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GCSE Sociology Knowledge Organisers

Friday, February 5th, 2021

Over the past couple of years I’ve posted a whole load of Sociology Knowledge Organisers (or Learning Tables as they’re sometimes known) and they continue – along with their Psychology counterparts – to be some of the most-popular posts on the site.

Which must mean something.

The last batch, however, seems to have been posted nearly 2 years ago, which means I either lost interest or, more-probably, exhausted the supply.

In either case – and they’re probably not mutually-exclusive – you’ll be glad to know that while I was at a loose-end I decided to have a look around to see if there was anything new available and was pleasantly surprised to find there was.

It seems schools and colleges have been busy encouraging teachers to create Knowledge Organisers like they were going out of fashion (although, by the time I get around to posting this, they probably will have).

While there’s probably a sociological debate to be had about this, this is not the place and I’m not the person to initiate it. So, whatever your particular take on the question of Knowledge Organisers – as “just-another-tool in the teacher’s toolkit” to “a management tool that will revolutionise learning” – you can rest-assured that all you’re going to get here are a load of links to a variety of different types of Organiser.

The twist, this time, is that these are all for GCSE Sociology (AQA mostly) because, unless I’m very much mistaken (unlikely I know) I haven’t previously posted any Organisers for this level…

Click to see the Organisers

GCSE Sociology Freebies

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

The Sociology Support web site has some new and interesting freebies available for GCSE Sociology, the first of which is the Spec Check Pack.

This consists of neat, one-page, summaries of the AQA Specification content (including an indication of Key Studies) that students (and teachers…) should find useful for both tracking progress through the course and for revision.

The Pack has four pdf documents covering Social Stratification, Education, Family and Deviance.

It might also be worth your while picking-up their free “Introducing Structural Theories” resource, again for AQA GCSE, that’s described as:

A lesson for GCSE Sociology students introducing the main principles of structural perspectives”.

This can be downloaded as both a PowerPoint Presentation and pdf file.

As if that’s not enough, there’s also a free CPD “Introduction to teaching excellent sociology for non-specialists” Webinar on Thursday 27th August 4:45-5:45pm.

You’ll find registration details on the web site (plus details of their new online CPD courses if you’re interested).

GCSE and A-level Sociology Podcasts

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Audiopi are currently offering teachers and students free access to their GCSE and A-level podcasts until 1st October 2020.

After that it will cost around £8 per month for students if you want to continue to listen or £150 per year for institutions (other options may be available but I couldn’t be bothered to explore them).

If you don’t want to sign-up for the free trial right away there are a few sample podcasts available and the couple I’ve listened to are professionally-produced, interesting and informative.

Although I wouldn’t want the more-enterprising (or cash-strapped) among you to get the wrong idea but it seems that you can download each podcast as an mp3 file during your “free trial”…

As well as Sociology you – or your colleagues – might also be interested in the Religious Studies and Psychology podcasts.

These are equally free for the next 3 months.

More GCSE Sociology PLC’s

Monday, January 27th, 2020
Eduqas SORT PLC

Following from the original GCSE Sociology Personal Learning Checklist post I’ve found a few more PLC’s for different exam boards. These are a combination of teacher-created PLCs and what appear to be some professionally-created efforts.

Most follow the familiar “RAG” (Red, Amber, Green) format, or simple variations thereof, but I’ve included a few for the Eduqas Board based around SORT criteria. This is a more-involved technique based around students indicating whether or not information has been:

Summarised Organised (using RAG technique) Recalled and Tested.

Introductory

Key Concepts (SORT)

Education

PLC1 | PLC2 | SORT

Crime and Deviance

PLC1 | PLC2 | SORT

Media

Family

PLC1 | PLC2 | SORT

Methods

PLC1 | PLC2 | SORT | PLC3

Inequality

PLC1 | PLC2 | SORT

Personal Learning Checklists: GCSE Sociology

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
Family PLC

Although I’ve previously posted about Personal Learning Checklists (PLCs) this was in the context of providing both a general explanation of how they are broadly designed to work and a basic template you could use to create PLCs for whatever course you happened to be teaching.

In basic terms, PLCs can be useful for teachers and students in a couple of ways:

Firstly, by identifying everything a student potentially needs to learn on a course and for an exam. This has an obvious use in terms of revision because it ensures students revise what they need to revise. It can also be useful during a course if a student, for whatever reason, has patch attendance. The creation of a PLC can be used, for example, to ensure they cover work they have missed.

Secondly, they can be used by teachers to provide additional help for individual students who may not have clearly understood some part of the course.

If you want to explore how PLCs can be used as an integral part of a “raising standards” agenda, this short article, Interventions: Personalised learning checklists, could be a useful starting-point.

If, on the other hand, you’re only here for the gear, Blenheim School have very kindly created a whole bunch of GCSE Sociology PLCs so you don’t have to (and if you teach other GCSE subjects there are a whole host of other PLCs available you might want to check-out). This bunch are for the AQA Specification (I think) but if you follow other Specifications they’re easy enough to adapt to your own particular needs.

Crime and Deviance PLC

What is Sociology?

Research Methods

Family

Education

Crime and Deviance

Mass Media

Social Inequality

Update

I’ve since posted a few more GCSE PLCs on a variety of topics (Family, Education, Media etc.) that you can find here if you want them.

GCSE Sociology Resources

Monday, January 13th, 2020
Culture and Socialisation Study Guide
Study Guide

Although iGCSE Sociology is a different exam to the conventional GCSE Sociology studied in the majority of English schools, the Specification content is very similar for both in terms of the general areas studied (Inequality, Family, Methods and so forth) and the specific content studied within each area.

This, as you may be starting to suspect, is quite convenient given that I’ve recently stumbled across a range of iGCSE resources (Study Guides, PowerPoint Presentations and Word-based Notes) that GCSE teachers and students should find very useful.

And free.

Never neglect the value of free.

The resources seem to have been assembled by Theresa Harvey and while they’re generally a few years old (the date range seems to be 2008 – 2014) I’ve no doubt you’ll find at least some of them useful.

See the resources…

Podcasts With Pictures | GCSE

Monday, May 20th, 2019

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the growing number of teachers creating video resources for some time and now I’ve finally managed to drag myself away from Far Cry 5 make a bit of time I thought I’d start with a set of GCSE resources from MTO Sociology aimed at the AQA Specification. When I get around to it I’ll do a follow-up post on A-level video resources of which, you might not be surprised to learn, there are many more available.

Anyway, at the time of writing the MTO Sociology YouTube Channel has 15 or so Sociology resources divided into 4 main playlists:

Exam Ready takes you through all the information you need to cover in terms of revision in areas like Methods, Family, Education, Deviance and Stratification. These films are 30 – 60 minutes long.

Themes focuses on concepts (socialisation, gender, class and ethnicity) that crop-up right across the sociology specification and the podcasts focus on how to apply your knowledge of these themes to questions in different areas (such as family or education). These resources are much shorter – between 10 and 20 minutes – to reflect their tighter focus.

Perspectives provides a brief introduction to Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism and how these perspectives can be applied across different areas of the Specification. Again, these are relatively short films that come-in around the 10-minute mark.

Questions and Answers seems to be a bit of a pot-luck resource based on whatever MTO Sociology’s students requested. If you’re having problems understanding concepts like the glass ceiling, for example, this resource will be helpful. If you’re not, it probably won’t. Which isn’t a criticism, more a heads-up. The films in this section are around the 15-minute mark.

Finally, there are a couple more Sociology resources tucked away on the GCSE Humanities playlist that are worth checking-out: How do I answer exam questions? and Model answers and exam feedback.

GCSE Sociology Guides: Family and Education

Friday, August 17th, 2018

GCSE Sociology resources tend to be a little thin on the ground, so it’s always nice to come across decent teacher-created material such as these two bang-up-to-the-moment Revision Guides created by Kate Henney.

