When computers don't give you a headache: the most able lead a debate on medicine through time


By Dan Moorhouse, published 31st August 2006

Dan Moorhouse begins with a complaint about ICT. It is not the clichéd teacher-complaint – that the computers keep crashing, and the students are messing around on the Internet (and how, exactly, do you turn the things on?) Instead, he observes that the use of ICT in the classroom is now so routine that it has lost what he terms its ‘wow’ factor. Moorhouse tries to put the ‘wow’ factor back for his GCSE class. He uses Internet-based forums to encourage students to argue by posting their ideas and opinions (properly supported with evidence, of course). This takes advantage of a means of communication with which many of our students are familiar (and, thanks to Moorhouse’s school’s work at Key Stage 3, all of his are). This article sets out how the central idea – ‘using forums’ can be supported with other activities so that it is ultimately successful. It also shows a variety of techniques with which Moorhouse differentiates for the most able. Last year he went further by participating in the Historical Association’s Centenary Web Debates. This enabled his most able students to lead his class in debate and discussion with other schools about the worst time to have had a sore throat. This provided the kind of challenge on which the most able thrive – especially so because it included the immediacy of the Internet. Moorhouse makes his sequence of lessons look easy, although in fact he has undertaken tremendous preparation in order to make them work. This preparation will form part of our discussion of how to use this article to move your own practice forward.

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