7 Super Easy Ideas for Tutor Time


One of the aspects of my job as a Geography Teacher that I love the most is being a Form Tutor. Don’t get me wrong, being in the classroom actively teaching Geography is great, but it pales into comparison when stood up against being a tutor. I haven’t always felt this way and I used to struggle to come up with things to do to fill the time. Then I realised that the best tutor time activities don’t need HUGE amounts of preparation or even input from you, which frees up your time to catch up on all your mentoring conversations and admin work!

I know that sometimes, especially in this long slog of a winter term that you can lose motivation and feel like you’re slipping under the avalanche of marking and data tracking, but give some of these tutor time ideas a try – you might find them interesting, entertaining or useful!

So without further ado, here are 7 Super Easy Ideas for Tutor Time that I love using and in no way have created myself.

#1 – Origami

Origami is great. The Japanese art of paper folding provides a useful challenge for pupils and gets them thinking laterally, creatively and against their natural inclination to ask for help. The best bit? You don’t need to have any idea how to do it yourself! There are a huge amount of online instruction sheets for different origami patterns and even YouTube tutorial videos to help! Of course, you may end up getting suckered in along with the group!

#2 – Watch, Learn and Discuss

If your tutor group are anything like mine then they love a good debate and discussion and they probably also like watching YouTube videos. Well, what if I told you that there’s a simple way to combine the two and have it be an excellent Form Time activity!

There is an abundance of YouTube channels devoted to “What Ifs” and “How Dos” that you can watch with your group and then discuss afterwards. Some personal favourites of mine are:


#3 – The News Quiz

There are loads of different options out there for a quiz of the past weeks news, but personally I like Mike Dean’s version with great graphics and multiple choice answers. Its a staple of our week and has been for years! Check him out on the TES where he uploads it every week, or you can subscribe by email. (I HATE linking to the TES usually!)

#4 – Silent Reading

Nothing is better than a good book in my opinion so why not encourage and enthuse your tutees to love reading too! It’s pure gold to get 35 minutes of uninterrupted reading time and it gives you time to catch up on any tasks too whilst adding value and literacy skills to your tutor group. You could also start a book recommendation display!

#5 – Form Time Ideas

Ever have that tutor time that sneaks up on you and you have nothing else to do? Whack up form time ideas and get your group to work through them! Simple and easy, but giving some great form time stuff to do!

#6 – Homework Day!

This is a big favourite in my tutor group, they love having the chance to complete their homework or revision in school. Some people may frown upon this and say that homework should surely be done at home but I think it’s a great way to use time, catch up on what your students are doing in lesson and create your own homework tasks too!

#7 – Plan An Event!

Once a term we have to hold a tutor group fund raiser and we also have to run a House Assembly. Why not use your tutor time, once a week for a few weeks to do this? Put the onus back on the kids too! I always make them brainstorm ideas in their table groups before deciding on three I like and getting them to vote on them! Then get them planning, preparing, resourcing, etc. You’ll have less to do and your tutees will develop their project management skills too!


I hope that some of these ideas were helpful! Keep clinging on Teachers, there’s only two weeks left until Christmas!



Geography, Simplified!: Folds

Have you ever seen those rocks that look like they’ve been bent in half? Well, that’s exactly what’s happened to them.  Folding is a geological process that takes place over huge timescales, but because we’re all busy I thought that I’d break it down in a quick, easy to digest slice! It’s time for another bit of Geography, Simplified!

To begin, here is the basic definition of Folding, from that Elephant’s Graveyard that we teachers always tell  pupils never to go to: Wikipedia:
“The term fold is used in geology when one or a stack of originally flat and planar surfaces, such as sedimentary strata, are bent or curved as a result of permanent deformation.

Now, if that seems a little wordy that’s because it is, so lets start to break it down: A fold is the result of a bunch of rock bending or curving due to processes in the earth that cause them to change shape.
Nice and simple.

