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AS/A2 History Teaching


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#16 Roy Huggins

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 05:46 PM

Hi Nick,

I teach a lot of AS & A2 students history, politics, economics and general studies. I agree that its hard moving away from the lecture style. I've found a combination of graphic organisers, dingbats, presentations and thinking skills exercises tend to build up the critical thinking and study skills that they need. However, they still hate having to engage in discussions and debates. The only way is as Carole pointed out to begin in KS3 and build up their confidence.

This year was critical in some respects as I had to take onboard the 19th Century British side of the 'A' Level History course that we teach. There were no schemes of work so I decided to design a scheme of work / work schemce that was meant to be used by both staff and students. I'll send you a copy, but at its core it set out how each unit was going to be taugh, resources, pages numbers, the key issues, but it then differentiated between the knowledge that they were expected to pick up through lessons and their own background reading!

The beauty of this system is that it makes brilliant revision guide and if students are alway they know exactly what they need to do to catch up. It is also frees up more time for a more creative teaching, whilst at the same time setting out their responsibilities for their own learning.

Anyway, I'll send you some copies as well as my student guide so you can rip it apart and play around with it.

Kind Regards

Roy
"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#17 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:00 PM

.........

As an aside, what strategies would you use to motivate/cajole the bright student that has no confidence in their work?


Moi? Apart from that short stretch at IST last year, all my more recent experience was with boys. That's not a problem that often crops up with the male of the species. If anything, they are more inclined to think they are better than they really are. ;) A short, sharp kick up the a*** tends to work with them and lots of competitive things (tests et al) to motivate them to prove that they are alpha male.[Apologies for the stereotyping here]

However, I do spend quite a lot of my time supporting - amongst others - what seem to be bright girls on our History Help Forum. Not quite the same thing, I appreciate, as continued/continual f2f contact, but of some relevance perhaps. It strikes me that one of the problems with high-achieving girls who have got A/A* at GCSE is that they are then gutted at AS when their essays don't gain near perfect scores. They find it hard to understand and immediately think either that they are "no good at History any more" or that it's all the fault of the (new) teacher.

What to do? Lots of TLC and endless reassurance. 'Mark up' their early essays and don't judge them by the 'final' standard expected in the exam.

There's more to be said on this, I think, but maybe those who teach girls at AS/A2 can offer more relevant advice.

Doug's idea of using a blog is very useful and I plan on using it in the next year. I think it can be used as an extension to the debate work mentioned above or it can be used instead of a 'formal' debate.


I never used a blog in this way (how fast things do move on!) but all my experience with online learning tells me: this will appeal to some students - the quiet, shy ones in class maybe? and also that unless you make it a compulsory activity there are those who won't participate. Contributions are generally disappointing in the little that I have seen - but don't let this put you off.

#18 DAJ Belshaw

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:03 PM

I never used a blog in this way (how fast things do move on!) but all my experience with online learning tells me: this will appeal to some students - the quiet, shy ones in class maybe? and also that unless you make it a compulsory activity there are those who won't participate. Contributions are generally disappointing in the little that I have seen - but don't let this put you off.

Again, and I'm not saying mine was a paradigm of excellence or anything - it was very much an experiment, the key thing is the way you present things to students. In the very first lesson say that their 'homework' is to register on the blog and make a comment. Any problems can be dealt with second lesson in. At least then they haven't got the excuse that they don't know what to do!

Doug :hehe:

#19 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:04 PM

The idea of a booklet that tells them the page numbers/resources etc is something I have thought about a lot as we have a reading room and many of the students complain about not being able to find any material in there to read. Basically it is going to look like a Uni course outline with the relevant bits and key questions to help them think about their work. Once it is done, I'll upload my copy to the forum or my file share area on my webpage.

Roy, I'm sure if you uploaded your booklet to the forum it may be of great help to others too.

