A Level GCSE Media Studies Secondary Secondary English

Secondary English – Building Learning Power

Sometimes you need to make sure your class knows a deluge of information; this might be before an exam, before you start a topic or midway through to check understanding. As we are told again and again, simply ‘telling’ your pupils means they retain very little of the information, ‘doing’ increases their ‘Learning Power’ and allows them to remember the information due to the way it was taught.

With this in mind, ‘Building Learning Power’ lessons work really well and create a lively learning atmosphere in your room. These lessons also engage all learners, use group work and work especially well with classes where pupils have issues sitting still!

How it works
Before the pupils enter the room, set up a couple of tables in an area that has a lot of room. Station yourself at these tables with a timer or have the timer running on your interactive white board. On the tables place your ‘fact sheets’ face down, make sure you have enough for one between two for each group. (See my example for the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’)

Put pupils into groups of 4, 2 ‘runners’ and 2 ‘writers’. Each table should have one blank grid sheet. (Download an example grid here)

Your ‘runners’ have one minute to get to the table and memorise as much as they can from their fact sheet. After the minute they put the fact sheet back face down and return to their ‘writers’ who need to record the right information into the right box. This is repeated around 10 times, depending on how your group is progressing. What I love about this activity is that most of the groups will come up with a strategy, some memorise different areas of the sheet and others make up rhymes for key events or mouth the words over and over.

After the activity is over you can give groups a mark out of 5 (1 for each box) for the information they retained. It is also worth doing a plenary that involves the groups having to put their sheets under their chairs and asking them questions from the fact sheets to test how much they can remember. I always back this up with a similar style starter for next lesson to ensure the information is really wedged in there! The resources can be tailor made for any event, I’ve used them for Media lessons when pupils need to learn a lot of terminology as well as A Level lessons where pupils need to memorise poems.

Joanna Fliski
Teacher of English, Media and Drama, Lliswerry High School

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