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Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Chapter

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
One of the texts looks like this.

Over the past two or three years I’ve occasionally posted links to free, orphaned, sociology textbooks (by which I mean texts that have either been superseded by later editions or which a publisher has allowed to go out-of-print), mainly in small batches (Free Sociology Textbooks, Sociology Textbooks for Free (quite a clever twist I thought) and the imaginatively-titled More Free Sociology Texts) but also as one-off publications (such as Sociology in Focus for AS  and for A2, or the mega-popular Sociology and You textbook.

It has, however, been a few months since I last posted anything useful on the Textbook Front, mainly because I’ve been doing other things, but where I come across them from time-to-time I save them up until there’s enough for a decent-length post.

And also because by listing a few texts at the same time I don’t have to say as much about each.

But mainly because hunting out orphaned texts isn’t my number-one priority.

What follows, therefore, is a quick trawl through some of the least-lit areas of the Internet (not really) to shine a light on a few sadly-neglected texts in the hope they might, once more, burn brightly in the eyes of budding sociologists.

Back to reality, what follows is a list of general textbooks and dictionaries a-level students and teachers might find useful.

Click here to see the textbooks

Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Batch of Contenders

Thursday, May 16th, 2019
Seeing Sociology

Those of you with long(ish) memories may recall the previous posts in a series that delivers a variety of slightly out-of-date sociology textbooks found gathering dust and mould in some unloved corners of the Internet to your desktop (Sociology Textbooks for Free and More Free Sociology Texts).

If you do remember them you’ll no-doubt be pleased to know that I’ve been out rummaging once more and have collected a further batch of out-of-print editions of once-loved textbooks-that-have-been-replaced-by-newer-shinier-versions.

And if you don’t, this should all come as a pleasant surprise.

As ever, I’ve held fast to only two basic criteria when selecting the books (three if you count the fact that there’s not, in truth, a great deal of selecting going on behind the scenes, or four if you include the proviso they must be freely available “somewhere on the web” – i.e. I’m just the messenger bringing them to you).

The first is they need to have been published in the 21st century (arbitrary I know, but you have to draw the line somewhere and that’s where I’ve drawn it).

The second is that they should be out-of-print. i.e. they’re not being sold anywhere or have been supplanted by newer versions.

Continue to the textbooks

Sociology Textbooks From Around The Web

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

A couple of days ago I posted a link to a free, open-source, textbook (Introduction to Sociology), the open-availability of which made me think about whether there were any other sociology books lying around in some dusty corner of the web just waiting to be found, dusted-down and presented to a wider audience.

And the answer, since you’re currently reading this post, is that clearly there was. I’ve managed to uncover 7 such texts that should be of at least some interest to a-level Sociology students and teachers. There are, however, a few things it might be useful to point out:

1. The texts I’ve listed aren’t the very latest versions in a series. While I’ve tried not to include very old editions (there’s nothing from the last century…) if you want the most up-to-date versions you’re going to have to buy them.

2. Most of the texts are from American publishers. They reflect American Sociological Specifications and preoccupations and invariably draw much of their illustrative material from American society. While this is not necessary A Bad Thing (depending, of course, on your view of Americentricity) it does mean you’re not going to find many references to non-American examples and illustrations. You’ll also find that data about areas like crime, marriage, education and so forth is pretty-much wholly-focused on North America. While this may be useful for comparative purposes you need to be careful students don’t assume such data necessarily reflects the situation in other countries around the world.

3. Following from the above, these texts are not likely to fit neatly with, for example, UK A-level Sociology Specifications. You will, however, find a lot of the content is universal: theories of crime commonly discussed in UK textbooks, for example, are also likely to be discussed in American textbooks.

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An Open-Source Sociology Textbook

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

A free (open-source) Sociology textbook (plus resources) that could be used to supplement your existing textbooks and classroom resources.

While the idea of “open-source software” – programs created, modified and freely distributed to users who also contribute in various ways to their subsequent development – has long-been a feature of digital technology, it seems a little odd the concept hasn’t been applied to other areas, such as textbook publishing, given how easy it is to collaborate, design, publish and distribute books largely indistinguishable from those produced by professional publishers.

Whatever the reason, the free textbook “Introduction to Sociology” – created and distributed by the OpenStax College and now in its 2nd edition – is the first sociology textbook I’ve come across organised around open-source principles (as opposed to simply being freely distributed by its author).

What this means is that not only can you use the text as you would any other textbook (giving students individual digital or paper copies, for example, or integrating it into Canvas if you use this free LMS) you also have a wide range of format options, most of which (reading online, downloading to desktop, viewing on mobile devices) are free. If you really must have a properly bound copy this can be purchased for around £16 / $30.

Once you get past the various viewing options you’ll find a textbook created by a number of different authors (all, I assume, employed by Rice University?) designed primarily as a primer for American undergraduates taking an introductory module in Sociology (“Sociology 101”). This level, from what I’ve read of the text, seems perfectly acceptable for A-level Sociology (which probably says something about either the American or the British education system).

While you need to take into account both its target audience (most of the text, illustrations, examples and so forth reference American society – it is, in other words, pretty ethnocentric) and some of the preoccupations of American Sociology (a focus on areas like race and ethnicity, for example, that isn’t given such a central focus by A-level Sociology) the textbook covers areas that will be very familiar and useful to a-level sociologists. These include:

• Culture and Socialisation
• Family
• Education
• Health
• Inequality
• Religion
• Deviance
• Media

Although most of these aren’t covered in any great depth – and you’ll find significant parts of UK Sociology Specifications aren’t addressed – there’s plenty of useful material here for a-level students and teachers. While it’s probably not going to replace your main sociology textbook it could be worth considering as an additional text to supplement the existing resources you use – particularly because of its portability across different devices.

In addition, there are a number of Instructor and Student resources you can sign-up for. To access some – such as PowerPoint Presentations and the Test Bank – you need to register with a school / college email account, but the resources are free once you’ve registered.

It’s also possible, even if you don’t want to contribute suggestions for future updates, to add “community resources” to support the text. While there’s not much available at the moment, one example of these resources is a series of short video lectures you may or may not find helpful.

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

Sociology in Focus for A2: Free Textbook

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Sociology in Focus for A2 is, as you may have guessed, the companion volume to the previously-posted AS text and it’s no great surprise that its design and layout perfectly complements its AS counterpart. This includes the by-now standard colour-coded sections, lots of pictures, activities and questions that, at the time, were considered a quite radical design departure that was not, it hardly needs to be said, to everyone’s taste.
The main concern, particularly but not exclusively among those who were concerned about this kind of thing, was that something had to make way for all the activities, pretty pictures, questions and even prettier pictures.

And that something was, inevitably, the amount of text that managed to squeeze its way on pages crammed with all kinds of attractive, if sometimes largely superfluous, imagery.

While it’s relatively easy to get away with this at AS level, it’s somewhat harder to pull-off the same trick at A2 level.

So does it manage to pull it off?

Well. Yes and No.

The text, although limited in length, is generally well-written and informative and sometimes takes students into areas – particularly related to sociological theory – they aren’t usually expected to venture. Unfortunately, by meandering off the beaten track the text runs the risk, at times, of failing to adequately cover the bare essentials.

Although it’s a moot point as to whether this text alone adequately prepares students for A2, this is where you and your students are quid’s in: you can use bits-and-bobs to supplement the more up-to-date texts you undoubtedly use in your day-to-day teaching.

Alternatively, it’s a nice, big, bold, colourful text with lots of ideas for activities. And questions.

