But, because, so

If you’re teaching English writing skills, or looking for plenary ideas in any subject, then take a look at Doug Lemov’s excellent summary of an idea in Judith Hochman’s Teaching Basic Writing Skills

As a teaser, here’s an example of but, because, so in action.  You simply take a key idea from your lesson and then ask the pupils to extend it in three different ways:

Eva killed herself … BUTmany people are to blame for her death.

Eva killed herself … BECAUSE  … she had fallen victim to an unpleasant chain of events.

Eva killed herself … SOthat she wouldn’t have to suffer any longer.

As a plenary activity, this would work with any subject, and it might well lead to some interesting revelations about the pupils’ thinking.   If this idea sounds interesting, you might also want to check out this popular article on exit tickets.


Exit Tickets – a progress snapshot





“The single most powerful thing I’ve done all year, from lesson one, maintaining it consistently, and it’s impressed external observers and internal mentors alike.” says Kris Boulton. “The exit ticket provides a snapshot of whole class understanding for each and every lesson, in under two minutes. For effort to impact ratio, they’re a no brainer. I can’t even imagine planning the next lesson without them.”

exit ticket

Click here for a full explanation.

I’ve used this idea a few times with my GCSE classes, usually asking something along the lines of “what’s the most important point to take away from this lesson”, and it provides a really useful insight into the pupils’ thinking.  I often start the next lesson by offering the students three or four thought-provoking answers to consider, then asking them to pick the one they think is best, or rank them in some way.  The students always engage really well with this.  Any other suggestions for follow-up activities most welcome!

Simple Starters # 3 – Demolition

This starter provides a quick and enjoyable way to establish or consolidate knowledge, and could therefore work equally well as a plenary.

The following PowerPoint is available as a template from Mr Hayes. Each brick contains a key word which answers a specific question. These questions appear on the subsequent Powerpoint screens.


Split the class into two or more teams, then alternate between each team as you ask the questions you have prepared. If a pupil identifies the correct answer, that brick is removed from the wall and their team scores a point. Behind the wall is an important image from the topic. This is gradually revealed as the wall is demolished – three bonus points go to the first team to correctly identify the image.