Now How Next

I just wanted to share a plenary that I’ve tried out a few times now. I’ve found it quite useful and it works with any topic, knowledge or skills. To be honest, I suspect the title makes it clear but I’m going to quickly explain anyway.


Students gauge their current level of understanding, ideally considering progress from a  starting point. This would often be matched against one or more lesson outcomes. The best assessment will be based on something objective, for example an exam question or score in a vocabulary test. This needs to be about competence, not confidence (although I sometimes find it useful to have them assess that too). Building an ongoing list of science skills that they could have gained might be helpful.


This is metacognition; students describe the methods they have used to make this progress. Can they identify what triggered a ‘lightbulb moment’? Was it about a particular method, peer explanations, examples in a textbook, practical results… don’t overlook simple things like using a glossary.


There is always more to do. Students should be encouraged to identify what they might do, in school or out, to make further progress. Do they need more rehearsal of the technique? Do they need to memorise the key terms to improve fluency? Most significantly, what will they do to make this happen? Can they name apps on their phone or techniques on paper that will help them? Ideally what they do should be visible, by the effect on scores if not directly.

Now How Next

This could be a written exercise in students’ books, or in the form of a modified exit ticket. You could even do this weekly and have a double page spread summarising what they’ve done. Choosing their next area of development would fit very nicely with takeaway homework, something I’ve not tried yet. It’s really a formalised version of what we do anyway, but it’s something we could profitably apply to CPD as well I think. I don’t like to think of myself as aiming to tick boxes, but consider:

  • assessing progress (potentially peer and self)
  • L2L/metacognition
  • target setting
  • differentiation

Worth a go? Comments appreciated, as ever – below or via GoogleForm.