Consolidating student learning: lesson closures and plenaries

At the beginning of this teaching year I set myself the professional goal of improving my lesson closures/plenaries.  Students need the opportunity to consolidate their learning by reflecting on new material, making important links and recapping on newly learned facts and concepts. This year I have tried and tested a number of different lesson closure activities in my history and geography classes.  I found that the most basic lesson closures (such as me summarising key information or having a student do the summary) were a bit bland and didn’t engage all students in the activity.  Here are my top 5 which require the students to do all the work (in no apparent order):

  • PCQ (P= Pros  C= Cons  Q= Questions)(Courtesy of ITC Publications®, 2012 Secondary Diary) The pros and cons require convergent thinking (based on logic or information), whereas the questions require divergent or out-of-the-box thinking. There are a number of ways to extend this tool. 
  • 3:2:1:RIQ (3 Recalls, 2 Insights, 1 Question) (ITC Publications®, 2011 Secondary Diary)
  • PEEL paragraph response  Pose a hypothesis or question and ask students to respond using PEEL (POINT, ELABORATIONS (explain + evidence), LINK.  Number of stars*** indicates number of Elaborations required.  This one can be time-consuming.
  • Acrostic facts (McGrath, H. & Noble, T. 2005. Eight Ways at Once (2nd Ed). Pearson: Frenchs Forest, NSW.) Students write the name of an important concept or person they are studying vertically down the left hand side of the page and must write one phrase or sentence starting with each letter to describe that concept or person.
  • Lightening writing (McGrath, H. & Noble, T. 2005. Eight Ways at Once (2nd Ed). Pearson: Frenchs Forest, NSW.) Students have a set timeframe (2-3 minutes) to write as many responses as possible to a posed question. 

Planning for and implementing such lesson closure activities in my classes enables me to formatively assess student learning (and reflect on my own teaching strategies) and design future lesson sequences in response.  These activities could be used to demonstrate National Professional Teaching Standards 3 and 5.

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