Teachers had involved children in planning, jungle, transport and pirate topics, using discussion, immersion and mind maps. The teacher of the pirate topic went round with a clipboard during the pirate immersion session, making notes about the children’s interests and comments. These children wanted to make lots of things so the teacher had to ask how they would like to do some writing. A message in a bottle was suggested which was very popular. Children were very excited by this approach and brought things in from home. Children bonded over the topic and a child who usually refused to write chose to try to write the word ‘pirate’. Speaking and listening was improved as children wanted to talk about the topic.
It was clear that involving parents was a huge advantage, as most of the resources required (for immersion etc.) could be supplied by them.
One teacher described her ‘Take one picture’ week (National Gallery annual event in which children explore all aspects of a famous painting) in which parents were asked for their ideas about work which could be done about the picture and was amazed at the variety and quality of ideas from them. This is clearly an untapped resource!
One teacher had found it frustrating that all teachers in a year group in her school were expected to do identical planning of activities. It was agreed that consistency was best achieved through the same coverage of learning objectives rather than contexts.
Brighton and Hove
Reception teachers had started topics with a ‘stunning start’ or immersion in the subject matter then made a mind map with children. Children’s ideas and prior knowledge was included and ideas bubbles were then sent home to share with parents: 3 things we know about, 3 things we want to find out about.’ A Y 1 teacher had shared learning objectives with the class as well as immersion.
Children have greater ownership of their learning and are more interested. Having a big visual reminder of the class learning journey had helped children make links between different areas of learning.
Teachers had found this area more difficult. One teacher broke down ‘people who help us’ into 4 questions, children were asked what they knew about those aspects then came up with their questions.
Another teacher showed a picture of Robin Hood and asked why he was well known. Their responses gave clear ideas of prior knowledge.
One teacher had a question board of the children’s questions so the learning could be tracked. Children can articulate what has been learnt and ask what they will be learning next.
Children researched at home and got parents involved.
Brighton & Hove
Suzanne Morgan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
Anne Vickers | email@example.com
Paul Wilson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Parry | email@example.com