Tried and tested (quiz or retrieve)

Tried and tested (quiz or retrieve)

Tried and tested

Here is a collection quizzing ideas, lesson starters, consolidators and fast fire activities that can showcase student performance in your lessons. If used in subsequent lessons, they may even show you what the students learnt or at the very least, can remember from previous lessons. Some will suit your teaching style, subject, learners and some will not, your task is to decide which to use, when, with who and for what reason. I know it is a long list but please leave any extra ideas, it’s good to share.

One who asks a question maybe a fool for five minutes; one he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.

There can be many different purposeful reasons to use one of these strategies; to engage, to activate, to assess, to consolidate learning, to pre-quiz (have you ever considered conducting a pre-quiz to find out what your students know about a particular topic before you start to teach a subject area?) to extend a topic, to dig a little deeper, to add the spice of competition, to revise… Step aside progress, or performance masquerading as progress, in favour of good teaching.

Consider the Variants – Organisation of the Quiz and the Questions

The types of questions, the number of rounds, over what period or time frame, time as motivation, the use of timers, both visual and audible,  audio questions, visual questions, mimes, physical response systems, puzzles, online, offline, synchronous (mini whiteboards, Moodle plugins) asynchronous, how answers are reported or assessed,  scoring systems, leaderboards, no scoring, risk, randomness. Do you get the point yet? Individual, solo, pairs, teams, or ‘teams of individuals.’ Cooperative or competitive quizzing? Lets not forget the role of captains, leaders, team members or subordinates. To learn, to recap, to revise, to provoke thinking. What about the learning opportunities in creating and asking questions as well as answering them. Quick fire or higher order questioning? Quizzes as little more than ‘appetisers,’ or ‘activators.’ right the way through to who lesson learning tasks.

Physical Environment

Consider the impact of the physical learning environment; the layout of the room, size of the teams, where and how answers are reported? Online, offline. Can the here and now be connected to the phone a friend or the online audience? Think about ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire,’ ‘Duel,’ and the ‘Million Pound Drop.’


Can the outcome be managed? Uncertainty promotes excitement, neck and neck finishes prolongs inclusion and heightens the outcome. Positive points systems, negative or penalty systems. Lifelines. The probability of success?


No buzzer? Each team is given a farm yard animal. Teams answer with the animal sounds. Alternatively use mobile phone ring or text tones as your buzzer!

Quiz master: Correct/Incorrect answer. Does the question get turned over? What is the reward for correct or incorrect answers.
Alternatively use mobile phone ring or text tones as your buzzer!
No stop clock – use an Online-stopwatch or Powerpoint timers. Play audio for a set period of time, musical chairs, when the audio stops, answers must be provided.

Polling – use online polling systems to record students answers or Classroom Control Systems to display answers as mini screens on the main classroom screen.

10 minutes to start a lesson

A quiz to recap last lesson, last week, last unit? Or to introducing a new topic?
Award bonus points to the smaller groups or well prepared students. Subtract points where team members arrive late, who are poorly equipped, fail to hand in homework or persist in ‘unwanted’ behaviours (language, interruptions, class loafers or missing school uniform).

Create lists, hangman, fill in the blanks, Who am I? Concept bingo, PowerPoint picture reveal. Mix and match?

For example, multiple choice – Who wants to be a Millionaire.

Tap in to the room or quiz before you teach

On a blank sheet of paper, fold in half top to bottom, in half again horizontally, and in half again. Ask the class to write down 8 facts / gems / statistics / information about a given topic.

Alternatively, set a research task, ask students to record as many facts as they can remember about that task. Through conversation with other students in the class, the aim is to fill the gaps on your sheet.


How about a quick Sudoku to start a class

Stitch Up

Individually or as small groups, write down 3 questions on a related topic. Each group/players has 3 lives. Each question is directed to any group/player. Lose a life for every question you get wrong. Questions, if answered wrong can be re-directed to another group/players.

45, 45, 45.

45s seconds to write done as many terms as possible, worth 2 points each. Draw a line across the page. 45s seconds write down as many additional terms as you can and then draw a line across the page. Mark and score. Whilst marking, write down any terms missed at the bottom. Subtract the number of terms missed from your positive score.

