Ideas & Resources for creative and effective teaching & learning Popular resources on the {my channel} blog Resource tags for the blog RSS Feed for the blog Twitter feed for The Engaged Learner Teacher Email Resource Newsletter The Engaged Learner - Topic Catergories giveitago Blog home page The Engaged Learner Blog Home Page

The Engaged Learner - London 20 June 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

London - 20 June 2014 (Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum)

View our CPD reviews on The Good CPD Guide

The Engaged Learner is a new CPD course from tutor2u that is packed full of practical ideas to improve the quality of teaching and learning within every classroom.

Launched in Dubai and Singapore earlier this month, we have been delighted with the feedback from teachers who have attended. 

The Engaged Learner course provides teachers with a comprehensive collection of resources and strategies that can be used immediately within the classroom to deliver more creative, effective and outstanding lessons. In total there are over 40 teaching & learning resources in the delegate toolkit and we aim to explore as many of these as possible during the course.

read more...»

The Yes/ No Game

Friday, March 14, 2014

This is a fun and engaging activity that can be carried out in a number of ways within a lesson.

The idea is simple, you can't say yes and you can't say no.

An easy way to play the yes or no game is to ask a student to come to the front of the class. The teacher then asks the student questions about the topic that has just been studied or the subject in general. The student is not allow to say yes or no. What is great about this activity is that it takes very little preparation from the teacher and really forces students to think and carefully consider their responses.

A more interactive method of the yes or no game is to split the class into pairs and ask each pair to spend 3 or 4 minutes preparing some questions to ask each other on the topic that has just been studied with the specific purpose of trying to get the other student to say yes or no. After the questions have been prepared then the students take it in turns to play the yes or no game whilst the teacher circulates and listens to the quality of the questions and the answer.

Below is a video of the Yes or No game in action involving footballer Phil Neville.

Differentiation - Turn up the Heat with Chilli Learning!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

‘Chilli’ learning is a teaching and learning strategy designed to give students a degree of choice over the activities they complete (either within a lesson or for homework) and therefore take more ownership of their own learning, which hopefully then allows work to be more closely matched with each student’s ability.

read more...»

Revision Showcase

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Over the last few weeks I have been running a Revision Showcase with each of my A Level classes. This is when students bring in all the work that they have done outside of lessons and display it for the rest of the class to see. I have found that this has 3 main benefits:

  • Gives students the chance to learn from their peers.
  • Allows really hardworking students to show off their hard work.
  • The public display of work really acts as a kick up the backside for the odd student who has done nothing.
read more...»

Marginal Gains for A Level Students

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

I am a big fan of cycling and have read a lot about the success of Team Sky under Dave Brailsford. He is a great believer in Marginal Gains and how it has helped British cyclists to dominate the Olympics and The Tour De France. These ideas are being increasingly used in education.

read more...»

Starters - The Power of Images

Saturday, October 05, 2013

I find that I am using images and photos more and more as lesson starters.

I used this image the other day ( No it is not Ice Cream, they are Chicken Nuggets! ) and it led to a great discussion on all sorts of issues.

read more...»

Socrative: Great assessment tool but without the marking.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This term I have started to use Socrative as an assessment tool in my lessons. It is an "all system response system" that requires students to answer questions on their smartphones. It is a great way to judge the learning of the whole class and allows the teacher to evaluate how effective the teaching has been.

read more...»

The Focus Circle - Powerpoint Teaching and Learning Game

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Focus Circle is a new teaching and learning resource that can be used as a bell work activity (an activity that is on the board as students enter the room), a starter or plenary for topics that have recently been covered or as a way of introducing new information that has not previously been covered. It is suitable for nearly every subject.

The idea behind the Focus Circle is simple. Students are shown the Focus Circle which has up to 4 topic areas (categories) inside. Around the focus circle are up to 18 words/ phrases which belong to the different categories. Students select 1 of the topic areas and decide which of the key words/ phrases belong inside the focus circle (words that are specifically related to that topic area).

The focus circle has multiple applications and can be used as a bell work activity, a starter, a plenary or as a method of introducing new information about a topic or concept. The focus circle is highly interactive and can also be used on an interactive whiteboard.

Applications for the Focus Circle include:

  • English: Characters in Macbeth
  • Geography Types of rainfall and sectors of industry
  • Business Studies Motivational theorists

The Focus circle is fully editable and comes complete with suggested teaching and learning strategies.

The Focus Circle can be ordered here

Below are pictures of David Percy from Sunderland High School who is using the Focus Circle within a physics lesson

The Five W’s

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This is an excellent idea that can be easily adapted for a variety of lesson situations, helping to ensure students are engaged and that their notes are structured and focused.

read more...»

Trapdoor - PowerPoint Teaching and Learning Game

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Trapdoor is a brand new teaching and learning game designed exclusively by the tutor2u team and is fresh out of the teaching and learning laboratory.

Trapdoor can be used as a bellwork activity (for information on bellwork activities please refer this blog), a starter, a plenary or to deliver new content.

