Encouraging students to lie in your lesson – an activity

Originally saw this idea as part of the University of the First Age’s Student Leadership Programme as well as their superb publication, BITES, and then saw it developed for a broader classroom activity in Jim Smith’s latest book, Follow Me, I Am Right Behind You, ‘Two Truths and a Lie’ or ‘Would I lie to you?’ is a classic icebreaker that can be used as a class activity – particularly as a starter – to examine new text or review previously taught material.

 The first step is to give students a text to read and ask them to write three statements that sumarise the content of the text. However, two must be factually correct and one must be a lie. Once they have read the information and studied it for a short period [3 or 4 minutes] then made their statements, you then reveal the next stage of the task.

The second stage of the task is to allow the students to share their three statements with as many people in the room as possible. Once the student has shared their statements with someone else, the other student must identify the lie from the three statements. If they identify the lie, the students can move on to share with someone else, if they fail to identify the lie, the student who was sharing the statements signs the other student’s exercise book. The objective, therefore, of the task is for students to avoid getting signatures. This is also a good way to check that each individual student has understood the content of the lesson as the fewer the signatures the more lies that student has identified and the more secure the knowledge is. 

The debrief, and final, stage of the task is to check how many signatures students have gained – the fewer the better. Another part of the debrief which creates interest is to explore what lies the students have made up based on the text. Some are really imaginative and show that they have thought carefully about the material.

This task covers many features of an outstanding lesson according to the OFSTED criteria –

– The activity promotes active learning and helps you achieve the 80:20 ratio with students doing most of the work and you taking a step back.

– The activity covers literacy as the task demands students to tackle a text, reshape it, summarise the key points and to learn the text.

Feedback is provided by both you and the students during the activity. The level of signatures is evidence of feedback and development.

– Students are set expectations by having the objective of reshaping information and aiming not to gain any signatures, which provides stretch and challenge.

– Behaviour for Learning is encouraged as the activity promotes collaboration and co-operation.

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