10 x 10

Use the webpage 10×10 for current affairs. What could be more current than today’s news. Use your imagination as to how you want to use the sites information to construct questions.

Sometimes, Always and Never

Real simple. Set a very simple statement(s) and allow the students to discuss and decide whether it is sometimes, always or never true. Add to these THREE conditions to help students develop more reasoned answers;

  • You should make sure you have considered all factors and whether or not they are significant.
  • Give a conclusion with a reason
  • Use examples, (or equations if applicable, eg biomechanics) to justify your reasons

Picture Reveal

Use a Powerpoint slide to reveal parts of a image that recaps last weeks lesson, or introduces a new topic. Find an image and make it the slide master. Cover with sections that to can be removed, I prefer sections that overlap as to provide some disappointment when more of the image is not revealed. It may just be alternative turns, or quick fire question answered correctly to reveal a section.

Online Wordsearch

There are a lot of Wordsearch generators, both as programme and online. Try a wordsearch without providing the key words or against the clock? Or here is one for you to use.

Write on/off.

Each team is given a coloured pen. Each team nominates a scribe. All scribes write as many key words on the board from the specification / last lesson / last unit at the same time OR in sequence. Words can only be written ONCE in any ONE colour.

Teacher generates random questions based around the words on the board. Team members wipe the correct words off the board. Wrong answers are marks deducted or replaced.

Tic Tac Toe

Create a tic-tac-toe grid on the board – create a list of 9 questions. The students flip a coin to decide who goes first. If the student answers correctly marker goes in the tic-tac-toe slot of their choice. If they get it wrong, their opponents marker goes in the tic-tac-toe slot of their opponent’s choice.

1 More Than You

Given the question topic, team bid how many questions they think they can answer. An opening bid must always be at least one. Teams can up the ‘anti’ by any number. Team must either raise the bar or challenge the group to attempt the questions. Points awarded if the team is successful, points are awarded to the opposition if the team are unsuccessful.

Nearest the pin.

Nearest the pin (answer), students line up or order themselves relevant to their answer. Points awarded for nearest the correct answer. The dimension may be a characteristic or a value. For example – how long can an ant survive under water?

Last Man Standing 1

Rather than being seated at the start of the lesson, ask the students to remain standing. Quick fire recap Q/A enables the learner to be seated.

Last Man Standing 2

Class stand. Students recall points from the last lesson. Students sit down if they successfully recall a valid point. No hesitations and no repetitions.

Last Man Standing 2

This is a longer explanation. Read the post Grade less assess more.

Double Edged Last Man Standing.

Rather than being seated at the start of the lesson, ask the students to remain standing. Students ask questions of each other. Incorrect response, questioner is seated. Correct answer, the questioned is seated.

All in THREE games points are deducted for each team member still standing after 3 minutes? Or series of questions. Of course, if students are late, they enter the game late! Tip leave more than 25% of the room standing.


2 points for a right answer
3 points for a more difficult question
Free throws awarded to the other team for a foul, interruption, late arrival. Simple recall 1 point for questions.

Concept Bingo or High 5

Students write down a number of terms, keywords or recall points from previous learning. Either you or your learners can recall terms. When all you terms have been mentioned is a FULL HOUSE! (May be used in long departmental meetings).

Just a Minute

The same as the Radio 4 programme. Students to work in pairs to recall as much information as possible before being asked to speak about a topic without hesitation, deviation and repetition. Listeners – as judges.

Up in a lift

The lift takes 3 minutes to reach the top floor, in groups of three; the first person talks about what we have learnt, the second talks about how we have learnt it and the third talks about how we could use it in real life.

Explain it to a 5 Year old (space alien)

I hope that does not need an explanation. Simple, practical and ensures the student reframes their understanding, moving learning towards long term memory.

Verbal Tennis

Students sit in pairs, facing each other. State a topic. The pair decides who will ‘serve’ first. The server says a word or phrase associated with the topic or previous learning. The partner must immediately respond with a second word or phrase and play continues so. Scoring follows the rules of tennis and points are scored when a player hesitates, makes a mistake, repeats a word/phrase which has already been used or is inaccurate. Team members maybe changed after each dropped point?

