Pressing the right buttons

1st February 2008 at 00:00
Being faced with a class of Year 10 pupils who love chatting among themselves can be daunting for any teacher. The shady characters at the back often seem to be your worst nightmare, especially when you mention the words "business studies".

Business studies

But I intended to harness this willingness to talk and use it as a tool for learning. Using PowerPoint, I came up with an interactive game about the sectors of production. The pupils had to come to the front of the class and push a button on the smart board depending on whether the picture - on anything from coal mining to fishing, related to the primary sector of production (gathering materials), the secondary (manufacturing), or the tertiary sector (shops selling the products).

Their answer would then link to another slide revealing if they were correct. Before working from the board, pupils completed the same task on paper, so the interactive game was also a means of self-evaluation.

Using the game, the pupils were put in control of the class, even if only for a short time. The responsibility was on them to progress and to take turns, ensuring everyone was involved.

This changed the whole group dynamic. Everyone had a role to play so no personality was bigger than the next. Pupils took on board the theory they needed but, more importantly, they enjoyed learning it.

There are loads of good resources available online for teachers to use as starters, plenaries, or during lessons, but it isn't hard to make your own using programs available on home computers. PowerPoint is an amazing tool and really is easy to master. The time it takes to work out how to insert a hyperlink will be far outweighed by the time you save in the classroom when the pupils are enjoying the lesson and wanting to participate.

Dave Nicholls is a business studies PGCE student at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

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