My best lesson - When student turns teacher, everyone wins
Every teacher will be familiar with the idea that the best way to learn is to teach. We know this partly from our own experience of planning and teaching lessons, which is a fantastic way to solidify knowledge. My lesson takes this notion and applies it to the classroom, by empowering children to become their own teachers.
The idea is that in the first lesson, the children collaboratively prepare to teach the second lesson.
First, I divide the class up into groups and explain that each one will spend the lesson planning 10 minutes of the next. The groups then head off to refresh their subject knowledge on the topic, brainstorm ideas for learning activities and prepare teaching resources. The children take great pleasure in developing these activities, and they are as good as and sometimes better than I would have prepared myself.
In the second lesson, the groups of children lead their own 10-minute section, during which they explain the task, hand out materials and support their classmates through the activity. They even manage behaviour.
In order to lead the lesson effectively, the children need to really engage with the subject matter and understand the ins and outs of it. The activity also improves their understanding of how they learn - a skill that will be vital throughout their lives.
I have always found children to be amazingly able to rise to a challenge and prove their trustworthiness. In this lesson, students know they are being relied upon to create something worthwhile and entertaining for their peers, and do not want to let them down. Nor do they want to produce the least engaging activity. They acquire subject knowledge, and they learn how to learn and how to teach - all while having great fun.
Martyn Steiner is a science teacher for Oxford Montessori Schools