The training provided by the RGS-IBG Data Skills project opened up my eyes to the lack of data skills embedded into our Key Stage 3 curriculum. We covered the fundamental skills and embedded graph drawing activities throughout but we weren't creative – we weren't clever or strategic enough with how we embedded data skills throughout the topic. So, as a result of the project, this became a priority. Three ways I did this are listed below:
1. Geographical skills built into retrieval practice through 'GEOG your memory'
Taken from the wonderful world of the Twitter geography teacher community, each lesson start with four quick questions that 'Geog' their memory. The fourth question is always a geographical skill question - be it describing a graph, giving a grid reference, sketching a population pyramid or analyzing an image.
2. 'Think like a geographer' worksheet
At the end of a topic, students are given a set of questions that link to that topic of study. At first, they were somewhat surprised by the mixture of questions on these sheets; they are a mixture of logic puzzles, calculations and data analysis questions and so students couldn't immediately 'see the geography'. However, as we know, thinking logically and analytically are key skills for thinking like a geographer and these helped us convey that message!
3. Mapping out our skills to ensure consistency
Having not thought strategically about where and when each skill was covered, mapping it out across the three years of Key Stage 3 helped us to ensure consistency was developed and rigour increased across our teaching of skills. For example, in each place-based study (Antarctica in Year 7, China in Year 8 and Brazil in Year 9) students construct a climate change graph. However, the questions they completed after this now increase in rigour with each year (as the 'challenge' of drawing the graph decreases in significance!).
Kate Stockings FRGS
Hampstead School, London