Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


2 Comments

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


3 Comments

Just an Idea – Student Conferences

Just an idea

Now this idea popped into my head a few months ago whilst I attended the Optimus Annual Gifted and Talented Conference back in October. It’s been on my mind this week so I thought I’d share it with you.

The idea is a student-led conference, a cross-over between TED talks and a TeachMeet I guess.

An opportunity to develop a love of learning and independence.

The concept

Students choose a topic of their choice related to the curriculum in which they study, skills they use  or could even be something of interest.

Students present a 3, 5 or 7 minute presentation on their topic of choice. Short, snappy and straight the point. Snack sized learning for their peers.

Just like in a TeachMeet, get students involved and interactive by ‘tweeting’ what they are learning, the ideas they come up with and how it links to their prior learning using a private school based social network/collaboration software (perhaps something like Edmodo, need to look into other options). Something safe, that students can contribute to but won’t accessible outside of the school setting.

Afterwards students, both presenters and learners, reflect on the process.

Why I like the idea?

Firstly students sharing their knowledge on a topic of their choosing I think is a sure fire way to start developing independent learning skills – there’s research skills, communication skills,  ICT skills, critical thinking, time management, responsibility and reflection, to be developed.

It engages them in the learning process; What do subjects do I enjoy? What do I find interesting? What do I want to learn more about?

Therefore developing curiosity; when students take an aspect of the curriculum they are interested in and have the opportunity to delve deeper into it they can become masters of this aspect of their learning encouraging them to go deeper in other areas.

In can encourage problem solving and critical thinking – what do I need to include? What is relevant? Do they already know something about this or does it need an introduction? What do I want to get across? How will I do it in such a small amount of time? How do I make this understandable? Just some of the questions they will need to consider.

How would it work?

It could be done as a whole school event, by individual year groups or by KS4/5 to lower year groups, perhaps to introduce topics from GCSE and A Level courses.

It could be students presenting to their peers, their parents or both.

It could be carried out periodically throughout the year, before option evenings or simply at the end of the year as a way of celebrating the learning that has taken place.

But the main idea is to develop a love of learning and independence in the learning process.

Opinions

What do you think? Could it work? Have you done anything similar?

Let me know what you think, feedback would be much appreciated.

Mrs Humanities

Takeaway Homework Side 1


Leave a comment

#TakeAwayHmk – Mrs Humanities Trial and Errors

After much deliberation within my own mind about trying Take Away Homework, I decided to give it a go last term.

I’d read up about Ross Morrison McGill’s aka @TeacherToolkit idea of Take Away Homework over the summer and investigated a variety of examples but decided I would get to know my year 7 pupils first before introducing it.

Last term I decided it was the time to try out take away homework with KS3. The concept is great, it just requires a bit of work for the teacher before hand but it makes setting homework easy for the rest of the term. A winner in my book.

I decided to go with the 3 choices each week option; each choice had a different chilli rating to determine the amount of challenge/work involved. The year 7 menu looked something like this…

Takeaway Homework Side 1Takeaway Homework Side 2

Below I’ve included some of the successes and failures of my efforts with Takeaway Homework to help you.

Successes

1 // The pupils produced a wide variety of pieces of homework, some clearly spent more than the 30-40 minutes recommended for KS3.

2 // A number of pupils enjoyed the choice of homework tasks and options for creativity.

3 // Others enjoyed knowing what the next piece of homework would be and making a start on it early.

4 // For me homework was set for the term, I just had to collect, mark and praise. Win!

5 // I was able to create this great display with the fantastic homework produced by year 8 (note: the spinners and cotton wool clouds are classwork, the rest however is homework)

Failures  Areas To Improve

1 // The date set confused them. I thought this would work since the planners only give the date for Monday of each wee. However this was a difficult concept for many to grasp particularly year 7 since their lessons are on a Thursday and Friday, so their homework wasn’t set until the end of each week. This method totally failed. If I use this style of menu again I will identify the week set (i.e. Week 1, Week 2), perhaps I might even go as far as to work out the actual date the work will be set.

2 // Some pupils hated the choice. A number of pupils struggled with the choice of tasks, when I gave the pupils an opportunity to give feedback at the end of the term a small number said they just wanted the teacher to tell them what to do or to give them a specific task to complete. Whilst I prefer to give pupils choice, for some I think I would tell/discuss with them which task to complete by highlighting it with them, taking the anxiety out of choosing.

