A teaching and learning inventory

Nightmare before exam time

An idea alongside quick thinking was one first suggested by @littlestobbsy – getting pupils to write out and plan their nightmare exam questions.

Nightmare before the exam

Getting pupils to do this helps to build confidence and works as excellent revision. I usually get kids to write their own questions which is quite a skill – many of them struggle and they find it hard, but this is what we want!

Please find attached resource:

Nightmare before exam time

Quick Thinking Exam Questions

As part of revision, we discuss with pupils the need to plan and think about your answer within the first few minutes of the exam. The first minutes can be crucial and can get their brain into gear, therefore we have begun quick thinking exam practice.

Simply, the students write down their paragraphs they will include within 30 seconds to 1 minute. Ones they struggle with we discuss and peer share, they also can create their own for peers to complete. My Y11 really enjoyed it and I have begun to use on every topic in these last frantic weeks!

Quick Thinkin Exam Q's

Please find attached resource

Quick Thinking Vietnam Question

Quick Thinking Questions

Significance Stars

A version of the fantastic resource made by @aheadofhistory originally.

Can be used to rank the importance of factors, GREAT significance criteria or the extent of change and continuity. Simply, pupils rank between 1-5 and put a cross on the line to show this and then match them up.

I have recently used at KS4 to look at AQA 12 mark questions and then writing a conclusion.

Significance Star 1

Please find attached resource:

Significance Star

Highlighter Marking

Another favourite peer marking technique of mine that allows students’ to identify the key components of an exam question or assessment. As it’s so visual, I have found that it works well with low ability pupils.

Can be used across KS3-KS5 – I initially model with a practice example and then pupils peer assess each others.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 20.46.29

Pupils enjoy it is a great different style of peer assessment that can be used to mix things up.

Please find attached template:

Highlighter Marking

Breaking down events

Students often struggle to move past the description/explanation of an event in exams and assessments – this simple tool allows pupils to delve into deeper analysis and evaluation of the importance of a single event. See instructions below:

Breaking Down

Please find attached resource:

Breaking Down


MEKAKO Source Analysis

Ever since i started teaching last year, I always struggled to get my head around teaching the AQA Unit 1 6 mark questions. I went too far into unpicking them and confused both myself and students on a question which is essentially small and simple.

My colleague  is an expert and helped team teach the class (and me) on a much simpler way to answer/structure these questions. We then decided to use the mnemonic MEKAKO to help students remember this.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 15.18.35.png

Simply put, students need to ensure they use the source and own knowledge to agree/disagree with the source’s suggestion. Therefore, the MEKAKO allows students to do this!

The poster is rather simple to follow, but to aid your understanding the A means to discuss the reliability of the source. So, why would the author have this view, what is their motive or audience. Try to get students to argue the source is reliable



Assessment Feedback Sheets

Alongside developing more effective marking techniques, I have also been looking at our assessment marking and how we can improve it. We are currently trialling code marking which we will be rolling out from September at KS3, but I decided to trial assessment feedback sheets as seen by @MrsHumanities on her excellent blog

Marking sheet

Really simple – you create the WWW/EBI as part of your success criteria when designing the assessment. Highlight the feedback you wish to give, leave a comment and pupils respond with self assessment and then answer a Purple Pen Question.

The pupils find easy to understand and act on

Assessment Sheets

Please find attached resource you can edit 🙂

Assessment Feedback Sheet Final

Magnify a Source

As we have a 3 year GCSE, we started the new GCSE specification in September (eventually moving to Edexcel in January, but thats another story) and have spent the last year working on developing our source skills for KS3/Ks4.

Having seen and used laminates before for sources/questioning I feel they work well, especially with LA pupils. I have been trialling across all years, even my Y10 found it useful for some of the trickier sources as part of their current AQA course.

Magnify a Source.jpg

Also a good simple way to revise sources, wipe clean and start again!

Please find attached resource:

Magnify a Source

Tip – Cut out the circle with a craft knife and then laminate!

Pie Chart Analysis

This was one of those random ideas that came to me when I wasn’t working but it made me grab my laptop to create it. I wanted to find a way for pupils to visualise the importance of a range of things, and dividing space on a pie chart to signify this worked so well. Pupils use it to then explain the importance of the different parts in relation to the enquiry question.

See below results – I trialled two different styles of pie chart

See below instructions used with Y9.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 20.18.57

Please find attached resource.

Pie Chart Activity


My first use of the Solo Taxonomy when I was an NQT was finding a way to link it to hexagons for an observation – came up with this super cheesy ‘Are you a hex-pert’ activity (kids still laugh whenever I use it!).

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 11.36.35

I simply use it with visual hexagons to push students to develop their thinking and application of knowledge along the solo taxonomy route.

hexpert 3hexpert 2Hexpert 1

Pupils complete the task given, using success criteria and this is peer assessed using the hex-pert criteria. They grade the work using a B/S/G hexpert sticker and then improvements are made in red.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 11.36.45

Please find attached ppt. slide and stickers (to be printed on 65 per sheet address labels)

Hex-Pert Hexpert Stickers

S.P.I.T Marking

Another peer assessment idea I trialled in my NQT year that I like to use to keep peer marking of assessments fresh.

