N Hilton RE Marketplace Lesson
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13 April 2016
Title RE Lesson on Different Monastic Orders
RE teacher in a secondary school
RE lesson of top set year 9 boys. This was one lesson in a series on different religious vocations. This lesson focused on different types of monastic orders. The class had a varying degree of relgious belief, but all had been studying RE for at least the last three years and so had a reasonable foundation of knowledge as I had seen in previous lessons. Some students, due to their religious beliefs, had further specialised knowledge.
The learning intention was that students would understand and be able to speak about a range of different religious orders.
1. Starter - Moving box (the powerpoint is of 10 different pictures related to religious vocations which we had studied in the previous lesson - the screen is blacked out except for a moving box which takes a random path across the screen; after 20 seconds I stop the box and everyone has to write down what they think they have seen; they then feedback and I reveal what was actually there and get them to provide or help them provide the names of anything they can't remember).
This was a fun activity which the students enjoyed. It refreshed what we had done last week and provided a jumping off point for the main part of the lesson. The only obstacle was ensuring that the students didn't shout out answers when they saw them.
2. Main Activity - the Marketplace - divided the class into 6 groups and each was given an A4 sheet with information on it about a different religious order e.g. Jesuits, Dominicans. They had to read the information carefully, they were given highlighters so they could highlight anything they wanted. Then they had to design a poster that summarised the information in a maximum of 30 words. They could use symbols, images or keywords on the poster. There were also pictures on the their information sheet they could cut out and stick on. They had 10 mins to do this. The information sheets were then removed and one student stayed with their poster whilst the others move around in a carousel to find out information about the other orders. The student who stayed with the poster then had 2 mins to teach each other group in turn, who took notes. Finally each group returned to their own poster and filled in (taught) the stallholder the information they had learnt. I then posed various questions about the different religious orders and tried to direct questions to individuals who had not studied that particular order thus assessing their understanding and any confusion on the part of the original group which could then be corrected.
The students found this fun, although only using 30 words was challenging for some of them. However, it made them really internalise the information as they had to relate it in a different way to the way they received it. There was minial input from me, and they did all the teaching (except for compiling the information sheets). It was important to keep on top of the timings as otherwise it could have got really out of hand.
3. Plenary - 'The best way to be religious is to join a religious order.' DIscuss. This question was posed, they had to forumulate quietly their own answer, then discuss with a partner and finally as a group.
This was meant to be a provocative question and fit in with the larger questions of the series of lessons about the different ways people are religious. It also made them reflect on what they had learnt about the different religious orders in the main part of the lesson. The better students questioned whether one could just refer to 'religious orders' in a general way and argued that you had to be more specific as there were major differences between them. This was an opportunity to further assess how they had learnt in the lesson.
The challenge was not to allow some students to dominate the discussion, however, by using a 'pause, pounce, bouce' questioning strategy (Dylan William "Embedded Formative Assessment") this wasn't such a problem. This is where after posing a question, waiting at least 10 seconds before asking someone to answer it, after they answer then boucing their response to another student asking them what they think about that response and so on. Thereby keeping them engaged and listening.
This was pretty successful lesson. They were able to answer questions on the orders which they had been taught by their peers well. They also enjoyed it more than I expected. There was a creative element in creating the posters and because they had to move round the room to the different 'market stalls' they weren't sat in their seats for the whole lesson.
The plenary showed that they had digested the material well and reflected on it. This was evidenced by the discussion with some students expressing the idea that contemplative orders were better than active orders and vice-versa, with others arguing that not joining an order at all would be best. It was also good to hear students say, 'even though I'm not religious, I think...' which although wasn't an expressed outcome of this specific lesson was one of course, i.e. to be able to have empathy for others and be able to put one's self in their position. So this was an unintended by welcome outcome.
Giving the students control over their learning was very successful. They were proactive and thus much more engaged. Being the conduit for learning was very empowering for them.
When doing this with mixed attainment classes it would be beneficial to make sure the groups contain a mixed attainment. WIth lower attaining groups it would be possible to provide worksheets for them to fill in when going around the market stalls. This would make the task less daunting, as the key information they need to obtain would be indicated.
The weakest part of the main activity is when the groups reconvene and feed back to their stall holder. Often only one student feeds back the information whilst the others just sit there. This could be overcome by either requiring each student to have responsibilty for feeding back on a stall and the others checking they have the right information. Or by giving the stallholder a worksheet to fill out so that when they ask their group they will all need to think about the answers as it will be phrased in a different way to their notes...