It’s the start of the new academic year. Teachers and students across the country are full of enthusiasm and excitement. Maybe. If you’re anything like me you’re already on your knees under a huge backlog of paperwork and expectation. What summer holiday?

Isn’t this why we do this job though? Through a haze of near permanent exhaustion we do still have that enthusiasm and excitement. When we shut the door of our classrooms and really get to the heart of what we’re there for, a magic happens which somehow makes it all worth it.

Now seems to be the perfect time for my first post. It’s a idea that I’ve tried out before with success and it doesn’t take any preparation (yay!). The idea is a simple one but it gets students to think carefully about communication. It also forces links between sessions, which is an important precedent for the start of the year.

On mini whiteboards, iPads or paper, ask your learners to summarise a section of learning from a previous session in exactly twenty words. Then ask them to reduce it to ten words, then five words. It really helps them to get to the crux of their previous learning. It also helps them to develop the key skill of summary writing.

Of course, this can be used as a mini plenary during the lesson or a full plenary at the end.

I’m going to use this as a starter with my classes tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed that I won’t end up with a sea of blank faces when I ask them what we did last session!

Mini whiteboard

Here we go again!

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