Tag Archives: ideas

How to be an Essay Writing Jedi Ninja (Poster with Canva and Thinglink)

Over the years I have honed my essay writing teaching skills and I’ve distilled it to 5 top tips:

  • RTBQ
  • TEAC
  • Signpost
  • State and Evaluate
  • Find the golden thread

Rather cryptic, I know, but my students know what it means. I made a poster using two cool sites: Canva and Thinglink. Canva is fantastic for making professional looking posters and Thinglink adds an interactive element to images and text. Hover your cursor over the image below to see the explanation of my cryptic but very good essay tips.

Oreo Plate Tectonics

A great way to explain plate tectonics and simple plate movements is by using Oreos. This is based on a lecture by Dr Bob Lillie of the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University. I found the PPT online at the Oregon State University website  but frankly, the internet is quite full of “Geo-reo activities”

Here is the PPT: ImageOreos Plate TectonicsI have changed the PPT a little (mainly to get rid of Comic Sans, I get a bit twitchy whenever I see that font).

The kids responded really well to this activity. There is nothing better than some hands-on activities to make information stick. The students were like little Pavlovian dogs; salivating while moving the “plates” around on the “magma”. After 15 minutes of playing with Oreos they gobbled it up in 1 second flat. Added lesson: delayed gratification!

Causes of WW2, Hexagons!

Hexagons are better than circles or squares because hexagons fit together in many ways. Much has been written about Hexagon Learning, and this activity is my interpretation of it. I have used it twice in my classes and both times have been very successful. The best thing about this activity is that it gets students discussing and arguing about the Causes of World War 2. They have to come to an agreement about how to arrange the hexagons and because the possibilities are endless, many different versions will arise.

Below are three Word Files. I hope they speak for themselves.


Continue reading

Histedchat 12/02/14: A succesful History classroom

This was the first night of #histedchat for 2014. We had many participants and some great discussions.

The questions were as follows:


Time went so fast that we skipped Q4, pity really, because I’m genuinly interested in what other history teachers hang on their walls. Might be something for a future chat.

Below you find all the Tweets sent in the Histedchat hour. I did try to make a Storify but that site just never ceases to frustrate me. Hard to get all the tweets in, many double ups, glitchy site… the annoyances just never stop. I “harvested” the tweets below by copying and pasting them from Tweetchat, which is a live site that shows all tweets in a certain hast tag.  I hope you find the Tweets easy to read and interesting. See you all in #histedchat in two weeks.  Continue reading

Kuhlthau, the research process

uncertainposterHave you  experienced that moment where an academic task or question seemed so big that it made you slightly anxious? I have, and I see my students go through it too. Research essays, the IB Extended Essay and the IB Internal Assessment are all big academic inquiry processes where students are required to research and grapple with a large amount of information that has to be distilled and synthesised into a coherent and sophisticated argument.

Professor Carol Kuhlthau has researched the research process. I find her notion of the “uncertainty principle” very interesting and recognisable. She describes it as follows: 

“Uncertainty is a cognitive state that commonly causes symptoms of anxiety and lack of confidence. Uncertainty and anxiety can be expected in the early stages of the information searching process. Uncertainty, confusion, and frustration are associated with vague, unclear thoughts about a topic or problem.

As knowledge states shift to more clearly focused thoughts, a parallel shift occurs in feelings of increased confidence. Uncertainty due to a lack of understanding, a gap in meaning, or a limited construct initiates the process of information seeking”

(Kuhlthau, C. C. (1993). Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services. Norwood, NJ: Ablex., p. 111)


Below is a visual representation of the uncertainty experienced during a research / inquiry process: Continue reading

Hexagon learning: making and justifying connections

This week I tried hexagons with my students. It worked really well.hexagon

The beauty of following inspiring educators on Twitter is that you benefit from their ideas and knowledge. I first saw Hexagon learning on @jivespin’s blog, which led me to David Didau, NoTosh, SOLO (HookEd), Chris Harte and TheLearningGeek. All explain how these versatile hexagons encourage deeper thinking and rich conversations in the classroom. Hexagon learning can be used in ANY subject and for any topic.  Continue reading

#Histedchat, hands-on activities in the history classroom (05/12/12)

I moderated tonight’s chat on “Hands-on activities in the history classroom”. Two questions to guide discussion:

  1. What are your favourite hands on activities for the history classroom?
  2. What realia / materials / movies / tools work best in your history classroom?
Edmodo code q51zcw Please join.

Tweets in tonight’s #Histedchat. I’ll have to find a way to make the links clickable:

MattJJSchultz #HIstEdChat Thanks all for your contributions & ideas, whilst I only have 2 days left this year, I’ll make use of the ideas in 2013! Thanks. -9:37 PM Dec 5th, 2012

onetakeWeb I have a great Yr 7 enrichment matrix and a jeopardy template I’ll put up on Edmodo. Great for revision and post exam time #histedchat -9:35 PM Dec 5th, 2012

carlaleeB Night all and TY #histedchat -9:35 PM Dec 5th, 2012

craff2008 @vanweringh #HistEdChat thanks awesome chat and ideas thanks for moderating 🙂 -9:35 PM Dec 5th, 2012

vanweringh Thank you everyone, cheers and see you next week, although I will be overseas then, may not make it. #histedchat #histedchat -9:34 PM Dec 5th, 2012

lizmvhums @vanweringh supermum!!!#histedchat Night all -9:34 PM Dec 5th, 2012

carlaleeB @vanweringh @activehistory is great – I had faculty subscription b4 #histedchat -9:34 PM Dec 5th, 2012

Lady_B_Crawford #histedchat thanks guys – just wish I had a history class to use these ideas in next year – fingers crossed for 2014! -9:34 PM Dec 5th, 2012 Continue reading

SAMR: What would ‘IT’ look like in my classroom?

Integrating Technology in a meaningful way is a challenge for teachers. IT is often used as a simple a substitution for the old notebook or a white board marker.  What I like about Ruben Puentedura’s ‘SAMR’ model, is that he shows us what sophisticated and meaningful IT-use looks like.

What is SAMR?

SAMR stands for Substitute, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition and it is a model for enhancing technology integration. It helps teachers to move from a simple task where IT might replace note-taking to a sophisticated task that incorporates all elements of IT to create a new, redefined task which was impossible to imagine 10 years ago. Continue reading

How to move your lessons from good to outstanding | Teacher Network Blog | Guardian Professional

An “Assessment for Learning” questioning technique to help teachers move from  good-to-outstanding. It also helps address differentiation in the classroom and  encourages teachers to take risks. Time to Pose, Pause, Bounce and Pounce!

How does it work? Continue reading