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Tips of the trade 49. Plenary cue cards

Plenary cue cards are brilliant resources. Just write a question on a card that will help you reviewreflect on the children's learning. Then, rather than you doing all the asking, the children do it. They choose a card and read the question to a partner, a selected group or the class.

I started using these in literacy plenaries, but now I use them across the curriculum. The question can be specific, such as: "How did you create tension in your story?" or "How did your knowledge of times tables help you with this investigation?" Or general questions can be used and will often create opportunities for reflective learning. These include: "What new thing have you learned today?" "What was the most difficult thing about your task?" "What skills did you need to carry this task out well? "What would you like to learn next in this topic?"

I keep the cards - colour-coded - in a box near my desk. It's important not to overuse this strategy, but the question: "Who would like a cue card?"

never fails to get hands waving, and leads to worthwhile speaking and listening experiences. This type of plenary can work without cue cards, but takes longer. Aim to show pupils that such questioning will allow them to learn about their learning from each other.

Neil Meehan is literacy co-ordinator and year leader at Moor Lane junior school, Chessington, Surrey. Do you have any useful tips for new teachers?

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