Tag Archives: TLAB14

#TLAB14 – my workshop on Creative GCSE Geography & Literacy

Here is the slideshow from my workshop at the #TLAB14 conference yesterday. Although aimed at Geography teachers, it might be useful to others for generic revision games and literacy support.

Here’s a vague commentary for the slides:

Slide 3-5. Messy rivers. In groups, students have a bagful of river sediment, piece of A3 paper and some keywords. They have to create a river cross-section from upper to lower course by putting sediment and keywords into the correct location.

Slide 6: River stories. After the messy bit (or just as another activity instead), get students to produce a written story describing the journey down river having to describe the changes & use key terms but in a creative writing sense (moving from the birth of a juvenile energetic river to sluggish middle age to the very end in old age).

Slide 7-9. Bunting! Not my own idea I confess but I love it. Put topics into a hat, then each student draws one or two out and has to produce a piece of revision bunting to be shared. Gives them ownership & remind them of corporate responsibility. I was surprised at how much the kids got into this last time, they really enjoyed it and produced quality summaries.

Slide 10-13. Cake modelling! Every good geographer has at some point come across the wave cut platform cake model from Tony Cassidy. The only addition here was that I had taught basic wave cut platform theory, then I just gave students some resources and as a group they had to produce a demonstration of how the landform is created. They had: mini whiteboards, paper, pens, mini cakes, sweets. Then they presented to each other and peer assessed. Then we eat cake (new cake, not played with!)

Slide 15-17. Jenga! You can use Jenga (or non brand specific) in lots of ways. For example: 1)Keyword / fact jenga – label pieces and then play the game. Teacher / student reads out a definition, player has to retract the piece that matches the definition. Competition to build tallest tower if played in groups. 2)Use coloured dots / coloured jenga and each colour corresponds to a different theme. Students are given a topic e.g. Hurricane Katrina. When they take out a piece, whatever colour they take they must give an appropriate response. E.g. Red correlates to fact, green correlates to causes, yellow corresponds to impacts, blue corresponds to responses, etc,.

Slide 18-21. Twister! Alternative versions, e.g. 1)Play the game in small groups. Within each group you have a quizmaster. Each time a player moves to a new spot, they have to correctly answer a question (e.g. define a word, recall a key fact, etc,.). If incorrect then spin the spinner again and have to move to a new spot and keep answering Qs until correct. 2)Assign points to different spots. Have differentiated questions worth different points. Students play the game and accumulate points depending on how hard the question is that they answer. Highest points win. Once back in the classroom for whatever option, I always get them to do exam case study questions timed to formalise it – and have been so impressed with how much better their responses have been.

Slide 22-24. Balloons? Various uses. E.g. 1)one student writes a question on the balloon, then throws to someone else who then answers the question and passes on. 2)Get students to draw a world map around the balloon to get across the idea of sphericity / world layout. 3)Create concept maps with lots of interlinking by drawing around the balloon to encourage links right round.

Slide 25-26. Musical chairs. Different options: 1) as the music plays move around and have to read key facts / study a stimulus image…when the music stops they have to answer an exam question. 2) have exam Qs stuck to the back of the chairs (no peeking), keep cycling through and when music stops have to answer the exam Q on whiteboards, etc,.

Slide 27-29. Paper planes. Two versions I’ve used. 1) Students write a question on a piece of paper, fold into a plane, throw at another student, who has to answer. 2) AfL. Fold up an example case study answer (either a model one or one the kids have just written). Throw around room to three different students who then highlight one per go with different colours for use of key terms, developed points, place specific fact. Throw to one final student who gives the question an overall score and final comment.

Slide 32-34. Creative writing & song. Dear John letters to develop explanations and literacy, but with Bingo for keywords. Can be about any topic. Similar for songs, e.g. writing a song to describe tectonic plate movement.

Slide 36. VCOP. Support and guide with literacy. Especially good for lower ability and for structuring extended writing.

