I have been teaching PSHE throughout my entire teaching career, mainly due to the fact that my PGCE was in Citizenship Education and the two subjects often go hand in hand. I do really enjoy teaching PSHE, the topics are interesting and varied and it gives me the room to try different things with my classes that I may be a little more reticent to try in an exam class. It was this freedom that has allowed me try a new approach to SRE with Year 9.
Often when I speak to teachers about teaching SRE they get this look of “Oh God, Don’t make me teach THAT!”, I am the complete opposite, I love teaching it. Regardless of the year group or behaviour issues there might be, SRE gets all the students interested and engaged from the get go. I do make sure that there are very strict ground rules in place for these lessons and the students know that they will be enforced strictly and with serious repercussions. I have only had a couple of students test me on this and they quickly learnt there were no second chances. I enforce this so strictly because I want the students to feel comfortable enough to have these discussions and ask these questions without fear of ridicule from their peers and to not to feel embarrassed if they aren’t sure or don’t know something.
We often here from students that they want more SRE in schools but they also want it to be relevant to them and what they feel they need information on, however they still want and need the structure of a more organised and planned lesson. Taking this on board I decided that I would let my year 9 students design their own bespoke scheme of work (including assessments) which I would then develop into lesson plans.
Today was the first lesson when I introduced this idea to the students (I will admit that this is a high achieving group but I intend to do this with my other groups as well) and the initially seemed a little sceptical that I would actually allow them to decide what we would look at but once I reassured them that yes in fact they were going to tell me what we would be looking at they got quite excited.
To start with I got them to think about what they understood SRE to mean. There is often an over emphasis on the Sex aspect of SRE, i.e. STI’s, contraception pregnancy etc. with little attention paid to the Relationships side of the program. So I got the students to create mindmaps using graffiti tables (which they also loved the idea of doing due to being able to write on tables – Thank you @mrgill again). However I think that in the next time I will try Venn Diagrams so that they can identify areas which cover both sex and relationships rather then seeing them as separate entities.
The next step was for the students to identify and prioritise which areas they thought we needed to cover within our scheme of work. I got them to do this be writing down 6 key questions which could form discussion questions around which the lessons could be based.
I used an adaptation of the #5min Lesson Plan (Thank you @teachertoolkit) to get the students to sketch out their ideas for the scheme of work and what key messages they wanted or thought should be promoted through the lessons. We talked about what an objective was and how to write an effective one that would be SMART.
Then in their groups they discussed what would be the best and most logical order to cover the discussion questions, what sort of activities they have enjoyed in previous lessons and other classes that they think would work well in in this unit, I also listed on the board what topic specific resources we had in the department (STI Giant Microbes, Placebo Kits for contraception and STI’s, The Purple Plastic Penis condom demonstration kit etc). I also got them to think about how they think the best way to assess this unit would be.
At the end of the lesson I took in all their ideas and have created a scheme of work that fits with their wants and needs. I am still going to be planning the individual lessons but it will based on their ideas and the activities that they want. In terms of assessment I am taking their ideas along with some of my own to create a Takeaway Menu Assessment (again thank you @teachertoolkit for the idea) so that the students can choose the format of their assessment to go along with the scheme of work that they themselves designed.
(Scheme of work is available via the Box.Net link)
I am sure that this scheme of work will change as we go through, where some topics require more or less time. I am hoping for a lot of discussion based work from the students using the questions that they initially asked, but this exercise has not only made it easier for me to plan this scheme but also gives the students ownership of it.
I will update as we go through, evaluating the process and detailing my adaptations as they happen. At present I am feeling quite confident about it all but we shall see………..