I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about resources recently: how they can extend children’s thinking, and also how teachers can use them for differentiation. It’s tempting to believe that you have to spend quite a bit of money on resources. All that bright, shiny technology is indeed very tempting and often of great value in the classroom. But, as is so often the case in teaching, what you really need to do is to apply a liberal dose of creative thinking. Because once you do that, you very quickly realise that pretty much anything you have to hand can become a useful resource for learning.
Last week I just happened to have several deliveries from a well known internet book store. The deliveries all came separately, so I ended up with three huge cardboard boxes. For several days, the boxes sat in the corner of my lounge, waiting to be recycled. But all the time they were calling to me (“use me, use me, use me for something, anything“). They were obviously calling to my daughter as well, because one day she came home from school, eyed the boxes possessively, and announced: ‘We’re studying plants at school, I want to make a Giant Apple Tree, with those boxes.’
So it was that I spent last weekend with my daughter, up to my elbows in cardboard, brown paper, sellotape, green paint, glue, scissors, leaves plucked off a nearby tree and some battered looking daisies to serve as apple flowers. All the time I was thinking, this is what makes a great, differentiated resource. Something so simple, that the child (and/or the teacher) is forced to apply his or her creativity, imagination and lateral thinking. We took the tree into school on Monday morning (she had asked her teacher’s permission first). I’m not quite sure what her teacher was expecting, but I’d imagine she had anticipated a small child like drawing of a tree, rather than a metre high cardboard sculpture, with added collage effect.
I’d like to finish my first Pedagoo blog post with a challenge: sometime soon, take one cardboard box of any size or description, apply that powerful teacher creativity that all teachers have so much of, and turn it into a useful resource with or for your students. And then, of course, post a blog about it here on Pedagoo!