‘Making the most of Year 7: How to get our geographers off to the best possible start.’ – Your responses

"Making the most of Geography in Year 7" Image of Kate Stockings

Last week we ran an insightful and engaging webinar with Kate Stockings, if you missed it you can catch up here: ‘Making the most of Year 7: How to get our geographers off to the best possible start’. Kate asked several questions throughout the webinar, and as the attendees contributed lots of inspiring answers, we wanted to share some of these responses to get fellow geography teachers thinking about the transition to KS3:

How do you tap into the everyday Geography of Year 7? If so, how? If not, is it something you’d like to do more of in the future?

  • Google map the journey to school.
  • We ask year 7 to produce a mental map of their local area, home, or school.
  • We investigate how the local area has changed and the natural hazards in the area. We also conduct field work on the local microclimate.
  • We start with simply asking students what geography they think they have done at primary school, then link to local area knowledge and maps.
  • We investigate geography in the news today.
  • What geography is, how geographers think, how geographers use maps, decision making about selling our school field for housing.

What approaches do you take to mapping progress across Year 7?

  • Mapping skills and concepts, and when they are repeated, ensuring they are built upon each time.
  • We have explicitly decoupled formative and summative assessments.
  • Progress is measured using a criteria system, based on a deepening/broadening of content.
  • We do GEOBINGO.
  • We have a vocab sheet for each topic. Students are required to write definitions and examples for each word. Assessments are planned to ensure opportunities to use all the terms listed.

What topic do you start with in Year 7 and why?

  • Foundations of Geography – covers global locational knowledge – latitude and longitude, different map projections, before shrinking scale down to the UK to focus on OS maps.
  • Map skills – because it is such a central part of Geography, it’s important to get all students up to the same level.
  • Thinking like a geographer – encompasses physical and human geography of the local area, then onto the national picture of the UK.
  • What a global citizen is- looking at various locations in the world but we start with UK and Pakistan as that is the make-up of our students.
  • Fantastic places- all students know something and can have a go. Assessment of the topic allows students to show off skills.
  • Local Geography – So students from a range of primaries understand where they live and how geography relates to them, with a wide range of geographical skills.

Thoughts or questions we can pose for the new Year 7s? 

  • How connected are countries and how dependent are they upon each other?
  • Emotional attachment to place/sense of place within their areas, has it changed?
  • I started this year off by showing a photograph of how our world had “recovered” from the pollution we create. Students were really interested in how we can make our planet a better place when we are forced to.
  • I’d like to ask year 7, as a generation that has seen the school climate strikes with Greta Thunberg and Attenborough – what do they think is the point of geography?

What has come out of the pandemic that we can think about?

  • Will some students lack the experience of fieldwork/trips that they would otherwise have done in year 5/6? Can we fill the gap?
  • Moving away from lots of IT work and worksheets and to some raw geography like onsite fieldwork.
  • Focusing on speaking and listening because a lot of work has been on ‘Teams’ or individual work.

Some of the answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.