Authentic Learning Across the Curriculum

I love working with Primary school teachers. I mean, yes I know I am one, but it never fails to impress me when a teacher or team get an idea in their heads, then run with it. I spent an amazing hour at St Peters C of E Primary in Brotton this morning to visit Tees Valley’s newest museum. It only opened on Monday and you will have to be quick to visit because it closes at 3pm on Wednesday. It is a museum focussed on the Anglo Saxons and represents the work done by Year 3 and 4 in the school over the Spring Term.

Our museum!

The idea of creating a museum was inspired by our local museum services that work together in the Tees Valley to offer and amazing range of opportunities to our local schools. The idea is simple:

If you are studying a historical period, why not plan the whole topic to culminate in a pop up museum for parents and the community?

And that is exactly what they have done. An easy to use FREE toolkit for teachers who want to plan their own Museum in your Classroom  can be found here.

My involvement came from showcasing ideas for making their museums authentic, engaging and interactive at the free CPD events that the museums have been offering. This usually revolves around using the technology that most schools already have access to but perhaps haven’t yet exploited. iPads do more than take pictures, browse the internet and connect to Lexia!!!

St Peters asked me to come in and work with the children to transform their Anglo Saxon narratives into films. They had been working with a brilliant local storyteller called Elizabeth Baker, as part of a project with Kirkleatham Museum called Writer in your Classroom. The teachers involved are more than capable of using a green screen but they knew that bringing in my way of working with the children would enhance the quality of the work and the experience that the children had.

So last Thursday I spent the day making the fabulous stories that they had created into mini artistic masterpieces. Yes it took a wee bit of Ofer effects magic to pull them into shape but the results speak for themselves:

St Peters C of E Saxon films in a continuous roll

That was my direct involvement (as well as making the children appear to be saxons in front of the model huts that they had created on some keyrings – digital tomfoolery!) but the full museum was an absolute joy to visit. They had excavation areas with a sand pit, working looms, a blacksmith’s, jewellery, herbs, feely boxes, programmable invaders(!) and loads more. You could see the curriculum laid bare in front of your very eyes but in a way that was both engaging and very professionally done. The pictures below illustrate some of the areas to explore. They had even built a video booth out of a gazebo and draped it in hessian to create a Saxon hut feel to house the videos on a constant loop. Ask the children about Saxons and they will amaze you with their depth of knowledge but more than that, they will engage you with the environment that they have created.

If anybody ever has any worries about the current quality of education in our schools, the skillset and motivation of our pupils, just pop along to events like this and your fears will be allayed in an instant. Our children’s education in our local schools is in very good hands.

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