Friday, 18 March 2016

Class Seminar

This is a two part lesson that I use with the older students. I give a chapter of a book or a piece of text to the entire class and give the class a note taking sheet where everyone in the class examines a different aspect, theme or topic. I usually do this over two periods.

Set up:
1. Note taking frame work worksheet (blown up to A3)

1. The first period is spent taking the notes and reading through the literature.
2. The second period involves moving the entire class around a large table and giving each class member time to discuss their section.
3. I then grade the students on the quality of their presentation to the rest of the class.

Suggest topics to to allocate to each student
1. Economic, Social, Political, Military causes of an event.
2. Long term, short term, mid term and immediate causes of an event.
3. Perspective of country 1, perspective of country 2, perspective of country 3.

The example above was used on a chapter discussing the Soviet Expansion into Eastern Europe, students took each country and took notes based on the perspective of each country.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The 60 Second Rule

Teenagers can be frustrating and challenging people to deal with. Many times I have been in the situation where a student's behavior in class has been highly disruptive and left me feeling frustrated and then when I talk to students about their behavior, I get sucked into talking and talking and what I am saying falls on deaf ears.

When I try to think of the students perspective in all of this I guess being told off by a teacher is never pleasant - lecturing, drilling, droning on about the behavior just falls on deaf ears because it is easier for kids to zone out (and therefore avoid feeling bad about the behavior) rather than listening to a teacher deliver a long criticizing discourse. So, my suggestion is this, maximize the potential of your discussion with a student by following the 60 second rule - get your point across in a shorter period of time.

In teacher terms; Quality rather than quantity, be short, concise and honest about the behavior that you would like to address. Deliver the message in under 60 seconds and increase the likelihood of being listened to.

'When it comes to talking to a student about their behavior - less is more.'

Focus on what you want rather than what you don't want.

An interesting technique that I like to use in lessons is to spend my time describing the behavior that I would like to see rather than the behavior that I would not like to see.

It is common in my classroom on the left hand side of the white board to see a list of descriptors that outline the behavior that I would like to see in the class. I always explain to the class at the start of the year that this is a description of a good lesson for me. Please see the example below.

I make a strong reference to these statements a lot during the lesson, when the students are entering the class I am usually standing at the front pointing to the first descriptor. Secondly instead of asking for silence, I point to the next descriptor and the class usually react by quietening down. As I quiz the class I will point to the third descriptor if they begin to shout out and so on.

Over time the class get to understand the descriptors well and gradually begin to cooperate with me much more. The great thing about the descriptors is that I merely have to point to them rather than shout out. As I get to know my classes more I usually make a point of saying that these five descriptors are 'our goal' for each lesson - 'lets all work together to achieve them.' This works well as over time the class begin to nudge each other into following the descriptors.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Creating a Biographical Display

This is a nice task or either a Formative or Summative assessment. It works for many subjects. I use it more for History. Students do this individually.

Set Up:
- One piece of coloured A3 paper for each class member. I prefer card than paper.
- Colouring pencils
- A4 Blank paper to use.

1. The students research a figure before had to make as the subject of the display. In the example given above, they were figures of the Enlightenment Era.
2. The students set a research question that is compelling about their chosen individual.
3. They then  put together the components of the display which are as listed.

- A research question.
- A timeline of the persons life.
- A photo or diagram of the person.
- A short scripted interview where they give their answer to three key questions.
- A comic strip that highlights what they are famous for.
- A conclusion paragraph that answers the research question.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Torpedo: Student versus Class.

This is a nice lesson starter after an intense lesson. Use it more for a revision exercise as some students find it challenging after learning the material. I prefer to use this activity as a plenary.

1. One wooden ball.

The Set Up:
1. I ask the entire class to line up at the back of the room, shoulder to shoulder.
2. One student is asked to come to the front to the command center.
3. The rest of the class at the back of the room are given the wooden ball.

1. When the person in command turns their back to the class to think of a question, the class keep passing around the ball.
2. When the person in command turns back to face the class, they must 'Torpedo' them by asking a question. If the person being 'hit with the Torpedo' gets the question right, they are in command, if the person gets the question wrong, they are out and must sit out of the activity.

The goal for the person in command is to 'torpedo' the entire class out. The goal of the entire class is to get a question right so that the commander is overthrown.

I let the person in command use their notes to help with coming up with questions.
I also give a house point or merit to either the commander if they manage to knock out the entire class, or to a class member if they are the last man standing.

Thinking Task: Connecting Unrelated Media Sources

I like the Mantra - 'If you can't control them, confuse them.'

A favourite lesson starter or plenary of mine is to give the class an unrelated source that does not relate to the topic being taught at all and then to get the class to make the connection. It makes for a nice thinking exercise.  Often I used popular Movies and have the class make connections between the characters. Below are some examples from my History Lessons and one of my Geography lessons.

What does the Hunger Games have in common with the Roman Empire?

How many connections can you see between this Lincoln Park song and Wave processes in Geography?

A colleague of mine took this idea even further and gave the class a booklet of 10 different song Lyrics and the class had to match the song with a Philosophical idea from the Enlightenment era as well as justify their answer. This was such a good task which the students enjoyed. Two of the song lyrics that she used were John Lennon: Imagine and Aretha Franklin: Respect, to give you an idea. 

There was a nice bonus extension activity where the students then had to find two of their own songs that they listen to now and to match it to an Enlightenment Idea.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Cause and Effect Diagram

It took this idea from Russell Tarr. and I was really delighted with the outcome. This task was a fun task in my Diploma Programme Year 1 class. The class are studying the conditions that led to Japanese Militarism and Aggression in the lead up to World War 2 as part of Paper 1. We took some time to examine the events that were happening in China that could have led to a Japanese invasion. The discussion point of the class was 'To what extent was the Japanese invasion of China down to opportunism'

The Set Up:
I used two sheets of coloured paper, Red and Green
I printed out photos of all of the main characters involved in the incident.
I typed short statement om each event in China that led to the Japanese Invasion.

1. The class collaboratively drew out the outlines, cut them out and glued the outlines together, they then cut out all of the statements organised them chronologically and then glued them onto the bodies along with the faces. This took around 30 minutes.

2. All of the bodies where then pined up onto the wall and arranged chronologically. It gave the students a chance to see the cause and effect of each event.

3. On the arms, I have the students write a trigger word to describe each factor. One the legs I had the students write the key words for each statement

4. I was then able to use the final product as a visual aid to talk the students through the Chinese Revolution and Chinese Civil War and how it lead to a Japanese Invasion.