It was lovely to see, albeit virtually, many familiar faces, as well as a few new ones, this afternoon. We were also fortunate to be joined by Glenn Carter, the man behind History Rocks (https://www.history-rocks.com/).
After welcoming everyone, I outlined the aims and structure of the meeting, namely:
As there was so much to get through during the meeting, I swiftly moved on to the ‘starter’. Here, I looked at some of the latest developments in education, especially those relating to geography and history, such as:
- Ofsted on the web and social media;
- 9 picture book activities for nursery children (https://www.teachearlyyears.com/learning-and-development/view/9-picturebook-activities-for-nursery-children);
- Reading Spine – Doug Lemov’s inspired reading list and lesson plans for EYFS-Year 6, providing inspiration for new class reading books, perhaps? (https://www.teachwire.net/teaching-resources/reading-spine-doug-lemov-inspired-reading-list-for-eyfs-y6#login-box24);
- Just Imagine proports that high quality texts are an excellent way to engage children in considering environmental issues. Their suggestions include Song of the Dolphin Boy by Elizabeth Laird, The Wilderness Wars by Julia Green, Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold, The Last Bear by Hannah Gold, Ducks Overboard by Markus Motum and The Tale of a Whale by Karen Swann (https://justimagine.co.uk/). Food waste is an issue close to the heart of Joanne O’Connell, freelance journalist and author of Beauty and the Bin, that was published on the 18th February 2021 by Macmillan. The inaugural Food Waste Action Week runs from 1st to 7th March 2021 too (https://wrap.org.uk/taking-action/citizen-behaviour-change/love-food-hate-waste/key-campaigns/food-waste-action-week);
- The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE)’s Black History booklist, a revised and expanded version for 2020 of their booklist, which highlights Black History across the world and, thus, promotes diversity and ‘cultural capital’. The list has five sections: History; Biographies; Traditional Tales; Fiction for KS2 and upwards; Fiction for KS3 and upwards (https://clpe.org.uk/library-and-resources/booklists/black-history-booklist);
- The Geographical Association (GA)’s updated Early Years and Primary section of their website (https://www.geography.org.uk/Early-Years-and-primary-curriculum);
- ‘Finding hope at a time of crisis’ by Stephen Scoffham, which was published in the latest edition of the GA’s Primary Geography journal (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/Primary-Geography);
- Quick ‘treasure’ hunt ideas and how to make them cross-curricular too (https://www.geography.org.uk/Cross-curricular-primary-geography);
- GeogPod, the GA’s podcast’s Episode 25, in which John Lyon chats to Leanne Chorekdjian-Jojaghaian and Simon Collis about how to make primary geography as exciting and accessible as possible (https://www.geography.org.uk/GeogPod-The-GAs-Podcast);
- An article that appeared in The Guardian newspaper explaining how a tennis-court sized piece of land in Bristol is being turned into a 600-tree forest as part of a nationwide initiative to help re-wild cities across the UK (of particular relevance to our cohort of Gloucestershire/Bristol-based teachers) (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/02/tennis-court-sized-scrap-of-bristol-to-become-tiny-forest). Earth Watch Europe have also launched a project, ‘Grow a tiny forest’ . This may be small scale, but can be very powerful. It would be a great initiative for youngsters to be involved with and see its impact come to fruition (https://earthwatch.org.uk/get-involved/tiny-forests);
- Details about a repeat of the GA’s In the Know webinar series in May and June 2021 – a quick, easy and cost-effective means of enhancing your subject knowledge (https://www.geography.org.uk/events/in-the-know-webinar-series/10598?OccId=15777);
- Information about the GA’s Annual Conference 2021, an event not to be missed! (https://www.geography.org.uk/GA-Annual-Conference-and-Exhibition);
- Reference to the Spring 2021 edition of the GA’s Primary Geography journal – how the superb book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, with its themes of empathy, compassion and thinking deeply about how we live in and with the world, could be used within geography and ‘Where the world is Covid-19?’ by Anne Dolan and Joe Usher, illustrating a very pertinent ‘geography in the News’ link (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/Primary-Geography);
- Reference to the Spring 2021 edition of the GA’s Magazine – ‘How Census 2021 is a geographical event that we should all be part of’ written by Alan Parkinson (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/GA-Magazine);
- A fabulous fairy tale, which describes the transformation of a hard, mean city to a green paradise through the discovery of a bag of acorns. Heart-warming! Listen to it and share with others (https://www.bbc.co.uk/ideas/videos/the-girl-who-changed-the-world-with-an-acorn/p08v4r0t);
- Thriving with Nature, a guide for everyone, produced by WWF-UK in conjunction with the Mental Health Foundation, which looks at making the most of the UK’s natural spaces for our mental health and well-being (https://bit.ly/2JriJoU);
- Teaching Case Studies with Google Earth, a website designed with the vision of establishing a bank of Google Earth visits to help give students a sense of place by taking a virtual tour around locations of great interest to geographers (https://earthcasestudies.wordpress.com);
