The following lesson idea was used this week to introduce a group of challenging students to Nepal. This lesson introduced a scheme of learning designed to get pupils comparing their experiences with the experiences of children in other places. The students that this lesson was created for have social and behavioural difficulties. By exploring the lives of others, the aim is to develop empathy and understanding beyond themselves. Feel free to use it as a PHSE lesson, a descriptive writing lesson or any other lesson for which it may be useful.
Students learned that, during my visit to Nepal, these two boys led me on a journey. I told the students that I couldn’t believe where we ended up. I wondered if they could guess our destination. Video one was played from start to finish.
As the video played, students were asking questions and commenting upon the things that they saw. The video is purposefully short to keep their attention but it was important to get across just how long this journey actually took (two hours in reality). My role was to answer questions but not to give away the ending.
SEARCH FOR MEANING
Pupils each had thought bombs (plastic balls with a hole cut in containing a thought to spark their thinking). As this was a small group, pupils held a bomb each. While watching video two, pupils would shout stop if they saw a number on the screen. The pupil holding the ball with that number on became the question master and all of our thoughts were collated as clues. The video was stopped as the tiger appeared and ball number nine was read out. Ball number nine asks us to look again at our clues and explore possible destinations.
The questions contained within each thought bomb:
What do you notice about where we start our day?
Where do you think we are?
What can you see?
What do you notice about where we are?
Is it different from your home? How?
What can you hear?
How would you feel if you started your day here?
What do you notice about where we are now?
What do you think the animals are used for?
What do you notice about the journey’s starting point?
How would you feel about crossing that bridge?
How many stairs do you think there are?
Where do the stairs go?
What do you notice about the animals in this place?
Where do you think we are now?
How would you feel if you were walking here?
What barriers are in the way during this journey?
How would you tackle the things in your path?
How has the landscape changed?
How many obstacles can you remember from the journey so far?
How far do you think we have travelled?
What do you think has happened here?
Why do you think this has happened?
Look at the clues so far. Where do you think we are going?
The above questions were kept purposefully simple to allow the group to be able to access the material. However, you could make the questions more challenging. Try the following question stems to develop your own questions for each number:
UNI: What is…
MULTI: What else…
RELATIONAL: How is… like…
EXTENDED ABSTRACT: How might…
Finally, the students, after guessing all kinds of interesting destinations ranging from a volcano to gathering water for their village, were able to watch the end of the video and see if their guesses were correct.
This journey was a journey that I actually made during my time in Chitwan. Although the two boys, leopards and tiger were fictional to my experience (I would not have stopped to take a photograph), the two hour hot and dangerous terrain was not. This was the journey that many children in Chitwan took every day to reach their ‘local’ school.
Following the introduction, pupils began to explore their own journey into school each day with that of a child in Nepal. The coming weeks will be full of discoveries but always bringing the learning back to comparison. By comparing what they experience with the experience of others, we hope that the children of this school can experience empathy for others as well as gratitude for what they have.