Prohibition hexagon cards

These hexagon cards all relate to the topic of prohibition. Great for revision!

Prohibition – Hexagonal Learning

The Rise of Hitler and the Nazis online revision flyer

This is my first attempt at creating an online revision flyer for my students. Thought I would choose the topic of the Rise of Hitler and the Nazis as the first attempt as it is a popular topic and have used to create this flyer. Tried to incorporate different types of stimuli and would welcome any advice or comments as this is my first attempt at creating such a resource.

I hope you find this useful.

Mini saga – capturing the story in your lessons

I came across mini sagas in Neil Watkin and Johannes Ahrenfelt’s The Exam Class Toolkit [which I can highly recommend]. Mini sagas are stories that are exactly 50 words and have the same construct as a regular story in that they have a beginning, a middle and an end. They were first promoted by Brian Aldiss and The Daily Telegraph in the early 1980s. As Watkin and Ahrenfelt state mini sagas are most successful when they are cryptic and students must work out their meaning.

Mini sagas offer many different opportunities in lessons to explore stories and their meanings. They can be used in lessons as a starter in order to introduce a story, a person or an event. Because of their cryptic nature, students have to work out or guess their meaning, but also mini sagas as a starter can create curiosity and there is engagement right at the beginning of the lesson.

However, my main use of mini sagas recently have been for students to write mini sagas themselves as part of the revision programme. The lesson begins with outlining what a mini saga is and then I present one of my own making. Students have to guess what the mini saga is about, what the meaning of the mini saga is and also what is left out. The interrogation of a mini saga could centre around these questions –

– Who is involved?
– What is the subject of the mini saga is about and how does this relate to the exam?
– What has been left out?
– What else could have been included?

Once students are familiar with mini sagas and their construction, they then write their own based on any event, person or development that relates to the course. When the mini sagas are completed, each read out their mini saga to the rest of the class who then have to answer the questions above in evaluating each mini saga. Therefore, all students are involved and that each are peer assessing each others work.


For History, mini sagas work on a number of levels –

– If students are writing their own then the literacy OFSTED box is ticked especially as you are using creative writing as a device.
– Mini sagas is a another way of introducing content.
– Mini sagas can also offer reviewing and revision opportunities which are different and engaging.
– Mini sagas can utilise important source skills. In writing and evaluating mini sagas students are deploying skills such as applying their own knowledge to understand the meaning of a mini saga.

Please find below PowerPoints written for Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 lessons on writing mini sagas. If you try them let me know how it goes.

Mini Saga – Year 8

Mini Saga – Year 11

Mini Saga – Year 12

Active revision strategies booklet

This is a resource I use for my GCSE Easter revision sessions. This booklet contains a number of active revision strategies which I have gathered from a range of sources, including INSET sessions and revision guides. Have found this work to be very useful and have a positive response from students. The strategies can be used for any subject although the examples in the booklet are history related. Hope you find this useful.


Learning grids – A Question of Sport in your lesson

US defeat in Vietnam mixed doubles board

Perhaps the most engaging activities I have found so far this term are learning grids or mixed doubles. I first found this in Improving Classroom Performance by the Dragonfly Team of Stephen Chapman, Steve Garnett and Alan Jervis and then covered in much more detail by the recently published Engaging Learners by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns. Griffith and Burns discuss different applications of this activity in depth but this blog post will focus upon my experiences of using this with specific reference to History teaching.

Henry VIII and six wives mixed doubles board

The activity itself involves a grid of 12 to 16 squares – each square is numbered. In each square there is a word or image – they are all connected to a topic or a sub-topic. The grid is either given to the students on a piece of paper or more conveniently, projected onto a IWB on a PowerPoint slide. In pairs, students are given a die which they roll twice. Using the grid, they locate the corresponding boxes on the grid from their two rolls of the die and aim to link the two images or words together. So for example, using the prohibition board below if a student rolled a 3 – the picture is of a speakeasy – and a 7 – which is a bootlegger – the student would have to make a link between speakeasy and a bootlegger and write this link in their exercise book. Therefore, the students have to apply their knowledge and make links between different aspects fo the topic which encourages them to use subject specific vocabulary [OFSTED literacy box ticked!] as well as thinking more deeply about the subject content.

Cuban Missile Crisis mixed doubles board

Learning Grids promote curiosity and an added element to this was when I brought 12 sided dice to be used with the activity. When you hand out these unusual dice, the students are already hooked being able to use equipment that is different and unusual. Such dice are readily available in many colours and designs from The Dice Shop – an excellent online retail site.

Learning Grids promote challenge as some links caused by the random nature of the dice can be extremely difficult and students have to think laterally as well as apply their knowledge to make an effective link in some cases. However, the real value of these resources are that it provides students to work collaboratively [again ticking the OFSTED box of student talk and working independently], peer-teach, discuss their learning as well as allowing AfL to be signposted in your lesson.

Also, Learning Grids can be easily differentiated from using images and subject specific vocabulary to leaving some squares blank and allowing students to choose for themselves what should be in a particular box. In terms of where the activity fits within a lesson – it fits best as a plenary reviewing the work students have completed and giving them an opportunity to discuss their work and you an opportunity to assess how much progress they have made. Also, Learning Grids make a superb revision activity reviewing work completed some time ago- for example looking at a topic taught in Year 10 when revising for Year 11 mock examinations [which was my fate this morning during Period 1!].

Once the students are used to this activity, it deepens the learning when they make the Learning Grids themselves. I experimented with this last Summer and I was extremely impressed with the level of work students produced who were so proud of their Learning Grids and even the weakest students were freely sharing their work. Indeed, such was the quality of their work, they had built up a bank of Learning Grids that covered their entire GCSE History course and that I was willing to use them for this year’s Year 11s – but only as examples as they will have to make up their own!