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Delivering a Bloom course during lockdown

Katie Harney, Head of English, Northbridge House Senior School

What did you enjoy about teaching the Bloom English Non-Fiction Course?

I really enjoyed using the Harmony Principles as ways to explore texts; the students engaged well with them. There were a range of texts covering interesting topics and it allowed students to see a connection between subjects as well as their own lives outside of school.

How did you cope with the lockdown situation?

We adapted and extended the course as we were teaching it during lockdown so the harmony principles were a good way to ground their learning. We extended the scope of the texts to move away just from non-fiction so although we used all the non-fiction texts from the course, we also found fiction texts (extracts, poems, etc) to explore the harmony principles across different types of text. This was an enjoyable way for us to teach the course and we are likely to incorporate this blend of fiction/non-fiction again next time.

What writing skills did the course allow for?

We also wove in more opportunities throughout for creative writing and also persuasive writing so students had some opportunity to practise that style of writing and get some feedback on it before they wrote their final manifesto.

How relevant do you think the harmony principles are to your students?

I think that they engaged well with the harmony principles and they were a good way for students to not only reflect on the texts they studied but also on their own lives and experiences.

How well did the harmony principles relate to current affairs?

We were also able to respond to what was going on in the world – for example, using the harmony principle of Adaptation to consider how they were adapting and the world was adapting to the pandemic and the lockdown. Also, with the Black Lives Matter movement and protests, we were able to look at these and discuss our thoughts and feelings through the lens of principles like Diversity, Oneness and Interdependence.

How did the course enable your students to progress?

The course enabled students to build up their confidence in exploring lots of different types of texts. They developed their skills in expressing their own ideas, thoughts and feelings in a clear and convincing way using evidence to support their arguments. It also allowed them to be creative – we had them create Bloom journals to complete their personal practices.

Was the course accessible to students across a wide range of ability?

Yes it suited a range of abilities – supporting some of the lower ability students was perhaps more challenging during online learning just because technical difficulties and the inability to be in the same room as them created a barrier. However, even these students were able to complete some of the work each lesson and all of the key assessed pieces. The pace at which students work was really shown to be skewed in online learning so we made sure we had extra extension work ready to challenge the most able. Producing videos that students could access after the live call meant that they could go at their own pace to rewind and re-listen to instructions etc.

Would you be interested in finding out about the Bloom KS3 courses on poetry and the novel?

Yes – given the way we decided to teach the course with more fiction woven in throughout it would be interesting to see how you are approaching this and whether we could take inspiration for next year.

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