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ISMs (Introductory Stimulus Material)


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#1 nforde

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 11:54 AM

Looking at another thread I saw the phrase 'ISM' and immediately thought of introductory stimulus material. Anyone who has been tutored by Rob Phillips at University of Wales Swansea PGCE will know what I'm talking about (hello to all of you) . Any amazing thoughts on ISM- a way into questioning students and focusing perhaps on something linked indirectly or directly (or abstractly) to the lesson objectives. I did one using a bag of SMASH/ Walkers Crisps for a lesson on underdevelopment in Ireland. Anyone got any brilliant ISMs? A fuller explanation of the strategy is explained in Teaching History Issue 105 ( I think). The key to a good ISM is that the more oblique the source material the better- a way of 'unfolding' the main objectives of the lesson rather than just reeling them off in a this is what we are going to do today. Any comments? :king:

#2 Andrew Field

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 12:03 PM

I came into my Year 10 lesson on utility with my hair all messed up (deliberately). Comments about the state of my hair started and I got really annoyed and asked them just how useful my brush was that morning.

This led us very nicely into the concept of utility in source analysis.

Not brilliant, but I hope it got the idea across.

This is very closely related to the discussions about starters.


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#3 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 02:40 PM

I have used the source which is mentioned in the article in Teaching History - it is a woodcut of the execution of Charles I - in my introductory lesson to the ECW and it is fantastic - the whole lesson worked really well as a way of getting the students to come up with the key investigation questions for the unit.
I have also started to develop a few bits and pieces for ISMs (basically starter activities) and I used a nice image for a lesson on the slave trade showing 'the gate from which no one returned' from Senegal - I tried to paste it here but couldn't (no doubt sensible copyright reasons). I also always use teh image of an operation from the front of the John Murray Medicine textbook - I particularly am intrigued by the mysterious black figure in the front row and always get the students to try and work out who he is - I don't know the answer myself does anyone?
Today I am working on an overview lesson for my year 9s about the 1950s-1990s so we shall be listening to 5 songs from the different decades (Elvis, Stones, Sex Pistols, Wham and Eminem) and they have to hold up decade cards to guess the correct era. Should be fun.
I am finding that the more different ISM / starter activities I try the more fun my lessons become and it has really improved my creativity in my planning.
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#4 Richard Drew

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 03:27 PM

Today I am working on an overview lesson for my year 9s about the 1950s-1990s so we shall be listening to 5 songs from the different decades (Elvis, Stones, Sex Pistols, Wham and Eminem) and they have to hold up decade cards to guess the correct era. Should be fun.

is it just me or is one of those acts a real odd one out!!!!

i have always been a fan of ISM (as the linked thread shows), but every now and then it is nice to catch them out:

they come in expecting to see an ISM on their desk or the OHP. they turn the ISM over on their desk and it is ..................... a test :lol: :lol: :lol:
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#5 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 07:55 PM

Sounds interesting but doesn't the education world seems awash with acronyms these days? I'm trying to think of one for colleagues unveiling new technology status. But rack my brains and try as I might, nothing springs to mind.

I can remember when an "ism" was something interesting you studied in Politics but I'll try and become aquainted with the work of Mr Phillips so I can make a coherent contribution to this thread.

#6 alison denton

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Posted 17 June 2003 - 03:38 PM

Teaching History has Rob's article on ISM, also Welsh Historian, issue Spring 2002, publication of the Association of History teachers in Wales (a mere £10 per annum!)

Catch his Total History course if you can - ISM and more - and as he's now at Manchester there may be more opportunities for his work to become widely known outside Wales. Rob has had a huge impact on history teaching in Wales.

#7 Chris Higgins

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Posted 17 June 2003 - 07:25 PM

Sorry to be facetious but I thought ISM actually stood for Initial Stimulus Material :teacher: . Another point, what is the difference between ISM and plain old KS3 Strategy starters (or bell tasks as some members of the Forum refer to them)?
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#8 Richard Drew

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Posted 17 June 2003 - 07:41 PM

Sorry to be facetious but I thought ISM actually stood for Initial Stimulus Material :teacher: . Another point, what is the difference between ISM and plain old KS3 Strategy starters (or bell tasks as some members of the Forum refer to them)?

Rob Phillips indeed used the phrase ISM to mean Initial Stimulus Material, but clearly the concept is what is important, and whether it is initial or introductory the key is that it is at the start of a topic/lesson.

A read of Rob's article, mentioned above, will clarify the difference very eloquently.

ISM's should always be materials to capture & entrench interest AND make pupils think, not just activities about getting attention/engagement/focus.

the subtle distinction here is what makes the concept vibrant.

Edited by Richard Drew, 17 June 2003 - 07:42 PM.

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#9 alison denton

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Posted 18 June 2003 - 06:52 AM

Agreed! The point of ISM ( and it is initial not introductory - the difference is important) is to engage learners with the whole topic at the start, not to give them some sort of zappy, gimmicky opening to get their attention but which is only loosely connected to the topic, or is a 'way in' of little significance for the rest of what they do.
The point about ISM is that it should get to the heart of the matter too - that is why the ISM of Charles I execution works so well - starting the civil war with the most significant and shocking thing gets the kids wanting to know how? why? etc. Ditto the connection between jelly babies and barbed wire ....

#10 nforde

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Posted 18 June 2003 - 08:27 AM

Quite right! I knew I'd used the wrong 'I' ( should be initial not introductory) word when I wrote the thing. Rob would not be pleased. Nice to know that there are others that recognise that we are doing much more than an initial starter. He would be pleased though that there was debate about it. If you see him please say hello and tell hime his techniques are alive and at work in International Schools in the Middle East. :king:

#11 John Simkin

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Posted 18 June 2003 - 11:29 AM

I have emailed Rob Phillips about this strand. Maybe he will reply to some of these points.

#12 alison denton

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Posted 18 June 2003 - 05:45 PM

Great! I hope Rob looks in, and I hope all is going well in his missionary work!
Properly used, ISM can also enable pupils to mange their own learning - they are so full of curiosity they will tell you what they want to investigate, and the motivation factor is then high - ownership etc.

And made in Wales too ......!

#13 gem_roberts

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 12:31 PM

one of the best ISMs i have used was a mango, to demonstrate the reasons why charles lost the civil war.

Money
Allies
New model army
Generals
Officers

Worked a treat :-D




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