I have recently been experimenting with teaching geography through drama and literacy games. A recent lesson on Indian cities proved very successful. It began with the class of mixed Year 56 studying a quite advanced adult text on life in Indian cities. Each paragraph was discussed carefully and difficult vocabulary explained. The children then listed positive and negative aspects of life in an Indian city. This was made fun by asking them how many examples they could think of within a time limit.
The lists were compared and children added things to their own lists.
The first drama game played was Good NewsBad News from the radio show, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Armed with their lists, a pair came out and faced each other, one choosing one aspect of city life - eg "there is lots of public transport and other vehicles to get around in." The partner then had to riposte with a disadvantage to this argument - eg "Ah, yes, but Indian cities are very dangerous places with numerous traffic accidents," using the information gathered from the text and class discussion. The pair continue with the same argument until one cannot reply, so the partner scores a point.
Next, a group of children formed a "thought tunnel" with all those having positive arguments along one side, those with negative facing them. They knelt down so the rest of the class could see, while a volunteer walked through the tunnel hearing voices from both sides help make up her mind on the question, "Would I like to live in an Indian city?"
A third game involved children working against the clock to produce five adjectives that would describe an Indian city; these were then read out to form a "sound collage" of impressions.
Finally, children closed their eyes and imagined they were in the middle of Calcutta. They wrote down the first five things they thought they would see and these were shared with the class.
The children came up with images of poverty and wealth, the teeming streets, noise, heat and stench, and mixtures of high tech and rural living that summed up very accurately what most people report as their first impressions of Indian city life.
Joanne Jones Teacher and literacy co-ordinator, Gipsey Bridge School, Lincolnshire