Another 1st year class came to the LRC for a round of Viking research, and to improve my education in class management.

Make sure the class listen and understand their instructions.

Quick introduction and review of existing knowledge and into the first task: watch the video clip and write down which activities or jobs took place in the Viking settlement of Jarlshof, using evidence from both the images and the voiceover.

Their first three answers:

It’s beside the coast.
They had fresh water.
The archaeologists are digging things up.

So we stopped. I pointed out that they weren’t asked to take notes on everything, just the possible activities in the Viking settlement of Jarlshof, and discussed with them what activities might take place because the village was by the sea. And I also explained what the archaeologists were doing (and when).

The rest of the possible answers pop up, along with a couple that weren’t mentioned – raiders! leader! – and we add in trade too.

OK, let’s try that again, Jen. Make sure the class listen and understand their instructions

Task 2: each person in the group is going to select one activity or job from your list, and find out more about it.

Pupils’ chosen activities:

archaeologist, raider, fisherman, bone comb, farmer, craftsman, writer, woman

Hmm. So we sort out the archaeologists, the raiders (already been vetoed since we’re talking about a peaceful village) and the women (!), and turn the bone comb into another craftworker.

I send the first three tables up to get logged into computers, and share out the books with the others, rescuing a pile of FOUR books from under one arm – one at a time please, let’s share. Everybody settles down to work, including the staff.

OK, now, Jen, are you convinced they all know what they’re doing now?

Well, up at the computers, pupils have found the school website. But now they’re stuck. So I show them where the links are on the page.

Pupil clicks on the first link, looks at the page and turns back to me

But where’s the information?

Because of course, it’s not jumping up and down shouting, “LOOK AT ME!”. Sorry, folks, but you do have to read.

A quick wander round the other webnauts leads me to explain yet again that they should be writing down information about their own activity, not Vikings in general, explain how research works, and persuade them that they can’t write powerpoints before they’ve got information before heading back over to the book jockeys.

Just in time for the usual plaintive cry,

There’s nothing in this book, Miss!
Have you checked the index? The contents page? Flicked through it? OK, so what do you think you should do next?
Change my topic!

I persuade him to check out a different book instead, and demonstrate how to look for the relevant information using indexes, contents pages and send him off with a page or two to peruse before assisting victim 2.

What does this say?
Poppo – says he was a priest.
So, what bit should I copy then?
Sorry, no copying, just write down anything that’s relevant to your Viking activity. What is your activity anyway?
? So why are you writing about a priest?
Oh right, I thought you just had to to write anything down from the book!


Miss, I can’t find anything about farming, it’s all about food!

Miss, I can’t find anything about fishing, but I found out what Viking women wear, so can I just find out about that instead?

Miss, he (points to member of group) won’t do the same as the rest of us, he’s researching games!

And as we expand our minds with lateral thinking, make allowances for personal interests, and reiterate the task outline for the umpteenth time, I ponder with the class teacher why enthusiasm seems to lead to selective deafness and an inability to think outside the box. Maybe I’ll have a cure by the time they’re back on Friday.

And if not, bring back the Vikings!