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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 history

The case of the missing Mayans

In this lesson on the Mayans, I like to see the past as a whodunnit, with the children acting as history detectives.

After a 10-minute introduction, I set the class the task of finding out why the Mayans disappeared. I provide six sources of information (find these at the link provided, below right). A good first step is for children to think of questions about the reliability of sources. Then, as a class, we use the evidence to form a conclusion about what happened. Not all pupils will find the answer, but the process of exploration is hugely valuable. Children quickly take charge of their own learning - and are more enthused because of it.

Rhodri Thomas teaches at Bournemouth Park Primary School in Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Secondary physics

A close encounter

with the solar system

What better way to expand children's horizons than to explore the solar system and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.

I place my students (aged 11-12) into 10 groups named after the eight planets in our solar system, plus Pluto and the Sun. Each group uses a pack of planetary statistics to fill out a blank Facebook profile sheet. These are then circulated around the room and every student has 10 minutes to answer 10 quiz questions on each profile.

To test their learning, I write seven statements (related to the topic) on the board, which pupils must mark as true or false in their books. To close the lesson, we have a discussion, followed by a vote, on the question of whether life exists beyond Earth.

This lesson harnesses children's natural inquisitiveness and encourages them to think outside the box.

Aimee McKeon is a science teacher at Shirley High School in Croydon, South London

Secondary drama

Build dramatic tension - using Lego

I don't know if Antonin Artaud - a mentally ill, drug-addled playwright who was kicked out of the Surrealist movement for being too strange - would have played with Lego, but this lesson shows the two are compatible.

One of Artaud's key theories is the Theatre of Cruelty, a space of spectacular proportions with audience and actors existing in a swirling vortex of experience. I've yet to come across a school hall that can support this, so I use Lego.

The students, who have been studying Artaud for a few weeks, are tasked with building his vision. They must then justify their creation with reference to his writing. Finally, they stage a scene from a play in their new theatre, using Lego figures.

I have always found that this exercise frees students to play and to create, which is what drama is all about.

Rob Messik is a drama teacher at Brighton College

To access resources for all three lessons, visit:


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