Lesson planner

Your weekly collection of inspirational lessons, imaginative resources and newly released books
5th June 2015, 1:00am


Lesson planner


Primary PE

Keep dancing!

When pupils hear that they will be dancing in their PE lesson, it provokes either joy or dread. To inspire those who do not naturally enjoy dancing, I base the lesson on Strictly Come Dancing. Most children are familiar with the programme and the competitive element helps to motivate reluctant movers.

I start by playing the theme music and a clip from the show. We discuss the judges' comments about what made the dance effective. Then I tell the pupils that they will be creating their own dances in pairs, to be judged by a panel of four of their classmates.

Each pair is provided with a list of features to include, such as jumps, changes of direction and turns. I reinforce the importance of keeping to the counts of 4 and 8 and working as a team.

The judges are encouraged to give constructive, positive feedback, using the classic catchphrases, mini whiteboards for scoring and maracas as microphones. The children who dreaded dancing at the beginning of lesson often find themselves in full swing by the end.

Dominic Colley is a teacher at Corporation Road Primary School in Darlington, County Durham

Secondary philosophy

Plato through Play-Doh

Metaphysical concepts can be difficult for philosophy students to grasp, so I bring out the Play-Doh to introduce Plato's theory of forms.

When students arrive at their desks, they find some Play-Doh and the name of an animal on a piece of folded paper, with an instruction to keep their animal a secret. In the spirit of competition, the pupils must build their animals within a time limit - producing some hilarious results.

They soon begin to realise that they all have the same animal - a cat. Then I guide them through some probing questions, to work out how they knew they had the same animal in spite of the "artistic" differences between their creations.

After compiling a list of features that make up a cat's "cattiness", I ask the students to mould a cat without these features. They can't.

Most pupils love this exercise. The second challenge - moulding the animal without using the features necessary to do so - is a fun and engaging way to introduce the concept of essential natures.

Finally, I give the class an adapted extract from Plato on his theory of forms and ask them to write a short paragraph explaining the link between the theory and the task they have just completed. With a little differentiated guidance for some, this is usually a great success.

Daniel James Dennis is a secondary school teacher in Surrey

Primary computing

Where in the world?

A great way to strengthen understanding of computing concepts is to set children real-world tests of their skills. For this lesson, I use Skype to connect with another class in another school to consolidate work on web pages and search engines.

I start by explaining that we are expecting a visitor, so the children need to log in right away. After a short discussion of our previous learning, we list criteria on the board for effective internet searching, including useful web pages and tools such as Google Maps.

At 2pm, an incoming Skype call appears on the interactive whiteboard. We answer, discovering another teacher and other students. After a quick introduction, the challenge is set: who can locate where in the world the other school is by using online tools? Each class takes turns asking five "yes" or "no" questions, using the answers to try to locate the other school.

After 10 minutes of research, another round of questioning helps to narrow the field until both classes are able to identify each other. The pupils require little help - we teachers only scaffold the activity.

James Holmes is head of computing at Cranborne Middle School in Dorset

To access resources for all three lessons, visit:


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