10 Top Tips: Planning for Engaging Teaching and Learning -by Pooky Hesmondhalgh from creativeeducation.co.uk

10 Top Tips: Planning for Engaging Teaching and Learning


Posted by Pooky Hesmondhalgh (@creativeedu) on January 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

Students will only engage with a subject if the teaching and learning is of a sufficiently high standard. The following points could serve as a checklist:

Engaging starters:

A bright, focused start to all lessons should help arouse motivation – good starter activities, quick-fire tests or drills to revisit material from the previous lesson, and turning the register into an engaging activity all help.

Clear objectives and expectations:

Students want to feel that they can cope with what is going on – they need careful outlining and sharing of objectives, ensuring that everyone understands not only what is going on but why it is important.

Sense of purpose:

Few students will engage with an activity which appears to be pointless, and a sense of audience or any incentive, from informal rewards to success in examined components will help in this area. Students need to know where they are on their learning journey and how they can achieve their next goal.


It is important that students are aware of exactly what they have learned, how they have progressed and what the next steps are so that they can have a sense of achievement and reward.

Effective differentiation:

Inclusion is about more than just catering for those with special educational needs – it is about providing a well-structured learning experience for all students, and recognising their individual learning styles.  You may find this recent post helpful for more ideas about differentiation.

Suitable challenges:

Every learner needs to feel challenged if they are going to learn at all. Few activities will engage and challenge every learner – particularly in a mixed-ability group – so it is important to have a range of activities to cater for all.

Cross-curricular links:

This is of course relatively straightforward where one teacher is (mostly) teaching all subjects, compared to the secondary model where a class comes to specialist teachers. It is therefore essential that we gain a sense of what is happening in other subject areas and seek ways in which we can collaborate on a project which will give a real sense of purpose to their learning.

Personal Learning and Thinking Sills (PLTS):

We need to find ways of developing the personal, learning and thinking skills in our students. For reference (and as a reminder), these are independent enquirers, creative thinkers, reflective learners, team workers, self-managers and effective participators. Many of the activities you’re already using will make a real contribution to these skills, however it is not always explicit – we should make students aware of the wider skills which they are developing in our subject.

“Compelling learning experiences”:

A compelling learning experience is defined as “a real and relevant context for learning through which young people recognise for themselves the importance of learning to their lives, both now and in the future”. In other words, the learning experience should be something which the learners perceive as being worthwhile.

Choosing suitable Key Stage 4 accreditation:

There are many options available, including GCSE, early entry, short course, NVQ, FCSE and several others – which is best for you and your students?


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