Friday, 20 March 2015

Secularisation / Fundamentalism Revision Games

Revision time for GCSEs and A Levels is upon us, and students up and down the land are no doubt spending every possible hour practicing past papers and creating technicolour mind maps. Or am I just being wildly optimistic?

Here are some revision activities on Secularisation and Fundamentalism, from the WJEC Religion and Community topic for AS. I find they work nicely as quick starters, helping students consolidate their knowledge of key terms, while giving me an overview of what areas might need extra clarification and revision. Included are keywords for an Articulate style game, keyword pairs, and some suggestions for different revision activities using the keywords. Plenty to keep your students busy!

Also of use might be these student revision self-assessment sheets for fundamentalism and secularisation.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day Shelfie

Today is World Book Day, which celebrates books, authors and reading around the world. To mark the occasion, my school's English Department are running a little competition, where teachers submit a shelfie - a photo of their bookshelf - and students have to guess which photo belongs to which teacher.

So in the spirit of inter-departmental co-operation, here is my shelfie:

I'm travelling between places a fair amount at the moment, so I've most recently been reading e-books. Perhaps next year I'll be taking a picture of my kindle and a screenshot of my goodreads account?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Features of Jesus' Miracles Mnemonic

I like to create short mnemonics around the topics I'm teaching. I tend to find that they really help students retain information, and avoid missing out chunks of important material when writing essays. A quick test on a mnemonic is also a ready-made starter task! 

In our Year 12 class, we're currently studying miracles as part of our New Testament module, and this is a little mnemonic I've come up with to help remember seven key features of Jesus' miracles.

The features, and the explanations below, are adapted from Gwynn ap Gwilym's WJEC textbook:

Command - Jesus performs some miracles with only a verbal command. This is the case with nature miracles, but also elsewhere, e.g. the possessed man in Capernaum synagogue. 
Only where there is faith - Faith is a common feature of the miracle stories, while both Mark (6:5) and Matthew (13:58) tell us Jesus performed few miracles in his home town because people did not believe in him.
At a distance - Jesus does not need to be present to perform a miracle, for example, the healing of the centurion's servant.
Touch - Jesus is able to perform miracles by touch, such as healing the ear of the high priest's servant.
Pity for suffering - The miracles demonstrate Jesus' compassion for suffering humanity. Healing miracles are good examples of this, as is the feeding of the 4,000, where Jesus says he has compassion for the hungry crowd.
Evidence not always accepted - Those who did not believe in Jesus attribute the miracles to Satan, e.g. the teachers of the Law in Mark 3:20-30.
Glorify God - The purpose of Jesus' miracles is to bring glory not to Jesus, but to God. For example, when the widow of Nain's son is resurrected, the people glorify God.

I've also created a PowerPoint slide that can be dropped into revision lessons (if you're a teacher).

I'd say that if you could remember these seven features, and support each with examples, you would be well on your way to getting a good grade in 30 mark AS question. That said, I'd be interested to know whether you think the list is a good one, or whether any features should be added or removed?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

RS Question of the Week - Can You Commit a Crime Against Someone Before They're Born?

Photo: BBC

This week's question of the week is taken from the sad story of a seven-year-old girl born with severe brain damage after her mother drank up to eight cans of strong lager and half a bottle of vodka per day while pregnant.

Three judges ruled that she was not entitled to criminal damages under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as the damage she undoubtedly suffered was inflicted while she was a foetus, not while she was a person: UK law only recognises crimes against persons.

The key questions I've been discussing with my students are:
  • Can you commit a crime against somebody before they are born?
  • At what point does a foetus become a person?

You can download a poster for this week's question here, and a pdf of a Daily Mirror story (yes, I know) about the case here.

Monday, 24 November 2014

RS Question of the Week - Music to Die For

This week's Questions of the Week come from the news that Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life has become the most popular song at British funerals.

The questions I've asked around this are:
  • Why do people choose music for their own funeral, when they won't be around to hear it?
  • Which song would you choose for your own funeral and why? 

You can download the posters for the QOTW to use in your own classroom here.

My choice would be Otis Redding's Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay, with Nirvana's cover Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam on standby for any encores. What would you choose?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

RS Question of the Week - Ched Evans

Recently, I've been sticking a few questions up in and on the door to my classroom to prompt a bit of discussion and give me an extra starter task if I need it. This week, I've used the Ched Evans news story as the basis for the questions.

The questions and the story prompted some really good contributions from some of my Year 10 and 11 students, and I was pleased that they were keen to share their thoughts (and their own questions) without me having to prompt them. In fact, one of my students brought along a question from one of her friends, who I don't even teach!

The questions I used were:
  1. Do all criminals deserve a second chance?
  2. Does it matter if they haven’t apologised for their crime?
  3. Should criminals be allowed to work in jobs where they could earn £1000s every week?
  4. What is a "role model", and why do we expect sports starts to act as role models?
If you want to use the questions in your own classroom, you can download the poster here.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

New AFL Teaching Toy

I've been thinking recently about how to improve my assessment, and particularly how to make sure that students have actually done something with the scrawly bits of purple ink I leave on their work, rather than just looking at the grade and filing the rest under "sooo not bothered"!
I picked up some ideas from this excellent blog post on marking, and now have a new system:
  1. When students complete their work, I get them to peer assess each other's work (where possible), writing comments in green ink.
  2. I then take in the work and add my marks and comments in purple ink.
  3. Once I've handed it back, the students are then given a specific prep task to add improvements or corrections based on my what went well/even better if comments. They do this using red ink.
  4. Finally I check these corrections, and if I think they've done enough to go up a grade, they get a purple stamp using my new toy, fresh from Amazon.
I also record the improved grade in my mark book, and it counts towards their term grades.

I've only been using the green-purple-red-purple system for a couple of weeks, but my AS class have responded to it very positively. I'm sure the offer of an improved grade helps! It's been an excellent way of starting a dialogue with students about how they think they've improved and where there might still be gaps in their understanding: for example, today I've realised that one EAL student is confusing a "thesis statement" in an essay with an "atheist statement". Definitely something I will now spend some time clearing up next lesson.

I'd be keen to hear any thoughts on my new system, or what systems you have worked for you in your marking and AFL?