This idea was adapted from Mike Gershon’s new book, More Secondary Starters and Plenaries – which I can highly recommend.
The activity involves giving students four conflicting statements based on a topic being studied. So, for example, changing Nazi tactics in the 1920s four statements could be –
The change in tactics was successful for the Nazis.
The change in tactics was unsuccessful for the Nazis.
By 1929, the Nazis were still an insignificant party.
Mein Kampf was very important in helping the Nazis change tactics.
Students would then have to gather evidence either based on prior learning [if used as a starter] or from that lesson [if you were to use this as a plenary]. This can be extended to students having to write a paragraph or two if this was to be used as an extended activity. Then would tick the statement that they find the most convincing and explain why they have chosen the particular statement. Alternatively, students can share their ideas and evidence with their neighbours and can be given time to write additions or amendments to their own work after listening to others.
This, I think, is a very effective activity and can encourage students to apply their knowledge to show their progress rather than repeat what has been learned from a text book or other such teaching resource. Also it can display higher order thinking skills, such as synthesis and analysis. Even better, this takes little preparation on the teacher’s part. The resource below which I give to students for this activity takes very little time to prepare and can easily signpost student progress.