Peter Greaves shows how teachers can let go without losing it. This week: A window on the world
For Archimedes, inspiration came in the bath. For Sir Isaac Newton, it came under an apple tree. And me? My eureka moment came in the toilets at the National College for School Leadership in Nottingham. Let me explain.
Bringing current affairs into the classroom is something most primary teachers strive to do. Sometimes the events are so high profile that pupils can't miss them, such as when a world figure dies. At other times, natural events dominate, as when the Asian tsunami struck in December last year.
Day to day though, it can be less clear cut. Sometimes stories are not appropriate and others seem inaccessible. It's hard to know which stories will strike a chord with your class, and which ones will take longer to explain than the events themselves lasted.
An easy way for me used to be to go to the pub. A local of mine put newspapers in front of the urinals in the Gents. As I stood there (sorry ladies!), I would find myself catching up on world news. Well, the National College for School Leadership has had the same idea, but they've gone hi-tech. They provide printable web pages from a well-known news site, a weather forecast, and sports and travel sections. A penny dropped, (not the one I was "spending") "I could do that!" I said, and a smart gentleman in a suit gave me funny look as he made a quick exit.
So now each day, four pairs of correspondents in my class log on to a children's news website as the first job of their day (via www.newsbbc.
co.ukcbbcnews). Using this site means I don't have to worry about inappropriate stories. One pair selects two world news stories, another two sports stories, the third checks out popular culture and the last looks at the weather.
Each pair prints their chosen pages to be displayed on my classroom windows which face the playground. We call it our "Window on the World" and an increasing number of pupils are making it a part of their day to see what is happening elsewhere.
The pupils are relishing the chance to select the news stories, and many check out information sources at home before they come to school. One person in each pair drops out at the end of the week, to be replaced by another who is trained. Interest lasts well beyond a pupil's turn however, and it is not uncommon to hear past correspondents asking the present incumbents to justify their choices.
Co-ordinating the "Window on the World" has proved an excellent way of broadening horizons and extending knowledge which is, by the way, what I am doing if you ever catch me in the Ladies!
Peter Greaves teaches at Dovelands Primary School, Leicester Email: firstname.lastname@example.org