Celebrity speaking and listening

19th May 2006 at 01:00
This is the most successful GCSE English speaking and listening assignment I have ever done with key stage 4. Groups of four or five producers had to come up with a list of 10 contestants and five tasks for a Celebrity Big Brother, which they then had to present to the rest of the class and me, in my guise as "Channel 4 chief commissioner".

Pupils were asked to consider who they could afford, who would do it and which celebrities would produce great TV. One group had Jim Davidson handcuffed to a black rapper for 24 hours. Arguments raged over who would work well with who and why.

The five tasks presented to the house residents didn't have to be worked out in detail, but they did have to be new and realistic. The most successful groups linked specific tasks to certain celebrity contestants to create the most drama in the house.

Suggestions ranged from a fake poo in the house pool, which had to be removed, to balloon debates, where the loser in the house was protected from nomination.

Two lessons of discussion followed by one of presentations created two different contexts in which to place the speaking and listening assessment and resulted in the most focused group work lessons I have ever seen.

The disengaged became fascinated, the quiet argued their corner for "Poo in the Pool" over "Deal or No Deal" tasks, and individuals produced reasons why Nell McAndrew would make a better contestant than Fergie from Black Eyed Peas.

Victoria Elliott

English teacher, Harrogate Grammar School

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