Term 3’s Primary Humanities Network meeting goes virtual once again!


This meeting proved to be very timely; an opportunity for primary teachers to connect with each other and gain some much-needed inspiration and support after two very challenging weeks at the start of Term 3.

The foci for today’s meeting, decided after reviewing the many suggestions provided at our last Primary Humanities Network meeting in November 2020, were ‘Exploring a number of new websites and resources, as well as considering the wide range of cross-curricular links that both geography and history have.

After introducing myself and formally welcoming everyone (some ‘regulars’ and several new faces from across the UK), I outlined the aims and structure of the meeting, namely:

I launched straight into the ‘starter’, which looked at the latest developments in education and highlighted a number of new websites, useful web-links and mostly FREE resources.  These included the following:

All the leading subject associations have been very proactive recently too.  For example, the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) has announced a new series of resources from their ‘Weddell Sea – Education for Antarctic Conservation’ project work, funded by the Flotilla Foundation.  You can visit www.rgs.org/dws for access to interactive resources, a new poster and details about their new Discovering the Weddell Sea Album.  The digital album is available as an app on Windows, iOS and Android, with an associated Instagram campaign to unlock ‘snapshots’ including photographs and information: https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/discovering-the-weddell-sea-education-for-antarc).  They have also advertised a Primary Geography and History Teach Meet, which I am looking forward to attending and presenting at (https://www.rgs.org/events/spring-2021/primary-geography-and-history-teachmeet-(1)/).

The Geographical Association (GA) had some great suggestions in their newsletter last week relating to ‘Everyday geography’, ‘Geography matters’, ‘Members’ magic’, ‘In the News’, ‘GeogPod – series 4’, recommended resources, their Annual Conference 2021 and additional online CPD opportunities, a couple of which I am involved with (https://www.geography.org.uk/events/in-the-know-webinar-series/10598?OccId=15195).

Furthermore, the Historical Association (HA) has increased its support for remote/home learning (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/7/news/3815/primary-resources-to-support-you-during-covid-19). Their ‘Resource sharing hub’ continues to grow (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/resource-sharing-hub-primary).   In addition, the HA have updated a number of their schemes of work and released a couple of new ones (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/resource/6919/scheme-of-work-anglo-saxon-viking-and-scots-sett, https://www.history.org.uk/primary/resource/9985/scheme-of-work-journeys-the-story-of-migration, https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/217/resource/9433 and https://www.history.org.uk/primary/resource/7679).  I highlighted an offer that the Jorvik Viking Centre currently has (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/7/info/3893/jorvik-viking-centre-special-offer-on-virtual-out) and promoted a lecture that the Bristol Branch of the Historical Association is hosting on 27th January centred upon the Vikings.  Their ‘anniversaries in 2021’ web page may give you further inspiration for remote/home learning lessons/activities (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/news/3907/anniversaries-in-2021).  You may also deem it appropriate to do something in conjunction with Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2021 (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/news/3906/holocaust-memorial-day-2021).  Unfortunately, but understandably, the Primary History Quality Mark process has had to be suspended until further notice (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/284/news/3908/quality-mark-temporary-suspension-2021).

The HA has some fantastic virtual CPD planned for the next few months (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/resource-sharing-hub-primary).  A couple of new competitions have been launched too, which may enthuse your pupils  (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/primary-competitions).  In their latest newsletter, they also provided a link to the most recent episode of the BBC History podcast, ‘You’re Dead to Me’, which focuses on the history of chocolate.  From the Mayans to the present day, they look at the culinary and cultural history of Britain’s favourite confectionery (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0874r22).

I set aside fifteen minutes so that participants could bookmark the most relevant websites/web-links/resources and explore them at their leisure.  It also provided an opportunity for me to answer any questions that individuals had and respond to any comments that had been added to the chat feed.  It was lovely to see teachers interacting with each other via the chat feed too, whether it be sharing best practice or giving further advice or reassurance.

Next, we progressed to the ‘main’ section of our meeting.  In order to ensure attendees were engaged fully, I led the following activity, which stimulated their thinking and generated many additions to the chat feed:

I then facilitated a number of ‘break out’ rooms, so that teachers could work in small groups to ‘unpick’ the National Curriculum programmes of study for both geography and history and identify the many cross-curricular links that exist (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239044/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_Geography.pdf and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239035/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_History.pdf).  Participants agreed that there were plenty of links to pursue and areas to still exploit, both within and beyond the classroom.  I then offered a number of suggestions and showcased some case studies of best practice, which promoted such cross-curricular links.

