Plenaries don't have to be extensive. They provide an opportunity to draw together ideas, summarise the outcomes of a lesson and direct future learning. They have a function in that they give pupils a focus on what is important, highlight what they have learnt, demonstrate the progress that they have made and help them identify the next steps. And in a cycle of learning, the starter reconnects students with previous learning that was consolidated in a plenary from a previous lesson.
Lets also remember that plenaries don't have to occur just at the end of a lesson, but be used part way through to consolidate knowledge.
Plenaries are a debrief with three main intentions (Fisher 2002):
- Pupils are asked to give answers and explain how they arrived at them and the skills they needed to use;
- In the process of explaining, pupils have to develop and use appropriate language;
- They can then be encouraged to see how these processes can be used in other areas.
A plenary is a bridge. Bridging allows a teacher to make a link between the learning in a lesson and learning in another, or to the everyday real world (which in these times is essential and widely encouraged).
The following list is by no means comprehensive, but particularly useful and effective in Media Studies:
- List three things you found out today
- summarise the topic/character/scene in five bullet points
- compose a text message, summarising what you've learnt today in lesson
- Identify/summarise the key points of the lesson
- Pupils talk about most important thing a peer has said in the lesson and give reasons why
- Give students a post it note, get them to write the main thing they learnt from lesson and what they most enjoyed. Students then come up to the front and post on the board - teacher picks out some and re-emphasises them.
- students create a mnemonic to help them remember the concepts/content of the lesson
- Give students a passage of text with key words missing - they must fill in the blanks (variation: some have different texts and must read out to class once complete).
- A word search of main terms (you can create wordsearches easily using this site)
- If the lesson aim was set as a question, pupils use their whiteboards to answer (you could impose a word limit or encourage subject specific terminology to challenge)
- Take one minute to compose one or two statements in your head to explain what has been learnt and how you learnt it (good for A-level)
- Ask students where they can apply their newly acquired skills - either in homework, other subject or real world.
- Create a list of statements on the board (five is good) and ask students to choose their top one (or three) and explain their reasoning.
- Prediction - get students to say what will happen next and explain why (could be good for showing a video clip)
- Ask class to reflect and resolve any difficulties which prohibited effective learning (yes, it can happen)
- Students pair up and look at each others work - they then set each other targets
- Teacher shows/gives students an extract from a piece of work. Pupils must identify strengths and weaknesses and feedback for redrafting.
- Answer teacher's questions without saying yes or no.
- True of False - students given a range of true and false statements (try to pick random students for this)
- Write the epitaph for a character/institution you have been studying
- Jigsaw Feedback - class put into groups to sort task, then must reform as a class to share their findings
- Roleplay reversal - students as teacher asking rest of the class questions and explain why you want to know.
- Quick fire oral quiz to review/revisit learning
- Label a diagram, illustration or screenshot/storyboard - using appropriate terminology
- Brainstorm or mindmap what has been learnt during the lesson
- Show a graphic summary of lesson to demonstrate how students have learnt
- Choose an image/cartoon that best summarises the learning of the lesson
- In role, hot seating activity.