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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

Primary maths

Get animated about enterprise

In this maths enterprise lesson, children use their mathematical knowledge to calculate the price of screening their own short animated films.

First they must work out the profit they aim to make on ticket sales: less able groups plan for 150 children, while the more able plan for 385.

Pupils then calculate the percentage cut taken by the school for each ticket sold (for some pupils a simple 10 per cent, for others a more complicated 12.5 per cent). They must also deduct one-off fees such as the cost of hiring a venue and insurance.

Once this has been calculated, I challenge their knowledge of ratio with the prerequisite that for every four children there must be an accompanying adult. To bring geometry and measure into the mix, I stipulate only three children per square metre in the venue owing to fire regulations. This invites pupils to measure their classroom space and the more able to source alternative venues for their larger audiences, such as the school hall.

Rhodri Thomas teaches at Bournemouth Park Primary School in Southend

Secondary English

Picturing Shakespeare's


If Shakespeare's soliloquies were dishes, they would bubble with juicy vocabulary, sizzle with rich imagery and froth over with meaning. But despite their tasty offerings, children often find it difficult to peel away the surface of these speeches and comprehend their many layers.

To analyse the tone and symbolism of Macbeth's soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 7 (where he contemplates the consequences of murdering King Duncan), I get my class to use Play-Doh.

Thinking laterally, they have to create ambition in a tangible form, paying attention to shape and texture, then explaining their rationale. Those who found the text difficult to access can explore this theme in a visual manner while others sharpen their critical thinking.

Next I read the soliloquy to the class; in pairs they write down key words or phrases that relate to ambition on Post-it notes. Using these words, students draw a conceptual image relating to the text. Looming storm clouds, never-ending corridors and burning bridges have all featured before.

I finish by presenting a spectrum of colours and asking pupils to associate them with particular words in the soliloquy. In addition to obvious links - such as red for "bloody" - words such as "assassination", "vaulting" and "consequence" can generate fascinating discussion.

Adam Bernard is a head of English at the British International School of New York

Secondary geography

Who will gain access to the rainforest?

As pupils enter the classroom, they are transported to the Madagascan rainforest. To set the scene, I pull down all the blinds, turn off the lights, borrow a smoke machine from the drama department and play sounds of the rainforest from a YouTube clip.

As the pupils sit down, I ask them to imagine that they are in the rainforest, and to think about what they might see, what sounds they can hear, what they can feel and smell.

On their desks they each have a card that says "logger", "miner", "oil extractor" or "conservationist", and this dictates the group they are in. When they open their eyes, I show them images on a PowerPoint about logging, mining and oil exploration in Madagascar and split them into their groups.

Their task is to read the information provided about their role and, in their groups, to create a three-minute pitch to the government of Madagascar (me as the governor and the class as the jury) outlining why they and only they should get access to the rainforest. When all the pitches have been made, each group has just five questions to put to the other groups, forcing them to choose their questions, and who to ask, wisely.

Only one group is allowed access to the forest, and the class votes on who that should be.

The writer is a geography teacher in a secondary school

To access resources for all three lessons, visit:


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