Speed Quizzing

Students form TWO concentric circles of equal numbers. Student need to face one another. The teacher either announces a topic to discuss or students ask one another questions, play verbal tennis or what ever activity you set them. Students. Short time frames are most effective 30s head to head challenges quizzes or developing simple skills are particularly good for recalling groups of terms, eg bones and muscles. 90s is ample for more discursive challenges. After the time frame, either circle rotates so that students are paired with a new partner for the next topic or head to head. You can also use this technique to rehearse and repeat skills, for example, I use it to practise introductions at interviews.


Provide the students with a list of words or numbers or equations. Ask them to put the terms or answers in order. Sometimes it can be amazing to put red herrings in there too. For example, 102, 33, 20, 52, 43.

Puzzle Tiles. Take a sentence, break is down into small 4 letter tiles (med) 3 letter tiles (hard) and ask the students to rearrange them to find the answer. See Puzzle Tiles.


Place the following terms on a continuum.
Show the continuum on the wipe board. Ask the students to think of an example and place their initials on the continuum to represent their idea. Select a student to present / defend their example.
Place the following terms on a cross continuum. Personality is an excellent example, introvert-extrovert and stable-unstable.

Nine Diamond

Not all series can be placed in a neat sequence or order. Give or let the students select, the nine characteristics of a particular topic. For example ‘What makes a good coach.’ Ask the students to create a nine diamond to reflect the importance of the each component. One component on the top line, two components on the second line and three components on the middle line. Two components on the four line and finally one component on the fifth line, hereby forming a diamond.


Present the class with something to form, a molecule for example, a flow chart or oxygen transport around the body. Students then make the formation by coordinating their efforts, deciding where each student should stand or what they should do. More advanced models may include sound and movement.

  • If possible, take the students out of the class for 15 minutes.
  • Show students a picture of the shape they are to form.
  • The formations do not have to involve all students, but all students must contribute.

Which One are You? Intriguing Image(s)

Use an image – what do you see in this image(s) that relates to….

Using a range of images, which one most relates to you / character a / the relationship between characters a and b?

Who are You?

Students are assigned a role, eg stable introvert, unstable extrovert. Highly intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. These character then arrive at the party. The party host must identify the party goers in a set time. (Use phone tones as the door bell.)

Who am I?

Similar to above, however, party goers are assign names / terms by either post its on their back or on their foreheads. learners have to ask questions about themselves to identify who they are.

Who said it?

Post a series of statements or quotes. Students have to decide who said it?
The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage’
Answer is on the home page.

Red Herrings

Provide a list of statements. I like to use the magnificent 7. FIVE are true, TWO are false. But which TWO? Similar to Truth of lie? (Call my bluff) but a little snappier and engaging the higher thinking skills. The more subtle the error, the more difficult the task. For example which is not a shade of pink? Crimson, Fuchsia, Magenta, Cerise, Cardinal, Shocking, Salmon.


Introduce Dingbats to your students to activate them for learning. More of a fun game, but can terms between interpreted as Dingbats?

20 minutes during a lesson

Multi Choice Questions with Multiple Correct Answers

Ask questions with more than one correct answer. Do your students really know the answer or was it a lucky guess? Do they really understand the principles your teaching? Well, if there are two correct answers that statistics of getting it right by chance decrease from 1 in 6 of guessing the right answer to a 1 in 15 chance. If there are in fact 3 correct answers 1 in 20…. You need to know, your students really know.

Match or Reject

Here are come applications of constructivism, remember an effect size of 0.9. (More on constructivism from Geoff Petty).

Match word pairs together Group terms together (can be equal or uneven numbers of terms)

A part with its function || A term with its definition ||
Do you include spurious cards and hereby increasing the difficulty of the task as in above?
Only provide 9 or the 10 definitions. Can the students recall the missing term and provide a definition?

Classroom Pictionary

Students first list TEN key terms. Students take it in turns draw the oppositions key terms on the board while their team members try and guess the answers. Either against the clock or as many answers is 3 minutes?

Prepare FIVE levels of notecards. On each notecard write a single word concept or definition. Level one cards are easiest and level five cards are very difficult. Each level card translates to equal point values.

Truth of lie? (Call my bluff)

Each student or team writes down THREE statements. TWO are true and ONE is false. Student reads their statement(s) to the class. Teams discuss which statements are true or false.

