Developing Independent Learners – The 7 Monkeys!

7monkeys1The 15 minute forum tonight was led by our two science NQTs – Faye Hedley (@f_hedley) and Becky Owen.  They shared a strategy they have been using called ‘The 7 Monkeys’.

The 7 Monkeys is a way of enabling students to learn a concept, process or idea independently with minimal teacher input.  Each ‘monkey’ is a different activity that the students undertake to support their learning.  The end point is studentts answering a question with a piece of extended writing.

Why monkeys? Nobody knew – the students seemed to like it though!

This is how the process works.


Set the students a question e.g. Describe how you can clone an adult animal and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of doing this.

Students will then use the following ‘monkeys’ to work through this.

Monkey 1 – Read

monkey readingThe first monkey is to read a piece of text that relates to the concept, idea or process.  This stage allows differentiation to take place, as students of different abilities could be given texts with different degrees of detail, complex vocabulary or even on different topics.

Monkey 2 – Highlight

monkey highlighterOnce they have read through the text, students are then asked to highlight key words or points within the text.  It’s important that the text is challenging enough to make them have to find the key points, whilst also giving them some additional information to enrich their understanding.

Monkey 3 – Drawing

7monkeys drawingNow it’s time for some drawing!  Students have to draw a diagram/ cartoon/ flow chart to describe what they have understood from reading the text.

They are only allowed to use 4 words to label their diagram.

Monkey 4 – Explain

monkey explainOnce they have drawn their diagram, they then have to explain to their partner what they have drawn.  Alternatively, they could be asked to explain what their partner has drawn.  After explaining, they could then be allowed to ask say 3 questions about the explanation they have just listened to.  If students had a piece of text on different information, this then becomes more interesting – as they are not just sharing the same information.

Monkey 5 – Developing depth

7monkeys cardsortMonkey 5 is an optional activity that could be put in to add depth to their understanding. So in this example, students were given a card sort exercise to look at the advantages and disadvantages of cloning.  Other activities could include – video clip, role play, loop game, cloze passage, practical or demo etc, additional research.

Monkey 6 – Answer the question

7monkeys final work

Having worked through the other monkeys, students now have to produce a written answer to the original question – in order to demonstrate their learning.

Monkey 7 – Peer Assessment

Having produced their own piece of extended writing, students then use support materials such as mark schemes and model answers to peer assess their work. Guide students to make sure their feedback to each other is:

  • Friendly
  • Specific
  • Helpful

Students should then be given the time to respond to the formative comment from their peers.


The feedback from students has been really positive.  They have enjoyed the way in which it allows them to engage in a variety of different activities – reading, summarising, drawing, explaining, listening, writing and giving feedback.  This provided them with a framework to support them through the learning process – going from key words/phrases to an extended paragraph.

This entry was posted in 15 Minute Forums and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Developing Independent Learners – The 7 Monkeys!

  1. Sue marooney says:

    Thanks Faye and Becky, look forward to hearing more about it from you
    Great work

  2. Lianne Allison says:

    A great strategy. So nice to see you two are both doing great things at DHS! Lianne (Angmering)

  3. Pingback: Independent Monkeys | @foxymusiced Blog

  4. Pingback: Tweak of the week 28th May 2013 | From the Sandpit....

  5. Susan Watmough says:

    I think this is a fabulous and well thought out methodology which will be easy for students to understand, I will be stealing it!

  6. Pingback: Part 2 (of 2) Great Learning: What are the ‘important things’ that make learning ‘GREAT’? | From the Sandpit....

  7. Pingback: SRS Teaching and Learning Hubs 2013-2014 | From the Sandpit....

  8. Reyhan says:

    Sounds good!

  9. Pingback: 2013 – A year of blogging…. | Class Teaching

  10. Pingback: Class Size Matters | markquinn1968

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s