Mrs Humanities

teacher . blogger . friend


#TMHistoryIcons Presentation – Developing Independence in the Humanities Classroom

This is several months late, but here’s my presentation from #TMHistoryIcons.


In my presentation I outlined some of the ways I’ve been working on developing independence in my classroom.

Strategies I outlined included

Here’s a few of the slides.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was an absolute pleasure to present amongst so many excellent practitioners, can’t wait until next year.

Any questions feel free to ask.

Mrs Humanities


Leave a comment

How to… make visual hexagons

I’ve had quite a number of people ask how to make visual hexagons.

Here’s a very simple tutorial video based upon Word 2013.

Click here to download a template.
Hope it helps.

Mrs Humanities



Leave a comment

Classroom Ideas – River in a Bottle

River in a bottleNow this method to teaching river transportation processes has to be one of my all time favourite teaching resources.

I came up with the idea during my NQT a few years ago and have been using it every year since. The visibiilty of the processes taking place engages learners and helps them to imagine the process occurring in a river channel.

The Basic Concept

The basic concept is that each bottle represents an example of the river load that might be found in any given river – when moved from side to side the river load moves in a similar manner to real life.

river processes transport

Each bottle contains material of different sizes.

Bottle A – medium sized pebbles to represent boulders and large rocks
Bottle B – small pebbles to represent small pebbles and stones
Bottle C – sand to represent fine material
Bottle D – chalk to represent dissolved materials

How it works
I hold the bottles on their side to create ‘a section of the river’ and then gently shake the bottles from side to side.

As each bottle is shaken the ‘river load’ is transported along the section of the river.

Each bottle then represents a different transportation process

Bottle A – Traction – large boulders and rocks are rolled along the river bed.
Bottle B – Saltation – small pebbles and stones are bounced along the river bed
Bottle C – Suspension – fine light material is carried along in the water.
Bottle D – Solution – minerals are dissolved in the water and carried along in solution


With some groups I will use the bottles on their own whilst with other groups I will use laminated cards with images of the transport process, descriptions and names which we then match up to the bottles.

Transport process images transport process descriptions

If you use the idea, please share a photo or two. It’d be great to see others approaches to the idea.

Mrs Humanities

waterfall GIF

1 Comment

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


Classroom Ideas – Felt Models

Classroom ideas - felt modelsYesterday I wanted to use the computer to do some prep for September, however other half decided he also wanted to use

MY computer. Being the kind of person I am, I let him.

So I tried to do some crafting, had a serious lack of inspiration initially until I decided to combine my two favourite things – craft and geography.

Out came the felt, scissors, pencils, paper, glue… I basically made a mess.

I decided to make a felt model of a destructive volcano to aid learning, primarily targeted at year 7 but ended up thinking that some of my older students with appreciate it.

volcano model I’ve thought it could be used in a variety of ways firstly by putting the volcano together and then

  • labelling the parts of the volcano
  • matching process descriptions to the model
  • using the model to create a stop motion video to show the formation process

I’ve decided I’m going to create more over the holidays for other topics to demonstrate processes and parts of a physical feature. If felt were so expensive I’d have the students making them but budgets and all…

It got me thinking though, why do we not employ many primary ideas into secondary? I’ve seen felt models being used in numerous primary schools, they help younger children to learn so why are we not utilising it in KS3 and possibly KS4? We get out the play-dough to demonstrate formation processes? Why not felt? Too childish perhaps? I leave that as a pondering thought.

What do you think? Felt, useful for the secondary classroom?

Mrs Humanities

Leave a comment

Resource – Directed Improvement and Reflection Time Sheets

After such a great response on twitter about my DIRT sheets, I decided to add a few more to the selection that I made available here.

ICT DIRT Sheet Music DIRT sheet PE DIRT sheetWhat do you think? Suitable colours? I couldn’t decide.

Feel free to use them.

Mrs Humanities


Curriculum Link

Originally poster on

Original post

curriculum link header

One thing I’ve often found in my career so far is that students struggle to see the links between subjects. Often in Humanities I’ve heard comments such as “but that’s maths” or “that’s science”; many have struggled to transfer their skills from one subject to another.

I’ve always tried to highlight cross-curricular links and relate work in Humanities to work being carried out in other subjects and am fortunately now in a position where I can easily find out what is being taught in other subjects across the school. I’ve been making the most of this in lessons by discussing the links but wanted to create something to demonstrate my students understanding in their books. Something that would stand out in book checks.

In order to do that I recently created an activity called Curriculum Link to give my students time to reflect on how their work in Humanities relates to other subjects.

The idea is that at the end of a lesson, unit of work or during DIRT students demonstrate how their Humanities work links to work across subjects. In the top section students are expected to pick an aspect of their work and link it to something they are learning in another subject. In the bottom half they then explain how they created the link.

For instance a recent student wrote out their answer as a PEE paragraph, clearly separating their point, evidence and explanation. They then explained that had been learning how to use PEE in English and how they felt it helped them to structure their answer in Humanities.

How do you promote cross-curricular links? Do you do anything similar?

For a copy of my Curriculum Links click here.

