The attention and detail given to plenaries in the classroom can be varied from setting to setting, but the importance of this part of this learning experience is currently high on the agenda with a shift from moving the plenary from the end of the session too many mini-plenaries occurring within a lesson. Coping and managing this demand in any classroom environment can sound very challenging, but the plenary can look very different, with a variety of style key to ensuring pupils reflect on their learning. In his “Book of Plenary”, Phil Beadle offers a great variety of plenary ideas, acknowledging the important place the practice has in Assessment for Learning. Offering 22 analogue plenary ideas (including a challenge to pupils to describe the exact opposite of what they have learnt in the lesson; not sharing your lesson objective until the end; and Spaced Repetition) as well as various ideas for integrating technology within the plenary, this book also discusses the importance of metacognition. This interesting chapter looks at how meta-cognitive approaches are the second most effective means of improving student outcomes – teaching pupils strategies to plan and evaluate their own learning; a clear connection with the plenary which allows time to reflect on the learning in the lesson.
One problem with schooling, timetabling and social demands is that time is not allowed for deep thinking. We expect the “Ah, I get it” moment from pupils within the classroom, whereas the penny might drop hours, days or weeks later as the brain processes the information in its own individual way. This is where the plenary can be dangerous, as a deeper understanding of the lesson objective may not necessarily take place within the 50-minute time slot demanded. One of the most effective strategies offered within this book is the ‘Spaced Repetition’ process of plenary which allows and accounts for this processing, even as a topic moves on within the subject – this is relevant for all subjects.
Different plenary strategies will work better for some than others. Some classes will enjoy one method of plenary you use, whereas the same method will be an endurance to others. This book is a great resource to help you develop, mix and match your plenary sessions to pupils and is worthy of a place on any teachers bookshelf for reference when plenaries need refreshing.
For those wanting to use technology to support plenaries within subjects, here are a few apps ukedchat suggest that can help support classroom reflections:
- Socrative for iPad or Android – (Free) A great app, and web service that allows teachers to gain feedback and reflections from pupils.
- Eidetic – (iOS – Free) Eidetic uses a technique called spaced repetition to help you memorise anything from important phone numbers to interesting words or facts.
- AnkiDroid – (Android – Free) – AnkiDroid lets you learn flashcards very efficiently by showing them just before you will forget. It is fully compatible with the spaced repetition software Anki (including synchronization), which is available for Windows, Linux and MacOS.
- MindNode Mindmapping – (iOS – £6.99) Mindmapping is a great idea for plenary. Read our review on one of the best iPad apps here.
- Teach Quick (iPhone – £0.69) Teach Quick provides over 200 lesson starter and lesson plenary ideas to help you plan exciting, original and thought-provoking lessons to keep students engaged and help with learning. A free (lite) version also available here.
The book, “How to Teach: The Book of Plenary” by Phil Beadle is available from Amazon priced £11.69*, available for Kindle priced £9.29*, and is published by Independent Thinking Press. Click on the links below to view via Amazon.