- The British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s booklet, which aims to inspire the public to make their gardens hedgehog-friendly and recruit their neighbours to create Hedgehog Streets in their community (https://bit.ly/38GYXhT);
- The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)’s ‘Pedestrian First: Tools for a Walkable City’ initiative (https://www.itdp.org/publication/walkabilitytool/);
- The Royal Geographical Society with IBG (RGS-IBG)’s forthcoming events for teachers (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teacher-cpd); ‘News roundup’ (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/news-roundup/), ‘Geography Directions’ (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/geography-directions/) and 39 Ways to Save the Planet (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/39-ways-to-save-the-planet/);
- Digimap for Schools’ Resource Centre, with its ever-growing ‘New resources’ and ‘Locational knowledge’ sections (https://dfsresources.edina.ac.uk/). For those who are unfamiliar with this tool or might need to refresh themselves, there is a recording of a Digimap for Schools CPD session here: https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/?categories=GIS,Keystage1,Keystage2;
- The ‘Primary’ section of geography southwest’s website has had content and several blog posts added recently (https://www.geographysouthwest.co.uk/primary/);
- An exemplar unit, Amazing Islands: Are Humans Improving the World?, from Eduu School, (https://eduu.boost-learning.com/amazing-island-signup-access/screen-1/html/amazing-islands-home.html);
- DOGO news, a useful website for finding ‘geography in the News’ items (https://www.dogonews.com/);
- The News Literacy Network’s ‘Tuesday News Day’ initiative, which is great for highlighting the relevance and importance of geography (https://literacytrust.org.uk/news/get-involved-tuesday-news-day/);
- The Edit, a storytelling challenge unlocking opportunity for young people of all backgrounds in the digital world with a climate change theme and run in conjunction with Sky and Adobe (https://nationalschoolspartnership.com/initiatives/the-edit/);
- A Design Thinking Project, a collaboration between the World’s Largest Lesson and Miroslava Silva, a teacher at the International School of Delft, which puts students’ curiosity at the centre of learning and asks them to develop radical solutions for green economies (https://worldslargestlesson.globalgoals.org/resource/design-thinking-project/);
- CPD training opportunities offered by Wicked Weather Watch aimed at raising awareness of the impacts of climate change within the Arctic (https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/schools/), as well as a whole range of awesome experiments to get pupils ‘hands-on’ and curious about climate science (great to tie in with British Science Week 2021, which runs from 5th to 14th March) (https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/get-active/further-info-draft-page/);
- World Water Day on 22nd March 2021 will focus on water and climate change and how the two are inextricably linked (https://globaldimension.org.uk/events/world-water-day/2021-03-22/);
- The controversy surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, another example of ‘geography in the News’ (https://economistfoundation.org/resources/);
- The latest ‘Send My Friend to School’ campaign pack (https://act.sendmyfriend.org/campaignpack2021);
- A newly-updated scheme of work from the Historical Association (HA) (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/resource/7484/scheme-of-work-significant-individuals-at-key-sta); links to their ‘diversity in the primary history curriculum’ webinar series (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/668/resource/10035/film-what-is-diversity-within-the-primary-history); a couple of articles from the Spring 2021 edition of their Primary History journal, one of which centres on Gloucestershire and the other a local history project based around WWII (https://www.history.org.uk/publications/resource/10023/take-one-day-undertaking-an-in-depth-local-enquir and https://www.history.org.uk/publications/resource/10024/belmonts-evacuee-children-a-local-history-projec); funded bursaries for a small number of primary schools in East Anglia wishing to complete the Primary History Quality Mark (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/quality-mark); how to get children and young people interested in a subject or to raise awareness about a particular issue by referring to historical anniversaries (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/resource/9676/historical-anniversaries-calendar); upcoming CPD for primary teachers (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/789/news/3902/your-primary-cpd-calendar-spring-2021) and updates about their Annual Conference in May 2021 (https://www.history.org.uk/aboutus/news/3919/ha-conference-2021-goes-virtual);
- Recommendations of educational podcasts for children mentioned in the Weekend supplement of The Times newspaper recently, such as BBC Radio 4’s Homeschool History (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/m000hmmf), Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (https://podnews.net/podcast/1350594046) and National Geographic’s ‘Greeking Out’ podcast episodes (https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/books/zeus-the-mighty/podcast/episodes/);
- A Victorian Inventions Resource Pack for Key Stage 2 STEM (https://www.teachwire.net/teaching-resources/victorian-inventions-resource-pack).
