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'Hi ho! Hi Ho! It's back to work we go!' Getting ready for back to school time.

It’s that time of year again. The summer holidays are more than half way though and attention turns to ‘back to school’. I’ve already seen a tonne of stationary and backpacks in the shops so even if I wanted to bury my head in the sand, I wouldn’t be able to. (To be fair I did see my first Christmas card yesterday so it could be worse...) And as for my transatlantic colleagues, many are at least three days deep in CPD training.

Therefore my thoughts have turned to planning another fun-filled and challenging year of educating!

I have been through the resources on my computer and as there are over 15 years worth in there, it has taken substantial amount of my time. I have also perused and for inspirational resources to get my year off to a smooth start. Every year i I like to use a mixture of old faithfuls and new things to add some colour to my teaching and keep it fresh.

Here are a couple of my quick, go-to resources that are in my folder every September:

1. The first one is this poster. 'Three Before Me'. We all want our students to be as independent as possible in their learning but with the ability to find out the information they need. I loved this idea the moment I saw it and now this poster goes on my classroom door and and wall from the start of term. (I once made them all stick it in their workbooks just to really drive home the message, but the photocopying budget has since shrunk!)

2. I think that is is important to share academic expectations as well as behavioural ones with the students from the get go. I made grade graphs and student-friendly ‘I can!’ statements for the humanities and social science. These are distributed at the start of term and displayed for the duration of the year. Students keep a track of their own grades and how they’re doing according to targets as well as knowing why they got those grades and how to improve next time. I’ve made these available in my TPT store individually and as a bundle of it can save you some time. The Bundle is called Back to School Assessment Resource Pack.

3. Another resource I always have to hand for my early finishing historians is this set of critical thinking cards. When I found these on Teachers Pay Teachers by 'Got to Teach' I knew my students would love them and so do I. They take so much of the stress of creating extension activities away. Just get your early finisher to select a card with a question on it and they can use any text you like to answer it. Ingenious! Critical Thinking Cards.

4. I don't know about you but I love using DBQs in my history classes. Source are the meat and drink of history and its these skills the students will need if they are to achieve the best they can in the subject. To help them, a few years ago, I created these help cards. They give clear instructions on how to attempt a range of document based questions with sentence starters and success criteria. I laminated them and handed them out and I have never looked back. My students keep them in a wallet in their folder and can refer to them at any time. Its so heartwarming to see them being used without prompting. AND it supports the '3 before me' idea. Win - Win!

4. And finally so the kids can actually write their fantastic inferences and ideas down I make everyone of them P.E.E.L! My first lesson back with my classes wouldn't be complete if I don't hand these bad boys out and tell them all to stick them in their books. Every have a POINT, EVIDENCE, EXPLANATION and LINK sentence forcing them rot explain and evaluate their arguments. Great for those that have trouble when faced with a blank page as well as you higher achievers who sometimes miss out a stage and skip to the evaluation with out evidence.

However you start your year, I hope these ideas have been helpful and the very best of British luck to everyone heading on into school, you’ll be fabulous!

If you have any go-to tricks and tips for a wonderful start to term, please share it in the comments below. Id love to hear from you. 😁

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