Virtual Primary Humanities Network meeting (Term 6)

ConsultancyWorkshops

Trying to fit a virtual Primary Humanities Network meeting into a busy Term 6 is not easy, but we managed it!  Our ‘real time’ numbers were slightly less than usual as several regulars were away on residential trips, could not gain cover due to sickness among colleagues or had Parents’ Consultation afternoons, Sports Day, etc. to attend.  Nevertheless, there was much sharing of best practice and discussion among this afternoon’s contingent, which, hopefully, those listening/watching later will be able to pick up on too.

The theme of today’s event was ‘Reflecting geographies‘, with reference also made to SEND and greater depth in geography after requests in the ‘concluding comments’ at our previous meeting and some interesting conversations taking place in teacher-focused Facebook groups.

Before we embarked upon the starter for today’s session, I formally introduced and welcomed everyone, including Mark Stead, National Learning Manager for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), and his colleagues, Sue Belej, Learning and Engagement Manager and Charlotte Levene, Generation Wild Project Manager, based at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre (https://www.wwt.org.uk/).  Mark, Sue and Charlotte spent approximately fifteen minutes talking about the successes and future developments of their Generation Wild project, as well as other educational events and activities on offer specifically at Slimbridge.  The Generation Wild project is a wonderful initiative, which many schools are eligible to access for FREE; do check out the following website to discover more: https://www.generationwild.org.uk.

Next, I outlined the aims and structure of the meeting, namely:

Participants had been forewarned that this would be a highly interactive afternoon and their contributions would be expected!

To begin with, we referred back to the plenary from our previous virtual Primary Humanities Network meeting and attendees were given the chance to share what they had done and the impacts it had.

Next, it was time for my ‘educational round-up‘, where I directed teachers towards key issues being debated, useful websites and many FREE resources.  These included:

I paused for a few minutes, so that participants could explore these links independently, bookmark relevant ones as ‘favourites’, ask any pertinent questions that they had, add comments to the chat feed, etc.

Then, it was time to reflect.  I launched the following activity to get us thinking,and it clearly did!

I also highlighted how this technique could be utilised with youngsters within the classroom.

Next, we explored ‘What is geography?’ together.

When thinking about their vision for geography, I suggested that teachers had a read of Alan Kinder and Paula Owen’s superb article published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the Geographical Association (GA)’s Primary Geography journal, entitled The new Education Inspection Framework through a geographical lens (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/e6cf4997-e119-43c2-9463-61884be772e2).

Subsequently, we thought about ‘Where is geography?‘.

Many delegates now have ready-made ideas and material to use for the next staff meeting that they need to lead!

In addition, we contemplated ‘What can geography do for us?‘.

Participants were guided towards Julia Tanner’s award-winning article, published in the Spring 2021 edition of Primary Geography, in order to attempt this (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journal-Issue/a5d99686-24e8-41fe-8f69-ca261857c322).  It was wonderful to witness the forthcoming contributions from individuals and interaction that ensued.

I provided a couple of suggestions for activities that teachers might undertake with children too.

I also ‘zoomed in’ on a couple of relevant case studies from the latest edition of Primary Geography, namely Alan Parkinson’s Resetting KS2 geography – a journey and Simone Anderson, Sophie Brack and Lesley Burnett’s Changing the story: planning a place topic (https://www.geography.org.uk/Journals/Primary-Geography).  I projected the introduction from Ofsted’s recent research review for geography as well, drawing teachers’ attention to some common features of a high-quality curriculum (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ofsted-publishes-research-review-on-geography).

After a short break for refreshments, we reconvened to explore SEND and geography.  We looked at references to SEND in Ofsted’s latest research review for geography (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-review-series-geography/research-review-series-geography#pedagogy), on the GA’s website (https://www.geography.org.uk/inclusion-and-adaptation), in the GA’s podcast series (https://geogpod.podbean.com/), in documentation produced by the IoE for PGCE tutors and trainees  (https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/13792/1/geography.pdf) and on Teacher Toolkit’s website (https://schoolecosystem.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/scaffolding-vs-differentiation/).  Alongside this, I made sure that there was time for a degree of reflection:

Much sharing of best practice followed, which was great to see.

The last component of today’s meeting concentrated on greater depth in geography.  Firstly, I introduced the below activity, before displaying a slide with key consultants and teachers’ thoughts on the subject:

Bearing in mind the lengthy discussions and comments in the chat feed, I think this will certainly be an aspect to revisit during a future Primary Humanities Network meeting.  In the interim, I steered teachers towards some useful material (https://www.geography.org.uk/Progression-and-Expectations-in-Geography; https://www.geography.org.uk/write/mediauploads/download/ga%20nc14%20geographical%20knowledge.pdf; https://www.geography.org.uk/write/mediauploads/download/ga%20nc14%20aspects%20plus%20dimensions.pdf; https://www.geography.org.uk/Making-Geography-Happen and https://www.geography.org.uk/Making-Geography-Happen–Teacher-Tips).

I brought the afternoon’s session to a close with our usual task:

Some of attendees’ ‘concluding comments‘ can be found below:

  • Thank you for that useful session. 
  • Resources to support teaching geography.
  • Really helpful ideas and links.  Thank you.
  • Lots of things to explore further!
  • Thought-provoking; helpful resources and ideas.
  • Informative with helpful resources.  Thank you.

Suggestions for possible themes for future Primary Humanities Network meetings included:

  • Maybe more information about the sustainability expectations.
  • Assessment tools for geography in general.
  • How to prove a child is greater depth when they could be fantastic geographers, but not great at recording in books.

Although we missed several of our regulars in ‘real time’ today, I was clearly impressed by the quality and quantity of participants’ contributions and their willingness to share teaching and learning ideas and experiences.

Our first meeting of the next academic year will take place during the third or final week of September, possibly both in person and online.  More details will be posted before we break up for the summer holidays.

 

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