Slide 38. PEEL flowcharts. Modelling how to write a 3 developed point answer (like for case study 9 mark questions) through a flow chart built around the PEEL structure.

Slide 41. Learning grids. Students roll two dice to get a coordinate, this then randomly selects what information to include in a piece of extended writing. Repeat as many times as you like (I usually do 3-4 times) and then they must include that criteria in their writing. Also good to use in reverse for AfL: get students to mark on the grid which criteria they think they have met and then when you mark the work you can highlight whether they have actually met this criteria or not, then use in your feedback.

Slide 43-44. SOLO structured thinking. The idea of SOLO being a move from simplistic basic responses and understanding to being more complex with interlinks. I tend to rename the different stages to: 1)Unclear  2) One idea  3) Many ideas  4) Interlinking many ideas  5) Analysing and interpreting these many ideas in different ways. This structure can be used to structure notes / plan essays or for AfL

Slide 45-47. SOLO hexagons. Hexagons allow you to tessellate in 6 directions to demonstrate multiple links. e.g. in this example as a group we had blue statements that were the impacts of difficult environments and in red the causes of these difficulties. Then they have to tessellate to make multiple links in preparation for extended writing.

Model the idea of essay structuring to class. Students to write down as much as possible as they can about a case study on each hexagon. Those aiming for B+ should be making multiple connections between these facts / statements. Then use these hexagons to structure an extended writing piece. Remind to use connectives between.

Slide 48. Sentence escalator. Sentence escalation. Kind of like ‘Chinese whispers’ to start then turning into written sentences.

Slide 49. Story cubes. Laminated dice allow you to swap in and out different images / words / facts. Students throw the dice and have to respond to whatever they see.

Slide 50-51. Revision cube. Students roll the dice and have to revise & produce a resource on whatever it lands on. Can make template online here

#TLAB14 Conference reflections

Yesterday was the second edition of the Teaching Learning Assessment conference at Berkhamsted School hosted and organised by Nick Dennis and Rebecca Brooks. The event was another huge success; both enjoyable and informative.

The first keynote was by Elise Foster, co-author of ‘The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius inside our School’. The book is based on the premise that our attitudes (either intentionally or not) can serve to either multiply or diminish others.

Are you a diminisher or a multiplier?
Are you a diminisher or a multiplier?

This can be true of teachers to students, and of leaders to staff. You can get a sense of the idea in this video summary. Through research both in business and in schools, the authors identify different attitudes and acts that we might exhibit at times and the impact these can have. She started off with asking how many of us in the room had every felt over-worked but under-utilised…you can imagine how many hands went up! I would a head teacher to ask that in a staffroom! Elise talked about effective multipliers as being able to get more from people simply because their high expectations ask for it, but in a way that says ‘go for it, you got this’ – being supportive but stretching, giving freedom to try.

Are you an accidental diminisher?
Are you an accidental diminisher?

She commented that multipliers are talent finders who see intelligence as a muscle to be stretched in order to grow, and of the dangers of micro-managing. Elise also demonstrated some examples of ‘accidental diminisher traits’ that we might all exhibit at times – although I would argue that there is probably a time and place for many of these traits to actually be necessary, so long as they do not become the norm or your only way of operating. It was a very interesting talk which basically ran through the findings of the book – so if you’re interested in more, then read it!

I went to a workshop by Stephen Lockyer – mostly because I wanted to see him actually do some work :-p but also to get a bit of primary perspective. Stephen was talking about making a child-centred curriculum in order to balance out the issue of ‘what we have to cover’ and ‘what we want to cover’. He showed how similar the issues are for children at primary and secondary – which reminded me that they’re just kids with shorter trousers 🙂 I particularly liked his thinking about there being a fine line between efficiency and complacency when it comes to curriculum content and teaching & learning in general. That there is a danger in sitting still too long just because something has worked in the past – equally it isn’t efficient to always be changing things for the sake of it. Delicate balance. He also highlighted how good it is to be flexible to respond to the curiosity and needs of children rather than sticking rigidly to our pre-thought plans, because sometimes the most interesting and effective parts of lessons are those that follow from children’s tangents – so we should build time into our curriculum for tangents!