The Family Guide is a 25-page document that packs in a whole range of resources covering family types, diversity, alternatives, perspectives, roles and structures (plus some stuff on exam questions and a knowledge organiser…).

The Education Pack Is a 20-page resource covering perspectives, types of school, class, ethnicity and gender, factors in achievement, marketisation and educational policy (plus exam questions and a knowledge organiser).

Although the resources are in PowerPoint format it’s easy enough to save each file as a pdf document using the Export function if you want to give your students copies.

Three More GCSE Sociology Revision Guides

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

These revision guides were created for the WJEC exam board so if you don’t follow this Specification you need to be careful about the areas that might be included in your Specification that are not covered in these guides.

And vice versa, of course. There’s not a great deal of point revising material from these guides if it doesn’t appear on the Specification you’re following. Even though education – like travel – may well broaden the mind, if you’re looking around the Internet for a GCSE sociology revision guide there’s a fair bet you’re not actually looking to do a great deal more than you actually have to…

Keeping this very important caveat in mind, these resources hail from Corby Technical School and while there’s no named author they are dated 2017. This, somewhat unusually, makes them bang up-to-date at the time of posting.

Even if you don’t teach WJEC there’s plenty of information here that you’ll probably find useful, whatever GCSE Specification you follow:

Crime and deviance
Family Life
Society and the Individual

More GCSE Sociology Revision Stuff

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

While it’s possible to put-together a very reasonable – and reasonably comprehensive – set of revision resources from stuff that teachers have put on the web, there are a couple of things you should do before committing yourself to using these materials:

1. Check they are for your Specification – you don’t want to be revising the wrong Spec.

2. Check the Specification year / series to which they refer, particularly if it’s changed recently (over the past year or so). In other words, check the resources cover the newer required material and exclude older, newly-irrelevant material, from your revision.

Guides

These comprehensive resources combine things like notes, activities and advice and generally cover a number of different areas of the GCSE Specification. Three I’ve found are worth a look:

1. Whole Course Revision 2018: This is a serious, 100-page, GCSE Revision Guide, put together by Ian Goddard, that covers:

• Introducing Sociology
• Research Methods
• Family
• Education
• Crime and Deviance
• Social Inequality
• Power and Politics

Unlike a lot of the previous GCSE resources I’ve posted [link] this is primarily a revision schedule rather than a simple list of revision notes (although these are also included). In this respect the Guide covers:

• How to revise
• Revision schedule
• Personal Learning Checklist [link]
• Basic study notes to supplement other reading (the Guide refers to “Collins Revision GCSE Sociology” but if you don’t use this text substituting your usual textbook will be fine)
• Keywords
• How to answer questions
• Past question practice

2. Sociology Revision Guide: Although not as ambitious or comprehensive as the above – the focus is on key terms and Notes covering Methods, Family and Education, plus a short section in exam advice – this Guide by Debbie McGowan is nicely designed and makes a welcome addition to your revision armoury. Presupposing you have one. If not, you can start one with this.

3. Revision Guide for Students: A nicely-designed and cleanly laid-out hyperlinked pdf by Jonathan Tridgell that covers:

• Research Methods
• Socialisation, Culture and Identity
• Family
• Education
• Mass Media

While the focus is on brief revision notes the Guide also includes information on:

• Course structure
• Exam technique
• Revision Tips.

(more…)

GCSE Revision Booklets

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

As with A-level Sociology, I’ve previously posted some links to GCSE Revision Guides and Resources over the past year or so, since when I seem to have picked-up a whole slew of guides and resources that I though it would be good to post.

So here’s the first batch of 10. They’re all in pdf format and I can take no credit (nor indeed blame) for the style and content – it’s a bit of a Curate’s Egg I’m afraid – but there’s something useful in all of them:

Sociology Revision Guide: Mainly brief Notes covering the Inequalities in Society Options, but with a useful section at the end where “Sample GCSE Essays” are analysed and annotated.

General Revision Guide: similar to the above but covering culture, socialisation, research methods and family (the latter ahs much more extensive Notes). Again, there’s a very useful section at the end where “Sample GCSE Essays” are analysed and annotated.

GCSE Revision Guide: Social Stratification, Research Methods, Crime and Deviance, Power and Politics (James Pearson): A set of short Notes on these topics.

Unit B671 Investigating Society Revision Sheet: less a “revision sheet” and more a comprehensive set of Notes for this Unit – Research Methods, Culture, Identity and Socialisation.

Unit B672 Crime and Deviance Revision Sheet: as above but for all aspects of Deviance.

Unit B672 Family Revision Sheet: And the same for the sociology of family life.

Unit 2: Social Inequality, Crime and Deviance, Mass Media (Michael Ellison): some very basic notes.

Mass Media Revision Guide: Lots of Notes covering all aspects of this topic.

GCSE Education Revision (James Pearson): This is a “Revision Activity Booklet” for Education that combines Notes with short exercises and all manner of exam advice.

Unit 2: Crime and Deviance Revision Activities: A whole booklet full of revision activities.

GCSE Psychology Notes

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

As with its sociological counterpart, this is a set of short, to-the-point, GCSE Notes covering a range of topics:

• Aggression
• Development of Personality
• Learning Memory
• Non-Verbal Communication
• Research Methods
• Sex and gender
• Social Influence
• Stereotypes

As with the Sociology Notes these aren’t something that will replace whatever textbooks you use, but it’s a handy resource nonetheless, that will complement your existing resources.

GCSE Sociology Notes

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Although this site describes itself as the UK’s leading educational website for GCSE and A-level it’s a little odd because it looks unfinished – loads of placeholder ”awaiting image” graphics, a Facebook page not updated for a year and the same with its Twitter feed.

However, if you and your students can live with this you’ll find a range of Notes here that are relatively short, to-the-point and cover a number of different Specification areas and topics:

• Introduction to Sociology
• Families
• Education
• Media
• Power
• Social Inequality
• Crime and Deviance
• Sampling techniques

While the material isn’t going to replace your textbooks, it’s a handy resource for students that complements, rather than detracts from, whatever sources you use.

GCSE Psychology: Revision Booklet

Friday, August 11th, 2017

The final offering in this short GCSE Psychology series is a revision booklet by R Cummins of Knowsley College that covers both

Unit 1: Making sense of other people (Memory, Non-verbal communication, Development of personality, Stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination and Research methods). 

Unit 2: Understanding other people (Learning, Social influence, Sex and Gender, Aggression, and Research methods)

The emphasis, as you might expect, is very much on revision and the booklet takes a no-frills approach to the topic through a combination of: 

  • Checklists
  • Notes and
  • Practice exam questions.

  • It’s not the most visually-dynamic offering, but it does the job it sets out to do…

    GCSE Psychology: Unit 2

    Thursday, August 10th, 2017

    Having posted stuff for AQA Psychology Unit 1 it’s probably only fair to do the same for Unit 2 so today’s post focuses on two offerings

    1. Understanding Other People: This resource, created by T Mitchell, consists of information and activities – plus a few revision tips – focused on various aspects of Conditioning. There’s one specific reference to a textbook that you may have to change if you don’t use the featured textbook.

    2. Unit 2 Revision Booklet: Although this offering from Caroline Thomas-Smith covers some of the same ground as the previous booklet, it contains much more besides (from social learning theory through aggression to research methods) and has a much greater focus on revision. It does, however, contain a few activities and an extensive range of exam questions.

    GCSE Psychology: Unit 1

    Sunday, July 30th, 2017

    Having spent the past few weeks furiously editing videos we’re licensing to a couple of British and American publishers, one of the joys of having a bit of spare time is the opportunity for a random-trawl through my hard drives looking for stuff that “might be useful to someone, sometime”.

    The stuff I’ve selected today is a little niche – and you don’t get more niche than GCSE Psychology, unless you count GCSE Sociology, in which case it’s not quite as niche as I might have initially lead you to believe, but still quite niche. Probably. 

    Anyway, since some helpful teachers have taken the time, trouble and effort to create it the least I could reasonably do is post it. You can thank me later.

