I know, that's an odd title for a blog post, but it does sum up the essence of what I'm going to say. Too often with more challenging classes I have shied away from doing the fun stuff because it might get riotous. I used to do it, but then I used to be more daring and I used to be younger!
Last week I reverted back to the risk taker that I used to be because I felt that my challenging Year 9 class needed a break from all the 'safe' activities I had had them doing in order to 'contain' them. I attempted a running gap fill with them, practising the language we had been learning over the half term. Normally, I like to teach in TL, but given that the concept of a running gap fill is quite complicated and because of the nature of the class and because it was last lesson, I opted to explain the rules in English. I split the class into 5 groups of 5, had 1 runner and 1 scribe (the rest were to help the scribe), gave them a text with blacked out words, had complete texts stuck on the wall outside my room (You know how this activity works, right?) and off we went, swapping round the jobs within the group every minute. At the end, we marked it; we gave points for each word written perfectly; there were winners and losers. It was chaotic, a little too loud, it was a paragraph too long and there was an amount of cheating; however there was also reading, understanding, laughing and learning going on. I wouldn't do this every lesson, but I will make sure that I don't forget that bottom sets/challenging classes or whatever you want to call them, need this kind of active learning, probably more than more able classes.
So from now, I am going to plan my bottom set Year 9 lessons with more active learning tasks. I am not going to be afraid of the noise and I will embrace the chaos they bring!