Cover Supervisor

Learning creatively

So, you are a Cover Supervisor in a school and you need ideas for making cover lessons a bit spicier. The ancient format of book work/photocopied sheets (sometimes with answers) is making you and your class feel, well, a bit bored. Look no further as I attempt to give you one idea you could try next time you have a cover lesson in need of some extra spice. The idea is to try and improve on the ancient/boring format of a standard cover lesson.

Firstly, a bit about myself.Learning the perfect lesson ending

I work as a cover supervisor in a secondary school in the UK. Actually, my job description states my title as 'CTSA' - Curriculum Team Support Assistant, but I'll not bore you with that as I could write about 50 articles on it alone. Typically though, cover lessons (lessons when the main teacher is absent) would have no uniformity of format, especially when I first began my role at the school. Answers to the work set by the teacher would be strangely absent. Often materials required for a lesson would be missing or would not be enough for the entire class to share.

I cover lessons only in the maths department so answers to class work are crucial for two reasons:

1. To enable students to mark THEIR OWN work

2. To avoid handing back class work to the teacher that they then have to mark

Imagine having to mark 30 books from a lesson that you were not a part of. I never knew how much teachers appreciated having class work marked during the lesson, but more importantly, from a learning point of view, students become confident in their own learning and progress when they see that they get answers to mathematical problems right, especially if they doubt themselves before the lesson begins.

I remember agreeing with my Head of Department as well as teachers within the department, a standard format of worksheets + answers = excellent cover lesson for the reasons outlined above. It also makes managing the content of lessons for supply teachers much easier. This results in good quality lessons where hasstle free learning can take place.

But I digress.

Building on this platform of worksheets + answers = excellent cover lesson, I devised a series of starters and endings for cover lessons. I would like to share one of them with you: "famous people".

For this you will need:

1. A whiteboard

2. x2 whiteboard pens (red and black)

3. A class ensible enough to complete this task :)

Ok. You can readily supply the first two items I'm sure, its up to you to judge if your class is ready for a task a bit different from the norm.

Essentially, you invite students who have completed and marked their work to write the name of a famous person on the white board with the black pen. I have found that restricting the amount of names that appear on the board to between 5 - 10 should give you enough material to work with.

Next, just before it is time for students to clear their belongings/books away, ask the class who they wrote down on the board. For example, if David Beckham is one of the names on the board, ask who wrote this name down. When the students hand is raised you can ask them why they wrote down David Beckham then use a follow up question such as 'how would David Beckham use solving equations'? (The example of David beckham is probabily in this instance a bad example). In any event, the idea of the game is to get the students to think creatively about what they have learned in your lesson be it solving equations, the use of imagery or the battle of Hastings. If a student wrote down Justin Bieber, ask them how Justin Bieber would use bisecting a straight line.

You could vary the game byturning it into 'kill the celebrity': if students are unable to help each other to come up with how each celebrity would use solving equations, the celbrity gets killed by a red cross over their name on the board. I have found that students become very competative to try and keep the name of their celebrity on the board, often asking for the help of others to do so.

Learning should be a happy and exciting experience.

Experiment and have fun.