Mrs Humanities


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


A Work in Progress – The Interactive Plenary Display

In recent weeks I’ve found that my classes have been so caught up in the learning that we’ve not managed to complete plenary activities despite them always being present in my PowerPoints. Now I know they are not always needed but sometimes I’ve found that some pupils need the extra 5 minutes to finish off whilst others are packed away and ready to leave but I can’t change the slide because other are work. I usually just make something up on the spot like write down 5 key words from the lesson and show how they are linked or decide which LO you think you achieved today and explain why… but I’ve decided I want to get my pupils involved so have come up with the idea of an interactive plenary display.  Once a pupil has finished the main tasks of the lesson and providing it’s within the last 10 minutes of the lesson, they can head over to the display and choose their plenary task.

Originally I was thinking of creating plenary dice but realised that it would be some what difficult to store them on a notice board so came up with the idea of a plenary grid. After a quick search on Google I found it wasn’t an original idea and rather than create my own from scratch I decided to use an editable version of the original roll a plenary. A great time saver.

I decided to change a number of the plenary activities to suit my classes and the techniques I use regularly within my department. This is my version of @ASTsupportAAli & @tombrush1982 great work.

roll a plenary grid


I’m going to print it onto A3 paper, laminate it and pin it to the board. Alongside I will store some dice in a pot and encourage the pupils to engage with the Roll a Plenary when they are finished. Other times as a class we’ll Roll a Plenary together and all carry out the chosen task. My plan is to have copies of exit tickets, jigsaw sheets, social media style print out etc. stored on the board in plastic wallets for easy access.

Once completed I will update this post with pictures of the display and copies of the plenary print outs.

How do you finish a lesson? Do you think a plenary is always needed?

Mrs Humanities

Leave a comment

Humanities in the News – Edition 2

geography resourcesThe last 2 weeks have been interesting both in school and in the news. Pupils have brought up topics such as the Scottish Referendum independently and we have spent a good 15 minutes or so discussing it. It may not be part of the lesson plan but if it develops their interest in the news I’m all for it. Ofsted may not agree.

1// Scotland voted NO!

Following from Edition 1 the Scottish Referendum had an interesting turn out, 55% of the Scottish population that voted decided they wanted to stay in Great Britain. I honestly thought the Yes vote was going to win.

This however I feel sets a precedent for change and many questions for pupils to consider.

How will this outcome affect future elections? With Alex Salmond stepping down from the SNP, who will take his place? Will the SNP remain as Scotland’s largest party?
Will there be greater devolution of power to enable Scotland to implement what Scotland feels in best for them?
Why did 45% of the population that voted want independence so much?
Will the people of Scotland get along in peace or will there be clashes for years to come?
What does this mean for Wales?

Here are some articles that have been published recently that maybe used for dicussion and debate

1.In Record Turnout Demographics Shape Scotland’s Emphatic No Vote –

2. Politicians ponder Scotland’s future –

3. Salmond to quit after Scots vote No –

4. Cameron pledges devolution revolution after no vote –

5. Police separate rival groups in Glasgow –

6. Queen urges referendum ‘respect’ –

Teaching Resources 

Whilst I haven’t found any resources,  I do like the idea of taking photos from these articles and using them as a discussion point with pupils. Encourage the pupils to consider the story of the image, perhaps get them to match images to headlines.

2// 11 Billion People

A new report estimates that the global population could reach 11 billion by 2100. With rapid population growth, exponential urbanisation, overconsumption and dwindling resources the ability to sustain ourselves presents more and more challenges. I love teaching the topic of population change and the challenges it poses but the exam specifications I feel make it so boring. There’s so much to cram in that its difficult to take the topic off on a (relevant) tangent and really explore the issue. In the past I have enjoyed teaching population to KS3, we’ve had the time to explore the problems of overpopulation and the role of a variety of factors in population change such as industrialisation and ageing populations.

Whilst the following articles do not explore population alone I wanted to include them as they would make interesting talking points in relation to population growth and the issues presented by a growing population.

1.  A World With 11 Billion People? New Population Projections Shatter Earlier Estimates –

2. Humans: the real threat to life on Earth –

3. It’s not overpopulation that causes climate change, it’s overconsumption –

4. We need to develop a new urban agenda – let’s start on World Cities Day –

5. Africa’s Population Will Quadruple by 2100. What Does That Mean for its Cities? –

Teaching Resources

There are so many resources on population and population growth, so many to choose from.

My favourite, the Jelly Baby Population Game. A winner all round. I have adjusted it slightly when I’ve used it but this is the original one I’ve adapted. It works well with all learners from Ks2 to Ks5.

There are a selection of ideas on the National Geographic site – Population 7 Billion. I like the idea of the Pasta Population Map. Might try it at some point.

There are an array of resources on the TES,  I like this lesson on Malthus and Boserup.

3// Explosive Eruption

Last one is short and simple, If you haven’t seen the amazing footage of a sonic boom created by the eruption of Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea, watch this clip. It demonstrates the a sonic boom created by a volcanic eruption. Amazing!

1.  “Holy Smokin’ Toledoes…” Volcano Sonic Boom! –

2. Volcanic Sounds –


Hope it’s useful. Please share with friends and colleagues.


Mrs Humanities