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Making learning meaningful…

22nd May 2015

Underpinning all learning that takes place at Wandsworth Prep is the belief that learning should be meaningful. Whether children are learning to apply new skills in a game of football; applying their musical knowledge to produce percussion in music; using new language and vocabulary to greet others in Spanish or applying their phonic knowledge to access written material about the past whilst researching a History project, learning is meaningful. Objectives are shared with children, not only to ensure that they understand why they are learning new skills but, more importantly, how they can be applied and the potential outcomes. Learning is contextualised, allowing real opportunities to apply new skills.Children in Years 2 and 3 are currently researching life in Roman times; they are story detectives. The journey began one afternoon at Forest School, where some unknown coins were found, buried deep in the clay. Questions were asked as to where the coins had come from. The inscriptions, texture, shape and markings gave valuable clues which led children to conclude that the coins were Roman.Next to the coins was a map, a precious map which had been victim to the elements over the years but still retained its key features. A bold inked line scored land mass and sea and a distinct red mark indicated a place of great importance. Children worked in groups with globes, atlases and i-pads to identify the land mass and unearth the significance of the red mark; Rome.A letter arrived, addressed to the children, asking them to piece together information from an ancient story. The story had a beginning, but no end. Some key parts of the story had gone missing and it was the children’s task to uncover these elements. One could use reference books, trawl the internet or read an encyclopaedia, all challenging tasks.On Wednesday, a visitor arrived, a time traveller from 50BC. The children spoke to Minerva and heard how her golden sandals had been taken by a greedy gladiator. Minerva spoke of how she spent her day; the food she ate; the places she frequented and the people who shared the city in which she lived. Children made mosaics with ancient Roman grouting, built bricks for her house and, upon finding a sword, protected her whilst wearing gladiator helmets.What the children achieved, was a very real understanding of life in Roman times, now equipped with the skills and knowledge to piece together parts of the story.Bridget SaulHeadteacher

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