Tag Archives: Thinking skills

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 – Tarsia jigsaw puzzles

Tarsia Jigsaw

Tarsia is a nifty piece of software that creates complex jigsaw style puzzles. This is a engaging way of introducing challenge and independent learning

       To download the software go to


       Input the information and the software will create a puzzle automatically for you;

       In pairs or groups, students then match up the sides of the triangles so that they complement or correspond with each other in some way. This could be matching keywords to definitions and examples;

       This activity can be made less challenging through providing a simpler shape (several shape options are available);

       Challenge can be introduced through using images instead of descriptions and removing triangles and asking students to identify the solution.

April INSET – Deep learning and ‘Wow’ factor.

deep learning pic

Some really thought-provoking slides from Peter and Harrison’s session on shifting away from ‘pace of activities’ to ‘pace and depth of learning’. Plus a full set of ideas and resources for adding ‘Wow’ factor to lessons.

Deep Learning INSET April 2013



The Eight Motivation Triggers




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.

Questioning strategies – a resource pack

For the last fortnight, Monday afternoon T&L sessions have looked at questioning techniques. We’ve had carousels to share some great ideas for planning your own questioning, and encouraging students to question each other in different ways. This is just a quick post to share one of the resource packs from the session.

Questioning resource pack 1

It’s a scan of class resources, so apologies if its a bit grainy or difficult to read. Very happy to go through any of these you might be interested in.

Hope it’s useful.

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.

T & L activity of the week – Pass the Parcel.

ParcelThis strategy is useful as an engaging connect that encourages high level thinking. Plus, it’s fun.

  • Use an object that is related to the lesson topic.
  • Write a series of clues about what the object is on strips of paper.
  • Wrap up the object in layers of wrapping paper with a clue in each layer
  • Play music and pass the parcel around the students.
  • Stop the music at several points and the student holding the parcel unwraps one layer and reads the clue.
  • Continue until the object has been identified.