My best lesson - Repackage geography and get hired, not fired
The progression from GCSE to AS-level geography always presents difficulties, so I tend to cover "rebranding places" as the first topic. This focuses on the re-imaging and regenerating of rural and urban spaces.
Beginning with this subject allows me to roll out an icebreaker - I'm always keen to get new classes talking to each other and working on group tasks in the early lessons.
So after handing out books and giving an introduction to the course, I split the students into four random groups. Each group is assigned a profession and a project. For example:
- Council workers have to rebrand our local high street.
- Publicists have to rebrand the chef Nigella Lawson - or another celebrity who has been in the news.
- Advertisers have to rebrand funding body Sport England.
- Developers have to rebrand mobile phone company BlackBerry.
Over two lessons and one homework session, the students create a presentation detailing how they would approach their rebranding and a flow chart showing their decision-making processes. On the day of the final presentations, I set up an Apprentice-style boardroom (with the theme tune playing in the background) and invite the school marketing manager and members of the upper-sixth class to join me in grilling the students.
The activity works really well as an introduction to the AS course. It gets the students talking to each other, blows away the cobwebs of the summer and creates a solid foundation for the rest of the year. It can also be updated depending on who is in the news, helping the students to engage in the realism of the task.