Why BIG is sometimes beautiful

Idea’s in this blog for teaching

  • Life Size labelling
  • Totem Pole
  • Big Banners with open questions
  • Class Mindmaps
  • Human bar charts
  • 3D Cities

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to inspire me.  for example, the NQT I’ve been mentoring this year, Nicki (@07004417Nik) caused one such moment when she said

“Give a piece of paper to a pupil with lines on and they’ll think it’s work, give them a plain piece of paper and they’ll think it’s creative and do it a lot better”.

I then thought, how would they approach work if they were given an A3 page and then told to research and collaborate. Then @CaldiesTandL showed a picture of an outline of a pupil on a massive piece of paper and suddenly there I was.

Big was beautiful.


Admit it, we walk past huge, tall buildings and think Wow. We go past normal houses and think nothing as it’s normal. We go past mansions and get jealous. And why is that? Because you can do stuff with big, but small, you’re limited.

So why do we give pupils A5 books to work with? If it’s for notes they are great, they can go in big pockets or small bags but what about learning using super size posters?


This is an example of a pupil in year 7 who was drawn around with information added about the affects of smoking and alcohol. Nicki did this one in a PSHCEE lesson. Pupils had stimulus information around the room to read, then they had to label and draw the affect on the drawing of the pupil. She’d taken my idea, which I’d taken from @CaldiesTandL on puberty. As a plenary, after doing the back ground work on changes in boys and girls in puberty the plenary was the boys labeled and drew the changes that happened on their volunteer boy outline, and the girls did the same on theirs. As a cruel joke I suggested the pupils did the opposite the gender… the fireworks works were amazing, but so was the evidence of their learning.

imageAnother example was the totem pole I did for revision, each pupil added a bit of information onto rolled up backing paper. When it was completed it looked amazing. More about that in my earlier blog (http://wp.me/p3kpaf-13).


Massive 2 metre high banners were this weeks idea. In groups of 5 or 6 pupils were given a big question on my lesson topic of marriage. “What’s the point of marriage?” “Is marriage out of date?” and “what happens in a marriage service?”. Pupils were then given information and text books and given 6 mins to answer the question. Big questions rotated each 6 minutes and they couldn’t repeat something already said.



Another idea, class mindmaps. Thanks to @ASTsupportAAli for this concept. Do 10 mindmaps, 10 pupils. Each pupil adds information or answers a question on the one in front of them. After 30 secs they move on. Suddenly mindmaps become exciting. Each pupil can have a different colored pen so you can increase accountability. Makes a good display afterwards too!


Another idea, human bar chart. Ask pupils a question, ie “Abortion is wrong”, give pupils a postit note to write a number on to show what they think, btw 1-10 (1 being strongly disagree, 10 strongly agree). Write 1-10 on the ground. Pupils then screw them up post it notes with numbers on and throw them in middle. All pupils then take one- they probably won’t get their same number. They then stand behind the number on the ground in a human bar chart (one behind another) and need to give an argument from there new perspective. Nicely is big and includes numeracy.

Another idea from Nicki was to create a model town, not content on pupils drawing a town she gave then materials to create a 3d model town, on the top of their desks. Innovative and memorable, and packed full of living geography.

All you need for any of these is roll of backing paper or old wallpaper.  And felt tips or markers.

In all of this, and my experiments in teaching and learning over the last two months, I have truly learnt one thing:

Sometimes BIG is beautiful.

Please follow me on twitter for update and regular photos on ideas, also please tweet me your teaching and learning ideas, I’d love to try them! @sheltont101


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