Next, Glenn gave teachers a whistle-stop tour of Mosaik3D’s new games and tools (https://www.mozaweb.com/mozaik3D). Delegates were impressed by these features and gained some great ideas from Glenn as to how they might realise Mosaik3D’s potential in the classroom.
Afterwards, I paused for ten minutes to allow participants to digest some of the material, bookmark websites and download resources that were of particular relevance to them.
The ‘main’ part of the meeting concentrated on support for remote/home-learning, before highlighting alternatives to trips/visits and ideas for local fieldwork. I allocated individuals to ‘break out’ rooms to discuss their experiences of remote/home-learning, identifying what went well (WWW) and even better if (EBI). They were also requested to select one resource/website that they would recommend to those present. On their return to the main session, teachers were asked to add their suggested resource/website to the chat feed, so that we all had a bank of useful sources to draw upon in the near future. Among their suggestions were:
- EYFSHome (https://www.eyfshome.com/);
- Topmarks Education (good for interactive games to play for free) (https://www.topmarks.co.uk/);
- Nearpod (https://nearpod.com/);
- Keystage History (https://www.keystagehistory.co.uk/);
- Blooket (https://www.blooket.com/);
- Digimap for Schools (really good for showing changes over time; to develop assignments; an online UK & global atlas) (https://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/);
- Mozaik3D (that Glenn just talked about) (https://www.mozaweb.com/);
- Virtual museum tours (British Museum and V&A) (https://blog.britishmuseum.org/how-to-explore-the-british-museum-from-home/ and https://www.vam.ac.uk/);
- Know Your Place (http://www.kypwest.org.uk/);
- Oddizzi (https://www.oddizzi.com/);
- Historical Association (http://www.history.org.uk);
- Geographical Association (http://www.geography.org.uk).
I then directed attendees towards a number of documents relating to evidence gathered about remote/home-learning. Schools Week recently published an article detailing the main points from Ofsted’s latest report, giving their findings about remote education and the effects on teachers, pupils and parents (https://www.risingstars-uk.com/blog/february-2021/ofsted-s-remote-learning-report-and-eduu-school). It was highlighted that:
- the switch to remote education has increased teachers’ workload;
- there was difficulty aligning the curriculum with remote education;
- a third of teachers were not confident delivering remote lessons;
- there were feedback problems as teachers could not see body language;
- video lessons may offer a solution to shortage subjects and snow days;
- schools went ‘out of their way’ to provide laptops.
Teacher Toolkit has some great remote teaching tips here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZXDx-x66zY and https://www.teachertoolkit.co.uk/product/remote-teaching/.
Teachit has also published several useful documents on their website, e.g. 10 evidence-based approaches for remote learning (https://www.teachitprimary.co.uk/resources//10-evidence-based-approaches-for-remote-learning/36534); 10 ways to build relationships with students remotely (https://www.teachitprimary.co.uk/resources//10-ways-to-build-relationships-with-students-remotely/36513); eight ideas for planning home learning activities (https://www.teachitprimary.co.uk/resources/f/languages/computing/eight-ideas-for-planning-home-learning-activities/35891) and 10 things parents want teachers to know about home learning (https://www.teachitprimary.co.uk/resources/10-things-parents-want-teachers-to-know-about-home-learning/36520).
