Plenary Prefects

prefectsTwitter really is a marvellous place.  On Monday I was watching a YouTube video of Alistair Smith (@alatalite), presenting a key note speech at the Teaching Learning & Assessment Conference 2013, Berkhamsted School, after having seen it on a tweet.   During the presentation, Alistair was referring to a number of case studies form his ‘High Performers’ book, including the work of Ceddy De La Croix, Deputy Headteacher at The Sandringham School, St Albans (@croix2000).  This grabbed my attention, as Ceddy is somebody that I know.  He has developed the idea of ‘Plenary Prefects’ at his school – students leading the plenaries during lessons.  This seemed like an interesting approach.

I contacted Ceddy, to tell him about his work being referenced by Alistair, but also to find out more about the idea of plenary prefects.  He sent me an article that he wrote about the project a few years back, that was published in the journal ‘T&L Update’.

Here is an extract from the article that explains how the project worked:

plenary prefects ceddy

The full article can be downloaded here PLENARY PREFECT TL Update Article Jan 08

Having read the article, I thought I would give the strategy a go on Thursday with my Y10 class – or a simplified version of it anyway.

What I did

  • I produced the card below (laminated):

plenary prefect

  • As students entered the room, I gave this card to one pair of students – discretely!
  • I told them to read it carefully.
  • I stressed to them that they would have to pay particular attention to the learning objectives, as during the lesson they would need to think of good questions to ask the rest of the class at the end of the lesson.
  • As the lesson progressed I kept checking how they were getting on with their questions.
  • At the end of the lesson, they led the plenary – asking the class their questions (which were great) to assess the learning.

Whilst I’ve only just started to dabble with this strategy, I’ve already noticed:

  • The two ‘Plenary Prefects’ loved doing it and were highly focused during the lesson – so it’s potentially a great way to engage students.
  • It really made them think about the questions they were going to ask – I think in the future I’ll also give them @JOHNSAYERS excellent question grid (see here) to help them formulate their questions.
  • The rest of the class responded really well to the exercise.

So, although this is a very rudimentary approach, compared to what was developed at Sandringham, I can already see the benefits of it.  It’s a great way to get students to take ownership of the learning and it’s certainly something that I’ll continue to develop.

A copy of the card can be downloaded here: Plenaryprefects

Thanks to Alistair for an inspiring presentation and to Ceddy for a great idea.

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16 Responses to Plenary Prefects

  1. Sue marooney says:

    Another inspiring piece of work Shaun, thank you and well done.

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  3. Thank you for this Shaun. This is something I’ve done for some time (although in a far less formal way.) I have trained students to ‘lead feedback’ by modelling how to Pose Pause Pounce Bounce and to use Clarify (what did you mean by…?) Probe (can you tell me more about…?) and Recommend (which of the answers you’ve heard is best…?) question stems. There’s more detail this crucial aspect of developing students’ oracy on my blog:

    Cheers, David

  4. Pete Jones says:

    Stealing this. What a fantastic idea. Great addition to add the question grid too. You’re right, twitter really is a great place!

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