Geography Revolution

The primary target for improvement this year revolves around teaching & learning within Geography. We are proud of Geography’s achievements over the years at Gillingham School but we do not want to be complacent. We must focus on our own teaching and how the students learn. As a Department we want to teach the best we can and we are looking at Key Stage 3 lessons seeing where we can make improvements and implementing new teaching strategies. We must 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

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
  • 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
  • Brecon Beacons

 

With the new curriculum at Key Stage 4 and 5, Key Stage 3 is a priority this year. 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. 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. I will keep you all posted how our plans, successes and failures go as the year goes on. 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!

@tiddtalk on Twitter

After many months of deliberating I have joined Twitter. I have been in two minds about Twitter for a long time trying to see its value in today’s society. Two weeks ago I took the plunge and I have so far been very impressed.

Twitter is brilliant for networking – linking up with fellow practitioners across the globe. 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.

My good friend Ollie Bray, National Adviser for Learning and Technology Futures at Learning & Teaching Scotland (LTS),  is a huge fan and has been a major persuading factor in me joining Twitter. It is a useful tool for when you are looking for ideas or wanting to pick someone’s brain – and it doesn’t have to be someone you know.

Paul Ainsworth, a Vice Principle of a school in Leicestershire, wrote a brilliant article on the day I joined Twitter in Sec-Ed. It was very thought provoking and backed up my decision to join Twitter, thanks Paul! Paul explained that Twitter is a virtual staffroom where upon you can draw information and advice from a wide pool of practitioners across the globe. This is a very useful tool as we do need to share knowledge and advice. I recommend anyone thinking about joining a social networking site to read this article.

My Twitter account username is @tiddtalk – join me sharing information about education and geography. PLS RT

Education Blog Award Winners

 

And the winner is…?

Yes, today we find out who are the winners of the UK Education Blog Awards. The awards are split between four categories;

Last month we found out who were the ten shortlisted blogs for each category from over three hundred nominated. I was extremely proud to be nominated and then shortlisted for two awards; Most Influential Blog of the Year and Teacher Blog of the Year.

Thank you to Scholastic Education, Creative Blogs and Primary Blogger for sponsoring the awards this year.

Every edublogger has been blogging away in anticipation. But who has won? Click here to find out! Well done to all the education bloggers in the blogosphere – keep up the good work!

The Final Countdown

I have recently found out that I have been shortlisted for two Education Blog Awards; Teacher Blog of the Year and Most Influential Blog. These awards have been set up to award blogging in schools in the UK.

Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for my blog for these two awards. As a fairly new blogger (since January 2010), I am extremely pleased with being shortlisted. My blog is now being judged by five judges; John Davitt, Paula Hubbard, Ollie Bray, Margaret Vaas and Tim Rylands. The blog winners will be announced on 1st Junegood luck to all the bloggers who have been shortlisted!

Teaching Challenge (5/5)

As teachers we must be more reflective of our own practice and make amendments where we need to. We must utilise our strengths and work on our areas of development. Observations are vitally important to watch other teachers and how students learn. This would be ideally done within the department and with other departments once a term where possible. This should therefore improve our own teaching and benefit the students. Working with other colleagues will help develop cross curricular opportunities to raise achievement throughout the school.

Teaching Challenge (4/5)

4. Assessment for Learning (AFL)

AFL is a very important skill and is an area where we could develop within Geography. As teachers we are sometimes too controlling and we must put the onus back on the students for them to achieve. Investigating methods and ways of implementing this into our schemes of work must be one of our priorities. This will encourage student learning and raise achievement across all year groups.

AFL will also help improve the student’s knowledge of using a mark scheme and what to include in a good answer. This will reduce our marking and in the long-term our workload.

Teaching Challenge (3/5)

3. Technology

Geography has prided itself on using technology where possible to improve our lessons and the student experience. We would like to incorporate electronically submitted assessments, Podcasts and revision tools into our schemes of work. The VLE is a huge potential as revision resource. This has the opportunity to encourage our disaffected boys at KS4 and KS5 who are underachieving compared with the girls.