So, time to get a little more complex. Folding usually occurs in sedimentary rocks, rock created by smaller pieces of eroded rock settling together over millions of years to form layers of rock. The deformation that creates folds can happen either before the sediments are fully lithified (made into solid rock) or after they are if the rocks are ductile (changeable, movable, editable) enough to deform without shattering. The main cause of folding is due to “planar movement” where the plane that the rocks is on shifts and moves, causing the deformation in the rocks – this usually happens as a result of the tectonic plates moving and colliding, or isostatic or eustatic changes (more on those in a later post) causing a rise or fall.

Folds have four main parts to them; a rising limb, a falling limb, an axial plane and a hinge zone.
The rising limb is the side of the fold that appears to be moving upward, whilst the falling limb is the opposite, the side that appears to be going down. The axial plane is the line that divides the fold into two parts and separates the two limbs. The area on the surface where the axial plan would be, where the two limbs join is called the hinge zone, much like the hinge of a door, where the two limbs fold and are joined together.

Folds are common in most mountainous areas (known to geographers are orogenic zones) and where there is a large collection of folds on a regional scale, it is called a fold belt. Some examples of folds in the world are at Moruya, New South Wales, Australia and Barstow, California. If you’re looking a little closer to home then the absolutely Wonderful Lulworth Cove in Dorset has a truly fantastic example of folding, particularly at Stair Hole.

The Lulworth Crumple in Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Dorset, UK

So there you go, those weird bendy lines in the rocks have been straightened out a bit! That was Folding, Simplified!



Risky Business – My Experience With A “Golden Lesson”

This week a read a blog post on Teacher Toolkit website that explored the idea of the “Golden Lesson” (Link if you click here) and why risk taking is important in teaching.

If you don’t know what a Golden Lesson is, then I’ve sneakily pilfered harmlessly borrowed the definition that Teacher Toolkit give in their post:

Golden lessons are lessons where you take risks. These are the lessons where you do something differently and give something new a go to see what happens.

-Teacher Toolkit (See I attributed it – that’s hopefully fine…)

Now I know many people out there that will think that the Golden Lesson, or as I’m going to refer to it from now on the GL (I’m lazy, it’s fine), is just little more than flash and shimmer for the sake of jazzing up a lesson, that it doesn’t lead to any improvements in your lessons or anything except pandering to the culture of whizzy bangy teaching to make people think it’s great when it’s not. Well, I’m in a bit of disagreement with that, I like the GL and I think it’s a great idea. Let me share one of my own experiences with you…  (cue the harp flashback music)

The first time I did a GL was when I was struggling to motivate my Year 10 pupils to revise for their Mock exams. It was just before the Summer half term holiday and effort was at an all time low. I’d tried a revision session the week before and they didn’t want to engage with it at all. They were unfocused and chatty. Well, I wasn’t having any of that in my lessons so I went away over the weekend to have a little think and wouldn’t you know it the inspiration struck whilst I was doing my weekly food shop.

Whilst wandering the aisles in the supermarket I came across the seasonal aisle and there it was. The biggest risk I think I’ve ever taken with a lesson. An inflatable paddling pool and some ball pit balls. 100 of them to be precise. I went home and painstakingly sellotaped keywords for the topic to each ball. Monday morning I then dumped the whole thing, fully inflated into my classroom and prepared for the day.


I turned the lesson into a Game Show, much like the old TV game shows of the Nineties (I have very hazy recollections as I was born in 92). Pupils split into teams and had to assign themselves team names, they had a series of “brain busting puzzles and challenges” to solve to earn them more points, with the team with the most points getting a head start in the ball pit round. It’s important that these brain busting puzzles and challenges were just simple revision tasks, but since they were dressed up to be worth points, they were suddenly much more important and exciting.

The ball pit itself was a key word revision challenge. Pupils had half of the definitions on their sheets, they had to complete the definition, then sprint to the pit to find the correct ball and bring it back to their team. The first group finished won they coveted (and invisible) “Bragging Rights Trophy”. I’d never known some of my Year 10s could get so enthusiastic!

Would you like to know the best bit?

