During my placement at Newton Regis Primary School in a mixed year 5/6 class the staff were embarking on a trial of an experiential learning project following the idea that the children should experience the events, through role play and other means, to allow them to be submersed and truly understand what life was like there.
The topic which we underwent for 2 weeks (in all lessons including maths and literacy) was World War One and the topic was introduced following a ‘discovery’. For a few weeks in the run up to half term there was work being done on the road opposite the school, causing all sort s of problems for traffic. The back story was that over the Half Term the workmen had found a box buried in the road, inside it was a letter from a man called ‘Prospero Hermes’ who explained he was a time traveller and needed their help. There were also several bits of pieces from WWI in the box and his journal which he asked them to create a page for at the end of their unit of work.
Throughout the next two weeks we explored a variety of areas; as it was approaching the SATs we (I use we as as a trainee I was planning/teaching majority of the lessons) used the text for a revision of the text-types. We wrote diaries from soldiers, newspaper articles about the start of the war and non-chronological reports to name a few. During our other lessons we used art materials to show the devastation of the war:
We also made documentaries in History each covering a specific topic from wartime hospitals and medicine, to the land army, to important people such as Marie Curie or Emmeline Pankhurst.
Initially we began the topic trying to create the submersion but unfortunately the class did not buy into it as we hoped. They spotted the bar code of the journal and the word ‘replica’ on the pieces of information within the book. In this instance we decided to keep going with the project but instead leave the ‘story’ behind. We did however create a page at the end of the time for his journal and got some very impressive results.
I enjoyed this method and at thedebrief was able to see how other schools had managed to successfully implement it at their school particularly with younger children. I hope to be able to use Prospero’s journal with other classes in the future.