Sssh… it’s a secret!



Whisper

Originally uploaded by daniel_pfund

I had a tutorial lesson today. Or maybe citizenship. Or PHSE. You get the jist…

The aim of the lesson was for the students to understand the concept of budgetting. In addition to the central aim I wanted them to appreciate what their finances might be like in the future and to compare their expectations with harsh reality.

So, printing off a semi-random budgetting sheet found on letting agent’s website we proceeded to fill it in as a class. It took the full hour.

We discussed the cost of renting vs buying, shopping at different types of supermarkets, repayments on loans for different standards of car and, with some degree of shock for the students, the difference between gross and net salaries!

At the end of it we packed up, threw the paper in the bin and went to lunch. I didn’t formally assess their work, they didn’t produce evidence of having completed tasks or showing progression in their knowledge and understanding. I would have been graded as Requires Improvement, or probably Inadequate.

And yet, I’m absolutely certain that EVERY student in that class learned something. They might not remember the figures, but they were surprised by how inaccurate their preconceptions about incomes and expenditures were, and they bought into the lesson really well.

I could have built in more activities – learning checkpoints, scaffolding, differentiated resources and mini-plenaries. And in many cases those tools are incredibly useful. But every once in a while I like to just spend the full lesson exploring something and not necessarily weighing the pig every 10 minutes to see if it’s gotten fatter.

But I’m in the middle of my appraisal, so sssh… it’s a secret! ūüėČ

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The Big Picture

On Thursday I presented a 7 minute skit at Teachmeet Tees on my Image Of The Week exercise.

Every week, in my tutorial (Citizenship / PSHE) lesson I show students a picture I’ve grabbed from the Boston Globe’s Big Picture¬†site, get them to discuss it in pairs or small groups and then always ask them the same 5 questions:

  • What can you see in this picture?
    Not – what is happening / what’s the story – a much more literal approach
  • Where is it happening?
    What continent, what country, what city… what clues are there?
  • Who are the people in the picture?
    Citizens, refugees, civilians, soldiers, students, parents, children…
  • How do they feel?
    Happy, sad, scared, lonely, excited, nervous. relieved…
  • Is there anything we can / should do as a result?

At each stage I get a number of people to contribute ideas and always try to refrain from giving them any real feedback as to the accuracy of their suggestions.

The last question we rarely get to answer, as the students still don’t know what the real story is – but I like to think that it gets them wondering about their social responsibilities and what they could do to help others.

Finally, I explain what the current situation is. Grab a map and some information from places like Wikipedia and BBC News as well as the information that comes with the galleries at the Big Picture site.

We’ve looked at war zones, natural disasters, campaigns, protests, celebrations – all sorts of things. And we’ve discussed geography, politics, current affairs, language (just this week we had ‘ambiguous’ and ‘juxtaposition’), how to read ¬†images for meaning, global citizenship, charity and much, much more.

It has helped to improve speaking and listening skills within the class, as well as social skills and turn taking. It’s also improved our relationship and on those occasions ¬†where I’ve been too busy or forgotten to do this I get moans and complaints – so I’d call that a success.

In addition to the Big Picture website, I would also recommend checking out the Sacramento Bee’s Frame website and TotallyCoolPix¬†for more top quality photo journalism..