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Puppet power

Many people have happy memories of puppet shows and it is these that you can build on in your own classroom.

I have developed many different examples of how to run short puppet shows in class and have used them in a variety of classes to great effect over the past term.

Here is one example. I have four puppets: two are identified as being the helpers, the third is keen to learn and the fourth just says words like, "I can't do it"; "I don't understand". Get four pupils to volunteer but don't tell them which puppet they are going to get.

The pupils are randomly allocated to a puppet and have to role play. The helpful ones have to explain and summarise a task that has just been covered. Get the puppeteers to stand at the front. The two helpful puppets have to explain how to do a task and the keen puppet tries to relay their understanding and summarise this.

The fourth puppet has to be carefully managed by the helpful puppets for the duration of the show and also diplomatically by the keen puppet.

Encourage the three puppets to suggest a variety of ways that the fourth puppet can use to learn the topic. The first three puppets can also ask the audience to shout out helpful advice. Some examples we have had include after-school sessions and using internet sites. But the most effective seems to be to let that student borrow the helpful puppets overnight. Even though the students are role playing in this game the next time you do it you may want to be more specific and even allow some students to borrow the puppets during a lesson if there is a good chance it will help them understand the topic.

Alan Slater

Maths teacher, Gatsby teacher fellow, Gosford Hill School, Kidlington, Oxfordshire

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