Free Dynamic Learning Resources

Blanka Biernat from Hodder Education recently got in contact to offer free Dynamic Learning resources that teachers can incorporate in their lessons. In my opinion anything free is a plus in education. I hope you will find these useful yourself. Below are the attached links to the activities. With our exam classes gone I am sure this will come in handy with the planning for September : )

Lesson: Exploring Geography in a Changing World 2 – ecosystem

Lesson: Exploring Geography In A Changing World 1 – Weather and Climate

Lesson: Exploring Geography in a Changing World 3 – Global Environmental

KS3 Geography Overhaul

1

For the last year our primary target for improvement has revolved around teaching & learning within Geography. We have spent the last year looking at our Key Stage 3 lessons seeing where we can make improvements and implement new teaching strategies. We have been trying to make the teaching experience more personal for the students and improve their independent study skills. This is being developed from KS3 onwards and carried on into KS4 and KS5.

The curriculum map we have designed  is set in a specific way. Most importantly it allows students to follow a natural progression building up skills and using them in a number of different ways. The progression also leads through to Key Stage 5. We are aiming to promote progression in a number of ways;

  • Depth of knowledge
  • Breadth of study
  • Complexity of concepts
  • Independent learning and research
  • An increase in spatial scale

Progression is mainly achieved through deeper understanding and increasing complexity of tasks.  There is also a broadening of the breadth of study.  More explicitly we are looking at increasing spatial scale, increasing awareness of society, economy and the environment. Work is currently being undertaken to ensure that there is smooth progression from KS2 to KS3 and also from KS4 to KS 5.

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

  • Rainforest
  • Map work*
  • Tribes & Cultures
  • Crime
  • Hazards 1 – volcanoes & earthquakes*
  • Olympics
  • Population
  • Rivers*
  • Feeding the World
  • Ice Age
  • Energy
  • Antarctica research*
  • Hazards 2 – extreme weather
  • Deserts
  • Why is Africa disconnected?*
  • Coral Reefs
  • Sustainability
  • Hazards 3 – tsunami
  • Climate change*
  • Coasts
  • China
  • Stourhead
  • Buy a rainforest
  • Disaster Management Day
  • World Food Day
  • Fairtrade Fortnight
  • Brecon Beacons
  • Oxfam Unwrapped
  • World AIDS Day

*Levelled assessed piece of work

KS3 is the building blocks of a successful education. Key Stage 3 can be sometimes be forgotten about in this world of examinations at KS4 and 5. The young students at KS3 need the skills and knowledge to help them in their later geography education. We are currently devising eight topics containing eight lessons for each year group. This would enable free time for us to look at world events that take place i.e. Geography Awareness Week, Fairtrade Fortnight, Japanese earthquake etc. This new format and the topics decided upon can be seen in the table above.

We are entering a very exciting time at Gillingham School where we are creating an innovative and inspirational curriculum for our students. There have been some rollercoaster moments but none which were unexpected. My department has been working really hard on these lessons and I am 100% happy with what has been planned so far – well done team, you have been brilliant!

Education Blog Awards 2012

Yes, it is that time of year again for the Education Blog Awards! Last year I was extremely lucky and proud to have been of nominated and shortlisted for two blog awards; Best Teacher Blog and Most Influential Blog. This year I have been nominated for Best Teacher Blog and Most Influential Blog – thank you!

Every year the number of nominated blogs increases. For me though, it is reading about what is happening in schools and colleges across the world. There are so many amazing and innovative ideas that are taking place. There is plenty of food for thought out there by all the education bloggers! This year the awards are sponsored by Child Education, Primary Blogger and Just2Easy.

If you would like to vote for me or anyone else please click here.

Thank you and good luck to all my fellow bloggers!

Teaching Pin-Up

1

Well, it has been a very mixed term of many political upheavals in the world of education. From putting the blame on teachers for the riots, Rt. Hon. Michael Gove making more changes and promising more (!), to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s a of the Ofsted criteria, the pension issue and regional pay for teachers. Not all good news in the world of education and a feeling that we as teachers are not being treated as professionals by those at the top.

