Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Secondary Psychology - Do they ‘get’ the topic? (aka. medium term planning for progress)

It is important to plan for progress at a medium term level as the new OFSTED framework places a specific emphasis on evidencing pupil progress. This means not only over the course of a key stage, but also within lessons and over time.

Each subject necessarily has its own way of doing this, but within Psychology I was particularly keen to develop something which was useful to students and teachers alike. I was also keen not to have to spend too long developing the system and because of time constraints I also wanted to ensure it was an easy method to use in class.

What do we do?
I, along with my departmental colleagues, developed a system which teachers use when they have delivered a whole topic. In our centre, that’s about every half term.

Step 1: Highlight what the student knows (or not)
Students are given the topic progress sheet to look through in class (an example for the Approaches section of AQA Spec B is available to download here). We use one of these for each topic and the content is exactly the content of the specification. This ensures students are familiar with the potential wording of the exam questions.

Students are then given 3 different coloured highlighters. We encourage them to look carefully through the content and highlight (with one of the highlighters) parts of the content they feel they know well, and can evaluate in detail. This would be equivalent to an A grade skill level.

They then do the same with the second colour highlighter and identify which areas they know reasonably well. That should equate to a B/C standard.

The final colour should be used for areas they only have a basic understanding of, so this would gain them a D or E grade in the exam.

Step 2: Identify areas to focus on
Students are then asked to see what the predominant colour is, that should give them the sense of what they will get in that topic (although of course it depends on the questions set). They can at least target their revision wisely by tackling their problem areas first.

Step 3: Identify areas teachers need to focus on
We collect the sheets in from the students and look at them to see if we, as teachers, need to target any areas specifically. Patterns of areas where classes are less confident can occur and that helps us target any revision we might do with them. We then hand the sheet back to the students for them to put it in their files.

The system works and helps show areas where progress is less good. We’ve also found it to be teacher and student friendly. It’s also OFSTED friendly and the sheets can be compiled really quite quickly... always a bonus!
.
Eleanor Hills
Subject Leader Psychology and Sociology
Roundhay School

Friday, 24 February 2012

Secondary History - The White Slave Trade

We all teach about the triangular slave trade, but how many of us teach about the White Slave Trade?

In June 1636, seven boats fishing off the Cornish coast were taken by the "Turks" and their crews, around 50 men in total, and were carried away as captives. The same Turkish vessels had just previously taken 5 boats off the fishing port of Looe. The men that put to sea were never seen again. This was only one of many examples of the actions of Barbary Pirates, from Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli who, for several hundred years, raided shipping and coastal towns across Europe for slaves. Admiralty records show, between 1609 and 1616, 466 British ships were attacked in this way. It is estimated that, between 1580 and 1680, nearly one million European men, women and children were captured and taken into slavery by Muslim rulers.

Slaves were captured for work and for ransom. Those that survived the sea trip to North Africa were auctioned off on arrival. Men were often put to work in the galleys - capturing more slaves - and in mines; in hard manual labour. Life was often brutal and short. Women were often kept as servants or in harems. Samuel Pepys records in his diary in February 1661 spending an evening in a tavern talking to two men recently returned from slavery.

In 1645, the English Parliament was so concerned about the condition of slaves held there that they sent Edmund Casson to Algiers who managed to ransom 244 slaves. Arriving in September 1646, he paid about £40 per head for men, but women cost at least double that! From time to time naval expeditions were sent against the Pirates, and peace treaties were signed and broken. Charles II and his strong Navy were more successful in dealing with the problem. Tunis, for example, was bombarded in 1675, and Algiers made peace after similar bombardments in 1682, 1683 and 1688, and Tripoli in 1686.  It was only after 1815 and the end of the Napoleonic Wars and a return to more peaceful conditions that the threat of the Barbary Pirates was finally removed.

Was it a race issue, or a religious issue, or a trade issue? Certainly the peak of the Barbary Pirates coincided with Muslim dominance in the Mediterranean, and the attraction was to capture Christian slaves to work for Muslim rulers. Their dominance also coincided with rivalries – both religious and political – between leading European powers. But it is a fascinating and fairly well documented episode that is rarely taught in schools.

Alf Wilkinson
CPD Manager for the Historical Association and previously National Strategist for Key Stage 3 History. Alf has over 30 years history teaching experience and was lead author for Collins Key Stage 3 History resources.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Secondary Business - News Quiz 23/02/12

    Here is this week's Business News Quiz! You can print off a Word version (with answers and weblinks) and use it with your classes.

    You can download the Word file here.

    1. Which bank has been fined £1.5m for being too slow to explain to customers whether investments were covered by a financial safety net?
      Santander ( )
      HSBC ( )
      HBOS ( )
      Lloyds TSB ( )

    2. Which car companies shares have jumped 15% after the firm said it was in talks about possible "co-operations and alliances"?
      VW ( )
      BMW ( )
      Peugeot ( )
      Ford ( )

    3. Banks paid out £1.9bn in compensation in 2011 for the mis-selling of PPI, according to the Financial Services Authority (FSA), what is PPI?
      Protected payment insurance ( )  
      Payment protection insurance ( )
      Personal payment insurance ( )
      Protected peoples insurance ( )

    4. Fashion retailer Peacocks has been sold, out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill, saving 6,000 jobs, but how many jobs will still  be lost?
      2500 ( )
      3100 ( )
      2100 ( )
      1500l ( )

    5. Which bank has reported £2bn loss for2011, this week?
      Virgin Money ( )
      RBS ( )
      HSBC ( )
      Natwest ( )

    6. …And the same bank is due to pay out how much in bonuses to its investment bankers?
      £90m ( )
      £190m ( )
      £390m ( )
      £290m ( )

    7. Malaysian budget airline Air Asia has reported a 56% fall in fourth-quarter profit, they claim to have been hurt by what?
      Higher fuel prices ( )
      Holes in the wings of aircraft ( )
      Fewer passengers ( )
      Lower revenue ( )

    8. Greece is braced for large protests against further budget cuts, following a bailout deal aimed at avoiding bankruptcy, worth how much?
      100bn-euro ( )
      30bn-euro ( )
      10bn-euro ( )
      130bn-euro ( )

    9. Pinterest moves to address copyright fears this week, who are Pinterest?
      An online shop selling pins ( )
      A new tablet computer manufacture ( )
      Social networking service ( )
      A website for people who are interested in pins ( )

    10. File-sharing site The Pirate Bay has said that it will adapt rather than die as it faces legal blocks in the UK. On Monday the High Court ruled that the site facilitates, what?
      Internet dating ( )
      Data protection infringement ( )
      Copyright infringement ( )            
      Sharing of bank details ( ) 

    Donna Jestin
    Teacher of Business Studies Notre Dame College & Senior Examiner for AQA

    Tuesday, 21 February 2012

    Secondary Sociology - The weird and the wonderful!

    My main subject specialism is RE, and so in my second year of teaching when offered KS3 Geography or A2 Sociology of Religion I jumped at the chance to explore ‘religion’ with the students from an angle other than Philosophy of Religion and Ethics!

    Our A2 sociologists are usually pretty eager, but sometimes the thought of a year of the ‘religion’ unit isn’t too appealing. However, along with the usual games and activities, the New Religious Movements (NRM) / New Age section is a total crowd pleaser! I tend to introduce them to as many weird and wonderful movements as possible, as I believe they need a broader perspective on what it means to be ‘religious’ in the 21st Century. These ideas also really complement the section on Postmodernism, Spiritual Shopping and the Religious Revival.