Among these was utilising real-life data, making geography relevant and purposeful and highlighting numeracy/maths links (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/weather-data/).    ‘The Everyday Guide to Primary Geography: Maths’ is superb at exemplifying geography’s links with numeracy/maths and can be purchased via the GA’s shop (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/The-Everyday-Guide-To-Primary-Geography-Maths/9781843774693).  I projected a comprehensive grid, which clearly emphasised mathematical concepts and techniques in geography, as well as a couple of exemplar pages from the book relating to ‘climate zones and biomes’.

I moved on to look at geography and literacy, drawing attention to material on the GA’s website (https://www.geography.org.uk/Primary-geography-and-literacy).  ‘The Everyday Guide to Primary Geography: Story’ is brilliant and a resource that has provided inspiration for many a multi-schools event that I have coordinated (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/Key-stage/Key-stage-2/The-Everyday-Guide-to-Primary-Geography-Story/9781843773290).  I discussed how I had used ‘Mia’s Story’ (pages 24-25) as the stimulus for a Global Learning Programme (GLP) KS2 to KS3 transition project.  I also mentioned a couple of Young Geographers projects; ‘Journeys, place and landscape’ by Austrey Primary School in Warwickshire (https://www.geography.org.uk/Young-Geographers-Project–Austrey-Primary-School-Warwickshire) and ‘What is it like to live in Shelly?’ by Shelley First School in Kirklees, Yorkshire (https://www.geography.org.uk/Young-Geographers-Project–Shelley-First-School-Kirklees).  Not all literature is written, thus I spent some time talking about the use of picture books.  In addition, Teachwire recently released a resource, which explains how Issa Watanabe’s wordless picture book, ‘Migrants’, can give pupils the chance to address an important subject at their own pace (https://www.teachwire.net/teaching-resources/books-for-topics-learn-about-migrants-with-this-wordless-picturebook).  I have found ‘The Everyday Guide to Primary Geography: Art’ to be incredibly useful too; I took some of the ideas based on Sebastiao Salgado’s amazing photography of the Nenets of northern Siberia (pages 16-17) for another Global Learning Programme (GLP) KS2 to KS3 transition project (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/Key-stage/Key-stage-2/The-Everyday-Guide-to-Primary-Geography-Art/9781843773665).  I referenced other multi-schools events that I have steered and plan to deliver, namely one on South America and our ‘connections’ (https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/10/15/lets-go-on-a-scintillating-south-american-adventure/, https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/12/03/off-to-south-america-once-again-virtually-of-course/ and https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/11/28/fancy-taking-part-in-our-next-multi-schools-event-connections/).

The Week Junior’s ‘Schools’ section has many FREE resources centred upon non-fiction text and I suggested that individuals delved into ‘geography’, ‘history’, ‘spoken language’, ‘lesson plans’ and ‘pupil activities’ in particular (https://schools.theweekjunior.co.uk/pupil-activities).  I displayed examples of each so that teachers could see the wide ranging and high-quality resources that are available to download.

A month or so ago, I came across Eduu School’s new initiative, which greatly promotes cross-curricular teaching and learning.  There is a sample unit available to view on their website (https://eduu.boost-learning.com/worth-repeating/screen-1/html/worth-repeating-home.html).  This may be of interest or relevance to schools keen to foster cross-curricular links or wishing to revamp their whole school curriculum offering.

The School Run’s ‘Project Explorer’, formerly known as ‘Homework Gnome’, has some great ideas for cross-curricular enhancement (https://www.theschoolrun.com/welcome-homework-gnome).

Meanwhile, the ‘Primary’ section of the HA’s website has collated its Primary History articles under seven main themes, one of which is entitled ‘cross-curricular/links with other subjects’  (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/module/8754/primary-history-articles-for-the-school-history-su).  Matthew Sossick’s article, ‘Epistemic insights: bringing subject disciplines together to help children answer big questions’, published in Primary History 84, is well worth a read (https://www.history.org.uk/publications/categories/299/resource/9747/primary-history-84).   ‘Teaching epistemic insight goes hand in hand with teaching a broad and balanced curriculum.  It includes building students’ understanding of the ways that different types of disciplinary knowledge can help us to address questions that bridge subjects and disciplines.  (Teaching and Learning about Epistemic Insight brochure – https://crc.up.pt/wp-content/uploads/sites/101/2017/09/epistemic-insight-brochure.pdf)’.  There are several other articles that are listed; although being slightly older, they still have relevance today.

