3. Working with the community
Inviting people from the community into school can help keep pupils motivated to learn and make their lessons more exciting. Handled well, such activities can help you make life skills lessons very relevant for your pupils. This is a good way to introduce your pupils to some of the different networks in their community.
However, inviting experts into the classroom may take some time to arrange – you have to identify appropriate people, make arrangements with them and make sure they understand what you want them to do. You also have to prepare resources for your pupils so that real learning takes place.
Remember to assess what the pupils have learned after the event. Not only about the topic of the visitor, but also what they have learned about organising such an event. You can do this in different ways – there are some ideas in the Key Activity. See Key Resource: Using the local community/environment as a resource to help you plan the visit.
Case Study 3: Community networks
Miss Nkamba talked about community networks with her Grade 6 class. In pairs, pupils talked about which different community groups they were members of, or which they knew about. They listed all the different groups on the chalkboard:
- Clan/ethnic group
- Religious group
- Boy scouts/girl guides
- Sports clubs
- Dance group
- First Aid Club
After discussing how many pupils were members of each different group, the class voted to invite the local Muslim leader to come and talk to them. They did this because only one member of the class was a Muslim and the others wanted to know more about it.
First, Miss Nkamba went to the school library and found a book about different religions. She learned about the Islamic faith herself and prepared a lesson on the basic features of Islam. She did this so the class would have some knowledge on which to base what they learned from the visitor.
The pupils wrote short essays on the Islamic faith and Miss Nkamba put them all on a special table at the side of the classroom so that everyone could read them. She also asked her pupils to prepare questions they wanted to ask the visitor and they agreed which were the best questions and who would ask them.
When the visitor came, he was very interested to see the pupils’ work and find out what they already knew about the Islamic faith. He brought interesting artefacts for the children to see and the pupils were really interested in his answers and asked a lot more questions.
Miss Nkamba was really pleased with the way the visit had motivated her pupils and decided to follow it up with a visit to the Chibolya mosque. She also decided to invite Mr Patel of the Zambian Hindu Society to give a similar talk.
Key Activity: Using class visitors to motivate pupils to learn
Find out which community groups your pupils are members of. You can use the same method as Miss Nkamba, or brainstorm with the whole class or use small groups – it will depend on the size of your class and the age of your pupils.
Decide, as a class, which community group you would like to find out more about.
Prepare yourself – you may need to do some reading.
Introduce the subject to your pupils.
Discuss the tasks that have to be carried out (using Key Resource: Using the local community/environment as a resource).
Help your pupils to prepare questions to ask the visitor.
Ask for volunteers (or pairs or groups) to carry out the different tasks.
Guide your pupils as they complete their tasks.
After the visit, remind the pupils responsible to write a letter of thanks.
Have a round-up lesson where you explore what the pupils have learned. This could be done in a variety of ways:
- for older pupils – discussion, writing stories, role play, a quiz;
- for younger pupils – drawing pictures, role play.