3 Jul 2010

Innovation's the name of the game.

As part of my school's commitment as a specialist language college, we have to find ways of promoting the work that we do across the region.  One of the best ways we have found to do that is to work in partnership with the local authority and almost sub-contract training and CPD to the experts that work at county level.  With this in mind, we decided to set up an 'Innovation Group' where some of the most forward thinking language teachers would get together and create resources and devise strategies that would enable other professionals to try different things in lessons that could engage learners.  A group of us then met yesterday at my school and spent the day creating either 'enquiry-based' sequences of lessons, or 'dilemma-based' scenarios for students to solve.  The key elements in planning these lessons involved making effective use of the Personal Learning and Thinking Skills and at the same time ensuring that the lessons could have a cross-curricular theme.  We worked in smaller groups of two or three, each looking at a project for differing year groups, which we would try and deliver to our own classes before disseminating to other schools.  

My group were working on a project that would be used for KS4, and which could be adapted for KS5.  We looked at the potential dilemma faced by an unemployed Belgian faced with moving to the Flemish part of the country in order to get work.  Dealing with the language of jobs, daily routine, family, transport, it also deals with the issues surrounding the vast cultural and linguistic differences in a country which many people actually know very little about.  It covers a bit about the geography of the country as well as some of the history and background of the issues that currently affect Belgium.  When looking to adapt the project for A-Level French, we looked into the idea of changing Belgium for Quebec, and looking at the issues there instead.

I'm planning on delivering this sequence of lessons in September, when my Y10 students come back from their work experience and start Y11.  I'm even toying with the idea of filming the lessons, but I might just chicken out of that.

The great thing about days and projects like this is that it gets you out of the classroom, gets you looking at how you teach, and gets you working with people you wouldn't ordinarily get the time to work with.  It allows us to be creative and look at things differently.  If we are about engaging students, and revising the curriculum to be more relevant than these sort of days are brilliant.

Photo by zetson

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