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Free Textbook: Sociology in Focus for AS

Friday, February 8th, 2019
Sociology in Focus: Families and Households

For those of you with long(ish) memories, the original Sociology in Focus textbook first appeared in the mid-1990’s and I remember being quite taken by its novel(ish) attempt to reinvent “The Textbook” as something more than just a lot of pages with a lot of text.

Although it did, with hindsight, actually have “a lot of text” (they were much simpler times) it also had colour pages (if you include pale blue, black and white as “colour”), pictures (even though they were black and white, they still counted), activities and questions.

A lot of questions.

None of which had answers.

You had to buy a separate resource if you wanted answers (something I casually mention in an apparently throwaway fashion that at some point in the future you will look back on and think “Ah! Foreshadowing”).

Anyway.

Around 2004 Sociology in Focus was reinvented as a fully-fledged “Modern Text” with colour-coded sections, colour pictures and less text.  A lot less text.

Although it was basically the same format laid-down by the original (activities, questions…) with a more student-friendly “down with the kids” vibe, it was now split into two books, one for AS-level and one for A2.

Which brings me to 2009 and the emergence of a “2nd edition” (that was really a 3rd edition, but who’s counting?), suitably reorganised to take account of yet another Specification change that no-one asked for but which everyone got anyway.

I’m guessing you’ll not be that surprised to know the format was pretty much the same (and by “pretty much” I mean “exactly”) because it clearly worked, although by this stage I got the distinct impression that most of the production effort was being put into what the text looked like and rather less effort was being placed on the task of updating it.

While the new edition did reflect further changes to the AQA Sociology Specification – Mass Media, for example, was moved to A2 – there is actually little or no difference between the “AS Media” text of the 2nd edition and the “A2 Media” text of the 3rd edition…

If you decide to use this textbook with your students – and it does actually have a lot going for it in terms of design and presentation – you need to be aware that the level of information in some sections (looking at you, Mass Media) may be slightly lacking in terms of depth of coverage. In addition, given yet more changes to the A-level Specification, some of the areas covered in the text are no-longer present in the latest Specification and one or two newer inclusions are obviously not covered.

Having said that, I do think this is a worthwhile text to have available for your students and, given that it’s out-of-print, one of the few ways they’re ever going to be able to read it.

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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.

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Sociology Texts: Another Big Bundle of Free

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

One of the things we like to do on this blog is discover and post orphaned sociology textbooks – as in texts published sometime this century that have either gone out of print or been superseded by later, bigger, more-colourful, All-Singing-All-Dancing versions – for the benefit of teachers and students in these straitened economic times.

I like to think we’re giving these texts something of a new lease of life because even though they’ve been replaced by a newer version, much of the information they contain doesn’t suddenly become irrelevant or worthless – you just need to be aware that using slightly older texts can have a few potential downsides:

1. Specifications change, both in terms of the Modules they cover and their content. Twenty years ago, for example, AQA included a Module on Power and Politics that has long-since disappeared from exams and textbooks.

2. Statistical data does go quickly out-of-date and is likely to be more current in tater versions of texts. Against this, keep in mind that statistical data in even the latest versions of textbooks is likely to be 2 – 3 years out-of-date by the time a text is authored and published. Against this, textbooks aren’t a particularly great statistical resource anymore when all the most up-to-the-minute stats are freely available at the press of a few mouse clicks…

3. Research cited in older texts may have been questioned or disproved by the time later texts are published and this is clearly a drawback as far as teaching is concerned. The extent to which this is actually a problem, given the texts republished here are, at most, 20 years old (i.e. they just about squeeze into contemporary definitions of, well, “contemporary”) is something you need to consider before using them.

Free the texts…

Sociology Now: another free sociology text

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
Click to download…

Sociology Now is an American textbook currently on its 3rd edition of which this, probably-needless-to-say-but-I-will-anyway, isn’t it. Instead we have what may or may not be the 2nd edition hailing from 2012.

I say “may or may not” because it describes itself as the “2010 Census edition”.

And while this, in the words of the late, great, Ultravox “Means Nothing To Me”, I’m guessing it probably Means Something to Someone.

In which case. You’re Welcome.

I don’t know why I haven’t given this textbook a previous write-up (although it’s always possible I have and don’t remember doing it) but it seems to be a fairly standard text that, design-wise, occupies that slightly-weird space between tradition and modernity. In other words, there’s a lot of text on the page but, for some unknown reason that page is two-columns.

One of which is white space.

And sometimes there are pictures.

And also some odd “space-age” box-outs labelled things like “MyLab” (which is either Pearson’s way of trying to sell teachers and students More Stuff by setting-up a proprietary Learning Management System (LMS) or a welcome extension of the teaching and learning experience. I’m sort-of leaning towards the latter).

These look as though they were designed by someone like me (a, shall-we-say, enthusiastic amateur) rather than a professional designer.

In fact, the whole book looks like something I’d design in Affinity Publisher. And that’s not really a recommendation (unless you’ve got far better design skills than me, in which case it’s actually a top piece of software).

Once you get past the rather primitive visuals and general design the text covers pretty much all of what you’d expect from an A-level / High School / College book (from culture and society through family and media to crime, religion and science) in an accessible and fairly even-handed way.

And while the emphasis is, quite reasonably, on American society and culture there’s still plenty here that will be useful for a European audience – particularly if you’re looking for a relatively-recent, free textbook to supplement the stuff you’re currently using.

Free Online Sociology Course

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

If you’re looking to give your a-level students a little extra out-of-class tuition, the Saylor Academy

Sociology 101…

a non-profit initiative working since 2008 to offer free and open online courses to all who want to learn. We offer nearly 100 full-length courses at the college and professional levels, each of which is available right now – at your pace, on your schedule, and free of cost” might be worth checking-out.

Although it’s aimed at American Community College students – and the various credits and certifications available for completing the course will only be meaningful and useful to US students – this doesn’t mean that actually completing the course won’t help UK a-level students.

The overall level is broadly in line with a-level studies, as you’ll see if you have a look at the free Open-Stax course textbook. this This will give you a good idea what’s covered in the course whose syllabus covers 5 Units broadly familiar to a-level teachers:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Sociology
  • Unit 2: Culture, the Socialized Self, and the Individual in Society
  • Unit 3: Social Inequality
  • Unit 4: Institutions
  • Unit 5: Social Change and Social Issues
  • Since not everything covered in them will apply to a-level you’ll need to check each out to point your students in the direction of stuff to cover / stuff you might find useful to cover / stuff that’s not on the a-level Spec.

    While the Sociology 101: Introduction to Sociology course doesn’t push any boundaries – a lot of it consists of “reading stuff from the textbook, thinking about it and maybe answering some online comprehension questions” – there are quite a few video tutorials liberally spread throughout the Units that, if nothing else, you might want to consider pointing your students in the direction of if you want them to have a little extra online help / revision.

    Some More (Free) Psychology Textbooks

    Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

    I’ve recently, for some reason, been collecting links to a number of free psychology textbooks – either books released under a Creative Commons licence, such as OpenStax Psychology and the almost-but-not-quite rude-sounding Noba Collection, or texts that, for one reason or other have gone out-of-print, been superseded by a newer, shiner, version or simply fallen off a publishing cliff – and thought it might be an idea to post the stuff I’ve collected in time for the New Academic Year (Sort of. Maybe.).

    Introducing Social Psychology (2015): The 8th edition of this textbook covers a wide range of topics (research methods, aggression, deviant behaviour and more) from a social psychological perspective. Hence the title.

    Probably.

    Everything is also in Black and White.

    Quite literally.

    Essentials of Understanding Psychology (2009): Now in its 13th edition, this is the 8th edition of this Popular American Textbook (it says here). Chapters cover most of the usual suspects (Memory, Learning, Perception and the like), plus interesting stuff on areas like Neuroscience and there’s been a lot of thought given to presentation, layout and accessibility. Which, all-things-considered, is nice.

