It’s hard to believe it but this January marks the 1st anniversary of our form time Debate resources going “Beyond”. This time last year we gave them a facelift beginning with the “Meat Debate” (as it’s known in the office – mostly due to the huge chunk of raw beef featured on the image preview!) and we’ve not looked back from there, producing 32 Debate Packs as well as updating several old-style Twinkl Debates to provide teachers with form time ideas.
We wanted to celebrate the anniversary by offering some hints and tips around how to get the best out of the Debate Packs, and specifically to suggest how they can offer a solution to the age-old issue of generating form time ideas for the put-upon form tutor!
- Form time activities
- Important social skills
- Speaking and listening opportunities
- PSHE and citizenship discussions
Form Time Ideas
The original idea behind our Debate packs was that they would be used as a form time activity, and that they would represent something valuable and worthwhile to do during the 15 or so minutes at the beginning of the day, whilst saving additional planning time for the form tutor. Well… we still think this is the perfect scenario for Beyond Debate. You could organise the conversations as a one-off big discussion or as a week-long research and reflection activity:
Free tutor time ideas
As a tutor you may be expected to conduct various tasks with your form over the course of the week and in which case you may only want or need to find something to occupy them for one or two sessions.That’s easy! Simply whack the free question that appears on the Beyond homepage onto your whiteboard (make it nice and big with the full-screen option), freeze the screen, tell your form to discuss in pairs or groups whilst you take the register, and then hold a whole-class conversation to gather in peoples’ ideas in the last 5 minutes before the bell goes. If the question generates a lot of thoughts then you could keep on returning to it in subsequent mornings. During January and February 2019 we conducted some of the debates between staff in the Beyond office and these are also available for free on YouTube. They could be used during an initial session as a way of generating ideas.
Tutor time activities using Beyond secondary resources
All of the Debate Packs we produce now belong to our subscription service but when we first made the switch to Beyond we created eight Debate Packs that are still completely free, so if you’ve not yet signed up for a premium account you could get started with these. Before you present the information to the class have a look at the Teacher Guidance notes and decide which of the seven activities you think they will respond to the best. The Debate PowerPoint offers the debate question on page 1 and some context as to why the question is being asked on page 2. The subsequent slides focus on the various different activities. Talk through slides 1 and 2 and then, based on the activity you have chosen, put up one of the other slides if relevant.
Never-ending form time ideas
Our aim is to provide you with enough form time ideas in one of our Debate Packs to keep your tutor group occupied for a whole week of tutor times. As above, have a scan through which activities you think are most suitable with your form group and run a number of these over the course of the week. It is quite feasible that you could get different pairs or groups working on different activities, not everyone has to do the same thing. If your school allows phones to be used during form times then you could offer usage of these as a means for students to research the topics more thoroughly. You could plan for the research and tasks to build towards the Friday tutor time session and culminate in a wider whole-class conversation to round the week off.
Social Skills and Speaking and Listening Topics
Education should be holistic and teachers should be attempting to support young people across a range of needs and skills, not just curriculum-based requirements. Developing social skills is a valuable service that we can offer in classrooms and form times, and Beyond Debate is perfect for encouraging pupils to have an opinion on important issues and to find ways of expressing these opinions.
Of course Beyond Debate does meet a curriculum requirement as well, since the English GCSE features an ungraded element pertaining to speaking and listening skills. Beyond Debate provides opportunities for English teachers to assess their pupils’ abilities in expressing themselves verbally and responding to peers, both in small group situations as well as part of a presentation or whole-class discussion. This is why, as well as providing a specific category on the website for all of our Debate Packs, all of these resources can also be found within the English product in a Group Discussions category.
PSHE and Citizenship
The DfE says that “all schools should make provision for PSHE”. Here at Beyond we are focusing on the core subjects, but built into that is the responsibility to enable schools to offer some sort of PSHE provision. Different schools and academies approach this in different ways: some institutions build it into their main curriculum timetables, whilst others attempt to address PSHE through time spent in form periods, sometimes these are extended to longer tutor sessions to better address the subject.
Beyond Debate is our solution to this requirement. Our packs focus on social, economic and health-related issues that encourage students to develop as members of society with a balanced perspective of themselves and of those they share the world with.
Furthermore, whilst our Debate Packs aren’t written with the Citizenship curriculum in mind the discussions around what it means to be a member of society do play towards the wider themes and concepts within the subject area, and the debates offer them means of representing their own views, as well as understanding the views of others.
Still stuck for form time ideas? Click the preview below for our Amazon Fires debate and never squander tutor time again!