A sharing best practice post by Jodie Johnson (Mathematics)
This activity sharpens up pupils’ ability to precisely follow a particular process to complete a specific task. These examples come from Maths but they could apply equally well to any process in any subject. For instance, ‘constructing a perpendicular bisector on a line’, ‘bisecting an angle’, ‘drawing an equilateral triangle’ etc., etc.
Step 1: Pupils A and B sit back to back with Pupil A facing the teacher/board with an incomplete worksheet (see above)
Step 2: The teacher silently demonstrates the process to complete a task on the board. Pupil A copies the teacher’s demonstration onto their worksheet.
Step 3: Without changing position Pupil A now explains to Pupil B how to complete the process on their worksheet by giving clear verbal instructions (they are not allowed to look at what Pupil B is doing)
Step 4: Pupil A and B look at the results and discuss the instructions given (were they specific?, were they clear?, how could they be more precise? how could they be improved), in order to refine and perfect them.
Step 5: (Here is where the ‘awkward mole’ comes in!) You now invite a ‘random’ pupil to come up to the front and follow the instructions they are given by another member of the class to demonstrate how to complete the process in front of the class. Unknown to the rest of the class you have primed the ‘random pupil’ to be your ‘awkward mole’ and instructed them to be as awkward as possible when following the other pupil’s instructions – to take instructions literally, to deliberately ‘misunderstand’ ambiguous instructions and so on. The onus is then on the pupil giving the instructions to refine their thinking and instructions until they succeed in getting the mole to ‘get it right’!
In one case a pupil instructed the mole to ‘draw an arc’, so that’s what he did with Noah and the animals too!
You can prime more than one pupil to be your mole in the lesson and don’t forget to reverse the roles for pupils A and B so they both get a turn.