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Brian Blessed. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Adapted. Click on photo to see original.

Today in the Library pupils discovered:

  1. how to fend off attacks from polar bears;
  2. the true meaning of Christmas;
  3. that people are ‘meat’;
  4. Brian Blessed

Challenge X continues to adapt, mainly following on from pupils’ ideas and suggestions. Most recently it seemed that pupils weren’t looking beyond the first suggestion available to them so we’ve created a page to collate all of the websites we’re suggesting.

Today I introduced a class to this new page and particularly to TED talks, one of which caught their eye: the invention of a shark-deterrent wetsuit by Hamish Jolly.

That caused an inundation of shark defence suggestions during which I suggested punching  the shark on the nose (I know I read it somewhere). My puny efforts were mocked – how on Earth could you punch a shark? – when I remembered that Brian Blessed had punched a polar bear in his tent. So I told them that too.

Isn’t it lovely to hear children’s laughter? Hmm, time to get some work done methinks, so pupils are asked to check their log sheets, complete their last task and select another. Remember the purpose of this period was to expand their ideas? Congratulations, Jen, you’ve now got half the class researching sharks and most of the rest researching polar bears.

There are still one or two individuals. One girl called Natalie is looking for a short reading connected to her name. After drawing a blank on connected author (Natalie Babbit – Tuck Everlasting – is missing), I suggest a Christmas connection (since Natalie comes from Latin natale domini. She selects a book, reads for a while, then comes over,

Miss, did you know Christmas is Christ’s Mass? I can’t believe I didn’t see that before! Wow! That’s amazing!

See, finding things out for yourself is still one of the best feelings in the world 🙂

Meanwhile the shark hunters are getting on swimmingly (sorry) and want to know about sharks around the coast of the UK. So we look up basking sharks, and discover their size, their feeding habits and where they hang out. Pupils were keen to share locations they’ve swum on holiday,  including the Black Sea, California and Greece. Are there sharks? Are they going to die? Will sharks attack beaches?

As head know-it-all, I am naturally assumed to have this information at my fingertips (!) but even though the point is to get them researching, I do suggest that while it’s rare, I have seen footage of sharks close to beaches and that maybe if a shark was hungry enough, it might not be able to resist a meal just waiting on the shore.

At this, one pupil drops her book, turns pale and asks in horror,

Miss, are we MEAT?

Now you don’t want to get into a conversation about cannibalism, but to be honest there aren’t many answers to that question.

At this point, the other wildlife squad appear to check ‘the name of that guy that attacked a polar bear’. They don’t believe me – how would he get a polar bear in his tent? – and want to confirm it for themselves, which is fabulous. So we find a biography of Brian Blessed, and I draw their attention to some of his adventures and they’re hooked. As they leave the Library, I can hear them quoting him.

Discoveries of all sorts, information checking and a new hero. One hour in the Library. Mission accomplished 🙂