The idea behind the activity is simple. Students are presented with up to 16 different trapdoors. Some of the trapdoors have the correct answers whilst the others are wrong. Can the students avoid falling through the trapdoors?

read more...»

The Answer Autopsy

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Answer Autopsy turns handing back a test that students have just completed or a piece of homework into a starter activity.

After students have received their homework or test, they complete a written reflection on:

  • What they did well
  • What they didnt do so well
  • How they could improve

This critical 'dissection' of work enables students to take ownership for thier owne learning and how they could improve their work in the future.

It also develops students to become more reflective in their learning which is no bad thing



Focused Lesson Starters - the conveyor-belt quiz technique

Friday, June 28, 2013

The first 5 minutes of any class are vital - they set the scene and often the direction of the session with regards to levels of motivation.  Some teachers play music as students arrive and others have ready-made quizzes that challenge early-arrivals.

Occasionally I have used what I call the 'conveyor-belt quiz' technique to focus minds at the start of a lesson.  Any visitors to recent Wow Economics events will have seen and taken part in the 'Neon Lights' version of this activity - basically, a 3 minute scrolling set of questions using a timed Powerpoint presentation.

Using the Powerpoint method is key.  The students know that the timing of the questions is set and they have to concentrate - this isn't going to be me throwing questions at them in their own time for the next 5 minutes.  Each question (I will usually have 10 or 12) are presented on a slide with its transition time set to 20 seconds - this gives the students enough time to read the question and write down their answers whilst knowing that the next question is about to pop-up any second soon.  Students will generally concentrate very hard and remain silent during the 3 minute quiz - getting them focused and ready to participate in the rest of the lesson.  It's also a superb method for checking learning from previous lessons or testing.

The next key aspect of the quiz is how you use the students' answers.  You can take their written answers in and mark them if you want to.  My  use of the technique was mainly as a means to challenge understanding using extended verbal questions.  Often, the questions on the screen are fairly basic and testing knowledge (knowing definitions, for example) - I might go through the answers asking less-able students the answer to the screened questions and then challenge more-able students with extended open-style questions.

Follow this link to find and example of a 'conveyor-belt quiz' (which you can edit to your heart's content).  The Powerpoint file uses an image of an old Speak & Spell toy with questions popping up on the toy's screen.  The music can be changed to whatever you want (most popular songs of our time last about 3 and a half minutes!) but I recommend that you keep music in - it surprisingly helps students to focus.

Be The Examiner!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This is a great teaching and learning strategy for any subject that has many different tangents to it. Be The Examiner puts students in the shoes of an examiner and can involve students doing the following:

  • At the end of the lesson, writing an exam question on the topic they have just studied, handing it in and then answering it at the start of the next lesson (making this a plenary/ starter partnrship!)
  • Students creating a mark scheme for a question they have written, or, writing a mark scheme for other students questions
  • Writing a mark scheme for an actual exam question
  • Students writing questions based on the topic and swapping them with other students and answering their questions

Be The Examiner is also perfect for differentiation by task as the teacher can ask students to write different types of question or ask students to write mark schemes for different exam questions

Why not give this a go........

Word Clouds

Monday, June 10, 2013

Use these online tools to make interesting keyword based resources...

read more...»

Question wall

Thursday, May 23, 2013

read more...»

Command Words

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Explaining command words to students is always a challenge....

read more...»

Developing Analysis & Evaluation with PMI

Saturday, May 18, 2013

As a Humanities teacher I want students to be able to look at both sides of an argument. The ability to analyse or evaluate an idea or topic is of course an invaluable thinking skill for all students and can be used in any subject.

So I turn to PMI !
read more...»

Revision Strategies - Kids on Tour!

This is my first Blog post for tutor2u ‘Give it a Go’ and I’m delighted to be joining the team! 

The following strategy is really useful for revision sessions.  I call it ‘Kids on Tour’ and is a way of encouraging active participation and collaboration between students.
read more...»

Luck of the Draw - Starter/ Plenary

Friday, May 17, 2013

Is it a starter or a plenary. Well, its both!

At the start of the lesson all students names are put into a 'hat'. Two students names are drawn at random from the hat.

At the end of the lesson, the two students whose name has been drawn need to present a 2 minute review of the key learning outcomes from the lesson.


Shoot the BasketBall - Making Revision more Engaging

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shoot the Basketball is a simple but engaging revision strategy.

Write around 25 easy 'review' questions and 25 hard 'review' questions before the lesson and then split the class up into two teams.

Put the small rubbish bin at the front of the class. This will be the 'basket'. On the floor, about 8/10ft away from the basket put a line down (I used to use masking tape). This is the 'shoot from' line. I also had a small basketball for this activity but you can easily use some scrunched up paper.

Tell the students that each one must answer the questions that are given to them and that the easy and hard questions will be interspersed. Easy questions are worth 1 point whilst the harder questions are worth 2 points.

If a student gets a question correct then that student has a chance to 'shoot' for extra points (1 extra point if they answered an easy question and 2 extra points if they answered a hard question).

The team with the most points at then end of the activity wins.


Give This a Go: Catch an Answer

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

All you need is some scrap paper!

