A Level Secondary Secondary Sociology

Secondary Sociology – Sociological Settler Activities

The settler is essentially a thought-based prelude to a starter activity.  In my practice, it’s usually something projected on the interactive white board as students enter the class.  Not only does a good settler maximise a patch of dead time whilst students get seated and get out their books etc, but it also serves as something to spark their interest or set the theme of the lesson before they even sit down. Students often have to arrive from different parts of the school or college building so settlers are a good way of ensuring your engaging starter isn’t missed by the minority who might get waylaid en route.  Perhaps most pertinent though, is how a settler can be used as a behaviour for learning tool – a clear and accessible visual task that students can engage with as soon as they enter a classroom.  If you’re not lucky enough to teach successive lessons in the same classroom, print a PowerPoint slide (2 per page saves paper) with the settler on and hand it to students as they enter.  Ask them to annotate the slide if they like.

Now, these suggested activities don’t reinvent the wheel, but they do serve as useful prompts, thought-provokers or recap opportunities for Sociology (or other) students.  Personally, I like my settler and starter to be explicitly linked to the content of the lesson, but I often recap a previous lesson’s learning or reintroduce some long forgotten key terms.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of some settlers that have worked well across a variety of AS and A2 Sociology topics.  The formats of which can be used over and over for any subject and for any key stage.

  1. What do these people have in common? Show images of two or more celebrities or historical figures that all have something in common: Henry the Eighth and Jennifer Lopez are both serial monogamists; Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Julia Roberts were all raised by single-parents
  2. What does this graph represent? Project a graph, chart or table and hide/withhold the title. You could give students a hint about the theme (e.g., a criminal act) but I like to be more abstract.  Projection of world happiness maps always intrigue students, and lead to good discussions about the link between wealth, health and happiness.
  3. Blank the stat: In large text present a key statistic but delete important information, be it the figure itself or perhaps what the statistic portrays. For example: ‘ ___% of school exclusions are males’, or ‘1,800 calls per day in the UK are made to the Police regarding _________’.
  4. Cryptic keywords: Find an image that represents a key term.  You can be literal or more metaphorical. A picture of a guitar and a bread roll can depict Parson’s theory of the instrumental role.  Yes, I know that’s stupid but it’s way of asking students to recall key terms and you can ask them to define in the follow up. A series of these also makes a quick plenary.
  5. Keyword stakes: Ask students to bet how many keywords they can define from an extensive list of familiar, or even unfamiliar, key words. This serves as a great way to introduce new terms, or as a way of recapping at the end of a unit.
  6. Something to think about: It could be an image, headline or abstract question that you briefly discuss when all students are seated/ready. My favourite is showing male/female perfume adverts from magazines next to one another and asking ‘What do these fragrances smell like?’ I used this to look at semiotics and advertising, but it can be used when examining gender representation, mass media, gender norms and values and even research methods.
Christopher Stump
Sociology Teacher, Harrow, London

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