Inspired by excellent GPS and SPS sessions on Creativity in the Classroom, I decided it was high time I brought some fun and creativity into my year 9 classroom, to liven up the last lesson before the half-term break.
We had spent several weeks developing the skills needed for AQA Language Paper 2; the learning outcome for this final lesson in the scheme of work, was for them to revise the requirements of the paper, and to consolidate the skills needed, in a fun and memorable way.
During GPS and SPS we had played around with different resources, and how they could be used to excite and engage students; I also had in mind the Kagen’s collaborative learning model, as well as the team challenge idea from Jamie Benson’s GPS session. Putting the three ideas together, I decided to split the class into teams and created a challenge mat for each team, with a variety of tasks, and an allocation of resources and stationary.
As they entered the room, students were immediately engaged, just by the change in the room lay out, the chance to choose their own groups, and of course, the balloons!
While there was a fair amount of work to do up front to set the classroom up, the tasks were self-explanatory, allowing me plenty of time during the lesson to observe and talk to the students in their groups and individually. It was interesting to see how the different teams chose to organise themselves, and the different strategies they developed to complete all of the tasks in the given time. In terms of peer-support, it was encouraging to see students identifying gaps in their own knowledge and helping each other to find out the information.
Students were active throughout the lesson in discussing the paper 2 mark scheme, the skills needed to answer the various question styles, key vocabulary definitions, discourse markers and AFORESTPIER techniques. The work produced was of a good standard, and students had a great time. I think they got so much more out of it, than if I had stood at the front and gone over it all with them as a class.
Incidentally, there are no behaviour issues with this class and they work very well together (although they do have a tendency to become over-competitive). My next challenge is to make this work with other classes too.
Next time, I would think ahead about how to use and display the end results. I still chuckle at the memory of my mentor squeezing out of the classroom door with a bunch of 50 coloured balloons, to quickly stash them in the team room before the next class arrived. My mentor also made some helpful observations about the lesson, and I particularly like her idea of giving each of the tasks a score, so that teams can see where the challenges are.
All in all, while this is not the sort of lesson one can do day in, day out (the cost of the resources and chocolate prizes precludes it), it is perfect for an end of term treat, or to kick start a new topic.
Jenny, English Trainee Teacher, Greensward Academy