Let the music play on
Genre can be a tricky concept for students to grasp. This lesson cements the idea in their minds by using the traditional method of mime to bring different genres to life. They act out a scenario associated with a particular genre – for example, acting “crime” as devious youths stealing a car.
If you add a soundtrack to their mimes, the results can be superb. First, ask groups of students to discuss possible scenarios for several genres. Then, as they mime, play a song that connects with the chosen genre – crime works beautifully with The Angry Mob by Kaiser Chiefs.
Next, reverse the process and ask students to mime scenes in response to songs, then have their classmates discuss which genre was portrayed. For the drama genre, my students have mimed powerful performances of family conflict, bullying and alcoholism, accompanied by a range of ballads by artists such as Leona Lewis and Pink.
Using music helps students to feel uninhibited and easily able to transition from groups to improvisations as a whole class.
Adam Bernard is head of English at the British International School of New York
This lesson uses grid multiplying to move from arithmetic to algebra. I taught it to my Year 6 class after their Sats exams, and they had no trouble moving from 13 × 5 to (n + 3) × 5 on a grid, nor from 24 × 21 to (n + 4) × (n + 1). We even went from (20 – 1) × 5 to (n – 1) × 5, so negatives didn’t pose a problem.
When I asked the children to work out 13 × 5, they drew (10 + 3) × 5 in a grid, like this one:
One of the great things about grids is their use in factorising as well as multiplying, which was noted in a 2011 Ofsted report on maths. So I teach a factorising class next, which can take some children to amazing levels – after just two lessons of grids.
Michael Rath is a retired secondary maths teacher who is volunteering at a primary school in Barnstaple, Devon
Find the tiger who came to tea
To get children interested in character, plot and setting during the “Stories with familiar settings” unit, start with a bit of make-believe.
Set your classroom up to look as if a tiger has broken in: empty biscuit tins and wrappers; chalk paw prints; items knocked over; a tap left dripping; orange “fur” in the window. When the pupils come in, tell them how shocked you are at the chaos – who would do this and why? They will be excited to inspect the damage and look for clues.
After a tidy-up and a chat on the carpet, ask them to make different “Wanted” posters to find the tiger. Placing the children within the story sparks their imagination and makes them eager to find the tiger, which brings a quality and depth to their writing. Finish by reading The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
Nicola Goscomb is a primary teacher at Denmead School in Middlesex
To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.ly/LessonPlanner23October