Lessons we brought to the teaching of the December 2019 iteration
Although it was the second run through for us and for the lead English teacher, at least two of the English teachers had not taught this unit before (because they did not have Year 7 groups last year) so the Librarians (one of whom was present in almost every lesson) brought experience and continuity from last year.
One important lesson we brought from last year was the need to push students to be thinking about the stories they might write as they read the news articles, and filling in the construct sides of their investigative journals. We emphasised that it was much more important to engage properly with one or two articles than to take brief notes on a wide range without keeping the focus on the task.
The second lesson was that we realised that a significant minority of pupils did not use anything from their investigation in their final product (and that these were the ones who were most likely to say that they hadn’t got anything out of the inquiry). We decided that this should form part of the self and peer review stage before redrafting and asked them to highlight anything that had been inspired directly by the articles they had read before they passed it over to someone else for peer review. The other student would then sometimes encourage them to go back to their notes as part of their redrafting. This proved to be an enlightening exercise for some, and helped them to make the connection between the reading they had done and the story they had written, instead of regarding these as two unconnected pieces of work.
Teachers were keen to spend extra time on the creative writing aspect this year and many added at least one extra lesson to the end of the inquiry so that pupils could spend two lessons not one on the second draft. It was encouraging that both teachers and pupils were enthusiastic about ‘finishing well’ and, in the last week of the busy Christmas term, were keen to take a little extra time to produce something pupils could be really proud of. I will post again with some of the student feedback and our thoughts about improvements we want to make next year.