With the new syllabus changes at GCSE and A level a key skill that needs to be developed is the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS must be developed within the Department across all year groups. Along with these ideas should be the development and use of mobile phones.

The intrusive ringing and sounds of a mobile phone maybe the future of education. This is a very bold statement for a teacher to make. In the majority of schools, mobile phones are banned, but that maybe changing across the country. Mobile phones are an untouched resource that could be more of a help then a hinderance.

The technology available to us as teachers is immense and is changing at a rate faster than we are able to keep up with. Students and pupils are far and away ahead of us as teachers when it comes to technology. As a teacher we are forever changing our teaching methods and resources. Mobile phones could help enrich a subject and make it more widely available for all students to participate. Mobile phones have so much potential for the classroom. They will enhance a students learning. They will give students skills that they will use in the wider world. They will bring benefits that will develop our teaching.

Teaching Challenge (2/5)

2. Developing Key Stage 3

With an ever-changing world, it is time for our Geography curriculum to change. Since joining Gillingham School in September 2009, we have rewritten the GCSE course and made amendments to the A Level course. Now that they are finally in place we can turn our attention to Key Stage 3.

Key Stage 3 is the building block of geography within every secondary school. It is where some students are only just learning the subject for the first time and building upon the foundations of their learning at KS2. We are turning KS3 upside down on its head at Gillingham and shaking it for the first time in several years. We already have a large uptake at GCSE and the students enjoy their lessons. We it is time for a change, to gain the skills and knowledge required at KS4 and beyond, a new layout must be put in place.

Currently we teach five/six topics across each year group. With students becoming more interactive and demanding more knowledge, we have decided to go for a format of eight separate topics of eight lessons each. We currently teach four lessons over a two-week timetable. This means topics will interchange at a fast rate, we won’t get bogged down in one topics and it keeps it exciting for the students.

We do seem to be on a continuous cycle of rewriting, but we must not forget 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. It also means we can dip out of the curriculum when we need to – eight topics x four weeks = 32 weeks out of 39 teaching weeks. 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. The topics we have discussed so far have been using some of the current lessons and new ideas we are developing.

Teaching Challenge (1/5)

With the financial year ending last month it is that time in the year when many of us are writing our plans for the next year and bidding for funds! Over the next few days I will be outlining my five objectives for the next year within the Geography department. Happy reading!

1. Teaching & Learning

The primary target for improvement this year revolves around teaching & learning within Geography. We are proud of Geography’s achievements over the years but we do not want to be complacent and we must focus on our own teaching and how the students learn. As a department we want to teach the best we can and we are looking at our lessons and seeing where we can make improvements and implementing new teaching strategies. We must make our teaching experience more personal for the students and improve their independent study skills. This must be developed from KS3 onwards and carried on within the school.

Last Chance Saloon

This is your last week to vote for the UK Education Blog Awards 2011. The last chance to vote is 30th April.  I am very pleased to say that I have been nominated. Thank you to everyone who has voted for my blog.

Why do I write a blog? Since I started writing my blog in January 2010, I have learnt and shared new ideas from many different teachers. I really enjoy sharing ideas with other practitioners and learning a new technique or way of doing something. Sometimes we are left to our own devices and perhaps we should be talking and sharing resources on a more regular basis.

For the last few years I have found blogs a great source to further my understanding and learn new skills as a teacher. I have always said that a teacher never stops learning. Just like our students we as teaching practitioners are constantly learning new techniques on improving our methods we use in the classroom. This is part of the reason why I love teaching, it is never dull and is a challenge I relish on a daily basis.

If you would like to vote for a blog – please follow the link here on at the top right hand corner which will take you to the Education Blog Awards website to cast your vote. Good luck to all the bloggers out there!