There are many things to enjoy and take from The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook by Jim Smith, one idea that almost slips by is the ‘who would win in a fight?’ plenary. As with all Jim Smith’s ideas this is a devastatingly simple idea to implement with little preparation. The idea is to ask students who would win in a fight between two aspects within your lesson, so inspired by Celebrity Death Match it could be a fight between two people, such as Neville Chamberlain vs Adolf Hitler in a lesson on appeasement, or it could be a fight between two types of weapons, such as the machine gun vs. artillery, or further still two factors that can help answer a question, such as Mass Production vs Hire Purchase in a lesson on USA prosperity during the 1920s.
This unusual, but attractive, questioning encourages students to compare and make a judgement upon two aspects within your lesson. The key is to get the students to justify their conclusions and say why they would think mass production would beat hire purchase in a fight.
To add a little visual stimulus, I usually put the questions on a slide to present to students near the end of a lesson. Thus giving weaker students a visual stimulus. I include a couple of examples of such slides below. Also below is a worked example I used in a recent lesson I taught on the Black Death with Year 7. I asked who would win in a fight between a flea and a rat and there is an example below of a student’s response with which I was impressed as well as an example of giving immediate feedback with a verbal feedback stamp.
Rat vs Flea Black Death fight slide
Machine Gun vs Artillery fight slide
Another quick and simple starter or plenary which needs no preparation and helps students to think laterally and apply the knowledge they have learned in your lesson so you demonstrate progress.
With or without you …….
Give students a statement to complete along the lines of ….
Without ……… there would be no ……..
For example …..
Without the Treaty of Versailles there would be no …….
Without the dagger in Romeo and Juliet there would be no …..
This encourages students to explore consequences and connections as well as applying their knowledge they have gained in lessons. Once students are used to this activity, then can then set their own examples and test each other in pairs or groups.
A little something from my Signposting Progress workshop booklet –
Putting a series of key words or information up onto the board and asking students to come up with questions that fit the this information as answers. This sharpens students’ skills in questioning and checks their understanding of the lesson content. A very polished interactive whiteboard resource is available from Triptico which allows you to create a competitive game with this activity. It is easy to use and best of all, it is free to download.
This is activity involves the teaching thinking of a key word/event/idea related to a topic. The person/people who are doing the guessing need to write 1/2/3 on a piece of paper. The person who is giving the clues asks the group to guess the key word/event/idea they are thinking of by giving three clues to the answer. On each clue, the group members write down beside their 1, 2, 3 what they think the word is. The clues range from the very broad to the last that is highly focused. Each clue is a separate round.
Key event – Dunkirk Evacuation
Clue one – Event in the Second World War.
Clue two – Happened in 1940
Clue three – Involved the BEF crossing the English Channel.
This PowerPoint outlines the key features of US tactics during the Vietnam War and comes with two activities – a series of anagrams based on the key vocab of the topic which can be used as a starter and a learning grid which can be used as a lengthy plenary to check progress and understanding. For more about learning grids, please see a previous post of this blog which outlines this activity in detail. I used this with my Y11 class.
US tactics Vietnam War
An image based activity that can be inserted into any part of a lesson. Present students with an image and ask them to predict/guess what happened next. I used this with a picture of US soldiers on patrol in the Vietnam War and asked this question. This encouraged students to think about how they could be attacked by the VC and apply their knowledge.
At the end of a lesson, announce that the students have to come up with an image or a word that best sums up the lesson. They are then to draw the said word or image on the back of their hand as a reminder which they then present to the person next to them. The best one in my lesson was a Year 7 boy who drew an English flag in the shape of the crown to summarise a lesson on the contenders to the crown in 1066.
This idea was taken from Invisible Learning by Dave Keeling and neatly fits his RING principle of teaching.