In addition, the GA is helping continue geography education at home (https://www.geography.org.uk/Announcements-and-updates/how-the-ga-is-helping-continue-geography-education-from-home). There is a variety of teaching resources to access (https://www.geography.org.uk/Teaching-Resources). Besides, there is a specific section of their website dedicated to ‘Geography from home’ (https://www.geography.org.uk/Geography-from-home).
Furthermore, the RGS-IBG has a wealth of free online resources, lectures and podcasts, as well as extended resources available as part of their School Membership package. Teachers, students and their parents can utilise the resources to support online and home-based lessons and to provide further reading or watching (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/). They too have a section of their website dedicated to ‘Geography at Home’ (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/geography-at-home/) and ‘Geography at Home Worksheets’ aimed at geography teachers looking for quick tasks or a little inspiration (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/geography-at-home-worksheets/).
Another leading subject association, the HA, has shown its support to teachers during the current pandemic. It established a ‘Resource Sharing Hub’, a place to find quality home-learning resources that you can have confidence in. New resources added in recent weeks include chronological timeline research tasks on World War II and the Anglo-Saxons, plus tasks for learning about the Olympics – ancient and modern (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/resource-sharing-hub-primary).
And, not forgetting Early Years! A great article appeared recently on Teach Early Years’ website, providing some ideas as to how to make online learning fun. Scroll down to the section entitled ‘Understanding the World’, which has particular relevance to geography and history (https://www.teachearlyyears.com/learning-and-development/view/ict-activities-for-eyfs-how-to-make-make-online-learning-fun).
Various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have also helped to facilitate remote/home-learning. For example, Greenpeace has some ready-made resources and lesson plans that can easily be shared and adapted for online learning. There are a range of inspiring resources which can be linked easily to the curriculum. Two of their current highlights are: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Explore-and-Act-Plastic-Pollution-7-11-year-olds.pdf and https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/GP-7-11-Environmental-Worries-Dec.pdf (https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/all-resources/education-resources/). For anyone studying explorers, the Arctic or climate change, there are some short movie clips and resources on Wicked Weather Watch’s website, e.g. https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/get-active/further-info-draft-page/, https://vimeo.com/wickedweatherwatch, https://vimeo.com/502669221, https://vimeo.com/421872106, https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Resource-9_Arctic-map-puzzle_FINAL_Feb17.pdf.
Home-learning support is also on offer from CLPE (https://clpe.org.uk/home-learning-support-clpe). They have collated all of their teaching resources into one place to support primary schools with their home-learning needs. Resources include free teaching plans, videos, book recommendations and online learning opportunities to strengthen literacy teaching.
Free teaching resources and teaching ideas can be gleaned by visiting The School Trip Community’s website (https://theschooltrip.co.uk/teaching-resources/). This is work in progress, but there are many teaching resources, educational packs, educational games, presentations, lesson plans, educational videos and worksheets that can be downloaded and used.
It was then time to move on to a timely theme given the current restrictions placed on schools; alternatives to trips/visits and local fieldwork ideas. In the latest edition of the GA’s Primary Geography journal, Julie Tanner writes about ‘Progression in geographical fieldwork experiences’. Not only does Julia remind us why fieldwork is such a valuable and vital component of high-quality geography, but she also provides us with practical guidance for effective progression. Her framework for progression in geographical experiences is fantastic and should be examined by every Geography Subject Leader. Within the same edition, Deborah Myers explains how a novel approach to fieldwork empowered pupils to think more carefully about their home town of Croydon. What they completed could easily be replicated in other areas of the UK (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/Primary-Geography). I sang the praises of The Everyday Guide to Primary Geography: Local fieldwork and projected extracts from the book with ideas for local fieldwork activities, including one that had given me inspiration for a Year 6 ‘geography day’ and another that had links with both geography and history (https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/The-Everyday-Guide-to-Primary-Geography-Fieldwork/9781843773672).
Furthermore, the RGS-IBG’s website has some suggestions for fieldwork under its ‘Resources for schools’ (https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/?categories=Fieldwork,Keystage1,Keystage2). Ideas for on-site school fieldwork can be found here: https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/ideas-for-on-site-school-fieldwork/. There is one centred upon Gloucester, which could be extremely helpful to teachers based across the whole county of Gloucestershire in actual fact. There are numerous resources for virtual fieldwork too and I directed delegates towards ones that I had used or been particularly impressed by (https://www.rgs.org/research/higher-education-resources/virtual-field/).
