The Best Bits

It is a time to spread goodwill and all that, so I wanted to take a moment to share the best bits of the term. In no particular order, and based on what I can remember more than anything!

Space Shuttle Mission: a great drama exercise with KS3. Students lined up chairs back to back X2 to form two rockets- one coming to the Moon from Earth, the other from Mars. Using a selection of YouTube sound effects, students were taken through a mime activity: the rocket launch (switching on controls, fastening seatbelts, fitting helmets), hitting the atmosphere, zero gravity before eventually landing on the Moon. They then encountered someone from the other rocket that has landed, and thought about how they were similar and different to them. I actually used this as a basis to discuss the difference between Mickey and Edward in Blood Brothers (same mother, different upbringing; same hopes and fears, different backgrounds; same interests, different financial position) and the kids really got into the experience.

Differentiated Production experience: used for Christmas wind down, but upon reflection I wish I had introduced this earlier as a long term project. Y7 have been studying Stormbreaker and using the chapter where Alex is trapped in the jellyfish tank, the class worked in groups to work on a film project for the scene. Groups each had ‘directors,’ who delegated various jobs out within the group; sketch out a storyboard (template provided), write a tense script that would be used as a voiceover to reflect Alex’s panic (the class had previously worked on building tension within writing), selecting a cast for the scene and picking a soundtrack for the scene. Each group came up with their own Production company name and it worked fantastically for the tables getting to know one another.

Head in the Hole: Pinched from the innovative @gemmaharvey73, Y9 have been studying Educating Rita and struggling over consideration of structure. In groups, students created a head in the hole sheet for Rita within a particular scene. They drew out the character, accesorised her with particular fiction/literature that was mentioned, included quotations and stage directions on the sheet which was then analysed. Each group summarised their ‘Rita’ in ten words or less in turn chronologically and the heads were displayed for a future lesson.

PEE consequences: The same group then played PEE consequences, where we broke down the segments of an analytical paragraph, before passing it on for the next person to write. We decided upon a question, and then the first student wrote a point. Books were passed on for the next student to elaborate the point or include any additional information. Books were passed on again for the next person selected the relevant evidence. Once again, passed on to analyse why this moment was significant before passing on again to compare with another point in the play. Passed again to consider what issue or theme the writer was trying to highlight to the audience, and passed one final time to amend, correct, add or include a personal response. Students commented that they found it useful to have another student’s writing in their book, to see how someone may respond differently to their own ideas.

Speed Race: This is the easiest way to spice up a task, and key stage three adore it. We were working on formal register, and writing for a particular purpose. Using the novel Holes, I wrote out an informal missing person’s report and groups had to work together to smarten up the language. This is the (most simple) good bit. I cut my informal report into six pieces for the groups to collect piece by piece as they completed it. I outlined that they would be judged on quality rather than speed, but the competitive edge gave them focus and improved engagement for a last period lesson.

Wallpaper lesson to explore structure: Y10 have been preparing on an imaginative writing assessment this term, so I rolled out a piece of wallpaper for them to explore a different part of the story every lesson that week. They added to the wallpaper the appropriate techniques to use, sentence structure, vocabulary for characterisation to give an idea of how to create moments of tension and use ‘show don’t tell’ within the writing. This was then used as a revision guide during the planning process. I have plans to use more visual resources with this group to aid their understanding of war poetry next term, and will blog results.

Improving RAF2 skills with cake: Y8 had a description of a yellow spotted lizard to then re-create their own yellow spotted lizard. The lizards were judged by the most accurate re-creation, but results were excellent; cake, biscuits, clay, plasticine, card, even a banana!

Newspaper poetry: fantastic for improving vocabulary banks for students. We had reached the moment in Holes where Zero is out in the desert, and students created their own poetry to depict Zero’s experience. Poems were displayed in a ‘literature exhibition’ and groups visited each poem, leaving positive comments in response. Students then stood by the poem that they wished to vote for against the criteria, and justified their choice. I am generally a big fan of walking peer assessment, as they share work much more efficiently, and I find that students are more critical when they have a greater selection to choose from.

Involving Twitter for feedback and encouragement: Y7 created their own Stormbreaker prototypes with manuals (please see my tweets for the amazing creations). Tweeting @anthonyhorowitz with pictures, it was lovely to be able to show them a personal response from the author who had taken the time to appreciate their work. For those who haven’t yet realised that Shakespeare isn’t about anymore, I created a fake tweet with last year with easily convinced Y7.

Other little bits:

Ten word answers to focus relevant articulation and get rid of the dreaded ‘like’

exploding sentences- asking students to ‘explode’ their answers to elaborate or improve vocabulary depending upon focus

Objective oracle- selecting student to answer the learning objective question at the end of the lesson, and decide to what extent we have met the objective with justified ideas

Peer assessment for literacy by reading aloud in our finest impressions of HRH- improving formal register

Selecting one student to rasp ‘incorrect use of commas’ in a creepy voice to put off any particularly keen comma splicers. The class are terrified by it!

Dice rolling to select descriptive techniques, sentence openers or sentence types to use, before then amending and improving. A dice can make pretty much anything exciting, and really helps the students that struggle to make decisions with crafting their written work.

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