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3. Introduction

4. Approaches to Plenaries

5. Hazards of Plenaries

6. How Many? How Much?

8. Response Grids

10. Articulate

11. Taboo

12. Poetry in Motion

13. Loop Games

15. In the Hot Seat

16. Bingo

17. Tableau Task


The Plenary suggestions in this guide are written to give readers a starting
point. These should be seen as examples of possible strategies. The
Plenaries used in class will be highly specific to that class and that lesson.
For this reason, we have tried to include activities which are generic. Each
activity fulfils one or more of the purposes below.


All plenary sessions have similar purposes. They aim to:

 help pupils understand and remember what has been learned

 create a sense of gain, completion and satisfaction

 take stock of where the class is in the teaching sequence

 take learning further and deeper if possible

 recognise achievements of the class and the individuals in it

 allow the teacher an opportunity to assess learning and plan accordingly

 stimulate anticipation for the next phase of learning

 instil a habit of reflection on learning


 asking pupils to generalise from their experience

 asking pupils to draw out golden rules, most interesting points, tips for
others etc

 asking pupils to think of consequences, implications, parallel issues,
exceptions etc.

 allowing thinking time to prime the discussion

 giving the main points and asking pupils to illustrate each one

 using jigsaw groups instead of whole class feedback

 asking pupils to explain the objective and how it can be achieved

 asking pupils to devise golden rules for others attempting the same task

 asking pupils to write up their findings on the board or on posters and then
allowing them time to view and/or prioritise


Hazard Suggested solutions

Running out of time and not  use a pupil as a timekeeper
getting around to the plenary  plan specific times for the sections of the lesson and
session keep to them
 plan the plenary properly - you are less likely to
neglect it

Pupils feel the lesson is over  tell them in advance what they will have to do on the
and don't treat it seriously plenary session
 involve more pupils in delivering the plenary
 identify pupils and forewarn them that it is their turn to
manage the plenary

It's just business - getting  change your routine
back in seats, repeating the  go for novel plenaries which re-engage attention
objective and setting  set the homework at the beginning of the lesson

It has grown dull because it's  plan varied styles of plenary
always the same routine  design each plenary to suit the lesson and its
 sometimes use the plenary to whet pupils' appetites for
the next lesson
 always ask 'what have we learned in today's lesson?'

The learning remains implicit  list the explicit points in your planning
 ask pupils to articulate the factors that help to achieve
the objective

You end up repeating  quickly recap the key points yourself then ask pupils to
everything; nothing is gained articulate the consequences or implications
 ask how this new learning might be applied in another
 concentrate on generalisation
 ask different groups or individuals to offer new points or
comment on other aspects i.e. deter repetition


There are many occasions when the subject under examination in Science is a matter of
opinion. This can range from ethical / moral issues such as the ethics of cloning to
relating to the sufficiency of evidence in an investigation. The opinions of the group can be
placed along a continuum. There are a number of ways that the continuum idea can be
approached, but all are based on the idea of a linear continuum.

Tell pupils -
At one end of the continuum:

the evidence in this set of results is ‘sufficient’
or nuclear energy is the way forward
or abortion is acceptable

The other end of the continuum represents the opposite end of the opinion spectrum.

Method 1- Line of least resistance

Pupils can position themselves along the line according to their opinion.
They then have to justify their position to the class.

Method 2 - Chat Split

Where a dichotomy of opinion exists, position the class as before then split into two camps
(or 4 or 6 according to need).

Each group then discusses their position and produces three bullet points on a flip chart to
justify their answer.

Method 3 - Mexican Wave

Pupils line up shoulder to shoulder at RANDOM POINTS along the line. Then,
by discussion with their neighbours ONLY, they decide if they should swap places to the
right or left.
When all discussions are complete, pupils present a 3-sentence summary of their position.
The sentences are read out in order. Progression across the continuum should be evident.

Method 4 - Velcro Frenzy

Here the continuum is a Velcro strip.
Pupils are given cards, that are part of a sequence eg an experimental procedure, events
in the menstrual cycle etc.
The pupils then stick these on to the continuum, at the most appropriate place.
They are given the opportunity to move cards after they have seen the 'Big Picture'.
They can the survey and discuss the 'Big Picture'.
(Blank cards are provided in the kit for your own statements)

Method 4.1

Pupils use two name cards which they place on the continuum to illustrate their position on
the line at the beginning of the discussion and then after teaching and discussion.
Pupils could then justify large movements in opinion.


When following up a particular lesson and where simple Question and Answer would be
too pupil specific, try involving all of the class in a 'show me' activity with a response grid.

1 2 3

4 5 6

What is a response grid? A pre- prepared grid (eg 3 x 3, 4 x 3 etc) into which are put
facts, words, pictures etc. Pupils then use a dry wipe marker to put X in the box the
teacher is referring to.

This is a useful means of checking how many of the class have absorbed a particular
point. The prompt questions are kept to a minimum in the printed resources. This
encourages a wider range of responses.


