Make your own crossword – a quick and easy plenary

This activity was inspired by the activities from the University of the First Age’s One Hundred BITES, which is a magnificent publication brimming with superb ideas which can enhance any classroom.

This plenary involves asking students to first pick a number. I do this by asking a student to throw a 12 sided dice – adds a bit of randomness and participation. With this number, students have to list that number of words down that sum up the content of the lesson. With these words, students have to create a crossword pattern in their books ensuring that all the words fit together.

The activity helps students to sum up the lesson in an attractive way as well as help check spellings of key words. If there s time, I ask students to present their ‘crosswords’ to their learning partner and see who has made the most links between the words.


A touch of Scrabble – a fantastic plenary

This plenary was inspired by @ASTSupportAAli’s toolkit of teaching ideas – – which is full of great ideas and really worth a visit. Take this link to what inspired the activity –  …  One of these ideas is using the principles of Scrabble to promote and compare key words that help summarise students’ learning. This activity asks students to come up with key words from the lesson and then use the letter points system in Scrabble to work out how much each word is worth promoting discussion and comparison with an edge of competition included if you can see who has got the word with the highest points score.

Plenary – a touch of Scrabble

Learning Grids presentation at Beaumont TeachMeet

I had the pleasure to attend Beaumont School’s TeachMeet on 8th November and made a short presentation on the wonders on Learning Grids. Big thanks to all the organisers of such a fantastic event – the first in a Hertfordshire state school, i believe. Here is a copy of the presentation. Feel free to steal.

Learning grids – linking to learn – Beaumont TeachMeet

Caption competition – a useful starter or plenary activity

When teaching source skills in History, it can be a challenge to get students to go beyond the surface features of the meaning of the source, So often, students ignore the caption of a cartoon or fail to dig deeply when looking at a slogan of a propaganda poster, therefore missing vital information for analysis. This quick exercise aims to promote students awareness of captions and slogans by erasing them from a source and asking students to either predict when the correct slogan or caption is or [even better in my view] come up with their own. In doing this, this promotes discussion of the meaning of slogans and captions, thereby raising student awareness of this vital source of information as well as introducing a little bit of creativity and fun into the mix.

The resource below is a selection of visual sources on the topic of the Rise of Hitler with blanked out captions and slogans. I am going to use this in September as an activity to revisit sources that we have studied before the summer holidays.

Caption Competition – Nazi topic

Fill my brain – a great plenary strategy

Fill my brain was something I saw and expanded upon from the @CaldiesMusic Plenary Learning Grid resource which can be found through this link – This easy to implement strategy requires students to draw an outline of their brain. Once this is done ask students to fill their brain with as much as they have learned in the lesson. They can do this through writing key words, bullet points, drawings anything they like. This then gives their brain a word cloud like image. Once this is done they have to highlight the most important thing in their brain what has happened this lesson.

An extremely quick and easy way to highlight progress but also allowing students to summarise their learning in an engaging and accessible way. The PowerPoint slide below outlines the activity to students and the photographs show some of the outcomes which were used this week.

Plenary – My Brain



Plenary Learning Grids – adding student choice to the end of your lessons

One of my most popular posts on this blog is Learning Grids – A Question of Sport in your Lesson, which can be found through this link – It is without doubt one of my favourite teaching activities and I love making them as well as getting my students to make their own as part of a revision process.

Today, I saw a new application of this wonderfully flexible resource on Twitter through Calderstones Music [@CaldiesMusic] – who are well worth following as are their sister Twitter account @CaldiesTandL. They used the activity by putting different plenaries in each square and for students to throw the dice twice to get a co-ordinate to reach a square and complete its plenary activity. Their example can be found below.

Choose your own plenary learning grid – KS3

I thought this was a brilliant twist to a favourite strategy, so I decided to make my own for a Key Stage 3 class which I used this afternoon. It worked like a dream. My effort can be found below and can be used and amended. Just one note on Calderstones Music version – I LOVED the draw your own brain and fill it with what you have learned this lesson activity. Fantastic stuff!

Choose your own plenary learning grid – KS3

Prove it! – an effective lesson starter or plenary

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.

Nazi changing tactics statements