    Today’s offerings, therefore, are focused around AQA Psychology Unit 1 (Making Sense of Other People) and include: 

    1.     A Revision Booklet covering Memory, Stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, Non-verbal communication, Personality, and Research Methods. This booklet was created by Caroline Thomas-Smith and the approach adopted here is one of testing student recall rather than trying to provide a comprehensive revision document.

    2.   Personality Key Studies and Key Words created by Kevin White takes a more-conventional approach to revision with this extensive bundle of condensed course notes covering, as you might have been lead to expect, key studies and words. 

    3.     Unlike the previous two offerings, this Personality-focused resource created by T Mitchell is more of a course workbook than revision guide. Although it offers a few revision and exam tips its main focus is on individual classroom activities. The resource makes reference to a couple of specific texts so if you don’t use those texts you will need to substitute your own.

    GCSE SociologyStuff: Roll-it To Recap

    Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

    If, like me, you’re a fan of games and simulations you might find this simple Sociology game from Steve Bishop worth a look.

    While some games, such as the Sociology and Psychology Connecting Walls are best played on-line, this is more a pen-and-sticky-notes effort – a simple classroom activity that’s guaranteed to provide hours of fun, frivolity and furious arguments. Possibly.

    While the rules are rudimentary (“Roll the dice!”. “Answer the question!”) the upside to this is that you can adapt it to your own specific classroom requirements and objectives.

    This particular example is aimed at GCSE Sociology but it’s the kind of thing that could be easily adapted to A-level Sociology (or indeed GCSE / A-level Psychology) presupposing you’ve got the time and energy to create different game boards for different areas of the Spec.

    GCSE Psychology Connecting Walls

    Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

    If you’re looking for something a little different to encourage your GCSE students to revise, his collection of Psychology Connecting Walls might be just the ticket.  

    The basic mechanics of the quiz are very simple: each wall has 16 elements that can be grouped into 4 different categories. Once all 4 categories have been correctly identified students then need to say what connects each category. If you’re not familiar with the TV Show (Only Connect) on which the quizzes are based you can watch a short introductory video that demonstrates the game mechanics.

    There are 19 Connecting Walls in this collection, although because they are randomised some categories will be repeated across different walls. 

    There’s no indication as to who created these Walls but if you know, let me know and I can credit them accordingly…

     

    GCSE Revision Resources

    Thursday, November 24th, 2016

    While it’s probably fair to say that teacher-created GCSE revision resources are a bit thin on the ground (and take a bit of finding), there are useful resources “out there” if you’re prepared to do a lot of searching. To save you the time and trouble, here’s some I found earlier (the quality’s a bit variable, but needs must etc.):

    gcsemedia

    Unit 1 Revision Guide

    Unit 1: Education

    Unit 2 Topics – keywords / concepts

    Crime and Deviance

    Mass Media Revision Booklet

    Unit B671 (Sociology Basics) Revision: Methods / Culture / Socialisation / Identity

     

     

    Sociology Revision Blasts

    Thursday, March 11th, 2021

    Having girded my loins, as you do, for this set of Tutur2U GCSE and A-level Revision videos I was quite prepared to be met with a series of “worthy-but-a-little-dull” screencasts that used a “Podcasts with Pictures” format to talk students through a range of sociological topics.

    Chatty. And Definitely Not Dull.

    In other words, someone talking over and around a series of static screens that, by-and-large, mirror whatever the narrator is saying.

    Some see this as reinforcement.

    Some see this as redundancy.

    You pays your money. Or not, in this case, because the screencasts are free (but you probably get the drift).

    Anyway, I digress.

    What we actually have here are a set of recorded webinars, featuring between 2 and 4 presenters, that run for around 40 – 45 minutes. Being a webinar, there’s also an (unseen) audience of students whose main role is to answer a wide range of different types of “revision-style questions” (multiple-choice, connecting walls, 30-second challenges and so forth) set by the presenters.

    Against all my, admittedly quite low, initial expectations I found the whole thing great fun, engaging and informative.

    This was helped, in no small measure, by the personable and chatty presenters who chivvied the unseen students into answering the on-screen questions and then provided a useful commentary on why they were (mostly) right and how this all connected to answering different types of exam question.

    While you’ll probably have to look through the webinars to see if the information tested fits with your current teaching – it’s mostly fairly generic stuff you’ll find in most GCSE / A-level textbooks, but there may be examples and references you’ve not taught or used alternatives for with your students – I think you’ll find them a really engaging way to mix-up revision sessions with your students, particularly if you’re teaching on-line.

    Webinars

    Podcasts with Pictures: Evaluating Sociological Research Methods

    Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

    Alexandra Sugden’s YouTube Channel contains a load of online lectures, for both GCSE and A-level, covering areas like crime and deviance, education, sociological theory, research methods and a tiny bit of religion.

    The Channel’s well worth a visit and a watch if you have the time and inclination and, as with many of the other Channels I’ve featured from time to time on this blog, what’s on offer is basically Podcasts with Pictures.

    Alexandra talks students through a range of information using static, illustrative, material that reflects and reinforces what’s being said.

    The lectures range in length from the “really short” at around 7 minutes to the significantly longer that can last upwards of 30 – 35 minutes. Although this can be quite a long time for a student to concentrate – either in the classroom or online – I found the tone of each lecture sufficiently confident and chatty to hold my attention. Others may not be as determined or dedicated, however, so if you want to use the lectures it may be useful to check them out beforehand so you can direct students to particular sections if necessary.

    In addition to the straightforward lesson content lectures there are a range of revision / exam-preparation films covering things like how to answer different types of question, how to revise using the Revision Clock method and, something that particularly caught my attention for some reason, how to evaluate sociological research methods using the PERVERT mnemonic.

    This, if you’re not familiar with it, is a 7-point checklist (Practical, Ethical, etc.) students can apply to a research methods question that helps them cover all the major knowledge, interpretation and evaluation points. The lecture covers each of the Pervert Points in turn, using examples to illustrate where necessary. Some (such as ethics) are covered in greater detail and more-comprehensively than others (such as validity).

    As with all such materials it’s possible to be picky about the information they contain (“validity”, for example, is not really about “truth” in research, while, in relation to a different lecture I watched on Broken Windows, Zimbardo’s 1969 “Anonymity of Place” experiment logically couldn’t have been about “testing Broken Windows” – a theory developed in 1982…) but as long as you’re on hand to correct any possible misconceptions all should be well.

    Otherwise, the lecture is around 11 minutes long, so probably just enough time to make a cup of coffee while your students Zoom-view the content.

    Online Classroom: Family Study Packs

    Thursday, November 5th, 2020

    Back in the day, when I was working for a company called Online Classroom, we produced a range of booklets, for both GCSE and A-level, that were sold online (hence the name…).

    To cut a long story short, when Online Classroom was sold to a video distribution company called Clickview in around 2009 they weren’t in the market for ebooks and a number of proto-projects went into abeyance – or, if you prefer, into a black hole from which they were destined never to emerge.

    Until now, as I was searching through a load of Family resources to see if there was anything worth posting. And found these that, to be perfectly honest, I’d forgotten about.

    The Packs were written by Craig Chester and designed around 4 key areas:

    1. Key Theorists

    2. Summary of Key Research

    3. Evaluation

    4. 20 Questions (based on and around the information in the Pack)

    As far as I can tell the Packs covered 2 main areas, Family Diversity and Childhood. There may have been more but if there were, I can’t find them.

    Anyway, the Packs are short, colourful and hopefully informative – although, as I’ve suggested, they are around 10 years old so the information they contain may be a little bit dated.

