Key Skills and Religious Education

One of the teaching strategies that arises in the classroom constantly is Group Work. Some teachers will often choose to steer clear of group work because of the noise, disruption or timing issues that they feel that it can cause. However, if implemented correctly and the ground rules are established from the beginning, group work could be your new favourite teaching strategy! With group work, students benefit from interaction with others, exchange of ideas, organisation and co-operation.

These are some group work activities that I found useful for Religious Education. Of course, they are cross curricular but today I will focus on RE. These activities also embed the Six Junior Cycle Key Skills in every way reaching out to students to be creative, manage themselves and their thinking, work with others, stay and communicate well and manage their information and thinking. The key skills also encompass us as teachers to motivate the students in their literacy, numeracy and a wide focus on digital technology which is fantastic.

Also, please remember to use these as appropriate to the activity, subject and class.

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  1. Think Pair Share

Think Pair and Share can be used to help students:

  • Recall events
  • Make a summary
  • Stimulate thinking
  • Share responses, feelings and ideas.

The teacher sets a problem/task or asks for a response to the reading/material. Then, the students think alone for a specified time. The students form pairs to discuss the problem or give responses. Some responses may be shared with the class.

Discuss the rights and responsibilities of speakers and listeners so that students gain from the partner discussions. Talk about and model behaviours that are expected when people speak and listen to each other. Point out those who have successful discussions so that students understand exactly what they need to do.

Here is a Think Pair Share handout you can download for FREE that I love to use in class also. This can be useful for a noisy class as the writing will keep them busy!

think-pair-share-worksheet-20121001

2. Project Work

Divide the class into pairs or groups of 3 or 4 and assign them a project to work on for the end of the term so they become experts in a particular topic.

images (1)

3. Placemat and Round Robin

This activity is designed to allow for each individual’s thinking, perspective and voice to be heard, recognised and explored. It is useful for situations where you want student discussion and input from all.

  1. Form participants into groups of four.
  2. Give one piece of A3 paper (or large sheet) to each group.
  3. Ask each group to draw the diagram on the paper.images
  4. Each participant writes their thoughts about the topic in the outer spaces.
  5. Conduct a Round Robin so that each participant can share their views. (A round robin is where students give their opinions verbally around the circle or group and all members contribute equally).
  6. A nominated scribe notes down the common points made by each participant in the circle in the middle.
  7. Each group then reports the common points to the whole class group.

4. PMI

A PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting) is used to get students opinions and viewpoints.  It encourages students to talk about the pluses, minuses and interesting points felt about a lesson, concept or issue. This could be done in groups about a topic or issue and one person writes down the opinion of the group.

What I liked
Pluses (+)  

 

What I didn’t like
Minuses (-)  

 

What I thought was interesting
Questions or thoughts  

 

You could also use the PMI as a form of evaluation for your lesson.  Ask the students to post their views on a sticky note anonymously and ask the students to stick them to the wall when leaving the classroom. It is good to see what the students enjoy doing and what they found enjoyable about the lesson.

Cause_and_EffectT Chart

5. Jigsaw

In this activity, participants within a cooperative group each become ‘expert’ on different aspects of one topic of study. It is also useful as an approach to tackling large selections of material which students need to read and understand.

  1. Each group is assigned a task or topic. They may be individuals from different cooperative groups who have the same assigned topic.
  2. Together, this ‘expert’ group studies their topic and plan effective ways to teach important information when they return to their cooperative groups.
  3. One way of teaching is for the expert group to display their information on paper, or they may decide how to summarise main points, key arguments etc.
  4. Participants return to their cooperative groups and teach all members of their group as they are now the experts.

6. Blogging

Another way to use implement the Jigsaw strategy is by setting up a class blog with the students on the subject. In this instance, we are looking at Religious Education whereby every week a student blogs about a topic, becoming the expert on that topic and writing blog posts on this. Then they must teach their peers what they have learned. This is also known as Quadblogging. (See my previous blog post about Quadblogging here and for more information on how to get started!)

Blogs aren’t always possible for class groups and PowerPoint presentations may also work better for some teachers. Either way, it is an exciting, engaging way for students to learn about a topic working in groups and I’ve found students really seem to enjoy it. Remember to always get parental / school consent for web use with students.

images

7. Venn Diagrams

Venn diagrams support students to identify similarities and differences between ideas, concepts or problems. The similarities are recorded in the intersection of the two circles. The differences are recorded in the outer sections of the two circles.

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8. T Charts

T Charts are used to examine a particular problem or issue. They can be used to explore effective listening skills. I found them really useful for facilitating discussions in RE.

T Chart (cause and effect)

Cause Effect
 

 

 

 

 

T Chart (problem/solution)

Problem Solution
 

 

Download your FREE T Chart here;

Cause_and_Effect

T Chart

9. Y Charts

Y Charts are an extension of T Charts. You can use these when you want students to explore ideas, develop understanding or make connections with what they already know.

10.  Graphic Organisers / Concept Maps

Concept maps encourage students to visually record their learning through exploring issues or a topic. Students  establish connections and organise ideas thereby helping them to understand the relationships between different concepts, problems and ideas.

The centre circle contains the main concept, problem or topic. Linking ideas or solutions are recorded in the outer circles through the use of key words. Lines may be added to link the connecting circles to each other as well as to the central circle. Images and colours may also be used to enhance the concept map. Here are some you can download for FREE;

If you have any more activities for group work, please post them below and as always, let me know what you think! J

 

 

 

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