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Zombie A2 class!

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by Myla, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. Myla

    Myla New commenter

    Excuse the sensationalist title, but I have the most unresponsive Year 13 English class and I'm finding them impossible to work with.

    They don't contribute to discussion; questions are met with stony silence and it feels like I'm lecturing them. I've taken them over from another teacher who left, and she reported the same phenomenon. There may as well be tumbleweeds rolling past! It's so awkward and I'm racing through content.

    Can anyone suggest any strategies to break the ice, short of trying to get them all stuck in a lift together for a day?! I am genuinely worried about the effect of the lack of discussion on their learning.

  2. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Hand responsibility to them - give them a list of questions about the topic and tell them they have to prepare a presentation to the class on one of the questions.
    agathamorse, sabrinakat, Myla and 2 others like this.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Give them an assignment that they can work on independently, while they're doing that, talk to each of them individually, what they're hoping to do in a years time, what other subjects they're doing, what they hope to get out of your English class, what bits of the subject they like, what they find difficult and the like. If they did AS (or mocks) talk about how those results lined up with predictions / expectations and if there's a shortfall how they will make it up.
    If you know them a bit as people, you will find ways to get through to them.
    agathamorse, Myla and pepper5 like this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Excellent strategies given above. You couid also try pair work: make a list of questions you want the class to discuss, put them into pairs, then the pairs feedback to the class.
    Myla likes this.
  5. snail_friendly

    snail_friendly Occasional commenter

    I had the exact same problem with a YR13 English Class a few years ago. This is what I tried:

    I used silent debating to get students sharing ideas in a 'safe' way - I did this through different coloured pens (one for each student) and then a variety of questions / statements. Then each pair had to collate the views expressed on one topic and feed back to the class.

    I used paint / Lego / plastercine to get students discussing visual representations of texts in small groups and then having each group visit, view and discuss each other's work.

    Also used a number of pub quizzes (without the pub) to revise topics.

    I set HW that required 60 second verbal responses which had to be shared in class.

    Eventually, this led to better discussions - I also found that some students benefitted from being given sentence starters to help them phrase their contributions!

    Hope that's helpful?
    ultimatedingbat, agathamorse and Myla like this.
  6. Myla

    Myla New commenter

    Thanks very much everyone. There's lots here for me to try. I really like the idea of silent debating! Much appreciated.
    ultimatedingbat and pepper5 like this.
  7. Pennyforyourthoughts

    Pennyforyourthoughts Occasional commenter

    I teach art and design and had a similar group mentality with an unusual number in the class for this subject......it soon became clear that it was an add on subject and not a choice but a necessary add on to get their quota of subject in in order to say on to do the subjects they want and still get their allowances. So ASK them straight......WHY are they doing this subject....their answers should tell you where and how you need to pace your classes so each can accomplish. If it's not a passion, you have to make it one, if it is a passion you have to make sure it it is not lost.... So much literature when some just want good grammar lessons, building the two together can kill off one or the other....".
    ultimatedingbat and pepper5 like this.
  8. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    This became more common towards the end of my times in schools/colleges-is it because we've become focused on exams and results? Usually we found we could get them interested, as others have said, but it's sad that the 'I've turned up-I sit here and you tell me what to do to pass' mentality was coming. You could often guess which teachers such groups had had lower down, as some came to A-level excited and you just knew that they'd had Mrs X or Mr Y or Miss Z etc.
    bettieblu likes this.

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