Plenaries are a fantastic opportunity to reflect, recap on and consolidate the learning that has happened in today’s lesson. They can also be used to introduce ideas that will be visited in the next lesson. Forming a bridge for continuous learning.
Plenaries are often badly executed due to timing issues, sometimes caused by a relentless drive to squeeze too much content into one lesson. It is important to make sure that, at the end of the lesson, you allow time to bring everyone together to take part in an activity or a Q&A to reinforce the learning that has taken place and highlight the progress that has been made.
Ideally, effective plenaries:
- Usually occur at the end of lessons but can also be used at other points in the lesson if appropriate
- Bring the whole group together to participate
- Are used by the teacher (and to an extent by the pupils) to check on learning so far and to identify any misconceptions that need to be corrected
- Direct students to the next phase of learning
- Help pupils to understand not only what they have learned, but also how they learned it
1. Guess the Question
- Provide students with answers, they have to guess the questions!
2. Just a Minute
- Split the students into groups of three
- Give each group an envelope with key words from today’s lesson
- The students take it in turns to explain the key words to the rest of the group in under a minute
- The person to guess gets to choose the next key word to explain to the group
3. Topic Tennis
- Split the students into groups of three – two players and a scorer
- The teacher says the topics then the two players take it in turns to say words related to that topic until one player can’t go
- The third person notes down the words and decides the score – one point every time the other person can’t think of a word (or use tennis scoring)
- If there is time, share the best words with the class
4. Noughts and Crosses
- Draw a noughts and crosses grid and number each square, one to nine on the board
- Split the class into two groups – team one (noughts) and team two (crosses)
- Team one choose a number from the grid
- The teacher reads a question pre-assigned to that number
- If team one answer correctly they get a nought in that square. If they answer incorrectly, team two get a cross in that square
- Regardless of whether a nought or cross was awarded, it is now team two’s turn
5. Memory Game
- Show all the keywords from today’s lesson on the board
- Give the students two minutes to memorise them in groups or pairs
- Then remove the prompt and give the students three minutes to see how many words they can recall in their groups
- The group who remember the most (and spelt them correctly!) wins!
6. The KWL Approach
- It may also be useful at the end of some lessons to use the KWL approach to gather information which can help you to decide what to do in the next lesson.
- Ask pupils to feed back to you:
- What I already Know
- What I Want to know
- What I have Learnt
I hope you have found some of these ideas helpful. Sometimes the best plenaries can be quite simple. The key thing is that they should be contributing something to the lesson. When utilised full, plenaries can be a very useful tool.
Please share your favourite simple plenaries by commenting. I will collate the best ones into a further blog post.