Mrs Humanities

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Antarctic Exploration – The Shackleton Vs. Scott Debate

Antarctic explorationRecently Mr Humanities and I were discussing which was the greater explorer, Scott or Shackleton. Now my money was on Shackleton, fortunately Mr Humanities and I are like peas in a pod and he agreed with me before I’d even started my triumphant speech. It got me thinking though…. this could be a great class activity.

Next time I teach the ‘Exploration and Adventure‘ topic, I’ve decided I’m going to lose a lesson on a modern adventurer and instead teach about both explorers. For homework the pupils will then compare and contrast the expeditions, discoveries and achievements of both parties in preparation for a debate lesson.

I remember studying both Scott and Shackleton briefly at University. It sparked an interest and I wish there’d been greater opportunity to study their expeditions and achievements in greater detail. Now is the time to further expand that knowledge. So with today being the birthday of Ernst Shackleton, here are some useful links to support the teaching of their historic adventures.


Ernst Shackleton
BBC Biography

Shackleton Epic – An Australian site with lots of interesting information and a variety of teaching resources.

Shackleton in Schools – Interesting site with a small array of resources mostly aimed at KS1 and 2, the links page is particularly useful.

South – The story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 expedition – downloadable e-book.

Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure  – resources to accompany the film with the same title.


Robert Falcon Scott
BBC Biography

Scott’s Last Expedition – New Zealand based website with lots of relevant information to support teaching

Scott’s Last Expedition Teacher Resource Book – variety of activities

Captain Scott’s Journey – Resources to about the environment and experiences of Scott’s team during the Race to the South Pole.

Captain Scott of the Antarctic  – Teaching resources of the expedition


Other Resources
BBC – What makes a modern hero? – a possible way to introduce the two explorers, discussion could take place around what do pupils think makes a modern hero/adventurer/explorer?

Antarctic Heroes – Plenty of information and resources from another New Zealand based website – particularly useful for looking at the lives of explorers whilst on expeditions to Antarctica.

Scott Polar Research Institute – An interesting site with an array of polar research that could be relevant to the classroom

RGS Resources on Antarctica – Resources for KS1-2 which could be adapted for KS3, particularly low ability students.

Education Through Expeditions – a website I’ve recently discovered for a “non-profit organisation with a vision to inspire young people to learn more about the world around them and provide resources which can enhance the way environmental education is delivered in the classroom.”


Hope these are of use.

Mrs Humanities



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

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Humanities in the News – Edition 3

Humanities in the News1// 2014, the warmest year on record

Towards the end of 2014 the BBC published this article suggesting that 2014 was set to be the warmest year on record.

It initiated the article identifying that the global average air temperatures for the first 10 months of the year had been 0.57 degrees Celsius above the average, whilst up until November in the UK we had produced an average temperature  of 1.6 degrees Celsius above the long-term average.  There was certainly a noticeable difference in the temperature throughout the Autumn months of 2014.

Then by the end of the year, NOAA published their annual global climate analysis which confirmed that “the year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880”.  This meant it broke the previous records  of 2005 and 2010. It’s scary to see that the top 10 warmest years have been since 1998.  The NOAA report makes for interesting reading, I recommend taking a look at it.

News Articles

1. Global warming made 2014 a record hot year – in animated graphics  –  A concise video at the end of the article on the #HottestYearEver

2. 2014 officially the hottest year on record –

3. 2014 warmest year on record, say US researchers –

4. Why has the year 2014 been so hot? –

5. What makes different years warmer or colder? –

6.  2014: a warm year for the US and the warmest yet worldwide –

7. 15 of the hottest spots around the world in 2014 –

8. 2014 was UK’s hottest year on record, says Met Office –

9. Climate deniers lost for words: 2014 set for hottest year on record –

10. Time is running out on climate denial –

Teaching Resources

Visit the National Geographic Education Blog for ideas on discussion activities on the topic.

The NOAA education site from NOAA has resources on teaching about climate with a variety of resources and links on climate measurements and the global temperature record.

2// Brazil’s Drought

At uni my passion was water resources; for my dissertation I investigated the sustainability of water resources for Ashford in Kent following the development of 32,000 new homes in an area that already had to seek alternatives due to water shortages.

This story is really useful for GCSE Geography, particularly Edexcel B. My year 10’s have just finished Battle for the Biosphere and are now moving onto Water World. This story leads on to the next topic perfectly.

In 2014, rainfall in São Paulo and the surrounding south-eastern area had been extremely low, with CEMADEN recording the lowest rainfall on record. The South Eastern region is the most populated area of Brazil, with over 20 million people living in São Paulo alone. The drought has been ongoing for some time but conditions are worsening and the impacts are being felt throughout the city and country. Brazil are looking to experts from overseas to help deal with the consequences of this drought but the issues are rapidly growing.

Lots of interesting articles both on the cause and response to the issue.

