The final frontier

Yes, it’s enterprise! Not the Star Trek intergalactic vessel but that practical resourcefulness we try and teach along with our subject content. Enterprise skills do strike me as final project that is attempted at the end of the year or an initiative schools sometimes rely on external providers for through ‘drop-down’ days.

Enterprise tasks are most effective, and beneficial to a pupil’s wider learning experience, when embedded into everyday lessons. Below, I have outlined some enterprise tasks that could be used in a lesson and others that could stretch a whole half term. They are designed to link closely to subject specific curriculum and provide an alternative route into traditional topics.

The images below can be used as task sheets to give to groups in class.

1) This project is designed for an English lesson. As well as developing enterprise and group work, the tasks will require students to use persuasive techniques and demonstrate their understanding of the text. This brief is based on Frankenstein but could be adapted for other texts.

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2) Next is a human geography based project. Pupils are required to consider the local environment, including population, amenities and cultural developments. A community datasheet and description will need to be provided with the task sheet. The location will depend on what is topical at the time. When I conducted this project with a class in 2012, the London Olympics were about to take place and the Olympic torch had just passed by the school.

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3) This project is ideal for maths classes. Pupils must use number, budgeting and graphs. Along with the task sheet, pupils will need to be provided with a list of costing for hotels, flights, staff with different levels of experience etc. This costings sheet and the overall budget can be adapted to the ability of the task. You may even want students to deal with currency conversion if they select an overseas holiday destination.

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4) This is a project that I ran for 5 weeks. Again, it is English focused but the success criteria could be adapted for an Art class. As an English teacher, I found the drawing and presentation involved in the creation of the comic a great learning curve for pupils with poor fine motor skills affecting their handwriting. It was equally an eye-opener for me because it highlighted the difficulties and frustrations pupils experienced when they tried to make their work neat and complete fine motor tasks for an extended period. It really helped me to adapt my teaching of extended writing tasks to help build up their writing stamina and motivate them to redraft as a ongoing process.

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Ranking Activities

Diamond 9 is a tool that many teaching professionals are aware of and use frequently. It is a tool for ranking ideas. Below I have included my diamond 9 for Blood Brothers. Students are asked to ranking the cards according to which one sums up the play best. They then had to justify their selections. This was a useful activity before I asked the class to write an introduction to an essay on the play.

Blood Brothers diamond 9

The problem with a diamond 9 activity is the cutting involved to create the resource. Either you are stood at a guillotine with thousands of tiny pieces of paper and equally small envelopes during valuable PPA time or your classroom becomes awash with white hundreds and thousands when you ask students to cut the shapes themselves.

This alternative avoids the need to create a card sort but is still a visual resource to engage students. I use a Blob Tree (often used for social and emotional development) to rank and organise characters within a text. The Blob Tree is an image of a tree with various ‘blob people’ taking positions at the top of the tree, falling off a branch, helping another to climb the trunk etc. I number the blobs and ask students to attach a character to each numbered blob with an explanation. This has worked well with Holes after we have read chapter 11 and we start to learn about the hierarchy among the boys at Camp Green Lake. For example, X-ray might be near the top of the tree as he orders Stanley to give him everything he finds while digging.

This is an idea I picked up from TES and unfortunately with the wealth of resources available on there I cannot find the contributor who shared this resource. I will update this post when I find them so they can be attributed here.

To find out more about the Blob Tree and its uses see here: http://www.pipwilson.com/2004/11/blob-tree_110181146915869209.html

Tedious Link

This was an idea I came up with while listening to the Chris Moyles breakfast show on Radio 1. Radio shows are great ways to pick up on fun game ideas for revision. On the show, they play the tedious link game where one of the presenters, Dave, must introduce a track by making a series of links from a given start point. (Have a listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8wwO_M6pw4.)

So I adapted this idea for plot revision. I show a chain of pictures related to the text and students must explain the links from the first image to the last. As well as serving as a useful revision tools, it prompts students to think about the deeper links between characters, events and themes. For example, the Of Mice and Men tedious link below encourages students to comment on how the dead mouse in Chapter 1 foreshadows the death of other animals and ultimately Curley’s Wife.

Of Mice and Men Tedious Link

Pros:

  • This task can be made more challenging by only having a start and end point so students have to create the chain of connections.
  • You can introduce keywords for students to use in their explanation.

Tedious link Blood Brothers