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Gaelscoil Sheoirse pupils give Sherry and Ronan a serious grilling

May 2, 2014

Munster stars Mike Sherry and Niall Ronan, along with Munster development officer Ken O’Connell, recently visited some very excited fifth and sixth-class of students in Gaelscoil Sheoirse Clancy, Southill, Limerick.

The players were in the school to be interviewed by a group of students studying physical health.

The students and their teacher, John Copely, are taking part in a Negotiated Integrated Curriculum (NIC) initiative run by a team from the University of Limerick in collaboration with the Limerick Diocesan office and the NCCA.

NIC involves teachers and students rewriting the curriculum collaboratively in response to their concerns through classroom practice. Put simply, NIC involves the students having a say in what they wish to learn about and how they will learn in a curriculum initially devised from their life concerns, all the while adhering to syllabus standards.

The students chose to learn about physical, emotional and mental health. Students came up with questions they had about health and then decided on learning activities to pursue in order to find out the information they needed to answer these questions.

After conducting internet, newspaper, magazine and book research, the students suggested interviewing professionals in the field of health – and what better experts to answer questions on the subject than two Munster rugby players?

The students spent a lot of time coming up with and refining 12 interview questions around the topic of physical health, and Niall and Mike answered each one expertly, offering excellent advice to the students about eating habits and the importance of exercise to maintain good physical health.

Niall and Mike put so much thought into each answer they gave and took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with the class afterwards.

The students had a fantastic day and, as part of the NIC process, students keep a journal in which they write about their experiences to date with this curriculum approach.

Students wrote in their journals: “I had so much fun today, in fact, this has been the best day of the year.”

“Today I interviewed a Munster rugby player, I was nervous at first but then when I saw them come in I was bubbling with excitement.”

“We practised so much and I hope we all did our interviewing jobs properly to impress the rugby players.”

“We got to meet Munster rugby players today and get pictures and autographs, nothing could make this day any better.”

Different groups of students went on to interview a psychologist, a university lecturer, a secondary school SPHE teacher and a beautician about topics such as depression, emotional health and adolescence.

NIC provides the opportunity for greater pupil engagement with their teachers and each other. This work has taken a collaborative approach with students and as a result has developed deeper learning, problem solving and critical thinking skills in the participating students.

The cooperative learning methodologies developed in this work have also made explicit the teaching of social and communication skills, thus increasing student’s self-esteem.

Munster Rugby would like to thank Gaelscoil Sheoirse Clancy for a great day and wish them well with their research.