Oops! Helping children learn accidentally – my thoughts.

The Oops! book is an inspiring read with a focus on taking a creative, thematic approach to engaging (or luring and tricking as described in the book) children in learning and provides lots of excellent ideas that can be easily taken away and implemented in the classroom. I found myself reading it and having lots of ‘Ah!’ moments, easily coming up with ways to add them into my planning.

It is written by Hywel Roberts, an Advanced Skills Teacher of Drama, and as such, has lots of ways of incorporating drama techniques across all curriculum areas, even subjects like maths. But it’s not all about drama, more about finding interesting and engaging hooks into learning that the children will find meaningful. Many examples are given of how the author has used the ideas in a context relevant to the children’s lives to teach many different subjects and the book is written in a quirky, informal style. I particularly love the use of slightly eccentric lists, slightly eccentric opposite lists and humour to help explain thoughts and ideas.

The author is also a big fan of Mantle of the Expert (something I would love to try more of) where the children are given some sort of task and they assume a role and develop their curriculum from there (this can last from a week to a term depending on how far you/the children want to go with it and what you want them to get out of it). This is something I’ve tried in little short bursts but would love to develop more of a knowledge and understanding of. There is a website http://www.mantleoftheexpert.com/ with lots more information that I really need to take the time to look around properly.

Allowing the children to guide and develop the learning is also a major theme of the book although this is one I struggle to get my head round more, especially when working in a large primary school where all classes need to follow the same curriculum. I don’t know how you could ensure that all children would get the same entitlement and experiences this way. This is maybe easier in a small primary or with individual secondary classes.

Anyway, I’d definitely recommend this book, even if it’s just to remind you about techniques you might not have used for a while or have heard of before but forgotten. It’s definitely one that can be dipped into time and time again for ideas. And if you’re quick, it’s only £1.79 on Amazon Kindle (Aug 2012) or rather a lot more if you want the real version.

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