Getting creative with SEN

Today my Year 9 low ability / SEN class made this:

Collage created by Year 9 at Copleston High School
Collage created by Year 9 at Copleston High School

It was the result of a lesson that started by analysing current adverts for their message. We then went on to look at the story of Kitty Eckersley and why her husband joined the Army.

Next, we brainstormed (properly – in fours and in silence, then sharing!) why men might volunteer to fight. With a little help, we came up with four ways that the government might try to persuade people to ‘join up’:

– Patriotism
– Anti-German messages
– Heroism
– Shame

Students then looked at six posters from WWI and identified one of the four elements within them, choosing specific parts and not whole posters.

As an extended plenary, students used the free form capture tool on the whiteboard to cut out the areas for their theme and designed new posters using the bits they had selected. We were able to save it as an image and print it out.

For homework, the students are comparing the posters they created to the Kitty Eckersley story and identirying which of the four methods most influenced her husband.

What was really good to see was students making informed choices and debating whether certain sections could be included under two headings. By allowing the creative task to come to the forefront of the lesson we unlocked a new set of thinking: students were thinking about the interplay of images and text, as well as how to create an overall effect. They got an end product and were willing to invest time in making it look good. Also, they wanted it to work.

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Johannes Ahrenfelt

Johannes Ahrenfelt has previously worked as County Advisor for Learning & Teaching with ICT, Head of Department and University Lecturer. He has taught for 10+ years in schools around Norfolk, UK, and is currently leading an inspirational team in Norwich as Head of Faculty. Johannes shares his passion for pedagogy on his blog, social media and when delivering training in the UK and abroad. He has also published several books worldwide, one of which has been translated into Mandarin and Malayan.

2 thoughts on “Getting creative with SEN”

  1. Your description of the process was useful. It gives a sense of the progression and how it is possible to get high level thinking happening.

  2. Tina, thanks for your comment. Teaching SEN brings lots of challenges, but I am of the firm belief that the end result of all work must be higher level thinking, just as it would be for any other grouup. The difference comes in the route taken. With this particular group I have had to build in an approach that lets them explore extended narratives via a lengthy and controlled lead in. Once they have grasped idea and feel happy to engage with longer stories, then we can get creative. We get through less topics than a top set, but we reach the same end points and with similar quality of thinking.

    Best wishes,

    Neal

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