1. Reservoir hogs –

2. Brazil drought: Sao Paulo sleepwalking into water crisis –

3. Brazil’s most populous region facing worst drought in 80 years –

4. Sao Paulo’s water supply in ‘critical’ condition as drought bites –

5. ‘Brazil drought is linked to Amazon deforestation’ –

6. Drought hits Brazil’s coffee industry –

7. Brazil drought stokes worries over energy shortages –

8. Drought sees Rio’s main hydro plant turned off –

9. Brazil’s worst drought in history prompts protests and blackouts –

Teaching Resources

Drought in Brazil from Teachit Geography –  A great fact sheet on the drought in Brazil published in march 2014. This could easily be given as background information for a decision making exercise on what the government should do to deal with the issue.

Tutor2U has provided two videos explaining the drought in São Paulo.

Here on the TES are a whole load of resources from my NQT that make up a SOW on Investigating Brazil, why not incorporate this issue in this topic.


Sorry there are only two stories this term, time constraints and all that.

Hope they are of use though.

Mrs Humanities








Resources – Weather and Climate- The Rainfall Spinner

Rainfall Spinner

One of my favourite topics has to be Weather and Climate. I find it fascinating and really want the pupils to see how much there is to discover about our weather and climate. I’ve become rather stuck at writing the Scheme of Work for this topic however, there’s too much I want to cover. Do I keep it to the processes and daily influence of weather? Do we look at global climates? Do we delve into the impacts of extreme weather? Should we approach climate change? Ahhh so many ideas, but only 7 weeks to cover the topic. I’ve tried to throw in a bit of everything. Once complete I will share the SOW with you, until then I will leave you with my Rainfall Spinner.

The idea of the Rainfall Spinner is to understand the 3 types of rainfall; relief, convectional and frontal. Firstly give an overview of the 3 rainfall types, in order to this I will be sharing this video with my HA students and this video with my LA. I will expect them to take notes as they watch the video, the LA pupils will be given a table with the 3 types and they  will then be expected to write down the appropriate details. Below you will find the  PowerPoint I will use to bring the tasks together but I have removed images so you may want to add some of your own.

The main part of the lesson will involve  the pupils creating a Rainfall Spinner  like the one below (hopefully theirs will be prettier than mine).step 12

To differentiate HA will be writing their own descriptions based on their understanding, MA will be completing the descriptions by inserting the missing words whilst the LA will be matching the descriptions to the diagram.

As the pupils then spin the top wheel it will display information about each type of rainfall alongside a diagram (if they complete it correctly).

I’m really excited about this idea and really  hope the pupils are engaged by it, I will post pictures of the pupils work once we enjoy the lesson next term.

To make your own click on the image below to download the instructions, descriptions in full and the descriptions for fill in the blanks. Since I do not own the copyright of the images I used, I’m afraid these have not been included but you can find them here.

Rainfall SpinnerDescriptionsFill in the blanksPowerpoint



I am happy for you to use and enjoy my resources, but please leave feedback. I like to know how they go so I can improve them further.

Here’s an example in action: 

Thanks and enjoy!

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

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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




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


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Resources- Scale of Issues

In my experience so far I’ve found that teaching students about the different scales of local, national, international and global to be of great importance.

I’ve found that when the year 7’s arrive in September they tend not to understand the difference, that’s always one of my first steps in the first term. My next step is getting them to locate where they live on different scales. Some of them get this straight away but others can find this concept difficult to comprehend, this is where a visual approach comes in useful. I’ve used Google Earth for this in the past. I’ve started by locating the school, then zoomed out to give a view of the county, followed by a view of the country and  finally a continental view. We’ve then tried it with other examples around the world.

In my previous school I would come back to this often, particularly in the Global Issues. I felt it important that pupils understood that a global issue such as climate change can have impacts on different scales and they would need to refer to the different scales of impacts to achieve the higher levels of KS3.  To help the pupils understand the scale of impact in the first lesson I would carry out this little activity.



It’s a really simple resource that can be adapted to make it relevant to your local area or current events. Basically on each wall I place a scale card: Global, National, Local or Personal, each with a definition.
Each pupil is then given a card with an issue and they must locate themselves around the room. At first I tell the pupils they can not discuss with anyone their card, ideas or opinions.

Once all pupils have located themselves, I get them to ask two other people in their group if they agree or disagree. Often you will find a few move, make note of who they were and ask them later on why they moved.

I ask for a few examples from each group and ask them to justify their decision. I find this can create some debate amongst the class and it’s quite interesting to see how the pupils begin to see the links between some of the issues. The last time I did this activity a lot of the pupils were of the opinion that many of the local and national problems were a result of the global problems. For instance one young lady pointed out that she thought the card which said “There is a low harvest of apples in the UK” was a result of the “Low water levels (drought) in the South East of England” which was overall a result of Global Warming and Climate Change which she had recently studied in Science.

We then discuss the issues and they come up with their own examples to demonstrate their understanding of the different scales. Finally I get the pupils to sort the cards (and themselves) into order from the most important issues to be dealt with to the least important. This creates lots of discussion and debate, a timer is well advised.

Cards to give to individual pupils – Issues Cards

Cards with scale and definitions – Scale Cards

How do you teach different scales in Geography? Share your ideas and links in the comments.

Mrs Humanities