Helping pupils to remember what they have learnt in RE – Laura Hemmingsen

I took a workshop called ”Helping pupils to remember what they have learnt in RE”, presented by Stephen Pett at the NATRE conference.

It started with Stephen giving a brief overview on the most recent developments in research on how the brain makes connections and stores information. He then went on to having the teachers do some activities for pupils.  These were all interactive, and many had elements of drawing or art in them. I’m looking forward to trying them all with my students.

One which I’ve already tried has worked really well, called ‘Interpreting the man in the well’. This could be adapted in many ways. It involved Stephen telling us to draw pictures of certain characters or events as he read a story involving them.  We’d have a short time to draw, as he paused telling the story. When the story was finished, we would have to try to interpret what the meaning of those characters might be, and explain that to a partner. We then went back and looked at the images we’d drawn, and heard the actual interpretation in its religious context.

This was valuable learning on many levels. Listening to a story and drawing elements of it keeps the listener directly involved.  No room to be passive! Then interpreting what each character or element of the story might represent was definitely a higher level thinking skill, along with communicating that to a partner. It actually had to do with what life is all about, so a connection was made from quick, simple drawings all the way to discussing the meaning of life, but with symbols the children would have already drawn and related to. This is a perfect example of a ‘brain smart’ lesson.  These were the elements involved:  listening, drawing, retelling, interpreting, discussing, and theorising. And all at KS2 level. I think this is an elegant way to make lessons in religion relevant, accessible, and importantly, memorable.

Laura Hemmingsen

Laura has been teaching RE to Y6 students at Rygaards Skole in the Copenhagen area for the last 20 years