I am an unashamed admirer of hexagons in the classroom. Hexagon activities (which can be found elsewhere on this blog) promote deeper and independent thinking on any topic as well as focus on different elements when answering a specific, exam focused question. They encourage students to make links between different elements of a topic and forces them to e plain and employ higher order skills.
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With such an activity, some students can find hexagons a challenge – especially Key Stage 3 and less able students. This is because the very skills hexagons encourage are higher order ones that students can struggle with. As a result, I have been thinking about modifiying hexagon activities to make them more accessible to all students without diluting the outcome of sharpening students’ higher order skills set. Coupled with this I have experimenting with a variety of visual resources, such as creating comic strips and word clouds – some of which you may have seen elsewhere on the blog.
Putting these two together, I have experimented with usual visual hexagons. I create them using the Moldiv app, as recommended by Mark Anderson (@ICT Evangelist). I give my students a fixed hexagon pattern like the one below with images relating to a central question or topic in each hexagon. Usually, I give students an A5 size copy of the hexagon pattern so they can stick it in their exercise book and write next to it.
Firstly, students must identify the images and how they relate to the central question. The image can represent not only a specific person or event but also a larger point that may summarise an area or bigger aspect which link to the set question. This can be part of a starter exercise in a lesson. Once students are clear about each image, students can then complete the main task which is to explain each link between the images where the sides of the hexagons touch. To add competition and engagement, this can be completed in pairs under a time limit. Once the time runs out, there can be a class discussion where each pair share their links and students can fill in any links they have missed or write improved ones from others.
This task can be extended by asking the class extension questions to promote thinking, such as –
What other images can fit in the middle of the hexagon pattern?
What other images could be used in the pattern?
If you had to replace one image from the hexagon pattern, which one would you remove?
Once students have completed the visual hexagon task a few times, you want to place greater challenge, freedom and independence by giving students blank hexagon patterns for them to fill in on a given question or topic. Alternatively, visual hexagon tasks can also be used for –
Revision activities – reviewing a topic and preparing students for an exam in an active and engaging way.
Plenary – summarising learning in a lesson and encouraging students to demonstrate their progress utilising higher order explanation skills.
Planning an essay – visual hexagons can be used to prepare students for a specific exam question.
These visual hexagon activities create engagement in lessons and can provide students with a visual learning aid which gives the hooks to prompt memory as well as attractive summary of a topic or question within a students’ notes.
Find below an excellent example of a student’s work on a visual hexagon exercise, explaining the links and exhibiting higher order thinking to an outstanding level.