    The Packs…

    Family Diversity: Marriage and Cohabitation

    Family Diversity: Divorce

    Family Diversity: Alternative Structures

    Family Diversity: Other Household Structures

    Family Diversity: Ethnicity

    Childhood: Social Construction

    Contemporary Childhood

    Recent Research Digested: Education and the Disadvantage Gap

    Tuesday, September 1st, 2020
    Download as Pdf file

    The Education Policy Institute’s Annual Report into Education in England, authored by Hutchinson, Reader and Akhal (2020), makes a number of observations and assessments about the state of education in England. Most of these do, however, fall into the “interesting but dull” category so I thought I’d save you a lot of valuable time by reading the document on your behalf and picking-out what I think are probably the most useful bits for sociology teachers and students relating to the “disadvantage gap” (the difference in attainment between “disadvantaged pupils and their peers”)

    You can, of course, always read the Report (or the summary if you prefer) for yourself if you’re so inclined, but if you’re not, these are four of the more-interesting bits:

    (more…)

    Lessons In A Tube

    Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

    A YouTube to be exact because this post reintroduces TheTeacherSociology Channel that I first posted about a couple of years ago in relation to their extensive range of (AQA) exam-help videos.

    TheTeacherSociology has recently expanded her repertoire – presumably in response to the current need for on-line teaching – to create a range of tutorials focused on Theory and Methods. While again aimed at AQA teachers / students there’s plenty here that is relevant to teachers / students following other Specifications. They’re generally relevant to any sociology course that includes Theory and Methods (which, all-things-considered, is likely to be pretty much all of them).

    The tutorials tend to come-in at between 25 and 35 minutes (although reliability and validity, for example, is around 5 minutes, probably because once you’ve outlined the basics there’s not a lot more to add) and they can be used as off-the-peg lessons for teachers to use in a variety of ways, depending upon the circumstances in which they find their teaching.

    The tutorials generally follow the “podcast with pictures” format but in addition to the general explanation of a topic the tutorials include activities and exercises (with accompanying resources if necessary) students can do to consolidate their (individual) learning.

    The currently-available tutorials are:

    Postmodernism…

    Postmodernism

    Social Action

    Feminism

    Marxism

    Functionalism

    Reliability and Validity

    Education: 4. Role and Function: 2. Marxism and Neo-Marxism

    Sunday, May 10th, 2020

    marxism

    For traditional Marxism the main role and function of education is cultural reproduction – a concept based on a different interpretation of secondary socialisation to that favoured by their Functionalist (Structural) counterparts. Althusser (1971), for example, argues the reproduction of capitalism involves each new generation being taught the knowledge and skills required in the workplace, as well as children being orientated to “the values of capitalist reproduction”. These might involve ideas like emphasising individual effort and achievement, encouraging inter and intra-group competition (competition between groups – such as men and women – and within groups, such as age categories like young and old) and encouraging ideas about the private accumulation of wealth. In turn, ideas about co-operation, the socialisation of wealth and so forth are marginalised – or rarely, if ever, discussed – within the classroom.

    For traditional Marxists, therefore, schools don’t just select, differentiate and allocate children in the interests of “society as a whole” on some form of meritocratic basis. Rather, their role is to ensure the children of powerful economic elites achieve the levels of education required to follow in their parents’ (exploitative) footsteps. The role of education for Althusser was to educate most people “just enough” to be useful employees and a small number “more than enough” to take up high-powered elite working roles.

    There’s more. Quite a bit more…

    Education: 4. Role and Function: 1. Functionalism and Neo (New Right) Functionalism

    Friday, May 8th, 2020

    functionalism

    Functionalist arguments about the role of education focus on the various ways education links to other social institutions, such as the family and the workplace, as part of an overall network of connected institutions. The education system is, in this respect, conceptualised as a bridge between these institutions in two broad ways:

    1. On an institutional level, modern social systems involve different types of work and must develop ways of allocating and managing human resources to ensure they are used efficiently and effectively (such as not producing too many unskilled workers if there is no demand for their services).

    2. On an individual level education functions as an agency of secondary socialisation to, as Parsons (1959) argues, “broaden the individual’s experience” of the social world and prepare children for adult role relationships in the workplace and wider society.

    Meritocracy?

    For the education system to function efficiently on both levels it must be meritocratic. Rewards, such as well-paid, high status, work, are earned through individual abilities and efforts, such as working hard in school to gain qualifications. Merit-based systems are also competitive: different levels of reward are given for different levels of achievement. Competition must be based on equality of opportunity: if some are disadvantaged, through something like sexual or racial discrimination, society cannot be sure “the best people” occupy the most important, prestigious and well-rewarded adult roles.

    A meritocratic system involves, by definition, different levels of reward for different levels of effort and achievement – which means a major role of education is social differentiation; children have to be “made different”, on the basis of their individual merits, if education is to meet the requirements of a differentiated economy (one with a variety of different types of work, each requiring different levels of skills and knowledge). A meritocratic education system always, therefore, involves inequalities of outcome: children must leave the education system with different types and levels of qualifications appropriate to their efforts and achievements. As Parsons (1959) argues:

    It is fair to give differential rewards for different levels of achievement, so long as there has been fair access to opportunity and fair that these rewards lead on to higher-order opportunities for the successful”.

    Education systems are, in this respect, viewed as functionally necessary for both the individual – as a means of finding their place in wider society – and “society in general” because education performs a vital and necessary differentiation function in advanced industrial societies

    The development of mass education is, therefore, explained in terms of functional differentiation. That is, the idea institutions develop to perform particular specialised functions, such as “work” and “education”. If, for whatever reason, the needs of one institution are not being adequately met, tensions develop within the system that threaten its stability and ability to function – the development of industrial forms of work, for example, required a newly literate and numerate workforce and without these skills the economy could neither function nor develop. Where other institutions, such as the family, cannot meet this new requirement system stability is threatened and equilibrium can only be restored in one of two ways:

  • an existing institution, such as the family or religion, evolvesto perform the required function. This involves differentiation that occurs within individual institutions; different roles need to be developed if the institution is to perform its new function.
  • a new institution, such as formal education, arises to ‘fulfil the need’.
  • While the former is always a possibility, the scale of economic change as societies industrialise overwhelms the ability of existing institutions to cope with the new changes and demands, hence, at some point in their development all societies will necessarily develop a specialised institution (education) as a means of restoring system stability.

    The concept of functional differentiation is particularly important because it suggests how functionalists see the broad relationship between economic and educational (or cultural) institutions; the latter develops and adapts to reflect and support the former. One important dimension to this relationship is that differentiation within the workplace is reflected by differentiation within the education system. A general process across all modern education systems is, for example, some kind of division of pupils along academic and vocational lines – a distinction that’s been variously justified by reference to ideas like:

  • natural differences in intelligence and aptitude.
  • Individuals choosing different educational routes: some favour more-practical and some favour more-academic routes.
  • the particular needs of the economy in the sense, structurally, of a need for people to leave education with skills that will fit them to the available jobs.
  • In Britain, for example, the 1944 Education Act that established free, universal, education, explicitly addressed education’s relationship with the workplace through a distinction between:

  • Grammar schools designed for academic pupils who were destined to move-on to University and professional employment.
  • Secondary Modern schools designed for vocational pupils who were destined to follow a practical or technical route into the workforce.
  • This type of functional division is reflected in secondary education systems worldwide:

  • India has both academic and vocational (school and profession-based) routes through secondary education.
  • Pakistan has similarly developed academic and technical routes.
  • Mauritius organises secondary education in a slightly different way but has also developed a distinction between academic routes into the workplace and a form of prevocational education for around 5% of the school population.
  • The separation of academic and vocational educational routes, therefore, reflects the idea of functional differentiation and specialisation in terms of two basic forms of work:

  • professional careers requiring higher levels of abstract knowledge and lower levels of practical expertise.
  • non-professionalwork requiring higher levels of practical expertise and lower levels of abstract knowledge.
  • While in Britain, at least, the rather clunky physical segregation of “academic” and “vocational” pupils into separate schools largely – but not totally – disappeared with the development of Comprehensive education in the mid-1970s, the functional requirement to competitively “sift and sort” pupils of different aptitudes and abilities into different spheres arguably continues with various in-school practices such as streaming, setting and banding and external testing / examinations at 7, 11, 14 and 16 (GCSE).