I think the point about making clear what they are supposed to do is crucial. Having picked up the classes part way through a year did not give me that luxury.

Edited by Nick Dennis, 29 May 2006 - 06:11 PM.


#20 DAJ Belshaw

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:10 PM

I'm sure if you uploaded your booklet to the forum it may be of great help to others too.

Roy can just whack it on the shareforum... :D

I think the point about making clear what they are supposed to do is crucial. Having picked up the classes part way through a year did not give me that luxury.

No, but the point is a valid one for those reading this in preparation for next year. The point you raise above is almost the (fairly obvious) one I was thinking of - that AS/A2 is a bridge between KS4 and university. Therefore there needs to be an element of more independent study and critical engagement, but at the same time you can't expect them to fend for themselves. The booklet seems like an excellent idea. Coupled with a blog (i.e. constantly updated content) this would be excellent! :teacher:

Doug :hehe:

#21 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:10 PM

It strikes me that one of the problems with high-achieving girls who have got A/A* at GCSE is that they are then gutted at AS when their essays don't gain near perfect scores. They find it hard to understand and immediately think either that they are "no good at History any more" or that it's all the fault of the (new) teacher.

What to do? Lots of TLC and endless reassurance. 'Mark up' their early essays and don't judge them by the 'final' standard expected in the exam.

There's more to be said on this, I think, but maybe those who teach girls at AS/A2 can offer more relevant advice.


This is a major problem I face - the girls are all A*/A students and they are disappointed when they get their essays back. I have done the TLC thing (very carefully) and I've become a bit more of a generous marker although that would still put me somewhere on the mean side of the scale!

Your blog comment is valid Carole and I think it would have to be made compulsory for it to work.

Doug, you are right that this will help people who start teaching AS/A2 next year. I'm aware that it may appear that I'm looking for solutions just to my problems but I think that many of them apply to any new situation, especially if there is a great deal of difference in teaching styles. Hence the seminar!

Edited by Nick Dennis, 29 May 2006 - 06:15 PM.


#22 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:17 PM

I'll upload my copy to the forum or my file share area on my webpage.

Roy, I'm sure if you uploaded your booklet to the forum it may be of great help to others too.


If people want resources uploaded to this Forum and thread it will need to be via one of our Admin. team. I am happy to oblige and will provide my email address to anyone who asks via PM. File size needs to be under about 3 MB - so huge PPT files are out.

Edited by Carole Faithorn, 29 May 2006 - 06:40 PM.


#23 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:18 PM

Moi? Apart from that short stretch at IST last year, all my more recent experience was with boys. That's not a problem that often crops up with the male of the species. If anything, they are more inclined to think they are better than they really are. ;) A short, sharp kick up the a*** tends to work with them and lots of competitive things (tests et al) to motivate them to prove that they are alpha male.[Apologies for the stereotyping here]


Sounds like sound advice to me.

I'm sure I can hear some boots being polished somewhere as we speak...

Another aspect of the seminar is not only to talk about the problems new teachers face but some of the teaching methods people use. I know we do different specs and alternatives, but if people were to talk about what they did, it may translate very well for the rest of us.

Edited by Nick Dennis, 29 May 2006 - 07:14 PM.


#24 alison denton

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 08:30 PM

Good point about able students who then doubt their ability.
I try to focus them on what was positive about their work, using theirs as a photocopied/ highlighted example of a particular good point if I can, especially (as Carole has said) if done on a paragraph basis rather than whole essay, and then give them one area to develop by looking at someone else's work.
I try to find something good that everyone can share with someone else.

A good point has also been made about NOT putting students on the spot straight away, but letting them have a go on their own, then compare/ refine ideas with a small group, then maybe with the rest of the class - and a good strategy is to ask for a feedback session where all answers contributed build up to a really good overall understanding, rather than some answers being more 'right' than others - take out the element of risk of failure.

