What to do with a Y9 lower band class lacking in motivation to learn? Well, I tried one strategy with a level of success, and planned a second with the class teacher.
Strategy = Home and Expert groups, with a Dweck inspired pre-task chat about the importance of whole group buy-in. Each member fo the class had a 2-sided poetry placemat (below) which they had 2 cycles of info gathering and sharing poetry techniques to complete. I worked hard with the pre-identified, work-shy boys to ensure the rest of the group we’re disadvantaged. The majority of the class performed well, particularly in the 2nd cycle. Having split friendships/communes/allies/parters up, I wonder on reflection if friendships groups would have been a better way to approach this, since friends are more likely to support each others learning efforts. Or just talk. Tough call. The boys who didn’t buy in at least, with supervision, became experts and shared info, but failed to capture techniques shared by other classmates. So as not to penalise the keen beans, I made the info and placemat available online and set a homework to add further details to the mats.
Strategy = Hearts then Minds. Fresh and green perhaps, but this is off the back of the CRB training, and taking stock generally, and trying to win this group back round to English rather than feed them to the machine. They most engaged during the last few lessons of Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – having accessed a theme they found to be personally interesting and relevant. With this info on board, I’m working to build on our EI/PLC project about inequality and social awareness, and the SOW about unseen poetry, which I’m focussing on poems from other cultures with congruous themes. Result? Bring a folk singer into a lesson to sing protest lyrics, inspire the class to write their own, using their placemats for technical direction, and then grade their commentary for reading levels. So, after that we’ll do a persuasive writing project about supporting poverty abroad, and I’ve hopefully hit all the assessment bases, put some energy back in the class and tied it up with an appropriately thematic ribbon. Mixed metaphors much?! The class have made great vocab progress, with increasing sophistication in word choice however, the er, cherry on top of this mid term plan will be grammatical. I’m thinking a huge push on extended starters with grit for grammar – particularly punctuation, sentence construction (adverbial starters) and conjunctions to aid argument expression and develop.