Wednesday, 8 July 2009

What makes a great plenary?

New TeachFirst teachers have landed at our school for alternative schools week. Trainee teachers are brilliant because they ask the 'bread and butter' questions that I sometimes forget I even know the answer to. My favourite yesterday was, "What makes a great plenary?"

I paused. Racking my brain I wondered what it was about the plenaries I routinely used that meant I had first thought they were useful. Here's what I decided:

1. Easy to pack away. Ideally it should be something students can do when they are already packed as this means they are settled and learning for the plenary and there is no last minute clean-up as you change classes.
2. Uses knowledge from the lesson
3. Memorable - try and keep it something that students will want to do rather than as something they 'have' to do before they leave
4. Something that you can refer to next lesson. This is the absolute ideal plenary, but if it prompts a question or gets them hooked ready for the next lesson then you will have an excited class next time. For instance, if you have students do an activity that consolidates their learning and then pose a question for next time they will leave excited about next time.

For some of my favourite plenaries see previous posts:
160 character sum-ups
The Skills Tree