A teaching and learning inventory



Parental Engagement in Y11

Having trialled a version of a ‘How to support your child through Y11’ handout to give out at parents evening, I’ve continued it again this year with some additions. I’ve always thought about improving parental engagement and it is something my school does across KS3/4, especially in supporting revision and preparation for GCSE’s. This handout is something that we hope will give our parents some guidance and understanding of their child’s year ahead and they they can support them.  It includes examination information, key dates for 2018/9, revision information and communication opportunities.

Having read an article about the power of parental engagement and its impact on progress (Can’t remember where though!), I had a look at the EEF, who are producing a report in Winter 2018 (EFF Guidance Reports), and one of their earliest suggestions is ‘offering advice on improving the home learning environment’. This is something our school has been doing through Revision Evenings for Y11 Parents/Carers, and our weekly Y11 Bulletin kindly compiled by our Head of Year @MissZEvans. This information, alongside consistent feedback on our students progress, both formally and informally, we hope will really help our students & parents alike.

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Therefore this sheet will be provided with our history bundle at Parents Evening, including our homemade revision guides, mock exam guidance and our ‘how to revise in history’ sheet (How do we revise for history?).

Revision handout here:Y11 Parents Evening Handout 2018

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Whole Class Feedback & Crib Sheet Handout

As part of our first Meols Cop High Research Conference I finally had the balls to speak about the Crib Sheet & whole class feedback after a 18 months of refining it.

Below is the handout I produced to accompany my session, hope it can be useful in helping clear up how it works or if you need to persuade or explain to others 🙂

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Copy available on dropbox to download, link below

Full Cycle – Saying goodbye to Year 11

As we near the completion of another school year, I find myself at the end of my first ‘full cycle’ – taking a class of students through from Year 9 to 11 where they have sat their final two exams in History. For some, this is the end of their History education, for others this is a stepping stone into further education.

I still remember my first day as an NQT and meeting this class the first time, them not knowing me and me not knowing them and attempting to carve a relationship through our love of history. I remember the advice given to me by mentors, well wishers and anyone else I spoke to in panic in the final weeks of my summer, telling me, “No smiling until Christmas” and “Show them who’s in charge from day one.” With these words ringing in my ears, this was exactly how I treated Year 9 that first day and for the first few weeks. Obviously, being a new teacher and new to the school, they pushed the boundaries and I pushed back. I still remember the arguments over writing in silence and their note taking speed, a student eating so many marshmallows she could not respond to my questions and the what felt like constant seating re-arrangements to keep on top of chatter. I’m sure they thought I was horrible, this was later confirmed on innumerable occasions; “Sir, I still remember that time you screamed at us for just turning around.” However, I can truthfully say in hindsight that the advice was invaluable. Whilst being unsuccessful in holding out on the smile until Christmas (I probably lasted one lesson at most), the clear expectations from day one set me up for even better classroom management, building relationship with the students.

Having taught for nearly three years now, I have met plenty of classes and I can not say I have found one that I ‘clicked’ with, like this particular class. For roughly 100 lessons, we discussed history, politics, current affairs, favourite crisp flavours and hiphop music. Whilst they had to listen incessantly to me talking about either my wedding, my honeymoon or most recently my daughter. I must have laughed every lesson (they certainly did not at my Dad jokes) and they certainly kept me in my place with critique of my lessons, online ‘teacher group chat’ ( AKA Twitter) and even my style/accent. I suppose you would call it ‘banter’. I know parents at parents evening called it that, but it worked for us. From Year 9 onwards, I rarely had to raise my voice or use the behaviour system (bar the odd occasions with orange peel, mobile phones or my whiteboard clicker). We formed a mutual understanding that worked for us. Perhaps it was the conversations in class or the chats in the corridor, pep talks at break or advice after the lesson that made us work so well. I hope deep down they knew I cared, both how they did in history and also about their wellbeing. It was not all laughs and jokes, this relationship and close understanding helped me understand the gaps in their knowledge, their strengths and weaknesses and build bridges to find a way to developing better historians.

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about behaviour management this past year and for me, it is the relationships I build with students that underpins everything in my classroom.

This is not to say the past three years were not tough at times. For example, confusion over Hitler’s rise to Chancellor and Dictator, difficulties differentiating between the Abyssinian and Manchurian Crises, Diem Bien Phu and even on the day of the final exam some could not remember how to answer the American 10 mark question. There were also moments where I made mistakes such as attempting to introduce revision files in Y10 and my disastrous first efforts at “pick your own group” groupwork (rookie error, I know). As they learnt from me, I did from them and I’m a better teacher for it. 

