Tag Archives: Group work

T&L activity: Group AfL and developing student responses.

A nice example here from year 7 history last term. Activities are building upon one another, week to week, in order to increase the sophistication of response. In week one students feedback on statements using a ‘Graffiti wall’. Each student has a different coloured pen and must respond to several statements around the room. High quality responses are modeled first.

Grafitti wall year 7

The next week the same class uses ‘Consensus circles’ for a similar, but more sophisticated, example of AfL. Again, students are independently responding to statements (this time about the usefulness and reliability of sources), but in their regular ‘home’ groups they must collate the responses from the rest of the class for one statement, discuss them and form a consensus view to write in the inner circle. Each table can then feedback on their discussion to the whole class, or swap sheets.

Consensus circle year 7

T&L activity: Fox’s thinking tool.

Here’s a great example of an extended group work activity that can be structured for different group sizes and facilitates in-depth thought on a key question. Full instructions and resources are attached here. The example picture is from year 11 Science last term.

Fox's thinking tool

Fox Thinking Tool Instructions

Fox Thinking Tool Pieces

T & L activity of the week – Students deliver a connect activity

The ultimate goal of independent learning is that students take ownership of their own learning and therefore shape the lesson. This can be achieved through students planning and delivering a connect activity that recaps prior learning.

  • For homework, ask students to plan an activity that the class can complete at the start of next lesson that recaps what they learnt in that lesson;
  • This can be scaffolded by discussing as a class what type of activities teachers often set at the start of the lesson;
  • A list of activities could be given to students and they can rank them according to how effectively they help them learn and how appropriate they are to the lesson topic;
  • In the next lesson, either choose one activity to do or have groups of students completing their own tasks that they completed for homework.

T & L activity of the week – Challenge and Defend

This is a useful student-led questioning strategy that encourages high level thinking skills.

  • Students work in groups of 4;
  • A question is posed and each student writes a response on a post it note;
  • With their partner, they need to challenge the other pair’s ideas by questioning it and  also defend their idea to the other pair;
  • Swap the post it notes so each student now has an answer that is not their own one;
  • With their partner, repeat the challenge/ defend process (the idea is that it should be harder as students are not defending their own idea so it should require more thought).

T & L activity of the week – Consensus Circle

This is a useful student-led questioning strategy that requires students to discuss and refine their understanding of a concept, problem or topic in order to reach a judgement. Consensus may be used in preparation for work on a exam question or extended writing.

  • Give groups of students a piece of flipchart paper with a large circle in the middle;;
  • Pose the big question to the class and each student individually writes their own thoughts outside the circle;
  • Students discuss their thoughts and whenever agreement is reached the idea is written in the circle;
  • Contradictory statements or complex evidence can be provided for more able students and definitions and scaffolding for less able students;
  • Students share their consensus thoughts with other groups of students.

concensus circle

T & L activity of the week – Learning grids

Learning grid

This strategy is a useful revision activity that can be used in many different ways – to practise skills, make comparative judgements or encourage creative thinking.

       This activity works best when students produce their own learning grid – in each cell they write or draw a issue/skill relevant to the lesson topic;

       In pairs, students roll a dice to determine which cell they will explain;

       They then explain the topic in the cell to their partner and explain how it is related to the previous cell;

       In English, each cell could be a different descriptive writing technique and students roll the dice and then write a sentence using that technique;

       In Maths, this activity could be used to simplify algebraic expressions by removing brackets. In pairs, students use the dice to identify two cells and then work together to expand and simplify the expression.

T & L activity of the week – Thinking Hats.


This strategy is very useful for encouraging high level thinking and can be easily differentiated. It can be used as an activate or demonstrate task in which students are required to analyse a topic using different thinking skills.  

  • Allocate a hat to each student in the group (possibly allocating the white hat to the less able and the green hat to the more able).
  • Each student investigates a topic using their thinking hat.
  • Teach what they have found out using their hat to the rest of the group.
  • Consolidate the task by possibly completing a written summary for each hat.