink. Once the student had acted on the feedback I would tick it off if achieved. This clearly showed to students the progress they were making and helped them to identify and verbalise what they needed to do to improve.

Unfortunately doing all that alone in addition to the day-to-day of teaching, led me to burnout and I left the school before full implementation. I’ve taken so much away from the process however and can clearly see similarities in the approach my team and I have developed in my current school.

I hope you find this post of use, feedback welcomed as usual. Also feel free to get in contact if you want copies of any of the resources here.

Best wishes,

Mrs Humanities


2 Comments

Life after Levels – Taking GCSE grades into KS3

Life after levelsIt was decided at the end of last year that across the school the GCSE grades would be taken down into Key Stage 3 as an approach to life after levels. I truly struggled with this concept over the summer holidays and in fact still am, as a result I turned to twitter.

My goodness, the response was rapid; I’m clearly not the only one struggling.

I firstly mentioned that I had introduced the 1-9 grades to KS3 this week using a feedback grid. In the lesson we discussed what the GCSE grades equated to in terms of ‘old’ levels – my school have created a conversion from levels to grades 1-9 which are linked to progress points. The grades have then been broken down further into 4 categories; mastered, secure, developing and entering. Having a level to GCSE grade conversion makes things slightly easier for developing the new assessment system however a lack of information from the exam boards is making it more difficult.

From mentioning the introduction on twitter I ended up in discussion about the struggles we were having taking the grades down into KS3. Before long I was setting up a collaborative Dropbox for history and geography teachers to share ideas and to help others develop a 1-9 grading system at KS3.

I hope it will enable many educators from Humanities, Geography or History, who are struggling to develop a KS3 1-9 system to find a collaborative space to share ideas, research and approaches as well as an opportunity to gain feedback from other professionals. We are all approaching this with different experiences and ideas, hopefully with each other we can develop a system that works for each of us.

However this isn’t an attempt to create a standardised system but an opportunity to discuss and share to help us create something that works for each school, department and educator.

Please Note: Since we are in the dark in regard to grade descriptors at the moment yet have to create some form of assessment system, our assessment criteria may all change once grade descriptors are released.

If you’d like to join the list of contributors, send me an email at mrshumanities@outlook.com  or DM on twitter with your email address and I will happily add you to the list.

Mrs Humanities


13 Comments

Marking, feedback and DIRT

Marking, feedback and DIRTThis week I had the experience of leading a marking and DIRT workshop as part of our Teacher Conference CPD day.

For me, this was the first time I’ve led and organised a CPD session by myself.  I really enjoyed it and had lots of positive feedback so I thought I’d share the resources from my session here.

The main aims of the session were

1. To introduce the marking policy to new staff

2. To improve and support current marking and feedback

3. To make marking and feedback more efficient and quicker whilst still providing high quality feedback

Everyone received a pack of ideas which included ways of providing marking and feedback whether it be teacher assessment or self or peer assessment. With each idea came an outline of the teacher’s role, the pupil’s role and then how Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) could be incorporated.

I won’t bore you with the details of how the workshop was then carried out and instead I’ll share with you the resources I used. Some of these ideas I’ve developed myself, others I have picked up over the last 3 years of my career.

double tick DIRTannotation marking DIRTmarking codes DIRTfeedback grid DIRTlevel up marking DIRTdot marking DIRTWWW and EBI marking and  DIRTself assessment WWW and EBI marking and DIRTRAG123generic peer assessment DIRTpeer assessment mark my weakness DIRTpeer assessment kind helpful specific DIRTPeer critique marking DIRTmatch the techerexplain the mistake marking DIRTI use the majority of these regularly in my classroom as you can see by all the photos I’ve included, others I’ve trialled but didn’t feel were completely successful or that they suited my way of teaching. However they maybe useful to others so they were included. Some I’ve still left to try, I particularly like the ‘Match the Teacher‘ technique and think I will trial this with my GCSE group in the new year.

