I decided to tackle waste and recycling in a different way with my Year 7 class. They worked independently of me for seven weeks; I took on the role of facilitator rather than the conventional teacher leader role. I started the topic through a business and enterprise day where students built lifesize recycling super heroes out of rubbish. In the next lesson students were issued with what I call the Matrix.
The Matrix consists of 42 activities linked to Bloom's taxonomy (a classification of levels of intellectual behaviour important in learning).
Each activity is worth a different number of points, depending on its place in Bloom's, and thus the level of thinking required.
Activities which equated with knowledge and understanding were worth two points, application and analysis four points and synthesis and evaluation six points.
For example, the kinaesthetic application (four points) task was building a landfill site and explaining what happens there. The musical application task (four points) was to rewrite the lyrics to a song to take account of the issues associated with recycling plastic bags. A logical evaluative task (six points) was to make a list of ways to improve recycling and rank them.
Pupils were free to select activities as long as they added up to a minimum of 18 points. Pupils set their own homework and decided what they would do each lesson. During the final lesson they assessed completed tasks.
Providing pupils with such autonomy could be compared with jumping in the deep end with sharks. However, the benefits are tremendous and it was worth taking the risk.
Geography advanced skills teacher, Barnwell School, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
* Bloom's taxonomy: www.educationforum.co.ukHAbloom.htm