Teachers had experimented with immersion afternoons for a seaside topic and another on knights, which led to a geography/history topic on the local area. Teachers brought in artefacts, books etc. Children were asked what they wanted to find out and what activities they would like to do. Children were more interested and enjoyed the topics, and a wider range of activities were planned than previously. Teachers remarked that their job was more enjoyable as a result of following children’s ideas. The ‘knights’ immersion led to more of a focus on skills than content, with more investigation and looking for evidence. Greater ownership led to greater motivation.
One teacher found it hard to get the children to differentiate between content and skills. It was also remarked that some children still find things boring if they have a fixed mindset and are afraid of failure.
Parents had been involved in planning which led to talented parents coming in to school to help, leading to more community cohesion.
One school had a whole school topic on Spain, with whole school immersion, followed by pupil spider diagrams of their ideas. The children loved the immersion and the topic, although the teacher was not enthused by the theme.
Another teacher set up an immersion day and children made connections and guessed the theme.
One school was moving away from topics and going back to subject lessons so wondered how to do immersion. It was suggested that there could still be themes, parallel topics running for each subject.
Children like the ownership of choosing their own ideas.
Brighton and Hove
Children had been given choice over ideas for persuasive writing, which had led to more motivation.
Another teacher had a practical start for a toy fair topic. Children had to take a magnet or spring home and make a toy using them. Children reported back what they knew and what they wanted to find out. This revealed what they already knew or not.
Another teacher started a science topic with an investigation, which made children realise they didn’t know as much as they thought they did.
For the start of a Roman topic, one class began by invading another class! The teacher then organised the skills and children said what they wanted to find out. One child said ‘You are helping us to learn what we want to learn.’
Another class had an immersion start for the India topic then were asked to say what they thought the topic was about, which was very successful.
Role play was used to start off a Victorian topic and a wormery was the starting point for a rocks and soil topic.
For a topic on Mohammed, a prayer mat was displayed, with writing, symbols and music. Children described what they saw and then wrote their questions on post it notes, which linked into the areas of learning.
One teacher had an afternoon immersion session in which they watched Youtube clips then were asked to put their ideas on a blank curriculum map. Lower achievers struggled to link their ideas to subjects. It was agreed that a list of skills should be presented as the starting point for children’s ideas.
Another school used ‘Meet me by the steel men’ as the theme of a topic. Children looked at the skills they needed to learn and discussed different ways to learn the skills. A visit helped children choose a topic they were interested in. Children were highly motivated and their final products were exemplary. The teachers felt pressure to organise resources, as ideas came up which were new to teachers.
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