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motivating/enthusing GCSE students

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by eclewlow, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. I wonder if anyone has any ideas. I took over a group of yr 11 students for the first time at the beginning of this academic year. They seem very reluctant to engage in the activities that I am setting them, and do not seem feel confident unless they are working from a text book. Does anyone have any ideas for activities I could use to stretch them, get them learning more actively, and gradually get them out of their comfort zone?
  2. waitingforthepost

    waitingforthepost New commenter

    Hello - have you tried any co-operative learning with them? eg give them some Q/A cards to express their own opinions about topics that you are covering in advance to their peers like.. what happens when you die? Do you agree with divorce? Do you believe in ghosts? Are you ever treated unfairly? giving opinions then building an argument against another point of view seems to work with my Y11s! I find that enabling them to express a position about a topic before we learn it helps them to engage with it...hope this helps.
  3. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Invite me in as a guest speaker or to give a workshop using my fantastic Lotusbuds Cards! I will come anywhere just to get practise as long as I get my expenses paid plus £5.
    I'm on Jobseekers which is only£65 a week and we're only entitled to earn £5 a week. But naturally I can't afford travel on that income so I have to ask for expenses. I am looking for experience, practise and feedback. If you -OR ANYONE ELSE - would like a tame specialit RE teacher (who is going crackers with no regular contact in school at the moment - hence all the recent late night posts and spending 2 hours editing info from Google on Eid ul-Adhr - just for FUN) to create a buzz among your less motivated students - do contact me on my 'home site.' I have CRB etc and would love to come.
    Strike now while the iron's hot because when I'm a famous successful entrepreneur I will be charging top rates for my brilliant workshops.
    see www.bluelotus.co for more information
  4. Don't give up is the main thing.

    I've been in the same boat as you last year and it was a struggle. However, you need to show them how much you care and how hard you're working and that you expect them to try hard too.
    Try using film clips, music clips as much as possible to get their interest and attention e.g. if you're doing cloning show them a relevant bit from Austin Powers with Dr Evil and mini-me. All of a sudden RE will appear funny and interesting as you watch random things but you can then lead it into a discussion that allows them to develop their thoughts about the arguments etc.
    Keep plugging away and it will make a difference. Remember they are probably still testing you so being more awkward than they really are.
    If you want anything more then PM me.
  5. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Another idea that often engages really disaffected yr 11s is to give out small (A6) pieces of paper as a Starter Activity. Invite them to write any question on any subject - anonymously - and fold them up. Collect these in after about 5 minutes and keep the last 15 minutes of the lesson to read them out and discuss them. Obviously explain that any questions which you consider personal or unsuitable will not be read out. And this gives them power to recognise that they also have the right not to answer questions that they may be asked, which make them feel uncomfortable or they consider personal.
    If the subject of 'What do you think about Gays, Miss' turns up, be careful to stay within the guidelines of your school. I was asked this by a year 11 boy as we were packing up at the end of a lesson once, while I was teaching on Supply. I said that I have a few friends who are gay men and one who is a lesbian woman. I know that they are who they are, just as much as someone who is heterosexual is 'who they are.' Sexuality is part of our nature, a natural part of who we are, not something we choose or can change, not an illness or something 'deviant.'
    In my view discrimination of any kind is wrong and I think homophobia is a human rights issue just like racism or any other discrimination.
    A parent complained that I had been discussing homosexuality in a Spanish lesson, the school complained to my agency and they gave me the sack without even telling me about it.
    So as said above, anonymous questions are great for engaging yr 11 students - but err on the side of caution.
  6. Everyone is motivated by RE, because everyone is interested in the big questions. A GCSE qualification, however, might not be very motivating.
    One thing you might try is encouraging them to attack the text book. This is the book, presumably some sort of semi-official creation of the examination board. It is written by people who think in a certain way, and want the students to think in a certain sort of way. How are they trying to achieve that. Is a conscious policy orunconscious bias? What sort of personal advantage do you think the textbook authors are getting from their ideology?

