Creating art that's a load of rubbish
Drawing from observation has many benefits, but the usual bottles, bike wheels and guitars are not the most inspiring objects, particularly for 13-year-old boys. Instead, try piling up fast food packaging.
For this to work, you need a towering pile of rubbish. I get the students to bring in packaging for their homework (which always raises a few giggles). To supplement, I ask fast food outlets for unused packaging. I try to gather a variety of shapes.
Back in the classroom, I construct a pile of rubbish on each table - the bigger the better. This makes quite an impression as the students walk into the room. I ask them to draw the still life, thinking about composition and the quality of line and perspective; skills we have practised in preparation for this lesson.
I encourage some of my lower-ability students to create viewfinders to help them select an area, and remind them that they should be drawing the main shapes before adding graphical details such as logos.
The students become fully engaged in their drawing - so much so that you can hear the scratch of their pencils on the paper. There isn't really any trick to this lesson; it's just about using objects that are familiar to teenagers.
Sally Richardson is head of art at Waingels College in Reading
A burst of learning from a bubble investigation
I use this memorable and messy science lesson to investigate bubbles with my class of pupils aged 6-7. Explaining that we want to break the record for the world's biggest bubble, I give the children a range of mixtures to test.
They blow bubbles and catch them on a laminate sheet. To differentiate the task, get lower-attaining pupils to draw around the ring mark and ask more-able pupils to place it on squared paper and count the squares.
The task leads to discussion about the best bubble mixture, with some children discovering the need for repeat experiments. A few may even try to calculate the mean for each mixture.
Present the results by photocopying the laminate, or creating a table or bar chart.
Now it's time for the giant bubble. Using a children's paddling pool filled with home-made bubble mixture and a hula hoop covered in felt, we explore how to make bubbles big enough to fit pupils - and even teachers - inside.
Remember to emphasise health and safety as the bubble mixture can be very slippery.
You can also use this lesson with ages 9-10, changing the focus so that pupils investigate mixtures with different amounts of glycerine and produce line graphs of the results.
Sarah Williams is a primary teacher in Durham
Power up maths skills with a grid
Sometimes the simplest activities are the most effective. This task gives every child a sense of achievement and challenge, while differentiating clearly and flexibly. Importantly, it gives pupils ownership of their learning.
Hand each child a grid of 25 numbers and a matching grid that is blank. Then explain what they must do to the numbers and let them pick their level of difficulty:
The aim is to give pupils the freedom to take responsibility for their own learning.
Set a time limit for the pupils to complete as many problems as they can alone or in pairs: five minutes usually works well. If they find their chosen level too easy or too hard, allow them the freedom to switch during the task.
Walk around, observing and praising students' problem-solving abilities. When the time is up, ask for one or two explanations from each level. The children will soon be taking the lead and teaching each other their methods and strategies.
Now that they are familiar with this activity, it can be used with a variety of topics including decimals, percentages and fractions. The children often impress me with the level they work at and their eagerness to aim even higher next time.
Dominic Colley is a teacher at Corporation Road Primary School in Darlington
To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.lyLessonPlanner8May