Chris Cox Subject: Geography

'Chalk or Talk (How can we manage the Grand Canyon?)'

AIM: Y9 pupil project assessed by oral presentation': aim to improve articulation of ideas and concepts, and explore viability of oral GCSE coursework component to raise achievement.

OUTCOME: new model for independent pupil work that targets higher order thinking and higher order assessment outcomes


Introducing Key Stage 3 students to GCSE level work, in particular the completion of the Cross-Unit Task element of the coursework, using an oral presentation rather than utilising a written format.

Objectives within this were:

1 – Developing the ability of students to learn independently using effective group work and problem solving strategies. This will improve the articulation of ideas and raise achievement.

2 – Providing greater variety for pupils within the geography classroom. This will reflect the differing learning styles of students.

3 – Moving students to higher level GCSE answers, involving the analysis and evaluation of opinion, prior to the commencement of the KS4 geography course. This will also allow the exploration of oral GCSE coursework as a viable alternative to written work.

Teaching Plan – How did you carry out the project?

A series of lessons focused on the “Water, landforms and people” unit of the Avery Hill syllabus. The key idea being that physical and human influences can have a significant effect and distinct influence on the development of a natural landform e.g. The Grand Canyon. The task in this instance is the production of a PowerPoint presentation – “How can we manage the Grand Canyon?”

The group of students targeted were 9H1, many of whom have chosen geography as an option at GCSE. The group also includes the entire Year 9 Gifted and Talented geography cohort.

The structure of lessons was as follows:

1 – Background content delivered using Key Stage 5 teaching resources and previous GCSE examination questions in groups. Homework was the production of a written document outlining how the Grand Canyon can be managed; this was then used as baseline assessment data.

2 - An activity that focused on the impact of humans on the Grand Canyon and the opinions of interest groups on this issue, as well as models for effective management of

the Grand Canyon. This was achieved through a group carousel, using a planning grid that allowed students to collate information prior to the assessment task.

3 – Briefing lesson illustrating the assessment criteria using an assessment grid. This allowed the students to begin the production of the assessment work and agree on what makes a good presentation. The focus here was on the development of higher order thinking skills such as the application of knowledge and analysis of opinions and the evaluation of such opinion.

4 – Independent research collating information in groups, this will use a range of resources including ICT and Key Stage 5 material.

5 – Group presentations that were critically evaluated by peers and the class teacher. Video was used to provide a portfolio of work.

6 - Qualitative and quantitative assessment and feedback using the assessment grids and post project evaluative questionnaires.

Evidence -

I expected that there would be a series of achievements from the students as a result of the activity, these included:

Improved articulation of ideas and concepts, increased levels of pupil motivation, raised pupil achievement, development of independent learning/presentation skills and greater variation within the classroom.

Evidence of this includes baseline assessment data versus summative peer and teacher assessment. It will also include the qualitative video footage and questionnaire results.

Evidence from the ICT lessons indicates a greater articulation of ideas and concepts. There has been a great deal of discussion within groups of what is and is not relevant, using the assessment grid as a reference.

Overall evidence so far is that the students have begun to develop higher order skills as mentioned earlier e.g. effective analysis of opinions and application of knowledge.

Outcomes -

This project has allowed me to reflect on my teaching and use thinking skills techniques to update a GCSE piece of work.

Outcomes - Pupil Learning

(To be finished on project completion)

Outcomes - Adult Learning

(To be finished on project completion)

Next Steps:

This project has the potential to allow a change in style with our GCSE Cross-unit task. From having a piece of coursework based on report writing and production of display materials, we could potentially move to a presentational piece of assessment. This will require consultation with the Head of Department and an external moderator.

This project could also be used at Key Stage 3, in areas such as weather and climate where we already ask students to produce weather reports in the style of a TV broadcast. The next step here is to repeat the project at Key Stage 3 and in conjunction with the Head of Department evaluate the results.

In terms of building speaking, listening and presentational skills the project is applicable to all curriculum areas. The development in Year 9 higher order thinking skills such as the analysis and evaluation of opinions through effective analysis of the assessment criteria will allow students to access the highest grades at GCSE through.

The use of an Interactive Whiteboard will make such work easier for all class teachers and in an ideal situation all departments should have one of these. Possession of the Active Vote system could also radically alter the assessment of such projects by students – allowing almost instantaneous feedback.

In Conclusion – A personal response to the whole project

The project has allowed me to challenge my own teaching style and critically evaluate the way in which the GCSE curriculum and exam requirements are delivered e.g. emphasising the application of knowledge, analysis and evaluation – all of which are at a higher level in terms of GCSE responses. I believe that this will have a positive impact in terms of student engagement and learning as well as enabling them to access higher grades at GCSE.

The project will also have additional benefits for the delivery of our Key Stage 3 Programme of Study. It can potentially enhance the delivery of certain aspects of the subject, in a manner that challenges the students and enhances their ability to learn independently using higher order thinking skills.

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