One teacher set up an immersion session around the Royal Wedding which resulted in great engagement and enjoyment. Another teacher did the same for a ‘light and dark’ topic, with children entering the hall in darkness etc. Children wrote down all their ideas for exploration but were unable to understand and devise their own cross curricular links at this age.
A topic on ‘Our Environment’ was also planned with immersion first, divided into the themes of ‘people, animals, places and things’. This proved to be a very useful framework for children then writing their ideas for the different areas. They were enthusiastic about this topic because they had been involved.
One teacher gave the class science books about forces and movement which resulted in the children asking to learn about gravity. The topic was very successful because the children had ownership of their learning and were so motivated they began doing research at home. This teacher also sent home empty topic webs for parents and children to fill in together, with effective results.
Teachers had used various techniques to establish prior knowledge. One teacher found that children could already make an electrical circuit so didn’t need to teach this. Another gave children knowledge sheets about harvest and asked children to say which things they already knew. Many teachers experimenting with an immersion afternoon also discovered a great deal about children’s prior knowledge.
Strategies used to get children to come up with good ideas for activities:
- Given toy superheroes as a starting point
- Immersion days (one school had a whole school immersion day with each teacher taking a different aspect of the topic and children walked around the school followed by activity ideas linked with key skills)
- Shown pictures to stimulate questions
It was noted that teachers need to have the key skills planned before pre planning sessions with children.
The overall impact was that children are motivated and excited and coming up with their own questions. Teachers are able to see more clearly the gaps in children’s understanding.
Brighton and Hove
All teachers had asked children what they already knew and what they wanted to learn by breaking things down. Immersion days with images and artefacts had been set up.
One teacher had a castle topic which began with immersion. Children were greatly engaged and eager to have their questions explored. The teacher had posed a problem of a message in a bottle, which led to children coming up with ideas as how they could solve the problem. There was greater engagement from parents, with parents taking children to visit castles.
One teacher took her class to Filey at the beginning of the topic as an immersion experience, asking them to focus on what they liked to see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Back at school they worked in talk partners and made lists of their ideas for the topic on the senses. The standard of work and learning was excellent as a result.
Another teacher started a seaside topic with a sound stimulus. Then inside a rucksack were clues about the topic. Question such as ‘Who would this belong to?’ were asked (lighthouse keeper). Children were then asked what they wanted to learn and were very keen to begin. Their ideas did not include enough breadth of the subjects, so it was agreed that the vital step after immersion should be to present the relevant skills coverage, which then guided children’s ideas.
One teacher started a science topic with the question ‘Do humans need plants?’ which children discussed with their partner. Their ideas were written up and the end result was an understanding of photosynthesis. Children’s interest level was high and the teacher found she was teaching scientific ideas which were beyond the Key Stage 1 curriculum.
It was agreed that real life concepts create greater interest, such as the garden and weeds. One school had ‘continuous immersion’ of learning about the school garden, involving parents and evolving throughout the topic time.
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