Self and peer assessment has taken time and effort, but it really is worth the investment. Now my pupil’s have the skill and can provide each other with high quality considerate yet constructive feedback it will set them in good stead for the future. I truly recommend developing right from September in year 7.

Hope these ideas provide you with some new ideas and some suggestions on how to incorporate directed improvement and reflection time.

Please note: RAG123 example by Mrs Griffiths was originally by B Yusuf. Sorry for error in original reference.
Mrs Humanities


1 Comment

Resource – Exploration and Adventure

assessment resourcesThis term year 8 have been studying the world of exploration and adventurer. I found this great scheme of work and resources on the TES and have used it as the basis for this terms work.

Whilst I did a lot to make the lessons suitable for my students, the resources were brilliant informative and engaging.

I liked the homework idea of the adventurer profiles and kept with them but made 3 templates for the students to choose from. I wanted them to investigate the types of adventure others have had and to understand their motivations and challenges. This worked well for the higher sets but some of the lower set struggled with the research, my fault really. Next year I will give some ‘fact-sheets’ to the lower ability students with key information and they just need to decide what information is relevant for their profile.

My favourite part of the topic has to be the assessment. I want my students to want to explore the world, we’ve looked at an array of explorers and adventures throughout the past 100 years or so and now it’s their turn to design their own adventure. For homework the week prior to the assessment I have set them the task of coming up with their ideas and bringing in some research to aid their decision making.

The homework set for each ability group was slightly different.

Set 1 had the task of researching 3-5 locations they would like to visit on their journey, which had to include 2 different environments. This wasn’t limited to the destination but could also include the journey. I wanted them to also bring in some key information about their chosen locations such as daily/night-time temperatures, annual rainfall, hours of daylight etc to help them consider the challenges they might face.

Set 2 were similar except the key information was suggested as a stretch and challenge task within the homework set.

Set 3 were told to research just 1-2 locations they’d like to visit. I will be providing them with fact sheets on 3 different locations which they will choose from in addition to their own choices. In addition they were provided with a sheet of possible choices to support their research.

The Assessment

Yes the National Curriculum underlies the basic ideas of the assessment but my main purpose of THIS assessment is to develop their interest in the wider world and their locational knowledge. I’ve noticed over the last few years that learners have a limited general knowledge of the world, often influenced through media and the likes. I want this to change which I why I was eager to develop a topic on adventure and exploration this year to inspire that interest and intrigue to the rest of the amazing features of our planet…. hopefully it might encourage some  of them to take a higher role in conserving it.

The assessment scenario is that the Royal Geographical Society* are running a competition to fund an expedition with a prize of £10,000. The pupils have to plan their adventure and complete one of two tasks based upon ability. The higher task will be letter to the RGS outlining the adventure idea whilst the other task is to complete an application form about the adventure.

higher ability assessment task assessment task

This assessment is to be covered over two lessons. The first lesson is the so-called planning stage – pupils will be given an A3 sheet with a series of questions to enable them plan their adventure. I’ve two versions of the sheet, one with a few more hints than the other to direct thinking. The second lesson students will be completing the extended writing task.

higher ability assessment plan lower ability assessment plan

In order to scaffold students the application form features questions and sentence starters to focus their answers on the details required. Here’s an example –

Application Template

In addition I created a feedback grid to go with the application sheet to make marking less time consuming whilst giving success criteria for the levels.

AFL feedback sheet

Last week after introducing the homework I had a number of students tell me there wonderful ideas, hopefully the rest will be as excited about this assessment next week.

For a download of each resource click the icons below

assessment taskassessment task sheetplanning sheetplanning sheet with scaffoldapplication template

Thanks for visiting. Feedback welcomed.

Mrs Humanities

* please note the RGS are not running such a competition and have no affiliation with the resources produced here.

Creative Commons License

These resources are created by Mrs Humanities and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at https://mrshumanities.wordpress.com.