Prior knowledge had been explored through the following questions in one class:
- What do you definitely know?
- What do you think you know?
- What do you want to find out?
- How do you want to learn about it?
One school created an immersion session of myths and legends with an outside group coming in. Children were asked to plan via Bloom’s Taxonomy, which was rather unsuccessful because teachers said it was too much, too soon. They found that breaking down each step was a better structure for children’s ideas.
Another teacher had children being detectives at an archaeological dig to find artefacts and the time period. The NC objectives were presented in child-speak. Children were very enthusiastic and used a range of sources to find the information they needed.
One school started with ‘80 days around the world’ as a broad topic title and found that children had limited prior knowledge about the countries. Children planned which country they wanted to explore and how and the whole thing turned into a ‘You’re fired!’ theme. It became a business enterprise with children making a token £5 investment as there were different focus areas, such as making a stir fry. The excitement level was very high. Parents were involved and the whole thing was highly effective.
One teacher gave children the objectives for an Aztec theme and children came up with the different areas of learning. Having more ownership meant children were more actively involved in the learning.
Another teacher used drama as an introduction to WW2. They then looked at key objectives and children chose which areas they wanted to explore. Children were keen to learn more and everything felt more ‘real’ to them.
One school used holiday homework as the springboard for children’s ideas, given the topic title and the objectives. This led to children coming in on the first day back keen to jump straight into the topic.
One teacher used historical archives to show documents such as drawings and journals. Children then devised their own learning questions. This resulted in using a simple text on jousting and turning it into a court case.
Brighton and Hove
One teacher described how she took a risk: she took a photograph of the empty stage and gave the children a dare – 4 weeks to put on an assembly about the Ancient Greeks. The children realised they would need to research. Their ideas became cross curricular and all decisions came from the children, with some intervention by the teacher. The children produced an assembly with 100% participation and enthusiasm and a great sense of responsibility.
Another Y6 teacher had an immersion day followed by skills coverage and children’s questions. Children were very enthusiastic and remembered so much more than when the activities are planned for them.
The ‘Meet me by the steel men’ topic mentioned in previous year group was also carried out by a teacher in this group. The quality of the learning was noted by OfSTED who inspected at the time of the display.
In another school teachers had focused their ‘100 years old’ topic on the old log books for the school. Children and parents were very interested and motivated but teacher found it hard to break down learning objectives. The decision to present skills coverage next time as a series of bullet point skills would have made the links easier for children and teachers.
Another school had children involved in model making a volcano as the starting point for their ideas, with children talking and asking questions while they were making the model.
Teachers agreed that you need confidence to hand over to children, but the point was made that teachers must have clear coverage of learning objectives regardless of the contexts planned by children.
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