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!

Tidd News

The term has been flying past at a super fast rate that it has taking me some time to start blogging again. I have really enjoyed the start of the year so far – there really does feel a buzz up in Geography department with all the many changes we have done to Key Stage 3 and the brilliant work all our students have been producing.

With that in mind, my Year 13 class have been working on some presentations regarding food supply problems around the world. As always they were all excellent so I thought I would include one of the them for you to look at by Olly, Alex and Will – well done chaps and enjoy!

Here we go again…

Well, here we are again, another term and another year down in sunny Dorset at Gillingham School. This will be my thrid year at Gillingham School, and I am starting to feel that the changes we started two years ago are starting to ripple through the school. As a very succesful department we have seen our GCSE and A Level results once again show us we have brilliant students who are thriving in Geography. This has not been easy by any means. We could rest on out laurels but that it not the ‘Gillingham Way’ nor the ‘Geography Way’. So as a department we have outlined five target areas we want to develop as the year progresses;

  • Teaching & Learning

The primary target for improvement this year revolves around teaching & learning once again 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.

  • Key Stage 3

With the new curriculum at Key Stage 4 and 5, Key Stage 3 must be a priority in the upcoming year. 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. The current Schemes of Work are good but are sometimes too long in length and do not always motivate and enthuse the students as much as we would like. 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. The topics we have discussed so far have been using some of the current  lessons and new ideas we are developing.

  • Technology

Geography has prided itself on using technology where possible to improve our lessons and the student experience. This needs to be further developed to further enhance our learning and the students. We would like to see additional Smart Boards across a further two classrooms in the next 1-3 years. This will enable us to develop materials (using Boardworks) to increase motivation across all Key Stages.

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. A member of the Department will require training and facilitate this into our schemes of work.

  • 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 raising 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.

  • Reflective Teaching

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.

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!

Outstanding Teaching

Discovery is the new way of learning

Last week I had the pleasure and opportunity to attend an Outstanding Teaching course run by Osiris Educational. The course itself was put together and led by Andy Griffith, a highly acclaimed writer, trainer and teacher who specialises in Learning to Learn, thinking skills, creativity and learning. He is also the director of MALIT Ltd, a Merseyside-based education training company which aims to help teachers and schools to raise the quality of teaching and learning through high quality INSET, training and consultancy.

The course aims were to:

  • understand how outstanding teaching works
  • the new Ofsted criteria
  • raise standards of learning
  • increase teacher confidence
  • improve pupil enjoyment and engagement in lessons
  • develop independent learners
  • challenge learners
  • leave a sustainable impact across the school

Teaching can be a very lonely and difficult profession. Like the Lone Ranger though, you fight back and try to engage your classes. Teaching is a brilliant challenge for anyone. I always feel that I have never cracked the profession of being a teacher and I am always striving to improve. Courses are essential for any teacher and in these difficult financial times they are sometimes forgotten about.

It was a very interesting and thought-provoking course where we were reminded that teaching is a craft where we creatively use different techniques to help people learn. Andy Griffith used a variety of techniques to show us how to engage a wide variety of personalities. I found the ideas that Andy had put together extremely stimulating as I am currently with my department rewriting our Key Stage 3 curriculum. Many of these techniques will be coming in very handy as the summer term goes on. From a personal point of view I found that Andy encouraged us to bring the fun back into teaching. We do seem to be on a rollercoaster of exams and reports and the system has forgotten that learning is fun. I came away from the day with lots of great resources and inspiring ideas, a day worthwhile attending.

I was pleased to see that I was not alone in the merits of the 30:70 lesson plan split, where the lessons are more controlled by the students where we play more of a conductor role. It is also our strength and weakness as teachers that we talk too much in the classroom. We must try to put the onus of learning back on the students where they are discovering information and knowledge. Q. Is the struggle to discover knowledge or listening to your teacher the most effective teaching method?

Overall it was a brilliant day and a course I thoroughly recommend to any aspiring teacher. Thanks Andy and I look forward to catching up with you in the future!

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!

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 (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!

Geography Resources for Primary Teachers: the next step

Earlier this year in February, a damning Ofsted report concluded that the teaching of geography was not good enough in more than half of English state schools; how the subject had practically “disappeared” in one-in-10 primaries and how many teachers lacked specialist geographical knowledge. On the surface this is worrying news for geography as a leading subject.

What was not investigated in the Ofsted report was how teaching resources might improve the standards of the subject.

A new report called ‘Geography Resources for Primary Teachers: the next step’ surveyed primary school teachers across the UK, and was conducted by Oddizzi, a new online teaching resource with geography at its core.

The report concludes that the correct type of resources e.g. those that are inspiring, relevant and interactive, are key to help to facilitate the teaching of geography and improve standards in the subject among primary schools. This is great news for geography – as a versatile subject technology can be applied brilliantly.

In support of the Ofsted report, ‘Geography Resources for Primary Teachers: the next step’ concludes that 47% of primary teachers said that their own lack of confidence in teaching geography had a great impact on the subject in schools.

One vital aspect, which was not mentioned in the Ofsted report, was the extent to which teachers feel that the quality and relevance of resources currently available to them are impacting the teaching of geography. 45% of primary school teachers in the ‘Geography Resources for Primary Teachers: the next step’ report said that this had a great impact on their current teaching. When looking at how teaching resources for geography compared with other subjects, 68% said that geography materials are significantly worse or not quite as good as materials available for other subjects.

When it came to the type of teaching resources one area that stood out was the desire for more interactivity; 67% of primary teachers say that they are not or only somewhat satisfied with the level of interactivity of current materials whilst 81% said that child friendly interactive maps would be a very interesting or essential feature of any new teaching resource (28% say it is essential).

Beyond interactive teaching resources 70% say that the inclusion of cross curricular project ideas would be very interesting or essential as a feature of a new teaching resource (27% say it is essential).

These are very interesting comments as geography could very easily be a leading subject where technology is applied in the correct manner. It seems the demand for technology and good resources are what our primary schools need. Oddizzi is one solution and I am sure there are many other resources out there that need to be supplied to our primary schools – otherwise we are going to have a future generation lacking the skills and interest in geography. We only have one planet to live and learn from – let’s make sure we are not doing our students a disservice.