Sunday, 7 July 2013

Schools History Project Conference 2013

This was the third time I have attended the SHP Conference since 2009 and once again it exceeded my (high) expectations. If you've never been before then go to whoever is in charge of CPD at your school and beg them to book you onto the conference next year (11th - 13th July). It really will be the best history related professional development you'll get all year. For those of you who have been before, you know what am on about. 

It would, of course, be impossible to incorporate all of the brilliant ideas I heard over the weekend so instead I've decided to choose five which I am going to develop over the course of the next year. 

1. Enquiry Questions

We always use overarching questions in our Schemes of Learning which are then broken down into smaller questions. You can see an example here. However, rather than using 'what was life like in the Middle Ages?' it would be better to use 'were people in the Middle Ages stupid?' (as suggested by Dave Stacey). I've realised that the questions we have been  using are not necessarily the the right ones and that we need to rewrite them. As Rachel Foster said in her brilliant workshop 'good enquiry questions should become more and not less problematic the more it is studied'.  

2. Socrative

'Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.' (So says the website). I signed up to Socrative a while ago but haven't got around to using it with the pupils yet however after hearing Lesley Ann McDermott demonstrate how she has used it with her pupils I will most certainly be embracing it next term.  

3. Why? 

After attending Jamie Byrom and Michael Riley's session on The Mughal Empire it dawned on me that I don't tell pupils why they are learning about a given topic. I always tell them what they will be learning but not why it is important to learn about it. This is going to change. 

4. SOLO Taxonomy

I have done a fair amount of reading around SOLO and was hoping to introduce it earlier this year. That was until I realised that Lesley Anne McDermott and Sally Thorne were doing a session on SOLO. Not only was the workshop brilliant but it also made my research 'click' as lots of history examples were shared and plenty of resources given. If you've never heard of the taxonomy before then this video is a good place to start:

5. Feedback

Firstly, I need to read Ron Berger's 'The Ethic of Excellence' as it was mentioned by a number of people at the conference. I like the idea of teaching pupils that peer assessment should be kind, specific and helpful. Also, during Dale Banham and Russell Hall's session that shared some wonderful examples of how open dialogue with pupils improves the quality of feedback and ultimately the quality of learning. 

There were SO many other ideas that I could share but I'm trying to write this whilst watching the Wimbledon Final so I'll leave it there....

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