The Frankenstein Rich Task
A little birdie told us that one of the English teachers class, Mrs. Shioban O’Malley’s, were working on and reading the book “Frankenstein”. Some of us in the group had already read the book out of interest and knew how well it allows you to reflect upon identity and we instantly thought that it was a perfect opportunity to develop a rich task around.
Happy as a clam we made a rough copy of what we had in mind and skipped over to Mrs. O’Malley’s office to share our ideas. She liked our idea and gave us two lessons with the class the following week, so we went back to our office and started to develop the rich task.
The main idea with this rich task was for them to create their own “Frankenstein’s monster”, based on themselves, and written below is the process there.

Developing the rich task we had several things in mind based on the previous Research.
First of all we thought of how we could make the lessons interesting, fun and still educational for everyone. According to our Research the main problem with the way the students are thought, are the teachers. The students listed things like: lack of interaction - too much talking, not enough discipline - too much discipline, too much work - teachers don’t care amongst other. From that we can see that their views are very contrary each other’s and it seems like the students often have problems to see beyond the lecturer / facilitator. How can we, as uneducated teachers, change that in this lesson?
We also asked the students what their favorite way to learn was, and the majority of the students answered: Independently, with access to resources and Group work with discussion. After that the percentage divides by half and Teacher led activity and Teacher led lecture comes and if the percentage is divided again from that, Pupil led learning comes.
From that we can see that everyone prefers different kinds of learning and lessons, but that there’s still majorities. Knowing that, how can you make a lesson that is interesting, fun and still educational for everyone?
Another thing we saw in the Research was the importance of what the subjects and the skills being focused on to be relevant for the future; but that they still wanted say in how they would learn it. The students also think that the school overall have an unbalanced view on the importance of skills. That it feels like the school values academic skills over e.g. social, life and work-related skills; skills that the students think are much more important for the future.
Students also think that homework, in many cases, doesn’t have any relevancy, that they are given too much of it and the students also complain about not having any say about it.
Those are the key things we had in mind developing these two lessons.

The first lesson we had created a couple of identity questions, imbedded in the book of Frankenstein, which was handed out to everyone in the class and used to start and fuel a Group/class discussion with the purpose of making their minds and thoughts spin around their identity and identity overall. The students seemed very interested, focused, inspiring and respectful with their own and others ideas and views. The open discussion carried on for almost half of the lesson and they came to a several good points.
The focus in the second half of the lesson was still about identity but instead of having a Group/class discussion they got to explore their identities in whatever way they wanted: individually, discussing with a friend/teacher/group, magazines, IT. During that time they also had to make a frame or think of a frame on how Frankenstein’s “creature” would look like if they got to create it themselves, based on themselves, and what materials they wanted to use. They also had to think about explanations for why they used the stuff the used. We also told them that they could, if they wanted to, start to work on their “creature” at home while their ideas are fresh and take it to school the next lesson and continue working on it there and surprisingly many students worked on it at home, in other words: did their homework from free will.

The second lesson’s main focus was for the students to create their own “creature”. One student used a turf hockey stick as an arm, another used pencils as fingers and a third used a hamburger as a head. Those are just some of the creative and inspiring ideas that students had come up with during the other lesson.
Our goals with designing these lessons was to allow a lot of creativity and own thinking, let them develop their social skills by discussing and also to explore themselves and their identity and then reflect upon that; whilst at the same time having fun and feeling like they’re doing something important and relevant for their future.
The evaluation from the students showed to be very positive. 41% of the students rated the lessons 10/10, 9% rated them 9/10, 23% rated them 8/10, 18% rated them 7/10 and only 6% rated them 5/10 and 6/10.
We also asked for comments and the things that frequently came up were: “Was fun”, “best thing we’ve done this far”, “enjoyable” and “got to express myself” but “we wanted more time”.

The video below shows the planning of this rich task and its execution in the classroom:

Shirley Boys High School - Frankenstein Rich Task from Greg McCarron on Vimeo.