SPIT Marking

Really simple idea: pupil’s assess using the S.P.I.T criteria; Spag, Positives, Improvements and Targets and mini post-its to peer assess exam questions/assessments.



Comic Strips

Another favourite activity of mine introduced by the excellent John Mitchell @jivespin.

Comic Strips created using Halftone 2 can provide a great way to consolidate learning, explain impact/causation/consequence or simple to provide a revision resource.

Comic Strip 3


A really simple plenary that allows pupils to visually highlight their learning/progress.

Etch a Sketch 1    Etch a Sketch 2

Attached resource:

Etch a Sketch

ABC Feedback

A great activity that can be used throughout the lesson in a variety of formats. I always tell my students that great historians can agree/disagree and argue a point regardless of their own personal thoughts. Secondly, I like to use this at KS3 to develop student’s agree/disagree skills for GCSE questions – embedding lower down really helps by Y9.

ABC Feedback 1

Simply, students are asked to ABC a peer’s judgement – this can be verbally or written out. They must agree, build upon or challenge the opinion that has been given. I especially like using this with judgement lines as a plenary.

ABC Feedback 2  ABC Feedback 3

Please find attached ppt. slide

ABC Feedback Plenary


Tetris Quiz

A really simple starter/plenary/AfL or revision.

Pupils create a quiz using questions, pictures etc in each of the Tetris blocks

Tetris Quiz 1

Please find attached resource

Tetris Quiz

Significance Hexagons

Developing pupils’ skills in the key concepts (causation, change & continuity, significance etc.) was something that was drilled into me during my PGCE at Edge Hill and it is something I love to teach still. Luckily, there is a wide variety of frameworks out there, especially in Teaching History, which prove essential in teaching these concepts.

For some reason, I particularly enjoy teaching significance and with the current love-in with hexagons, I create Significance Hexagons.Using the G.R.E.A.T criteria by Rob Phillips, pupils use sources and information to complete the hexagon with evidence from each to answer the question ‘How significant was D-Day?’. This was used as preparation for an assessment the next lesson.

Significance Hexagon 2

See attached example for D-Day

D-Day Hexagon

What’s Missing?

In my never-ending quest to try peer assessment and critique ideas, I decided to trial ‘What’s Missing’. The aim is for my GCSE pupils to work on developing model answers through improving their peers’ exam question answers.

A rather simple idea, where pupils answer an exam question and leave 5/6 lines between each paragraph so that their partner can add improvements to effectively level up the paragraph. Another way is to answer question on A4 paper and cut it out and stick into books to improve.

This has been beneficial to many of my students as it pushes them to re-read their notes and find ways to improve an answer, regardless whether it has achieved a U or A*.

Attached is resource ppt.

Whats Missing


Switch It! 

A further peer assessment activity I use with GCSE pupils is ‘Switch It! It works perfectly with smaller 4 mark questions which pupils often fail to get full marks on due to a lack of subject knowledge.

The activity is rather simple as you can see from the picture above -pupils sit opposite each other, answer one of the questions and then switch the sheet around to peer assess and add improvements. This is then photocopied so each pupil has a copy.

Attached is ppt. and worksheet example.

Switch It      Switch It Worksheet


Significance Circles

We’ve been working on ways to improve our GCSE pupil’s evaluation on the bigger AQA exam questions, 10 and 12 markers which ask pupils to assess the importance of one event in relation to another or overall topic. For example, what was the most significant reason that Hitler was allowed to become dictator in 1934, or how was the most significant method that the Nazis used to control Germany.

Working on this skill really helps to push pupils’ marks up towards L3/L4 answers and the activity Significance Circles allows pupils to work on this skills, whilst ranking importance compared to other factors.

Significance Circles 2

The activity is very simple as you can see above, pupils choose a size of circle in relation to its importance and then write their explanation why it is so significant. To push this to another level you can draw/explain links between the different circles.

This is an excellent resource for revision and any lesson across KS3/KS4

Having shared this on twitter i’ve seen some excellent results so far from @CHShistory, @historicalsandoand @kneller88 – great work!

Attached resource

Significant Circles



Tarsia Wars

Tarsias have been used for years but they were firstly introduced to me by a colleague @mrhynesgeog when I was an NQT. They have become a great go to revision activity and can be used for a number of different ways

With Tarsia Wars, I use it as a competitive way to recap a topic in revision – students simply sort the cut up Tarsia pieces into either a shape or hexagon shape. The Tarsia itself contains a range questions, quotes, statistics, sentences and pictures which need to be matched up to form the shape.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 12.18.38

The tarsia then can be used for a number of things:

  • Card Sort (categorisation e.g positives and negatives of the economic boom)
  • Essay Planning (used to answer a gcse question)
  • Revision

Tarsia Wars

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