The second workshop of the day was one that I led, on teaching GCSE Geography. I’ll put the resource in the next post.

Final workshop honours went to David Rogers sharing how Geography can contribute to whole school aims such as embedding literacy and maths. It was good to be given time as a group to discuss and to collaborate. We picked a theme, such as how to use Geography to teach literacy, and then had a choice of outcomes that were generated by John Davitt’s Learning Event Generator before we shared our ideas with the group. I was very pleased to see a few delegates ask to use one of the tools from my session before – balloon concept mapping!

The final keynote went to Dr Andy Williams on ‘The Capacity to Improve‘. I really enjoyed listening to this, he just had such a great story-telling style and reminded us all why we do it, and how ‘good teachers change lives’. I liked his statement and stance to forget Ofsted criteria : that Ofsted definition of good teaching is about making progress (which is valid) but that this falls short because good teaching should also be about being inspiring. You got the real sense that to him and his school, the children really come first and that the rest falls into place afterwards. It was an uplifting and positive end to send us all on our way.

If you want to see a summary Storify of the event then click here.

So, thanks to all involved. It was a well organised and interesting event, and I’m looking forward to #TLAB15 already 🙂

Looking forward to #TLAB14 conference

TLABIt’s been a long time since I posted, and I apologise for that. It’s been a bit manic at home and work and I need to catch up. Anyway.

Saturday 22nd March sees the return of #TLAB14 Conference – the Teaching, Learning & Assessment conference at Berkhamsted School. This event is hosted and coordinated by the wonderful Nick Dennis and Rebecca Brooks and their team. You can see my review of last year here. What I liked about the event before was that there was a careful blend of pedagogical theory / application from the likes of Alistair Smith, and then the subject specific workshops led by current teachers where they shared their own experiences. An event run by teachers, for teachers, through teachers. Sharing stories. Everyone an expert. I think also, where the event falls on a Saturday this encourages more like minded positive professionals to attend who want to get the most out of giving up their own time voluntarily. And there were great refreshments! And all for just £50. Bargain.

I took away so much from the event last year, and I was honoured and flattered to be asked to take part this time. As well as being somewhat nervous needless to say! The event was such a success and of such quality last year that I am worried about bringing down the side! We shall see.

The theme this year is ‘Multipliers: How can we tap into the genius within our schools?’ which draws on the work of Liz Wiseman and Elise Foster’s ‘The Multiplier Effect’ – who is giving the keynote.

My workshop is for Geography, obviously, and looks particularly at delivering GCSE – although I would say that there is no reason why strategies cannot be used for other key stages as well, just as I have used them with younger children myself. I shall be talking about revision games such as jenga, keyword games and creative ways to learn case studies. I will also be sharing some ideas about encouraging literacy skills and extended writing, particularly through the use of writing structures to enable perhaps more lower ability or less confident students. I find my students really struggle with the extended writing case study or decision making parts of their exams, and this is not normally due to a lack of geographic knowledge but rather to do with structuring an answer or developing answers.

Although I’ll be sharing some tools I’ve trialled before, I’ll also give delegates the chance to share their own experiences in the hopes we all learn from each other – after all, no one strategy fits all. And there will be time to try things out yourself, in a hands on way.

All resources will be shared via this blog after the event, and I hope it proves useful.

There will also be a Geography workshop led by Carmel Green who was excellent last year, and by David Rogers on how Geography can have a whole school impact and speaks from a leadership point of view as well.

If you want to attend, see the Lanyrd site to book or via the Berkhamsted website.

You can also see the agenda here and a summary of speakers and their workshop outline here. You can also see updates and follow the event on Twitter @TLABerkhamsted or my feed at the event @GeoDebs 

There is also a TeachMeet on the night before, Friday 21st 🙂

Hope to see you there!