Reading for a purpose

I remember being impressed at a session at an SHP conference a while ago about getting A Level students to ‘read for a purpose’ and what an impact it made on their motivation, their learning and their recall. Recently I’ve been seeing for myself what an impact this can have across the year groups, so I thought I’d share some ideas with you. While they’re history ideas, they can be adapted to suit any subject, and any age group. 

Shall we join the Chartists?An activity from the always great Ian Dawson and his thinking history site. By starting the lesson in character, and getting the students to come up with the questions they want to answer, and routing those questions in the period, this remains the most effective example of this I have tried. It can be adapted for any topic. It’s worth noting that while it worked really well with yr 12, it didn’t really work with yr 9. I suspect a combination of them being younger, it being a bigger class and perhaps me rushing the initial set up contributed to this.

Should Dic Penderyn Die? – Less of a set up here. I wanted my yr 12 class to read up on the Merythyr Rising. So I photocopied a page from a text book with the final paragraph removed and paired the students up. One person was putting the case for the execution of Richards, the other was arguing for clemency. After half an hour I put the two groups together and got them to share the ideas before holding a debate in class. Finally they had to use the room to vote on what they thought should happen.

World War One overview – I’ve got a stack of old Josh Brooman WW1 textbooks in my room, so I designed this activity as an introduction for yr 9. Each pupil got an A3 sheet of paper, a text book and one of these task sheets. They chose which aspect the wanted to investigate, found the relevant page or section and created a poster. Their aim was to produce a poster that covered two of the challenges before the end of the lesson.

What other examples have you got for ‘reading for a purpose’?



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