BestWorst lesson

8th June 2007 at 01:00
Best - I received a troll as a Christmas present the previous term, one of those trolls with the luminous green hair and startled expression. This led to the lesson in question. It was a dance lesson for a Year 34 class, based on the music of Edvard Grieg, a composer whom we discovered came from the land of the troll. Norway, in case you didn't know.

The children got into groups and worked out troll dances. We then shared them. I have never experienced such a high level of group work and peer support. The constructive vocabulary that they used after seeing each other's dances was amazing. Applause was spontaneous.

This was a class of many special needs, and some very low levels of self-esteem. But not during this lesson. We then worked out a way to link the separate dances, and tell a story of the trolls coming to life after years of being under a magic spell, an idea that had emerged during the lesson. The finished dance brought tears to my eyes.

"It's great being a troll, they can do anything," said Cameron. I had to agree. We even showed our dance in assembly, and invited parents to watch.

And the troll with the green hair, whom we named Edvard, was there watching.

Worst

It was a Year 34 class of about 25 children. The literacy strategy had just been introduced. Everyone in primary education had become a slave to the clock.

It stared up at me from my plans with ominous foreboding. Ten minutes on verbs, 10 minutes shared reading, half an hour independent activities and 10 minutes plenary. I was 30 seconds into explaining verbs, when Bobby decided that he wasn't Bobby today, he was a train.

Complete with whistles, door slamming noises and chugging round the classroom displaying his couplers. OK, it's either deal with him and forget verbs, or ignore him and make the rest of the class richer for their knowledge of the great "doing" word.

The clock won. I managed three minutes before Bobby's craving for attention resulted in a major derailment in the book corner. Cushions and Dick King Smith scattered far and wide. Not a sight for the faint hearted. I sent for help, and when senior management arrived, verb time and shared reading time had passed, and the clock was demanding the half-hour activities.

Not that any of the children could complete the activities, because they were based on knowledge of verbs and the shared reading text. But the clock said half-hour activities, so half an hour of activities we did.

Or rather, I spent half an hour running from child to child explaining verbs and the shared reading text so that they could complete the half-hour activities.

I'd lost the will to live by plenary time. I turned the clock over so it couldn't see us all going out to play early Annie Rogers is a teacher in East Sussex

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