We were also very fortunate to have Ross Young from The Writing for Pleasure Centre join us to publicise some of their class writing projects (https://writing4pleasure.com/class-writing-projects/).  Ross discussed subject discipline writing and writing across the curriculum.  He started with a brief introduction, before outlining their ‘mission’ and showcasing examples of subject discipline writing relating to history, history and geography, then geography.  Furthermore, he spoke about ‘writing in personal response to their learning’, alas ‘The anthology of learning project’, and explored several case studies.  There was certainly plenty for individuals to reflect upon.

After a break for refreshments (again, no home-made cake or tubs of chocolates were on offer … sorry!) and time to investigate some of the afore-mentioned websites, web-links and resources, as well as pose any questions that they had, I brought the meeting to a close with the ‘plenary’ (a reflection activity and feedback).

The PMI activity was initially completed independently, before I led a whole group discussion to determine ‘our reflections’.  Many identified more ‘pluses’ than ‘minuses’ in relation to developing cross-curricular links and had listed several points in their ‘interesting’ column.  ‘Our reflections’ concluded that the development of cross-curricular links had many benefits, but we needed to be careful that geography and history were easily identifiable as specific subjects and that teaching and learning was not ‘watered-down’, but remained rigorous.

Lastly, attendees were asked to provide some feedback; the usual ‘five words or a sentence or two to sum up today’s meeting’ and ‘suggestions for themes for future meetings’.  Some of their ‘concluding comments’ can be found below:

Sum up today’s meeting in five words or a sentence or two’:

‘New ideas, fresh approaches.’

‘Huge range of resources for planning.’

‘An informative meeting full of great resources to check-out and share in school.’

‘Informative, useful, new resources and links.’

‘Challenging resources, thank you.’

‘Packed with cross curricular resource ideas.’

‘Fresh, innovative resources to stimulate.’

‘Packed with new, useful resources.’

‘Thought provoking; informative; useful resources.’

‘Links I will be exploring!’

‘A great range of resources shared to fit across many areas of the curriculum.’

‘Educational and inspiring.  Lots of great links to explore.’

‘Packed with tools and resources.’

‘Huge thanks as always.’

‘Thank you for all the resources and ideas!’

‘Thanks, Emma, that was great.’

‘Excellent, thank you.’

‘Thank you, Emma, another great session.’

‘Thanks, Emma, brilliant session. Where can we find your blog?’

‘Thank you, Emma!’

‘Thank you so much!’

‘Thanks, Emma, this was really useful.’

‘Thank you for a great session, Emma.’

‘Thank you for the session – it was brilliant and I can’t wait to use some of the ideas you have shared.  It was really nice to talk to other teachers too from around the country – it’s a weird time and the contact was great.  Very glad I treated myself.’

‘Thank you so much.  I was amazed by the wealth of information you shared with us.  It would have taken me so much time to find all of these gems, so I really appreciate that you’ve done this for us and I can now select the links that I feel would benefit my school and our curriculum and try out new resources.  I found this afternoon really valuable and will be joining again.’

‘… thank you for letting me come and speak to your lovely group of committed and knowledgeable teachers.’

Suggestions for themes for future meetings’:

  • Fieldwork ideas.
  • Local links.
  • Making geography and history exciting.
  • Wider school interest.
  • Presenting work in geography.
  • Geography task ideas.
  • Planning for progression in geography and history.
  • Ways of developing locational knowledge.
  • Developing mapwork from EYFS to Upper Key Stage 2.
  • How to stimulate gifted and talented pupils in geography and history.

I will endeavour to incorporate as many of the above interests/requests during our next meeting, which is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday 5th March 2021.  Hope you are able to join us in real time; if not, you may wish to receive a recording of the meeting, all the accompanying materials, a copy of the chat feed and detailed blog post report after the event to peruse and listen to at a convenient time.

Take care, stay safe and healthy.


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