I’m the RE co-ordinator at my school – in fact, I’ve been an RE coordinator for 6 years now. I’ve always struggled with this as people are very reluctant to teach RE and it seems to be the subject that gets pushed aside when the timetable gets overloaded.Personally, I find it really interesting and one of the subjects that allows you to be really creative – it gives a lot of freedom in what sort of activities and approaches you can take.
This year we are trying a new experiment whereby I am teaching all the RE for the year group whilst someone else teaches my French, a guided reading slot and PE. It’s working really well so far – it means I can reuse my resources to cover 3 lessons of the week, and other teachers don’t have to work hard learning subject knowledge in depth. After co-ordinating the subject for so long I feel pretty well equipped to handle most questions that come my way!
I was really pleased the other day when a boy from one of the other classes I take said that RE is his favourite subject! I thought I would share a few of the ideas that I have used this year that seem to have worked well.
1) Islam – Worship, Pilgrimage and Sacred Places
We studied the Hajj. I found this great blog: http://theawesomejourney.wordpress.com/ which has collected together all sorts of photos about the Hajj in one place – really fascinating. I also read them stories, we found information on the BBC website, and did a quiz online.
2) Christianity – Worship, Pilgrimage and Sacred Places
We are currently studying the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This is a great topic to study – the children are really enjoying it. We looked at it on Google Maps as if we had just stepped off the underground and turned round to see it, then looked at it in lots of detail using Google Images. We looked at the Magic Square on the Passion Facade and tried to find as many ways as possible to make 33 (this is the Magic Number because Jesus was 33 when he died). Next I told them the story of the Passion and they matched some images from the facade to captions I had made and put them in the right order. Today we have been designing new towers for the Evangelists as they have not been made yet! We based it on the style of Gaudi after looking at closeups of the Eucharist towers and the lizard in Parc Guell.
This is a fascinating topic to me, as Gaudi began the construction knowing he would never see it completed (he said “My client is not in a hurry.”) It will be complete when my class are about 26 and they all said they would like to go and see it when it’s finished. It’s an amazing building and so full of symbolism all over. A great way of learning about Christianity, which is notoriously the least well taught religion in UK schools, so it is nice to explore it with children in a way that is engaging and accessible to them.
3) Islam – Teachings and Authority
We had a good balance in this unit of learning from and learning about religion. We thought about sources of authority, designed covers for their own special books, thought about where they would go for advice, and watched the “Pathways of Belief” DVD to learn a lot more about how Muslim children live and what they believe. It was a great resource. It was also really helpful having a prayer mat, Qur’an, Qur’an stand and Qiblah compass to show the children as these really brought it all to life. At the end, I got the children to write, perform and record a “Newsround” style broadcast all about the importance of the Qur’an to Muslims. They loved this! It was a great way to showcase their learning and I am sure they explained a lot more than they would have done if I had set this as a written task alone.
This is what I have done so far this year. I am really enjoying it and looking forward to planning the next 3 topics!