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Advice wanted: handling a 3 hour workshop with year 5 students

Discussion in 'Primary' started by naturefan, May 7, 2017.

  1. naturefan

    naturefan New commenter

    Hi all. I'm so glad to have found an active teaching forum where there seems to be a lot of advice going around.

    I run a business teaching "ecopoetry" (basically, poetry which emphasises the natural world and our relationship to it) and am due to deliver a 3 hour school workshop on this topic in a couple of weeks.

    I have never taught children before, so am not sure what to expect. I just want to deliver the best experience I possibly can for them. I am looking for advice on any aspect of the task, from how to keep the children engaged, to what their ability level might be. Anything, really, that you think might be useful for a novice like me to know.

    The basic situation is: I will have a class of 30 year 5 students, and I will be with them for 3 hours one morning. There will be a 15 minute break half way through. Their regular teacher will also be present. If the weather is good, we can spend as much of that 3 hours outside as we like. If the weather is bad, then we will be classroom-bound (though the hope is very much that we can get outdoors - the aim ultimately is to assist the children to find their own connection with the natural place that we will be out in). I am an experienced poet, and have run workshops many times, but never with children. I would love to have your advice on what to expect, and how to prepare.

    Thanks so much for any help I receive. It will make a huge difference to the experience that the children will have.
  2. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    So how did you end up with this booking?

  3. naturefan

    naturefan New commenter

    Hi Kevin. I work with environmental charities that do arts outreach work with both adults and children. They asked me if I'd be interested in doing this project, and naturally I said yes. They know my work as we have done projects together previously. I should perhaps add that I have worked with children before, but not as an educator. I have been researching lesson plans for this age group, but that is not the same as getting direct advice.

    Do you have any useful advice for me?
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Rule of thumb as to concentration level is always age + 2 mins. So being generous your 'average' 9/10year old Year 5 will have a maximum of 15 minutes concentraion span. So you need to be pacy and work on changing emphasis / direction every quarter of an hour. There will be a few children who can manage much longer than that but you don't want the ''bored ones' to disrupt things for the others so aim to be prepared.

    What type of activities do you do in adult sessions? We might be able to suggest how you could tweaki those.
    naturefan and Landofla like this.
  5. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    Keep it light-hearted and fun. Make sure the activities are interactive and all the children get to do things. Hope it goes well!
    naturefan, Lara mfl 05 and Pomz like this.
  6. naturefan

    naturefan New commenter

    Hi Lara mfl 05, Hi Landofla. Thank you both for your comments. There was a lot of helpful information there. In particular, it was great to get a sense of the attention span for children of that age.

    Given that I will be carrying out a workshop for 3 hours (with a 15 min break) I suppose I should be looking at planning the whole session as 11 blocks of 15 minute activities? Does that sound sensible?

    I will be back later with more about the kind of activities I do in adult sessions, as your comments about those would be extremely helpful I imagine.

    I am also thinking up new activities that might be appropriate for the age group. However, I don't know whether the children might find some ideas silly, and so unwilling to go along with them, since I do not really know what their maturity level is. One idea I had, as an exercise to give them ideas for the writing activity to follow, was simply to have them close their ideas and imagine that they are trees. To have them explore the shape of the tree, and then to consider the kinds of creatures that might visit them, and for what reason e.g. a pigeon for shade, a woodpecker looking for bugs, squirrels, worms around their roots etc. Would this be too juvenile for a group of this age, or would they buy into something like that?

    I will endeavour to keep it light-hearted and fun.

    Thanks again to both of you for your help so far!
  7. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    You may like to try ideas out at a local brownie or cub scout pack if the leaders are willing.

    Another idea is breakfast or after school clubs to see what the children take to.

    I myself do workshops with all ages and abilities and built up the experience of what works.

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    As an experienced teacher i would use this idea and turn it into drama, followed by a 'getting ideas down on paper' session which could well lead into drafting / editing poems.
    However if you're not used to handling energetic children in large groups this could go 'horrribly wrong'. Much depends on the children. Some classes would go over the top and others would totally respond.

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