Carrot lessons

Wee Free MenThis idea is based on the Terry Pratchett book, The Wee Free Men, where teachers come to the village and set up lessons in tents. People then decide what education they want and gain education in return for vegetables and eggs. It is taken from an example lesson shown to me when I was studying for my PGCE at the University of Cumbria in Lancaster, but I can’t remember the name of the particular tutor.

The more the class get used to these types of lessons, the better the results will be.

Preparation lesson: Become an expert
Pupils become an ‘expert’ in a topic, e.g. Anglo Saxon homes. The class is split into several topics so you may have 4 or 5 pupils becoming experts in the same topic. Pupils use resources, e.g. books, Internet printed information, Internet access to learn more about their topic. At the end of this time, they should be confident enough to teach others this topic.

Tip:If you do this on a different day to the main carrot lesson, pupils may go home and research further on their topic.

Carrot lesson: Ask an expert
I set the classroom out with tables in a circle with one seat on each side of each table. I split the class into ‘teachers’ and ‘learners’ and half of the ‘teachers’ with a mixture of expertise on topics sit on the outside of the circle. The other half become ‘learners’.

Learners have a sheet, booklet or book to collect information. Teachers have their original information and a whiteboard and whiteboard pen to help them with their teaching.

I give each teacher 5 minutes to teach the learner sitting opposite them. When the time is up (I have a timer on the board) the learner moves on to learn about a different topic and the teacher teaches a new learner. I repeat this 4/5 times so that each learner has an opportunity to be taught each topic.

When those teachers have taught, each pupil who has been learning the topics collects 5 laminated carrots. They then distribute their carrots however they choose to the teachers who have provided them with the best, most interesting education. They can give 5 to one teacher or 1 to each teacher. It is up to them but I always emphasise that carrots are for good education and not for friends! I also ask learners to ask their teachers questions.

Pupils then switch roles. Teachers become learners; learners become teachers and the whole process is repeated.

We collect the number of carrots on a ‘carrot spreadsheet’ so we can keep track of our carrots in each carrot lesson. The aim is that the next time we have a carrot lesson, they receive more carrots. Normally pupils realise that they didn’t use their initial ‘becoming an expert’ lesson effectively and in general pupils receive more carrots in a later lesson.

For pupils who were absent in the initial ‘becoming an expert’ lesson are placed at an ‘information station’ – a table with resources about one of the topics – where they become an expert in that topic for the first part of the lesson. They are then able to become a teacher and earn carrots for the quality of education they are providing.

For lower ability children, I pair them up with another child so that they are able to fully access the content of the lesson and don’t become disengaged.

See lessons are particularly good for humanities topics but could be used in any way where pupils are required to learn about something in particular.