Birchwood’s Wheel of Wisdom (WOW) is a thematic curriculum, driven by the wonderful opportunities presented through Humantities which is supported through our literary texts. It is our intention that all pupils, irrelevant of needs, make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
Through Humanities we aim to support this philosophy by:
- Linking history and geography closely so that they are best led and planned jointly. Both subjects help children understand similarities and differences between societies and cultures and the impact of changes on people and places. The use of careful research, evidence and fieldwork are also crucial in developing good knowledge and understanding in both subjects.
- Perhaps most importantly, we believe in a “hands on” active approach which sparks children’s and teacher’s enthusiasm and interest, and deepens their understanding. The humanities are also an ideal forum for enriching and supporting other areas of the curriculum, particularly English, Maths and ICT. “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
(Ancient Chinese Proverb).
Humanities units are planned through the Wheel of Wisdom. Years 1/2 , years 3/4 and years 5/6 study the same theme to give the opportunity for joint fieldwork, and sharing of planning and ideas by class teachers. Sometimes all the year groups will have a joint topic when opportunities arise, such as an Olympic year. Teaching of humanities are taught by the class teacher as both standalone lessons and through cross-curricular links in other subject areas, such as English. Subject specialist teachers may also use elements of humanities in their planning, such as in computing and music.
At Birchwood we know that children learn best when the curriculum is well sequenced to enable revisiting of core knowledge, skills and understanding to deepen conceptual awareness before demanding application across the whole curriculum. Please see the Humanities Progression of Skills documents (held in school), which outline how the key skills are developed, revisited, assessed and built upon during Year 1 to Year 6.
At Birchwood we believe that children learn best when they are inspired by a real purpose. Medium term planning is based around key questions to help consolidate children’s learning, for example, at the end of a topic about toys, can you set up your own toys museum for parents to visit? Many homework tasks are set for children to complete at home with parents, based around a Humanities focus. Parents/family members are also invited in to termly learning together sessions, which share with parents how we would like them to be involved in their children's learning.
There are literally hundreds of ways we can demonstrate the excellent impact our Humanities curriculum design has on our pupils. In a nutshell here is one example:
1. The Year 1 and 2 children all replicated London houses from Pudding Lane, dating back to 1666 when the Great Fire of London took place. They considered how their houses looked using drawings and videos of the streets back in 1666. They lined them up all together and set fire to them to show how the fire travelled so quickly due to the houses being built so close as well as mainly being made out of wood and with high winds on the first days. For this exciting activity we asked the Fire service to come to school to make sure the activity was very safe and secure.
2. There are countless examples of high quality homework projects. The beauty of Humantities/WoW is pupils themselves can choose their favoured skill set to answer the learning enquiry question set for homework. This has resulted in - in answer to a Year 1 question about the life of frogs, one child transformed a large Evian water drinking container into a model illustrating metamorphosis from frogspawn to frog. Another example, a Year 3 child chose to make a model of Anubis and produce an information scroll on hand made papyrus to present in the Year 3/4 Egyptology museum.