    While the specific means of “sifting and sorting pupils” may have changed since Davis and Moore (1945) argued that the education system existed to ensure that “those who are most able and talented intellectually” are allocated work roles that offer the highest rewards in terms of income, power and status, the broad sentiment remains true 75 years later. For traditional Functionalism the most functionally important economic roles must be filled by the most able, capable and competent members of society. The relationship between educational systems and the workplace, therefore, is one where “Education is the proving ground for ability and hence the selective agency for placing people in different statuses according to their abilities”.

    (more…)

    Education: 3. The Purpose of Schools

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

    The final part of the “Structure and Organisation of Education” trilogy (Part 1: Structure and Organisation and Part 2: Schools, Marketisation and Parentocracy are, as is the way of trilogies, also available) ends with a !Bang! (if by “bang” you mean “a slightly loud noise”) by looking at various forms of school organisation (from the formal curriulum to the informal curriculum, from streaming to cultural reproduction, from Here to Eternity etc.)

    Although the obvious answer to any question about the purpose of schools is “education”, the meaning of education is neither self-evident nor unproblematic: the former because “education” can encompass a wide range of formal and informal types of learning – from explicit teaching about ox-bow lakes in geography to implicit teaching about gendered relationships in the classroom – and the latter because what counts as “education” is always socially constructed and socially-contested. It always reflects, Weber (1922) suggests, what any society considers “Worthy of being known”.

    What constitutes education in any society, therefore – from how it is structured and organised to which ideas are actually taught in a classroom (or, increasingly, online) – is always the outcome of a power struggle between different interested parties: from business and media corporations through political parties to individual parents and teachers. It is, therefore, against this background of conflict and consensus that we need to outline and evaluate the purpose of schools.

    One way to start to do this is through Merton’s (1957) distinction between manifest and latent functions:

  • Manifest functions relate to the things schools are expected to do; in this instance teaching children the knowledge and skills required by adult society. This idea is explored in terms of the nature and organisation of the formal curriculum.
  • Latent functions refer to things not officially recognised as being part of the school’s purpose and may also be the unintended consequences of the way schools are formally organised – an idea explored in terms of the hidden curriculum.
  • (more…)

    Education: 2. Schools, Marketisation and Parentocracy

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

    Part 1 of this series looked at a range of general ideas about the structure and organisation of education in our society, through a broadly historical overview of educational development over the past 150 years. In part 2 the focus is on the structure and organisation of different types of school within the education system.

    Over the past 25 years secondary schooling (broadly, 11 – 18) has seen a range of organisational changes we can illustrate by looking at different types of schools now available to parents in both the private and state-maintained sectors in England and Wales.

    A Public School…

    Private sector

    According to Department of Education data (2018/19) There are around 2,400 Independent schools in the UK (out of a total of around 25,000 primary and secondary schools), funded by parental fees – Harrow, for example, charges nearly £42,000 for the 2020/21 school year  – and investment income. Around half of these schools also claim charitable status which gives them a range of tax reliefs and exemptions.

    According to the Independent Schools Council (2015) these schools currently educate around 7% of the total school-age (5 – 16) population and 14% of post-16 students. Independent schools are allowed to set their own admissions policy (the major Public Schools, for example, operate some form of entrance exam selection process in addition to charging fees) and do not have to follow the National Curriculum (although most do, usually in a modified form).

    The leading 10% of independent schools – those affiliated to the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference – are usually known as Public Schools, a label that reflects their origins as schools for the poor.

    (more…)

    Selective Comprehensives: The British Dimension

    Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
    Click to download Report

    The 2017 Sutton Trust Report into attainment levels in Comprehensive Schools in England discovered, probably to no-one’s great surprise, that the top performing Comprehensive schools were far more socially-selective than their lower-performing Comprehensive counterparts.

    Overall, the top 500 Comprehensive schools had an intake of around 9% of pupils who were eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), a rough-and-ready proxy measurement of both poverty and social class. The average FSM intake in English Comprehensive schools is around 17% of pupils.

    (more…)

    Crime and Deviance Resources

    Thursday, February 13th, 2020
    Globalisation and Crime

    For some reason I seem to have collected quite a lot of crime and deviance resources that are just sitting-around taking up space on my hard drive when they could be doing something useful like helping students revise or teachers plan lessons.

    And from this intro you’ll probably have guessed that what follows is an esoteric – not to say serendipitous – collection of resources (Presentations, Worksheets, Booklets – there’s even a Quiz in there somewhere) that I’ve bunged together under a general heading (“Resources!”) and posted on the web.

    And because there’s quite a lot of stuff I’ve generally kept description to a minimum – partly because if something looks even vaguely interesting you can download it and assess it for yourself and partly because it’s a bit of a chore and I’m making the space to spend a bit of Quality Time with Teddy my dog.

    So, in no particular order of quality or significance:

    Resources…

    Lord of the Rings: Family Revision Quiz

    Sunday, December 15th, 2019
    Just click to download the file

    This simple PowerPoint Quiz, created by Leanne Trinder, uses a Lord of the Rings theme around which to deliver 10 multiple-choice questions on various aspects of family life.

    Each question has 3 possible answers and, unusually for a PowerPoint quiz it’s very forgiving of incorrect answers – if you get a question wrong you can just go back and have another try.

    The metadata says it was created in 2003, which means it’s either been lurking on my hard drive for a good few years (always a possibility) or it’s something I’ve recently found that just happens to be a little old. I’ve slightly-modified the file by changing the screen dimensions (to 16:9 from 4:3), aligned the multiple-choice answers and corrected the odd spelling mistake. Other than that, the file is as it was originally created.

    Either way it’s quite a diverting little revision resource that you can expand and modify to your heart’s content – which you may need to do in order to tailor the questions to your own particular teaching. There may, for example, be writers / studies you don’t teach that may require replacing with those you do teach.

    Changing the questions is, however, very simple and straightforward – it just involves adding and removing text.

    Adding more questions is a little more complicated but if you know what you’re doing it’s a simple enough process. If you’re not confident messing around with the basic structure, however, just create several copies of the Quiz using different questions – something you can do from scratch if you want to use the format for other areas of the course.

    As it stands the resource is aimed at A-level Sociology but there’s nothing to stop you modifying the questions to GCSE level or adding a new set of questions for a different subject entirely.

    Sociology Video Tutorials

    Sunday, September 29th, 2019
    Functionalism Tutorial
    Functionalism Tutorial

    These short video tutorials are basically a variant on “podcasts with pictures”: a talking head tutor in one corner of the screen explains something while the occasional picture or real-time whiteboard illustration is displayed.

    In other words, the 40+ films available here are relatively simple video lectures of the “listen and learn” variety – which is not necessarily a criticism, merely an observation that this is what’s on offer.

    More tutorials

    Are you feeling lucky?

    Saturday, September 14th, 2019
    Well, do you?

    When it comes to Sociology Knowledge Organisers I’m starting to feel like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry: in all the excitement I’ve kinda lost track of what I have and haven’t posted.

    So, moving quickly past the stuff about “44 Magnum’s” and their undoubted ability to separate parts of your body from other parts, we can go straight to the bit where you’ve got to ask yourself just one question:

    “Do I feel lucky?”

    And if the answer’s “yes” then this small batch of A-level Organisers and Guides from Kate Henney (to add to the GCSE Family and Education Revision Guides I’ve previously posted) should be a very welcome addition to your growing pile. Presupposing you don’t already have them from some other post I’ve forgotten about. In which case, please ignore what follows:

    Family Organiser

    Families includes two types of KO – blank and completed – on:

  • Structures
  • Diversity
  • Nuclear families
  • Alternatives
  • Functions
  • Divorce
  • Changes
  • Education covers the following:

  • Functionalism
  • Marxism
  • Interactionism
  • Types of Schools
  • Social Class
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Question Guide

    Beliefs includes two types of KO – completed and cloze (fill-in-the-gaps):

  • Ideology
  • Religious Change
  • Organisations
  • Social Characteristics
  • Secularisation
  • A-Level Exam Guides – simple overview of question types and how to answer them.

