This week saw the final lesson with my Y9 group to consolidate their learning over the previous two lessons.
The groups had previously been given an extract from Shakespeare’s Much Ado to understand, analyse and be in a position to re-teach to the rest of the class through a task that they have the freedom to compile and test-drive. Our final lesson started with students taking a moment to consider their personal aim for what they hoped to gain from the lesson overall; the students are aware of the impending assessment question and what is required of them from the markscheme.
Tasks were set up by the students and then in their groups, they took part in a carousel around the various tasks. I stipulated that I would only give them a maximum of ten minutes per workstation, to ensure that the task was in keeping with the brief requirements, and to ensure that the activity did not lose focus. Students collected their findings as a result of the task and added to their records for planning that they will carry out independently at a later point. The groups had also compiled an essay style question to match their particular extract, and we shared these so that students could consider which one they would be confident to respond to upon completion of the lesson.
Tasks were pleasing, and incredibly varied. One group had created a treasure trail to break their extract into manageable segments that comprehension then assisted in solving the next clue, one group had compiled a chat-show style role play to explore Leonato’s disgust with his daughter, and another group had used art to mind map Benedick’s conflicting feelings towards Beatrice. It was interesting to see that one group used Head in the Hole, a task idea previously used with the class and pinched from @gemmaharvey73 which reinforced the effectivity of it! A group had created a game of character-emotion snap where players had to justify their ‘snap’ with the text, and another task was entirely compiled via Powerpoint and then an iphone was left for the group to access the Powerpoint to then respond to quiz questions. The variation was fantastic, and providing students with both a sense of ownership and active approach to their learning had demonstrated a level of confidence on their part to create tasks that showed both creativity and used their own ways of understanding and accessing a text to reach the end goal.
Groups then returned to discuss their findings, and were asked to compile a list of three ways that pride or honour presented itself in different ways. Target questioning was used to share these within the class, and G&T students were given specific challenge during discussion time to compare their ideas with an earlier or later point in the play to encourage them to consider structure, and the development of Leonato’s emotions towards his daughter over time, as he allows her to ‘die’ in order to redeem herself. Individuals then selected an essay style question that they will respond to for me to have an explicit way of assessing their extent of their understanding of textual detail. TBC….
Students completed an exit slip to reflect upon the week and their learning. Positive feedback included:
-I enjoyed the fact it was different and creative
– I liked the freedom and it helped my understanding
– it was an alternative way of me learning the text
– i preferred this over other ways of looking at Shakespeare
The overall consensus was that the girls liked being in control, perhaps too much once we get to the improvement suggestions! I found it an invaluable way for the quieter students to really showcase their ideas and perceptive comments without necessarily being particularly conspicuous (every 14 year old girl’s worst nightmare).
What they would change?
Working together did not go down a treat with all, but then this is inevitably a side effect of any collaborative work. My general response? In the real world, this will happen all the time. Get your democratic decision sharing voice nailed early on, and you will have done yourself a huge favour.
Some students would have preferred a whole-class teach rather than leaving their task to the other group to then visit and attempt to understand- this was essentially where intervention took place; to ensure groups understood the task because certain elements were not clear, despite our practice run the previous lesson. I would remedy this with a trial run by one of the peer groups rather than them test-driving their own task, which would have helped them to visit another task (a general complaint was not having enough time to visit all tasks, but then ‘more time’ is always a factor for student feedback).
I would have liked a more structured way of recording their findings- how do I know that the lower attainment have found the most value and kept at the same pace? However, this may simply be my must-have-a-sheet-to-show-me head on. I believe in this class’ case, recording and value is not essentially an issue, but if I were to extend this out to other classes, I would want to be in a position to be fully informed on their progress.
The proof will be in the pudding, and I am keen to read over their responses on Friday. Overall, giving students an active role in their own development and progress is something that I want to be able to do, irrespective of attainment or content. I think one of the key paths to engagement is by creating that ‘student-as’teacher’ role beyond peer assessment and this is just one way for students to take part in that as a whole-class experience.