As students come in to the room ask them to write down a question on one piece of paper and an answer to the question on another piece of paper.

They should then scrunch up their papers and put them in a box/basket/middle of a table!

read more...»

Top Trumps-style cards - teaching data tables

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Regular visitors to the Tutor2u website may well have seen this idea before - using the traditional game of 'Top Trumps' as a method of getting across large data sets to your students.  I've included this resource so that new visitors can see the method and for others to see the resource with a new and current data set (on the world's 'biggest' companies in 2012).

read more...»

Independent Learning

This information really isn't anything new and ground breaking... BUT...

read more...»

Four Corners - Developing Higher Order Thinking and Collaborative Learning

Friday, May 10, 2013

Four corners is a powerful activity that encourages higher order thinking and evaluation. It is brilliant for collaborative learning and gives students an opportunity to review and reflect on other students thoughts, views and opinions.

read more...»

Reflecting on Marking

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

When marking books/essays we all notice common mistakes that our students make... 

See how you can save time and get students to reflect on their mistakes!

read more...»

Medals and Missions - Effective Feedback Raises Achievement

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Im a big fan of the work by Professor John Hattie and in particular, his work and research on effect sizes.

Professor John Hattie (via endless amounts of research) has found that feedback has the biggest effect on student achievement, more than any other factor. Further work by Dylan Williams and Paul Black also concluded that formative assessment has a massive affect on the quality of learning achieved within our classrooms and by our students. If feedback is done well, it can add the equivalent of around two grades to student achievement.

Further work by Geoff Petty has led to an amazing summary of how to improve the feedback we give to our students; medals and missions. An introduction to this work can be found via this weblink.

There is also a brilliant summary video on how we can improve the feedback we give to our students and therefore increase their level of achievement. This video can be accessed via this weblink

Certainly worth watching 

Think Tax- Revision Style!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

I was inspired by Mr A. Ali's think tax post and, as we're in full revision mode at the moment, decided to give it a twist for an effective and productive revision lesson...

read more...»

How do I arrange my groups?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Revision season is upon us!

Paired work and grouped work are really important.

But getting the pairs and the groups right are even more important!

So how do we arrange the best combinations...?

Read more and I will give you one strategy I use....

read more...»

A Dodecagonal Prism of Revision!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I don’t like it that revision notes can be tucked away and out of sight. So this week I have spent a revision lesson with my groups creating resources that have to be kept in sight – whether it be dangled from bedroom ceilings via blu-tack and string, to being easily accessible on shelves or desks, but, most importantly, always visible and to hand!

read more...»

Think Tax

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Welcome! This is my first blog entry for the Give It A Go section on tutor2u!

I will be regularly updating this section with strategies I have used in my classroom; being an AST in teaching and learning I have a fantastic insight into many classroom experiences and with these in mind I always try to develop and mould all the fabulous learning strategies I see!

read more...»

Google whispers

Friday, April 12, 2013

I have to start by saying that I can’t remember if this is something I thought up or stole from someone else.  If it is stolen then I have no idea where from, so no hat tip.

Google whispers is a really simple idea for checking the understanding of the definitions of key words and would work for any subject.  Open three tabs each with Google translate open. Put the definition into Google translate and translate it into Korean (say).  Then in tab 2 set the ‘from’ language to Korean (or whatever you translated the definition into) and the right hand box ‘to’ language to Russian.  Copy and paste the Korean translation of the definition into this second tab and Google will pop it into Russian for you.  The third tab translates from Russian back to English.  Copy and paste these into a separate document and you have a ready to go plenary.

I found that this provides ready-made differentiation too as sometimes the final translation is quite close to the original and sometimes it can be quite hard.  On occasion it can be quite surreal.  For example taxation was translated to detergent.  Finally it’s also a useful lesson on the dangers of relying on technology without thinking for yourself.

Better Classroom Questioning - Socratic Questioning

Monday, March 25, 2013

Socratic questioning is an extremely powerful questioning technique that teachers can use to explore complex issues and ideas with students, open up common misconceptions and analyse and evaluate topics at a far deeper level than 'normal' questioning.

In essence, Socratic questioning is used to probe student understanding and thinking allowing far greater analysis and evaluation to take place.

Socratic questioning focus purely on the importance of questioning to enhance teaching and learning and the name is derived from Socrates who believed that questioning was the only defensible form of teaching. In Socratic questioning, the teacher uses a range of questions to create active, independent learners.

So, what types of questions can be classified as Socratic questions? There are 6 key types of Socratic questions

read more...»

RSA Animate Style Videos

Sunday, February 24, 2013
The first thing I should say about this example is that I can’t claim the credit for the idea. I was inspired by David Rogers, who was inspired by Noel Jenkins who, in turn, was inspired by Paul Bogush. The idea is that, for a given learning objective (or a series of linked objectives), students create an RSA Animate-style video, using a mix of diagrams, captions and narration to describe, explain, predict, evaluate (or whatever else is the operative term) in order to present evidence that they have met this objective. In the case of my attempt, the objective was for a year 12 class to explain the formation of emergent landforms (including raised beaches and relict/fossil cliffs) as a result of coastal erosion and sea level change.

read more...»