    A few ideas:

    • Visit a local centre – ISKCON (http://iskcon.org/) are very accommodating here in Newcastle and I imagine they would be most places. They do charge £2 a head, but it is well worth it – especially since they don’t see themselves as a NRM (despite what our text book says!), so it gives the students a great example of how sociologists’ perceptions may be different to that of the actual subjects.
    • Video clips – BBC Learning Zone Broadband Class Clips has some great Peter Owen-Jones clips from his amazing ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’ (search 'Peter Owen Jones' from the main page). I like his Tennessee Snake Handlers, New Age Spirituality in Brasilia, Rastafarianism – always gets a good discussion going, especially the snakes!
    • Again, from ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’ (youtube have the episodes in parts) try Summum in the US, paganism in Australia. 
    • Mr Men books – divide class into pairs and assign each a Mr Men character based on NRMs – they need to produce a ‘book’ or Powerpoint to be ‘read’ to the class to illustrate their life in the movement, reasons why they joined etc. (E.g Little Miss Scientologist, Mr Summum, Mr Hare Krishna, Little Miss People’s Temple etc).
    • Talking heads – use www.voki.com to create avatars of different sociologists (or NRM members) who describe their views – students have to guess who they are as a starter. This is a little time-consuming to set up, but once you have them saved they can be handy for revision. 
    • Bruce’s bonus ball – Bruce, a Unit 3 favourite, makes a simple starter or plenary. Give students a list of 5 key concepts for a topic and give them a few minutes to get ready, then simply throw a ball around and ask for explanations of each concept (I originally did this with Bruce on secularisation, but they get so sick of him throughout the unit that this cheesy gimmick works quite well, as does a picture of his face on a snooker ball on the board to accompany the game!)
    • Reflexology charts – Get students to draw around their foot, and having seen a reflexology chart, get them to create one with their notes on the New Age divided into relevant sections.

    Overall, the Beliefs in Society unit is a great one for raising awareness of different expressions of spirituality, and hopefully really getting them thinking about what is out there…

    Esther Zarifi
    Prudhoe High School, Northumberland

    Wednesday, 15 February 2012

    Health and Social Care - What care workers can do when consent is witheld

    Why is consent sometimes withheld, and what can care workers do to establish consent?

    This blog expands on issues around consent that candidates studying Levels 2 and 3 of the Health and Social Care Diploma, BTEC Health and Social Care, Dementia Care units and other courses relevant to the field of health and social care will encounter.

    What is consent?
    Consent is giving permission to do something. In health and social care settings it usually means that the individual gives consent to take part in an activity or to accept some kind of care or treatment.

    It is important to remember that:

    • It is a legal requirement that consent is established before any intervention or care-giving activity takes place
    • Establishing consent is one way care workers can demonstrate they respect the individual and the individual’s personal dignity
    • The process of establishing consent is instrumental to developing trust between care worker and the individual 
    • The individual is more likely to want to take part in an activity they have given permission for

    Consent can be given in a number of ways: verbally, in writing or through actions.  The individual might also allow another person to do something with or to them, perhaps by raising an arm to be supported when dressing, and thereby imply consent.  Informed consent is given when the individual understands what they are consenting to.

    However, it is not always possible to readily establish informed consent, and in some circumstances, consent might be withheld.  

    Why would consent be withheld?
    Individuals might withhold their permission for an action to be performed because care workers:

    • Do not understand the individual’s needs, condition or capacity to make decisions 
    • Do not have the relevant information or be able to impart information in a form that is understandable to the individual
    • Do not themselves understand available options, and potential or actual risks to the individual

    What can care workers do to establish consent when it is withheld? 

    1. Ensure they understand and act on understanding of the health status or condition of the individual
    2. Ensure they understand the individual’s needs and preferences
    3. Ensure they understand the individual’s ability to make decisions
    4. Ensure they have available the relevant information in a form that the individual can understand
    5. Ensure they themselves understand the information and options open to the individual
    6. Listen to the individual and observe for other responses 

    Conclusion
    Consent is giving permission for something.  Sometimes permission is withheld but there are actions that care workers can take to establish consent where it is withheld.  These actions are in keeping with an approach to care that respects the individual, improves care and sits securely within the legal framework for practice.

    John Rowe works for the Open University and has a wealth of practice experience in health and social care settings.

    Tuesday, 14 February 2012

    Primary - Using Dickens in History

    Activity One – What Happened During Dickens’ Lifetime?
    Year 2 to Year 6

    So much of history is difficult to understand because the context is difficult for children to grasp. As teachers we often try to give the children an idea by saying, ‘back when your grandparents were born’ or ‘after the Romans but before the Tudors.

    If we try to teach the children about Charles Dickens, not only do the children have to get their heads around a funny looking old man who wrote stories but also try to place him in history.

    A better way of doing this, especially with recent history, is to contextualise it with contemporary events.
    Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1860. He lived through the heydays of the industrial revolution and the empire as well as the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign.

    Using the span of his lifetime, ask the children to research and ‘fit in’ to it, the main events of the time. You can ask them to find the events themselves but the difficulty with that is that they are likely to come up with obscure ones that they won’t understand.

    Instead look for around eight to ten important events and ask them to find out the dates and the story of the event and plot them on a timeline. It’s a small, but worthwhile exercise to ask them to draw Dickens at the age he would have been at the time. Some children think that events in someone’s lifetime happen when they are adults but events happen all the time, even when we are children.

    Some suggestions are:
    -    Dickens was three years old when Wellington won the Battle of Waterloo defeating Napoleon.
    -    He was 13 years old when the first train carried its first paying passengers.
    -    He was 25 when Victoria became queen
    -    When he was 28, the first letter using a stamp was posted.
    -    A year before he died, Isambard Brunel built a revolutionary new bridge linking Devon and Cornwall.
    Use the website http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/timelines/british/index_embed.shtml to help you.
    The children could also illustrate their timeline ready for display.

    Activity Two – The Contemporaries of Dickens
    Year 3 to Year 6

    So much of history is taught through events but of equal interest are the people of history.
    A great activity is to organise a ‘Dickensian’ evening and ‘invite’ Charles Dickens and his famous contemporaries to it.

    Each child should be encouraged to research famous people who were alive at the same time as Dickens such as Napoleon, Wellington, Victoria, Brunel, Peel and more.

    They can then choose who they want to be and must research the person and arrange for a suitable costume.
    Invite parents along to the evening at which the children can introduce themselves before mingling with parents as their character ‘in role’.

    Done very well, the activity can also act as a battle of egos and if the characters would have met in real life, give an indication of their interaction. 

    Activity Three – The Industrial Revolution
    Year 4 to Year 6

    The subject matter for many of Charles Dickens’ work was the living conditions and poverty of the people who were affected by the industrial revolution. Again, out of context, children often fail to understand why the people were poor or how they had got into that situation.

    For that reason it’s worthwhile finding out a little about the industrial revolution and its effect on the people of Britain.

    The best way to do it is by flow chart as it’s very much a story of cause and effect.
    Write the key facts of the industrial revolution on sets of cards, post it notes or as notes on an interactive white board and together try to order them using arrows to indicate cause and effect.

    Key facts to include are:
    -    New farming methods make large scale farming more profitable needing a smaller workforce.
    -    New or more efficient forms of power developed, reducing workload.
    -    New machinery invented which can vastly increase output whilst reducing labour.
    -    Greater demand for manufactured products requiring larger workforce.
    -    Growing markets through the empire requiring more products.   
    -    Development of cities
    -    Child labour
    -    Growth of schools
    -    Migration from country to city
    -    Emigration to new countries

    The exercise is a good one for developing the important notion that in history every cause has an effect and that often, several link together and will help the pupils in future historical investigations to understand why some events happened.

    Activity Four
    Year 3 to Year 6

    The subject of this set of activities is the great novelist Charles Dickens and it wouldn’t be right to work on the topic without an understanding of the man.

    We are going to do a biography of the man but in the format of ‘Did you know…’
    This way, instead of a long piece of writing all we need from the children are some facts about the man, written as sentences, or at most, short paragraphs. We’ll put up a life sized picture of him then append the facts around the picture.

    Other children in the school will be able to find out more about him just by reading one or two facts as they pass the display.

    Give the children different material to use to research the facts including books, encyclopaedias and the internet. Whilst the children will think of using books as a bit archaic, it’s useful to practise a range of research skills rather than simply type a question into a search engine.

    Dave Lewis
    Primary teacher

    Primary - Using Charles Dickens in Drama

    Activity One – Speaking and Listening
    Year 4 to Year 6

    The works of Dickens can seem inaccessible to many, adults included, but by taking them bit by bit, children can get an understanding of the characters and the plot. Select some passages from Dickens’ novels and discuss what is happening in them with the children. Talk about the feelings of the characters and where appropriate, how they interact with each other. 

    You can find many passages to choose from in the free download at:
    http://www.archive.org/stream/pocketdickenspa00unkngoog#page/n36/mode/2up

    Passage 1

    Joe bought a roll and reduced his purse to the condition (with a difference) of that celebrated purse of Fortunatus, which, whatever were its favoured owner’s necessities, had one unvarying amount in it. In these real times, when all the fairies are dead and buried, there are still a great many purses which possess that quality. The sum total they contain is expressed in arithmetic by a circle and whether it be added to or multiplied by its own amount, the result of the problem is more easily stated than any known figures.

