A format of lesson I’ve found particularly useful for a Friday afternoon lesson is Dragon’s Den. It will depend on your groups, but by picking the right dragons you can watch the students spend an hour of engaging debate and analysis. They also learn to produce counter arguments, something that A2 markers like to see.
The lesson is well placed at the end of a topic, and lends itself well to topics where there are several theories explaining the same behaviour. I use it at the end of A2, when a critique of each approach is necessary
The organisation for you is simple and quick:
• Arrange the class room so that there is a table with chairs for two (or more) dragons at the front.
• Select your dragons (or let them self select…you know whether that’s a good idea).
• Put the other students into pairs or groups and allow them to select an approach by pulling a piece of paper from a hat.
• They then should be given 20 minutes to formulate a 3-5 minute sales pitch for their approach. I allow my students to use their books and notes. I also say that everyone must address the dragons. During this time the dragons need to pre-empt their selling points and think of counter arguments. The dragons have to work fast…but you will find that it’s the sharper ones who want to do it.
• After the 20 minutes you select the groups to come out and make their pitch to the dragons. Dragons then have a chance to challenge what they have said and they can thrash it out verbally. Use of evidence to support what they say should be encouraged. It is, after all, essential for exam success. Keep a careful eye on the time…it can get quite heated!
The level of debate and counter argument astonishes me every time I do this and students thoroughly enjoy it. They do learn from it and it enhances their essay writing. It also is an excellent way to end what has often been a tiring week. Everyone is a winner!