Numbered Heads Together

Some people have been dropping hints lately that I should share a few more of my favourite co-operative learning strategies.

OK, OK I can take a hint!

Here’s one called Numbered Heads Together.  To get the most out of it, you need to seat pupils in groups of 4 and of mixed ability.  Each pupil will need a mini-whiteboard, and a pen that works 😉

  • Pupils numbers themselves 1-4 round their table, then teacher asks the question.
  • Using mini-whiteboards, pupils work individually at first to write down their best response.
  • When ready, each pupil gives a thumbs up, then all stand up.  They huddle together, discuss and decide upon the group’s best answer, then sit down.
  • Teacher rolls a die, and which ever number it lands on (1-4), that person from each group must share their answer with the class.
  • Teacher can see errors, ask pupils to explain how they reached their conclusion, ask pupils to explain errors to other groups.

Some examples of how I use this activity:

  • Give the infinitive of an unknown regular verb and ask pupils to give a particular conjugation (ie getting them to apply the rule)
  • Give a sentence in the present tense and ask pupils to put it into the past/future tense
  • Give pupils all the words required to make a sentence, and ask them to unjumble it (very good for practising correct word order in German)
  • Give four or five words or phrases, ask which is the odd one out and why (could be gender, irregular verbs, phrases in different tenses)
  • Give four or five words in the target language (the dafter the better!) and ask pupils to create a grammatically correct sentence using all of the words (they can add other words, but must still use the words you supply) eg Jupiter, hatstand, monkey, George Bush.
  • Ask pupils to write rules for a particular grammar point they have learned (good for starter or plenary).
To help me with classroom organisation, I will often prepare the questions on PowerPoint first, but it’s not necessary to do this everytime.
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