    Passage 2

    She was dressed in rich materials - satins, and lace, and silks - all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table. Dresses less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed trunks, were scattered about. She had not quite finished dressing, for she had but once shoe on - the other was on the table near her hand - her veil was but half arranged, her watch and chain were not put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a prayer-book, all confusedly heaped about the looking glass.

    It was not in the first few moments as I saw these things, though I saw more of them in the first moments that might be supposed. But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork at the fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state. Once I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I should have cried out, if I could. (Great Expectations. Ch.8. p.67)

    Passage 3

    Before Oliver had time to look round, Sikes had caught him under the arms; and in three or four seconds he and Toby lay on the grass on the other side. Sikes followed directly. And they stole cautiously towards the house.

    And now for the first time, Oliver, well-nigh mad with grief and terror, saw that housebreaking and robbery, if not murder, where the objects of the expedition. He clasped his hands together, and involuntarily uttered a subdued exclamation of horror. A mist came before his eyes; the cold sweat stood upon his ashy face; on his limbs failed him; and he sank upon his knees.

    'Get up!' murmured Sikes, trembling with rage, and drawing the pistol from his pocket; 'Get up or I'll strew your brains upon the grass.'

    'Oh! For God's sake let me go!' cried Oliver; 'let me run away and die in the fields. I will never come near London; never, never! Oh! pray have mercy on me, and do not make me steal. For the love of all the bright Angels that rest in Heaven, have mercy upon me!'

    The man to whom this appeal was made, swore a dreadful oath, and had cocked the pistol, when Toby, striking it from his grasp, placed his hand upon the boy's mouth, and dragged him to the house. (Oliver Twist Ch.22. p.211)

    Passage 4

    "Lay your arm out on the back of the sofa, my dear boy, and I'll sit down here, and get the bandage off so gradually that you shall not know when it comes. I was speaking of Provis. Do you know, Handel, he improves?"

    "I said to you I thought he was softened when I last saw him."
    "So you did. And so he is. He was very communicative last night, and told me more of his life. You remember his breaking off here about some woman that he had had great trouble with. Did I hurt you?"
    I had started, but not under his touch. His words had given me a start.
    "I had forgotten that, Herbert, but I remember it now you speak of it."
    "Well! He went into that part of his life, and a dark wild part it is. Shall I tell you? Or would it worry you just now?"
    "Tell me by all means. Every word." . . .
    . . . "It seems," said Herbert, "- there's a bandage off most charmingly, and now comes the cool one - makes you shrink at first, my poor dear fellow, don't it. But it will be comfortable presently - it seems that the woman was a young woman, and a jealous woman, and a revengeful woman; revengeful, Handel, to the last degree."
    "To what last degree?"
    "Murder - does it strike too cold on that sensitive place?"
    "I don't feel it. How did she murder? Whom did she murder?"
    "Why, the deed may not have merited quite so terrible a name," said Herbert, "but she was tried for it, and Mr Jaggers defended her, and the reputation of that defence first made his name known to Provis. It was another and a stronger woman who was the victim, and there had been a struggle - in a barn. Who began it, or how fair it was, or how unfair, may be doubtful, but how it ended is certainly not doubtful, for the victim was found throttled."
    "Was the woman brought in guilty?"
    "No, she was acquitted. My poor Handel, I hurt you!"
    "It is impossible to be gentler, Herbert. Yes? What else?"
    (Great Expectations Ch.50. p.435-6)
    Dickens was not only a great author but also a great performer and he was regularly asked to give readings of his work. Now you can ask the children how the passages should be read and encourage them to have a go. You can set a passage for homework for the children to practise and then perform to the class or in assembly.

    Activity Two – Performance
    Year 3 to Year 6

    This year, many schools, like us, will be tempted to perform a play by Dickens. We’re looking at doing Oliver, mainly because the script of the musical by Lionel Bart has been available to schools for some time in a simpler format. Other plays are available such as Great Expectations and David Copperfield as well as more topical ones such as The Chimes and A Christmas Carol.

    Doing a whole play is a little daunting so why not consider doing a series of vignettes from several Dickens’ plays. Choose excerpts from around four plays, you can choose more than one extract from each. The benefits of choosing this route are that you can select the well-known parts, adding interest for your audience as well as having the chance that the children will be familiar with them. It also won’t matter so much that you may be performing a part of A Christmas Carol in July!

    Activity Three – Characterisation
    Year 4 to Year 6

    Dickens’ is celebrated for the characterisation in his novels. Not only are they fully painted but they are historically and socially accurate portraits of characters that fit into their roles in the stories.

    This activity is similar to the first except that the pupils need to read the descriptions of the characters in the novels or passages from them and decide how the character should be played.

    Using video of performances from adaptations is useful here so that the pupils can see characters such as Pip, Oliver, Fagin etc. and how they are portrayed according to their character.

    Give the children a character that they need to perform. Ask them to research from the internet who these characters were and what they were like under the headings as follows:

    Character   
    Age   
    Gender   
    Liked/disliked   
    Happy/sad   
    Good/bad   
    Rich/poor   
    Quiet/loud   

    This should give them a good idea of the personality of the character and inform their performance.
    Now give them an extract of dialogue for their character, playing the other character in the piece yourself and encourage them to get into role. Good characters to use are Miss Haversham, Scrooge, Abel Magwitch, Fagin and Bob Cratchit amongst others.

    An extension to this would be to look at the names of the more unusually christened characters from Dickens as suggested in the literacy activities and devise their own characterisation based on their names. What would Anne Chickenstalker be like or Edwin Drood?

    Ask the children to write their own monologue or dialogue expressing their views on what the character may be like.

    Activity Four – Where next?
    Year 6

    We have all read a book and either predicted how it might end or had hopes for how we want it to end and this activity tries to develop the skill in children.

    I like this activity and have used it several times with different authors. It encourages children to think about the story they’ve read so far and how they think the story may continue or end.
    Read passages from Dickens’ books, you can use the ones I’ve suggested earlier. Talk to the children about what may have led up to the extract and then encourage them to think of a way it would continue.
    This time ask them to write the continuation as a play script and after reading out the passage they’ve worked with, continue it as a performance piece using their own work.

    After they’ve all performed their work, tell them how Charles Dickens continued his version and discuss which was the better idea and why.


    Dave Lewis
    Primary teacher

    Primary - Using Charles Dickens in PSHE

    Activity One - Child Poverty
    Year 3 to Year 6

    Child poverty was a major problem in the Victorian era, something that Charles Dickens knew all too well for himself having been sent to a workhouse after his father was put in a debtor’s prison. Many of his works use his own experience to inform the writing of such characters as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Pip. Child poverty is something that still affects Britain and the world today and this activity links the problem of two periods of history through one organisation, Barnado’s.

    Gather together resources such as the description of the lives of Pip, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist and details on the lives of poor people in Victorian England including debtor’s prisons and workhouses. Ask the children to read the descriptions and imagine life under those conditions. Now read the history of Barnado’s or better still, invite a local representative into school to talk to the class about their work. You’ll discover the transition over the century and a half of their work in the kind of assistance they give but the underlying problems are the same.

    After the presentation, ask the children what they think poverty means in Britain and what the effects of it are? Do a written comparison of the two ages and what the remedies to poverty are under each system.
    Ask them to say what the things are that humans need to be able to survive and thrive. How many of those are missing from poor children’s lives? If appropriate you could undertake a fundraising event for Barnado’s.

    Activity Two – Doing the Right Thing
    Year 1 to Year 6

    The thread running through Oliver Twist is of a good boy who is led astray by bad influences and sometimes necessity. Use a synopsis, abridged version or selected parts of the story to illustrate these events. A good plot summary is available in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Twist

    When we’ve done this activity in school we highlighted the events and made decision trees from them looking at how the decision Oliver made affected him and discussed what may have happened if he’d made a different decision.

    It is interesting to listen to the children’s ideas of how events unfolded and we often have divided opinions on whether what Oliver did was right or wrong.
    When you have completed this part of the activity, ask the children to say or anonymously write down examples of where they have been faced with choosing between right and wrong saying what influenced their decision and how it turned out.

