For those of you that don’t know, last November I was honoured, along with 5 other teachers, as founding members of the Discovery Education Community here in the UK. The Discovery Education Community (sometimes referred to as ‘The DEN’) is a large group of educators dedicated to sharing best practice and enhancing the learning of their students.
For over 10 years the teachers in the Community have been sharing successful activities with one another, many of these under Spotlight On Strategies (SOS). These strategies are based on, among other things, using digital media to engage students, spark debate and help students work with what they are watching in a meaningful and purposeful way.
Avalanche! (Snowball Fight remix)
In a regular snowball fight pupils select a single piece of information, write it down and then share through the power of a snowball fight. The collect information by unraveling the snowball and reading the information. For my remix I used Discovery Education’s Espresso service for my digital media. A short video from the Key Stage 2 Religious Education section. I informed pupils they were to take notes from the video, but they were writing them for another pupil in the class. They therefore had to make the notes legible and detailed enough that other pupils could make use of them.
Once all the notes were collected in I explained they would be distributed in a similar fashion to a Snowball Fight, this ramped up the expectation level as my pupils love to use Snowball Fight. I explained that as there was more information it was almost as if we had too much snow and there would be an avalanche. With this I threw all the pupils notes into the air and the pages fluttered serenely onto the stunned pupils below. Each pupil gathered a sheet and proceeded to create a piece of work following the notes they had collected.
Interestingly, pupils picked up on each other’s spelling and accuracy even though if they compared it to their own notes they had made similar mistakes. This is despite being sure they had included only correct information.
Circle of Life (Connect the Dots remix)
The Connect the Dots strategy is great for connecting a piece of video with pupils own experiences and understanding of the world. I adapted it because I liked the simple form the note taking followed that meant a lot of information could be gathered quickly. We used this strategy in Science during our Life Cycles topic, again using video from the Espresso service.
We started with a plain piece of paper with a dot at the top and bottom, connected by a single line. We then watched the video to add more dots and labels onto the central line and made spider diagram notes from these dots on each of the stages.
Pupils then used these notes in their work on life cycles within their Science books. With the information used in the lesson I wanted the pupils to be able to take their notes home and explain the cylce to their families to really embed the knowledge they had gained that day. I told the pupils to apply glue to the top part of their sheet and roll the bottom half up to meet it, gluing the page when the two ‘adult frog’ dots overlapped.
I then told the pupils to start at the adult frog and read their notes as they turned the now cylinders in their hands and stop when they got to the end of the line. Many stopped when they reached back to adult frog, but I asked if the line had stopped. The penny dropped and the realisation of why it was called a Life Cycle finally dawned.
The following week we repeated the activity but this time with two lines on the page, one for Dragonflies and the other Butterflies. We repeated the process making notes for the 2 species, however as the dragonfly only undergoes incomplete metamorphosis, there were less stages in the life cycle compared to that of the butterfly (which undergoes complete metamorphosis). This created a unique perspective once the pages were rolled as pupils could see a distinct difference int he lives of these creatures that many would consider similar. This altered strategy lends itself to any cyclical series of events and could be adapted to many topics.
As more teachers continue to use the SOS resources I imagine many more remixes will be produced and shared. If you haven’t tried one yet find them here and have a go.