    Key Studies – a list of key names plus a one-line summary of their work for:

  • Families
  • Education
  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Deviance
  • Question Planning Sheet – detailed walkthrough showing how to successfully answer 10 mark education questions.

    Introduction to A-Level Sociology: Cultural Differences

    Sunday, July 28th, 2019
    Click to download as pdf
    Introduction to AS Sociology

    For reasons that will become clear in a moment, I was searching for a document or two about Sherbit Culture to accompany a 5-minute film clip I’d assembled from some old (2000 – 2002-ish) HSBC adverts. The idea was to use the film as a light-hearted way to introduce the concept of cultural differences to GCSE or A-Level sociologists and, from there, create a springboard to the introduction of basic concepts like values, norms and roles – the kind of stuff most teachers do at the start of the course.

    While that’s still the intention, I happened to stumble across a couple of useful little resources you might also find helpful and, indeed, complementary:

    The first, An Introduction to AS Sociology from Ullswater Community College (2007, hence the “AS” reference) has a range of notes and tasks on areas like the Sociological Imagination, Identity, Nature and Nurture and Shirbit Culture.

    The second is a free PowerPoint (“Meet the Shirbits”) created by Jacqueline Ryan (2010) as part of a short Introduction to Sociology quiz. The latter uses a supplied reading taken from the Collins Sociology AS for AQA textbook.

    Anyway, to complement these resources – or just to use as a standalone introduction from which you can spin-off whatever ideas and issues (from basic norms and values to discussion of cultural stereotypes…) – this is the “cultural difference” clip I’ve created (the quality of the original film isn’t great and I’ve edited-out the original HSBC idents. Because I felt like it).

    When Good Labels Go Bad…

    Sunday, May 19th, 2019
    Bad news…

    One of the enduringly fascinating things about studying sociology is the way it frequently throws up counter-intuitive ideas that lead us, as teachers and students, to question what we think we know about something. Take, for example, the concept of labelling.

    By-and-large, when we discuss labelling in the context of education the focus is generally on the impact of negative labelling, such as the kind that occurs:

    1. Within the school, through things like teacher-attitudes, the impact of organisational processes  like setting, streaming and banding and the like.

    2. Across the education sector in terms of things like institutional labelling – whether a school is rated “good” or “bad” by Ofsted, for example.

    In relation to school status, we can see evidence of the impact of both positive and negative labelling; in terms of the former, being ranked “Outstanding” by Ofsted can be seen as a major pull-factor in relation to not only attracting students per se, but also for attracting those students with high levels of prior educational achievement.

    In the case of the latter, a school negatively labelled as “bad”, “needs improvement” or, in the worst case, “failing”, may struggle to attract students and is unlikely to attract the kinds of high-achieving, largely middle class, students generally associated with “academically-successful” schools it needs to challenge the label (something that links to a further aspect of negative educational labelling: a self-fulfilling prophecy of decline).

    While these kinds of general “labelling effects” are well-known and well-embedded in the sociology canon, a new (2019) piece of research by Greaves et. al.* gives us a slightly different perspective on educational labelling by suggesting that some forms of positive labelling can have unintended negative effects.

    Positive Labelling, Negative Outcomes?

    Click to download full report
    Greaves et. al.

    Greaves et. al. used a combination of the UK Household Longitudinal Study and Ofsted data to test the effect of the published data on student exam performance. In this context we might reasonably expect that a positive Ofsted report might lead, at best, to an improvement in GCSE exam scores or, at worst, no effect at all.

    What the researchers found, however, was that the students of families who received “good news” about their school’s positive Ofsted rating at the start of the academic year “performed significantly worse in the GCSE exams” than those where the good news about a school’s improved Ofsted rating was revealed much later in the academic year.

    In other words, positive school labelling, in the shape of a good Ofsted rating, seemed to have a negative effect on the exam performance of GCSE students. The earlier in the academic year the news was received, the lower the students’ performance.

    The researcher’s accounted for this unexpected change in academic performance by arguing that “Parents typically reduce help at home when perceived school quality increases. Parents receiving good news are around 20 percentage points more likely to reduce help with homework, for example”. (If you want to take this finding further, of course, you can relate it to ideas about the levels of cultural capital parents are able to employ in pursuit of achieving educational success for their offspring).

    Overall, the “negative effect of positive labelling” in this context meant that “parents who receive good rather than bad news about the quality of their child’s school are 24 percentage points more likely to reduce the help they give their children with homework and 14 percentage points less likely to increase it”. This, in turn, suggested “reduced help by parents lowered children’s exam performance”, even in a situation where “their children’s own time investment in schoolwork increased in response to the same information”.

    In a further interesting finding the researchers’ note that “While parents’ reaction to good news is pronounced, their reaction to bad news about school quality is much more muted. Parents that receive bad news do not respond by significantly increasing their help at home”.

    This is a further finding you might want to usefully explore with your students in terms of different types of capital and their effects in terms of educational achievement.

    * Greaves, E; Hussain, I; Rabe, B and Rasuly, I: “Parental Responses to Information About School Quality: Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data”: Institute for Social and Economic Research (2019)

    Sociology Flipbooks: Free Textbook Previews

    Sunday, May 12th, 2019

    So. Here’s the thing.

    I like to occasionally root around on Pinterest   – mainly, it must be said, when I’m pretending to do “research” in order to avoid doing any actual work – because it’s a good source of interesting ideas and practices.

    Like stuff I’ve shared in the past, such as structure strips or the Crumple and Shoot revision game.

    Anyhow, while idly browsing doing important research the other day I chanced upon what turned out to be a flipbook preview of my CIE Sociology textbook that I never knew existed (I’m just the guy who wrote it).

    For reasons best known to themselves, Cambridge University Press, have not only uploaded a 77-page flipbook of Chapter’s 1 and 2 (The Sociological Perspective and Socialisation and the Creation of Social Identity respectively), they’ve also included, half of Chapter 3 (Research Methods).

    Which is nice. But why it abruptly stops half way through the chapter is anyone’s guess.

    Mass Media

    Be that as it may, not content with this rather extraordinary act of generosity, they’ve also added a further 48-page flipbook of the complete Media chapter.

    To put that into context, that’s around 30% of the actual textbook.

    For free.

    That’s extraordinarily generous of CUP with my time and effort.

    Anyway, my interest, not to mention my sense of grievance, having been piqued I decided to see if there were any other previews hanging around just waiting to be discovered and, sure enough, both CUP and Collins have been busy posting both A-level and GCSE materials. Those I’ve found can be viewed online as flipbooks or downloaded for offline use as pdf files. Most only seem to have a single chapter but, since they’re free, what have you got to lose?

    Click here to read more

    Revision Tips and Techniques

    Sunday, April 14th, 2019

    As you may be aware, The Daily Telegraph isn’t my go-to source for Education (in either the tightest or loosest sense of the word), but I did happen upon this set of revision tips and techniques they published a few years back (roughly 5 or 6 years ago). Although they’re a bit of a mixed-bag, the articles are relatively brief and to-the-point, so it’s possible you might find something useful that could be applied in either the short or long term.

    In no particular order of relevance, significance or usefulness, these are the articles:

    Top 10 last-minute exam revision tips:
    Exactly what it says in the title – and while there are no earth-shattering revelations here, just a load (well, 10, obviously) of simple tips to help you come to terms with last-minute revision, the advice seems solid enough.

    5 top tips for managing revision time:
    Again, does exactly what it says: 5 simple tips to help students manage their revision time to best effect.

    Revision techniques: how to learn complex concepts:
    Break big ideas down into their individual component parts. Simple.

    Revision techniques: The secret to exam revision success:
    A number of simple tips and techniques to help improve memory and recall through revision.

