At 22, I still love the odd game of pass the parcel and having that excited (yet embarrassing) feeling of whether or not the parcel is going to stop on your lap. This is why I love the idea of pass the parcel plenary, an idea shared by a colleague and old uni friend.
Questioning is a key factor in our school at the moment and something that is on our head teacher’s radar, so as part of the PED champ team, we have to discover new and exciting ways that teachers can incorporate good questioning in their classroom. Pass the parcel plenary does just this.
Suitable for any age (again 22 over here), wrap a series of questions up (or for foundation stage adapt and use talking tins if children are unable to read) and when the music stops get the lucky child to open an answer their question. However, I do try to do this in a different way, for example ‘tell my why you have to make two groups when you double a number?’ Â As oppose to ‘What do you do when you double a number?’. Getting that explanation from the children again improves speaking and listening and typifies their true understanding of the topic they have been learning.
After speaking to numerous teachers on courses, meetings, moderations etc about their lessons I often hear the same comments time and time again, that they feel their plenaries aren’t as strong or as successful as what they would like them to be. More often than none, by the end of the lesson practitioners often want to pack up and move on to the next part of the day. We have all been there, you totally lose track of time (unless you are being observed) and then all of a sudden its time for the next activity.
This was something that I myself was guilty of during my NQT year at times, so something I knew I needed to develop. This year however, after making sure my plenary has an equally important part in my lesson I have truly seen the benefits in my children’s learning and progress. Ive filled the gaps a lot quicker, put intervention in place and identified the children’s next steps in their learning.
I did however want to avoid the usual ‘stand up and share with the class what you have been learning about routine so I had to start brainstorming ideas on how I could excite the children into sharing their learning and identifying what they needed next.
My first brilliant discovery came from my previous deputy head, who told me about her catwalk plenaries when she was class based. Immediately I fell in love!
Choose a tune of any kind (my favourite at the moment is Crazy in Love by Beyonce). Split the children into two groups on the carpet and make a ‘cat walk’ for you selected student(s). Play the music and one at a time welcome to children to the end of the catwalk who will then explain what they have been learning about in the lesson and answer questions from you if/when you ask. This can be adapted and manipulated where appropriate, but personally the basic idea is great and really assists our speaking and listening in Reception.