1000 Tweets

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The sharing of this blog post will mark my one thousandth tweet. With this in mind it only seems fitting that I write a short piece to mark this momentous occasion.

First things first, I am not going to claim that Twitter is the best CPD EVER (as some people do) as, to be honest, I'm not sure that it is. I do, however, know that has made me a much better educator since I started using it in 2008. And here's why:

read more...»

SPAG for Humanities subjects

Monday, February 11, 2013

Print off and laminate the cards attached to help pupils learn an easy way to check their work in exams. It is also useful for KS3 when they have completed an extended piece of writing.

Access the cards here:


Five Easy Pieces (or steps to becoming a better educator)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

When I was a teenager I had somewhat of an obsession with Jack Nicholson films. I made it my goal to collect and watch all of his films and acquire a Mastermind-esque knowledge of JC's cinematic history. Why? Well, i suppose it can be partly attributed to my family's predisposition for OCD and partly to the fact that he was, and still is, an amazing actor. Anyhow, since the Nicholson phase I have gone through various obsessions, trying as I did to fulfil an insatiable appetite for learning. For the past couple of years I have become increasingly obsessed with becoming the best educator I can possibly be within the boundaries of my own capabilities. To that end I have devised my own five easy pieces...or five six easy steps to becoming a better educator:

read more...»

The Battle of Hastings (Recreated)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Looking for ways to get your pupils really enthused about the Battle of Hastings? Want your pupils to show off their creativity? Need your pupils to enhance their communication skills and their ability to work with others? Then please read on..

read more...»

Scored Discussions

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A great alternative to presentations and debates

read more...»

Blast from the Past: SIM CITY

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Growing up in the 80s, I was fortunate enough to experience the pioneering world of video/arcade games.  Their simplicity compared to todays modern graphics was marvelous, their ease of control also worked well for me - two keys, and the arrow buttons was, and still is as complicated as I can go.  I fondly remember playing David Gowers Cricket for many hours, and all it was was an oval shaped green 'blob' with black pixels moving on a screen.  Then, during the early 90's I was introduced to Sim City - a game I fell in love with, and still do to this day.


read more...»

Mapping from Memory

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mapping from memory is a teaching strategy that has been used in our department for a number of years, and has been extended to a range of topics.  It allows students to gain an understanding of locational geography in topics such as Brazil, Europe and then Tourism.  It potentially can be used with any topic, but also as an excellent revision exercise.  It also lends itself to any subject, as it isnt excusive to 'maps' but can be developed to get students to memorise diagrams, key terms, processes and so on.


read more...»

The Two Minute Pitch

Thursday, November 29, 2012

This is a mini plenary that gets students to review the learning they have made so far and to go back and make improvements based on peer evaluation. It also has the added benefit of getting them to improve their presentation skills at the same time.

read more...»

Draw what I say

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Draw what I say is a cooperative learning activity and it works well when you are trying to get students to learn or recap models and diagrams.  I have used it in Busines Studies and Economics, but it should work well in Geography, Science and DT. 

You just need to get pairs of students to work opposite each other with some kind of barrier between them (folders work well, but anything that prevents them from seeing each others work is the important thing).  Student A is then given a model that they have to describe to student B and student B has to try and draw it based on student A's verbal instructions.  While it sounds simple it does get the students engaging in and thinking about the content.  There is also a variation on this activitiy called Make what I say but I have not thought of a way of using this yet! 

Cooperative Learning - Talking Chips

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cooperative learning activities are about getting groups of students to work together and learn from each other.  

The theory behind cooperative learning is that we retain a great deal more of what we say than what we hear.  So the more we can encourage the learners to talk to us and to each other the better. 

read more...»

Prediction: A Starter and a Plenary

Thursday, November 22, 2012

This is a very simple activity that allows a teacher to link two lessons together.

At the end of the lesson (and after the normal plenary) I often said to my students that I am going to write down 5 key things from the lesson on a piece of paper. I then put the piece of paper into an envelope, seal it and have one of the students to sign the seal.

I then placed it somewhere visible in the classroom, usually above my whiteboard.

At the start of the next lesson, I asked the students to ‘predict’ the five points in my envelope. We then go through them and I write down all the points that they have came up with on the board making this a very easy way to review last lessons learning.

I then get the student who signed the envelope to open it and read out the points that I wrote down. I can then assess what I thought were the key points with what they have came up with.

This takes no planning, it engages the students and links two lessons together.

Why not give this a go....


Lucky Dip

Thursday, November 08, 2012

I am always looking at ways for students to do more work than me. 

At this time of year I want to ensure that my students know the theory. Without this they will be unable to Apply, Analyse and Evaluate. With this in mind I give each student a piece of A4 paper which they tear into 4 and write a question on each piece. I then put all the questions into a box.

read more...»

My Favourite Method of Peer Assessment

Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Here is a suggestion for engaging students with a clear and accessible method of assessing the work of their peers. read more...»

