In an immersion session about World War 2, one teacher gave the class 36 words about the topic (e.g. Nazi, Luftwaffe etc.) Children were asked how they might group the words. They then discussed their groupings and explained each word. Children then wrote one question they would like answered during the topic. This was whittled down to 5 class questions to direct their learning. Children controlled the direction of the topic, giving them more ownership and therefore more motivation and enthusiasm. The 5 class questions:
- Who was Hitler and why was he so mean?
- What was it like inside an Anderson shelter?
- How were children treated differently? Evacuation, Hitler Youth, Jewish children.
- What military equipment was used in Britain?
- Who was involved in WWII and why?
One teacher used the range of answers to ask what plants need to grow. This led to excited discussion and eagerness to start investigating: water, lemonade, milk, cold tea, washing-up liquid.
The odd one out had been used with different shapes and even a child with special needs was able to articulate a difference.
The statement (e.g. It was a good idea to bomb Berlin in the war) had led to good discussion, research and argument. Also ‘there are 45 prime numbers between 0 and 200’ created debate and investigation. ‘The wolf should be banned from fairy tales’ was also effective, leading to seeing things from 2 points of view. ‘Life was better in Athens than Sparta’ gave prior knowledge checks.
This is my answer, what was the question, was used by all teachers in maths. Children were now thinking more flexibly, and evidence of AT1 was being gathered. Explanations were improved and reading comprehension skills. Children are now used to explaining, justifying and reasoning.
One teacher described collaborative planning for a WW2 topic which resulted in a set of questions. Question starters which don’t have a right answer are helping to break down fixed mindsets.
It was agreed that all staff should be working in this way and that it will always be a work in progress.
‘Should all wolves be banished from fairy-tale land?’
I asked this question after a persuasion unit at the start of a discussion unit. Children automatically agreed and explained their reasons.
I showed children an article about this from the Guardian newspaper, which had an opposing view, which engaged children straight away and got the discussion going again. Children worked out that there can be two sides and wrote their own discussions based on this. The statement was a great hook and was thoroughly enjoyed by all!
Faiza Rajput (Geoffrey Field Junior School)
Warwick (included secondary)
Questions starters used:
- Making deliberate mistakes: children were enthusiastic and enjoyed spotting the mistake.
- Reading comprehension questions
- Odd one out in maths: children motivated and engaged
- Starting form the answer: good for assessing where the children are
- Silly question (Why can’t you build a house of chocolate?): lots of prior knowledge emerges during the discussion.
- Higher order questions (Does a good piece of art need to look like the object?): made children think in a different way.
- Use of ‘Thunks’(Does a superhero get scared): engaged children from the start but needs to be related to the subject matter of the lesson.
Also children questioning a child to justify and explain something during plenaries had been effective.
Using a name generator for who answers questions helps less confident pupils.
Claire Hodgson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tower Hamlets, London
Stella Smith | email@example.com
Stella Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
Pauline Hill | email@example.com