    Example of a Spider Diagram

    Spider diagrams: how and why they work:
    Spider diagrams (or Mind Maps if you’re planning to construct something much grander that includes diagrams etc.) are an incredibly useful tool that aids recall and planning in an exam. This short article shows you how to create them. If you want some AS / A2 sociological examples, you can find a selection by following this link.

    Revision techniques: how to build a memory palace:
    This technique, as featured in Sherlock, is not really something you’re going to pick-up as a last-minute thing, but it is a hugely-effective tried-and-trusted memory technique that’s been around for a long time. In basic terms, you make connections between related ideas by constructing a narrative around them. It’s not difficult, but it does require time to master.

    The real test of learning? Not forgetting:
    If you’re looking for a short-term revision fix this may be a little late. However, in the longer-term it’s an algorithmic process that uses a variation of the “spaced revision” technique that will stand you in very good stead once you’ve mastered it.

    Revision techniques: How to learn boring facts:
    Spoiler Alert: create mnemonics. And if you don’t know what they are, this article will show you. While I’ve always sworn by them – for reasons much too dull to mention – they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. But, on the basis you shouldn’t knock something until you’ve tried it…

    Revision: from GCSE to A-level it is all about the scheme:
    In a nutshell. Plan your revision. And if you don’t know how, this article has some tips and techniques to help.

    Try to rise to the exam challenge:
    A few simple tips focused on how to approach and handle revision, exam preparation and the exam itself. Nothing too revelatory, but every little helps. And if you’re reading this when you should be revising, you may find you need every little bit of help you can get.

    10 ways to survive the exam season:

    Some Very Sensible (this is the Telegraph, remember) ways to manage pre-exam stress.

    Without giving too much away, one of these is sleep.

    It’s so important we even made a film about it.

    5 Research-Backed Studying Techniques:
    This short article isn’t from the Telegraph but I thought I’d tack it on the end anyway, because it contains some useful study techniques (well, 5) to help you “avoid ineffective studying habits in favour of ones that increase learning outcomes”.

    And you can’t say fairer than that.

    Progress Mat

    Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

    Although the idea of “learning progression” is something to which all teachers aim – if there was no progress there probably wouldn’t be much point in the class taking place – one problem is that it’s frequently difficult to successfully and succinctly document progression, whether you want such documentation as proof of progress to an outsider (such as a colleague or inspector) or for your own peace of mind.

    A Progress Mat…

    And this is where the Progress Mat comes into play.

    It provides a simple way to record and document learning within a class.

    It’s also a useful starting-point for a particular teaching technique.

    Who originally designed it, I’m not quite sure since the metadata simply reveals the rather enigmatic “Keith” as the author. All I’ve actually done is change a few minor things like the size of the presentation, replaced a rather horrible rainbow triangle with a “prior learning” square, added a couple more boxes and changed the colours slightly.

    I’ve also removed the rudimentary and frankly-quite-annoying animation. Because I could make such executive decisions and also because it was, frankly, quite annoying.

    Be that as it may, the Mat reflects a simple way of demonstrating progress: it begins with a baseline set of ideas – what students “already know” about a question or topic – and then documents how they add to and develop their knowledge and understanding during a lesson. The three broad areas on the Mat (new ideas / concepts, contemporary applications and links to sociological studies / writers) were created by the aforementioned Keith and while they fit broadly with the kinds of categorical skills students need to understand / acquire, I’ve left the Progress Mat in its original PowerPoint form so you easily change any, or indeed all, of these categories.

    (more…)

    Revision Game: Crumple and Shoot

    Sunday, January 27th, 2019

    Crumple-and-Shoot is a simple, whole-class, team-based, revision game that’s similar to the GrudgeBallUk revision game I’ve previously posted.

    It’s revision, Jim, but not as we know it…

    The main difference between the two is that Crumple and Shoot (or as I’d like to call it, “Bin It to Win It”) is much easier to set-up and play and requires very few resources: some questions, pieces of paper on which to write group answers and the all-important waste-paper bin.

    It’s a game devised and developed by Jennifer Gonzalez and you can find a video explanation of what the game involves and how to play it on her Cult of Pedagogy website.

    In addition there’s a How To Play pdf file available with a detailed description of the (minimal) rules.

    You can, of course, adjust the rules to suit (such as awarding groups points for answering a question correctly as well as gaining the chance to score extra points in the “crumple and shoot” part of the game).

    While the game can be played as part of end-of-year revision sessions, the simple set-up particularly lends itself to quick end-of-week / end-of-module revision – something that has the added bonus of encouraging students to see revision and review as an integral part of their GCSE or A-level course.

    Ethnicity in Advertising Report

    Friday, December 14th, 2018
    Download pdf version of the Report
    Download Report pdf

    This short Report, sponsored by the Lloyds Banking Group, asks the question “Does Advertising Reflect Modern Britain in 2018?” and answers it in a way that both GCSE and A-level Sociology teachers and students should find useful.

    In basic terms, it’s a big, colourful, pdf file in three broad sections available for viewing online or offline as a pdf download.  

    1. Key Findings does exactly what you might expect by pulling together a couple of A4 posters worth of information – covering things like ethnic identities and media representations and stereotypes – and presenting it in a clear, informative, way.

    2. Findings goes into more detail about what the research discovered, with a few bits-and-pieces of interpretation thrown into the mix for good measure. There’s also an interesting little section on “ethic identity”, plus a short discussion of the relationship between ethic and gender identities.

    3. Methodology. This adds a further dimension of usefulness as far as sociology teachers are concerned because it provides an opportunity to examine how a piece of research is constructed, particularly in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, reliability and validity.

    (more…)

    Gender and Subject Choice

    Thursday, November 8th, 2018

    Another little bonus to add to yesterday’s offering from the work I’m currently doing on the concept of school climate and its possible effect on achievement.

    This one comes in the form of a couple of pieces of research commissioned by the Institute of Physics that cover gendered subject choices at A-level.

    Closing Doors: Exploring gender and subject choice in schools (2013) provides a raft of information on male-female representation across 3 “comparable pairs” of 6 A-level subjects:

    • English and Mathematics: both core subjects at GCSE
    • Biology and Physics: two science choices at A-level
    • Psychology and Economics: A-level subjects not normally taught in earlier years.

    Although the presentation, findings and commentaries are probably a little too dense to be given directly to students, there’s plenty here for teachers to get their teeth into and selectively use. There is, however, a neat summary of the research right at the start that students will find helpful.

    It’s Different for Girls (2012) is a companion piece to Closed Doors focused much more tightly on Physics A-level. Once again, probably not something to simply hand-out to students but, again, it’s a piece of research that teachers’ might find selectively rewarding.

    If, for example, you were looking for examples of a “school climate” effect in relation to gender, it’s interesting that while the socio-economic background of a school has, as you might expect, a significant effect in terms of the raw numbers of those studying physics at A-level, there is little effect on cohort proportions. That is, the proportion of girls and boys studying a-level physics is similar across all socio-economic groups – an observation that suggests factors additional to social class impact on subject choice.

    DEA: Mythbusters

    Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

    I’ve recently been looking at the idea of school climate and its possible relationship to the gender gap in educational achievement for a forthcoming blog post, a fact I mention for a couple of reasons:

    firstly, because I think the notion of school climate and its possible impact on educational achievement is an interesting idea, both conceptually and practically, that’s not really been adequately, if at all, addressed in the A-level literature and, secondly, by way of trying to create the impression that I actually plan these blog posts. I’ll leave you to decide which, if any, of these is more important (but I know where I’m placing my bet).

    I mention this by way of introducing a useful and informative document I chanced across called Addressing Gender and Achievement: Myths and Realities (2009) and published by what was then the Department for Children, Schools and Families (it’s anyone’s guess what it’s called now).

    In a nutshell, the document sets-out to bust-some-myths about gender and educational achievement in a simple and straightforward way:

    • state the myth (“Coursework favours girls and ‘sudden death’ examinations favour boys”).
    • bust it with evidence (“Changes in assessment practice reducing the value of the GCSE coursework component have had little impact on gendered achievement patterns”).
    • briefly explain the evidence.

