Manglish is a cross curricular approach to planning pupils’ learning. My dream is to eradicate the “I’m no good at maths” culture as well as realising a future where every teacher is able to be a teacher of reading, writing and communication. Counting the lines of a poem to tick numeracy boxes is as likely to create numerate pupils as spelling the number one is useful in eliminating illiteracy. Manglish is not a bolt on gimmick; it is a shift in the current isolated approach to secondary teaching. Full details have been written down in the Manglish book, alongside tips and resources to support teachers with this shift in thinking. Governments will come and go, trends will rise and fall but reading, writing, communication and maths will continue to be a fundamental part of all of our lives.
The following lesson is an example of Manglish in action in my classroom this week.
The most frightening job in the world (second only to a shark’s dentist) must be stand up comedy. I heard you groan from here at my shark aside; imagine standing in front of thousands, knowing that there is a potential to experience that devastatingly embarrassing reaction. The superhuman people that do that job for a living make it look easy. However, you just try to write an original joke and see how easy it really is. Comedy isn’t just standing up and hoping your stories are funny. Comedy is planned, scripted, researched, practiced and delivered effectively.
English Lesson Context
Each year group in Key Stage 3 base their learning around a searching question. Year 7’s big question for this half term is “Who is literature’s greatest comedy figure?” Pupils will learn how to critically evaluate a range of classic literature; they will explore how context affects meaning and develop an appreciation of the role of an audience in reading the author’s intentions. As a teacher of English, I will be explicitly teaching pupils reading skills as well as weaving in writing and communication over this half term. This is how we kicked it off…Ashes’ style!
Pupils arrived to the question, “What do you know about gathering data?” Having mapped our curriculum for Key Stage 3 on our internal VLE, it is easy to access what pupils have covered in their maths lessons. Year 7 covered handling data the half term previous and, thanks to regular data collection, I know the level that they are able to access this topic. Pupils used the big whiteboard to recall what they had learned and we were ready for the next connecting question, “Why is Ryan funnier than Holly?”
The second question was not intended to hurt Holly’s feelings. Holly and Ryan had been briefed on their role prior to entering the room. Each pupil was to deliver something ‘funny’ to the class. Ryan had a classic “What do you call a…” joke whereas, Holly had an extract from a Shakespearian comic character. Discussing this question in depth, the class concluded that they were the wrong audience for Holly’s extract. Pupils recognised that context and audience were key elements in getting comedy right.
The seemingly unrelated connecting questions needed to be linked together as I delivered my intentions for their biggest challenge yet. At the tender age of eleven and twelve, this class were about to train to do the most difficult job in the world. They were in training to become comedians! As we learned from question two, knowing our audience is going to be essential if we want to avoid that sea of silence during the delivery. If we can find out what different audiences find funniest, we can plan to their tastes.
When pupils find things difficult they will ask why? Why are we doing this? Every member of this wonderful class was up for the challenge and did not question my motives but I had a whole host of “whys” ready for them and anyone else who might come into the lesson and question my motives. This lesson leads to a greater understanding of audience types; learning to critically analyse avoids you accepting the first answer and leads to analytical thinking; evaluation of evidence leads to well informed conclusions; we will be using this learning in later lessons to critically evaluate Shakespeare’s choices as well as more modern comedy choices; seeing data analysis as a useful tool in different contexts can support mathematical understanding and embed the learning from last half term; research, preparation and critical evaluation will avoid embarrassingly poor performances.
Search for Meaning
Pupils wanted to know what different people find funniest in order to plan the right material for their audience. They made predictions such as, “Younger people need jokes to be simple but older people want to hear clever jokes.” They recognised that this was merely opinion until they had evidence to back this up. Working in small groups, pupils sketched out potential tools for data analysis by recalling their learning from maths last half term.
The task was not accidental. During planning, I used a Manglish mat (very easy to make adaptation of reading, writing, communication and maths assessment criteria – lots of details and examples in the book) to match the tasks to pupils’ working at levels and my expectations of them. I am not teaching maths; I am allowing pupils to see maths as useful in our English context.
Level 6 Handling Data:
- Pupils can solve problems and carry through substantial tasks by breaking them into smaller, more manageable tasks, using a range of efficient techniques, methods and resources, including ICT;
- Give solutions to an appropriate degree of accuracy
- Interpret, discuss and synthesise information presented in a variety of mathematical forms
- Present a concise, reasoned argument, using symbols, diagrams, graphs and related explanatory texts
- use logical argument to establish the truth of a statement
|The Manglish mat displays the criteria for maths, reading, writing and communication to allow me to plan lessons that appropriate to pupils’ working at levels. Shared, accurate data is essential to assist accurate planning.|
The big whiteboard was again used to try out and tweak ideas as a class, until we collectively agreed that we had a tool which would provide us with the detail we needed. This collaboratively planned survey ended up quite simple yet, pupils were confident that it would deliver the information needed to inform their planning. Their survey will be carried out in their own time and our application of maths will continue as we analyse the results together in class.
Numeracy is often dealt with in second place to literacy. The culture in our country is to accept that you can either do maths or you can’t. Maths teachers are highly likely to be faced with the, “When are we ever going to use that?” question. Look around, maths is in everything! Issues with numeracy are too often accepted, yet numeracy issues can have a huge impact on people’s lives. Changing the culture of isolated secondary subjects to adopt a Manglish approach to planning, will highlight the applicability of maths and change attitudes for a more literate and numerate future.
See the National Numeracy site for more details on the problem with numeracy: http://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/why-is-numeracy-important/index.html