A head start on titles
A good title can be the difference between success and failure for a book or magazine, but what about students' essays? When my students have toiled over written work, I get them to craft an informative and interesting title before handing it in.
This achieves multiple objectives. To make the title informative, students must clearly and concisely identify the essential point of their essay. Making the title interesting requires them to use the literary devices they have learned in previous lessons.
I guide students by getting them to examine the titles of the year's non-fiction bestsellers, looking for alliteration, metaphor, rhetorical questions and other literary devices. Most have two parts: usually the first relies on word play and the second tells us what the book is about. Using this format, students develop incredibly catchy titles.
When the students submit their essays, I ask them to write the titles on a poster board. We discuss the literary devices used and vote on the best one.
It's a great way to celebrate creativity and commemorate the end of a long-term writing assignment. It also gives the students who struggle with writing a chance to shine - although the activity requires creative thinking and wit, coming up with a killer title is not as arduous as penning a five-page essay.
Rebecca McGrath is an English teacher at Westfield High School in New Jersey, US
Explore the mysteries of Madagascar
Creating a wildlife documentary usually takes a lot of time and a lot of money, but this lesson is a way for teachers to turn students into junior David Attenboroughs while also improving students' locational and contextual knowledge of Madagascar.
I give students cut outs of the seven continents to re-arrange to form the super continent of Pangaea. By comparing how the world has changed over millions of years, students are introduced to the concept of continental drift. Together we explore how Madagascar was once attached to Antarctica, Australia and India, but is now isolated.
Next I give students atlases to check their locational knowledge, and examine Madagascar's physical geography.
Once they have understood the make-up of the island, in groups of four they use fact-files to create a 30 second presentation on one type of flora and fauna. I show a clip of David Attenborough narrating to model how to present information clearly and concisely, and from this, students draft a set of success criteria for their clip.
After recording their narration over a given clip and presenting it to the class, together we discuss their presentations, with the students stating what they liked and how it might be improved.
The writer is xxxxxxx
Getting to know you - and me
This lesson works well at a "meet the teacher" morning or at the beginning of a new academic year.
I begin by putting a photo of myself on the PSHE board in my classroom and asking what makes a good teacher. As the children offer their ideas, I write them on a flipchart. Pupils love answering this question and will usually tell you they need someone firm, fair and kind with a sense of humour.
Afterwards I cut their comments into strips and pin them around my photo. I tell them I will try to be the kind of teacher they need. I will sometimes fail, but I will do my best.
After this, I introduce them to what makes a good learner. I ask them to tell me about a lesson they remember well from the past year. Then I invite them to draw themselves and to record what kind of learner they are so that we can add this to the display.
The information you can glean from this lesson is not only helpful for the children but can also assist you with effective, targeted lesson planning for your new class.
Deborah Jenkins is a primary teacher in Twickenham
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