2. Developing research skills

Discussing local crafts or traditional weapons or dress is very motivating for most pupils as they can see the relevance of these to their lives. When pupils are interested, it will also be easier for you to manage their behaviour. In Case Study 2, this interest is stimulated by a visitor. Do you know anyone who has time to visit your class? Have you asked your pupils if they know anyone?

If you also use more interactive ways of working, such as pair and group work, pupils can achieve more by working together to build new knowledge. In Activity 2, pupils work in pairs to research answers to their own questions. Again, this is very motivating for pupils.

Case Study 2: Looking at the history of traditional tools for farming

Mr Mutale wanted his pupils to find out more about tools used traditionally in farming. He decided to give them the opportunity of looking at pictures and artefacts, and writing about what they had seen. But first, he had a surprise for his class. He had asked an older member of the community who had a collection of old tools to bring in some of his collection to the class.

The pupils really enjoyed the visit and they were able to gather a lot of information about the tools to add to their research project. The old spade that had belonged to the visitor’s father’s grandfather excited them all most because of its great age.

After the visit, Mr Mutale divided his class into small groups and gave each group a picture – some groups had the same picture as he did not have any others he could give. He explained that they needed to discuss the pictures and then write a short story about how the tools in each of the pictures were being used. He explained that they could use the question sheet to start them thinking about what to write about (see Resource 1: Research questions on traditional tools and implements). The pupils used their notes from the visit and also some books that Mr Mutale had collected over time. They worked together in their groups to collect the information and write their stories. At the end, each group shared their story with the class.

Activity 2: Researching local crafts

  • Ask pupils, in pairs, to choose which craft items they want to research more.
  • Each pair can choose between looking for the information in books or interviewing a person in their community as their starting point.
  • Next, ask the pupils to think of the kinds of questions they need to ask to guide them to the right information, such as: ‘What is the traditional use of this bowl?’ Discuss some suggestions and decide together if they help focus on the purpose of the research. Each pair selects their questions.
  • Each pair conducts their research using their questions, and their chosen research method. You will need to provide information books or extracts from books and magazines for those using books as their source of information, and you will need to give the others time to conduct their interviews.
  • If they have trouble finding information with one method, they may need to use the other as well. Allow time for them to do the research and give them guidance as they work if they are struggling.
  • Ask each pair to make a poster to present their key findings.
  • Assess your pupils’ work using Resource 2: Assessment sheet for research presentations.

1. Exploring local crafts in groups

3. Making and displaying local crafts