Learning can be enriched in many creative ways, and what quickly becomes apparent is that the only thing to expect is the unexpected. A few highlights will give a taste for the ways in which learning can be made fun - or challenges can be introduced to make the effort of learning truly satisfying.
History comes to life
One of the history topics for Year 8 is the Tudors, which includes areas such as life in Tudor England, the Reformation and an exploration of some of the key political events of this period. How do you bring this sort of history to life? Harry and Molly both, quite literally, tried to get a taste for the Tudor period by making food using traditional Tudor recipes, while Georgia interpreted the theme in the form of an exhibit. Learning by doing?
Design and Technology teaching at BCS is greatly aided through the support of a network of Science and Engineering Ambassadors who come in from local industries to assist and motivate the pupils. The SEAs have raised the bar by setting a competition for pupils to choose and build an Airfix model, and then mount it on a board as part of a diorama scene.
Removing the barriers
How do you communicate the problem of barriers to communication to a mixed-ability group of Year 11 Business Studies students? Learning by doing may well be the best option, but even so there are conventional and more innovative possibilities. Think about the Two Ronnies TV sketch about trying to buy fork handles (or was it four candles?) - an immediate attention grabber, and an excellent prompt for paired discussion in class about the barriers to successful communication and how to overcome them. Put this alongside a paired activity in which one pupil has a hidden sheet with lots of different shapes drawn on it: using verbal communication only, the aim is to get the other pupil to replicate the shapes and their positions on a blank sheet. Interaction was intense within the class, and the objective of achieving a high-level knowledge gain but making it fun to do was fully achieved: the barriers ended up much lower!