Friendship Week 2015 began in our school yesterday and it is already off to a fantastic start. In conjunction with Amnesty International, it is a week to highlight the theme of friendship, the importance of a good friend and what friendship means to everyone, students and teachers. Your school can take part with just one lesson, dedicate an entire day or the whole week to Friendship Week.
Amnesty International also provide participating schools with a free cross-curricular resource pack. This resource pack is full of information for teachers and students about human rights and how it relates to the lives of children of all ages, in all countries. This year’s resource pack focuses on a broader concept of friendship, emphasising the global dimension, and utilises a Socratic approach to reflective questioning (any former student of Mater Dei Institute of Education will be all too familiar with this!).
This cross-curricular pack also infuses a focus on numeracy and literacy throughout and also focuses on a key skill in the Junior Cycle – Communication. The concepts surrounding this key skill for the student include;
- Listening and expressing myself
- Performing and presenting
- Discussing and debating
- Using language
- Using number
- Using digital technology to communicate
At the beginning of the week, we used an Anti-Bullying lesson with Junior classes to introduce the students to the importance of friendship. For a full teacher pack including Lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations and video clips head to the Classroom Guidance website and click the Anti-Bullying tab at the top of the page. This programme is designed for Junior Cycle Students using multiple learning methodologies including video, discussion, work sheets, role play, and self-reflection. The student will be in no doubt about what bullying is, how to stop it and change the culture of their classroom and school. There is a large focus on Cyber Bullying, how to avoid it and how to deal with it. There are six units to cover throughout the week and these will be taught every morning to all Junior classes.
- Unit 1: What is Bullying?
- Unit 2: Is it Bullying
- Unit 3: Cyber Bullying
- Unit 4: Bystanders
- Unit 5: How to Tell
- Unit 6: Class Agreement
I am trying to incorporate each Junior Cycle Key Skill into every unit using a different methodology and hopefully making the series of lessons interesting each day for the students. There are various activities taking place throughout the week in school to celebrate including the sale of Friendship bracelets, a Friendship tree in the front hall and songs and poems every morning. Students are encouraged to participate, blog, present and have class discussions about this topic throughout the week. It is a fantastic way to get students involved and incorporate the Six Key Skills of the Junior Cycle into their everyday way of school life. These include;
- Managing Information and Thinking
- Managing Myself
- Working with others
- Being creative
- Staying well
Reflecting on how this week goes will be crucial for myself and my continous professional development. There are some great strategies to teach each key skill available here under Teaching Toolkits including supportive materals FREE to use. There is also few great pointers for teachers when reflecting, which I will share with you all here.
- Review and list all the ideas in this resource or those you gathered whilst watching the short videos.
- Identify one idea or a manageable number of ideas that you feel you could develop and which would improve your students’ learning in a significant way.
- Plan how you will develop those aspects with identified classes over a period of time. You might even consider how you might establish baselines for pupils’ learning which will allow you to judge impact and learning gain.
- Over the next month, keep a diary/blog to record changes in the way you help students manage their learning, agree outcomes and goals for students; the ways in which you carry out assessments of learning and the ways in which you record and use the data arising.
- Record also any benefits you notice for students and for yourself. Share your reflections with appropriate colleagues.
I have also provided a FREE PowerPoint Presentation on Friendship Week 2015 which introduces the topic and holds more information on what the week is all about. I have also provided a FREE worksheet which you can use in any lesson as a fun activity. Click Recipie for a Perfect Friend Worksheet to download. This could be made into a cooking show presentation activity and I feel the students would really enjoy it!
As always let me know what you think of the blog or if you have any suggestions that I could include! 🙂