That class did much better in their mocks, especially in the topics that featured in their Game Show Revision lesson. I’d do it again (and I have done frequently) in a heartbeat.

The Golden Lesson is a great idea. I’d encourage every teacher to take a risk and give it a go. If it doesn’t work? Ah well, back to the drawing board and you know what to change for the next time! Just give it a go – do something different and enjoy what you do!

All credit for the original post regarding the Golden Lesson goes to Teacher Toolkit, an amazing website that you should all check out if you get a spare moment! They’re also on Twitter and are a fab little source of interesting teaching ideas!


Geography, Simplified: Heat Waves


It’s the summer holidays and it’s pouring with rain! What else did you expect from this wonderful country of our? A little bit of hot weather? Well, cast your minds back over the last few years (few months actually, we had a heatwave declared in June!) You can bet your bottom Pound Sterling that with the hot weather comes the inevitable scaremongering from the media that will begin with some websites pondering whether our weather might descend into a “heat wave”. But what exactly is a heat wave? Let’s take a look.

“A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity. There is no universal definition of a heat wave;the term is relative to the usual weather in the area.”

Put simply, a heat wave is a time of higher than average temperatures in an area, but since the climate of two areas may not be the same, there is no single temperature that must be achieved for it to be considered a heat wave. The reccommended definition is that when the daily maximum temperature of more than five days in a row is higher than the average temperature by more than five degrees Celsius.

So how do they happen?

Well, heat waves are usually caused by an area of high pressure where the air and the ground get heated to excess and there is very little to displace the heat, such as cloud cover. A static high pressure area (one that does not move) can create a very persistent heat wave. Hot winds blowing from tropical or desert areas can also contribute to the creation of heat waves, with the warmer air being blown onto an area that is usually cooler, combining with the high pressure area. The “Heat Island” phenomenon caused by large urban areas such as cities can also exacerbate (such a big word, so grown up!) a heat wave and make it worse, due to the prolonged period of heat, cutting down the amount of night time cooling.

What damage can heat waves do?

Medical issues such as Hyperthermia (heat stroke) and Heat rash, among others can be caused by the extreme weather. A usual precaution taken during a heat wave is to set up air conditioned “cooling areas” for the public in most cities. In worst case scenarios heat waves can kill, as seen in the 2003 European heat wave, where around 15,000 people died in France alone. Wildfires can be started in some areas, where the heat affects dry vegetation and causes it to catch alight. In 2003 fires raged through Portugal as a consequence of the heat. Heatwaves can also cause physical damage to infrastructure with pavements and roads melting and buckling due to the heat.

You mentioned 2003 in Europe?

Why yes I did. All good Geographers love a Case Study and this is ours for a Heatwave. In 2003 a heat wave erupted over most of western Europe. You can see the areas affected on the map I’ve included at the end of this post. In 2003, the summer was the hottest on record since at least 1540. This created major health crises in many countries, with France being hit especially hard. This, combined with a drought that caused a major crop shortfall in the South of the continent, caused over 40,000 Europeans to lose their lives. The UK managed to escape the worst, and was brought a short period of relief by Atlantic cyclones, bringing cool, wet weather for a few days before the temperatures started to rise once again. Around 2000 people died in the UK.

Map showing the 2003 European Heat Wave

Well there you have it. The phenomenon known as a heat wave has been broken down a bit and explained. Now, whenever this rain stops you can understand what all the scary news articles are about! See you all soon for another bit of Geography, Simplified!


Welcome to The Whiteboard Wall

Hello, I’m MrH and this is the blog I’ve finally decided to start all about teaching, geography, teaching geography and education in general. I’m hoping that, much like the physical whiteboard wall, it will be a space to share ideas and practice and see what shakes out. As a Geography Teacher (going into my 4th year in the profession) there will be a fair few geographical subject knowledge posts, but I’ll try to offset these with general teaching posts, classroom tales and maybe some musings on life in education in general!

Thanks for giving it a read and I hope you enjoy!