Year 7 students from Dunottar School in Reigate have spent a half term studying news articles on The Day, a news app that aims to bring the world into the classroom. The youngsters were offered a wide range of articles, encompassing national and international politics, economics, science, technology, arts and media, health, sport, and the environment.
Head of English, Kerry Lewis, said: “The pupils already have access to online fiction via our eplatform library lending system. We wanted to encourage them to read more nonfiction.
“Nowadays, if tech-savvy students need information, they have immediate access to it from their devices. We modernised our nonfiction unit by ditching our PowerPoints and replacing them with a curriculum that is fresh and flexible, that is always current and that constantly changes. Most importantly, all the nonfiction reading material is accessed through the students’ iPads. The pupils also independently read articles of their choice, keeping the reading material relevant to their interests.
“It was slightly daunting to plan a scheme of work and not know the content in advance,” she added. “Sometimes, I planned a lesson and then changed it the next day because something more topical had happened.
“The lessons inspired a range of analytical, writing and speaking activities, including philosophical debate. For students who wanted to learn more about a particular subject, there were opportunities for wider research through links to other articles and YouTube videos.
“In a post-course questionnaire, 65% of the students said that, since they started reading The Day, they have become more interested in the news.
“By laying the groundwork in Year 7, the students have three years to expand their range of vocabulary and awareness of the wider world. This creates a solid foundation for GCSE English language in which they analyse nonfiction articles and write to express a viewpoint.”
Pippa Smithson, deputy head, said: “Pupils want to know that their learning is relevant and current. They really engaged with these lessons, enjoyed lively debates and proved that they have an empathy and understanding beyond the Reigate bubble.”