    Discovering Psychology (2011) The 5th edition of Hockenbury and Hockenbury’s textbook (so good they named it twice. Or maybe there’s two of them…) – it’s now in its 8th edition – covers much the same ground as just about every other Psychology textbook (Research Methods, Neuroscience, Learning, Memory, Personality…) but you might find the page layout a little weird (and if you don’t believe me, take a look).

    Introduction to Psychology: This series of texts may take a little bit of explanation, so bear with me. It seems that Charles Sanger created a free Introduction to Psychology textbook (2013) that, under some sort of Creative Commons license could be freely adapted by other teachers / colleges. This means Colleges could take Sanger’s somewhat basic layout and adapt it to their own particular needs – hence this (2018) version from Lake County College that actually looks a lot better than the “original”. There may be other versions, so it might be worth looking around.

    Or alternatively adapting your own…

    Psychological Science (2010): The third edition of a textbook that’s now well-into it’s 6th reincarnation covers much same stuff as every other textbook currently on the market, but its claimed USP is that it offers students a “thorough and interesting overview of contemporary psychological research using the best practices from the science-of learning research. It develops psychological literacy by presenting the material in a way that is directly related to their lives”.

    The truth or otherwise of this bold claim is now something about which you can be the judge.

    Psychology (2015) The 4th edition of this big, colourful, text is filled with pretty pictures, nice illustrations, self-tests, chapter summaries and video links (that only work if you’ve signed-up to the MyLab access feature that constitutes the main USP of the text). Even without the (very expensive…) MyLab, this is a perfectly serviceable text, even though you’ll have to forgo the “Student Voice videos” that introduce each chapter, where “Psychology students share personal stories about how the chapter theme directly applies to their lives”.

    Which, to my untutored ear actually sounds like a plus-point.

    But then, what do I know?

    Not Just Another Sociology Book

    Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

    A text that’s well-worth adding to your collection, even if it’s something you’re only likely to use infrequently when you want to give your students a bit of extended reading around a writer or topic.

    Baudrillard…

    From time-to-time I’ve posted links to a variety of Sociology and Psychology textbooks that, for one reason or another (because they’ve gone out-of-print, been superceded by newer versions and so forth) are no-longer current.

    The latest edition to the list is The Sociology Book, now in its 2nd edition if you’re interested in buying it,  that’s part of an extensive and diverse series themed around a basic, but attractive conceit:

    Take the “Big Ideas” that characterise a particular subject,  in this case Sociology, (but also Psychology, Religion and Feminism among many others) and explain them clearly and concisely – or as the Publisher’s blurb puts it:

    “The Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand.”

    As luck and an extensive search of the Internet would have it, you are now in a position to evaluate this bold claim using this free version of the 1st edition, published in 2015.

    The general format of the book involves:

  • dividing it into discrete categories – social inequalities, culture and identity, families, globalisation (plus a few more that are unlikely to interest a-level sociology students or teachers).
  • select a range of well-known writers (such as Parsons, Foucault, Stacey and Beck on Families, Mead, Baudrillard, Goffman and Anderson on Culture) and write some nicely-illustrated pages about their work in a way that’s generally accessible to a-level students.
  • Durkheim…

    The way each writer and their ideas is covered seems a little arbitrary – some, such as Weber, get 6 pages while others, such as Urry, get a single (not, it has to be said, very enlightening for such a deep and complex theorist) page – but overall the standard of writing and presentation is pleasingly good.

    While I’m not sure about the “creative design” (think Sociology Review) and “innovative graphics” (unless short, boxed, “Timelines” and a few colour pictures count as cutting-edge) I’m generally on-board with the “straightforward and engaging writing”.

    And while it’s not a text you’re likely to use everyday, I’d still argue it’s a useful one to add to your collection.

    Year 12 Sociology

    Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

    A web site that is both a name and an accurate description of what it contains, Year 12 Sociology has a range of resources created by Stephanie Parsons, mainly based around what seem like Lesson Plan PowerPoint slides that have been saved as pdf documents.

    What you seem to get in each resource is a complete lesson on a particular topic, one that includes things like short notes, questions and student exercises, but without the teacher talking.

    Obviously.

    The Resources…

    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).

    Sociology in Focus for A2: Theory Resources

    Friday, April 12th, 2019
    Revision Map

    It’s been a while since I posted anything (busy is as busy does) and since I’ve just finished editing a new sociological methods film I thought I’d turn my hand to posting the final set of resources designed to enhance your experience and enjoyment of the free A2 textbook.

    This set focuses squarely on sociological theory.

    Admittedly, theory’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I find it fascinating and not a little challenging.

    The two are probably not unconnected.

    Anyway, since trying to make the challenge a little-less daunting is my middle name (it’s not, obviously. That would just be ridiculous – akin to, say, a Mr and Mrs. Johnson naming their child “Alexander Boris de Pfeffel”. Less a name, some might say, than a drunken slip of the pen) these resources might help.

    Overview Map: This is just a simple one-page guide to what has to be covered. As such, it could serve as a useful introduction to the topic (or “overview” as it’s technically known).

    Revision Maps: These are more-substantial and detailed content overviews, focused around keywords / concepts in a spider diagram format. Aside from a basic “What is sociological theory?” map the main focus is on an historical overview of modern / postmodern theories: from the classic (Marx, Durkheim, Weber) to the more-esoteric (Lyotard, Baudrillard) by way of globalisation, structure and action. You probably get the drift.

    Activity Answers: The Textbook has a whole host of activities that include lots-and-lots of lovely questions to keep your students amused for hours. Marking their answers might not be quite so amusing, so I’ve included example answers to every question. That way you can get your students to mark their own work. Tell them it’s good for their soul. Or whatever.

    Worksheets: If, for some reason, you run out of questions and yet still need a little more “me time” hit them with these worksheets (not literally. It’s probably a sad indictment of Our Times that I have to include this disclaimer, but there you go). Some are individual questions, some involve small group work and yet others can be used for whole-class teaching / discussion (probably the ones to be using should some passing member of SMT be nosing around).

    Sociology in Focus for A2: Beliefs in Society Resources

    Thursday, March 28th, 2019
    Overview map
    Overview Map

    Having completed the resources for the free AS Textbook it now leaves me free to focus on the last couple of resource sets for the equally-free A2 Textbook.

    Having posted resources for Media, Crime and Methodology (which sounds like an interesting module but is, in reality, just three different sets of resources), the penultimate set is for Beliefs in Society – by which I mean “religion” with “a bit of Science and Ideology to lighten the tone”.

    The format is exactly the same as the resources for previous modules, so if you liked them, you’ll more-than-probably like these.

    And if you didn’t.
    You more-than-probably won’t.

    For those still with us, the resources are as follows:

    An Overview Map setting-out the broad content of each of the Modules students will be covering in the Unit.

    Spider Diagram for 
Theories of Religion. 
One of many.
    Spider Diagram for Theories of Religion. One of many.

    Revision Maps: Spider diagrams based on the content of each Module in the Textbook. These effectively map this content to a series of memorable key ideas.

    Activity Answers: The Textbook includes frequent questions / activities you can use to test / consolidate learning and you might find suggested answers (approved by The Author Himself) useful.

    Or not.
    It depends.
    Maybe.

    Worksheets: The marmite of the teacher’s toolbox, these either involve a combination of individual and group-based tasks that can be used to consolidate and check learning or a complete waste of everyone’s time.

    As ever.
    You choose.
    You Decide.
    Just don’t bother me with your “well-considered and pertinent” objections.
    I’m not going to be interested.
    Thanks.

