My best lesson - Making console parts as interesting as the whole

26th September 2014 at 01:00

Computer hardware can be one of the less stimulating topics that I introduce to learners. Most pupils are familiar with components these days, so the inside of a PC tower has, by and large, lost its allure. How, then, could I get 20 or so 12-year-olds excited about looking under the bonnet of a computer?

After an interesting CPD session exploring literacy, I decided to introduce debate into my classroom. Instead of investigating the hardware of a traditional desktop computer, I would ask learners to research their much-worshipped games consoles.

Allegiances to these consoles run deep and this was something I could use to power the debate. We would determine once and for all which was better: XBox One or PlayStation 4.

Students taking part in the debate had to know details of their preferred console's components, explain why it was the better choice and be prepared to hit back against arguments from the opposing side.

To do this effectively, they had to be able to compare the consoles' components, and have an awareness of the strengths of their choice and a counter-argument for its weaknesses.

Those pupils - and there are always a few - with no allegiances could serve as "floaters" to be won over by either side. Towards the end of the lesson the undecided few were given the opportunity to pick a console and explain to the class the reasons for their choice.

We have had some undecided students whenever I have used this lesson, and they always choose one of the consoles depending on the strength of their classmates' arguments. I am always astounded by the depth of learners' knowledge and engagement. The pupils are motivated, they are learning and we all enjoy the lesson. That's what makes it my favourite.

Karen Howe teaches computing science at St Mungo's High School in Falkirk, Scotland

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