A Level GCSE Secondary English

Secondary English – The end of lesson endings?

To be Continuum…

Two things that I am already tired of this year: the lacklustre endings to my lessons; and my students dreaming through the lacklustre endings to my lessons. So, what am I going to do about it? Follow the advice of a colleague and stop ending my lessons altogether but instead finish with a continuum.

The idea is that students have to demonstrate their learning through sorting elements into a continuum. One possible activity is to ask A-level English Language students to sort a range of texts on a continuum to show how formal/ informal they are; whether they appeal to male/female audiences; if they are closer to speech or writing. Another potential use for this activity is for GCSE students to place characters on a continuum to show which one is ‘most/least important’ to the plot. Students could be asked to place statements on a continuum according to how much they ‘agree/disagree’ with them. Quotations could also be sorted according to two different themes.

What I like best about this activity are the kinaesthetic possibilities. Students can work in groups to sort cards. They could then swap groups to evaluate each other’s continuums. Students could even come out to the front of the class to ‘be’ the texts/statements/characters and a ‘director’ could be chosen to arrange them on the continuum and explain his/her choices.

I have recently tried the text continuum activity out with my year 12 class. And yes, I selected students to stand up at the front. Despite some initial awkwardness at having to peel themselves off their seats and actually look at each other, I was really pleased at how it forced them to engage with the previous 45 minutes learning. I asked more than one student to act as director and we discussed as a class their different choices. It was an excellent plenary for the beginning of the academic year, as it made them talk to each other and, most importantly, talk about their learning. Plus it certainly curbed any end-of-lesson catnaps!

Naomi Hursthouse
Advance Skills Teacher 
Steyning Grammar School

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