    Exam Focus: As per, a range of question decoding / annotated answers / commentaries that may or may not bear any actual relationship to the types of questions currently being asked in AQA exams (Disclaimer: Other exam boards are available which, all things considered, just adds to the general confusion).

    Anyway, the Tips Are Solid (as well they should be since they were written by a Top Examiner for a Well-Known Exam Board That Starts with an “A” and Also Ends with an “A” But Which No-One is Actually Allowed to Name. For some peculiar reason that escapes me) so they should be useful even though they are a bit dated.

    Some things never change.
    Although, as I’ve just said, that may not apply to exam question formats.

    Sociology in Focus for AS: Methods Resources

    Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
    Overview Map

    The final set of resources to accompany the free Sociology in Focus AS textbook is for Research Methods aka “Everyone’s Favourite Module” (Said no-one. Ever).

    Although the textbook is aimed at AQA, everyone, everywhere, does research methods so there’s little here that won’t be familiar, whatever the Specification.

    Probably.
    I’d be inclined to check, though.
    Just-in-case.

    If you’ve been following these posts over the past few weeks (and if you haven’t you might want to think about Registering with the Blog to ensure you’re notified whenever a new post happens along) you’ll be familiar with the format – activity answers, spider-diagrams, worksheets and teaching tips – and so won’t be disappointed that this is exactly what you’re getting here.

    Or maybe you will. Who really knows?

    To be a bit more specific, the bundle features:

    Worksheet

    An Overview Map that sets out the broad content of the Unit in terms of the different Modules. This can be useful as a way of introducing the Unit and giving students a broad outline of the content they will be expected to cover.

    Revision Maps: These spider diagrams map-out the textbook content on a module-by-module basis. This makes them useful for both end-of-Unit revision (the focus is on identifying keywords in the text and relating them to other, linked, content) and for introducing the basic content of each Module.

    Teaching Tips: These include suggestions for some hands-on, “Doing Sociology”, approaches to research methods, plus a general introduction to what was, at the time (around 10 years ago) a new and highly-innovative type of research method called Visual Sociology. It’s moved on a bit in the meantime and while it’s not exactly a mainstream method it’s something you might want to investigate if you have the time and / or inclination.

    Activity Answers: If you set your students any of the activities / questions in the book, a set of standard answers would be quite a handy thing to have. Luckily, I’ve written some handy suggested answers to all the questions so you don’t have to.

    Worksheets: In moderation worksheets can be a useful little weapon in your teaching armoury, particularly for small-group work / flipped learning. The worksheets involve a combination of individual and group-based tasks that can be used to consolidate and check learning.

    Sociology in Focus for AS: Education and Methods

    Saturday, March 9th, 2019
    Overview Map

    Continuing to plough the long and lonely furrow that is AS Sociology, today’s offering is a whole bunch of resources for Education with Research Methods. These complement the Sociology in Focus for AS textbook you can pick-up for absolutely nothing if you click the link and then click another link to download it. You might want to read the text that surrounds the download link, but it’s not mandatory.

    If you follow the AQA Spec. the combination of Education and Methods will be all-too-familiar but if you follow other Specs (such as Eduqas) you’ll be pleased to know that as far as the resources go they’re basically “all about the Education” and you can forget about Methods (at least in this context).

    If you teach / study OCR then you need to be aware these are AS rather than A2 resources.

    If you teach / study outside the UK bubble you may find stuff here and in the textbook that relates to your course of study, but I can’t guarantee it.

    (more…)

    Sociology in Focus for A2: Media Resources

    Saturday, March 2nd, 2019
    Revision Maps…

    Another set of free resources to complement the Sociology in Focus For A2 textbook, this batch relates to the Mass Media option:

    Overview Map: An introductory map that provides a very general overview of the Module content.

    Revision Maps: These Unit Maps go into much more depth and detail about the content covered throughout the Module and they have a number of uses, not least as a way of introducing the content of each Unit.

    Activity Answers: If you use the activities that have been strategically placed throughout the Module, you’ll probably need some answers. Luckily, I’ve created some so you don’t have to.

    Worksheets: Can be used to set individual and group text-based tasks to consolidate and check learning. These are organised around three activity types:

  • Consolidate, designed for individual work to ensure students have “grasped the basics”.
  • Apply, designed to promote analysis, discussion and application through small-group work.
  • Evaluate, designed for whole-class discussions around arguments / evidence for and against a question.
  • Exam Focus provides Top Tips from a Senior Examiner. Be aware, however, that the specific types of questions asked may have changed in the 10 years since this text was published. There are sufficient generic tips, however, to make this section a worthwhile download.

    Sociology in Focus for A2: Crime Resources

    Sunday, February 24th, 2019

    A further set of free resources to complement the Sociology in Focus For A2 textbook, this batch relates to the Crime and Deviance option:

    A Revision Map

    Overview Map: An introductory map that provides a very general overview of the Module content.

    Revision Maps: These Unit Maps go into much more depth and detail about the content covered throughout the Module and they have a number of uses, not least as a way of introducing the content of each Unit.

    Activity Answers: If you use the activities that have been strategically placed throughout the Module, you’ll probably need some answers. Luckily, I’ve got some.

    Worksheets: These can be used to set individual and group text-based tasks to consolidate and check learning based around three types of activity:

  • Consolidate, designed for individual work to ensure students have “grasped the basics”.
  • Apply, designed to promote analysis, discussion and application through small-group work.
  • Evaluate, designed for whole-class discussions around arguments / evidence for and against a question.
  • Exam Focus provides Top Tips from a Senior Examiner. Be aware, though, that the specific types of questions asked may have changed in the 10 years since this text was published. There are sufficient generic tips, however, to make this section worthwhile.

    Sociology in Focus for AS: Family Resources

    Friday, February 15th, 2019

    This second set of free resources for users of the Sociology in Focus For AS textbook covers the ever-popular Families and Households Module and includes the following:

    Exam Focus

    Overview Map: A basic spider diagram you can use if you want to give students a broad overview of the content to be covered in the Module.

    Revision Maps: Further, more-detailed, spider diagrams that map specific content to each Unit in the Module. These give students a broad indication of the work to be covered in each Module and can also be used as a handy revision aid.

    Activity Answers: Complete, author-approved, answers to the questions that appear throughout the Module. A major time-saver when it comes to marking or an easy way for students to self-check their answers? The choice is yours.

    Worksheets: Setting your students text-based tasks (individually and collectively) can be a useful way of checking learning or starting a discussion going. Each Worksheet is designed around three different activities:

  • Consolidate, designed for individual work to ensure students have “grasped the basics”.
  • Apply, designed to promote analysis, discussion and application through small-group work.
  • Evaluate, designed for whole-class discussions around arguments / evidence for and against a question.
  • Teaching Tips provide some simple ideas for teaching activities

    Exam Focus provides specimen questions, exemplar student answers and analysis by a senior examiner. Be aware, however, that the types of questions asked and the marks awarded to each type may have changed in the 10 years since this text was originally published.

    Sociology in Focus for A2: Methodology Resources

    Monday, February 11th, 2019

    If you’ve bagged yourself a copy of the Sociology in Focus for AQA A2 textbook and you’re wondering what to do with it beside read it, help is at hand with the addition of the resources originally produced to complement and supplement the text.

    Revision Map

    These, in no particular order, consist of:

    Overview Map: An introductory overview that maps the broad content in the book to each Unit in the Methodology Module.

    Revision Maps: Complementing the introductory overview, these spider diagrams delve a bit deeper, mapping specific content to each Unit in the Module.

