The world at their fingertips
What does the internet look like? It’s a question I ask my 10- and 11-year-old pupils as part of finding out what they know about the web.
Begin by mind-mapping all the different resources the children use that involve the internet: YouTube, Xbox, Google and so on. Then see whether the pupils can categorise these applications into groups of services, such as media, social, gaming and shopping. Next, ask pupils if they can draw a picture of what they think the internet looks like. This is usually met with an audible groan of confusion – how can they draw something they have never seen?
A great creative session follows, with children using their imaginations to illustrate the way the internet works. My favourite was a drawing of the world split in two: one half was dark and stormy while the other was sunny and bright. When I asked the child to explain the drawing, they said the internet had two sides: a friendly and useful side, and a dark and harmful one. Some great reflective thinking and conversation can be inspired through a very abstract concept.
James Holmes is head of computing at Cranborne Middle School in Dorset
To introduce the topic of sound, ask any musical students to bring their instruments into the lab. In groups, they describe how their instruments work, identifying the vibrating part, explaining how notes change in pitch and volume, and how sound is amplified. Link their explanations with key words in the topic.
Next, demonstrate how sound propagates in solids by teaching the class how to do conductive hearing-loss tests, placing the base of a vibrating tuning fork against the bone just behind the lower part of the ear or along the centre of the skull.
Follow this by building string telephones – a struck tuning fork can also be used here. Wind the string in the middle of the “telephone” around the base of a tuning fork and strike it, remembering to keep the string taut. A loud tone can be heard in both cups. The telephones could then be used as the basis of an investigation into how the thicknesses of string/tension/length affect sound.
Simon Porter teaches physics for international schools operator Nord Anglia Education
secondary media studies
Baddies are in the eye of
A great way to introduce media studies is by exploring the link between texts and politics.
Begin by asking students to list “baddies” from films. Provide laminated copies of film posters from the past 70 years to extend the list further, examining the posters for signifiers. Together we create a “baddy” list that starts with “generic Arabs” and ends with aliens.
Next, show students a list of (undated) events from the past 70 years and ask them to link the event to the “baddy”. For example, the Cold War and McCarthyism are reflected in the sci-fi genre popular at the time. All this evidences the link between producers, content and context, feeding nicely into a lesson on Vladimir Propp’s narrative theories.
It is amusing to examine the second Rambo film, in which the hero helps the poor people being exploited by the villainous Russians in Afghanistan. Those freedom fighters are, of course, the Taliban. You couldn’t make it up.
KD Messik is a teacher and writer in London
To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.ly/LessonPlanner30October