    Activity Three – Bullying
    Year 1 to Year 6

    In several of Charles Dickens’ books, characters which include children and adults are bullied by others.
    Use examples from Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby or Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol to illustrate the effect of bullying. These examples come from books written around 150 years ago but are based on the experiences of Charles Dickens himself or of people he saw in his work.

    Ask the children to identify the form of bullying which ranges from belittling someone to making them do something for someone with the threat of violence of they don’t comply or pure physical and mental bullying in the case of Nicholas Nickelby.

    Ask the children if they can identify any forms of bullying that they’ve encountered in their lives that compare to some of the examples in Dickens’ work.

    Find out from each story what happened to the bullies and what happened to the people being bullied. Did they receive help from anyone to overcome the bully? In each of the Dickens’ tales, the victim was triumphant in the end whilst the bully failed to prosper.

    The stories illustrate how bullying is not only destructive for the victim but also for the bully.

    Dave Lewis
    Primary teacher

    Primary - extract from Oliver Twist

    For use with the Literacy activity in the previous blog post

    The room in which the boys were fed was a large stone hall, with a copper at one end; out of which the master, dressed in an apron for the purpose, and assisted by one or two women, ladled the gruel at mealtimes. Of this festive composition the boys had one porringer and no more – except on occasions of public rejoicing when he had two ounces and a quarter of bread besides.

    The bowls never wanted washing. The boys polished them with their spoons again till they shone again; and when they had performed this operation (which never took very long, the spoons being nearly as large as the bowls), they would sit staring at the copper, with such eager eyes, as if they could have devoured the very bricks of which it was composed; employing themselves meanwhile, in sucking their fingers most assiduously, with the view of catching up any stray splashes of gruel that might have been cast thereon.

    Boys have generally excellent appetites. Oliver Twist and his companions suffered the tortures of slow starvation for three months. At last they got so voracious and wild with hunger, that one boy who was tall for his age, hinted darkly to his companions that unless he had another basin of gruel, he was afraid he might some night happen to eat the boy sleeping next to him, who happened to be a weakly youth of tender age. He had a wild, hungry eye and they implicitly believed him. A council was held; lots were cast for who should walk up to the master after supper that evening and ask for more; and it fell to Oliver Twist.

    The evening arrived; the boys took their places. The master, in his cook’s uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauper assistants ranged themselves beside him; the gruel was served out; and a long grace was said over short commons. The gruel disappeared; the boys whispered to each other and winked at Oliver; while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said, somewhat alarmed at his own temerity,-

    “Please, sir, I want some more.”

    The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed with stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds; and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralyzed with wonder, the boys with fear.

    “What!” said the master at length, in a faint voice.

    “Please, sir,” replied Oliver, “I want some more.”

    The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle, pinioned him in his arms, and shrieked aloud for the beadle.

    Primary - Literacy Activities for Dickens

    Activity One – Beat the Deadline
    Year 2 to Year 6

    This activity helps pupils to write to a deadline including structuring and editing. It encourages them to take notes and then expand upon them.

    Charles Dickens early career was as a journalist and like journalists throughout history, he had to work to a deadline. At a certain time of day the newspaper had to be printed, no matter what or it wouldn’t be out on the streets in time for sale the next day. Everyone had to work to a deadline; the journalists collecting and writing the story, the editors who had to check and agree the stories, the typesetters who got the printing plates ready and the printers who got the presses rolling to produce the daily news.

    Children are occasionally given the chance to work to a deadline – you may say ‘I need this story finished by break’ or ‘I want you to do twenty questions in the next hour’. The notion is sometimes a little abstract to some children because they can’t see why it must be done by then but with this activity and the explanation around it, they’ll soon see why deadlines can be important.

    Introduction:

    Tell the children about Charles Dickens’ life as a reporter and journalist and discuss what his typical day may be like. You may have suggestions such as:

    -    He sees something happening like a fire or a robbery
    -    He asks other people what they saw and may interview those affected.
    -    He’ll go to his office and write the story
    -    Someone will check what he has written
    -    He’ll find a picture to go with it
    -    The story will be printed

    Tell the children that they are going to work like they were Charles Dickens and that you will be their ‘editor’ keeping track of time. You can set the children up in groups and give them the name of a newspaper they work for. Set up a news ‘event’ which can either be a trivial one for younger pupils or a more serious issue for older ones. We’ve used a cake left on a teacher’s car; how did it get there, who put it there, who saw anything? etc. If possible, get other members of staff to act as eyewitnesses or a ‘victim’ who can give the children information. You could also report on a school sports fixture, a charity or school event or anything that is appropriate to your school.

    Tell the children what you require of them in terms of the writing, the length of the piece and the deadline. Tell them that they can visit the scene of the event they’re reporting on (as long as it’s school based!) and interview eyewitnesses, victims or participants.  If you want to really test them you can throw in new information for the older journalists and ask them to update or amend their story.

    Activity Two – What’s in a Name?
    Year 2 to Year 6

    This activity helps pupils to develop characters for their stories.
    Dickens uses some marvellously creative names for his characters, many of which tell a lot about their looks and character. Use a selection from his books and ask the children to sort them under the headings of good or bad people. Ask then to explain why they put them under the particular headings.

    Next you can ask them to draw how they would imagine the characters looked before comparing them to the illustrations of the time. Not all characters were illustrated but many were and plates of the illustration are available on Google Images. Try this list…

    Mr M’Choakumchild – Hard Times
    The Cheeryble Brothers –  Nicholas Nickleby
    Anne Chickenstalker – The Chimes
    Tiny Tim Cratchit – A Christmas Carol
    Creakle – David Copperfield
    Canon Crisparkle – The Mystery of Edwin Drood
    Mrs Cruncher – A Tale of Two Cities
    Captain Cuttle – Dombey and Son
    Lady Honoraria Dedlock – Bleak House
    Abel Magwitch – Great Expectations

    There are plenty more suggestions to be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dickensian_characters
    Now give the children brief descriptions of some new characters and ask them to come up with a suitable name for them.  Select the best of the children’s ideas and for the next lesson ask them to pair the names up with the description.

    Activity 3 – Writing from a Different Age

    Year 5 and 6

    This activity helps children to understand the different styles of writing that have been used over the centuries and the changing use and meaning of words.

    The activity is quite difficult but can be very rewarding. Often, especially in history, children are asked to write as a character from the period but so often their choice of language reflects their existence in the modern age which then detracts from the content of their work. Working on a piece written in contemporary language helps children to understand not only the meaning of different styles of writing but also how language has changed over the centuries.

    Use the extract from Oliver Twist and begin by reading it through. Highlight all the unfamiliar words and discuss what they mean in the context of the passage. Ask the children which words we would use these days to replace them.

    You can then go on to do a verbal comprehension on the passage or in written form using questions such as:

    1.    What aspect of daily life is being described in the text?
    2.    Where do you think the piece of writing was set?
    3.    How did the children decide who would go up and ask for more?
    4.    Why do you think they get one of their number to go up and ask?
    5.    What was the reaction from the master?

    You’ll need to adjust the complexity of the questions depending on the age and ability of the children but try to draw out of them an understanding of the scenario and how it may differ from a school dining room today.

    Activity 4 – Writing for a Different Era
    Year 5 and 6

    After working on a piece of writing completed in Victorian times, the children should have a good idea of how the language differed and how the author used objects and scenarios common to their era.
    This activity is quite difficult as it relies on children focusing completely on a past time. It will help them practise sticking to a theme in a piece of creative writing.
    It’s best to start with a piece of descriptive writing:

    Ask the children to research information for a street scene from Victorian times. They should consider transport, buildings, people, their dress and occupation. From the information they have collected, ask them to describe a typical street scene. You’ll have to remind them to stick only to what they have researched as the temptation is to add in bits which usually end up as being out of context. Those who performed well on the comprehension exercise looking at an extract of Victorian writing may be able to adapt the style of their writing similarly.

    Activity One – Beat the Deadline
    Year 2 to Year 6

    This activity helps pupils to write to a deadline including structuring and editing. It encourages them to take notes and then expand upon them.

    Charles Dickens early career was as a journalist and like journalists throughout history, he had to work to a deadline. At a certain time of day the newspaper had to be printed, no matter what or it wouldn’t be out on the streets in time for sale the next day. Everyone had to work to a deadline; the journalists collecting and writing the story, the editors who had to check and agree the stories, the typesetters who got the printing plates ready and the printers who got the presses rolling to produce the daily news.