Wordle Finder

Monday, October 29, 2012

A cross between a wordsearch and a crossword which makes for an enjoyable & interesting starter activity. 

read more...»

Linkages for GCSE Business and Economics

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A plenary to help GCSE students improve how they write short paragraphs

read more...»

The Fortune Teller

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just a simple twist on the classic playground paper fortune teller and you will have an fun and engaging activity for any subject or topic.  

read more...»

Scoop It

I am always looking at ways to encourage my students to work harder outside of lessons.  One way I do this is by trying to engage them using social media. With this in mind I have started to use Scoop It  to create an online magazine.

read more...»

Less Ping-Pong more Basketball: Effective Questioning

I'm a big fan of Dylan Williams and one particular area I'm interested in as an educator is effective questioning and moving away from what is known as IRE questioning.

IRE stands for, Initiation, Response, Evaluation. So, a teacher asks a question (initiation), a student answers the question (response) and the teacher evaluates. Dylan Williams likes to call this 'Ping-Pong' questioning.

The real question is how effective is this? Normally the same old hands go up and the teacher often 'evaluates' a classes understanding of the question by the response and subsequent evaluation of one student.

Dylan suggests we move to a basketball style of questioning. In practice, this means posing a question and asking a certain student for an answer. Then, asking another student what they thought about that answer and then another student for a further explanation. This means the question is 'bounced' around the classroom. Or, a question is posed and a student is asked to answer the question. The teacher than asks another student to expand on that answer further and then another student is asked to evaluate the response.

Another way to describe this technique is 'Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce'. The teacher 'poses' a question then pauses giving students time to formulate a response. The teacher 'pounces' on a student and then 'bounces' the answer off another student.

The reason that this method of questioning is more powerful is that more students are involved in the questioning process. Indeed, Dylan advocates that we should all aim to move towards all student response systems in lessons (ABCD cards, mini-whiteboards, exit tickets and other methods of whole class questioning assessment.

Fascinating stuff.


My Favourite Way to Give Feedback to Students

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An explanation of a simple but effective method of giving students feedback on marked work

read more...»

Join the Give it a Go Team!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our give it a go blog was created to allow teachers with a passion for teaching and learning to share their ideas.

The idea behind the Give it a Go blog is very simple. An 'aladdins cave' of teaching and learning strategies that can be used in any subject.

With this in mind we are looking for teachers who share our passion for education and teaching and learning.

If you are interested in joining our ever growing blogging team then please get in touch. Or, if you know someone in your school or college who you think might be interested in 'giving this a go' then again, please pass my details on.

The more passionate teachers we have blogging then the more ideas will be generated.

Why not Give it a Go!!!

Contact me on

Bellwork Activity - Equation

Monday, October 22, 2012

Equation is a great activity that can be used for bellwork, as a starter or as a plenary.

The concept is extremely simple. Students need to write an equation to demonstrate a specific subject topic that has just been taught.

For example, in business studies an equation for partnerships could be:

More Ideas + Specialisation - Disagreements = Partnerships

              Share in the profits


In geography, after teaching rainfall, the teacher could split the class into groups and ask each group to write an equation to demonstrate the 3 different types of rainfall, for example, relief rain.

This activity works really well as it encourages students to pick out the key points from a topic and therefore encourages them to synthesise the key points.

Other teaching and learning strategies for equation include:

  1. The teacher preparing a number of equations and asking students to solve them
  2. Replacing part of an equation with X and asking students to ‘find X’


Very simple but very effective.

Why not give it a go?

The Completed Crossword

Sunday, October 07, 2012

This is an excellent activity that is so, so simple but so, so effective.

Rather than giving students a crossword of key terms at the start of the lesson, how about giving them a completed crossword and asking them to write in the clues?

This is a much more powerful activity as it is a much more open ended strategy. You can really see the students thinking and you get a high level of differentiation.

There are lots of crossword creators on-line, for example, puzzlemaker which can be found here , and the cool thing about this is, you don’t need to come up with the clues. Let the students do the work (I’m sure that is what teaching is supposed to be about!)

Why not give it a go....

The Crystal Ball

Saturday, September 29, 2012

This is a really good starter activity that can be used for any topic at any level.

read more...»

Talk About It!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This is a fantastic short starter or plenary activity that can be used with nearly every group and every subject! You will need a whiteboard or flip-board or an interactive whiteboard to utilise the ‘reveal’ tool.

read more...»

Collaboration and The Iterative Process - the Marshmallow Challenge

This is an activity that I have wanted to try with my students for some time now. The Marshmallow Challenge has been used across the world in different settings and has produced some fascinating results from groups as diverse as CEOs of Fortune-500 businesses and kindergarten kids! My own students seem to lie somewhere in between (!!) and, as part of an introduction to behavioural economics, I popped to my local Tesco and bought the necessary equipment. 

It is really simple to set up in the classroom and it works in all kinds of different contexts. It is straightforward to complete in any 30-40 minute lesson.

read more...»

Encourage Students to Pay Attention - Put them in the Spotlight

Spotlight is a great activity that can be used as a plenary but is especially powerful after a video has been shown.

read more...»

