Mrs Humanities

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Humanities in the News Classroom Display


Some pupils and I have created our Humanities in the News display. We’ve started with a profile on the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the cyclone in India and the discovery of a Viking horde in Scotland.  Great array of reading. I’ve a pupil working on an Ebola piece this weekend and hopefully after the half term a few more articles will role in. I’m hoping this will encourage my learners to take an interest in the news and expand their global knowledge.  I thought it would be a great way to stretch the more able and engage all learners. 

The idea is that the display will be regularly updated as pupils discover and report new stories. All ‘previous’ reports that have done their time will be kept in a file which pupils will have access to for reading and research.

I look forward to many more updates on the board and pupil participation in the project. 

Do you do anything similar?  Would you try it? Tell me your views in the comments.

Mrs Humanities



Creating Displays

With open evening on the horizon this week my aim is to create displays for my classroom.

1// Interactive Progress Displays

Not only do I want the pupils to know how to progress through learning ladders, I want them to be able to see their progress. Now there maybe some debate over whether or not we should share pupils progress with the rest of the class, so I will take a vote with each class on whether they want to be included. I imagine most pupils will enjoy a bit of competition, particularly the boys.  

The original idea for Progress Pegs is from

Now  I first saw  this idea of Progress Pegs from Agility – The Teaching Toolkit who shared this from PeFoulger. I liked the simple presentation of this display which allows for several classes.

Climbing the level ladder from @Mrs_Hampshire

Whilst I also like this idea of a Learning Ladder to climb I don’t feel it would be possible to clearly see each pupil from the 6 KS3 classes I teach, I will probably keep this kind of display to just the 4 GCSE classes I teach using GCSE grades instead.


2// Learning Ladders

Now previously my learning ladders were much smaller, it was simply  6 sheets with the basic  criteria for each level. However my current school requires more detail on what pupils need to be able to do to reach each level. In Humanities I have found this difficult, as sometimes it’s not what they know but how they apply it, describe it, explain it, evaluate it… For example I’d still expect a level 3 to explain something, but the explanation will not be as coherent as a level 4 answer or as in depth as a level 6.

Levels display

Since my school have decided not to change from levels just yet I am sticking with typical level ladders. This is what I have created so far. Since I teach Humanities trying to cover aspects of both Geography and History Assessment Objectives was troublesome but I managed to break it down into 3 Geography based and 3 History based with an additional 2 in relation to Skills and Enquiry and Organisation and Communication.

I plan to get the pupils to refer to this on a regular basis to set their own targets for improvement.

3// Humanities in the News

My final and favourite display will be my Humanities in the News display. I have handed this over to a number of keen pupils to take the reigns and decide what they determine as Humanities in the News. The only part of this I will be deciding is the lovely cloud scene backing paper. The rest is up to them. They were set a mission to find news stories and articles last week to start the display off and they will be left to up-date it on a regular basis. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up. Once it’s up and running I will take a snapshot of it.


Do you have any other ideas to help me on my displays quest?

I look forward to your suggestions

Mrs Humanities



Resources – Chronology and Timelines

Chronology challengeBeing in the position where I have to write all of my own schemes of work for our current cohort of years 7, 8, 10 and 11 I decided that the best place to start for the new years 7’s was to introduce (and recap for a small minority) the skills needed within Humanities.


I firstly carried out a baseline test to establish their skills and abilities. The results were interesting. None of the pupils had a grasp of both Geography and History, most fell to one or the other. I was shocked however at the number of children that do not know the continents or even any of the western European  countries. They will by the time I finish with them…

One of the first skills I’m teaching the years 7’s is Time and Chronology.

I have two lessons on this. We started the lesson off with each pupil being given a card with the time of the day. They had just 3 minutes to organise themselves into order, from the earliest time to the latest.  This got them active and engaged, especially when I told the second set how quickly the first set had managed it…. competition created.

Chronology CardsAfter the success of the first task and some discussion of chronology  they tried to put the reign of several Kings and Queens in order. A little AFL and a smiley face followed. We then looked at the difference and meaning of BC and AD. One question that pops up usually is ‘What if your not religious?’. I hate this one, it’s tricky to explain since time is such an abstract concept, helping the pupils to understand that Science and Geology tell us that the earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old whilst Christian beliefs are that it’s between 4000-8000 years old…. let alone all the other ideas from other creation stories. I quickly brush over this one and tell them to research it and tell me what they find out.  Chronology


To finish the lesson I set them what I think is a nice little chronology challenge. The class were split into groups of 10 and each group nominated a ‘leader’. They were given a challenge pack and they then competed against each other to create a giant timeline. The sense of competition was fierce, each team checking over at the progress of the others. I was amazed at the speed of set 1, both teams completed it in under 3 mins. Success!


Chronology Challenge

Chronology PP



Here’s a copy of my Chronology Challenge for you to try along with a PowerPoint

Please leave feedback if you download or use them, I love to know how they go and will respond to comments.


Mrs Humanities



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).


