Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

English - the Class Strikes Back: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

English - the Class Strikes Back: Resources

Article excerpt

Using mixed media to tackle 'Othello' yields vivid results.

When I heard my head of department lamenting the fact that software sometimes fails to meet our key needs, it set me thinking. Why not devise a project where pupils are in charge of their own learning, using technology of their choice? It is, after all, an area about which they often know more than we do.

At the same time, I was swayed by the Learning Pyramid, a study done at the National Training Laboratory Institute in Maine, which showed that students retain only 5 per cent of information from a lecture, but remember up to 90 per cent of the information or ideas they use immediately.

So I launched an independent learning project with my Year 9 class based on Othello: after we had read Act One together, they had to produce a subsequent Act in any medium, other than written. The only restrictions were that they had to include at least some of Shakespeare's original language and they must complete it within four weeks. They had access to books, computers and a decent amount of space.

Their innovative and sophisticated use of technology astounded me. They turned in projects ranging from PowerPoint presentations and stop-motion animation to radio plays. These weren't produced to a professional standard but I was left in no doubt that each pupil had an impressive understanding of the language they were handling. They're now assessing each other's work in class for a review section in an imaginary newspaper, so they're getting really truthful feedback on what worked and what didn't. …

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