    Children are occasionally given the chance to work to a deadline – you may say ‘I need this story finished by break’ or ‘I want you to do twenty questions in the next hour’. The notion is sometimes a little abstract to some children because they can’t see why it must be done by then but with this activity and the explanation around it, they’ll soon see why deadlines can be important.

    Introduction:
    Tell the children about Charles Dickens’ life as a reporter and journalist and discuss what his typical day may be like. You may have suggestions such as:

    -    He sees something happening like a fire or a robbery
    -    He asks other people what they saw and may interview those affected.
    -    He’ll go to his office and write the story
    -    Someone will check what he has written
    -    He’ll find a picture to go with it
    -    The story will be printed

    Tell the children that they are going to work like they were Charles Dickens and that you will be their ‘editor’ keeping track of time. You can set the children up in groups and give them the name of a newspaper they work for. Set up a news ‘event’ which can either be a trivial one for younger pupils or a more serious issue for older ones. We’ve used a cake left on a teacher’s car; how did it get there, who put it there, who saw anything? etc. If possible, get other members of staff to act as eyewitnesses or a ‘victim’ who can give the children information. You could also report on a school sports fixture, a charity or school event or anything that is appropriate to your school.

    Tell the children what you require of them in terms of the writing, the length of the piece and the deadline. Tell them that they can visit the scene of the event they’re reporting on (as long as it’s school based!) and interview eyewitnesses, victims or participants.  If you want to really test them you can throw in new information for the older journalists and ask them to update or amend their story.

    Activity Two – What’s in a Name?
    Year 2 to Year 6

    This activity helps pupils to develop characters for their stories
    Dickens uses some marvellously creative names for his characters, many of which tell a lot about their looks and character. Use a selection from his books and ask the children to sort them under the headings of good or bad people. Ask then to explain why they put them under the particular headings.
    Next you can ask them to draw how they would imagine the characters looked before comparing them to the illustrations of the time. Not all characters were illustrated but many were and plates of the illustration are available on Google Images. Try this list…

    Mr M’Choakumchild – Hard Times
    The Cheeryble Brothers –  Nicholas Nickleby
    Anne Chickenstalker – The Chimes
    Tiny Tim Cratchit – A Christmas Carol
    Creakle – David Copperfield
    Canon Crisparkle – The Mystery of Edwin Drood
    Mrs Cruncher – A Tale of Two Cities
    Captain Cuttle – Dombey and Son
    Lady Honoraria Dedlock – Bleak House
    Abel Magwitch – Great Expectations

    There are plenty more suggestions to be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dickensian_characters
    Now give the children brief descriptions of some new characters and ask them to come up with a suitable name for them.  Select the best of the children’s ideas and for the next lesson ask them to pair the names up with the description.

    Activity 3 – Writing from a Different Age
    Year 5 and 6

    This activity helps children to understand the different styles of writing that have been used over the centuries and the changing use and meaning of words.
    The activity is quite difficult but can be very rewarding. Often, especially in history, children are asked to write as a character from the period but so often their choice of language reflects their existence in the modern age which then detracts from the content of their work. Working on a piece written in contemporary language helps children to understand not only the meaning of different styles of writing but also how language has changed over the centuries.

    Use the extract from Oliver Twist and begin by reading it through. Highlight all the unfamiliar words and discuss what they mean in the context of the passage. Ask the children which words we would use these days to replace them.

    You can then go on to do a verbal comprehension on the passage or in written form using questions such as:

    1.    What aspect of daily life is being described in the text?
    2.    Where do you think the piece of writing was set?
    3.    How did the children decide who would go up and ask for more?
    4.    Why do you think they get one of their number to go up and ask?
    5.    What was the reaction from the master?

    You’ll need to adjust the complexity of the questions depending on the age and ability of the children but try to draw out of them an understanding of the scenario and how it may differ from a school dining room today.

    Activity 4 – Writing for a Different Era
    Year 5 and 6

    After working on a piece of writing completed in Victorian times, the children should have a good idea of how the language differed and how the author used objects and scenarios common to their era.
    This activity is quite difficult as it relies on children focusing completely on a past time. It will help them practise sticking to a theme in a piece of creative writing.

    It’s best to start with a piece of descriptive writing:
    Ask the children to research information for a street scene from Victorian times. They should consider transport, buildings, people, their dress and occupation. From the information they have collected, ask them to describe a typical street scene. You’ll have to remind them to stick only to what they have researched as the temptation is to add in bits which usually end up as being out of context. Those who performed well on the comprehension exercise looking at an extract of Victorian writing may be able to adapt the style of their writing similarly.

    Dave Lewis
    Primary Teacher

    Primary - Charles Dickens

    Charles Dickens is one of the most easily recognised English authors, both physically and from the style and content of his work. Born 200 years ago this month, he raised the profile of the appalling conditions that Britain’s poor lived in through his novels and plays.
    Whilst the quality and readability of his work can in great part be put down to the genius of the man and his imagination, it was the experience he gained, first-hand, of such conditions that infused his work with credibility and tenacity.

    A BBC news website article recently summed up Dickens’ contributions to the world of entertainment and spoke of how character comedy derived from his works and their performance. Most of his novels and plays deal with very serious issues but within each there are many characters who are written as caricatures of themselves and others on one hand are to be despised or pitied but because of the way they are written, the can also be laughed at.

    Dickens also gave us what the BBC called ‘meaningful names’ an idea that makes for a great lesson. Consider Mr M’Choakumchild, written as a teacher in Hard Times. One has only to read the name to know what kind of character he is and authors since have used similar devices; consider Dahl’s Miss Honey or Miss Trunchbull in Matilda! 

    There’s even the notion that the idea of Christmas celebration as we know it today came from Dickens. History records that prior to the period, Christmas passed by barely noticed and that even in those days, a white Christmas was as much of a rarity as it is today.

    The whole country will celebrate the bicentennial of his birth on February 7th with a plethora of events including new adaptations of his work, readings, exhibitions and more. It’s only fitting then that schools also join in to mark the contribution he made to British literature and our cultural heritage.
    Many schools, ours included, are using Oliver as a summer production, whilst teachers are planning to incorporate a topic on Dickens into their curriculum.

    The difficulty arises in finding suitable material to work with, especially for younger children. Abridging Dickens work often means losing a lot of what makes it special. I’ve found that the best way is to use small chunks of the stories, selecting parts that are about the child characters and working with those.
    Accompanying this article are several activities you may decide to incorporate in any plans you have already made or you can use the set as a topic pack to cover the week around the anniversary.  We’ve tried to include activities for younger children, despite the complexity of the material, and hope that you find the material useful.
    Dave Lewis
    Primary teacher

    Monday, 13 February 2012

    Secondary English - Grammar Rocks!

    ‘Mr Morton is the subject of the sentence, and what the predicate says he does.’

    So says the catchy Grammar Rock anthem.  Never heard of it?  Then try typing Mr Morton into Google and see what you get. Yes, he really is that famous!

    Of course, you may be questioning the value of a 1993 U.S. elementary school cartoon voiced by a Frank Sinatra sound-alike – especially if you happen to teach secondary school English in a tough UK inner-city comprehensive to bored, pseudo-sophisticated teenagers who are far more street-smart than the hapless Mr Morton could ever hope to be. Well, it’s a starting point – an eye-catching and fun introduction into the murky world of sentence grammar.

    But why bother with such a last-century approach, especially when the current curriculum is already jam-packed with hopelessly ambitious aims and objectives? Well, regardless of whatever GCSE English syllabus you are following, students need to be able to write grammatically correct sentences and use a range of sentence structures for effect, especially if they want to achieve the higher grades. So if they don’t have the basics of sentence grammar, how are you going to convey this to them?

    You could always fall back on such standard first-draft comments as: ‘You need to vary your sentence openings more’. Or you could go all out for a first-rate fudge with the catch-all: ‘You must use a wider range of sentence structures!’ But this is all rather vague and meaningless to a student who has no idea what a sentence structure actually is. So how much should you tell them?  In all honesty, as much as they need to know AND as little as possible – just as much as is required for you to engage in a meaningful dialogue after you have proof-read a rough copy.

