Saturday, 18 January 2014

This week I've tried...

It's been a busy couple of weeks at school and more than ever I've relied on high impact activities that require little planning or resources to help me get through them! See below for a few ideas, more can be found on my 'instant activities' powerpoint available on slideshare at: and on TES to download (with comments on each activity) at:

TarsiaI absolutely love Tarsia - I think it was originally designed for use in maths but it works for any subject at all and it's FREE to download here: If you don't have it on your computer then save the activities as pdf files to print in school.I print one puzzle between two (choose the 'output' tab at the bottom so the pieces are muddled up) and get students to cut them out before doing the puzzle. They then hand them in at the end of the lesson and I paperclip each puzzle together and put them in an envelope so they can be used as the starter in the next lesson and then for revision after that.They take a little bit of time to put in the questions and answers but it's a worthwhile investment, and maybe get together with colleagues to develop a bank of them for different topics. They're a great way of testing whether students have understood the key ideas (if they have they'll make the correct shape!) and if some groups finish sooner get them to write the top 5 facts from the puzzle, or start to design their own, as an extension task.

Video narrationSuper quick and easy but really gets students to think. Select a video and show it to students without any sound - tell them they will be providing the narration. I show the video twice, the first time just for students to watch and the second time for them to note down any key events in the video that might be considered in their narration. After this students are given time to write their scripts in pairs (I insist on them putting their name in the margin for what each student will say otherwise they tend to go off task...) whilst the video is played several times in the background.If it is a short video and a small class you can get each pair to do their narration (this worked fine with a 1 minute video and an A level Chemistry class with four pairs) or if it is a longer video or there are more students you can play ten seconds of the video with the first pair narrating before pausing it and randomly selecting another pair to continue the narration from where the last pair finished. Thanks to a former colleague for this brilliant idea!

Writing letters to another classMy students absolutely loved this idea and really got into the idea of writing to other students! As a plenary get students to sum up what they learnt during the lesson (referring back to the lesson objectives) but write it on a sheet of paper as a letter to students in another class. I put up the register from another class and give each student writing the letter a specific student to address it to before I pass the letter on to that student in their next lesson. This works well if you have two classes that you teach the same thing to, or you could pair up with a colleague so you can 'post' letters between classes, or even get students to write to a younger or older class and adjust their style of writing accordingly.