AGTA – New to teaching geography course

In May, 2017 I attended a workshop held by the Auckland Geography Teachers Association. This was a short 3 hour course that covered some general information about teaching geography. While there were a number of themes that were addressed in this discussion there was one point that really stood out to me. One of the experienced geography teachers was discussing planning your program and the amount of credits required. She was explaining the benefits of offering less credits in your geography course in order to provide a space for teaching and learning outside of assessment.

I liked this idea for a number of reasons;

  1. As geography is an option subject we should be developing students interest in the subject and making our subject as exciting as possible which can’t always be done if you are constantly teaching to assessment.
  2. It is important to take time out to explore other issues that interests us as teachers but also students. E.g. current events, global issues, media stories etc. Cutting assessments gives some space and time out and learn through exploration.
  3. Teaching the same content year after year can be tedious for both the teacher and student – exploring new ideas can be engaging for the students and keep teachers passionate about the subject.

Nearing the end of 2017 on the back of my first year of teaching this is something I am seriously considering in my planning, in particular cutting out one external. At the moment the majority of L1,2 and 3 students only complete 1 if any externals and so focusing on internal credits and making the content interesting could be are more meaningful and valuable use of class time than preparing for externals that are not always completed. However, I will re-assess this at the beginning of next year once we have the data for externals. In the meantime I am re-working some of the content for next year to keep geography interesting!

AGTA Marking in Geography

In August, 2017 I attended a marking in geography course hosted by the Auckland Geography Teachers association. As a first year teacher marking Level 1, 2 and 3 internals I felt this would be particularly beneficial as I lacked confidence in my marking.

Overall this course helped me develop confidence as I had some clarity around particular standards and heard other opinions from more experienced teachers. However, 2 things in particular stood out to me and I began to use in my teaching practice when marking internals.

  1. Holistic marking – this meant that while a student may have done well in one area and not in another as a teacher we can look at the mark holistically. This gave me more confidence in my decisions when marking. For example one level 2 student often had a strong grasp on ideas that came through in her writing but this didn’t necessarily have the same level of detail as another student – yet as a marker I was confident she had a strong grasp on the content overall. Or her use of examples demonstrated this strong knowledge rather than lots of examples that only really touch on the big ideas.
  2. Verbal re-subs – NCEA had encourage the AGTA to use verbal re-subs for assessment. I didn’t know this was possible and have started to use this as it limits time marking but also makes re-subs a bit more achievable for students who are good verbally but not so strong in their written expression. I have used this several times with students by asking them to explain and then noting their comments down on the google doc as a comment. This approach is particularly valuable for students who may struggle a bit with writing as well as being more efficient for teachers….lots of re-subs can be hard to manage teaching 3 year levels.