    Activity Answers: One of the major features of the text is the activities / questions posed throughout and if you need suggested answers – to allow students to quickly check their learning, engage in a little peer review and marking or simply because it’s easier to mark student work when someone has already provided guideline answers – you’ll love this set of resources.

    (more…)

    Sociology in Focus for AS: Culture and Identity Resources

    Saturday, February 9th, 2019
    Culture and Identity Overview Map

    Having previously posted a copy of the Sociology in Focus AS textbook, I thought it might be useful to throw-in a little additional something by way of the resources that were originally produced to accompany the text.

    While there’s nothing outrageously brilliant about the resources, you might find some – or indeed all – of them a useful addition to the textbook. To allow you to pick-and-choose which resources you want, I’ve posted them in 6 separate categories that do exactly what they say on the tin:

    Overview Map:

    A spider diagram that broadly maps the main areas covered in each Unit in the Module.

    Revision Maps:

    More-detailed spider diagrams that map the main content of each Unit in the Module

    Activity Answers:

    Although Johnny Nash may be firmly of the opinion there are “More questions than answers“, in this particular instance he would be wrong. There are exactly the same number of answers here as questions. Which, all things considered, is probably as it should be.

    As to their function, you might find them useful if you want students to quickly check their own learning.

    More adventurously they can be used for things like peer review and marking.

    Worksheets:

    A Worksheet…

    While worksheets aren’t everyone’s cup of hot chocolate, these are slightly different in the sense they place less emphasis on individual working and more emphasis on small-group and whole class work. For each module there are three types of question, each of which is designed to promote different types of responses:

    • Consolidate questions, designed for individual work to ensure students have “grasped the basics”.
    • Apply questions designed to promote analysis, discussion and application through small-group work.
    • Evaluate questions designed for whole-class discussions around arguments / evidence for and against a question.

    Teaching Tips:

    Some fairly rudimentary ideas for different ways to teach various aspects of the Module., including some simple classroom activities.

    Exam Focus:

    Specimen questions and exemplar student answers. Be aware that the types of questions asked and the marks awarded to each type of question may have changed in the 10 years since this text was originally published.

    Sociology and You: Supporting Materials

    Saturday, May 5th, 2018

    The original publishers of Sociology and You (Glencoe) made a bit of an effort to produce branded PowerPoint resources to accompany each chapter and while there’s nothing very special about them – they’re pretty much bog-standard “text on a white background” slides – these ready-made resources can be useful as a way of introducing key ideas, concepts and theories to students. In the main they take the format of a chapter preview, key terms with short definitions and some expanded text that variously includes discussion and / or simple multiple choice questions.

    If you just want these resources, they are the first link under each chapter heading but I’ve also included further PowerPoint resources created by various teachers (check the metadata if you want to know who) that seem to reference, directly or indirectly, this particular textbook.

    (more…)

    Sociology and You. Too

    Friday, May 4th, 2018

    A later (circa 2008) version of this American High School textbook that has a clean, attractive, design and some interesting content. Might well be worth considering as supplementary material to your existing resources, particularly because it is free…

    I’ve previously posted an earlier version of this American High School textbook that seems to have gone through a number of different editions, the latest of which may have been around 2014 before being “retired” (as they say in Contract Killer circles and also, apparently, American Publishing).

    This version dates from around 2008 and uses the same chapter categories as its predecessor. There are however design changes, although these are fairly cosmetic (a new picture here, a different typeface there) and, more importantly, changes to the text that brings it a little more up-to-date. Given it was originally published around 10 years ago, it’s never going to completely replace your current textbook / resources. Where it covers all the “standard stuff” (research methods, classic studies and theories…) this isn’t really a problem and I’d consider using it to supplement existing resources. There are, for example, opportunities for discussion, self-assessment and the like sprinkled liberally through the book.

    One thing you’ll probably note is that, by-and-large, there isn’t a great deal of depth or breadth to the coverage of different topics. This is partly a consequence of the design – the liberal use of pictures, graphics and tables allied to the “Creative Use of White Space” ethos leaves a lot less space for text – and partly, I assume, the level at which it’s aimed. On the other hand, some ideas / topics are dealt with in rather more depth than you might expect. A section on Ritzer and McDonaldisation in one of the Focus on Research sections, for example, goes into some depth and detail about the concept and it’s application to developments in Higher Education – something you’re not likely to see in the majority of UK textbooks.

    The sections I’ve read (admittedly not that many – I’m a Very Busy Person and I have “people” do that sort of thing for me) strike me as both interesting and very readable. Although most of the examples and illustrations have, understandably given the target audience, an American focus this might be turned to your advantage at times by providing students with a comparative edge to their studies. Alternatively just ignore them or replace them with UK alternatives… (more…)

    Free Psychology Textbooks

    Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

    Following soft on the heels of the open-source Psychology textbook comes a brief selection of additional psychology texts you and your students may or may not find useful. The list includes 4 complete textbooks, either released under a Creative Commons license or as an out-of-print edition a of current textbook. You need to be aware, if you use them, these texts are a few years “out of date” (I’ve avoided including anything more than 10 years old) and don’t exactly match any UK A-level Specification. While most, if not all, of the following are generally aimed at an American undergraduate “Introductory Psychology” audience the information is generally reflective of a-level psychology, albeit more A2 than AS.

    1. Psychology: Themes and Variations (7th edition)
    This American “Introductory Psychology textbook”, probably released around 2009 in this version, is mainly aimed at first year undergraduates (Psychology 101, at a guess) but its design and content probably makes most, if not necessarily all, of the information it contains suitable for a-level students.

    2. Psychology: Themes and Variations (9th edition) Chapter 1
    The opening chapter in the 9th (2011) edition of the textbook serves as a general introduction to the study of psychology.

    (more…)

    More Free Sociology Texts

    Saturday, April 28th, 2018

    This post continues the Great Sociology Textbook Giveaway by stretching the definition of “textbook” to breaking-point with a dictionary, encyclopaedia and, in an SCTV first, an actual text published by a real UK publisher.

    Following hard on the heals of the first set of textbooks comes another batch of free Sociology texts I’d like you to think I discovered by digging diligently through the detritus of an untold number of obscure web sites, but actually found by Just Googling Stuff.

    This time, while there are some textbooks on offer, notably one from the UK, the net has been widened a bit to include a dictionary, encyclopaedia and a couple of texts devoted to family life and religion.

    Texts

    1. Sociology: 6th edition (2009): This is a slightly-ageing edition of Giddens’ long-running text, currently in its 8th edition (the latter has a website, if you’re interested, that could best be described as “satisfyingly-retro” in both design and content if you were being…errm…charitable). Despite it’s relative age, it’s still a text packed with all kinds of useful information. Some of it may be a step too far for some a-level students, particularly at AS level, so discretion is required over how you use the text. In terms of current Specification coverage most of the usual suspects (Family, Education, Crime, Media…) are included, but so too are areas (such as Nations, War and Terrorism) that decidedly don’t need to be studied.

    If you don’t fancy the pdf version there’s also an online flipbook version which is quite fun in a flipbook kind of way.
    (more…)

    An Open-Source Psychology Textbook

    Monday, April 23rd, 2018

    A free (open-source) Psychology textbook (plus resources) that could be used to supplement your existing textbooks and classroom resources.

    As with the open source “Introduction to Sociology” textbook, “Psychology” is a free open-source textbook, now in its 2nd edition, created and distributed by the OpenStax College. It comes in a range of versions, most of them digital (although there’s also an option to by a paper version of the text for around £20 / $38) and will happily integrate an LMS such as Canvas.

