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a living essay


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#1 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 05:14 PM

I had just come to the end of a pretty dire yr 10 lesson on Stresemann solving the problems of Weimar Germany and was debriefing with my pgce student about tomorrow's lesson. I wanted them to use the info they had (in theory, but not in practice) learned from today to write an essay on how far Stresemann solved the problems etc. In our discussion I came up with the idea of a 'living essay', that the students would work in pairs to each write a section of the essay, with the highest ability students writing the conclusion and evaluating Stresemann's success and the lowest ability writing out the first para about the problems in 1923. They would then wear tabards showing their paragraph and arrange themselves in the most appropriate order. I would also ask those not in the line-up to come up with topic sentences linking the paragraphs or concluding sentences linking back to the question and slot themselves in. The final read out will be filmed, put up on my website and used as a reference for their homework to write the essay.

Has anyone done something similar to this? If so did it work? how was it structured? what potential pitfalls lie in stake for me? Have I gone completely insane (you don't need to answer that one.)
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#2 JohnDClare

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 05:22 PM

What a brilliant idea!!!
Never done it, but I will now!!!!
:flowers:

#3 DAJ Belshaw

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 05:58 PM

Sounds great for me - let us know how it goes!

Doug :hehe:

#4 Simon Ross

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 08:50 PM

I think there was a 'triumphs' article in Teaching History in or before 2003 on some kind of physical essay writing, although I think in that case the sections were largely already written by the teacher.

S

#5 Gwendoline

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 08:31 AM

Yeah, I did this as a PGCE student and it worked really well. We had a discussion about the key ideas we ned to mention ( mine was with year 7 on Why William won at Hastings) then we divided them up. I had pupils writing a paragraph each, one group write an intro and two groups writing conclusions ( each with different conclusion). They then lined up and the rest of the class wrote sentences that could link causes and begin and end each paragraph.

I then took a photo and we put it on the IWB and this became their essay plan. The kids really enjoyed it but it can get a bit crazy. Also, what about them assessing each others paragraphs?



Hope this helps,

#6 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 05:46 PM

The whole thing went down a treat (apart from the huge fight in the middle of the lesson, but that's another story, and at least it didn't interrupt the filming!). As soon as I have uploaded the video clips I shall share them here.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#7 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 07:05 PM

Brilliant idea Dan - I'm using it with my Year 8 group next week!

#8 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 12:26 PM

You can now view the Living Essay 'Did Stresemann solve the problems faced by the Weimar Republic?' from here Living Essay. It is a large download (13.8mb) because I haven't had time to slice it up yet. Any comments would be great. Enjoy!

Edited by Dan Lyndon, 04 November 2006 - 12:36 PM.

Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#9 Tezza Walsh

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 12:47 PM

Well done to you and your class Dan- fantastic effort!

This will be great to show the structure needed to plan and write any extended writing task.

Over how many lessons did the group work on this?

Will be attempting this with some of my groups this week!

Well done again- great example of active History.

#10 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 06:22 PM

Hi Tezza, I spent three lessons in total - one lesson to teach the topic, one and a half lessons to write the paragraphs and peer assess and half a lesson to film.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#11 alison denton

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 06:35 PM

This is a great strategy for getting the pupils to 'see' an essay - and they will remember how to do it from now on).
I have done this myself with a particular question from the WJEC paper - the interpretations question in the sources section, part d).
I gave the pupils parts of the answer to draft, in pairs/ threes, on sugar paper, which we pinned up and then gave each pair/ three a 'character card' - they became[i] part of the answer.
Their cards were things like:
'I am the information supporting the interpretation. I am happy/ unhappy because ....'
'I am the sources which do not support the interpretation. I am happy/ unhappy because ...'
'I am the process the author went through to arrive at these conclusions. I am happy/ unhappy because ...'

etc

Pupils then used this to constructively criticise the bits of the answer.

It also works well at A-level, for more traditional AS/ A essays.

#12 ortal wolfson

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 07:50 PM

i have done this with a few classes and it always works out really well they enjoy the gorup work asspect and also appreciate having the information without having to write another essay! it also helps if you choose the groups and what paragraphs they will do as it means you have control of stronger students helping weaker students etc!

it is also nice to show them one i have done before so they cans ee the format and then tell them that actually the one being shown is rubbish and i expects the one that they do to be SO much better!

good luck

#13 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 07:36 AM

The results of my lesson can be seen here. I think that when I do this next time I'll use tabards and have 'one I made earlier'.




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