    At the very least, you might teach them that:

    • A sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark – but, of course, usually with a full stop!
    • The most basic of all sentences is a simple sentence which contains one main clause.
    • A clause is a unit of meaning within a sentence.
    • A main (independent) clause is a complete unit of meaning.
    • A subordinate (dependent) clause is not a complete unit of meaning and, therefore, cannot stand on its own as a sentence.
    • As well as the simple sentence, there are also two other main sentence types: compound and complex.
    • A compound sentence consists of two main clauses joined by a coordinating connective (FANBOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So).
    • A complex sentence consists of one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.
    • A very effective default sentence structure is a complex sentence consisting of two or three clauses.
    • This can then be complemented by a judicious use of dramatic simpler sentences, or richer more sophisticated longer sentences.
    • A very effective way to vary sentence openings is to alternate between a main clause, a dependent clause, a single word sentence opener and a short phrase sentence opener.
    • And why not throw in the occasional rhetorical question for effect?
    • It’s also probably well worth continually emphasising that they should strive to combine all of the above with a precise and powerful vocabulary.

    Of course, there is no need to teach all of this in one go; it seems an appropriate theme for a year’s worth of starters!

    So what will the end product look like when it’s all been assembled? That is the acid test. Hopefully, you will be thrilled with the result, especially if your students have also learned how to use commas to demarcate clauses where necessary. Assuming that all of the above has been successfully acquired, you should certainly have an extensive array of sentence openings.  This newly acquired mastery of sentence grammar might well inspire your students to even dizzier heights and the ensuing sense of personal achievement could ultimately be compounded by dazzling GCSE grades. Finally, if you have also managed to introduce them to the seductive art of the embedded clause, their future output may even look a lot like this!

    QUICK QUIZ BASED ON THE SIX SENTENCES IN THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH:
    1. Which two sentences begin with a single word sentence opener followed by a comma?
    2. Which sentence is a rhetorical question?
    3. Which sentence consists of only a main clause?
    4. Which sentence contains an embedded clause?
    5. Which sentence is a compound sentence?
    6. Which sentence begins with a dependent clause?

    ANSWERS:
    1. Three and six
    2. One
    3. Two
    4. Six
    5. Five
    6. Four

    COMPLEMENTARY RESOURCES
    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk-XA5pKkGE The Tale of Mr Morton – original version
    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj4H3Ioxs6s The Tale of Mr Morton – rap version by Skee-Lo

    Peter Morrisson
    English Teacher and author

    Thursday, 9 February 2012

    Secondary Business - News Quiz 09/02/12

    Here is this week's Business News Quiz! To use this resource with your own A Level classes, print off the Word version (which includes answers and weblinks).

    Download the Word file here.


    1. Mining firm Xstrata has formally announced plans to merge with Glencore, the world's biggest commodity trader, how much is the deal worth?
      $90bn ( )
      $100bn ( )
      $80m ( )
      $70m ( )

    2. Which TV & broadband company reports £48m profit in fourth quarter of 2011?
      Talk Talk ( )
      Virgin media ( )
      BT ( )
      Sky ( )

    3. Which low cost airline has reported a net profit of 14.9m euros ($19.6m; £12.5m) in the last three months of 2011, thanks to higher fares and better weather than the same period a year earlier?
      Flybe ( )  
      Jet 2 ( )
      Easyjet ( )
      Ryanair ( )

    4. Who with revenues of 480m euros (£401m) topped the Deloitte league table of the world's richest football clubs for the seventh straight year?
      Real Madrid ( )
      Manchester United ( )
      Bayern Munich ( )
      Arsenal ( )

    5. Why has aircraft maker Airbus has been ordered to check the wings of all A380 superjumbo planes currently in service?
      Cracks in them ( )
      Wrong metal used ( )
      Adhere to H&S measures ( )
      Holes in them ( )

    6. Diageo has reported a rise in half-year profits as demand for its global brands continues to grow in emerging markets, in what industry do they operate?
      Tobacco ( )
      Drinks ( )
      Commodities ( )
      Mobile phones ( )

    7. The chief executive of Lovefilm is to become head of childcare at which major retailer?
      House of Fraser ( )
      Mama’s & Papa’s ( )
      kiddicare.com ( )
      Mothercare ( )

    8. Daily voucher company Groupon has reported an unexpected loss of how much?
      $17.7m ( )
      $22.7m ( )
      $42.7m ( )
      $32.7m ( )

    9. A pay freeze for MPs, voted through in the Commons last year, will be extended until when?
      2015/16 ( )
      2014/15 ( )
      2013/14 (  )
      2012/13 ( )

    10. The company behind the Superdry fashion chain has seen its shares fall by how much after it scaled back its profit forecast for the year?
      15% ( )
      12% ( )
      10% ( )
      17% ( ) 
    Donna Jestin
    Teacher of Business Studies Notre Dame College & Senior Examiner for AQA

    Wednesday, 8 February 2012

    Secondary History - Victorian Baby Farms

    Sometimes something you read can open up a completely different way of looking at things!

    Whilst reading Mary Hooper’s new novel ‘Velvet,’ which is mainly about Victorian spiritualism, I came across a reference to Amelia Dyer, who was hanged in 1896 for the murder of a baby. In the novel Velvet goes to a baby farm and steals a baby for her boss, to pretend it is a dead baby brought back to the real world by a spiritualist.  Intrigued by Mary Hooper’s notes about baby farms I decided to look up Amelia Dyer’s case on Old Bailey Online [www.oldbaileyonline/org Case Reference Number: t18960518-451]

    It turns out that Mrs Dyer had a previous form... a Bristol newspaper advert offering to adopt a child, for £10, provoked a mother to write to a ‘Mrs Harding’ and agree to hand over her illegitimate daughter and pay a one-off fee of £10 for her care. Within 10 days the baby was fished out of the River Thames at Reading, dead. Amelia Dyer had moved from slowly starving and neglecting babies in her care to actually murdering them. It is believed that, between 1879 and 1896 she may have been responsible for the death of over 400 infants! But how could she get away with it? By setting herself up in one place, putting adverts in the papers, moving on when things got a bit difficult, starting again somewhere else under a different name… it was hard for the police to catch up with her.

    So what does this tell us about Victorian society? Life was virtually impossible for unmarried mothers, especially poor ones who had to ‘disappear’ to give birth and then find some way to look after the baby and go back to work. Unscrupulous people like Amelia Dyer would advertise and offer to adopt unwanted babies for a one-off fee, paid upfront, sometimes as much as £50 or more, plus baby clothes. Many baby farmers would have 6 or 8 or more young babies in their care, slowly dying of neglect or starvation. Patent medicines like ‘Godfrey’s Cordial,’ largely made up of opiates, were used to sedate babies and keep them quiet and listless. It was easy money if you could get away with it. Unmarried mothers were unlikely to make a fuss when they eventually received a letter announcing an unfortunate accident or death.  And Amelia Dyer was not the only woman executed in Victorian Britain for baby farming deaths.  What a great case study to create a debate about social conditions in Victorian Britain!

    Alf Wilkinson
    CPD Manager for the Historical Association and previously National Strategist for Key Stage 3 History. Alf has over 30 years history teaching experience and was lead author for Collins Key Stage 3 History resources.

    Tuesday, 7 February 2012

    Secondary English - Post-it Power and Pupil Voice!

    I love a Post It. I’ll admit it. I also get to do the stationery order (oh the joys!) so I order the boring yellow ones but also all the hearts, thumbs up, cars and smiley faces. These are hoarded in my draw and whipped out at any opportunity. Now, give a Y10 boy a Post It and he is immediately going to draw something rude on it and stick it to his head. I don’t know why, but it is a fact. Once you have dealt with this and have clear expectations then the humble Post It can be one of your best learning tools.

    The Post It Wall

    In my room this is actually the whiteboard. During my lessons pupils are given a Post It to promote a learning dialogue between themselves and me. They are encouraged to write a note about something they learnt or are having difficulty with, encouraging pupil voice. This is stuck on the board and collected in at the end of the lesson; I stick the pile into my planner and have a look later that evening. The Post Its guides my next lesson, I may have a selection of comments that say ‘You are going to fast!’, ‘I am not sure about poetic devices’ or, the very touching ‘I need more help in lessons, I may look clever but I am not’. These notes then change the next lesson’s context and mean I can focus on what the class really needs. Equally, if I get lots of Post Its that say ‘I understand the use of foreshadowing now’ I know I can move on. Pupils may write their names on the Post Its or leave them anonymous, this allows less out going pupils to be heard. If you have especially shy pupils it is worth going around and collecting the Post Its yourself rather than displaying them.