  7. I do the same activities as I would at KS3 - the stuff that they have engaged with and enjoyed in lower school.
    DVD clips, movie maker films, images, odd one out starter activities, drama, poetry writing, art work, conscience alley, random ways to teach them how to learn key words, speed dating arguing for and against views, group work, sorting cards, thinking skills activities,debates etc etc
    The one hting I never use is the text book - only ever comes out if I need to leave cover for any reason.
  8. Thanks Emma,
    It seems reassuring to know that others have been in the same boat - at least it is not just me! I will try some of the things suggested - I think they are very used to learning in a certain way, and feel that if they are not making notes they are not learning as effectively. You are probably also right about them testing me out! Thanks for your reassuring comments.

    Kind reagrds,

    Emma Clewlow
  9. Thanks to everybody for their helpful comments - I will definitely be tryign new things with them tomorrow morning!
  10. Hi hope it all goes well!
    My first Year 11 class was like this - i feel your pain! I completelt agree with all the excellent activity based advise on this thread, all great approaches! I think once they see you are really competent in the exam criteria and how to get the grades this makes a huge difference, and helps them lean more on you and trust the activities you create for them. Perhaps an 8 minute c-type exam conditions question, with specific self marking, use of exam criteria, modelling of how to develop etc so they can be empowered in knowing they can achieve and see the grae in front of them grow...
    Let us know how it all goes!
  11. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Yes - another good idea. I was thinking of ways to engage uncooperative yr 11's but if they're just insecure and text-book dependent there is a great exam-practise exercise that often goes well.
    divide the class into mixed ability groups of about 4 students. give each group several sheets of resources (photocopied from text books, reference books, websites and revision books, all relating to am exam question. Set a question on that topic from a past exam and give the marking criteria.
    Each group has to come up with a good answer in 20 minutes. Then each group has five minutes to read their answer and discuss strengths and ways to improve. In the plenary there is open discussion + each group gives a mark for each other group - not their own.
  12. Verbal football,bingo,dominos,hot seating, short video clips, timed practise answers/showing examplar answers,all based on the units of work.
  13. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    I had a class like that a few years back. I spent a few lessons preparing/divising a Chat Show assessing 3 seperate moral issues. There were only a few students who were up for staging the roles (e.g. pregnant teenager, Catholic priest, feminist pro-choice woman etc...) We then enjoyed filming the debates and laughed watching it back. What was great is that we had to keep rehearsing the 'play' and pupils passively learnt the arguments (and could put faces to who said these views). Their results in test questions for this unit were much higher than other units (even though we spent less time on content and more time on arguments).
    The real treat was how this resource can be recycled year after year... I'm currently doing similar work with year 9 to grab their interest in moral issues at amuch earlier age.
  14. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    I've used this kind of approach for many aspects of the GCSE curriculum in particular with excellent results. I don't give options of not taking part. I put the class into groups of 3 - 10 (sometimes friendship groups but when possible picked randomly to be more 'mixed ability.' Then there is a set 'cast list' and each character on the cast list has an outline of their particular perspective. Within that framework they can be creative.

    One subject it works particularly well with is abortion. there is a girl (who gets pregnant), her partner, both their parents, a counsellor, a doctor, a Catholic priest and a liberal practising Christian who is pro-choice. Because they are discussing the subject in smaller groups than the whole class - and because they are 'in role' they tend to be much freer in discussing the questions.

    Then we look at a range of scenarios, from rape to a happily married couple who already have a family. If there is time, the groups work out scripts and then show their scene to the rest of the class. Even if the show is a mess, the process that the group has been through will have covered all the main points required in the syllabus and it will have been absorbed in a strong way because of the emotional involvement.

    In year 9 it's great because you can explore issues in the news (how about Libya) and things which are important to the kids themselves. Year 9 is my own favourite year because it is not constrained by GCSE curriculum but the students are old enough to be able to think quite deeply. They are beginning to question the things they have grown up believing, but their attitudes have not become hard and unflexible.
  15. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    I couldn't agree more - my favourite year to teach moral issues to also!

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