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Your weekly collection of inspirational lessons, imaginative resources and newly released books

Your weekly collection of inspirational lessons, imaginative resources and newly released books

Secondary English

Creative writing: life in the trenches

Getting bottom-set 14-year-old boys into creative writing can seem impossible. But not when history is involved.

Their task is to imagine being a First World War soldier. After playing a clip about the trenches, I ask: what did you see? Blood, mud, wire, they say, and then write a word on a piece of paper. We repeat the process for the other senses and scatter the pieces of paper over the floor.

The boys walk through the trenches, using the words as inspiration to describe what they can see, hear, feel, touch and taste, with the lights on low and war noises playing in the background. To finish, they select five new words and write a summary of the setting using all their senses.

Katie White is an English teacher at Kingsbridge Community College in Devon

Primary computing

Directional language to the rescue

I wanted to give my five- to seven-year-old pupils some experience of directional language. Instead of using a Bee-Bot (a programmable floor robot), I opted for some role play.

My phone rings and we hear our teaching assistant telling us that she is lost and needs our help to get back to class. The children are instantly engaged and ready to help. Up pops a live video stream from an iPad the TA is holding. The pupils give verbal instructions to guide her through the school. She acts confused at points so that they are forced to "debug" their directions. After 10 minutes, she makes it back and is greeted with a cheer from the children.

Then I divide the pupils into pairs to write instructions to guide a visitor from our main reception to different areas in the school, aided by a map of the site.

James Holmes is a primary school teacher in Somerset

Secondary geography

Making a performance of population

All geography teachers need to tell pupils about the demographic transition model, which demonstrates changes in population growth. Thankfully, I've found a way to liven up what can be quite a dry topic.

Students begin by reading about each stage and why it occurs. We discuss it and I make sure everyone has understood the basic concept.

The class is then divided into groups of five; each one has 10 minutes to create a short play illustrating the transition of a country from stage 1 through to stage 5. The performances are always varied. In the past, one group acted out how access to clean water reduced death rates, while another focused on how family planning reduced birth rates.

For homework, pupils answer a question from a past paper. From the standard of work, it's clear the lesson is one to be repeated.

Tim Parker is a geography teacher at Yarm School in Stockton-on-Tees

To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.lyLessonPlanner1May

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