We kick off GCSE Geography with the Coasts unit and study the OCR B course. Although doing this unit first gives us the opportunity to get out in the field and practise fieldwork skills, students (and maybe teachers!) can sometimes find it quite dry and repetitive. Not much chance maybe for different activities, more just learning a lot of processes and landforms and keywords? I would always class myself as a physical Geographer first, but I can see that it might seem repetitive or dull just learning step-by-step how something is created. Maybe more interesting once you can put all that background theory into context when visiting real places, or by doing decision making exercises about coastal management. Anyway.
We’ve always done the tried and tested (and tasty) Angel Cake wave cut platforms suggested by Tony Cassidy which works a treat. Model the step-by-step erosion and creation of a wave cut notch / platform with cake and show this under a visualiser to the class. Then if you’re feeling kind let them have some cake. Works!
This year we thought we’d let students have a go themselves. Classes worked through the theory as a class first, following traditional exam questions / discussion / explanation from teacher and group enquiry (see lesson powerpoint below – NB, this isn’t all done in one lesson!). When we got to the wave cut platforms part we just discussed the process as a class briefly, showed an animation and then I set the challenge.
Students had at their disposal the following resources: cake (ideally layered cake like angel cake or mini slices cakes), a selection of sweets, paper, pens, mini whiteboards and pens, a flip camera or tablet or mobile, and textbooks. The challenge was to create a resource that demonstrated the creation of a wave cut platform and evolution of a headland to then be recorded somehow and shared. Students were not allowed to eat anything until they had completed the resource, shared, and completed a follow-up exam question. Mean I know.
Two classes were doing this activity in parallel so myself and Sam Atkins were flitting in between, cajoling and cheering students on, adding an element of competition as to which group would produce the best resource and checking on knowledge.
Some examples of videos produced are here (apologies for the sideways angle!) :
Once the students had completed and shared their resources they had to be able to explain the process step-by-step and complete an exam question. This will also be followed up again with a starter exam question next lesson asking for an annotated diagram to explain the process. We did note that the lower ability children in particular seemed to grasp the overall process better following the making of their resource, whereas we had to push higher ability learners to remember to still use keyterms even though they were playing with cake! Overall, some great results and better quality answers.
NB – it was pointed out that I forgot the customary quote…so, far be it from me to not learn from constructive feedback! Here goes:
“Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than passive process” (Euripides)
or, if we feel less cerebral…
“My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it” (Boris Johnson)