Summary pyramids

A fantastic and easy to implement activity, summary pyramids helps students to summarise their learning and reduce their notes to the key salient points. Initially, I came across this idea from a slide promoted by @cyahistory, which can be seen below. However, after a little research the original idea is from Carmel Bones (@bones_carmel) who shared this idea at the SHP conference in the summer of 2016. Carmel deserves every credit for this superb idea, which has had a very positive impact upon my students.

The activity focuses around a pyramid with four or five layers of empty squares. Each layer has a question and students have to complete each layer by writing a single word in each block or rectangle in the layer that relates to the question. Students have to start at the top and work their way down with each question or task becoming increasingly demanding. In writing the questions it is helpful to use the Blooms taxonomy to make the tasks gradually more demanding and, therefore, building in an element of differentiation and stretch and challenge to the activity.

Below are examples of the worksheets and completed activities which show how students can complete the activity. Links to blank worksheets which can be adapted for any subject can be found at the bottom of the post.

The activity can be used in a number fo ways –

  • A plenary activity summarising the learning of the lesson.
  • A homework task which can check learning.
  • A revision task to open a revision sesssion to check knowledge and stimulate an initial discussion.
  • An essay planning task where each layer either represents a paragraph or separate sections of a paragraph, such as opening signposting sentence.

Alternatively, rather than giving students to a blank summary pyramids to complete such as the one in the photograph, students could be given a complete pyramid and they have to create the questions which relate to the words in each layer, therefore, reversing the activity and encouraging the students to discover links and formaulate their own questions  using the Blooms taxonomy framework.

A superb activity which can be used for any subject and huge thanks to Carmel for sharing this idea.



One thought on “Summary pyramids

  1. Pingback: Summarising Pyramids! – Love To Teach

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