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Pick a Topic

You have arrived to your assignment and discovered that there are no plans waiting for you (good). Even better, you have the same class all day without interruptions for streamed classes / choir practice / circus skills etc.  You now have the option of teaching the day to a theme - a mini-topic.  

Think about your interests and passions.  If you are passionate and interested in something you are very likely to pass that over to the children.  However, a little common sense is required.  No matter how enthusiastic you are, a groups of year 6's are unlikely to find the idea of genealogy instantly gripping. Or would they..?  With some imagination you could turn the topic into 'from rags to riches - a family through the ages'.  A surreptitious mix of little white lies and examples could really get them going.

Also, think about what is topical to the children.  Maybe there has been a story in the news that involves issues pertinent to the class?  My last mini-topic day was on the 10th of November.  A golden opportunity to teach the children about WWI and the significance of remembrance day. 

Once you have your theme, you need to decide how you will incorporate the literacy and maths elements.  Literacy is rarely difficult (write a diary, advertising poster, story through the eyes of.. etc), but maths can often be a struggle.  If you are short of inspiration these two maths strands will usually suffice:
  • Data analysis / graphs - provide interesting data about the topic for the children to plot and interpret.
  • Word problems - provide several written paragraphs including facts and figures that would engage the children, then ask them to calculate ' what if's..'
As for the rest of the day, the key word is active.  Whatever activities you have in mind ensure that you keep the children busy. Art is a great excuse to be creative - and most of you class will enjoy it, but if the challenge and expected output is too low they will quickly get bored and disruptive.  Remember, lots of little inputs to scaffold their learning and keep the pace up.  

In my experience, children will love you if you don't demand them to write reams of text.  Writing isn't wholly necessary - diagrams, movement (PE link here..!) speaking and listening, ICT research, making music and model making are all very valid learning activities.  I once taught a successful lesson on food webs in the playground, providing children with the roles of animals.  They played a game like 'tag'.  We had a lot of fun figuring out the numerical relationship between prey and predator species in a habitat.  The point is, be inventive and creative, and appeal to their imaginations.