Working together with Wiggio

Sunday, September 23, 2012

If you are looking for a way to share information and engage with your students whilst also providing a platform for them to share ideas and work together on group tasks, projects and/or assignments then Wiggio  could be the answer.  I've been experimenting with it and I love it. My students' initial reaction has also been positive.

Think Facebook groups, Twitter, Moodle and Google Drive/Dropbox all in one! 

read more...»

Cut and Paste Powerpoint Timer

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Have you ever wanted to include a simple timer into a Powerpoint slideshow?  Perhaps you have set a task and you want students to know how long they have had when undertaking that task or how long they have left.  This simple Powerpoint-timer file gives you some 'cut-and-paste' timers to put directly into your own slideshow.

read more...»

Speed Dating!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

There’s no better way to start the day with a bit of speed dating(!) and I used two activities this morning to demonstrate this.

read more...»

Creative Revision

Friday, May 04, 2012

During the exam season I try and freshen up revision lessons with different activities to complement the monotonous past paper and timed-writing practice. Yesterday I put three topics on the board and split the class into three groups giving them the vaguest of instructions: ‘Next lesson, I want you to teach your chosen topic to the rest of the class in the MOST CREATIVE way you can think of.’

read more...»

Web tools for classrooms- 21 ideas

Monday, February 27, 2012

This afternoon I’m jointly running a training session for other teachers at our school on ‘web tools for classrooms’, and thought I’d share this list of 21 useful ideas with everyone on tutor2u- feel free to give them a go!...

read more...»

Poll your class

I’ve just come across a fascinating new website to create instant online polls that sounds like an excellent plenary tool. Read on to find out more…

read more...»

Getting started with Zondle! The quick-start guide

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dougie Lapsley, our awesome coder, has been hard at work with a major upgrade to Zondle - our partner games-based-learning site.  If you are new to Zondle, then I highly recommend this 8-minute video guide as Dougie takes us through the easy process of registering with Zondle, creating, setting and monitoring the learning activities of your students…

read more...»

Key term revision TABOO

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A board game adaptation I’ve used to good effect in the past is Taboo. It works really well for quick revision of key terms as a starter or plenary activity.

read more...»

Ring the Bell for a Great Lesson “Check-out”

Friday, February 03, 2012

This activity is great as a starter or plenary for any subject. It’s a fun way to start or finish a lesson in a short period of time, whilst gaining a good idea of how much the pupils have understood about a topic. The best type of bell for this activity is a “check-in” bell. I bought mine from Beamish Museum, however they’re fairly cheap to pick up from the internet.

read more...»

Assessment Proformas and Pupil Self-Assessment

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I enjoyed Ben White’s recent blog ‘Strips of Feedback’ which I intend to use. We were discussing assessment in a meeting today where it was mentioned that ‘research had shown’ that work that has a grade and comment is not as useful as just a comment or just a grade. With just a grade pupils are inclined to ask ‘why didn’t I get 10 out of 10’. With just a comment, they are likely to read it. With both, they look at the grade but not the comment but do not ask how to improve.

A great deal is written about effective assessment, marking and pupil self-assessment. I was reading tonight in Geoff Petty’s ‘Teaching Today’ a technique that allows all of this through the use of assessment proformas. This is particularly good for teaching skills and technique.

read more...»

Connectives chain story

Friday, January 20, 2012

Following on from the ideas from the BUSS3 conference about building connectives (see Graham’s blog on connectives) I tried to get my students to work together to produce a chunky paragraph in what they described as a version of consequences.

read more...»

Strips of Feedback

A public thank you to Ian and Graham for sharing some useful AFL techniques that I will certainly use in my teaching. I had the privilege of listening to Dylan Wiliam at a recent INSET and was particularly interested in the role of assessment and feedback to inform pupil learning.

read more...»

The Garage - Homework MOT

This is an outstanding idea that was given to me by my good friend Allan Todd who teaches at Mossbourne Academy. Its ideal for subjects that have questions with extended answers such as History, Sociology, Business Studies, English and Geography.

read more...»

How can I improve this answer sir? Don’t ask me, ask the ‘Guru’.....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Before Christmas we carried out our mock GCSEs for Year 11 students.  So this month we’ve been returning papers to the students and learning lessons from the experience.  Here is a great way of handing over to the students the responsibility of reflecting upon their own performance and how they can improve, whilst at the same time getting students who have performed well in a particular question to understand why so that hopefully they can do it more often in future.  It’s built upon the principle that within a class of students, they all have the collective knowledge and ability to help each other.

read more...»

Maps from Memory

This is an all time classic of an activity that is fun, engaging and develops thinking skills.

read more...»

Starter Activity - Thinking Skills Bingo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This is a really good starter activity that is equally at home as a plenary.

read more...»

Subject Scrabble

This is an excellent activity that can be used in nearly every subject and year group and is excellent for an end of topic plenary or for the start of a revision lesson. Such an easy, easy concept which needs no preparation.

read more...»

Beat the Teacher

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
read more...»

