This week’s wins #4

Week 4. Traditionally a week thin on the ground with wins. The kids are starting to tire and it’s dark when I get up. Added to this, the week was bookended by miserable weather which led to the annual sponsored walk being postponed. And it was open evening. Creativity was thin on the ground; but I did manage to roll out one of my favourite starters to year 9.


The starter goes like this:
“Here is a trench diagram. Working with your neighbour and using items from your bags, recreate it.”

They’re never quite sure how to go about it, which is why I always get some 3D, as above, and some flat. I quite like it that they’re confused. It’s also usually quite easy to spot the gender of the creators from the pictures.

Flat trench

Special mention this year for Nicole who ingeniously made use of lockets to represent sandbags, and Harry who produced a variety of chargers from his bag to represent barbed wire. Mrs Brown and I had a very difficult time judging them, but in the end the prize went to the lockets-for-sandbags entry. You can see them all for yourself here.

I also tried a new activity with year 10, which we agreed did not work especially well. To get through 6 pages of background on travellers across the Plains pre-1860, they were allocated with one topic (Mountain Men, 49ers, Oregon/California bound) and given 20 minutes to read the information and come up with 8 key facts. They were motivated to find the best and most important facts by a chocolate bribe: one Celebration for each good fact.

In reality, this took over an hour because they almost all struggled to digest the text book and draw out the key information. Once we had cleared that hurdle, I encountered a problem in feeding back, that they had written facts small on cards and once these were stuck to the board they were too small to read – I had considered hunting down some acetates and hauling out the old OHP but didn’t consider it necessary. There was also confusion over who had the best facts, since 8ish pupils did each topic. I ended up giving away a lot of chocolate and we rushed to finish getting notes in books.

Next time, I will

  • Have 8 facts selected by me which they have to match or beat
  • Provide acetates or netbooks
  • Think of a way they can work collaboratively whilst ensuring everybody does some work

Tomorrow we’re looking at the journey itself, and since another win for me last week was to embed my Oregon Trail map into the History Moodle, they will be using that for HW. I am excited to see how it works. We’re also going to be using extracts from the Prairie Traveler (sic). Published first in 1859, it’s packed full of excellent advice for travellers, including on Jerking Meat, and Indian Sagacity. I picked it up last summer at the Donner Memorial in California and I’m thrilled to finally get a chance to use it.

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