The best professional development I have ever had is to work alongside a creative colleague. Just by sitting down for 20 minutes and discussing your lessons for the next day can inspire ideas, or it can reveal fab teaching strategies that you never thought of.
In my career I have worked with the two best history teachers I have ever observed – and as an ex History Adviser, I have observed loads. It is no wonder that those two teachers, Alec Fisher, and Neil Bates are major contributors to History Resource Cupboard.
I recently worked in the same department as Neil. It was a joy catch two minutes and talk teaching. It was during our discussions that Neil said that I should try The Board Race Game.
Before using our USA package lessons, we decided that we needed to look at immigration to the USA by 1920. We agreed on the enquiry question: Was the USA a land of opportunity for all? We then looked at the role of different immigrants and their descendants: WASPs, Asians, Central and Eastern Europeans, Black Americans and Hispanics, as well as Native Americans.
We rated them on a winners and losers line, then we introduced our first GCSE style ‘judgement’ question:
How far was the USA a land of opportunity for all?
After deciding what kind of question it was, using our placemats: FEELI or judgment, it was at this point that Neil suggested I try and make things more fun / interactive and challenging by setting up a board race. Eh?
The rules are simple. Kids work in teams of 4-8. Two teams compete against each other. You give them a bunch of post it notes. They have to come up with as many reasons that agree and disagree with the big question/statement and they have to get more than the team they are competing against. This is where they internalise and use the knowledge that you have taught them.
You divide your board into Yes / No or Agree / Disagree as shown in the picture above. Have enough room on the board for your number of teams. Wet think 4 teams per class is plenty. We set up two teams against each other.
The teams who get the most reasons after 5-8 minutes wins! Discount duplicates. You could also give more marks for better-explained points/evidence.
This can be used for any judgment style GCSE question, or it can be adapted for information gathering as we do in our enquiry on Triumph of the Will.
For more information on successful GCSE strategies, read our advice here.