Low-tech windows application

9th December 2005 at 00:00
Ideas and inspirations across the curriculum

Looking for a strategy to engage, excite, entertain and educate students? Here's one I've used with students aged from 11 to 18. First, you need a room with some windows. The windows need to be about chest height. Next, you need to get the class into small teams - no more than four students at each window. Each team decides on a captain, a writer, and colour of pen they will use. Give each team 10 points to start off with. Now you are ready to go.

Teams use their windows as writing pads. Read out a straightforward question and give them about 30 seconds to write their answer on their window. After 30 seconds, get the teams to stand back from the windows. If a team's work is legible and correct, award one point. Award another point if they can then clearly explain their answer to the rest of the class.

If a team's work is illegible (eg you can't see the ink, scruffy writing or poor layout), if they went off task (eg graffiti) or if they don't listen when someone is talking to the class, deduct two points. The winning team is the first to score 20 points. Quality work and presentation is rewarded.

Any deviation from high standards is openly penalised (point deductions).

Windows also provide an ideal forum for short presentations to peers in a safe environment. It makes the lessons memorable and can be used as a starter, mid-lesson breakout, in a plenary session and for revision practice.

My students say it's fun, exciting, builds self-confidence and enhances team building, and I can easily see where or when students are struggling.

Windows aids visual learning and gives openings for kinaesthetic activities as it gets students out of their seats and makes them think about movement and the space available for the task. My students say they look forward to these lessons and it sets them in a good mood for the rest of the day. Go on, give it a go.

Alan Slater

Maths Teacher Gatsby Teacher Fellow, Gosford Hill School, Oxfordshire

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