    The book has been written by a number of contributing authors and seems to have been designed mainly as a primer for American undergraduates taking an introductory Psychology module (“Psychology 101”). The general level should be perfectly acceptable for A-level, although you may need to dip in and out of the book depending on the Specification you follow – the 700+ pages cover a wide range of options:

    • Introduction to Psychology
    • Psychological Research
    • Biopsychology
    • States of Consciousness
    • Sensation and Perception
    • Learning
    • Thinking and Memory
    • Lifespan Development
    • Emotion and Motivation
    • Personality
    • Social Psychology
    • Industrial-Organizational Psychology
    • Stress, Lifestyle, and Health
    • Psychological Disorders
    • Therapy and Treatment

    The book also comes with a range of Instructor resources (access to PowerPoint Presentations and Test Banks require you to sign-up for a free account), plus a host of free community-created resources.

    Other free textbooks you might want to notify subject colleagues about:

    • Mathematics (Algebra, Calculus, Statistics)
    • Biology, Physics, Chemistry
    • Economics
    • History

    Sociology Revision Booklets: 4. Crime and Deviance

    Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

    As you might expect, given its status as one of the most-popular a-level sociology options, when it comes to revision resources for crime and deviance both teachers and students are rather spoilt for choice.

    I’ve decided, therefore, to split this post into two parts (probably – there may be more): the first (this one) has a range of Word / Pdf resources aimed at students, while the second focuses on PowerPoint resources teachers are more-likely to find useful for delivering revision lessons.

    As ever, if you decide to use these resources you need to check:

    • the Specification: is it the one you’re following?
    • the date: has the Spec. you’re using been updated since these resources were created?
    • the content: even if you’re following a different Spec., there may well be a fair bit of information crossover which means revision material produced for one Spec. may still be useful in the context of another.

    Once you’re happy with this, I’ve found what I think are a number of useful revision resources:

    (more…)

    Sociology Revision Days with Dr Steve Taylor

    Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

    Crime & Deviance: updated to 21st Century

    Dr Steve Taylor, University of London & ShortCutstv

    Examiners reward students for writing about contemporary society but there are very few examples of contemporary theory & research on crime in the textbooks. This Workshop aims to fill that gap by linking the ‘familiar’ with the new.

    Approaches to Crime & Deviance: Key theories & concepts, consolidated, compared & evaluated.

    New Research: clear, easy to understand, up to date research examples to illustrate approaches.

    Globalisation & Crime: green, organised & state crime made accessible & illustrated with up to date examples.

    Theory & Method: simplified & illustrated.

    Handouts: include concise summarises of research examples used.

    Exam technique guidance, including introducing newer material into exam questions.

    Brand new free video “Sociological Theories of Crime” included.

    What Teachers say
    Our students came away inspired and were talking about the session for the rest of the year
    David Gunn, Camden School
    Excellent Day. He brings in contemporary evidence and great links to exam skills
    Ann-Marie Taylor, Coleg Cambria
    The students loved it. I’d recommend Steve to any teacher wanting to organise a revision day.
    Ian Luckhurst, Bridgewater College

    Cost (inclusive & regardless of no. of students):
    Day: £500
    Half Day £300

    For more information:
    Email: steve@shortcutstv.com
    Call: 07771-561521

    Sociology Revision Booklets: 2. Theory and Methods

    Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

    The second batch of a-level revision booklets covers that ever-popular topic, theory and methods.

    As with previous offerings, both design and content can, at times, be a little variable and for this I take no responsibility whatsoever. Because I neither designed nor wrote any of the content. I am technically distributing it for your revision pleasure, however, so I do feel a modicum of responsibility for the materials.

    Not enough, obviously, to indemnify you in any way, shape or form for any losses you may occur through using any of these resources. But enough to advise you it’s something of the nature of the beast that there’s frequently a trade-off between getting your hands on free resources and the currency of those resources. You need, in other words, to go through the resources you decide to use to check they conform to your current Specification: things, as they are wont to do, sometimes change. You also need to make sure you find ways of covering newer material that may not be included in these revision booklets.

    That said, I’ve picked out some resources I think you might find useful and, where known, I’ve credited the appropriate source. Some might say this is so you know who to complain to if there’s anything you don’t like or understand but I would respond that it does you no credit to think that I might think like that. Or something.

    Anyway, without further ado, you can if you so choose pick-up these free resources:

    (more…)

    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 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.

    An Alternative to A-level Sociology 2015

    Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

    September 2015 in England and Wales sees yet another educational change in the shape of “new A-levels”- which are sort-of “new old A-levels” in terms of a structure that harks back to the “Good-old-Bad-old days” (pre-2000 in new money).

    Although it will still be possible for students to take both an “AS-level” qualification and an “A-level” qualification the situation, if you’ve given it even a passing thought, is likely to be a logistical nightmare for students, teachers and, equally importantly, schools.

    This follows because, in a situation where school resources are likely to become ever-tighter and ever more stretched over the next five years, hard decisions are going to have to be made about the type of A-level qualification schools can offer.

    For most maintained schools this is likely to mean the AS qualification will effectively disappear as a standalone offering; students enrolled on the 2-year “full a-level” will see AS incorporated into the A-level and won’t take a separate qualification (since there’s little point entering for an exam that will be worth nothing in the context of the full exam – they will have to sit both AS and A2 at the end of their 2-year course).

    While there’s nothing to stop students who intend to only sit the AS exam being in the same class as those who intend to do the full A-level, things may become a little tricky the closer they get to the AS exam, in terms of revision etc. A further, perhaps more significant, problem here is that students who do well in the AS exam might then decide they want to complete the full a-level; their AS success then counts for nothing since they effectively have to do the exam again (at a higher level) at the end of their course.

    (more…)

    Exam tips: Transferable Concepts in Sociology

    Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

    A transferable concept is one that can be applied across a wide range of Specification topics – a feature makes them very useful in an exam. If you’re ever stuck for something to say about a question, for example, a quick reflection on your bank of transferable concepts will always give you something useful and pertinent to write.

    The trick, therefore, is to identify and build-up a bank of transferable concepts as part of the revision process – something you can do individually by going through your textbook / notes identifying concepts that come up time and again across different topics or collectively by creating Concept Cards that can be traded with your friends (you create Concept Cards by identifying a transferable concept and illustrating it with an evocative picture or icon).

    Incorporating this idea into the revision process is also a way of making revision more active and less routinised – by thinking about whether a concept is transferable you are also reflecting on its possible uses. If you’re swapping transferable concepts it also means you may have to explain exactly how and why such a concept is transferable. (more…)

    Research Methods Booklet

    Thursday, May 21st, 2020

    This Booklet was created by Steven Humphrys, based on one of Ken Browne’s many Sociology textbooks. I don’t know which one but since the Booklet’s dated 2018 I chose the most recent.

    Probably.

    I can’t keep up.

    Also, when I say “guessing”, the Word version has a bank page that says “Ken Browne Scan”, which might be considered some sort of a clue.

    Be that as it may, the content covers pretty-much everything a student would need to know and revise about (AQA) research methods (other Exam Boards are available – but since its Research Methods the content’s going to be pretty much applicable across the board, so to speak), organised into a number of discrete sections:

  • Methodologies (positivism and interpretivism)
  • Practical, Ethical and Theoretical research considerations
  • Research design
  • Methods – from experiments to observation via questionnaires.
  • Sampling techniques
  • Triangulation (although this is treated minimally. And then some).
  • Each section is generally presented in terms of two categories:

  • keywords and concepts outlines the basic information required for the exam. This includes the aforementioned (visually signposted) key ideas, some elaborative material and, where relevant, a table of advantages and disadvantages.
  • exam focus provides a range of exam practice questions.
  • As you’ll see from the image I’ve used to decorate this Post, the document formatting is a step up from most booklet’s of this type – and therein lies a slight problem. Word is predominantly a word processor (there’s a clue in there somewhere) and while it has tried to evolve over the years into what it likes to think of itself as some-sort of all-round Desktop Publishing type program, it really isn’t.

