The case of the missing Mayans
In this lesson on the Mayans, I like to see the past as a whodunnit, with the children acting as history detectives.
After a 10-minute introduction, I set the class the task of finding out why the Mayans disappeared. I provide six sources of information (find these at the link provided, below right). A good first step is for children to think of questions about the reliability of sources. Then, as a class, we use the evidence to form a conclusion about what happened. Not all pupils will find the answer, but the process of exploration is hugely valuable. Children quickly take charge of their own learning - and are more enthused because of it.
Rhodri Thomas teaches at Bournemouth Park Primary School in Southend-on-Sea, Essex
A close encounter
with the solar system
What better way to expand children's horizons than to explore the solar system and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.
I place my students (aged 11-12) into 10 groups named after the eight planets in our solar system, plus Pluto and the Sun. Each group uses a pack of planetary statistics to fill out a blank Facebook profile sheet. These are then circulated around the room and every student has 10 minutes to answer 10 quiz questions on each profile.
To test their learning, I write seven statements (related to the topic) on the board, which pupils must mark as true or false in their books. To close the lesson, we have a discussion, followed by a vote, on the question of whether life exists beyond Earth.
This lesson harnesses children's natural inquisitiveness and encourages them to think outside the box.
Aimee McKeon is a science teacher at Shirley High School in Croydon, South London
Build dramatic tension - using Lego
I don't know if Antonin Artaud - a mentally ill, drug-addled playwright who was kicked out of the Surrealist movement for being too strange - would have played with Lego, but this lesson shows the two are compatible.
One of Artaud's key theories is the Theatre of Cruelty, a space of spectacular proportions with audience and actors existing in a swirling vortex of experience. I've yet to come across a school hall that can support this, so I use Lego.
The students, who have been studying Artaud for a few weeks, are tasked with building his vision. They must then justify their creation with reference to his writing. Finally, they stage a scene from a play in their new theatre, using Lego figures.
I have always found that this exercise frees students to play and to create, which is what drama is all about.
Rob Messik is a drama teacher at Brighton College
To access resources for all three lessons, visit: