British Museum Family Learning Project
We have just collected in the final pieces of work from our Year 7 British Museum project and the results are stunning. This is the third year we have run the project. In the first year, we tried it with just one Year 7 class; this is the second year when we have asked every student in Year 7 to take part and we’re close to 100% completion.
The aim of the project is to communicate a number of key messages about learning to students and parents from their very first contact with the school. These include:
- School is all about finding things out and exploring new ideas
- Learning is something that happens beyond the school gates.
- Families have a key role to play and can enjoy sharing in the learning process.
- Students at KEGS are expected to take responsibility for their own learning.
- Learning takes many forms and there is not always a ‘correct method’ or specific goal.
- Creativity, resourcefulness and independence are all key attributes for KEGS learners.
- It is important to take an active interest in culture generally and museums are wonderful places to do that.
- Rigour and scholarship are important to us in our learning.
The project is structured as follows:
July ‘New Parents’ Meeting and Transition Day:: The concept is explained to parents and students in a very simple manner:
“You have until January to go to the British Museum and produce a response that shows what you learned.”
We then spell out that this is compulsory and free as well as exciting! We encourage parents to use the summer holidays if they can or any weekend or half-term up to January.
Autumn Term: The message is repeated at a Parents’ Welcome Event in September and then our RE Department takes responsibility for overseeing progress with the projects and reminding students of the deadline. However, we do not give extensive curriculum time to it. The key messages are repeated:
- Get organised to go
- Be creative in how you report your learning- do what ever you like
- Aim for a high standard – ‘dazzle us’!
The link to the RE curriculum is strongest when students explore Mesopotamian and Egyptian religious artefacts but we don’t limit them to that if they take an interest in something else.
January: The project deadline is enforced via Year Assemblies and RE lessons for the final time and students hand them in. Some bring in models, posters and other creations; others hand in memory sticks; others send in emails with links.
We are planning to put together a full display of the work for Year 7 Parent’s Evening this term.
April: We will give prizes for the best pieces at our Year 7 Celebration Evening.
The work we receive is fabulous. Well, most of it is. In truth, there is a range. The very best work is sensational – just such a joy to see. The care and attention given to some projects is astonishing. That is the point – students are given the opportunity to fly as high as they can. At the other end, we do have some last-ditched efforts and some where students have really pitched it too low. We also have some issues where the museum trip doesn’t really have much to do with it and the internet research dominates. BUT – in the main, the standard is very high. We have websites, models, videos, powerpoints, extended essays, 3D posters….all kinds of response.
Here are examples of blog projects (click image):
And try this one: http://kegsbritishmuseumproject.blogspot.co.uk/
The winning entry from 2011/12 was this sensational home-made video; more of a TV show. Packed with information and good jokes! For example, at 3.48, a superb demonstration cuneiform writing, using clay (playdough); at 6.20, a great introduction to the British Museum.
Considerations for future cycles:
- To expand the concept to cover more museums and galleries? It might be more open – although there is something powerful about asking every student in the school to go to the British Museum.
- To open up the subject range so that we break away from Egypt and Mesopotamia? We could look at other aspects of history and culture for sure.. something we might well consider. Elgin Marbles anyone?
- To give some structured guidance with more success criteria? This would certainly give some parents more of a handle on it and might avoid some of the duds. But, just occasionally, it is nice to just see what happens without trying to prescribe it at all. A subtle balance…
Try it at your school. We have done something on a smaller scale with our partner school with some lovely outcomes. If you do, let me know.