Clear-Sited

By Cryan, Helen | NATE Classroom, Autumn 2010 | Go to article overview

Clear-Sited


Cryan, Helen, NATE Classroom


As Gifted and Talented and Enrichment Coordinator for English (and yes I know the title is more than a little ridiculous!) I find myself pondering from time to time the magnitude of work I could consider as 'mine.' Since taking up this position the two most successful strategies have involved me directing staff and students away from my door to more knowledgeable websites and resources.

Forgive me, as I know I have mentioned it before, but I return again and again to http://converseenglish.co.uk/--an excellent site that was developed by Cambridge University--and particularly to the Personal Demons story-writing adventures, http://demons.english.cam.ac.uk/book_cover_content.html. Recently updated, this is gifted and talented at its best--the unit can be self taught by pupils who can work in a truly independent way in and out of the classroom. With two year groups at our school about to receive their own mini-netbook computers, this model is one that I will surely be using in the future. Not only is it a worthy interactive story-writing programme that you can use with a class or students but the navigation is simple and the layout very attractive. I will continue to direct our ablest students to use it.

My new discovery is an excellent website called Philosophy for Children or P4C http://p4c.com. This is a fully cross-phase website packed with useful gems. It is a subscription website but is really worth every penny--not only are the costs very reasonable (most schools should be able to find the single user fee at least, for those enquiring minds out there) but the P4C website is a really excellent resource for pupils to deepen their thinking even when they have weak literacy skills. Teaching activities stem from seemingly basic texts such as Aesop's fable The Fox and the Crow, which on the surface is a simplistic story with simple language and ideas; however, by using P4C 'levels of questioning', you open up 'bigger questions'. The questions are superficially easy to answer and you can then create a tick-sheet answer with simple yes/no responses. It is the discussion that results from using the simple, and apparently closed, questioning that is fascinating. When asked whether the this story 'proved pride came before a fall' one response evoked was 'It does not prove it but it does show it', and another, when our deputy head used it with year 8, was the cryptic 'Was the fox or the crow born first? …

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