The Facebook Plenary

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

We all know how much students love spending time on social networking sites so here’s a Facebook inspired plenary activity that can be used in any subject.

read more...»

Year 9 TED Talk Choice

Monday, October 31, 2011

I see my six-member Year 9 tutor group once a week for about 90 minutes. Each week we do something different, cook a meal, see a film, have a discussion based around a PHSE lecture - whatever attracts our interest. It is fascinating to see how they are settling into a (huge) new school and trying their hand at the many activities and opportunities open to them.

Just before half term I set them a task of selecting a TED talk of their choice. We had seen the wonderful talk by Sugata Mitra as a prompt for a discussion on child-driven education and the ways in which digital natives adapt so quickly to technology as learning tools.

I was pleasantly surprised with the selection of six talks that they came up with. Each student gives a brief introduction to the talk and we pick out some of the themes in discussion straight after. They chose the following:

read more...»

Scrapbooks, Magazines and Blogs

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The first homework that I set my pupils at the start of every year is to ‘buy a scrapbook’. I then warn them that, unfortunately for them, homeworks will become considerably more challenging after that!

read more...»

Business Breakfast

Friday, October 28, 2011

Breakfast meetings are common place in the business world for networking etc and now they can be coming to a clssroom near you!

read more...»

Creative Blogging

Monday, October 24, 2011

Many teachers are taking advantage of modern technology and utillising media such as twitter and blogging to enhance their teaching and finding other ways in which to share good practice and connect with their students.

read more...»


Saturday, October 15, 2011

The activity is simple to create and carry out making it perfect for busy teachers.

20 or so key terms are written on the whiteboard (if you have an IWB they can be saved and simply re-arranged for the next time you carry out SWAT).  2 students are invited to the front and are given a fly swatter each (however, rolled up paper works just as well). The teacher then reads out a clue relating to each definition and the students need to SWAT the correct key term on the board. The student who swats the key word first then needs to answer another question on that key term (therefore allowing differentiation) and if the answer is correct that student stays up and another students comes to the front.

I did this yesterday with my Year 8 Geography class and had words such as, depressions, erosion, frontal, precipitation, relief etc and used SWAT as a general starter activity to get the students motivated on a Friday afternoon.

A word of warning,  choose the class carefully as students can get a bit excited!

Why not give this a go…........

Using Interactive Polls To Teach Research Skills

Saturday, October 08, 2011

I like to use technology to support learning and engage my students where it is practical, relevant and serves a purpose. Having experimented with wikis (great for encouraging collaboration and ensuring accountability for individuals taking part in group tasks and assessments) and virtual walls (like wallwisher and linoit), I recently turned my attention to interactive polling site PollEverywhere to encourage student feedback, gauge opinion and initiate discussions. They can also be used to teach students how to conduct effective research, which could be useful for any subject area.

3D Character and Question Mark

read more...»

Basketball passes - are your students paying attention?

Monday, September 05, 2011

A classic lesson starter here to help get your students concentrating and focused on a tough task.  Its also a good one to use as an ice-breaker for new class sets.

The objective for students is simple - to count the number of successful passes of the basketball by players wearing white.  A successful pass is one where the ball doesn’t bounce.  How many do they spot?

read more...»

Carousel - All the Fun of the Fair


This is a really good activity to get the students talkling and moving around the classroom. Very simple to set up and very effective.

This activity is ideal for revision or for a focused plenary.

The activity involves setting up (ideally) 4 ‘stations’ or areas. I always use the 4 corners of the room. In each corner I put a desk, several chairs and a piece of A3 paper (even better are the magic whiteboards as they can be re-used).

I then split the class into 4 groups and assign them each a station/ piece of A3 paper. On each piece of paper is a word or concept relating to the topic. From here it is best explained with an example…

read more...»

True False - the Wrapup Plenary

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A simple, flexible plenary this one. All your students need is a dry wipe board or improvise using laminated A4 white paper; add some marker pens and cloth to wipe your white boards clean.

Have a quick quiz at the end of the lesson making statements about what has been taught in that lesson. The answer to the statement is either true or false. It is a very quick way of assessing whether the students have been listening and understanding!  You can find out where the whole class is at with only a few questions.

On one side of the laminated white board your students write TRUE, on the other they write FALSE. The students hold up the white boards depending on whether the teacher has made a true statement or not.

Lots of variations possible, including

- Allow students to pair up
- Last person standing (i.e. the longest run of correct answers) wins a prize
- Explain why true or false was chosen
- Table group answers only


Who’s in the Hot Seat this week?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I developed this as a starter activity to encourage my business students to keep up-to-date with news stories affecting businesses and consumers.  I had noticed that many students were able to explain business theories but failed to relate them to the real world. To make it easier for the students, a permanent link to the excellent BBC Business News website was embedded into the VLE so there could be no excuses!!

This activity could work just as well for economics, geography, social studies and many other subjects. I have found this starter activity engages the students and often sparks lively discussion.

read more...»