    You can also use the Post It Wall for questioning, for example ‘Tell me 2 things I can do to make your lessons better’, ‘What have you found the hardest today?’ ‘What would you like to learn more about next lesson?’

    These simple sticky notes have really made a difference to my lessons.  I know my pupils feel that their voice is heard and that they help contribute to their lessons, this also makes a difference to their behaviour and the atmosphere in the room becomes one of a team environment rather than ‘them and me’.

    Joanna Fliski
    Teacher of English, Media and Drama, Lliswerry High School

    Monday, 6 February 2012

    Secondary Business - BTEC Level 3

    Which businesses should I use for BTEC Level 3?

    When writing an interesting and realistic assignment, it can be difficult to use the right businesses and organisations. Which ones are the best to use? Some may prefer to use businesses that boys ‘like’ and relate to, such as Apple or McDonalds, others may prefer businesses which give a range of resources and information.

    I solve this issue by using Wimbledon Tennis Museum and Thorpe Park. They tick nearly all the boxes; fun, interesting, good venue for a trip, cross unit relevance and the boys like them!

    Thorpe Park is a superb business to use. As part of the Merlin group, leading the way in theme park entertainment. The trip itself is easy to organise, with the student pack available on their website: (http://www.thorpepark.com/misc/student-pack.aspx).

    The students can do some preliminary research before they go, perhaps writing questionnaires to give to staff, or investigating the size and scale of the business. During the day the students can attend pre-booked sessions on HR, Marketing and Promotion, ICT and Thorpe Park as a business. These give the students the exact information they need to complete the tasks in their assignment.

    Thorpe Park can be used for a range of units especially:

    • Unit 1: The Business Environment
    • Unit 2: Business Resources
    • Unit 3: Introduction to Marketing
    • Unit 10: Market research in business
    • Unit 16: Human Resource Management in Business

    Wimbledon Tennis Museum is an excellent contrast to Thorpe Park and offers the students an organisation they may hear and see a lot on television but one which they know relatively little about. A trip to Wimbledon gives the students access to a tour of the grounds (including centre court!) as well as visiting the museum itself. (http://www.wimbledon.com/visiting/education/secondary).

    Specific talks from the staff can be booked and the students have enjoyed it each time I have been.  The Marketing and Customer Service talks link nicely with Units 1, 2 and 3. Both trips are well priced and easy to access through public transport.

    And the best bit? You will enjoy this as much as the students!


    Mr A. Dean 
    Head of Business and Enterprise, The John Fisher School and author of Collins BTEC National Business resources

    Friday, 3 February 2012

    Simply take … A set of blank cards – A matter of opinion

    This is an activity that could be used to introduce the ideas of probability compared to likelihood.

    The lesson before:

    For a homework I asked students to take six cards (size A6 seems to work well) and to write on each of these an event that might or might not happen the following week – some of them will be fairly outlandish but that does not matter. I ask them to include one which they think
    • will definitely not happen
    • will definitely happen
    • has an even chance of happening

    The following lesson their cards are all gathered in.  I add these cards to those that my other classes have produced before and so build up a stock – The more the merrier.
    If I have not primed a few students to do this already for their homework, I include in the pack a few with the common events with a calculable probability such as
    • I will throw a six on the first roll of my dice (I know it should be die but you choose)
    • I will throw an even number on the first roll of my dice
    • I will get a head when I flip a coin
    • …

    In the lesson:

    Students work in small groups (I usually prefer threes as they seem to be more engaged).
    I shuffle the, now fairly large, pack of cards and split them all between the groups (It does not matter if they do not have exactly the same number).

    They need to
    • draw a long likelihood scale with points for certain, evens and impossible marked clearly.
    (In good weather (no rain and no wind) I do this outside in the playground)
    • In a fixed amount of time they need to position as many of their cards in an appropriate place along this scale as they can.  They hand in to you any that they were not able to position (isolate any with a predictable outcome to discuss at the end)
    After the allotted time the groups move round to look at the work of the next group.  They now remove any cards for which they disagree with the positioning along the scale, and hand them in to you.  Repeat this until the groups have visited all the others.

    Now go round and look at the cards that are still on the scale.  These will usually be those that
    • are impossible (although these are often removed as they come up with outlandish reasons why these things could happen)
    • are certain
    • events with a predictable outcome

    I use the position of these cards as an introduction to probability.

    Sue Briggs

    Did you know? Notes from the History of Maths

    To infinity… and beyond

    So says Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story and YES! there is something beyond infinity. In fact, there is an infinity of infinities of different sizes. This was the discovery of Georg Cantor (1845-1919).  The idea of the size of infinity goes back, at least, to Galileo who puzzled over the paradox that there are fewer perfect squares (1, 4, 9, 16…) than natural numbers (1,2,3,4…) as some numbers are not included (2,3,5,6, 7, 8, 10…) but the set of perfect squares is the same size as the natural numbers as you can match them up (1 to 1, 2 to 4, 3 to 9, 4 to 16…). Galileo resolved this by arguing that, as far as infinite sets go, ‘size doesn’t matter’ and ideas of bigger and smaller don’t work.

    Cantor rejected this and called infinite sets, such as the perfect squares, countable sets if they can be matched to natural numbers. He went on to show, by an ingenious proof, that the set of fractions is countable and so is the ‘same size’ as the natural numbers. He also proved that the set of real numbers was not countable and so is a different size. This makes sense of the infinite divisibility of the real number line: between any two real numbers there is an infinity of other numbers, and so the infinity of the real number line feels to be of a different size to the countable infinity of natural numbers. In fact, there are an infinity of infinities – called transfinite numbers.

    Cantor was not celebrated in his lifetime. PoincarĂ© wrote of the ‘grave disease infecting mathematics’ from Cantor’s work on set theory. His work was not published and his advancement was blocked. There were those who recognised the significance of his ideas. The German mathematician David Hilbert (1862-1943), in a celebrated lecture in 1900, set out the main mathematical problems for that century. The first was the Cantor Continuum Hypothesis. Cantor thought there was no set with size between that of the natural numbers and that of the real numbers but he didn’t prove this. It wasn’t until 1963 that Paul Cohen proved a surprising result: The continuum hypothesis can’t be proved either true or false – it is undecidable!

    Don Hoyle
    Mathematics Matters

    Never mind the 40% rule - here comes 100%

    In December Ofqual confirmed that all GCSE science courses would move to all external assessment units being taken at the end of the course; this will take effect for courses being completed in 2014 onwards.  (This means that next year’s Year 10 students could use modular assessment for their Year 10 course if it was ‘cashed in’ in June 2013, but terminal assessment for their Year 11 course).

    Reactions to this are mixed.  On the one hand, jaded subject leaders may be relieved that the logistical nightmare of organising module tests will be a thing of the past. Their reaction will probably be shared by other staff affected by the disruption they bring, in some cases compounded by the addition of re-sits.  On the other hand, some schools know that a key driver in improving outcomes has been intervention triggered by module test scores. Watching the external assessment data of students close to a grade threshold constitutes effective tracking.

    So what might we make of this in terms of pedagogical principles?

    One of the ways in which teaching and learning has improved over the last few years has been the use of 'Assessment for Learning' and a key principle of this has been providing learners with feedback.  A module test score of an E given to someone capable of getting a C is pretty powerful.  It’s not a ‘mock’; it’s the real thing and for some students it’s both a wake-up call and an opportunity to then show what they can do.  Some schools have made very good use of this and some students have benefitted as a result.

    However, it can be argued that modular assessment is the enemy of progression.  If you take a key idea like energy, it should develop in pupils' understanding throughout their science education.  Having ‘done the test’ in that topic runs the risk of the teacher then backing off.  One of the higher order skills in science is the ability to draw upon ideas from different aspects of science and apply them to an issue.  Well designed synoptic papers could do this better than module tests.

    Having said that, it seems likely that the terminal exams, at least in the short term, will simply be the module tests taken hard on the heels of each other.  Triple scientists will certainly feel well examined at the end of their course.  This is unsurprising, of course, given the short timescale of the change.  Furthermore it is likely that quite a few students (and their teachers) will like the specific attribution of certain topics to certain papers.  However, this may not be a long lived feature.  The review of the National Curriculum may have implications for GCSEs when it takes effect and could precipitate a redrafting of specifications.  Awarding organisations may then use this as an opportunity to combine external assessments into fewer larger papers; indeed, having a synoptic element would be a logical corollary of the ending of modular assessment.

