Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.

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


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

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Word Walls

Originally posted on

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


Resource – Dangerous World (Natural Hazards and Disasters)

dangerous world project titleLast term year 7 thoroughly enjoyed the topic on the Romans and Pompeii. We investigated Roman life, their influence on the British Isles and the significance of the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79AD.  They appeared to be very much enthralled by the dangers in our world. As a result I decided last term that continuing our study of Natural Hazards would be a good way to go. The next topic of study will be Dangerous World, an insight into a variety of natural hazards and disasters that have occurred the world over.

I wanted to put the learning into the pupils hands and I’ve decided to try out project based learning. Since this is rather new to me I felt some research needed be undertaken. Now I couldn’t find a great deal of resources or guidance that I felt was suitable but I found enough to make me realise we’re not quite ready for free reign yet; the students will need guidance and support to meet the objectives of the project. To achieve this I’ve created success criteria for each section of the project and each hazard.

Project Sections

  • Cause
  • Impacts
  • Response

Hazard Options

  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Tornadoes
  • Hurricanes

Week 1 – We are going to start the Scheme of Work by looking at plate tectonics – we didn’t quite complete this last term due to time and Christmas events. Then the next lesson is entitled Hazards in the Movies! Can you guess what it’ll include? I’m looking forward to this lesson. The aim will be to introduce other natural hazards, look at movies based on real life natural disasters such as the Impossible and then map them using a key. Should be enjoyable I hope.

Then finally we get onto introducing the project work. I’ll be setting up the homework so that in each group the pupils research a particular aspect of the topic for the following week. That way then they should only spend 20-30 minutes on the homework as required for year 7 pupils. I’ve tried to make it self-explanatory, do you think they will understand?

natural hazards homework instructions


Week 2 – Pupils will start their Dangerous World Projects. I’ve created levelled success criteria to support the pupils in their project work like the one below. Once for each section of the project.  Despite having success criteria, the pupils can produce their project in whatever format they choose – poster, booklet, models, experiments, videos, PowerPoint, display board, a combination of methods…. the choice is theirs. Natural Hazards Success Critieriaimpacts success criteriaresponse success criteriaThe first table gives generic success criteria each group must achieve to reach their target levels. I’ve grouped students by their current and target level where possible, so for instance those working towards a level 6 are grouped together and have to aim for the level 6 project success criteria. Since each group will be working on a different natural hazard/disaster I’ve included some handy hints such as key words, guidance questions and extras they might wish to include.

The following lesson pupils will complete any outstanding work from the causes sections and move on to the impacts of the hazard/disaster.

Week 3 – For the following two lessons pupils will complete the impacts and start the response section, finishing off in the 2nd lesson. The idea with the response section is that they investigate the immediate response to the disaster and also how we respond to deal with future events through prediction and preparation. I will be providing resources to help with this section.

Week 4 – And then it’s time for the pupil presentations. Since we have to have assessments marked and input by the last week of term, I’ve plotted to have the assessments completed in the 4th week of this 6 week term to reduce the burden I have on the last weekend (as marking 12 classes of assessments is HARD). In lesson 7 pupils will have time to prepare their resources, projects and presentation speeches then 2-3 groups will present, the following lesson the remainder of the class will present their work.

Assessment for Learning

My plan is that pupils will be assessed throughout the project. In order to do this after each section pupils will individually complete an exit ticket to demonstrate what they have learnt about the causes, impacts and response to their given hazard. These will be collated in their book and assessed. This will make up approximately 40% of the overall assessment.

exit ticket

The remainder of the assessment will be on verbal discussion with pupils each lesson (10%), contribution to the physical project (30%) and their verbal contribution to the project (20%). Luckily classes are a maximum of 20 pupils so this will be manageable. I’m in the process of creating an assessment matrix to tick off when I see or hear students achieving particular skills, knowledge and understanding. It’s an experiment which I hope will be successful, we have to take risks at times.

Update: I will probably use something like this Project Management Log to ensure the pupils record their contribution and roles in the research and project.

Week 5 – Following on from the project and assessment pupils will be designing a response system to a natural hazard of their choosing, this could be anything from an education scheme to a technological idea. The idea is they take what they have learnt about the cause, impacts and responses to natural disasters and use it to create their own solutions to reduce the impact. For lower ability pupils they will be guided in their solutions e.g. design and make an earthquake proof building for testing in class


I am sure there are many other ways in which you could carry out this task. For instance you may wish to give pupils time in class to find the information required for their project rather than for homework. You may even wish to adapt the levels to suit your schools style of assessment.

For my lower ability set I will be providing ‘information’ sheets within lessons for them to use instead of having them rely on research. Their homework will be slightly different in that it will be research but it will be more specific such as it will require them to watch videos, find pictures or find facts to use in their projects.

And finally my resources

Feel free to use and adapt them to meet your needs*

Cause Success Criteria Impact Success Criteria Response Success Criteria

Exit Ticket

Project Homework

*Please leave feedback if you use my resources, I like to know if they were successful and how to improve them. Thanks.

Mrs Humanities

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Resource – The ‘insert topic’ Spinner

After using this this resource The Rainfall Spinner , I’ve decided I need to find other uses for the ‘insert topic’ spinner.

I used the rainfall spinner as part of an observed lesson; it went down well,  meeting the desired ‘active learning’ requirements deemed essential in our school. Very positive feedback 🙂 from both the observer and the kids.

Here are  just 2 examples of the fantastic work produced by year 8 that went on display in the classroom (sorry for the poor photography, it’s not a strong point of mine).

topic spinner rainfall spinner

Recently I was really pleased to find that my spinner idea had inspired others, creative learning tweetCheck out these fantastic Energy Spinners from @misstait_85. Brilliant idea.

I can definitely see the potential for using spinners in other topics within Humanities and across the other subjects.

Now I’m plotting where to use them next…. perhaps year 7 for comparing natural hazards next term.

Suggestions welcomed!

Mrs Humanities