    As such, it’s not only a useful and informative little document, it’s also one that’s a decidedly student-friendly read (which is quite handy if you like to get your students to read stuff).

    When All’s SED and Done: Write. Review. Revise

    Monday, May 21st, 2018

    Reviewing and revising student work at GCSE or A-level is a crucial part of the teaching and learning process and one way to encourage this is to use a simple formula: Save, Erase, Develop (SED). This post looks at how your students can review and revise their written work using this  formula. It can also, if you use them, be easily integrated into Structure Strips.

    As someone who writes stuff for a living – from sociology textbooks, through film scripts, and biographies to the odd – actually, very oddnovel in my spare time – one of the very few things I’ve learnt is the importance of reviewing and revising what I’ve written: what eventually appears on the printed page or screen is never what first appeared on my page. Everything I’ve ever written has gone through a process of review and revision that involves:

    • keeping stuff that works.
    • removing stuff that doesn’t.
    • developing stuff that needs more work…

    And if you’re wondering what this preamble has to do with your teaching and learning, wonder no more.

    I chanced across this basic idea on Pinterest through an idea called “Keep it, Bin it, Build it” broadly aimed at helping younger students redraft their work to bring it into line with various assessment objectives (such as “answering the question”…). I have no idea who originally created it but I thought it was a helpful idea that could be applied to just about any level of work or subject. As is my wont – and because I can – I thought I’d make it a little bit snappier (hence “Save, Erase, Develop”) and turn it into a simple mnemonic.

    Again, because I can.

    And also because it gave me a little pun to use as a title.

    Anyway.

    The easiest way to understand what SED involves (and like some of the very best ideas, it’s incredibly easy to understand and simple to use) is to have a look at it. I’ve created a couple of different versions you can use with your students, depending on how they create and submit work:

    (more…)

    Structure Strips

    Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

    6 mark structure strip with basic questions

    This general idea – a simple and effective way to help students structure exam answers – has been around for a number of years and although structure strips were originally created for use in primary education (5 – 10 year olds) it’s an idea that can, with a few modifications, be applied to both GCSE and A-Level teaching. If you want a relatively simple, clear, explanation of what structure strips are and how they have been used, have a read of this blog post.

    If you haven’t followed this link, structure strips were originally colour-coded and made to be stuck into the exercise books of primary school children. In this A-level version, however, the idea is to create the strips as Word format templates that students can either use to word process their answers to exam questions or print out to complete by hand.

    In this respect think about structure strips as being like training wheels when you’re learning to ride a bike: they’re designed to help you keep your balance and stop you falling over until you’ve mastered the skills required to safely venture out on your own (at which point they can be removed).

    Similarly, when answering exam questions, while all of your students may start-off needing help, some will probably require more help than others – and structure strips can be used to guide how they approach and respond appropriately to different questions. (more…)

    Sociology and You: A Free Textbook

    Monday, April 30th, 2018

    This American High School textbook just scrapes into the “published in the 21st century” criterion I set myself for finding free, out-of-print sociology texts, but I’ve included it because although it’s obviously a little dated – at least in terms of content if not necessarily design – Sociology and You (2001) was probably one of the first to push at the boundaries of textbook design for “Grades 9 – 12”. This, by my calculations, means 15-18 year olds and if you’re wondering, as we probably all are, how this fits into the UK grading system I’d say the text equates to “high GCSE” / AS-level. But this is only a rough guess – there are bits that could fit into A2 – so if you want to use it with your students it’s probably a case of suck-it-and-see before you let them have copies.

    The book itself exhibits most of the features we now take for granted in contemporary textbooks: short bursts of text, lots of big colourful pictures, key terms identified and defined, tables, boxouts, short readings, simple assessments and white space.

    Lots and lots of white space.

    In other words, anyone familiar with UK A-level texts over the past few years will see this as very familiar territory.

    Except, of course, most of the examples and illustrations are drawn from North America. Which is okay if you’re North American (or are really into comparative sociology / North Americana) but not quite so brilliant if you live and study elsewhere.

    Keeping this in mind, if you decide to have a look at the text I’ve made it available it as either a complete textbook or by chapter. I’ve provided the latter option because there are some chapters, such as those on “Sport” or “Political and Economic Institutions”, you may not need or want: put bluntly, you’re probably not going to teach stuff that’s not on the A-level Spec.

    You can also use the chapter option to see if or how the text might fit with your teaching because, as I’ve noted, judging the level is a little problematic given differences in both the US and UK grade system and the skill levels each requires of its students at different ages.

    (more…)

    Learning Mats

    Sunday, February 25th, 2018

    Learning mats – originally laminated sheets containing simple questions, learning prompts and drawing spaces – have been around for some time at the lower (particularly primary) levels of our education system, but with the increasing interest in Knowledge Organisers, which in many respects they resemble, they’re starting to gain some traction at both GCSE and A-level.

    Having said that, I’ve only managed to find a couple of examples of their use in A-level Sociology and none at all in Psychology. This may reflect a lack of knowledge about Learning Mats, a lack of interest in their application to A-level study or, more-likely perhaps, a lack of time to create them.

    (more…)

    Education and the New Right: The 3 “C’s”

    Thursday, May 25th, 2017

    Working backwards in the alphabet, as you do, the second element to Boyd’s (1991) characterization of new Right approaches to education (the first is here if you missed it) focuses on the “3 C’s”: Character, Content and Choice.

    1. Character refers to the notion of moral character and, more-importantly from a New Right perspective, how to encourage and develop it through the education system. In this respect the socialisation function of education means schools have an important role to play in both producing new consumers and workers and also ensuring children have the “right attitudes” for these roles. Part of this process involves (in a similar sort of argument to that used by Functionalists’) instilling respect for legitimate authority and the development of future business leaders.

    More recently, a refinement on the notion of moral character has focused on what Duckworth et.al. (2007) have called grit, something they define as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”.

    The idea here is that the combination of passion for educational goals coupled with the desire to achieve them is a key indicator of educational achievement – one they claim is a more-important predictor of “future success” (an idea you might like to subject to critical evaluation) than any other notable variable).

    This claim does, of course, open up a range of critical possibilities for students – from Crede et.al.’s (2016) conclusion that “the higher-order structure of grit is not confirmed, that grit is only moderately correlated with performance and retention, and that grit is very strongly correlated with conscientiousness” to why it should be an attractive idea to New Right approaches.

    2. Core Content: The emphasis here is the establishment of a curriculum designed to meet the needs of the economy, an idea that links neatly into discussion of the role and purpose of the education system. From this perspective the main objective for schools is to adequately prepare children for their working adult lives in ways that benefit the overall economy. This generally involves the idea that there should be a mix of academic and vocational courses and qualifications open to students; in the past this has meant the New Right championing Grammar schools (an idea currently (2017) being revived in New Right political circles) that provided an academic type of education for a relatively small elite (around 20%) of children and Secondary Modern / Technical schools that provided a vocational type of education.

    Currently the vogue is to provide different types of academic / vocational qualifications (such as “ordinary” GCSEs and “vocational” GCSEs) within the same school. For the majority of students the curriculum emphasis should be on some variety of training with the objective being to ensure schools produce students with the skills businesses need (“Key Skills”, for example, such as Maths, English and ICT).

    The New Right is, as might be expected, keen on “traditional subjects” (English, Maths and History) and antagonistic to subjects like Media and Film Studies – and, of course, Sociology.

    3. Choice of school: Parents should be free to choose the school they want their children to attend – whether this be State maintained or private. The basic model here is a business one: just like with any business, those that offer the customer good value will thrive and those that offer poor value will close – or in the current case, “underperforming schools” are forcibly converted into Academy Schools run by a variety of Trusts. When parents exercise choice “good” schools will expand to accommodate all those who want a place and “bad” schools will close as their numbers decline.