Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Planning Shoutout

Are you planning on spending some of this half term planning lessons, SoW etc? Why not try to save yourself some time and give a #PlanningShoutout.

It’s pretty easy, head over to Twitter. Write a tweet outlining what it is your planning and add the hashtag. You might want to include any subject specific tags such as #TeamGeog, #MFLTwitterati or #TeamEnglish.

It’s a simple idea so we can help each other to reduce our workloads and spend more time relaxing in our well deserved breaks.

So far there have been quite a few requests and lots of replies with offerings.

Enjoy the half term.


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Planning for Progress – A 5 year plan

This post began in December 2015, as I finished planning essentially what would be a 5 year GCSE course I started writing how I’d done it (Yes, how I had done it since I was a single person Humanities department with a few non-specialists teaching lessons). But for some reason I never finished it, but recently it’s been a topic of discussion so I thought I would come back and finish the post.

At my last school I developed a programme of learning that would take students through from year 7 to year 11 in Geography and History. Each step of the way setting foundations, building knowledge and strengthening their application of it. They would spiral through the content and skills time and time again, with each visit they would be strengthening what they had previously covered.

I left before implementing it at GCSE, so I’ve no idea how successful it was. The first cohort that went through the process sit their GCSE this year, 2018.

Rationale

The idea behind this 5 year outlook of learning was that students would learn the general content of a GCSE course in Key Stage 3, then if they decide to continue with that subject at GCSE they would build upon their knowledge and understanding to a much greater depth with greater focus on complex skill development and exam practice.

You could say that I considered that Key Stage 3 would teach the breadth of the course whilst Key Stage 4 would be the time in which they go into the depth of the course.

At the time I teaching Humanities through 2 hours a week, so I had to consider how the foundations would be set in both Geography and History.  Therefore I also considered it important that the content covered at Key Stage 3 would provide students with sufficient knowledge and understanding of the subject for their futures whether they were to choose the subject at GCSE or not.

What would be the benefits of a 5 year plan?

  • Prior knowledge of subject content before GCSE course starts
  • Can go into greater depth of subject content as not teaching from scratch at GCSE
  • More time to focus on higher order skills
  • More time on exam practice
  • Retrieval practice

However I wasn’t naive to the challenges this would also create for instance how would I ensure that students weren’t bored by returning to previous learning, how would I ensure the learning was age appropriate and how would I show progress and development of knowledge from prior knowledge?

Choosing Topics

In order to decide the topics to be covered at Key Stage 3, I worked back from the required content and skills of the selected GCSE courses for Geography and History.

From there I created topics that would cover the foundation content needed for later on, which ended up looking something like this. Pink topics are those that combine Geography and History, yellow are solely historical topics and green solely Geographical.

KS3 Outline

Many of the topics in year 7 and 8 were thematic inquiries. For instance I broke the historical topics in year 7 and 8 into inquiries across the ages, year 8 for example studied Conflict through the Ages by investigating changes to armour, weapons and fortification from the Anglo-Saxons to WW2 along with the reasons for conflicts through time.

Programme of Learning

If I’m honest I hate schemes of work, they are restrictive and too prescribed. I prefer an outline of the content and skills to be covered so that teachers can choose the appropriate format and approach to teach their classes. I’m very much a facilitator of learning, I like my students to explore the content in which they are studying with the ability to digress somewhat to explore avenues of interest.

Therefore after having spent the first year at the school writing ridiculously detailed schemes of work which had to have ALL of the work embedded in it prior to teaching I rebelled and merely wrote a outline for each year group.

Scheme of Work for one topic…. 

schemes of work

Programme of learning for the entire year… for Humanities and Opening Minds

outline

Tracking Progress

This was the final challenge. At the time, grade descriptors were yet to be published and I felt like assessing students was a minefield; yet it had to be done. The school wanted students to be assessed by grades 1-9 at both KS3 and 4 as well as a further break down into entering, developing, secure and mastered within each grade band. Mind blowing!!!

Anyway I created grade descriptors for grades 1-9 that could be taken down to KS3 from GCSE based upon what I already knew, what I’d learnt and what others were doing. Setting up a collaborative dropbox helped majorly and I learnt so much from other practitioners.

