Lesson planner

9th October 2015 at 00:00
Your weekly collection of inspirational lessons, imaginative resources and newly released books

Primary geography

A local task for local pupils

What makes a village a village? A quaint little church and a cosy country pub, perhaps? Or a local store that acts as the hub of a small community?

Before I get to this question, I ask my pupils if they know whether they live in a town or a village. Most are able to answer appropriately but their reasons are not always well established (many adults, I suspect, would also struggle).

I ask them to explain their reasoning and I introduce new vocabulary by rephrasing their comments back to them: “So you think you live in a town because of the large population/the long-standing settlement here.” We build a class list of geographical vocabulary and definitions on a flipchart.

Next, I make use of Google by searching for images of villages. I pick out a few examples and we examine them for clues. What are the common features? Soon we have an answer to what makes a village a village that is as clear as a crisp winter morning in the countryside.

Deborah Jenkins is a primary teacher in Twickenham, Greater London



the typical

PE treadmill

When teaching teenagers who have autistic spectrum disorder, a traditional PE curriculum can be difficult because pupils may struggle with competition. This either makes it hard for them to lose, or they have no interest in the outcome of a game.

Obesity and a lack of stamina can also be an issue among these students, because they tend to have fewer opportunities to play outside than neuro-typical teenagers.

I combat this by taking classes out of school and to the local gym. There, pupils can record their times on a treadmill or weights lifted, and they can compete against themselves by trying to beat the previous week’s achievement. This provides them with a greater understanding and respect for their bodies. It can also lead to improved diets.

Going to the gym offers an intensity of exercise unavailable in more typical PE activities, while also teaching young people a useful life skill for when they leave school. It enables pupils to join a community and engage at a level that is comfortable for them.

Gordon Cairns teaches English at Govan High School in Glasgow

Secondary history

The arms race takes

a literal turn

After learning about the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the key question is: who won?

Students enter the classroom to see on the interactive whiteboard the famous cartoon depicting an arm wrestle between US president John F Kennedy and USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, as well as a table set up with two chairs and fake detonators.

Prompted by key words and visuals, students recap reasons why Khrushchev won on red cards and Kennedy won on blue cards. The “moment” of the lesson is the re-enactment of the arm wrestle. I enlist the deputy head and a student, and I spray both of them with water to bring the scene of sweat and tension further to life. This scene is photographed to provide a stimulus for differentiated questioning on the reasons and the cartoonist’s judgement.

Students record a summary of the reasons on a consolidation table and decide who they think ultimately won by standing on the Khrushchev or Kennedy sides of the room. In timed exam conditions, they set out the reasons for their decision.

Amira Mekaouar is a lead practitioner specialising in history and English at Holland Park School in London

To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.ly/LessonPlanner9October

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