Now with the Easter holidays fast approaching I thought we have to be positive and be innovative in our approach to teaching and shake the Easter blues away. I thought it would be good timing to watch Sir Ken Robinson explain his future of education. This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert. I fully appreciate that many of you will be watching this for the hundredth time but it is good…Have a great Easter!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

From Good to Great

‘I believe we need to radically improve our education system and that we need to work together to raise expectations, and close the gaps. The prize is worth having: a good or better education for all our young people, with no excuses accepted.’

Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted

This was a quote from Sir Michael Wilshaw’s first major speech as the new Chief Inspector of Ofsted. Speaking at the London Leadership Strategy ‘Good to great’ conference, he set out his ambition that all children will receive a good or better education and the steps Ofsted proposes to drive faster change. Like Marmite, educators are divided over Ofsted and its proposed changes again.

Sir Michael reiterated plans to replace the satisfactory judgement with ‘requires improvement’ and for all school inspections to be undertaken without notice.  He also announced a raising of expectations for outstanding schools and a tighter focus on the way in which headteachers are driving the quality of teaching in their schools.

These are very bold and decisive words from the new Chief Inspector of Ofsted. There is a sense of change and a throwing down of the gauntlet to many schools to improve. I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t fully recognise the good work that teachers do in their every day work. We are all trying to develop, improve and make our teaching the best we can. I do think the government, Ofsted and Sir Michael do need to acknowledge that not all teachers and schools are terrible. As teachers we do seem to get a bad press and not enough support from the people who make the decisions at the top. Like praising a student, praising a teacher can work wonders. Teaching is a great profession but we have to careful we do not put too many pressures on our teachers, as we might find people leaving and causing further issues further down the line. We do not want a situation where young graduates don’t choose teaching as a career or leave after two or three years.

However, Sir Michael is right – we do need to raise standards and continue to develop our education system. Changes do need to be made but the right ones. Change for the sake of change is never any good and I do worry that perhaps some institutions will put action plans in place without thinking through the consequences.

Firstly, Sir Michael stated the structure of the school inspection framework will not change. The focus will still be on the four key areas of achievement, teaching, behaviour and safety, and leadership. Ofsted will be doing away with the word ‘satisfactory’. If a school is not yet good, it ‘requires improvement’. So there will now be four judgements – outstanding, good, requires improvement and special measures. This re-grading will focus minds and send a clear and unequivocal message to schools that decisive action is necessary to bring about improvement. Sir Michael’s national ambition should be for all schools to be good or better.

Secondly, Sir Michael stated that a good school should have at least good teaching, and an outstanding school should have outstanding teaching. Good and outstanding leadership of teaching and learning drives improvement and knows that the culture of the school and the progress of pupils depend on it. To me this makes sense as I believe a school should be based on its teaching. According to Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO in Helsinki and author of Finnish Lessons: what can the world learn about educational change in Finland?, it takes 10 000 hours practice to become a great teacher. This is about 8 to 10 years active service. Consideration must be taking into account for new teachers when inspections are taking place.

Finally, it was mooted that with the National College that ‘outstanding’ headteachers would be part of a Ofsted national service inspecting other schools. Personally, I quite like this idea as I have sometimes felt inspectors can be slightly removed from the classroom if they have not taught for several years. Teaching is a very changeable profession and is very different now to when I started ten years ago for example.

Sir Michael has outlined a very clear plan for the future in teaching. As long as we are all working together and working towards a common goal it could be a success. ‘Radical changes’ and for all schools to be good or better are Sir Michael’s plans – a no excuses culture. Lets hope Sir Michael, Ofsted and the government have thought them all through with teacher input.

Teaching & Twitter

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For the past six months I have become a fan of Twitter (@tiddtalk). It has enabled me to network very freely with other like minded teachers and educators around the world. This can enable you to spread information very quickly on what is happening now or a particular moment. It is an excellent resource to spread information especially if you have updated your blog and are looking for instant readership. It is a great use of technology and is something I have found to be a great source of learning and enjoyment.

Two weeks ago the BBC reported that Scottish teachers are being warned that their use of social networking sites could put their careers at risk. The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association believes teachers can reveal too much personal information on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The full article can be found here.