I will be finishing my third year, looking forwards to results proud of the fact that our  revision attendance was the highest we ever had, proud that 4-5 students ‘turned it around’ in Year 11, proud that many have been inspired to take history at college, proud known ‘write off’ students engaged and loved history, proud they took on anything I threw at them and proud how they took to interleaving revision and the fortnightly exams I enforced in Year 11. 

As I drove home on Friday night after Prom, the realisation dawned on me that our time was up. I should really thank these students, for giving me a chance from day one,  for teaching me as much as I taught them and for affirming to me that at 30 years old, I have finally found the career for me. I will I’m sure remember this year group fondly, and I’d like to think they’ll remember me, if only for the stripey socks!

So, here’s to my first full cycle, and onto the next…



Knowledge Organiser Breakfast Jam

Another ‘Breakfast Jam’ that I presented in was our ongoing use of Knowledge Organisers in history. Below are the slides used in the reflections and discussions of our trial so far.


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Breakfast Jam Knowledge Organisers


Marking Crib Sheet Breakfast Jam

Last week I presented at a school ‘Breakfast Jam’ (T&L sharing sessions) on my findings so far after using the marking crib sheet and using verbal feedback for coming up to one year.

Below is the ppt. slides on what I presented , we discussed and my thoughts.

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Assessment Crib Sheets

Following on from the marking crib sheet, I have begun to use an amended version for assessments, the Assessment Crib Sheet. Whilst this is still in the development phase (as to what needs to be included), I thought I would share the progress of this. 


It is very similar to the marking crib sheet but lends a greater focus to assessments and the feedback that I give in the lesson after. I must acknowledge the following other historians who have been working on their own versions and providing detailed class feedback after assessments (@bennewmark and @kenradical). 

The sheet is rather self-explanatory but I thought I would clarify the WAGOLL moments, which is simply students’ work which I photograph or type up as examples of great work. These are then shared with the class and they are annotated/picked apart to identify why there are so good. Also – the WWW and EBI code section is to be used for my/student tracking of the skills in history – the most common two codes informs me of progress and targets for the next lessons – I will be blogging about this soon 🙂

Where this sheet differs from my other crib sheet is that this sheet is solely for the teachers use and is not shared with students.  I do create an assessment feedback PowerPoint that I spend an hour completing with students, which included verbal feedback, activities, redrafting, literacy checks and tracking, but the individual sheet goes into my planning document. This will be included in another post on assessments and feedback shortly.

Please seen example of one that I completed this morning whilst marking a the first Y7 assessment of the year and a blank template -> Free – Assessment Crib Sheet


DIY Visual Hexagons

I really love @Jivespins’s Visual Hexagon idea, and having seen someone else drawing on blank hexagons I thought about trying DIY visuals hexagons with classes.

Very simply, pupils design their own visual hexagons and then annotate/link to explain the topic or question. As seen below, these are examples that I trialled with bottom set year 8 today and they really enjoyed it and were able to explain multiple causes of the population growth.

Processed with MOLDIV
Processed with MOLDIV

With two pupils for challenge, I got each pupils to first draw their pictures to represent the population growth in the IR, and then asked them to swap and use the pictures to explain their own understanding.

I will be doing again tomorrow with 8 set 2, and asking the to peer work and then draw links and explain in red pen to show the multi-causality.

Please find attached resource:

DIY Visual Hexagons

Make or Bake Homework

Our NQT @ came up with this excellent project for our KS3 students; Make or Bake!

Simply, students are given the choice to make or bake a historical artefact based on a topic we have studied (the Romans and WW2 above), they also produce a guide/fact sheet to accompany why they have chosen to design their item.

A really easy, popular and enjoyable homework – we peer asses and get to each cake in the lesson the homework us due.

If you have a go, tweet me some pictures!

AQA Exam Sentence Starters Mat

Simple sentence starters to aid pupils answers for the AQA Modern World History B Unit 1 and Unit 2 exam questions – nice revision aid and for LA students.

Please find attached resource:

Exam Question Sentence Starters

AQA Sentence Starters AQA Sentence Starters 2

Literacy – How do great historians write?

To improve literacy across the department, we began to use these sheets at the start of this year – student’s would stick these on the back of their exercise book and use during assessments/exams/planning to develop their extended writing pieces.

How do great historians write?

Pupils’ enjoy them and they are great at building confidence amongst the weaker students.

Please find attached resource:

GCSE Literacy Back Page



Peer Marking Stickers

I have a real love for stickers, an obsession you may call it, but I find them so useful for myself and the students.

One simple sticker I created was a peer marking sticker for GCSE questions. Where students highlight the key parts of the sticker that matches the answer they are assessing – for example with AQA Unit 2 6 mark questions where students are required to simple write 3 PEEL paragraphs in their explanation answer.

Sticker Marking 1

Pupils find it really easy to mark and it helps them to identify the key components to an answer.

