Showing progress through revision: Totem Poles

Now I am teaching my GCSE subject over three years instead of two,  I have a lot more mid- and end of unit tests to go through. This means is I have a lot more revision lessons to plan so need a much wider variety of approaches to enage the pupils in my lessons.  I have three Year 9 classes, all of who were revising on the same day for the Is it Fair? (Religious Studies) end of unit test.  There were eight lessons in the unit, so it was necessary to revise all eight lessons in one lesson.

Asking for help on Twitter and following various conversations, someone suggested a totem pole and from that this lesson appeared in my head!


The completed revision Totem Pole

To prepare the lesson I needed a role of wallpaper backing paper which was about two metres high and rolled together and taped to become a cylinder for the Totem Pole.  My lesson plan and 5 things worksheet is available by clicking here.

As an overview the lesson at the start, pupils had a ‘5 things’ sheet – where they needed to write down 5 things they could remember from each lesson. Naturally they struggled to get two or three.

Pupils were put into differentiated pairs, and given one lesson to research in more detail.  They had their class notes and I dug out the information leaflets they used during their original lessons.  One person  was asked to create an information poster with 5 things on about that one lesson whilst the other used A5 coloured paper to draw a picture and add a sentence or two about the content of the lesson.  This coloured paper was then cut into a shape, and stuck on the Totem Pole.  They had 10 minutes to complete the task.  After this the posters were stuck on the whiteboard, and the coloured paper put on the Totem Pole.


A close up of the information on the Totem Pole

Pupils then went back to the 5 things sheet and added more information to their one section.

They then repeated the whole process for another part with each of them taking the opposite role.

After this, the class used all the information on the Totem Pole and the whiteboard to complete their 5 things sheets.  They ended with writing one thing they had learnt that lesson on a postit note and putting it on the whiteboard on the way out.


The information posters on the whiteboard

If you have any revision strategies that you are able to share, an idea you haven’t tried or if you would like more information please feel free to tweet and follow me @sheltont101.  For other blogs I have written look at  Thanks to @ASTsupportAAli who encouraged me to write this blog.  His excellent resources are at



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2 responses to “Showing progress through revision: Totem Poles

  1. Pingback: Musings about the first week back… | One wee duck's waddle through the maths world...

  2. Pingback: Revision, revision, revision means marking, marking, marking :-( | One wee duck's waddle through the maths world...

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