The General Teaching Council of Scotland is preparing new guidelines on social networking sites. This follows a number of recent cases brought before the GTC’s regulatory body.

Jim Docherty, assistant secretary of the SSTA, told BBC Scotland that teachers should follow his advice: “First thing is don’t bother telling anybody else about your social life. Secondly, never make any comment about your work, about your employer, about teaching issues in general. There is always a possibility it will be misinterpreted.”

I totally agree with these sentiments. We have to be very careful with what we write and who we share this information with. As long as we are professional and think before we tweet we should not fear this medium of sharing information and knowledge. Twitter is here to stay and is the future of learning. Using technology in the right way can only improve our lessons and sharing of ideas.

The Courier Mail of Australia have written a very interesting article today on Twitter being used in the classroom. Research from Southern Cross University has found strong benefits for the use of Twitter by students too embarrassed or uncomfortable to ask teachers questions in the time-honoured raised-hand method.

Southern Cross business lecturer Jeremy Novak, along with Central Queensland University’s Dr Michael Cowling, studied the use of Twitter among university students as a method for asking questions and gaining feedback without having to stand the stares and scrutiny of fellow students.

The positive feedback from students, particularly international students, has convinced the research team the use of Twitter technology could also be embraced by classrooms at high school and even primary school level.

“Twitter is another exciting teaching aide that is highly under-utilised by lecturers and teachers in the education sector,” Mr Novak said. The full article can be found here.

I would really like to hear from other educators who are using twitter in their classrooms. I do think social networking sites can be used correctly in schools and can enhance the students learning and interaction. School portals and virtual learning zones are the just the beginining and we need to embrace the technology that is out there in our schools.

Schools could have their own Twitter accounts, for example, where parents and students could follow what upcoming events the school would be holding i.e. parents evenings, fetes, school productions etc.  Please follow me via twitter @tiddtalk.

Please complete the poll below – I would really like to read/hear your comments and experiences of Twitter.

Winter Review: Busy term…again!

The past term has flown at such an accelerated rate .– I have found that every year seems to go faster and faster – no slowing down in the world of geography! At Gillingham School we always endeavor to do the best for our students and are always willing to try out new ideas to improve their knowledge and independent learning.

  • Key Stage 3

We have looked at all our Key Stage 3 lessons seeing where we can make improvements and implementing new teaching strategies. We have been trying to make the teaching experience more personal for the students and improve their independent study skills. This is being developed from KS3 onwards and carried on into KS4 and KS5.

The curriculum map we have designed, seen below, is set in a specific way. Most importantly it allows students to follow a natural progression building up skills and using them in a number of different ways. The progression also leads through to Key Stage 5. We are aiming to promote progression in a number of ways;

  • Depth of knowledge
  • Breadth of study
  • Complexity of concepts
  • Independent learning and research
  • An increase in spatial scale

Year
7

Year
8

Year
9

  • Rainforest
  • Mapwork
  • Hazards 1 – volcanoes & earthquakes
  • Crime
  • Olympics
  • Tribes & Cultures
  • Population
  • Geographical research
  • Deserts
  • Shanty towns
  • Rivers
  • Feeding the world
  • Hazards 2 – extreme weather
  • Energy
  • Ice Age
  • Geographical research
  • Hazards        3 – tsunami
  • Why is Africa disconnected?
  • Climate change
  • Chindia
  • Coral reefs
  • Waste
  • Coasts
  • Geographical research
  • Stourhead
  • School based fieldwork
  • Disaster Management Day
  • School based fieldwork
  •  Brecon Beacons
  •  School based fieldwork

We must not forget that KS3 is the building blocks of a successful education. Key Stage 3 can be sometimes be forgotten about in this world of examinations at KS4 and 5. The young students at KS3 need the skills and knowledge to help them in their later geography education.

  • Barcelona Fieldtrip

The Barcelona AS Geography Fieldtrip took place between Monday 28th November – Friday 2nd December. The students gained a great deal from this fieldwork and the experiences and lessons learned from it are now examined in a unit worth 40% of their final AS grade. In total we took 57 Year 12 students who worked brilliantly throughout the five days out there – well done to all of you!

