4.0 How does the Project function? - 'Nuts and bolts'

Key points
Careful planning in conjunction with the class teacher prior to each lesson and using an agreed format helps to ensure the smooth running of school-based sessions.
An emphasis on the use of artefacts, replicas and models as primary stimuli immediately engages pupils' attention and creates a sense of excited expectancy.
Embedding the museum visit into the teaching programme moves the Museum from the periphery of the learning experience to a central point of reference for teacher, pupils and Museum staff.
An indication of the success of the Project and evidence of the lifelong skills that we hope the children have acquired is their ability to use museum resources for their own independent learning.
The use of e-mail and attachments to communicate with pupils gives them access to a wider range of resources in a format that they are able to use: texts that are relevant to the local situation; images of artefacts that can be enlarged on screen for greater detail or added to their research on a particular topic.
Although we had many ideas for the use of ICT we were frequently frustrated by the technology available to schools. In any further projects that feature ICT as a major component, the equipment available in schools will need to be carefully researched so that support for all partners is secured and compatibility of programmes checked.

The original Reticulum Project ran from September 2000 to April 2001. During this time eight schools worked with the Project staff. Due to a small surplus created by the sponsorship of transport costs by a local bus company, ARRIVA, we were able to extend the Project until July 2001 which enabled one more school to be involved, giving the opportunity to every school that had expressed an interest.

4.1 Work in schools

Schools were involved in the Project at different points in the academic year, reflecting their respective time-table commitments. Due to the funding arrangements the majority joined the Project during the Autumn and Spring Terms.

In the term prior to a school joining the Project a meeting took place between the teaching staff involved and the Education Officer. This ensured that the Project became embedded in the planning process and in the majority of cases laid the foundation of a productive working partnership between the school and the Museum. The degree of involvement with individual schools varied and was largely determined by the school. In some instances, where schools were not studying the Romans, teachers opted to receive materials and take part in an object handling session. During this lesson pupils were taught more general research skills that have a variety of applications. Other schools adopted the approach created by the Medium Term planning, incorporating two visits to the Museum and receiving regular input from the Education Officer.

The Education Officer worked alongside teachers in both the Museum and the classroom, providing pupils with opportunities to handle artefacts and develop thinking skills. Prior to each lesson the teacher received a lesson plan which gave an outline of the topics to be covered, the activities involved and resources needed. This was an important means of communication between the member of staff and the Education Officer, designed to ensure the smooth running of the lesson.

Lessons in school were tailored to the needs of each class and covered a variety of topics, including:

Making pots in class
Figure 6: Children from South Beach First School, Blyth, make clay face pots

Roman foodstuffs Feasting!
Figure 7: A selection of Roman foods - olive oil, green and black olives, 'liquamen', mint, rosemary, sage and thyme
Figure 8: Enjoying the Roman banquet at Warkworth Church of England First School

Although the content of the lessons varied they all had an emphasis on the use of artefacts, replicas and models as primary stimuli. These had the effect of immediately engaging the pupils' attention and created a sense of excited expectancy that fed into subsequent visits by the Education Officer.

"The Project was very well received by the children. They seem to remember everything they experienced and handled. The very nature of the "hands-on" idea behind visits to the Museum and school-based sessions has had the effect of a long-lasting interest in Roman history and finding out about the past in general."
Warkworth Church of England First School


Last updated: Tue Aug 20 2002

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