After the November 2005 meeting I took the TASC wheel back to school and introduced it to my pupils. I told them we were going to use this method to organise an imminent event - The Christmas Concert.
Each year the Primary 7s visit 2-3 local homes for the elderly and provide seasonal entertainment. I was hoping that my pupils would accept the challenge and undertake the responsibility of the event.
I am accustomed to being in full charge of musical events and found it quite unnerving to relinquish my role. I like things to be tightly planned leaving nothing to chance. It was fascinating to see how the children, following the TASC wheel stages, became motivated and soon had the task underway. Two pupils were voted as 'leaders'. Not surprisingly these pupils were two who were easily recognised by the class as being 'more able'. Their role was to collect all offerings of items and select from them those that they deemed suitable. Already, I could see a different flavour creeping into the menu - items I might not have selected were being included - jokes, drum playing to mention two. This allowed pupils who may not previously have been part of the event to be 'soloists' at the concert. The ownership of the event was quite liberating for the children, and they took pride in carrying out each individual performance.
The Concert was a success. I stepped back from the proceedings and only participated when I was asked to help out - playing the piano for the songs where necessary. It was therefore liberating for me too. I was impressed that my pupils - all of them - worked as a team and managed to pull off a performance in a relatively short period of time.
It was with greater confidence I set the second task. Early each year the school participates in a fund-raising day for our local MacMillan Nurses. I handed the job over to my Primary 7s once again. This time is a more demanding one. The children had to find new ways to make money.
Unlike the previous task, the pupils themselves grouped according to who wanted to do what and with whom. They built up a board of activities where no one had priority over another. There was no over all leader. Each group was equally important.
The Class divided into nine groups providing: - ice cream, scoobies, bracelets, fortune telling, 2 raffles, sports goods, tombola, and an innovative game of chance called straffle.
As with the first TASC (Thinking Active in a Social Context) initiative, it was amazing to see how quickly pupils took on the jobs they had to do. Even the less motivated children were involving themselves and co-operating with their groups - not sitting back and leaving the work to others as I often see them do.
The method of working allowed opportunities for other pupils to reveal talents that hitherto had not been obvious. The pupil, for example, who was able to combine the hard sell and still scoop the ice cream into the tubs and keep the clients happy. This pupil was a reticent, quiet, slow working boy who kept very much to himself. The experience provided a turning point for him - he has since become far more outgoing and confident.
By the time we began our spring topic 'Game on' - a new technology based topic - my pupils instinctively adopted the methodology of the TASC wheel. The topic lent itself to this approach - pupils were given a simple outline - to think of a young hospitalised and immobile patient who needed a suitable game to relieve the boredom of the hospital stay. The classroom was filled by the next day. Boxes of games to discuss - review. Pupils who had been in hospital talked about the restrictions of hospital life. The children were sharing and taking the first step in solving the problem. I.e. what do I know already. From there the topic flew. Every child had an eventual solution.
Games were created, rules etc. made, and then in pairs, the end product was tested. Reports were made by partners - what I liked? Would it work under hospital circumstances? What would I do differently? Would I choose materials etc? Throughout the topic children were questioning constantly, changing plans when things didn’t work, discovering the unexpected e.g polystyrene melts when you spray paint it!
Finally we put our models out on display for 'parents evening'. As in the previous two accounts, I find it exhilarating to see my pupils take on the responsibility for their own work and to see the thinking process in action - i.e. when something went wrong, how the pupil stuck at it until a solution was found. Sometimes that was an overnight process and the pupils would bounce into school the next day shouting 'Eureka' or modern day equivalent!
My pupils now have their end of term assembly underway - YES - they are doing it themselves - completely. I now know that I can use the TASC when confidently in at least these areas. I am already planning to introduce it into language work next session and I'm expecting to see similar results.