Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums
Over one week in June we had 37 secondary teacher trainees visit the Fitzwilliam Museum from the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education to find our more about teaching and learning outside the classroom and how to lead and plan sessions in museums and galleries.
In the first of these groups, 18 Modern Foreign Language (MFL) trainee teachers spent Tuesday morning meeting Education staff and planning sessions based around the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach. CLIL introduces students to new ideas and concepts in traditional curriculum subjects, using the foreign language as the medium of communication. This new way of working has been found to help to increase motivation and focus so that pupils progress at faster-than-usual rates in the content subject.
On Thursday, the students returned to the museum with 40 secondary school pupils from 4 different schools to put their ideas into practice and pilot the CLIL approach. The group was divided into two groups of 20 to work in the Egyptian and Impressionist galleries. There was an excited buzz down in the Egyptian galleries where pupils were encouraged to crack a mystery code by answering questions based on the collections. Upstairs in Gallery 5, a carousel of activities encouraged writing around the Impressionist paintings and introduced new vocabulary around the themes of weather, landscape and mood.
I am surprised how much they’ve produced, how much language they have produced…
It’s been really enjoyable…
If I was going to do a school trip I would definitely bring them here’
feedback from MFL teacher trainees
‘It was really good to actually use French in context rather then in the classroom where it’s just like ‘what’s in my pencil case?’
feedback from secondary pupil
‘Overall they had an excellent day and I felt that the impact on their learning was significant. The combination of well planned, creative activities and an environment where they could see genuine artefacts and original masterpieces was fantastic’
feedback from school teacher
In the same week we also had a visit from 19 Secondary English Teacher Trainees. On Tuesday afternoon they met with our Education Officer who talked to them about the practicalities of organising a school trip and provided examples of teaching English through the collections. Students were shown how objects can provide context, for example, using portraiture, religious paintings, manuscripts and the armoury as a backdrop to Chaucer and the medieval world. They also looked at visual literacy and how to develop interpretative skills through questioning, deduction and close observation. The group finished by exploring how paintings can be used as a stimulus for creative writing and drama.
The following day, the English trainees visited their own choice of museums or galleries either individually or in groups. They then reported back to the rest of the group about these visits the following Monday. Trainees visited a wide range of different settings including, The Scott Polar Research Institute, Wimpole Home Farm, Queens’ College Library, The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Black Country Living Museum. Quite a few of the trainees have jobs in other parts of the country for September and so wanted to do research about museums and galleries where they will be working.
During their feedback session the following week the trainees brainstormed the many ways in which their chosen setting could be used for an English-based visit and then planned a visit. This had to include what they would do in class before the trip, what would happen during the trip, and how they would follow up afterwards. Later that day the trainees visited the Botanic Garden, where they explored the site, devised creative writing activities for each other to do based on particular plants, benches or areas of the garden and shared these activities at the end of the day.
The visit we had made to the Fitzwilliam Museum definitely helped here as you could see it influencing the trainees’ ideas about activities they might do. It also got them thinking about practical things like making contact with the education officer first. Trainees with an interest in drama were particular inspired by the ways in which you’d got them thinking about using pictures as a stimulus for drama work.
feedback from college tutor
“The visits to the Fitzwilliam and the Botanic Garden were exciting and have made me want to organise more trips!”
“The Fitzwilliam Museum visit was great fun and gave me a lot to think about when planning a trip.”
feedback from English teacher trainees
It was an exciting week and we are now making plans to work with both groups again next summer.
Rachel Sinfield and Kate Noble, Fitzwilliam Museum Education Department
With thanks to Anne Marie Watkinson, Linda Fisher, Alison Binney, the teacher trainees and staff and teachers from Newport Free Grammar, The Parkside Federation, Saffron Walden County High School and The Herts and Essex High School.