Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Philosopher's Stone

Metal alchek
I was a right grumpy old git yesterday, not feeling well, stressed by too much to do, and tired. I was planning my multimedia session for our Year 8 enrichment day (more anon) and I was asked to provide a cover plan for my two Year 5 design lessons. We have just finished designing posters using Publisher. Last week those who had printed their finished poster were consolidating their new-found skills by designing a poster for their bedroom (you know the kind of thing, ' No Little Brother/Sister Beyond This Point') This week we would have been finishing these and evaluating the unit. But Year 8 and I will be using the ICT suite with Year 8 all day...
So, completely brain-dead, I had a chat with Russell, our acting head of DT to see if he could offer a suggestion for a straightforward one-off lesson suitable for a supply teacher. We agreed that they couldn't spend an hour evaluating, and poster designing was out. Russell suggested designing a game. This seemed like a plan: children enjoy it, only requires scissors, paper and glue, structured but open-ended. All this seemed obvious so I hastily scribbled a plan. I was very politely asked to supply just a little more detail. Feeling even more grumpy I went home with a pile of prep for my own day's work and detailed cover notes to write.
I fell asleep, laptop on my laptop, at around 10.30. no cover plan written.
At some point in The Morning Process I remembered my unwritten plan and one fell, fully-formed, into my waking brain.

Design a "race track" game that evaluates the poster project. Race track games are simple, only needing a numbered track with hazards and bonuses along the way...so  how about if the bonuses are for good design points: Good contrast between text and background - move on three squares. Hazards are things to be avoided: Gratuitous use of Rainbow Word Art - move back three squares or even more likely Printer Jammed - miss a turn. Groups of children discussing ideas for hazards and bonuses will be thinking about and sharing the things they have learned throughout the project.
Brilliant! Even the supply teacher enjoyed it...

All of which begs the question, how did a good idea come from a, frankly, rather dull one? What did thismy immediate thoughts: learner need to turn base metal into gold? Well, these are

  • A good night's sleep.
  • A sense of urgency
  • Enough time for what Guy Claxton calls "the undermind" to do its job
  • Some ideas to build with


Anything else?