Mercury Venus Earth

Mars Jupiter Saturn

Uranus Neptune Pluto
eg biggest planet is . . . . . two planets with rings are . . . . . 'gas giants' are . . . .

or, on the same theme

93 25km
million miles

250,000 km

distance from sun . . . . diameter of the earth . . . . . etc


Pupils could be set questions such as 'Which is NOT . . . . ?
Pupils could use the cards for an adaptation of bingo in which they can add words, images
from a selection and then cross out as questions are asked - the first to cross out all their
squares is the winner.


There are many situations where pupils are required to interpret diagrams or pictures.
It is not always clear that they understand or 'see' the picture in a consistent way.
The following activity is intended to ensure that pupils have a consistent understanding.


Have a set of cards that relate to diagrams and images from the current topic.
The Cards can contain images or words that relate to images.

For example, in the pack there is a set of cards that have pictures of cells on them
The cards could equally have words printed on them. In which case the pupils would both
be engaged in a thinking task

Pupils are divided into groups of 3.
One pupil has to describe the picture to a second without saying what it is.
The third person acts as a judge.

The object is to complete as many as possible.


The aim is to describe the word at the top of the card without using any of the ‘Taboo’
words underneath.
Played in groups of three. One pupil is guessing, one is describing and the other is
checking that they don't use any of the taboo words. Using a prepared set of cards:



Pupil 1 must describe FORCE without using any of the taboo words underneath.
Pupil 2 must guess what the word is.
Pupil 3 is the judge
Pupils then swap roles within their group.


Pupils can make their own cards as they move through topics, which can be used again at
various stages to keep a check on knowledge.

The teacher can use this activity as a whole group plenary; describe a word that the whole
class can try to guess.



Working in pairs…

This is a real 'thinking' exercise in which pupils condense their knowledge into a 5 line
poem of few words.

Line 1 is one word and names the KEY ISSUE (given by the teacher).

Line 2 is two words and describes what the first line MEANS

Line 3 is three words and describes what the first line DOES

Line 4 is four words and the pupil says what the first line MEANS TO THEM

Line 5 is one word and says the first line using ANOTHER WORD

break apart
makes pieces smaller
solid mixes with liquid


Have prepared some poems with lines missing and ask pupils to fill in possible missing
Have prepared some with mistakes in and ask pupils to spot the mistakes.

Have various poems cut up and ask pupils to put them together.


When used as a plenary activity, the intention of a loop games is to further consolidate
prior learning.


Issue the Loop Game at the end of a learning sequence.

Time the pupils through the loop. Encourage them to complete the loop more quickly next
time. Tell them that there is a world record of N seconds and that you will give a prize to
them if it can be beaten.

The Loop Game plenary is best used with basic information about a topic being studied.
This information will remain relevant for the whole topic.

~ names and functions of digestive organs
~ energy forms and transformations
~ chemical elements and symbols

Notes on creating loop games

Have at least as many questions as there pupils in the class.

Make sure you use closed questions.

Ensure that there are no answers that could relate to more than one question.

Print and test your loop game in draft form, with questions numbers and answer numbers
included. This will assist in 'debugging'.

For convenience in the construction of loop games, create a table with 2 columns - one for
questions, one for answers. When you have constructed the loop game, move the second
column down to offset the answers.

Question 1 last Answer
Question 2 Answer 1
Question 3 Answer 2

Cards with question and answer on the same side are easier to debug.

Cards with question in one colour on one side and answer in another colour on the other
side are easier for the less able pupil to deal with.



A volunteer pupil sits in the 'hot seat'.

The rest of the class jot down 1 - 10 on a piece of paper

The teacher asks the pupil in the hot seat 10 questions about the lesson / topic

As the pupil answers, the rest of the class must decide individually whether they agree or
disagree with the answer.

If the agree they put a tick; if they disagree they put a cross.

For each question, the teacher can gauge how many pupils gave which response. They
can have immediate feedback about who has learned what. Pupils also have a good idea
about their own learning.


Two or more volunteers can be used and the number of questions made fewer, depending
on time/topic.

The traffic light paddles can be used for pupils to give their response.

Pupils can make up the questions and the teacher can build up a bank of questions.



Pupils draw a blank grid (can be 3 x 3 squares or 4 x 4 etc).

Teacher prepares a list of key words from the current topic (12 or 25 depending on the
size of the grid) on the board or wall.

Pupils fill each square with a word from the list.

The teacher reads out a definition and pupils cross off the answer if they have it. When a
pupil gets a line, they must read back the key words and their meaning. The game can
be continued to a full house.


Instead of reading out definitions, devise more demanding questions, depending on the
ability of the group.

Teacher prints sheets with blank grids on and a list of words at the top, from which pupils
make their choice.


Pupils are shown a photograph and then given a set time to work out:

what led up to the picture
what is happening in the picture
what will happen after the pictured event

Pupils use their knowledge, and what they have learned in the lesson / topic, in their
discussions. They can develop their learning by adding questions that they don't know the
answers to.


As part of a study of energy, pupils are shown a photograph of the control room of a
nuclear power station. The could say why the power station exists, what the controller are
actually doing and what might happen if anything went wrong at the station.


Pupils could undertake a role play and answer questions from the group eg make a
tableau of a still photograph and be the characters; scientists in a laboratory; workers in an
industry related to the topic; participants in a historic science event.

The teacher could take on the role of a scientist and ask the class questions eg Edward
Jenner, Marie Curie.