Mrs Humanities





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Humanities in the News – Edition 1

Humanities in the NewsEach week/fortnight I will be picking 3 stories in the news that I find interesting. Sometimes I will share my opinion of it and then provide links that maybe useful or interesting to further outline the story or issue.

Personal readers – links are provided for further reading
Teachers – links are provided for further reading and most of which will  be suitable for use with Secondary school pupils to enable them to create their own understanding and opinions of the stories and issues discussed. I will aim to find teaching resources linked to the stories where possible for use in the classroom.


Here are this weeks top 3 Humanities in the News stories and issues.

1//   The disappointing adventures of  the Bárđarbunga  volcano.

Primarily I’m a geographer, so the possibility of a major eruption comparable to the Laki Fissure eruption of 1783 was quite exciting. However so far (fortunately)  it all appears to be quite calm with little ice melt and therefore little ash expulsion. Phew. Whilst the possibility is exciting the impact of the Laki fissure eruption had little positives for the people of Iceland and Northern Europe yet life was significantly different then and I wonder what would the impacts of a similar eruption be today. How would societies in northern Europe adapt to a sudden change in climate? * What would the economic impact of a comparable eruption be? I imagine the costs of the Eyjafjallajökull would be small in comparison to the potential impacts of an eruption similar to that of the 1783 Laki Fissure eruption.

*yes I am aware that the impact of Tambora and Laki on climate is debated but my degree research made me pretty confident in their influence.

Here are some interesting articles and links related to the recent  Bárđarbunga eruption and volcanoes in Iceland

1 – Iceland issues new Bardarbunga volcano alert

2 – Icelandic Volcano Eruption Leads to Air Travel Warning

3 – Iceland examines Bardarbunga volcano ‘cauldrons’

4 – Global Volcanism Program Background information on Bárđarbunga

5 – Q&A: Why Iceland’s Volcanoes Have Vexed Humans for Centuries –


2// Scotland’s Future

Being a member of the United Kingdom means a lot to me these days. After having taught about the geography of the British Isles and in particular what it means to be British in modern Britain over the last few  years, it has made me appreciate the country I live in. The diversity of our little island is amazing both environmentally and socially. Our country has been influenced by the invasion and migration of multiple groups over the centuries, first we had the Celts and Picts followed later by the Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Then later came the migration of African men, women and children as part of the (thankfully now abolished) Slave Trade in the 1700’s followed by Indian and Irish migrants in the 1800’s. The list goes on…

Our wonderful country is massively influenced by the history of other countries, making it a unique place to be apart of. In my opinion I’d be disappointed if Scotland were to be independent of the rest of the UK. Now I believe strongly in greater devolution of centralised government, giving the power of decision making to local governments and councils that know and understand what is best for their area as opposed to a centralised government makes sense to me and I believe it would benefit Scotland (as well as Wales) far greater than independence.

To find out more check out the following links

1 – Scotland Decides –

2 – Scottish Independence

3 – Yes Campaign

4 -Better Together

5 -Devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

And something different  for you –  Aye Art A collection of posters to encourage the 15% of undecided voters to make a decision

Teaching Resources

Referendum resources

How to teach … the referendum on Scottish independence


3// Thames Estuary Airport

Now the Thames Estuary Airport debate has been going on for sometime. This week a report has been published just days before a final decision was to be made on whether to eliminate the Thames Estuary Airport dubbed ‘Boris Island’ from air travel expansion plans. The report that suggests that a third runway at Heathrow would increase noise pollution and would be a disaster has added fuel to Boris Johnson’s fire for his airport on Boris Island. You can probably tell my opinion on the issue so I won’t bore you with it, however I think it’s an interesting topic when looking at sustainability and conservation.

Last year at the end of a rivers topic my previous pupils looked at the argument for and against the plans for Boris Island, they undertook research and were given the option of creating a piece of work either for or against the creation of Boris Island and the Thames Estuary Airport. Apart from a small handful the class really weren’t interested in nature conservation however following their own independent research they ALL created a piece  against the development of Thames Estuary Airport. Says a lot right?  They were given links to resources to both sides of the argument and they were unanimous in their decision, this really shocked me.

Here are links to help discuss the issue and consider the options

1 – New Thames Estuary airport proposal unveiled

2 – For and Against: Thames Estuary Airport

3 – Thames Estuary Airport

4 – Options for Thames estuary airport expansion

5 -Thames estuary airport plan costly, risky and a potential failure

6 -Thames Estuary airport wildlife move ‘would cost £2bn’

7 – RSPB Thames Estuary

Teaching Resources

The expansion of air travel is a good thing 

 News-based lesson: ‘Boris Island’: time for a new airport?


Please note that the opinions expressed above are solely my opinion and are not written to cause offence, the links I have included are chosen to give readers both sides of any debates. I want to allow you to create your own opinion of the issue. Whilst I am happy for you to disagree with my opinions please do not be rude or offensive if you wish to leave a comment, young people may wish to read this.

That’s all for this week


Mrs Humanities