    While you can DTP in Word, as this Booklet demonstrates, it’s not ideal because you have to be very careful about the options you set when anchoring text to graphics. To cut a long story short, if you get it wrong and the text moves slightly – which can happen when documents are uploaded to the web – so do the images…

    What I’ve done, therefore, is correct some of the formatting problems that appear in the original Word document and saved it as a pdf file. I haven’t changed any of the text, so both versions are identical (although I’ve removed the blank page from the pdf version). However, if you want a version to edit, choose the original Word one. If you want a version whose contents won’t slide around the page if you cough too loudly, choose the pdf one.

    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:

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    Exam check list: do’s and don’ts

    Saturday, March 5th, 2016

    Another checklist put together for the CIE Sociology textbook. No great revelations, but probably helpful to know.

    Do:

    Practice answering questions under exam conditions. The more you practice the better you become.
    Sleep on it Memory functions best when activity, such a revision, is followed by sleep; during sleep the brain consolidates learning and retention.
    Read each question carefully Be clear about what each question is asking and how you plan to answer it.
    Answer all parts of a question If the question has two parts then each part will carry half the available marks.
    Relate your effort to the marks available Don’t waste time chasing one or two marks if it means you run out of time to answer higher mark questions.
    Spend time planning your answer to extended questions This will structure your answer and help to ensure you use all the assessment criteria.
    Review your answers When you’re writing at speed under pressure you will make mistakes; of spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as content. By taking a few minutes to read through your answers you can rectify these mistakes.
    Double space your answers (leave a gap between each line in your answer booklet). When you review your answers in the final few minutes of the exam you will find mistakes; it’s easier and neater to correct mistakes or add missing words on the blank line above your answer.
    Present your answers clearly and neatly

     

    Buy new pens for the exam – old pens often leak and make your answers look messy. Only use black or blue ink. Punctuate properly and avoid abbreviations. Check your spelling and grammar when you review your answers.

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    Common Exam Errors and How to Avoid Them…

    Friday, March 4th, 2016

    This list of common exam errors (and how to avoid them) was put together for a recent CIE Sociology textbook I wrote – although most of them were actually “lost in the edit”. Be that as it may, the majority of these common exam errors are applicable to both sociology and psychology students.

    Exams can be difficult social situations to negotiate precisely because they’re unusual; it’s not every day we willingly place ourselves under 1 1/2 – 3 hours of quite extreme, highly concentrated, levels of pressure and stress. The combination of strangeness and stress can mean you make avoidable errors that stop you gaining the overall mark your level of knowledge and understanding deserves. An awareness, therefore, of some common exam errors and what you can do to avoid them is always useful:

    Error: Not answering the question: This problem is not so much that a student lacks the knowledge to answer a question correctly but more a problem of focus; the student writes a great deal of information but they lose sight of what the question is asking.

    Avoid by: continually and explicitly referring to the question throughout your answer. (more…)

    Family PowerPoints Bundle

    Sunday, November 15th, 2020

    This collection of PowerPoints for Families and Households comes from a variety of sources, only one of whom I know personally.

    Like all of the other Presentations, however, I know not from where it came.

    The Presentations cover a range of family-related issues and ideas, from different family perspectives, through the role of the family to areas like diversity, childhood, stability and decline and while they might accurately be described as “Something of A Mixed Bag” in terms of both design and content, they might save you a bit of time and effort.

    I’ve added a very short description of each Presentation but this is only a rough guide to content…

    Browse the Presentations…

    500 Free Education Images

    Friday, November 6th, 2020

    If you create your own resources it’s highly-likely you’re going to want to use some sort of images to give them a little sparkle.

    A seventh-grader walks by a Black History Month display at Sutton Middle School on her way to class.
    Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

    And to do this you’ve either got to take the pictures yourself or “license” them from someone else. In other words, you Google what you need and no-one’s any the wiser (although if you’re lifting stuff from Corporate Entities like Ge**y – I’m not going to provide a link because they are an insufferably awful company – you’re going to have to contend with watermarked images that look a little naff).

    You’re also going to run the risk of a “Lawyer’s Letter” that, if we lived in an equitable world, would be seen as demanding money with menaces.

    But since we don’t, it isn’t.

    I’ve singled-out Ge**y but most, if not all, Corporate Image Mills behave in much the same sort of way.

    An additional problem is some schools and colleges laying-claim to copyright over the materials their employees (i.e. teachers) create for use in their classroom. Aside from a general managerial desire to be dickish, one reason for wanting to exert a copyright claim is that, somewhere down the line, an institution could market or license these resources without the need to get the agreement of the creator.

    Or, indeed, remunerate them.

    While this is a complex legal area in the UK – proving a teacher produced resources for use in their classroom on “school time” could be tricky – using copyrighted images in such resources would, at best, be problematic.

    There is, however, a Third Way (remember that?) and this involves sourcing images from organisations that operate under various Creative Commons rules and licenses.

    A sixth-grade math teacher writes on the board during a lesson about music and math.
    Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

    All that’s generally required to use an image is to include a credit to the creator – in this case, step-forward “Allison Shelley” and her completely-free “American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action” pix.

    The collection consists of 500 “original print-quality photos” of people in a variety of educational contexts and categories – from pre-school to high school, computer labs to outdoor learning, teacher to – you probably get the picture (pun totally intended).

    Open Source

    If this isn’t enough, the burgeoning OER (Open Educational Resource) Movement – mostly, it must be admitted, based in and around the United States – provides a range of Open-Source textbooks including substantial volumes for Sociology and Psychology.

    An open-source text is one that anyone can use as is for free.

    Alternatively, you can take the base text and modify it – add stuff you need, take away stuff you don’t – to your heart’s desire. This could be very useful if you wanted to take and adapt some of the original text to create an original resource.

    As long as you acknowledge the source, you’re home free.

    Study Skills Resources

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

    The Welsh Exam Board site seems to have undergone a rather drastic culling of it’s once-outstanding sociology resources – all I could find was a rather sad Flash movie on gender socialisation that will cease to function on January 1st 2021, some interesting and extensive Crime and Deviance resources that are definitely worth digging around and a Research Methods section that’s quite substantial, looks very nice in all its html5 glory but which, when all’s-said-and-done, doesn’t actually offer very much more than you’d find on the (static) pages of a textbook.

    A Functional PowerPoint

    There is, however, an interesting Study Skills section – a mix of Word and PowerPoint documents – that seems to have survived and even though most of the documents were created a good few years ago (and then some – although we are at least talking 21st century) there’s no reason why some – or indeed all – couldn’t happily find a place in your teaching.

    The materials broadly cover things like essay-writing, evaluation and revision and while they’re clearly aimed at WJEC students they’re generic enough to apply to other exam boards.

    Although the materials are fairly basic in terms of presentation (and occasionally weirdly-strident in tone – the Guide to Revision reads like it was written by a teacher who was particularly frustrated by their students inability to follow simple instructions and is writing on the verge of some sort of apoplectic explosion…) but they’re generally functional enough and the PowerPoint’s in particular are informative and helpful.

    McDonaldisation resources

    Sunday, November 1st, 2020

    Ritzer’s concept of McDonaldisation is a well-known phenomenon that’s characteristic of modernity and modern societies and there are a range of simple resources that can be used to get the idea across to students:

    An Amazon Warehouse that could be anywhere in the world…

    This poster, for example, identifies and outlines 5 distinctive processes in the rationalisation of society and culture.

