An article by Richard James Rogers
Every good lesson should end with some form of plenary. A plenary offers the chance to review the concepts, information and skills covered in your lesson, as well as providing a fun way for students to end a session of learning.
Let’s take a look at some of the best plenaries out there – all of which have been tried and tested and have been found to work with any lesson and any subject area. I’ve tried to include those activities that draw out the most cognitive output from the students, and therefore have the greatest benefits. However, if you’re looking for hundreds of quick ideas, then both the University of Southampton and the University of Essex have published documents outlining, briefly, some great plenaries that you can try.
This is such a simple game and it’s tons of fun! Any lesson you teach, no matter if it’s playing football in P.E. or writing sonnets in English, will involve the use of specialist vocabulary. Why not review this vocabulary with a fun game at the end of your lesson? It’ll provide your students with a short break and will help them to link concepts together.
#2: Use graphic organizers
Do you know what graphic organizers are? They are becoming increasingly popular in schools and offer a great way for students to link ideas, concepts, information, skills and background thinking in a visual way. Take a look at these examples below, kindly shared by Doug and Melissa over at Write Design. How could you use these (or others – please check the website!) to provide meaningful conclusions to your lessons?
Examples of Graphic Organisers
#3: Play ‘corners’
This is so much fun that you often have to calm the students down half-way through! It’s a very competitive game, and lends itself well to both closed and open questioning. When you couple it with your schools rewards system (e.g. merits or house points) it can really get your kids motivated and thinking. Perfect for a Friday afternoon (trust me – I know).
#4: Cartoon strip
Students create a cartoon strip that goes through what they learnt that lesson. You can even print out a three or six-box grid for the kids if you like. Really gets the creative juices flowing! Students can do this by hand, or can even create comic strips online. The one below was created at http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/ and it only took five minutes!
Can be used with words or numbers. Takes some setting up, but is great fun and really helps the students to learn a lot!
#6: Mystery Word
Another simple game. Fun and takes minutes to set up. Kids love it!
#7: Who am I?
A fun and childish game. Kids of all ages love this (even at 18 years old!). Again, simple, easy, fun and productive.
#8: Musical chairs
Can be used with maths problems, vocabulary, concepts or actions. Be careful that students don’t trip up or fall! They need lots of room to run!
#9: Mystery Picture
This is probably the most cognitively challenging plenary that I’ll mention today. It really encourages deep learning, but requires the teacher to have a good control over the class. Worth the effort! Give it a go!
#10: Snake or Break
You’ll need space for this, but it’s simple and fun. Again, can be adapted to suit vocabulary, maths problems, concept questions, etc.
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