Monday, 3 December 2012

Keeping 6th formers inspired!

Keeping 6th formers inspired is one of the hardest parts of my job. In one of my schools I have been given a PEP (Personal Enrichment Programme) course to run. Every 6th former has to sign up to one PEP course a term. There are some very popular courses, such as the computer driving licence which will look good on their CV, other courses such as Yoga, which does not really take much thinking about and most students are happy to give an hour of their free (study) time to this. If they have not managed to sign up quickly enough for those courses they could be left with my course..... Some of the students have been told by their teachers that it is something useful for the course they are doing now, others were just not lucky enough to sign up for something else.
My course is about Information Literacy, internet searching, plagiarism, Boolean searching, which is not the most exciting topic in the world but I have a captive audience for 12 weeks. We follow the University of Birmingham’s course that they use for 6th formers to make sure they have the necessary skills to take them onto university.   http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/libraries/5883LibrarySkillspack-studentst8.pdf
As this is the first time I have run this course I can’t say that it has been a great success, but I can say it wasn’t awful and at least having run through it once I can see where it can be improved. What I have really struggled with is trying to teach someone else’s lesson plan and as much as you run through it, it is never your own and that makes it difficult. I was really grateful for the course structure though and some of the ideas were things that I would never have thought of myself.
What is really hard is that out of the 15 students that come along possibly only 4 want to be there.Not all of them can see the relevance of what I am telling them or they really think they know it all. I had to smile when I asked them this week to produce a booklet for yr 7 and gave them a list of questions that I wanted answering, one being explain the Dewey System....Not one of them could tell me, so at  least I now know what they don't know. It was a good exercise in seeing what they did and didn’t know about how the library works and making them explain it in very simple terms meant that I could check they really understood what they were saying.
I am very grateful to the school for giving me the opportunity to run this course as I do think it is important but I need to make it something essential but enjoyable and I will need time to work out how to do this.
My immediate problem now is that the above course is finished and I have 3 lessons left where they still have to turn up and I have to do something with them. I am happy to talk about books and reading but know and understand that they think they are wasting their time. What can I do with them that could be fun but inspiring as well? I did think that I could wrap up several book covers so that they only had the blub and see if they could find a book they liked without seeing the cover. I also thought that I could give them last year’s Carnegie list and see if they could guess the winner? 
Someone suggested that they talk about a book that they think others should read. I know they are a very quiet bunch so getting them to talk about reading is going to be hard. Inspiration needed.