One teacher did a science topic on tunnels, gave children the outcomes and asked how they might go about it. A site was visited and photos taken. The children came up with a solution far simpler than anything the teacher could have thought of. Children were very engaged. We need to be brave and let them have a go.
One school organised an immersion activity with lots of activities around the theme of electricity set up. The teachers took notes as they watched the children trying these. It was discovered that children knew less than was expected so skills were picked back in planning, making the topic more relevant.
One teacher had used ‘learning ladders’ to aid planning with the children. Children came up with better ideas than the teacher.
Children came up with ideas which the teachers hadn’t thought of. For a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory topic, one child came up with an art idea of using sweet wrappers to make a collage.
Children feel valued and more confident and motivated about their learning.
For a topic on map skills, children suggested, after immersion, that they should use their map skills off site.
I talked to the TA and worked out a safe option, taking the children to Alexandra Park in Hastings. From there, in groups, with an adult, they had to use a map and compass to get down to the cinema in town. Children were enthused and engaged because it had been their idea. They knew the importance of the activity because it was a real world skill and I had put trust in them. It was a very exciting day for them, but a panicky day for me! We watched a film as the finale to the day.
In one school the planning day with the children is followed by the teachers having a planning day out of class to plan the topic.
‘I can’t wait to see what ideas are chosen. I like George’s idea – I hope we do that.’ Children were very excited after the teacher’s planning day and there was a clear buzz about the new topic. When the children’s ideas were used they felt very proud: ‘This was my idea! I knew it would be fun!’
Rye Primary School
Teachers had sent invitations to parents to come up with ideas for topics or to help in any way which has improved parental engagement with parents now offering voluntarily to come in.
It was sometimes difficult to keep up with resource demands and marking.
It was felt that children need the immersion stage to engage them and to have some direction.
For our ‘Under the Sea’ topic we started with a knowledge harvest and a learning forum, in which the children were able to let us know which areas they were interested in learning more about. ‘Shipwrecks’ was very popular, so we planned a ‘Titanic Day’ for a wow starter day. The hall became a ship, the classrooms cabins, dining room, deck and engine room. We then taught the skills needed to write diaries, including peer assessment criteria for marking, then the final task was to write a diary entry. These showed great insight into the experiences and surroundings of the Titanic passengers.
Ali Withers, Jeavons Wood Primary
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