Review: Signposts

If you work in an Educate Together school, one of the biggest challenges is collating resources to teach the Learn Together programme. While in some ways, it’s great that there isn’t the “ball and chain” of a textbook for this subject and each school has the potential to create a unique programme for their school, often we rely on resources from the UK and elsewhere. Although Ireland is no longer a mono-cultural society, it is difficult to source child-friendly materials on diversity.

Step forward three Irish primary school teachers – Anita Dermody, Fionnuala Ward and Elisha Kelly who have come up with Signposts – a set of lessons for Junior Infants to Second Class, which aim to teach about diversity.

In all the authors have written 38 lessons on topics ranging from Friendship to Biodiversity.  Each lesson can be sub divided into 5 separate classes and according tot he authors can be used in many different subjects including SPHE, English and SESE,  The authors have divided the lessons up into 4 themes, which correlate with the 4 strands of the Learn Together curriculum.

For a book that is self-published, I was surprised by how professional it looked.  Each one of its 214 pages is well bound and can easily be photocopied if needs be.  All necessary worksheets are provided and are also very professional.

I must admit I was blown away by the quality of the lessons.  They are incredibly well laid out.  Each lesson has a number of Objectives (or Learning Outcomes) and all resources needed are listed.  The most brilliant thing of all is that the lessons do all the planning for you.  Each page or each lesson is pure pedagogy – there’s no filler activities or any nonsense you find with many textbooks.  The lessons, themselves, are pitched perfectly for 1st and 2nd classes and can be adapted to Infants without too much effort.

To give an example of one of the 38 lessons in the book, the Christmas lesson is probably the best one to showcase as it is familiar to almost everyone.  This lesson highlights the inclusive way Educate Together schools teach festivals.  The lesson starts off with the story of Christmas, the first lines being:

“This story belongs to the Christian religion.  Christian people believe that a very long time ago, God decided to send his own son into the world to help people everywhere.”

There are a number of questions at the end of the story.  Throughout the lesson, themes such as journeys and clothing are explored as well as comparing Christmas in other countries.  A drama is also suggested…and it’s not a nativity play!

Signposts: Lessons for Living is a wonderful resource and is worthy of our “Top of the Class” award.  While it is most appropriate for Educate Together schools, almost all the lessons would comfortably sit in other subjects in the curriculum.  The book costs €40 (+ €3.50 postage and packing), which is reasonable value considering it is photocopiable and independently published.  You can find out more information on http://www.signposts.ie  where it is available for purchase.

Last Update: August 22, 2017  

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