Fri-deas can literally be anything...Getting excited about a great idea for a big enquiry you have had. Telling us about the fantastic and meaningful outcome task you have just taken in. Explaining how you have managed to successfully explain something historically complex. Letting us into an historical nugget you have unearthed which really got your kids talking. The sky is the limit.
Fri-deas don't have to be super long - ideally they are little, readable chunks of inspiration. Most importantly, we need to know:
- which class you did this with
- how it fitted into the learning sequence
- how and why you think it went so well
- if possible - grab a quick picture of the outcome and send it in too.
This week I was teaching communism and capitalism [complex concepts to understand at any age - Mr F] to a Year 9 class. For capitalism, they each started with different amounts of Starbursts (unequal distribution of wealth/opportunities). One Starburst was enough to keep alive, any additional Starbursts were a bonus. They had one minute to win as many other Starbursts from their classmates using rock, paper, scissors (competition). The ones who had the most at the end, tended to be the ones who had the most at the beginning. There were also some students left with no Starbursts.
Then I (the government) took all the Starbursts back and gave them one each, this represented communism. This led into a really interesting class discussion.
This week I was teaching a Year 7 group about life in the Middle Ages. The plan was to get them to see how hard it was for most people to survive and how the church supported and helped them, as well as taxing them a fair bit. I used the idea of a dice game (nice and simple and very little setup) to represent the peasants' year. Students worked in groups of 4. They each had a grid with 8 columns (2 for each season) and six rows (numbered 1-6 for the rolls of a dice). Each turn they rolled the dice, looked at what happened, told their gorup and recorded this in their books. For example. throwing a 5 in spring said: "The weather is mild and your crops grow well - increase your food count by 10". There were also negative ones such as natural disasters, or being asked to work for the lord. The tricky bit was getting the statements to match the right seasons. I had to use the Medieval Realms textbook to help with this.
At the end of the game the students with over 100 food survived the winter. To challenge them a bit more, I got them to discuss:
- What made your life easier in the game?
- What your life harder?
- How much control did you have over what happened to you?
- What might you do as a village if you don't all have enough food?
If I did this again, I might have different statements based on the type of person eg. students could play as villeins, freemen or even priests? Then they could compare how different groups had very different lives in the Middle Ages.
Each week I will endeavour to select a great idea I have seen in a lesson in schools and share it with you. This week, I was particularly taken by a task aimed at getting students to really see the impact of the Treaty of Versailles on Germany. The activity was a 15 minute part of a KS4 sequence of lessons explaining the outbreak of the Second World War, but would work equally well with any age.
One student was brought out to represent Germany in 1914. The teacher then narrated Germany's assets pre-war. Other students were called out act the part of land, tanks, a huge navy, great industrial wealth etc. until Germany was surrounded by people (and looking pretty pleased with herself).
Next the teacher outlined the terms of the ToV eg. Germany were not allowed to have any tanks, at which point the relevant students were taken away from Germany. At each stage, the remaining students were quizzed on why this might have been done and how Germany might feel about it.
By the end there was a very visibile Germany stood on their own at the front of the classroom - a great illustration of why many Germans were so angry after 1919 and an excellent way to access a very dry topic. Some solid consolidation of terms was done afterwards - helping the students to secure the key parts of the lesson.