What I’m Teaching This Week

I read some blogs recently under the 28 days of blogging hashtag and it struck me that I quite often think a lot about blog posts, mentally compiling them during my commute, but very rarely put anything down. Now, I’m not committing to anything, but I thought I would try and be a bit more regular. For starters, here’s a snapshot of my week.

Year 7 – we’re about halfway through our 12-week romp through Ye Olde Medieval Realms, which is a collection of lessons under the question, “What was the biggest threat to Medieval Monarchs?” (I think dysentery, as I think I have mentioned before). This is my second teaching of it and I am getting more engrossed in the stories as I proceed, partly fueled by the impending reinterment of Richard III. We’ve got a History dept Padlet going on with lesson suggestions from all of us, so hopefully at the end we’ll be able to write a more coherent scheme of work up. I’ve been avoiding Magna Carta and the Peasants’ Revolt as that’s in our Democracy scheme, but I think that might be a mistake.

Year 8 – similar to year 7, we’re halfway through our new catch-all unit, covering the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution, with the working enquiry of, “What had the biggest impact on Britain by 1900?” We’re currently working through the abolition of slavery, considering whether this happened for reasons of humanity or economy. This is a bit of a side alley, but recaps their work on the Transatlantic Slave Trade from year 7, which they like – it’s a memory-sticker, that topic. This is partly why I think I might be wrong about leaving out Magna Carta etc in the Y7 scheme. I also now think we might have been short-sighted at dropping the Slave Trade of the Y7 programme of study. Luckily, it’s not too late.

Year 9 – Having their first go at their Holocaust assessment, “Who was to blame for the Holocaust?” I idly tried to garner views on a popular question-answering website, but the only response I got back was, “The Nazis of course. Why is this even a question?” That was surprisingly helpful as it formed my whole starter, and Y9 enjoyed pulling it to pieces. They’ll have a first try, and then we’ll move on to look at concentration camps and consider the question again. The aforementioned website had a great question on it, along the lines of, “Which was worse – the Holocaust or the Slave Trade?” which I might throw in at the end, since it’s going to encourage them to do some wider research and make links between this and prior learning.

Year 10 – a few weeks into Crime and Punishment, and relieved to be finished with the depth study. They always get a bit fatigued with doing the same topic for half the year. We switched boards for this September, to the board for which I examine, which seemed like a good idea at the time but, with a strengthened Y11 spec going on at the same time, my head is spinning. Yes, the content is roughly the same, but the focus is different, as are all the exam questions. Still, I’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about monarchic influence on law pre-1350.

Year 11 – Deep into revision now. We’re doing a paper 2 mock in the coming weeks. Numbers for after school revision were very high in the first week. I’m relying heavily on my Smart Response clickers, for both lessons and revision, which keeps them more interested than my voice alone. I’ve tried to give them as much revision support as possible, without being too prescriptive.

Year 12 – Just finishing unit 2 with the end of Mussolini, whilst also into a revision program after school on a Friday. This will be my last dance with Mussolini, at least for a while, as we have gone with mostly new topics for next year. I will miss the phenomenal rabbit. It’s a sad end, with him hiding out in the lakes and being forced out of retirement by the Nazis. Still, such are the trials and tribulations of being a Fascist dictator.

Year 13 – Drafting coursework on US Foreign Policy in the 20th century. They’re all very well-organised this year. I think I got the number and type of assignments leading up to writing the essay about right this year, and the spread of readings, too. They’re quite a proactive bunch, so haven’t done badly at finding their own readings, on the whole.

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