Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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2 Planning and assessing cross-curricular projects

Next you will watch a video on cross-curricular planning.

Activity 3 Observing children in cross-curricular learning

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

The video has several sections, so you can pause and watch at different times.

Listen to how the teachers and headteachers describe their work, and their observations of children. Are you familiar with any of the ideas they talk about, from your own experiences of school or the experiences of children you know?

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Discussion

The teachers and headteachers in the video say that there is a world of difference between a cross-curricular project or topic that is well-planned, achieves its curriculum objectives and engages children, and unfocused topic work which, at its worst, makes forced connections between subjects that are confusing for children and adults alike.

The comments by teaching staff in the video illustrate how they observe children’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of cross-curricular topic work. The teaching staff use their observations to assess children’s learning and plan new learning experiences. But they also comment on how they use such observations to reflect on their own teaching and how much children are benefiting from it. They recognise, as one teacher says, that children don’t learn in small boxes. Cross-curricular work helps teachers to create exciting learning environments which children can get involved in.

Teacher Sarah Johnson, who you met in Session 3, says an important aspect of cross-curricular projects is that they allow teaching staff to observe and listen to children, and learn what makes them ‘tick’. She also says cross-curricular work lets children take on different ways to learn and participate.

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Teachers also talk about the value of shared experiences in topic work, where there is no assumed knowledge, and there is an atmosphere of mutual encouragement where no one is afraid to ask questions.

In the video that you watched, a teacher says it’s a good idea to find out what children know before you begin to teach them anything. These kinds of comments show that adults in primary schools can consider themselves as learners too.

In the next section, you will look at specific aspects of creative support for children’s learning in the primary school and listen to teaching assistants talk about their work.

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