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How you might use a ‘What’s My Line’ style approach to engage your children and help them to see more clearly the connection between what they are learning in the classroom and the world of work

In our experience the key to the success and the impact of WML on the children is ensuring all those involved are fully briefed about their roles. This includes the person/s presenting the session, the volunteers and the children. The suggestions and ideas below may well help your planning.

How might WML look in your school?
1. 4-6 volunteers enter the hall holding their number prominently to be seated at the front. Remember to make 4-6 large numbers in advance!
2. The headteacher or staff member/s leading the session welcome the volunteers who are introduced by number only. The presenter then outlines the rules of the challenge, which the children should already know. Volunteers can only answer yes or no but ‘could do, I’m not sure’ might also be answers depending on the question! Why not invite governors and the local media to this session? Great PR for the school and a way of engaging the local community.
3. Children need to pre prepare possible questions. Ideally discuss in class beforehand and maybe even have a trial run. Getting children well briefed and fired up makes for a more exciting session which they also get more from. You need to think about questioning ……. will it be one age group, one class or questioning open to all? They cannot ask ‘are you are a doctor’ or similar! See below for a selection of questions children have asked at previous events.
4. Clearly the length of time for WML is open to you to determine but 20 minutes works well with 10 minutes being for questions. Either fire a number of questions at each volunteer one at a time or make it random. The latter is easier to manage in terms of tight time. If the latter children must state which number volunteer they are aiming the question at. Having two staff leading this can be very effective.
5. After about 10 minutes thank the children for their questions and then the volunteers leave the front to prepare themselves to reappear in either their uniform or with props which might identify their job. Then take a number of guesses from the children as to what each job might be? Get the job title recorded visually on either a flip chart or projector screen. Again time dictates ……. maybe 2/3 guesses per volunteer?
6. The presenter then reintroduces the volunteers one by one telling them what the children thought they did! Volunteers need to ensure that when they return they identify their job, talk briefly about it and the impact that literacy and numeracy at primary school had on their career and how important they are now. Maybe a practical example or two? If the volunteers are to be part of the Primary Futures activity later in the session it may not be necessary for them to talk about their personal experiences at this stage.
7. Once the volunteers have all returned and identified their jobs they are thanked etc then they depart as do the children and the next stage of the Primary Futures activity continues
What about bringing in an element of competition for the children?
This could be tried as an alternative to the children making a number of guesses, as in 5 above, with the children in small groups sorted beforehand by the school. Groups could invent their own team name beforehand. The organisational challenge after the questioning session is how the school would manage the children’s group discussion. Maybe they could leave the hall and do it in class or maybe just stay in the hall whilst the volunteers have coffee or similar for say 10 minutes or so. Children could either be left with no clue as to what the jobs are other than what they have learned from the question and answer sessions and they have to come to a consensus or maybe a sheet is prepared giving 5/6 options for each volunteer in the line-up for the children to select from by ticking the one they agree. Before the volunteers return to the hall the sheets are collected and marked as soon as possible! Then return to 6 above. Are there going to be prizes awarded for the team with the most points?

Lots to think about!!

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