Whole School CPD - Give It A Go LIVE! 2012

Friday, July 29, 2011

Give It A Go (“GIAG) is tutor2u’s new CPD programme which provides whole-school professional training designed to help teachers deliver more creative, engaging and effective lessons. We’re bringing together a fantastic team of inspiring teachers who just love to create and share activities and other resources which make their classrooms buzz!

Give It A Go also has its own blog - come and visit it here.

To launch the programme, we’re running two external conferences in London (8 February 2012) and Manchester (9 February 2012).  These will be led by our two popular bloggers - Michelle Stephenson & Graham Prior (aka Lord Sutch).  You can make provisional bookings for these courses using this online form.  Delegate places on the course are just £150 (+VAT) including full course materials, refreshments and lunch.  Venues to be announced - likely to be our usual partners at the Guoman Charing Cross (London) and the Midland Hotel (Manchester).

The course will provide a superb selection of starter, plenary and lesson finishers - all of which can be adapted and used by every department in a school or college.  Send a teaching colleague to experience the resources - and then ask them to share with the rest of the staffroom when they return!

Beat the Running Man -  PowerPoint Game

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Challenge your students with this PowerPoint game.  Great as a lesson starter to recap previous knowledge and easy to adapt to meet the needs of any subject or level.

read more...»

Learning By Doing

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Whether the topic is job vs batch vs flow production at GCSE Business Studies, management & leadership styles at A-Level or division of labour in Economics – you can’t beat a good production exercise and it’s helpful for kinaesthetic learners too.

read more...»

Playing the Categories Game: Economics Version

The aim of this activity/low-tech game is to score points for coming up with an acceptable answer than no other group in the class has thought of! The team with the highest score wins

read more...»

Give Me 5

This flexible lesson activity is all about quick thinking skills. Give Me 5 is designed to help you put your students on the spot!  How much can they recall from a recent lesson or topic? Have they been doing some background reading or listening around their subject?  Can they come up with a distinctive or creative answer which their classmates can’t spot?

The PowerPoint template provided below is for you (or your students) to edit as required.  The template provides a 30 second countdown in which students are asked to come up with up to 5 different answers to the question / prompt. Edit the slides as required.  The timing is coded to last 30 seconds (to match the cheesy music) - you can always edit this to shorten or lengthen the allowed time per topic.

An answer sheet is also provided below.

Let us know how this goes down in the classroom!  Give it a Go!

Download Give Me 5:  Give_Me_5.pptx

Download Answer Sheet: Give-me-5-answer-sheet.pdf

A couple of props I’ll be buying this summer


I’m using the summer holidays to consider the ‘props’ I have in my classroom and one I know I have to replace this year is my inflatable globe (usually 99p from a well-known auctioning site!)...

read more...»

The Question Chair


This is an unusual activity that I ‘stole’ from a programme I was watching. I can’t remember what it was, but every audience member had a number and at the end of the show a number was called and the audience member was asked a question, receiving a prize if they got it right.

read more...»

K W L - Developing Students Thinking Skills

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is an excellent activity that is suitable for any subject.

read more...»

Leaving? Learning!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I often do this at the end of the lesson. Good for differentiation.

I get the student to line up at the door and then I stand outside, in the corridor. I ask students to leave one by one and as they leave I ask them one question related to the topic we have just covered. When they have got it right, they can go. If they don’t get it right or don’t know I ask them to find out for next lesson or perhaps ask them something else or get them to tell me one thing they learned in the lesson.

The beauty of this activity is that each question can be tailored to the student and as no one else hears the students answer, it is non threatening.

Get the students to learn as the leave.

Why not give this one a go….

Making a Scene Out of Learning - the Value of Improvisation

Of course our students like a good chat, so why not channel that enthusiasm into a talking and learning activity. Some of my most enjoyable lessons last year involved students improvising and acting out scenes to demonstrate business and economic theory…

read more...»

What’s the Question?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I love this activity as it really gets the students thinking. What’s the question is extremely simple but so effective and can currently be seen in Mock the Week.

read more...»

Countdown - Starter/ Plenary

This is such a simple starter/ plenary based around the classic gameshow and an activity which students absolutely love.

At the start or end of the lesson I put 3 Key Word Conundrums (anagrams) on the board for the students to solve. These can be key words just covered in the lesson (for a plenary) or key words from the previous lessons if used as a starter.

Its an excellent way to stimulate discussion about the key words that have been covered.

Another way to utilise countdown is for mathematical problems. For example, getting students to complete mathematical or numerical questions to the countdown music. Students love the challenge of trying to beat the clock!

The countdown theme tune can be downloaded from a number of websites and really adds to the activity. This then gives the students 30 seconds to solve the conundrum or complete a numerical puzzle. I have the tune embedded on my interactive whiteboard.

To create the anagrams, I use an amazing anagram maker programme designed by a guy called Martin Mamo. All you do is enter the keyword and then the programme will create hundreds of anagrams for you. This can be accessed here and a huge virtual tip of the hat goes to Martin who has kindly allowed me to put the link on here. Many thanks Martin.

A great activity for any classroom. Give it a go!


© Copyright Tutor2u Limited 2013 All Rights Reserved