Perfect Plenaries

This week’s 15-minute forum was led by new head of business studies Mark Hodgson on the subject of the ‘perfect plenary’. Mark isn’t on Twitter yet, but we’re trying to convert him!

When asked by my T&L lead to come up with the perfect plenary I was a little stumped! I mean…how do you define perfect? So off I went, racking my brain for the various ways in which I try to maintain interest and assess what the students have learned throughout a lesson.

Then it hit me on my iPod over the Easter period: Pink Floyd…. duh, obviously!!

Pink Floyd's 'Time'

Instrumental cover to Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’

WALT: What links Pink Floyd to a plenary?

I thought about the key aspects required for a plenary:

  • Time (see above!)
  • Interactivity
  • Your chosen plenary strategy
  • The key points or objectives from your lesson

We all know we should do a plenary and by monitoring our time we should be able to give ourselves 5-10 mins to assess learning (it doesn’t have to be at the end of the lesson either). This is fundamental – if we don’t do this, then how are we going to know what our students have learned? Just as important, how are they going to know?

Then we need to ask ourselves what do we want to achieve from the plenary? Recap of key objectives? Continuation for next lesson? The perfect answer? And so on.

So how to do it? There are many ways including: What links (pictures at the start to generate discussion and then revisit them at the end of the lesson to grasp their true meaning)… Balance Sheet Bingo (yes, you read that correctly)…Bizcuss (Student led Q&A)… Learning Cubes (a cube is bounced around the class with a variety of questions)… Student role play… Gimme 5… beat the teacher… the perfect answer…donut (great for peer assessment and AFL)… post it notes on students foreheads…

So I met with the staff and showed them a few things that I do, we had a discussion and came up with plenty more besides. I unashamedly gave the those who were at the forum a list of 40 ideas for a plenary (sorry guys), but in practice the only limit is imagination!

Remember there are many variables when conducting your plenary (student ability/involvement/behaviour/size of class etc.) so this was the next issue – think about what you are going to try (take a risk) and ensure that you hammer your point home!

Pink Floyd’s The Wall

Pink Floyd’s The Wall


A Plenary about Plenaries: So what links Pink Floyd to a plenary? Take the Time to Hammer your Point home!

And they might not be ‘perfect’ but they get the job done!

If you use any of the ideas from this post, please leave a comment below and let us know how well it worked!


About Stacey Partridge

Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching & Learning and CPD, Stem, Transition & primary liaison. Applied Learning Quality Nominee, CEIAG, Prince's Trust and SMSC. Wellacre Academy Flixton, Greater Manchester
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