The descriptors were based on the assessment objectives from AQA Geography and History and looked something like this…

his 1his 2his 3

geog 1geog 2geog 3geog 4geog 5

Finally in order to help me to identify whether students were progressing effectively I created the following so called flight paths. These would then help me to identify the grades and where in the grade students were –  entering, developing, secure or mastered as mentioned above.

progress

Since the school required frequent data drops for all groups at the same time, I then decided that I would monitor progress through the use of a learning matrix for every topic as shown below. These essentially outlined what would be covered in the topic, what students would need to know and the extent to which students had demonstrated their understanding – these were associated with the colours white, bronze, silver, gold and platinum as shown above.

learning matrix assessment for learning

The best thing about these has to be the fact that they reduced my marking workload whilst demonstrating student progress. Simply I would write the code of the criteria achieved in the students book where it had been achieved, I or my students would then highlight it yellow. I’d then draw steps and write the code of what I wanted students to do next and again one of us would highlight it, this time in pink. Once the student had acted on the feedback I would tick it off if achieved. This clearly showed to students the progress they were making and helped them to identify and verbalise what they needed to do to improve.

Unfortunately doing all that alone in addition to the day-to-day of teaching, led me to burnout and I left the school before full implementation. I’ve taken so much away from the process however and can clearly see similarities in the approach my team and I have developed in my current school.

I hope you find this post of use, feedback welcomed as usual. Also feel free to get in contact if you want copies of any of the resources here.

Best wishes,

Mrs Humanities


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Experiences in Long Term Planning

Planning lessons, is probably one of my favourite parts of being a teacher.

If I’m honest it wasn’t until half way through my NQT year that I started to see that it’s not so much the planning lesson by lesson that’s important it’s the planning of learning as a whole over a period of time.

Initially I would lesson plan by looking at the SoW and planning each lesson by what the scheme said should be taught. I later came to realise I hated this, it made teaching rigid and meant I was pretty much teaching to the test.

When I became Head of Humanities I was provided with the opportunity to start from scratch. The school was in its first year of opening, the former HoD left nothing behind so I literally had a blank canvas to work with. Whilst at times it was hard, it meant I learnt a lot about structuring learning over time – for each topic for each year group I’d consider the knowledge and understanding required, identify the skills focus, create a variety of forms of summative assessment and organise opportunities for formative assessment.

In my first year (2014 – 2015) I was writing schemes of work like this…

SOW

These would be for each year group (7,8,10 & 11) for each topic (6 per year in KS3) for each lesson of the topic. This was the expectation. Since I was the only one in the department I had to plan each lesson, resource each lesson and then embed it all into the SoW.

Last year (2015 – 2016) I decided this was too time consuming and eventually started writing schemes of work more along these lines…

example

This was much easier, it simply outlined the topic title and skills focus, assessment weeks and data input weeks. The resources provided the lesson outline, resources etc. so why did I need to repeat it all in another document? The lessons were organised clearly into the department folder like so…

organised

…this meant that any other teachers teaching Humanities could quite simply find out which lesson they were on and find it in the folder along with all the resources necessary to teach it. All they needed to do then was differentiate to suit their classes.

For each topic I had the outcomes in mind and outlined at them at the start of the SoW. This meant non-specialists knew the aims and objectives for the SoW.

outcomes

From the feedback I received from non-specialists this made it a lot easier to know where they were in the SoW and where they were heading with it; making it easier to prepare for summative assessments and data input.

Over the long term, I’d look at the skills being taught across the year to ensure an even spread of each assessment objective (see table below) for the key Humanities subjects of Geography and History.  Each formative assessment would assess students ongoing knowledge and understanding and would focus on particular assessment objectives.

AOS

For example this assessment (below) focused primarily on source interpretation as part of assessment objective HAO3 Source Skills. However the task required students to draw upon their knowledge and understanding of the topic which meant they also covered aspects of other assessment objectives. This helped when providing holistic grades for students.

assessment

So this has been approach to planning over time, hope it’s provided some ideas to help you.

 

 

 

 


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Bloom’s Command Words

During my NQT year the school I worked at used all, most and some learning objectives.

In order to help me to develop my practice and to encourage higher level skills I created this sheet of command words related to Bloom’s Taxonomy. I used to keep it in the front of my planner and refer to it whilst I lesson planned.

I’d usually use it as a starting point to work out what I wanted students to achieve within the lesson and then take the planning from there. blooms command words

From what I remember I did a fair bit of research to support it but where I found it all, I’ve no idea. But thought I’d share it with you.

Simply click here to download

Hope you can find it useful.

Mrs Humanities