3 // Lack of effort. Despite a good number of pupils going to great lengths to produce high quality homework many were clearly rushed just to have something to hand in. This had even occurred when the pupil had chosen to complete the Flaming Hot task. This was disappointing and a nuisance to follow up. Setting out clear expectations is essential, eventually the quality of the work improved but it took a few weeks.

4 // Time consuming. Some tasks I realised were quite time consuming for the pupils such as the video making choices, research projects or key word and definition match up games. Clearly some pupils spent several hours completing their tasks. I think in future I would either set challenging but less time consuming activities or make it that all Flaming Hot tasks are over two weeks. If I did the latter choice I would ensure I set out my expectations of the level of effort required, else they’ll be doing it again *insert maniacal laugh*.

Lets Reflect

On reflection Takeaway Homework was successful with year 7 and 8, when I started at the school after Easter homework was an issue. I would spend as much time chasing it up as some students spent doing it (obviously this refers to the ones that made an effort). Now I’ve the majority of pupils handing in their homework each week, with a few exceptions of course. Choice works for many but not for some. Creativity is key to engagement.

Well if you are considering this approach, I hope this has given you some additional insight and helped your decision.
I’d definitely recommend it and although I won’t be using it this term as I’m trialling project based learning, it will most certainly see a return in term 4.

Mrs Humanities


3 Comments

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

Alterations

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


3 Comments

Resources – Battle of Hastings Learning Grid

Battle of HastingsThis summer I did the one thing I always struggle to do, read a book (or two).  Well in fact I’m still reading them but still…
You see it’s not that I don’t enjoy reading, I’ve just always found it difficult to just take the time to sit and read. I’m no good at switching off.

I love research and as a result I’m very much a skim reader. I tend not to read fictional books,  if I do it really has to be something that draws me in to keep my attention (suggestions welcomed).

Anyway I decided to purchase two books this summer, the first a fairytale book crossed with a biography of Britain’s forests called Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland. A magical read so far. The second a non-fiction very inspiring book entitled Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners by Andy Griffith  and Mark Burns. 

The first thing I’ve tried from Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners is the idea of a learning grid. I did a search for them on-line but didn’t find anything in relation to History or Geography so I decided to give it ago for my first topic of the year with year 8 – The Battle of Hastings.

The idea behind a learning grid is that the pupils are given (or create) a 6 x 6 grid with information in each square. There are a variety of ways for using them but the easist format seems to be that the pupils roll a dice twice giving them a grid reference, they then roll the dice again to give another grid reference. The pupils then attempt to connect the information in the two squares. Another way could be to roll the dice twice to produce a grid reference and then the pupils categorise the information or pictures in the grid with predefined choices. There are a variety of other possible ways of carrying out the task suggested in the book.

The levelled assessment I’ve created requires my pupils to answer the question ‘Why did William win the Battle?’. We’re going to study the events leading up to the battle, re-enact the battle and investigate the profiles of the two armies in order to answer the question. In the lesson prior to the assessment I’m going to give them the Battle of Hastings Learning Grid that I’ve created. Now obviously having only just discovered this technique I don’t know how well it will work, but I’ll let you know once I’ve tried it. I’m optimistic it will engage them, particularly the more verbal pupils.

I’ve made two versions the first is simply the 6 x 6 grid with information relating to either the Anglo-Saxons or the Normans. This will require the pupils to firstly decide whether the information refers to the Anglo-Saxons or the Normans, this will require the pupils to consider their learning from previous lessons. Following the first step they will then discuss how this information would have related to William winning the battle. Learning Grid

The second version provides a bit more support for the lower ability pupils. I’ve colour coded the boxes into 3 categories – Saxons, Normans or Other. The pupils will be discussing how each piece of information contributes to why William won the battle. I’m also going to provide some images to help the more visual learners but can’t include those for copyright reasons.

Learning Grid Support

 

These were really easy to make and I believe they will be very beneficial to my learners. I look forward to using them and will let you know how they went in a few weeks times.

If you’d like to give these a try, click on the images to download the documents. If you’d like an editable version feel free to email me.

 

If you use them let me know how they go. I love feedback and love to hear your comments (good or bad).

Enjoy!

Mrs Humanities