Ring alarm bells
At the end of a unit on electricity, to informally assess my pupils, I challenge them to design and make an intruder alarm for their bedroom.
After a discussion about safety, I task students with sketching a picture of how they imagine the alarm will work on a bird’s-eye plan of their room. I provide them with a few points to consider, to ensure that their designs are realistic and that they would theoretically be able to construct and use them at home.
Next, pupils must draw their circuit using electrical symbols, which allows you to see how well they can apply their scientific knowledge. Finally, they select the materials to build their alarms. Although they can’t take them home to install, they are able to test them in class and peer-assess each other’s designs.
A few days after giving this lesson, I was surprised to receive pictures and models of alarms that some children had actually made and installed at home using their own materials. Younger siblings, beware!
Nicola Goscomb is a primary teacher at Denmead School in Middlesex
Day of the dead good bunting
Students love the bright colours and macabre imagery of the Mexican Day of the Dead in November. You can gather material online, but I also like to show the class an illustrated children’s book about the festival.
Discuss the rituals around death we have in the UK and probe students a little on questions of spirituality – what value is there in celebrating the dead? Make sure you know your class and handle discussions sensitively, particularly if a student has been bereaved.
For the practical section of the lesson, begin by asking students to fold pre-prepared triangles of coloured paper several times to produce a smaller triangle (much as you would a paper snowflake). Next, they draw one half of a simple shape, such as a heart or skull, on the side of the triangle and cut it out. Staple the finished shapes on to a line of wool to create lengths of bunting that you can hang across the classroom.
Finish by discussing the role of numeracy and symmetry, using the cutwork art of Rob Ryan to highlight how positive and negative space can be used.
Sally Richardson is head of art at
Waingels College in Reading
Shop talk boosts language skills
This whole-class role play is great for developing spontaneous speaking skills in a foreign language.
Select some boisterous students to be shopkeepers, and give them a list of goods to sell and prices. The remaining pupils will be customers, with different shopping lists of items to buy. Students shouldn’t plan or script their conversations but can ask each other to repeat something or to speak more slowly.
To add a competitive element, tell pupils you will be asking them to nominate “language champions”. These are students who make a good effort on pronunciation or intonation and extend conversations – for example, by providing extra information such as opinions or descriptions.
Students love letting their personalities shine through – our resident joker thought it was hilarious to ask for things he knew a shopkeeper didn’t have. It’s great to see pupils pushing themselves to speak, and those nominated as the language champions of the lesson get a real confidence boost.
Starr Green teaches French and Spanish
To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.ly/LessonPlanner16October