As far as teaching is concerned - I have found giving a passage (from a text, or an article) with a series of thinking multi-choice questions good, as well as the usual sorts of things we do at GCSE - putting info into scales etc. Using cards to categorise and synthesise info, especially where the same cards can be used in a different pattern to answer different questions (perhaps done with same cards all round, but different questions to different groups) also works well, and not neglecting the visual - I personally find I can understand things more easily if I can see them in my mind's eye - and I try to get pupils to do the same ('what symbol or item springs to mind immediately when I say - 'German nationalism 1815-50?'': doesn't sound much but provoked some hysterical answers, from flags to beer tankards to flowers - the Burschenschaften, the romantic nature of it)
It is important they realise the difference between gathering information, and using that information (including interpreting it in different ways). Gathering the info can all too easily become the important task, when in fact it is only a prelude to really understanding a topic, and I found I could devise quite whacky, off-the-wall ways of gathering the info (including devising a 'Millionaire' question on each little bit of a topic, or anything fun but that would get it done), since that bit is potentially tedious, and then focus on making sure we all really nailed the understanding

#25 jo norton

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 11:47 AM

With regards to the quiet, excellent girls to increase confidence I've set up key members of the class (usually those "Alpha male types") to say ridiculously controversial stuff and watched as the quiet able girl could no longer contain herself in the debate and ripped their controversies apart... last year this worked beautifully with the Alpha male realising he had to support his arguments and the quiet girl seeing how well she could use her abilities in debates.

I also agree that active learning methods help a great deal at A level but I think the biggest positive has been getting pupils to teach each other, either as mini topics or as seminar presentations. They've taken responsibility for themselves, learnt and prepared for university! There's always one who doesn't do anything but when they see they've let down everyone else the peer pressure tends to make sure they only ignore the task once.

Great ideas here - thanks

#26 Russell Courts

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 12:50 PM

Does anyone have any suggestions about what to do with the less able ones who tend to get swamped by the groups and get away with not doing anything as the rest of the 'group' cover for them because they don't want to be 'marked down' as a group. I realise that this is not a problem specific to A level teaching, but I have found that it is more significant in my A level classes, almost certainly because we stream at IGCSE and often get quite a broad range of ability in the 6th form History class, especially at AS.
I think I'll have strawberry...

#27 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 09:38 PM

Russell,

Would it help to appoint the person as the group chair and give them some responsibility? This may help them focus a little more.

#28 alison denton

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 10:09 PM

I agree with that.
Often the best group work is where each member of the group has a defined role, and the success of the whole group depends on everyone performing their role well.
I recently did such a 'challenge' with Y13. Each group had a TIMEKEEPER, TEAM LEADER, QUALITY CONTROLLER, RUNNER and a RESOURCES MANAGER.

This meant everyone had a role, and it was quite surprising that this bit of responsibility enabled some of the less engaged ones to really shine

I'll post the duties of each of these roles if anyone wants them.

#29 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 12:44 AM

.....
I'll post the duties of each of these roles if anyone wants them.


Yes. Please do, Alison. I'm sure lots of people would like to hear about this.

#30 alison denton

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 09:33 AM

Team Leader - Your job is to ensure everyone in the team is co-operating, and to organise the sharing of the work. You are also responsible for organising the look of the final product (final decision)

Quality Controller - You must ensure that every contribution is of the highest standard so it must all be passed to you for approval before going to the team leader


Time keeper - Your job is to ensure that everyone is on-track to complete their bit of the work on time, and to keep a record of who is doing what and by when. Refer any problems to the Team Leader


Runner - Your job is to be the contact between the group and the teacher. Anything that needs clarifying by the teacher should be referred through the Runner. The teacher will communicate with the group via the Runner


Resources Manager - You will organise who can use what in terms of resources who gets which book/ extract/ access to computers. You need to know where everyone is, and what they are working on (in consultation with the Timekeeper) each lesson. You are responsible for the safe return of all resources to the teacher at the end




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