    This textbook has a short section (Focus on Research, page 20) that applies the concept to Higher Education.

    This PowerPoint includes McDonaldisation (among other useful things) linked into ideas about global culture.

    Global Homogeneity or Diversity is an exercise that uses McDonaldisation to illustrate the homogeneity side of the argument.

    Finally, “Our fake book exposed Amazon’s fatal flaw” is an article that provides a contemporary example of the application of McDonaldisation on a global scale and proves, once again, that Amazon is the sociological gift that just keeps on giving…

    Family: Personal Life Perspective Resources

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

    Whatever your particular view of the Personal Life perspective in relation to families and households (as an exciting, contemporary, forward-looking development in our understanding of family dynamics, a slightly-cynical attempt to breathe new life into tired old social action / interactionist perspectives by rebranding them as something “new, exciting and cutting-edge” or merely another attempt to confuse the hell out of teachers and their students), if it’s on the Spec. – as either a semi-autonomous section, a la AQA, or folded into broader ideas about family diversity, roles and relationships – then, like it or lump it, it’s got to be covered.

    By-and-large this general perspective, as befits its social action antecedents, generally focuses (at least in textbooks) on inclusive forms of family definition that, following Goldthorpe (1987), argue we should define and understand family groups and structures as “complex relational networks” rather than as a specific set of clearly-definable:

  • attributes, such as “common residence” coupled with “economic co-operation”, or
  • relationships, such as “parents and their children”.
  • Contemporary families, in other words, represent a fluid set of social relationships and processes based around relationships that involve labels, such as mother, father, aunt and uncle, values, such as the belief dual parenting is superior to single parenting, norms, such as living together through marriage or cohabitation and functions, such as primary socialisation.

    This latter idea – that something called “a family” can be structurally defined in terms of the specific functions it performs – is something that’s important not to lose sight of when evaluating “personal life” perspectives. This is particularly pertinent when some textbooks over-differentiate concepts of “structure” and “action” when trying to show how “contemporary personal life perspectives” are different to “classic structural approaches”. Social actions, however you want to define them, always relate to some sort of structure…

    Keeping this in mind, I’ve managed to cobble together unearth a few resources you might find helpful when teaching this particular topic:

    Resources…

    The Crime Collection

    Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

    In a previous post I pulled-together all the free crime and deviance films we have available to create a simple one-stop-shop (so to speak) you could browse, rather than have to search individually for these films.

    I’ve extended this thinking to bring together all the posts we’ve made on Crime and Deviance – and since there’s “quite a few” I thought it might be useful to break them down into rough categories (Notes, Organisers, Activities, PowerPoints and Films) for your viewing convenience.

    Since I’ve discovered this is actually quite a task, I’ll add the different categories “as-and-when” I can, starting with:

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    Free Online Psychology Course

    Friday, September 11th, 2020

    In a previous post I drew your attention to the free online Saylor Academy Sociology 101: Introduction to Sociology course and you might be interested to know (or know a colleague who is) there’s also a free online Psychology 101: Introduction to Psychology course available.

    Free Online Course

    Although, as with the Sociology course, it’s aimed at American Community College students  – and the various credits and certifications available for completing the course will only be meaningful and useful to US students – this doesn’t mean that actually completing the course won’t help UK a-level students because the overall level is broadly in line with a-level studies. A quick look through the equally-free Open-Stax course textbook that accompanies the course should confirm this for you.

    Alternatively, have a quick trawl through the course syllabus that covers a number of Units that should be broadly familiar to a-level teachers (although whether the actual content is the same / similar is something you’ll need to check):

  • Unit 1: The History and Methods of Psychology
  • Unit 2: Neuroscience
  • Unit 3: Sensation and Perception
  • Unit 4: Learning and Memory
  • Unit 5: Development
  • Unit 6: Personality
  • Unit 7: Social Psychology
  • Unit 8: Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Unit 9: Health and Stress Psychology
  • Unit 10: Psychopathology
  • In addition to “read stuff from the textbook, think about it, make some notes and maybe answer some online comprehension questions” there are a number of other resources (such as PowerPoints and short Video Tutorials) liberally spread throughout the Units that might be useful even if you don’t want to go the whole hog with the online course.

    Hate Crime

    Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

    Historically, Hate Crime isn’t something that’s featured prominently in most sociology specifications and this lack of prominence has meant that resources for teaching it have generally been a little lacking – so anything that helps to fill-in some of the many gaps is probably to be welcomed.

    The Report-it web site is one such general resource UK teachers and students might find helpful because it contains a range of relatively-simple – but accessible – materials. These have been created under the guidance of The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), a body responsible for the national coordination of UK law enforcement that broadly reflects the views of Chief Constables and Police Crime Commissioners across the UK.

    The materials range from legal definitions of different types of hate crime in relation to different social groups characterised by things like disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender to Reports and Resources that include a range of downloadable materials students could be encouraged to explore as part of their wider reading.

    One of the useful things about this section is that it contains a number of relatively-recent Reports – such as “Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the UK (2016)”, “Attitudes to LGBT+ people in the UK (2019)” and data relating to Hate Crime prosecutions (2010-2015) – that goes a little way beyond what you’re likely to find in textbooks.

    If you’re into classroom decoration (presupposing there’s a return to classroom teaching any time soon…) you’ll also find a range of A4 posters to cut-out-and-keep.

    Alternatively, you can print them.

    And you might be interested to know some of these are available in Welsh and Polish.

    Research Methods Bonus!

    I came across this short (4 minute) film called “Homophobia Social Experiment” that you might find helpful in relation to Crime with Theory and Methods because it uses a simple observational method to carry-out an equally-simple field experiment.

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    Education Workbooks

    Monday, May 25th, 2020

    This set of resources, created by Lizzie Read, covers different aspects of Education across three main categories:

    1. The Role of Education is a 50-page+ resource that includes a Teacher version and a Student version.

    2. Differential Achievement is split into two sub-categories: Class and Gender (with a Teacher version and a Student version) and Ethnicity – also with a Teacher version and a Student version.

    3. Changes in UK Education looks at some changes since 1988 – particularly in relation to types of school – and has both a Teacher version and a Student version.

    As with the first set on Families and Households, these resources were originally distributed as PowerPoint Presentations and I’ve converted them to Pdf files in case you want to use them as Workbooks.

    The files also contain occasional references to particular “textbook pages” that you might want to update, if you follow the OCR Specification, or change / remove if you follow some other Specification. You can do this by editing the following PowerPoint versions of the files (and optionally saving them as Pdf files):

    1. The Role of Education: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    2. Differential Achievement:

    Class and Gender: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    Ethnicity: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    3. Changes in UK Education: Teacher PowerPoint | Student PowerPoint

    Family and Household Workbooks

    Sunday, May 24th, 2020

    These resources were originally created and distributed as PowerPoints by Lizzie Read, but I’ve converted them to Pdf files. This format gives them a “Workbook” feel that, I think, works much more effectively if you want your students to work through the materials, either as an “online lockdown resource” or, when you’re able to get back into the classroom, as a general study resource.

    The materials cover two broad aspects of the Family Spec.:

    1. Diversity: There are two packs available, one for Teachers and one for Students.

    They are basically the same with a few additions to the Teacher Pack:

  • It’s split into four discrete “Lessons” for ease of teaching.
  • It contains suggested answers to all the student activities (which may save you a little time).
  • It signposts some “Learning Objectives”, along the lines of what all students should be able to do, what most are expected to do and what some are capable of doing. How useful you find these probably depends on if or how you use learning objectives in your teaching.
  • (more…)