Making Progress in RE: Creative and engaging learning The Wiltshire SACRE RE Conference May 2010
creativity / progress / engagement How can RE be better? • Refresh the subject at the frontiers between expressive arts and creative curriculum • Focus with sharp attention on progression of skills: identify / talk about / describe / make links between / understand / explain why • Use exciting learning strategies, and be more relaxed about content – move from little religious facts to big spiritual questions
Questions for God • This activity enables a close connection between AT1 and AT2 • It asks pupils for their own thoughts in mysterious areas and deepens theological engagement (with 6 year olds and others) • The work shows progression, range and variety. It’s not very dependent on literacy skills • It exemplifies the power of spiritual thinking skills and good structures to energise RE
Questions for the all-knowing: • If your pupils could ask ‘the person who knows everything’ five questions, what would they ask? How do they think the ‘all-knowing’ would reply? This activity is an opening to wondering like no other in RE and can be used in any age group. • Set the process in 4 steps: • Every child make up 3+ questions • Lay them all out round the class, and each choose the best one. • Say why it is puzzling, interesting, hard to answer • Suggest three ways in which ‘God’ might reply to the question
This task, to ask the questions you’d like to of ‘the person who knows everything’ is versatile across many levels. Aaron is able to work at level 2. In the RE context, he asks questions about things that matter to him. This is a high achievement for Aaron, who is in Year 1.
Why are we here? We live to die Why do we have feelings? To express our heart Is there such a thing as hell? Hell relies on your mind What is God? God is the building of our souls
This variation of the strategy opens up lots of children’s questions about the narratives of Jesus
The task was to suggest questions to ask of ‘the one who knows everything’. This piece of work shows that Duncan can work at level 3. Duncan can ask important questions about religion and belief. Next steps might be to suggest answers that might come from religions studied.
Zoe (9) gives evidence of achievement at level 4 – suggesting a range of answers to her puzzling religious questions and applying religious ideas for herself
Wenxin is working in one of her additional languages. She has selected ‘the best question’ to ask God / the omniscient, and suggested why it is a good question, why it is hard to answer and three things God might say in reply. She raises questions and suggests answers, understands and applies ideas well to the topic (L4). If you think she can express and explain her views in the light of religious ideas (which I do) then you can give level 5 for this piece.
Christopher, 11: can he handle questions about meaning and purpose in the light of religious beliefs he has studied? Can he give views and reasons for views that he holds, aware of others ideas? If so he is working at L5.
Add to a questions focused approach the kind of task setting that builds engagement. EG: on a visit. • Peaceful, thoughtful and friendly places. The class decide what the most peaceful, thoughtful friendly places are in the school and grounds. They go to these places, and do something as a class that is peaceful, thoughtful friendly. • When they then visit a place of worship, they choose and photograph the most peaceful, thoughtful, friendly places. • At the place of worship, also ask the children: where in the church / synagogue / mosque might worshippers feel closest to God? • Why didn’t we ask that at school? Discuss. • Ask pupils to use their photos of the four places to give recounts of their visit to the place of worship and its significance for believers • This activity sequence is about experiencing the meaning of religion, not just being told about it – crucial!
Palm Sunday Thoughts It’s easy to make any piece of RE Story more engaging by using creative and expressive structures that link to literacy and to pupils’ empathic responses
Daisy, 9, heard the story and related it particularly to the thoughts of the three small children up the tree.
Adapt the strategy of thinking from a picture to many other stories... • Nativity • Parables: • Good samaritan • Prodigal Son • Rich Fool • Jesus’ trial • Resurrection • Noah and the ark • Moses at Passover • Divali: Rama and Sita’s homecoming • Guru Gobind Singh and the founding of the Khalsa
Where is God? • Great emphasis on God-talk in the Wiltshire syllabus – but it is hard to do. • Creative expression unlocks, calms down, frees the mind, surprises the teacher and makes enjoyable learning • Art in Heaven’s most popular theme: Where is God?
God is in prayer “This is spiritual because the colours stand for all the good things the person is praying for. God loves everyone just as much as everyone else.” Olivia and Hannah are both 11.
7 year old Shahzad says that God / Allah is everywhere, but drew this Mosque. Is it that humans can draw near to God at the mosque, but are never apart from God?
“This model is called ‘All you need is love’. Some people don’t believe in god, but they do believe in love. I have shown this idea in my model.”
“Allah is the Islamic word for ‘God’. In the Muslim religion, Allah cannot be pictured. I have made a pattern and copied it on a scanner to show that Muslims believe Allah is in every little thing. The big word shows they also think God is over everything.” Jade is 8
“We have not answered the question ‘where is God?’ But we have suggested how to go about answering the question. Seek and you will find. But watch out. If God was at the touch of a button, would you dare click it?”
5 Themes to choose from • Art in Heaven has five themes for 2010. • Closing date 31st July • The themes are: • Mystery stories! • Spiritual space • Respect: A logo for RE • Talking to God: Where is God? • Celebrating Life, Celebrating Love! Full details and hundreds of examples on the web gallery at www.natre.org.uk