Our second Primary Humanities Subject Leaders’ Network meeting of this academic year was held in the Pavilion at Sir Thomas Rich’s School (STRS) in Gloucester. The theme for today’s session was ‘Maps, maps and more maps!’ following requests from individuals at our last meeting. We were a little smaller in number than usual as a few regulars had prior school commitments, e.g. parent consultation afternoon/evening.
After welcoming everyone and introducing ourselves, I outlined the aims and structure of the session. The starter activity meant individuals were involved from the onset; they had to set themselves five goals that they hoped to achieve by the end of the afternoon. I also prompted them to think about teaching and learning in their own school by posing the following questions:
- When do you use maps?
- What different types of maps do you use?
- Where do you get the maps that you use?
- Who do you use them with?
- Why do you make use of maps?
- How important is it to use maps with pupils?
This led to quite a lively discussion. It was encouraging to learn that maps are frequently being used in school; however, hopefully, they would gain some innovative teaching and learning ideas from the remainder of the session.
Next, I ‘unpicked’ the geography and history programmes of study to see where maps are referenced or may prove useful and shared what the leading subject associations, namely the (Geographical Association [GA] and Historical Association [HA]), have to say.
In order to ensure teachers remained attentive, I built in time for some practical work! Using Ordnance Survey’s fantastic ‘Map reading made easy peasy!’ booklets (see https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/docs/leaflets/map-reading-made-easy.pdf) and local Ordnance Survey maps, we enhanced our mapwork skills, revisiting the following:
- OS map symbols.
- Direction (compass; Ship Ahoy! game).
- Four- and six-figure grid references.
- Scale (distance).
- Relief (height and shape of the land – contour lines; spot heights).
Teachers found this hugely beneficial and certainly felt much more confident by the end of this activity.
Since they had worked hard, I felt it was my turn to have some input! I shared numerous resources and ideas as to how maps can be effectively used in the teaching and learning of geography and history from EYFS to Year 6. This included a ‘play’ with the incredible ‘Digimap for Schools’ (http://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/) as I had managed to gain access to an extended demo version from my contacts at the University of Edinburgh/EDiNA. Whilst a couple of teachers already subscribe to this facility, several had not come across it before and were suitably impressed. Those that were familiar with it were introduced to a few new features and support materials linked to the tool. I had done a degree of reflecting prior to our meeting so that I was able to showcase examples of how I have used maps with children of all ages in geography and history lessons over the past year or so. Teachers are so pressurised in schools, so I deemed it essential to provide half a hour or so for them to peruse these suggestions over a coffee/tea/fruit juice accompanied by a piece of yummy chocolate cake and a few Heroes chocolates!
Once all were revitalised and refreshed, I projected a slide with a number of potential sites for local fieldwork or visits and highlighted a funding opportunity, namely the Frederick Soddy Trust Schools Award (http://www.soddy.org/schools.htm), to support such activities. Around three years ago, I helped Hempsted C of E Primary School (http://www.hempsted.gloucs.sch.uk/) submit an application, and following their success, led a ‘geography day’ for their Year 2 class at the time at the Christian Adventure Centre at Viney Hill in the beautiful Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire (http://vineyhilladventure.org/). Attendees were greatly impressed by the subsequent written report and audio and visual evidence that was collated and were really keen to offer something similar to pupils within their schools. I think I may have to get my ‘thinking hat’ on and ‘creative juices’ flowing once again!
Finally, we returned to our starter activity to assess whether their initial goals had been achieved and add their ‘concluding comments’, including a ‘summing up of today’s session in five words or a couple of sentences’ and ‘suggestions of themes for future meetings’. A number of their attempts can be viewed below:
‘A great refresher on the use of OS maps. Lots of great links, ideas – loved the ‘imaginary lands’ book!’
‘Great CPD for practical activities and ideas. Helpful refresher of map skills.’
‘Informative; engaging; practical; take away ideas.’
‘Building confidence using maps quickly.’
‘Informative; hands-on; varied; engaging; inspiring.’
‘Great use of maps and understanding of how to use them.’
‘Very helpful; confidence building – every day is a school day!’
‘Thank you so much for your help yesterday.’
‘I gained a lot from yesterday’s meeting; I went home and read up on 6 figure grid references!’
Suggestions for future themes:
- assessment in geography;
- how to be an outstanding geography leader – how to feedback to staff at school;
- leading and promoting a geographical enquiry;
- fieldwork/taking learning outside the classroom;
- practical experience – doing a lesson;
- what a good geography lesson should look like (when doing a lesson observation in school).
I will do my utmost to try and accommodate some of the above suggestions in our next Primary Humanities Subject Leaders’ Network meeting.
Make sure you save the date of our next gathering on your new calendar: 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm on Tuesday 29th January 2019 (venue to be confirmed).
Hope to see you there!