In the lead up to Easter holidays, Lindow Primary School was transformed into Cretaceous Park, land of the dinosaurs. The Cretaceous Period ended 142 million years ago with the most famous mass extinction in history - the one that killed the dinosaurs. Was it a meteor that struck the earth? Volcanic eruptions? Climate change? Expert opinion differs, investigation was needed!
For its "Mantle of the Expert (MoE) week, the Lindow children became palaeontologists, transported to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to try to discover what happened!
All 200 children divide into mixed teams of 4 – 11 year olds visiting 14 different activities during the week, ranging from examining the many and varied types of dinosaur; creating news reports for TV and newspapers on why the dinosaurs became extinct; looking at how the Park could become a tourist location and even creating a volcano! The normal teacher / child relationship is replaced by a shared responsibility for the quality of work with the children empowered by being giving the opportunity to assume responsible roles and make decisions to guide the outcomes.
Now in its fifth year at Lindow, the children look forward to the week with great anticipation. One mum observed that excitement leading up to the week is "akin to Christmas Eve".
Headteacher Darren Morgan said: "The impact MoE has on the school as a whole is amazing. Staff and volunteers put in a fantastic effort to transform the whole school into the 'Land of the Dinosaur' and create activities to support the theme. We are rewarded by the tremendous enthusiasm shown by every child. Older children help the younger ones and learn that even the youngest can contribute ideas to their team."
Mantle of the Expert is a teaching method devised and developed by British educationalist Dorothy Heathcote from Newcastle University. It provides an imaginative, inquiry approach to learning via creation of a fictional world where pupils assume the roles of experts in a designated field. MoE is based on the premise that treating children as responsible experts increases their engagement and confidence. They can perceive a real purpose for learning and discovering together in an interactive and proactive way – providing them with skills and knowledge they can apply to their everyday lives. MoE encourages creativity, improves teamwork, communication skills, critical thought and decision-making.
Guest post by Richard Norris.