Time for some CPD for me!

CPD For Me

I always look forward to David Weatherly’s training days as they leave me feeling enthused and inspired. The theme for today’s event was ‘writing and resourcing high-quality enquiries (EYFS to Year 6) in geography and history‘. David has a wealth of experience within this area having written Harper Collins’ Primary Connected Geography and Primary Connected History series, which both promote enquiry-led, outcomes-driven learning in a big way, as well as resources for many other organisations and publishers.

A core element of high-quality provision in geography and history is teaching and learning, which enables pupils to build substantive knowledge through the disciplinary traditions, conventions and practice of the subjects.  Creating well designed, resourced and rigorous investigations supports pupils to know, recall and understand more as they master and apply disciplinary knowledge through working as young geographers and historians.  With this in mind, the day proposed to look at how pupils from EYFS to Year 6 can be supported to develop the breadth and depth of their substantive knowledge, in often sophisticated and nuanced ways, through structured and guided enquiries that allow them to reach evidence-based conclusions.

By the end of the day, it was hoped that we would:

  • be confident about what disciplinary knowledge is in geography and history.
  • understand the constructivist paradigm of learning that underpins the disciplinary traditions of geography and history.
  • know how to design, write and resource engaging and challenging, structured and guided learning enquiries for EYFS to Year 6 that avoid cognitive overload.
  • be familiar with a number of learning enquiries from EYFS to Year 6, which exemplify these key aspects of design.
  • be aware of the situation regarding copyright when sourcing learning materials.
  • have had a chance to evaluate our current provision of learning through enquiry.
  • have identified one area of current subject content where learning might be enhanced through developing a more explicit pedagogy of enquiry.

David began by formally welcoming everyone and introducing himself. There were around 25 delegates on board, with varying levels of experience within teaching and from all corners of the UK. Many contributed willingly throughout the day by unmuting themselves during open discussions or via the chat feed. This ensured that the day moved at a good pace and facilitated a degree of sharing of best practice and networking too.

During the first session, David explored progression in geography and history, disciplinary knowledge in both subjects and the ten stages of designing, writing and resourcing enquiries. He walked us through a Year 5/Year 6 history enquiry with a focus on extending chronological knowledge beyond 1066. The overriding question to be investigated was ‘Why has Richard the reputation of being England’s most infamous king?‘. This was supported by six lessons, each having an ancillary question to answer. David emphasised the importance of using real sources in history, rather than cartoon-like or created ones. In fact, all of the sources that we engaged with could have been used with Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 students too. We also looked at an example of a summative assessment tallied to the end points of learning.

After a short comfort break, David chaired an open discussion. We were prompted to contemplate where we were at in terms of our current provision and to identify a possible point for development. I decided to consider how our virtual primary geography Amazon-themed workshop could be developed for use with secondary-aged students, embracing an enquiry approach to learning. It was really interesting to hear what was happening in schools across the UK and individuals’ recent experiences of Ofsted and deep dives in geography.

We then continued our review of examples of structured and guided enquiries. David took us through a Year 4/Year 5 geography enquiry with a focus on weather and natural hazards – tornadoes. ‘Why are Michael and Jess digging a hole in their garage?‘ was again answered through six lessons, each headed with an ancillary question. I had been through this enquiry at a previous event that David had run. It introduces pupils to different types of maps, encourages them to work with data sets and analyse and interpret the results, as well as integrating literacy.

Following a slightly lengthier break for lunch, we were joined by Sheena Wright, an expert in Early Years. Sheena highlighted the increasing amount of geography being done in the Early Years and how it is important that this is communicated to Key Stage 1 teachers to ensure progression. David then showed us a EYFS/Year 1 geography enquiry, with a focus on streams and rivers. A number of lines of enquiry were suggested here and it was great to see plenty of evidence of fieldwork too. I had come across this documentation at a recent training that David and Sheena had delivered, but a few different activities within it were showcased this time. I particularly liked David’s suggestion regarding the book, ‘A river‘ by Marc Martin; one of my all-time favourites as well!

David briefly referred to a Year 2 history enquiry, which focused on significant people, events and places in the past. The overriding question, ‘What does it means for someone or something to ‘make history’?‘ was explored over three lessons, one concentrating on the monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III), another on a female scientist (Marie Curie), and the last one on a place (Knap of Hower on the island of Papa Westray in the far north of the Orkney Islands in Scotland).

In the final part of the day, we spent some time discussing assessment, learning organisers and end points of learning. David emphasised the difference between objectives and end points of learning, plus learning organisers and knowledge organisers.

We also thought about resourcing any enquiries that we might develop ourselves. David was forthcoming with many tips; sharing his ‘go to’ websites and those to be cautious about. He also talked about copyright; how to acknowledge sources correctly and any restrictions that we needed to be aware of.

David concluded by reinforcing the key takeaways from today. Enquiry-based learning is embedded strongly in a paradigm of learning, a philosophy of education. In history and geography, it is not about gaining a right answer like in mathematics; instead, it is about considering all possibilities. Enquiry-led learning is where disciplinary knowledge evolves.

All in all, a very worthwhile and enjoyable training. I look forward to putting some of these ideas into practice in the not too distant future.

Many thanks, David.

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