I have recently worked with Adriana Meirelles, a professional film maker originating from Brazil, but now based in the UK, to steer and co-deliver several virtual multi-schools events. I played a short movie clip, before linking to blog post reports from our latest ‘amazing Amazon adventures’ (https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/10/15/lets-go-on-a-scintillating-south-american-adventure/ and https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/12/03/off-to-south-america-once-again-virtually-of-course/). The next one is scheduled for Wednesday 24th March 2021 (https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/12/05/fancy-a-virtual-trip-to-south-america/). Five schools have already signed up, so there is just space for one more; do get in touch swiftly if you wish to be part of this event. I also publicised another forthcoming multi-schools event (Wednesday 31st March 2021), which is again hugely topical: joining forces with Rachel Shilston, a former secondary school art teacher and now owner of ‘Inspiring Creativity’ in the Forest of Dean’, to offer an experience entitled ‘From local to global: Exploring our connections’ (https://create2inspire.co.uk/2020/11/28/fancy-taking-part-in-our-next-multi-schools-event-connections/).
Educational establishments within the south west, e.g. particularly those in Chippenham, Bath and Bristol, should look out for Wicked Weather Watch’s Schools Programme 2021, which will be launched just after Easter. It includes speakers, pupil workshops, teacher training and much more. Contact Rhianna to sign up or for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teachwire has some inspiration for virtual school trips too. Their virtual tour and virtual workshop ideas can be accessed here: https://www.teachwire.net/news/virtual-school-trip-try-these-virtual-tour-and-virtual-workshop-ideas.
Not forgetting our History Subject Leaders, I linked to a section of the HA’s website, ‘Resources’, with an array of material they might wish to explore (https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/347/module/8754/primary-history-articles-for-the-school-history-su/9919/resources). For those based in Gloucestershire, I drew their attention to an article that had appeared on Gloucestershire Live’s website last month (https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/gloucester-news/roman-remains-gloucestershire-find-4933381) about the Roman remains to be found within the county and an extract from Discover DeCrypt’s eNews about the ‘most important discovery for decades‘. Owain Hughes, alas that Museum Man, is worth following on Facebook and You Tube too as new content is being added and virtual opportunities offered all the time (https://www.facebook.com/That-Museum-Man-101841218576169 and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCggt56wkKthWG4kCfOoQVvQ?fbclid=IwAR1ORrfbow0YjSXbNiNhxAy6P_44itrLM4AtGofBP5sGhFUl8e6ct3bSICc).
We paused for fifteen minutes or so to allow delegates to explore some of the suggested websites and resources further, as well as pose any questions that they had.
It was then time for the ‘plenary’. Here, participants were asked to complete two activities before I invited attendees to share their thoughts by either unmuting themselves or via the accompanying chat feed:
Some of their ‘concluding comments’ can be found below:
Sum up today’s meeting in five words/a sentence or two:
‘Thank you for yet another fantastic session with lots more to explore.’
‘Interesting; relevant; informative.’
‘Thought-provoking; resourceful; good timing with returning to school.’
‘Masses of inspiration and resources, really informative. Thank you.’
‘Lots of useful resources and information to explore!’
‘Inspiring; informative; a wealth of knowledge.’
‘Full of new interesting resources to try!’
‘Lots to explore and share!’
‘Informative; interesting ideas; thought-provoking.’
‘Relevant; resourceful; inspiring; practical and exciting. Thank you so much!’
‘A very insightful and resource rich session; thought-provoking and informative.’
‘Thank you so much, Emma!’
Possible themes for future Primary Humanities Network meetings:
- Incorporating diversity.
- Sharing high-quality planning for differentiated learning.
- Assessing history and geography.
All in all, an enjoyable and productive end to a very busy week. Good luck for the return of all pupils to school next week. Hopefully, the remainder of the academic year will be a smoother ride. Our next Primary Humanities Network meeting, again virtual in nature, will take place as a twilight session on Thursday 22nd April 2021 and during the afternoon of Friday 30th April 2021, so that it is accessible to as many as possible under the current circumstances. Keep an eye on this blog and your inbox for further details, which will appear shortly.