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Teacher to Teacher

Town life in French

We decided to create an interactive French town called Notre Ville in our school. The project brought together 66 Year 6 pupils and their teachers from nearby Whitefriars Junior School, three Year 10 work experience students, our modern languages department, a circus entertainer, an actor-musician and our drama staff.

The denizens of Notre Ville had to produce their own celebration and performance for some "very important visitors" - and it all had to be presented in French.

During the week-long project staff and young people were welcome to participate whenever they liked. Each day started and ended with a small presentation by the Year 10 students, who outlined target phrases which were then reinforced with smaller groups by the languages team.

The Year 10 students worked with the younger children in three areas - circus skills, art and craft, and drama - to produce performances about the French Revolution. Circus skills were taught in French and the acts were presented by a Year 6 ring master. Market stalls were set up and euros were distributed from a student-made bank to buy food for a banquet. The week culminated in a performance for parents, staff and students in the "town square".

Both schools saw numerous benefits, including easing transfer to secondary school, forging links with primary colleagues and professional development for all staff involved. The young people's learning included citizenship and co-operation, understanding different cultures, numeracy, confidence-building, putting a foreign language into a historical, social and learning context and, of course, speaking in French.

John Herriman, community director, The Rushden School, Northants Handling history

Recently I invited Year 6s from local primary schools to visit the archaeology museum we have set up at our school.

Our archaeology club devised various games that use different senses.

"Drawers of Discovery" gets visitors to use their eyes, using a six-drawer unit from a DIY store. We painted it, lined the drawers with felt and placed inside each an unusual object from our collection. We numbered the drawers and provided three possible choices for pupils to guess what each object was.

"What's in the Box?" requires pupils to feel hidden objects and guess what they are. A cardboard box is adapted with card to make four compartments.

We covered it with colourful paper and cut four round holes, one for each compartment. Red felt curtains were hung over the holes so objects inside could not be seen. Pupils put their hands through the hole to feel the object and guess what it was.

"Tiles" consists of famous historical quotations on coloured card.

Sentences are cut up, to make the quotation harder to recognise. Pupils arrange the pieces to guess the quotation. Board games included "The Victorians", based on real Victorian entrepreneurs. Players learn about money and products as they make their way round a board throwing a dice and answering questions on the Victorian period.

Pam Johnson, history advanced skills teacher, Valley Park Community School, Maidstone, Kent

Useful designs

Year 9 students at our school took part in a project organised by Setpoint, Hertfordshire, and joined a workshop on inventions.

Based on this, I devised more classroom activities. The aim was to design a product which will be useful in the future. We began with exercises to stimulate creative thinking, for example looking at pictures that can be seen in two ways: like the well-known drawing that could be of an old lady or a young lady. Groups were given a few 3-D shapes, including prisms, cones, cylinders and cubes, which they could truncate if they wanted, and were asked to create a product.

The shapes can be made of any material. Among items made were futuristic shoes and a novel theme park attraction. Students were then given A2 card and pens to produce a poster to promote their product. It had to include a sketch, notes, product name and a company name. We held a mock trade fair and "companies" had to promote their ideas to the rest of the class.

"Visitors" gave constructive feedback.

Nikki Abel, head of design and technology, Tring Comprehensive School, Herts


Polished performer

When teaching 14-year-olds vocational GCSE in engineering, I find the learning style that appeals is generally kinaesthetic.

So I represent the three units with an object. I have used fake diamonds, gold and a piece of rock with quartz in it. I explain that each time we learn something we will be giving a precious object a polish, and by the time we reach the exam all three of them will be highly polished. At the start of the lesson, I take one out; at the end of the lesson I ask:

"What have you learned that will enable us to give the object a polish?"

James Welch, lecturer in engineering, Telford College of Arts and Technology, Shropshire

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