Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Keeping Track of Geographical Skills

Here's some more organisational resources for you, this time for geographical skills.

When I first started teaching this course I found the sheer number of skills and the requirement to integrate them into lessons throughout the year to be a daunting task, especially because most of the textbooks seemed to skim over them so briefly or even not include them at all. It was hard enough interpreting the rest of the spec and planning lessons for that, let alone ensuring an even distribution of skills throughout the year!

Fortunately, after lots of trial and error and now that we're about the get a whole new A-level I'm finally confident in what I've achieved. One thing that helps me to keep track of which skills I have and haven't done, and which students have and haven't understood/written notes on them is a wall tracker.

Geographical Skills Wall Tracker (GEOG2/4)

The first 3 colums allow me to record the week I covered it in class (if applicable - occasionally we will not cover a skill in class if it's something easy that they should already know from GCSE), the week I set a task on it for homework and whether we've gone over it again after that.

I've done green for AS and blue for A2 and I will tick off each skill for each student when I feel they have understood it. Usually this is when they have completed the weekly skills homework which I set alongside questions on the main topic we are covering in class.

Each week I set a task on Moodle that relates to a skill we covered in class that week or is relevant to what we have covered (I try to integrate it as best I can though this can be challenging to do effectively at times!). After completing the activity (e.g. to draw a pie chart from some data) they are required to fill in the relevant page in their skills booklet (which I have printed as an A5 booklet). This includes how to do the skill, it's strengths and weaknesses and it's usefulness to geography.

Geographical Skills Booklet

Hopefully by the end of the year they will have a full booklet ready to revise for the exams. In the meantime I can track their progress, they can also see how they are doing and hopefully it will give Ofsted some evidence of my skills at organisation and planning and well as proving that I'm embedding some Maths into the course.

In case you are wondering why I have given myself so much marking to do I don't actually take in their booklets every week or even mark notes from the Moodle tasks. I see this more as independent work and trust them to complete it on their own to a certain extent. I already give them written feedback on another piece of work once per week, which is quite enough marking for me! I do make a point of checking their skills books in class however (or at least I plan to this year) to make sure they keep up. And throw little surprise skills tests into lessons now and then to check their learning!

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