    However, one thing is clear.  The skills that a teacher needs to manage an end assessed course will be at a premium.  Periodically revisiting topics during a course, tracking progress using internal assessment and the astute identification of key aspects to revise will become even more important.  High quality revision lessons need to bring the whole subject together.  The most effective teachers will be not only the ones who can make new ideas exciting and engaging but can bring the whole course together at the end.

    Ed Walsh

    Chemistry - Soda

    The properties, uses and manufacture of the various forms of soda (sodium carbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, sodium hydroxide) are relevant to KS3 and KS4 topics involving alkalis, the chemical industry, pollution, and the alkali metals and their compounds.

    If you ask a cook what “soda” is they will probably point you to baking soda (sodium hydrogen carbonate) which is used to make cakes light and fluffy. It gives off carbon dioxide gas when heated or reacted with acids such as lemon juice or tartaric acid.  A quick search of the internet will provide lots more uses for baking soda. Baking soda can be bought from supermarkets. You are less likely today to find packets of washing soda (sodium carbonate).  This was used to soften water for washing clothes and prevent soap forming scum.  Caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) is present in many oven cleaners – it is a strong alkali that breaks down grease. 

    The usefulness of soda has been known for centuries.  An 1805 document suggested many uses including using a teaspoon of soda to about a litre of water to wash containers used for milk or cream.  The main use of soda was as the alkali used to turn fats and oils in to soap.  For over two thousand years the source of this alkali was the ashes of plants. 

    In the Middle East or Arabia, a plant that grew in the salt marshes beside estuaries was used.  The ashes were called “al-qili”.  You can see how we got the term “alkali”.   In the eighteenth century Britain and France competed for supplies of wood ash from Canada.  When France lost control of Canada it was short of alkali for its soap industry.  A prize was awarded for a new process.  The winner was Nicolas Leblanc but in the confusion of the French Revolution he did not receive the prize and had his factories confiscated.   An Irishman, James Muspratt, brought Leblanc’s process to the UK and in the 1820s lots of alkali factories sprang up on Merseyside, Teesside and Glasgow. 

    Merseyside was a very good site as it was a seaport, close to the Lancashire textile mills and had sources of salt, coal and limestone nearby.  These three substances, with sulfuric acid, were the raw materials for the Leblanc process.  Muspratt had trouble persuading soapmakers that his soda was as good as the alkali made from ashes but the business was soon doing well. The process was extremely wasteful however.  Huge chimneys were built to disperse the vast quantities of hydrogen chloride gas given off and heaps of waste called “galligu” (calcium sulfide) piled up around the factories and the workers’ homes.  The result was dreadful damage to the environment – no trees could survive within two miles of a factory – and to the health of the workers and their families. 

    The Alkali Acts of the 1860s improved matters but a new process helped.  A Belgian, Ernest Solvay invented the process named after him and it was licensed to John Brunner and Ludwig Mond to produce soda in England.  They built their factory in Cheshire and were soon producing soda more cheaply and cleanly than the Leblanc factories.  The Solvay process uses salt and limestone as raw materials together with ammonia gas which is recovered and re-used.  Soda is still produced on the same site and is now part of Tata Chemicals.

    In the 1890s an electrolysis method was developed to manufacture caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). The Castner-Kellner process passes an electric current through sodium chloride solution using a mercury cathode.  A factory was built at Runcorn on Merseyside and still runs today.  Mercury cathode cells are being replaced by membrane cells to stop the escape of small amounts of poisonous mercury.

    Activities
    1 Compare the properties of baking soda, washing soda and caustic soda.  Test a solution of each with an indicator and with pH paper.  Find out the effect of adding an acid (lemon juice or hydrochloric acid) to each of the solutions. 
    (Use 0.5 mol.dm-3 solutions of each, and wear goggles as the solutions, particularly caustic soda are irritants)

    2 Make some alkali by burning plant material (wooden splints will do), mixing the ashes with water and filtering off the solution.  Test the solution with indicator and acid (as above).
    (Care with burning significant quantities of plant material)

    3 Test some of the uses of baking soda listed on websites.  Does it work?  Is it more or less effective than other products that are for sale?
    (Wear goggles.  Baking soda is relatively harmless but can irritate eyes.)

    4 Investigate the Leblanc and Solvay processes. 
    • What are the raw materials? 
    • What reactions takes place? 
    • What waste materials were formed? 
    • Why was the Solvay process more economical than the Leblanc process?

    5 What are the other products of the electrolysis of sodium chloride solution?  Why was the process economical despite the cost of electricity?  Why are membrane cells replacing mercury cathode (Castner-Kellner) cells?

    6 What other uses are there for sodium carbonate (soda) and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda)?

    7 Why was the manufacture of soda important to the industrial revolution in the UK?

    8 Find out about the damage caused by Leblanc soda works and what was done about it in the 1860s.

    9 Prepare a display on the life and work of the people involved in this story – Nicolas Leblanc, James Muspratt, Ernest Solvay, John Brunner, Ludwig Mond, Hamilton Castner, Karl Kellner.

    Peter Ellis

    Secondary English - Private Peaceful this weekend!

    BBC Radio 4's Saturday play this weekend is Simon Reade's stunning adaptation of Private Peaceful, Michael Morpurgo’s elegaic novel of the First World War.

    As young Thomas Peaceful looks back over his childhood from the battlefields of the First World War, his memories are full of family life deep in the countryside. But the clock is ticking, and every moment that Tommo spends remembering how things used to be, means another moment closer to something that will change his life forever...

    Full details of the Radio 4 play are available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bh91t

    The BBC website also notes that a podcast of the play will also be available as a download after airing.

    Private Peaceful is ideal for use in the classroom and the drama studio, and the play text containing an extensive resource section with many opportunities for drama, discussion, wider reading and writing is available for purchase here.

    Private Peaceful
    Saturday 4th February, 14:30, BBC Radio 4

    .
    Kimberley
    Collins Education

    Secondary Law - Intoxication

    Intoxication: Jig-Saw Scenarios

    Intoxication is the last topic I teach because it requires students to synthesize knowledge from so many other parts of the criminal law. The activity below is designed to allow students to create and solve their own criminal law scenarios and then draw appropriate conclusions from the exercise.

    The Target Law

    • Intoxication is often referred to as a ‘defence’ in criminal law. This is a misnomer. Case law tells us that Intoxication usually makes the defendant’s situation worse. DPP v Beard (1920). 
    • Voluntary Intoxication is evidence of the accused being ‘reckless’. It will supply the evidence of mens rea for basic intent crimes. Majewski (1976).
    • Involuntarily Intoxication (through ‘spiking’) is no automatic defence. A drunken intent is still an intent. Kingston (1994).

    Try this activity with your students – download the scenarios and the Intoxication cards here.

    Step One:

    Students choose a scenario to consider initially without any evidence of the defendant’s level of intoxication. They identify the actus reus and look for mens rea in the usual way. They decide whether the crime is one of basic or specific intent.

    Example: Scenario 3
    Walking through town after a night out Alan spots a shoe shop with a broken window. He manages to use his tie as a lasso and pull out a pair of expensive trainers. 

    Students would correctly identify s.1 theft and s. 9(1)(b) burglary as two possible crimes. They would correctly identify both as Specific Intent crimes.

    Step Two:
    Now they choose an intoxication card. They then have to decide what impact this has on the scenario above.

    Example: Card C
    A large orange juice ‘spiked’ with several vodkas.

    This time they have to discuss:
    Was the intoxication Voluntary or Involuntary?
    Involuntary: by ‘spiking’.

    Was the crime basic or specific?
    Specific: both theft and burglary crimes have a clear ulterior intent.

    They may even argue that because it was a high level of intoxication he may be entitled to an acquittal. This would apply if the intoxication was so high as to destroy his intent. Gallagher (1963). But, see below.

    Step Three: Synthesising the 2 halves of the scenario.
    Stronger students will examine the mens rea and behaviour of the defendant and conclude that his acts of forming a lasso and hooking a pair of trainers were so ‘purposive’ as to be evidence of intent. Drunk yes, but guilty anyway.

    Plenary: 
    The class attempts as many different combinations of scenarios as time will allow. Despite a tendency to jump to an easy conclusion based purely on the intoxication they will realise it is (as always) the mens rea that proves conclusive.

    Nigel Briggs
    Head of Law, Notre Dame Sixth Form College, Leeds