Co-constructing lessons, student voice and student choice – Level 2 Geography, 2017

Throughout 2017 I had my level 2 geography class last period on a Friday. Attendance of this class was generally pretty bad….only a few students would turn up. At the start of the year it was hot and hard to motivate students to work. I decided to embrace this and accept that students (much like teachers) were generally exhausted at the end of the week. This class was usually pretty hard working the rest of the week and so I often would give the class a bit of a choice about work.

I would check in with them at the beginning of the lesson and ask them what they wanted to do. Sometimes they wanted to watch documentaries and others they were keen to just get on with assessments or finish up work from the day before. I found that providing this choice actually improved my p6 on Friday attendance (more students started to come). Additionally, this strengthened my relationship with a number of students who seemed to really appreciate this choice.

While this may seem like lost learning time – I would usually relate the task to geography more broadly. E.g. documentaries where they were asked to apply key geographical concepts. We also watch Philadelphia  as part of our HIV/AIDS unit. Sometimes I would give them mapping tasks that involved colouring in which they always found fun but improved their geographical knowledge as well.

This approach is something I have continued with my Level 1 (jump start) class – level 1 who I will see in period 6 2018. We usually watch a documentary on Fridays that are related to geographical issues. However, this approach also seems to encourage students to make their own choices about their work. An example of this was last Friday I gave the class some choices about the documentary they watched (Dawn Raids, A tale of 2 cities or Inside Child Poverty). The class choose to watch the child poverty documentary because they knew this was their first assessment in 2018.

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