Please find attached sticker template, you will need the 12 stickers per page template

6 Mark Question Sticker


Significance Stars

A version of the fantastic resource made by @aheadofhistory originally.

Can be used to rank the importance of factors, GREAT significance criteria or the extent of change and continuity. Simply, pupils rank between 1-5 and put a cross on the line to show this and then match them up.

I have recently used at KS4 to look at AQA 12 mark questions and then writing a conclusion.

Significance Star 1

Please find attached resource:

Significance Star

Magnify a Source

As we have a 3 year GCSE, we started the new GCSE specification in September (eventually moving to Edexcel in January, but thats another story) and have spent the last year working on developing our source skills for KS3/Ks4.

Having seen and used laminates before for sources/questioning I feel they work well, especially with LA pupils. I have been trialling across all years, even my Y10 found it useful for some of the trickier sources as part of their current AQA course.

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Also a good simple way to revise sources, wipe clean and start again!

Please find attached resource:

Magnify a Source

Tip – Cut out the circle with a craft knife and then laminate!

Pie Chart Analysis

This was one of those random ideas that came to me when I wasn’t working but it made me grab my laptop to create it. I wanted to find a way for pupils to visualise the importance of a range of things, and dividing space on a pie chart to signify this worked so well. Pupils use it to then explain the importance of the different parts in relation to the enquiry question.

See below results – I trialled two different styles of pie chart

See below instructions used with Y9.

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Please find attached resource.

Pie Chart Activity


My first use of the Solo Taxonomy when I was an NQT was finding a way to link it to hexagons for an observation – came up with this super cheesy ‘Are you a hex-pert’ activity (kids still laugh whenever I use it!).

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I simply use it with visual hexagons to push students to develop their thinking and application of knowledge along the solo taxonomy route.

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Pupils complete the task given, using success criteria and this is peer assessed using the hex-pert criteria. They grade the work using a B/S/G hexpert sticker and then improvements are made in red.

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Please find attached ppt. slide and stickers (to be printed on 65 per sheet address labels)

Hex-Pert Hexpert Stickers

Comic Strips

Another favourite activity of mine introduced by the excellent John Mitchell @jivespin.

Comic Strips created using Halftone 2 can provide a great way to consolidate learning, explain impact/causation/consequence or simple to provide a revision resource.

Comic Strip 3

Significance Hexagons

Developing pupils’ skills in the key concepts (causation, change & continuity, significance etc.) was something that was drilled into me during my PGCE at Edge Hill and it is something I love to teach still. Luckily, there is a wide variety of frameworks out there, especially in Teaching History, which prove essential in teaching these concepts.

For some reason, I particularly enjoy teaching significance and with the current love-in with hexagons, I create Significance Hexagons.Using the G.R.E.A.T criteria by Rob Phillips, pupils use sources and information to complete the hexagon with evidence from each to answer the question ‘How significant was D-Day?’. This was used as preparation for an assessment the next lesson.

Significance Hexagon 2

See attached example for D-Day

D-Day Hexagon

Switch It! 

A further peer assessment activity I use with GCSE pupils is ‘Switch It! It works perfectly with smaller 4 mark questions which pupils often fail to get full marks on due to a lack of subject knowledge.

The activity is rather simple as you can see from the picture above -pupils sit opposite each other, answer one of the questions and then switch the sheet around to peer assess and add improvements. This is then photocopied so each pupil has a copy.

Attached is ppt. and worksheet example.

Switch It      Switch It Worksheet


Significance Circles

We’ve been working on ways to improve our GCSE pupil’s evaluation on the bigger AQA exam questions, 10 and 12 markers which ask pupils to assess the importance of one event in relation to another or overall topic. For example, what was the most significant reason that Hitler was allowed to become dictator in 1934, or how was the most significant method that the Nazis used to control Germany.

Working on this skill really helps to push pupils’ marks up towards L3/L4 answers and the activity Significance Circles allows pupils to work on this skills, whilst ranking importance compared to other factors.

Significance Circles 2

The activity is very simple as you can see above, pupils choose a size of circle in relation to its importance and then write their explanation why it is so significant. To push this to another level you can draw/explain links between the different circles.

This is an excellent resource for revision and any lesson across KS3/KS4

Having shared this on twitter i’ve seen some excellent results so far from @CHShistory, @historicalsandoand @kneller88 – great work!

Attached resource

Significant Circles



Create a Tarsia

Another great use of a Tarsia is for students to make their own for revision and to test their peers and themselves. We often do this throughout the year and students’ put them into their revision folders.

Create a Tarsia

Do not get students to write questions on the outer edges, or they wont match!

Please find attached Tarsia template – print on A3. Use 2 to create a hexagon shape.

Tarsia Template A3


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