Saturday, 27 June 2009

A lesson in three parts

Yesterday, my yr 10s began their oral work based on the speeches they'd been watching. This was quite a hairy exercise as it turned out that this lesson was to be observed - officially. I'd already set up the lesson, so remembering too late that this would be a performance managed lesson (observed to see if I know what I'm doing!). I just hoped that my yr 10s would do the business.
I've been told by 'people in the know' that I should be doing three-part lessons, involving some 'starter' exercise to get the kids interested, a development and then a plenary, summing up what I'd done.
Well, I begin every lesson with conversation. I talk to my classes. I show interest in what they do. I let them know that they matter. The result of this is students that know their teacher doesn't just see them as receptacles for knowledge, that the teacher sees them as people. The effect of this is students who are in the mood to be cooperative. Who are in the mood to learn. This, is my 'starter'. And it works.
So this is what I did at the beginning of yesterday's lesson. I know that they don't particularly enjoy standing up and speaking formally, so it was my place to make them feel comfortable, so they could do the best that they could. I cracked a few very bad jokes (the groan-worthy ones are always the best!) then told them about assessment. I'd decided that they would peer assess the speeches and have to justify the grade using the GCSE criteria which I gave to them. I also told them that they should always look for the positive in their peers, to focus on that and not on what might not have worked so well. This comment (a bit sneakily I suppose) was also intented for the assessor sitting in the back of the class.
They then began their speeches. They were quite wonderful. They were articulate, clever and persuasive. They used the Alan Shore techniques (see previous blog) to perfection. I was so proud of them. The colleague observing my lesson may have been there to watch me, but I wanted her to see them. To see how good they have become. They are bright students who work well. They work well because they enjoy their lessons. And they learn. Surely this is what matters and not whether or not my lessons have these arbitary 3 parts.

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