The trip focused on two topics – Extreme Weather and Rebranding. For extreme weather we looked at a dry river valley that experiences flash flooding in the Riera de Ribes region outside Sitges, thirty minutes south of Barcelona. For the past three years I have never seen any rain in this region but three weeks before we left they did have an extreme flash flood go through the area.

For rebranding we looked at two locations; El Ravel in Barcelona and the Priorat region. El Ravel is an area that is being rebranded with some flagship projects; the Rambla del El Ravel, the Barcelo 4* hotel, the Museum of Contemporary Arts and the university. Our student were investigating whether or not these flagship development projects had been a success of not.

The Priorat region is 120km south of Barcelona, a place depopulation due to tourism and an economic downturn in agriculture has afflicted the area. In recent years the region has been a world known wine growing part of Spain where many international wine awards have been won. Once again our students where looking at the success of this project on a poor area of Spain.

One again I would like to congratulate the students for their hard work and dedication this term – and especially to Andy, Lizzy, Mike, Adam and Emma who helped run the trip.

  • A’ Level Geography Blog

In the past week my fellow geographer, Adam Bettiss, has developed and put together two blogs for our A’Level classes; one focusing on the Year 13 unit of Life on the Margins and a case study blog for our Year 12 students. The great thing with both is that the students have control of what goes on the blog from their findings. This has been a great success and introduced students and staff (!) to the world of blogging – great stuff!

There has of course been the general day-to-day teaching which is where the real learning takes place – I have thoroughly enjoyed this term and the great work that the Geography Department have produced, well done to you all and have a fantastic Christmas.

Teaching with Movies

With the Christmas holidays approaching and the cold nights by the fire, I was going through my DVD library at home and it got me thinking about the importance and usefulness of films in education. I do use films in my lessons as I find the footage and content can convey a message that can help a students understanding.

Back in January 2010 I wrote about this very issue on my blog and for Sec-Ed in April 2009.

I have always been using documentaries and footage from DVDs and videos in my lessons but I had not realised what films could offer. It got my mind racing on different aspects of films that could be shown to pupils within different subject areas. I soon realised that films could enhance and develop a pupils learning and encourage them to be life long learners.

Films can enhance a lesson and excite a young mind with their powerful and thought-provoking subject matter. My good friend from my Southampton University days, Dr. Pietari Kaapa of the  University of Helsinki, has stated that, ‘cinema as both a popular form of entertainment and a means of artistic and political expression, is a crucial area of classroom teaching. The pedagogical potential of film provides an immediate and invigorating addition to established lesson plans, while the history of the medium and its contextual socio-cultural relevance function as sources of study in their own right.’

As a Geography Teacher I have used a wide variety of different films to help show and back up key terminology or sometimes complex geographical features. The world today has created a generation of young people with very active minds. The days of a teacher in a classroom talking for 50 minutes are long gone and would not generate much enthusiasm from today’s young learners. Interaction and variety is what is needed to engage learners and film is one medium that can grip a young person’s attention. Film can enthuse and generate much debate and help a learner.

Pupils are requested to use and take part in different types of media within their learning from the National Curriculum. Films like music should be encouraged to be used within the classroom. My good friend and former flatmate, Nick Hargreaves, of Radipole Primary School in Weymouth, Dorset, believes that ‘films are a really valid text as much as books. With the National Curriculum we have to look at various types of media within a child’s learning and film is one way.’

‘Films are not always easy to understand and it does take time sometimes for a young learner to fully understand the complexities of a film like the music changing in relation to the mood of the film.’ As we are aware there are three types of learners; visual, auditory and kinesthetic. A film is one medium that incorporates all three learning styles and can hold the attention and pass on knowledge and understanding to all three main learning styles.  Nick Hargreaves says ‘film takes into account how a learner learns…it attracts the three main types of learners and engages all of them in one sitting. It reaches out to all target levels especially boys’.

I remember reading Great Expectations at school and found watching the David Lean adaption a much-needed guiding hand when it came to revising for the GCSE. A film may not always be true or correct, but in the right hands, us as teachers, we can filter out the bad and use the great pieces of film there is out there waiting to be used. I would really like to know what films you use in the classroom – do you have a ‘Top Ten Movie List’? Please send in your comments via the comment box below or by twitter @tiddtalk – I look forward to reading your choices!

