The Spare Hour

Posted on 31/10/2011

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While reorganising my class timetable for the coming half term, it became apparent that there was a ‘spare’ hour that I didn’t have last term. A whole 60-minute chunk of as yet unclaimed time. In an increasingly packed timetable, this excited me. So, what to do with it?

My immediate thought was to have P4C-based enquiries and activities, but then I pondered on it for a little longer and realised that I wanted to ‘give it back’ to my class somehow to create a truly child-led experience. In Essential Motivation in the Classroom, Ian Gilbert talks about happiness being directly related to the extent to which we perceive ourselves to be in control of our own lives. In school, there is much that is out of children’s control, but by making a conscious step to give some control back to the children in my class, could I increase levels of motivation, engagement… even happiness?

Others have blogged about independent and child-led learning in the past, which has also inspired me. Oliver Quinlan’s writing on child centered learning, negotiated learning time and use of provocations has been something that has stuck with me for some time and more recently someone pointed me in the direction of Jim Maloney’s blog post on independent learning. My idea is to take elements from all these things and implement a ‘Teach Someone Something’ project. The overall aim being that children work together in groups or pairs to teach somebody else anything they choose. How to do something or make something, that really is up to them, as would be their intended audience and mode of delivery. One pair might choose to teach a group of year 1 children how to make friendship bracelets while another might create a video showing how to improve passing skills in football. The ‘spare’ hour would be used for children to plan and resource  their idea. My hope is that this encourages all sorts of skills and interests, particularly those that don’t necessarily got much or any coverage in our curriculum. I want everybody to get the chance to show how they are clever.

Have you introduced something similar in your class? Could I change my angle on the ‘Teach Someone Something’ idea or do something entirely different with it? Any feedback, ideas and suggestions would be great appreciated.

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