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Creative learning pro's and con's

Discussion in 'New teachers' started by beats_56, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Hi everyone.

    I write this post because although I am excited about my new job starting in 2 weeks, I am also very anxious about it. My school promote a very creative learning environment where the children decide at the beginning of each term what they'd like to learn and we as teachers, take this on board and focus all learning around their chosen topic. I LOVE this and can't wait to start but with only the first week of school planned for, this equally panics me. My first weeks teaching mainly consists of school rules, routines, rewards, holiday news etc. It's also in this week I ask the children what they'd like this term's topic to be before I can go away and plan for the term. I'm not looking forward to a very busy first week since I can't do any planning now.
    Is anyone else in a similar situation and what are your thoughts on this?

  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I can see that you have a creative approach to the use of apostrophes so I expect you will be fine.
  3. Well thanks for the comment anyway.
  4. Hopefully somebody more helpful will be along soon! Is there anybody at the school you can discuss your fears with and get some reassurance?
  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Can't help at all. The whole idea would freak me out. Sorry.

    If you ask year 2 what they would like to learn about, there isn't a hope that they would say Florence Nightingale or The Great Fire of London or the Victorians or Ancient Egypt. They will never have heard of any of those things. What a huge disaster for our country of children never learn history because they got to 'choose'.

    Can you come up with a few topics for them to choose from and have a vague idea of what you would do with each one? A totally blank canvas might be a bit much for your class.
  6. Surely all the other teachers in the school are in the same position as far as not knowing what the topic will be? Do the whole school follow the same topic or just your class/year group? Can you do your planning with someone else to bounce ideas off one another, share the load etc? They may be more experienced but I've no doubt you'll find someone who remembers having the same fears as you and is willing to help you out.
    Also I'm assuming you still have to cover all of the basics of the national curriculum... Plan your lessons in the same way you normally would and maybe just make room for some simple links to the chosen topic in the first couple of weeks (display work, wordsearches, drama activities...) until you have time to plan more explicit themed lessons.
    Hope it goes well!
  7. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I agree that you need to have options for the children to choose from, rather than expecting them to come up with suitable topics. That way you'll have worked out ways that each topic you offer can be explored to offer a balanced curriculum.
    As an example, a teacher might offer Nursery Rhymes as a topic to younger children and could then develop it as follows:
    1, Numeracy using Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves etc.
    2) Literacy - exploring adjectives of size,comparatives and superlatives (big/bigger/biggest, small, smaller, smallest) all found in Nursery Rhymes. Language associated with food (too cold, too hot, just right)
    3) Cookery - helping to make porridge and tasting it.
    4) The natural world- planting seeds after studying Jack and The Beanstalk. Looking at forests and jungles after reading Sleeping Beauty.
    5) History-focus on Kings and Queens and Princes after time spent on Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
  8. Hi, thanks for all the comments.
    Yeah my friend also got a job at the school so its nice to talk to her, when I see her. I forgot to say I'll be teaching year one so I'm not expecting much when we have the topic choice talk. I can only really go off what the rest of the school have done in the past...Under the sea, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wizard of Oz. The classrooms are transformed to suit each topic and work is based on their chosen theme. For example: For Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the classroom was decorated with a statue of ***** Wonka and a chocolate flowing river. These were covered in adjectives written by the children and work briefly connected to the theme. The school is very creative in the sense that the children do all displays around the school. The Head doesn't like the teachers doing any displays alone and encourages the children to get involved, deciding what displays should look like, materials to use etc. There is a display committee (group of Y6 children) who come round and inspect the displays for punctuation, spelling, attractiveness etc. I love the idea and the children get dead enthusiastic about it all. The hard bit for me (I can imagine) is to adapt and link their chosen theme so that it coincides with the NC.
    As I have year one, I think I will need to go into the discussion with two or three ideas of my own to help. I like the Nursery Rhyme idea and will use this as an example but when it comes to the final decision, the children vote.
    I will also ask the children about the role play corner with regards to linking it to their theme and what they would like in it. I get excited to be teaching in this way but at the same time, I am very nervous about the fact I have no idea what I'm going to be teaching after the first week. I mean, I know what I need to cover but cannot plan any specific lessons until I know my topic. (I apologise for the huge paragraph, I'm not sure why the spaces disappear when I post my comment).
  9. Waiguoren

    Waiguoren New commenter

  10. I love creative topic based planning! I have fixed topics to cover, but will also involve children between topics (i.e.second half of each term) by offering a choice of related ideas based on the previous half term's topic... unless children come up with something good, and usually the previous half term gives me/them ideas. Then we mindmap the topic as a whole class and decide on favourite bits (with some gentle steering if something fits a subject area well but isn't all that popular). That gives me lots to work on with planning. Since some subjects don't always fit that well with topic work anyway, you can always do a basic medium term plan in advance and tweak in the children's topic ideas later rather than doing ALL the planning from scratch once you have had their input.

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