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Strategies that have been shown to reinforce student learning:

3, 2, 1

Have students read an article and identify three things they learnt, two questions they’ve still got and one interesting fact.


Students are to summarise an article or lesson content into a 160 character text or a visual summary. Students could write this as a draft in their phone, and text another class member in class (if appropriate) - students could peer review the text and give 2 stars and 1 wish. Or the students could get in groups and pick the best summary and share with class.

An extension of this can be to summarise an essay or topic, then to summarise the summary and so on until you are left with one sentence, or phrase or, even, one word.


Give students a subject-specific paragraph/piece of work and get students to paraphrase this into their own words


Collaborative direct instruction - create a powerpoint presentation and students can add comments, including voice and text comments and ‘talk about the learning’ - create an online prosocial learning environment! Fantastic for analysing visual resources e.g. close reading images, film sequences etc.

Unpack Words/Academic language

Students pick words, or teachers give the key words that need to be unpacked. Or could copy text into the Paul Nation website and choose a specific colour to do .Students could create word cards or grids with the following info:


-Definition for a 10yr old

-Academic definition (in context of class/question)

-2 or 3 synonyms

-Visual image

-Use in sentence

Xtra - find an NCEA question and answer for the word/concept

Or you could Four Square the word. Divide a square into 4, 1st square has the term, 2nd square has dictionary definition, 3rd square has a definition (or example) that is in student language, the 4th square has a drawing that shows their understanding.

Creation of exam questions

Students their own exam questions. This can focus on areas of strengths and or weaknesses - makes them experts. The other students can then do those questions so it creates further revision.

Collaborative Textbook

Students collaborate on a wikieducator page to create an exhaustive resource for revision.

Can add links to other revision work they’ve done - e.g. Prezi, voicethreads etc.

Scaffolding can help this - see wikieducator pages for English texts e.g. Hunger Games

Collaborative Mindmaps

Students collaborate on graphic organisers using webtools such as Prezi. Students can make connections between ideas/texts etc and link in more visual resources (making use of Prezi’s easy youtube and image embedding). Note, the end result need not be a presentation...

Collaborative Writing

This could be used for any writing task, possibly even for note taking. At the top of a page, write a question or idea. In my case, students were told to use the S.E.E format to record their responses. (Statement, example, explain). Each student has 5 minutes to write. After 5 minutes the papers are shuffled around and pick up where the previous person left off.

I copied the raw responses for each student.

Progressions could include:

  • Mark one of the responses in its current state. (they must refer to the standard or marking schedule about their decision)
  • Work on taking the response that has been marked up 1 Level.

TEMPERS (Technique, Example, Meaning, Purpose, Effect, Relevance)

Ss analyse unfamiliar text using ‘tempers’ (scaffolding needed prior to attempting activity independently (15-20 min lesson); ensure worksheet provided).


Student create a story with them in it using the theory from the lesson and share with the class. Option: Can do this through flip cameras, Where students present a news bulletin aligning the theory with youtube clips, especially helpful if doing case studies in other countries....alternatively you could extend the learning outside the classroom, if students are focusing on a local topic.

Double Bubble to compare and contrast

Students compare to ideas / concepts / items, write each idea in a circle and in middle write down similarity between two ideas, around the outside other ideas that are the differences. Could use online tools to do this, eg

Could use for students to make comparisons between units, subjects and what they are doing in the 3 strands.


One of the problems I have identified within Hard Materials Technology, is getting students to write descriptively.

A typical situation is where the student has to write a CONCEPTUAL STATEMENT. Here the student has to gather data from research, data from the client they are designing and making for, and data from any other stakeholders. They then have to write a statement about WHAT they intend to design and make based upon this collected data. A lot of these statements are wish washy, do not contain enough information or are very simplistic “ I am going to make a wooden box out of plywood”

The GAME I employ here is to photocopy these statements, and then hand them out to other students who have to make a sketch of what they think the outcome is intended to be. This clearly and visually shows the shortcomings in a students conceptual statement. The original statement writer is then given the sketch and an opportunity now exists to see where the shortcomings in their statements are.

Some fun can be had, choosing your victims carefully, showing how some sketches bear no relation to the intended outcome.

Another game is to draw a simple shape into the top half of an A4 piece of paper

[[Image:]] like the one shown here

These are handed out to the students. In the bottom half of the paper the students have to DESCRIBE the shape using words only, no pictures.

These are then cut off and handed out to other students. They then have to re-create the shape using the descriptive text.

This picture is then “mated” with the original to compare

Again some carefully selected victims can have a little fun poked at them when their shape looks nothing like the original.

This actually reinforces two things. How to be more effective at descriptive writing and how to read “instructions” carefully.

Who wants to be a Gizillionaire?

- Students create a game show on topic/subject

- You play this in class

- Teacher plays too

- Prizes for winners

- Like those ones on the plane

Table-mat / Place-mat

Students create an A4 place-mat for a topic. Categories for which information must be included are given :

  • topic title / concept
  • a visual / image
  • subject specific terms / concepts / process words / verbs
  • adjectives / descriptive words
  • recent events / examples / applications of the topic or concept

( Adrian) can I add to this that maybe these can be laminated? This is a similar activity I did with the Cub group I used to run where they did a WHO AM I place mat of images and text. these were stuck onto an A4 sheet of card and laminated. My eldest son 18 in 2 weeks time, still uses his.

Split a Task and get the students to teach it!!

Split the topic you are going to teach next lesson and give the students small areas to go and research and prepare a presentation, they then come to the next lesson ready to present their findings to the rest of the class, this way you can cover a wide topic quickly.

Reinforcing structure in writing

Students are to find a diagram from any of their subjects and transfer the visual information into a paragraph. Ask them to use the structure they have been taught in English: PEER, SEA, SEX. This reinforces that structure in writing and using specific examples is important in EVERY subject.

Visual representation of ideas

Drawing subject ideas to enhance memory and recall to increase understanding of the content. Stimulate creativity and to personalise the ideas allowing the students to develop a mental picture of the concepts.

Graphing relationships

Students choose variables within a text study and design a graph for it themselves. EG: Time vs tension in a film, time vs character change, time vs savagery in Lord of the Flies. Students also annotate the line with quotes/examples.

This can also get way more complex with multiple lines to graphi different things and compare the change between them. EG: One line to map increasing aggression for a character over time and another line to map decreasing connection with others in the text.

3 Level Reading Guides

Text could be an article/passage/picture/financial statements - anything goes

You or students write L1 (black and white statements), L2 (reading between the lines) and L3 (thinking outside the square) statements in which students either agree or disagree with and must think of reasons (esp for L2 and L3) - based on the text

Could just get students to come up with a couple of questions as opposed to doing whole activity

Unpacking assessment wording.

Get students to print off either a task or an assessment matrix. Get them to turn it into ‘student friendly speak’. Provide 2 easy tips to get Excellence and write down one question they need to ask the class/teacher.

Tracking your learning

Start this when you know a student is starting a new unit, it may be in response to “I have nothing to do in tutorial because we have just started a new unit”

1. Student either draw or write down everything they know about the topic they are studying, find out their prior knowledge.

2. midway through the unit, do exactly the same exercise. Compare with what they did at the beginning of the unit. Highlight all of the new knowledge they have gained. Highlight in a different colour if their prior knowledge hasn’t been covered, encourage them to start a conversation with their teacher on this information.

3. Do the exercise one final time before an end of topic assessment. Student need to take note of the stuff they remembered midway but have now forgotten. It is nice for students to see the progression in their learning!