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Boring lessons

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by EngTweet, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. What subject and key stage are you teaching?

    I personally have tried to find out what the kids in my classes are into. For example, my Yr 8 boys are very into Eminem, so when I needed to teach them how to analyse metre (for an assessment on Macbeth) I taught them the skills by analysing Eminem. Worked a treat! For my Yr 10, when I was teaching persuasive writing I got them to write a letter to a celebrity asking for an autograph, which we have posted off and are awaiting replies.

    Just a couple of ideas, but this is the type of stuff I do to keep the students interested.
    Hope it helps.
  2. Yes, sorry, I teaching humanities- Geog, History, and RE KS3/4.
    thanks for your response:)
  3. Facetious

    Facetious New commenter

    Although I teach English, I did cover a history lesson for which work had been left on Civil war and weaponry. As the main focus was on the advantages and disadvantages of the weapons, I had the pupils imagining the weapon was available in Call of Duty, the video game. Which one would they choose first and why? Had it been my own lesson, I would have planned it that way, but as it was, the adjustments were done verbally. I did, however, have the pupils aiming at one another with the imagined weaponry, and the rest of the class had to figure out who would win, so physical stuff can go down well too. Anything you can relate to their interests is always preferable.
    I believe some of the best RE lessons in our school have involved the Lego renditions of Biblical stories (available on Youtube) and episodes of The Simpsons in which Homer has to deal with his conscience and question his marriage vows, etc. I think you just need to remember that for some pupils, school is incredibly boring because they don't have the ability and can feel well out of their depth. The clever ones will often just get their heads down and work, which is maybe why you should try to see through the eyes of one of the less engaged kids and consider 'what would interest me?'
    Good luck, and don't get disheartened. No matter how hard you try, there will always be at least one pupil who looks like he'd rather be eating wasps than sitting in your class.:eek:)
  4. Facetious

    Facetious New commenter

    Incidentally, EngTweet, I love the persuasive writing idea - I'll be pinching that one!
  5. Countrygirl_78

    Countrygirl_78 New commenter

    <font size="2">Hi, </font><font size="2">I've had the "take more risks" comment and I would advise you to have a look at Paul Ginnis - The teacher&rsquo;s toolkit. It's got loads of great ideas to help spice up your lessons. </font><font size="2">At first I felt a bit nervous when trying something new and giving away some of the control and to be honest, it's not always worked but I've learnt from the experience (a good chance for reflection....everyone loves a reflective practitioner!!) and now I feel so much more confident when trying something new. Also, you might be surprised at how well it all goes!</font><font size="2">Good luck! </font>
  6. Thanks for your advice guys. will give it a go!
  7. I am also a trainee humanities teacher and think that there is loads of ideas that you can bring into the classroom to make it exciting! From my experience (which is limited compared to others on here) I have found that as a trainee you really need to be experimenting with ideas in the classroom. You can't always play it safe, I have found even those lessons that go awful you tried a different approach with an exciting idea!
    You could do this through the use of drama, I had a class act out the execution of Charles I, I also dressed up as Cromwell. This was very interesting!
    I have found asking pupils to make radio,T.V shows is always good.
    Also bringing games into the classroom also works well.
    In geography I have found creative writing to be quite successful (when working with Volcanoes) I find that using peer assessment in this always makes it more interesting.
    I have also made my own news reports to make historical scenarios seem 'real' and relevant to students.
    I must admit that sometimes such an active approach doesn't always work, but I found that in most circumstances pupils in KS3 and 4 do appreciate and enjoy these kind of activities.
    Good luck!!!
  8. hi, I am a trainee, albeit in maths, however, the school I am on placement at is extremely into their co-operative learning strategies. For instance, they have something called "find me someone who..." which is a sheet with boxes on and the pupils "standup, hands up, pair up". basically, it means the pupils have to stand up, and put their hands in the air, they meet another pupil, high 5, and ask them a question off their sheet. the other pupil answers, this is written down with the pupils name next to it. it can be a lot of fun for the pupils, in geography you could do capital cities of countries which I did in a training session with other pgce students, and it is amazing the level of knowledge of pupils in comparison with us! haha.
    I would google kagen structures/strategies, as it involves a lot of these cooperative learning structures. I try to do one in every lesson, to give pupils chance to talk to each other and explore ideas. As you can imagine, making maths lessons interesting is very difficult as well, and I have found these strategies very useful!
  9. Hi, I'm a Humanities student teacher too.
    As was posted above, the Teacher's Toolkit is fantastic and I use it all the time. Especially the Market Place activity. I have found using mysteries or decision making exercises really effective. For example, the "Who Killed Chico Mendez?" lesson about Amazon deforestation which is on sln.org.uk (this website is generally great). Also in Geog the book ''Thinking Through Geography' is packed full of interesting ideas.
    As other have said, now is the time to take risks. I was scared of this at first due to behaviour, but on the whole even the most disruptive kids enjoy getting into something which puts the emphasis on them working it out for themselves. Some things just don't work with some classes, but at least you've tried. Its hard when your confidence has been knocked.
    I try to use a talking acitivity in every lesson like a debate or a role play. Also my mentor has advised me that you should always try and get the kids to transform information rather than just tranferring it. For example taking text and turning it into a picture, or turning a picture into a graph - the more abstract the better sometimes to get their brains working!
    Do some digging around on support websites and jump in!!
    Good luck.
  10. Hey braceyb,

    I am a History teacher and I would suggest you look at using some really interesting images as starters, add an element of mystery that pupils need to solve and have the image on the board when they come in. There are some great examples in Dale Banham's work using pictures of lynchings for civil rights, or the trenches for WW1. I will often ask pupils to ask 2 key questions about the image, write it on a post it note and then stick it up next to the picture, they then have to answer each others questions, they love this! This is a great way to hook them in from the outset. Layers of inference are also great for sparking interest.
    In our department we try to use active learning in as many of our lessons as possible. We ask pupils to be part of a human loom when looking at Victorian factories and reenact trench warfare with desks and water pistols. We even use these methods for seek and destroy in Vietnam in Y10 coursework. Once they have acted this out, ask them to reflect on the activity and what they can learn about how effective trench warfare was, or the dangers of being a scavenger in a cotton mill and write a short written paragraph about it.
    History is such a brilliant subject for engaging pupils in an active and analytical way. There is so much scope for going beyond text books. If there is anything I can help you with I would be more than happy to help if you would like to PM me.
  11. Gah, sorry for wall of text, Chrome ate the paragraphs!
  12. katnoodle

    katnoodle New commenter

    Caritas, I'm a history trainee and I love your ideas! I agree that history is such a potentially fascinating subject, and the last thing I wanted to do when I started my PGCE was to bore my my pupils. However what with running out of time to plan effectively - esp towards the end of placements - I find my ideas get really stale. So it's always nice to have such interesting approaches as yours. I'll try and use them after Easter!
  13. Many thanks for your input guys, I will take note of all your ideas to make lessons a little more interesting. I have also bought Paul Ginnis's book, the Teacher's Toolkit, to try and help make lessons a little more stimulating.
    Happy Easter and thanks again:)

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