Choose teaching – be a teacher

‘It isn’t what you say that defines you but what you do’

These are the wise words of Batman that every aspirational teacher should know.

Teaching is a popular profession for many graduates. Last year 16, 845 people completed a secondary PGCE. The number of graduates completing PGCE’s has steadily risen over the last few years. It is a role that people find exciting, challenging and extremely stimulating. It is a profession where we are able to move people forward in their aspirations and assist their learning.

Unfortunately, I was sad to read earlier this year that the number of teacher training places at universities and colleges is to be cut by one fifth. The Coalition wants more teachers to learn their skills on the job in schools rather than in training colleges. Now I agree that we should have more on the job training – it’s where I learnt my skills and it was where I did most of my learning– but fewer teachers and training opportunities? Universities and teaching colleges offer fantastic teaching expertise and facilities that should be further funded. This maybe in response to subject demand but I am sure we will need teachers in the future and these cuts maybe putting off hundreds of potential brilliant teachers.

Nicholas Hargreaves of Radipole School, Weymouth says, ‘teaching is a wonderful career choice for anyone. From a young age several teachers and friends helped and encouraged me to aspire to become a teacher. To provide young minds with the knowledge, skills and passion to take control of their lives and become the experts of tomorrow. Personally it has given me the chance to inspire young people with my knowledge and expertise. Working with a group of like-minded teachers and young people is extremely inspirational. It is a role I have always been determined to succeed in and work hard for.’

The role teachers’ play in their local community is also central to a student’s development. Schools’ and communities must work collaboratively together for an area to benefit. Economic investment is a necessity with schools. Schools are the training ground for our future generations and they need to be at the forefront of technology for our young learners with the very best facilities for them to achieve their potential. The local community and schools’ must be incorporated into working together to create an ethos of self belief and to achieving their personal best. The community must be involved in their local schools creating community centres, so local people can benefit from the facilities and technology a school has. A community that sees the benefit of an education can help generate our leaders of tomorrow but they must work in partnership with the local schools. We as teachers are the facilitator of this role and can help enrich a wide variety of lives in the process. Working with the local community to enhance the school ethos and help an area develop.

Russell Wait, Curriculum Leader of Global Studies at Cove School, Hampshire; ‘I was inspired by my secondary school Headteacher who encouraged me from the tender age of 12 to reach my aspirations and goals. I find that teaching is an ever-changing occupation that keeps you on your toes. To teach the future generation of Britain with a passionate voice can create change and can only be a benefit for the country’.

Many professionals from industry are turning to a career in teaching because of the many benefits the role brings. They bring with them a vast range of experiences from industry that can only enhance the profession. Experience from outside the classroom and shared with the students is vital. Young people do need to have role models and even though they sometimes might not want to admit it, teachers are a very important one. It is very clear that many people want to train as teachers but cannot afford to take a whole year off for training. With the recent credit crisis it is understandable, but it does show that people do want to be teachers.

With this in mind, young people choosing to become a teacher may not get a job at the end of their training. If the government get their way we will all be working till at least sixty-eight – where is the opportunity for the young, fresh and talented teachers? We need teachers, inspirational teachers with new ideas and outlooks. Choose teaching – be a teacher!

Tidd News II

I have found this half-term has flown by at an incredible rate. Our students at Gillingham School have worked tirelessly with so many achieiving top grades. Personally, it has been my aim this year to make our geography lessons as fun as possible. I hope my classes are enjoying my lessons as much as I am. We have completely re-written Key Stage 3 with a bigger emphasis on the ‘fun factor’.

With this in mind my brilliant (and inspiritional) Year 13 class have been taking their learning to the extreme. Everyone of them in the class are pushing for the highest grade they can obtain and are working at a very high level which I hope they are proud of. With this in mind another edition of Tidd News has been produced. Our ever expanding films of geography will be a great geography revision resource with a touch of humour. Thank you to Olly Cooper, Alex Ross and Will Horner for all their hard work producing these films!