I was told today my lessons are like primary school lessons in a sixth form. I’m pretty happy with that- if I could replicate the exuberance and joy that primary age children have for learning that would be fantastic. As it is, the second of the A2 exams for Sociology is really heavy going with *lots of theorists and *really quite hard. My A2 are an amazing class and I think I saw more than a glimpse of a love of learning today.
This lesson was planned so that the activity replicated the topic- which was social mobility. I decided that the students would more or less run the whole lesson. My main task was role allocation upon their arrival. They worked in small teams on predetermined tasks, such as ‘What factors increase social mobility’ or ‘evaluate Lockwood’s study on social mobility.’ To do this I emailed to their mobile devices a copy of the PowerPoint with theoretical content, and they had access to the Internet, textbooks and their class resource book. Whilst six teams researched the content of the lesson, another team created the grid, (quite impressive) snakes and ladders chalk drawings and some comedy enormous dice.
The work rate of the research teams was quantifiable as they were each producing resources on different colour paper- so when placed on the grid you could track the output of each group. They were instructed to link the ideas in their research to a game- which they did beautifully, for example, one square on the board read ‘You are female: accoutring to Goldthorpe you do not transmit middle class values, miss a turn. ‘ One group worked on my computer to create visual representations for factors that hinder mobility, which I am thinking of reusing in another lesson. I was particularly pleased to see students making links between life chances and theory such as Weber from previous lessons. During research/creation section, every individual had a specific job, which was monitored to be extended if required. This research and preparation stage took about 45 minutes, during which I was also the subject of a Learning Walk- quite interested to hear the feedback on how this lesson was perceived in-house.
The groups then laid their research on the grid and the game was ready to play. I divided the class into two groups- the middle class, and the working class. The middle class group got to throw two dice on each turn, where as the working class were only allowed to throw one. My class noted this was unfair and then twigged that was the point- class and issues of social mobility are not fair! Each group elected a student to be a counter piece and move about the board and we played the game, with some slight explanation by me on some of the finer points of the theory. Obviously the middle class won, but it was quite a close race and lots of excitement was generated- a bit of healthy competition really goes a long way and even the quieter members of the class were engaged and encouraging cheating!
The last section of the lesson was given to independent study, the students were told to consolidate the game into notes, which they did, with some taking photos which can be uploaded onto the VLE. It is impressive how the pace and pitch of a lesson can change so quickly with a group who have good study skills and value the importance of their own learning.
I can confirm chalk comes off carpet- and that I overheard some of that class still talking about that period one lesson at the end of the day. Snakes and ladders on the floor was a big hit, and they made real gains in their learning across a range of theorists as well as in wider linkers to synoptic topics such as Education. I think careful role allocation was key to the success of the task, as the most able learners were given high order tasks, which other students could embark upon if they finished their initial research. I am also really pleased with the responsible way they used their phones/devices in the classroom. Not once did I catch anyone doing anything other than legitimate research. Trust your learners to work and take responsibility, and they will step up.