Creative research the Year 9 way!
This term and last term the scheme of learning for the Year 9 classes I teach has been called 'Global Issues'. In a nutshell this means teaching current, relevant topics that loosely fit into the category of a global issue - human or physical. We've covered the rise of China looking at the growth of their economy through companies such as Apple; the impact of Fairtrade on the UK; and this term, the reasons behind the UK's drought and the Icelandic ash cloud of last year.
I've really enjoyed the flexibility and scope for creativity teaching this topic, this been reflected in the lessons which I think have been my most creative and interesting. Running with a current affairs issue related to geography with a flexible SoL has been really liberating and fun (I do owe a lot to Alan Parkinson and David Rogers for the ideas and resources on their blogs though!).
This has also been the first topic in which I've had the opportunity to run with an open and flexible assessment. The success criteria was to produce a piece of research on a global issue of the pupil's choice in a format that they wanted. We spent a couple of lessons talking about locating and using reliable sources and how to properly reference these in a piece of work, what presentation options are available, and what research questions could be included. The open nature of the assessment meant the higher ability students could run with some pretty exciting global issues with well thought out research questions, whilst the lower ability pupils could use the global issues we studied during the term as a framework to build their project on. The classes are mixed ability and everyone put a good effort in. A number of the pupils presented their work to the class after Easter. Needless to say they went down well!
Next time I will spend a little longer explaining to pupils the need to choose suitable sources of information, not relying just on Wikipedia and why this is important. We talked in lessons about how copying and pasting wasn't acceptable but quite a few still did. A number of pupils didn't include research questions so the structure of their reports was a little loose. Next time I'll give a few more examples of previous work and emphasise the need to reference sources in work to reach the higher levels.
The Powerpoint and Prezi below gives you an idea of the work that was produced at both lower and higher ability. Jack, who produced the Prezi, had his heart set on creating a project on meteor threats. I thought this was stretching the definition of a global issue at first but slacked off when I saw the end result!
I'd be interested to hear other people's experience of similar open ended assessments.
Geography Homework SA