  • Teams MUST reach a consensus before guessing.
  • Make sure students correct the fib__ so students remember the correct information.
  • Give the role of ‘consensus seeker’ to one student.
  • Gain full group contributions through sign language.

F if the answer is false – put the top of the index and middle fingers of the right hand on to the base of the index and middle fingers of the back of the left hand.

T if the answer is true – touch the tip of your index finger on your right hand straight DOWN towards the palm on your left hand near the edge. Its the angle of the finger that is the difference between L and T.

Q6 – Who? What? Why? When? Where? How?

Post a question or an image with students recapping their knowledge with the six questions.

Odd on out


Present four images, words, colours even. Which is the odd one and  why? You will be surprised with the imaginative answers student come up with.

eg – Yellow is the only colour that…

Red is the only colour that…

First to finish

This is a writing translation cooperation game for languages. Captains receive a sentence in English. Return to their group who ‘cooperatively’ must translate the sentence onto a mini wipe board. ONLY if the sentence is translated correctly can they move onto the next sentence. If incorrect, student must return to their group to self-correct the sentence. (The completed sentences can be then organized to make a finished paragraph).

Classroom roulette

16 numbered cards. This can be a PowerPoint slide or actual cards. Beneath the cards are 11 questions, 3 stars and 2 with big fat zeros.
11 questions correctly answered are worth 1 point each. 3 Stars – are also worth 1 point but no question follows and the big fat zeros reset your score. Feel free to manipulate the scoring.

Break out

Maybe 20 minutes – students are sent out of the class room to find facts on a topic. Team points are awarded for the best answers. Breakout presents a very good balancing opportunity. For example – I would use this activity in AS PE to introduce the students to the harsh realities of WWII. The star fact was ‘the longest recorded tape worm ever found was 33 metres long It was found in the body of a dead soldier returning from WWI.’

Corners or Runaround or in masking tape create a + on the Classroom Floor

Great for ethical questions.
Q You see a £10 note on the floor, do you…

  1. quietly bend down, pick it up and place it in your pocket without anyone noticing?
  2. pick it up and ask ‘has anyone dropped a tenner?’
  3. ask quizzically, ‘oh is that my tenner?’ Giving people a chance to check their pockets?
  4. wait patently to see if anyone else picks it up?

Students form groups in the FOUR corners of the room and share reasons for their choice with one another and then with the group. Points are awarded for the correct answer or best justification. Students realize they can be accepted while making choices that are different from their classmates.

  • Post a title or visual in each corner of the room.
  • If only one student chooses a corner, validate their choice, but ask them to choose their second favourite group.


Students write questions or statement they do not know the answer to. Scrunch up the paper / snowball. Throw them to the front of the room. Open the ask the question. Room answer.

Find Someone Who Knows the Answer

Students receive a worksheet or overview of a unit that must be COMPLETED. The worksheet asks them to ‘Find someone who knows the answer.’ The student has to source any answers s/he does know him/herself. Students can solicit only one answer from each person. When students finish they sit down (gaining points) and become the first resource ‘knowitall’ resources for others who can ask them any question. Students who originally knew none of the answers, after filling in one or two of the answers, become a resource for others and eventually ‘someone who knows it all.’

  • Have students raise one hand as they seek answers.
  • Remind students that they can only solicit one answer from any one person.

Whole Lesson Competition

Give the students the task of writing the quiz. Maybe a Powerpoint millionaire, jeopardy, multiple choice quiz or online Blockbusters
Wordsearch or Quizlet. You could get them to create a match or reject set of cards. Let them try out the quiz from another group. Even better, you only have to check over the questions and you have ready made homeworks.


Strategy and questioning. Student create SIX red questions for each category worth ONE point and SEVEN questions for each colour, TWO to SEVEN points. Students that make a break starting with a red (ONE** point) followed by a colour of their choice. If a player gets a question wrong, or miss the shot, the next player can start to make their break. This tends to be a longer quiz, due to the number of question needed.

Treasure Hunt

Set the students (or teams) a range of questions or puzzles to solve. This activity can be against the clock. I use this activity for finding out the nutritional values of a range of food products when visiting the supermarket.

IM Learning

Set up a private ‘Instant Messenger’ room. Using Gabbly.com to embed a private IM space into your wiki or website. There is one in the staff room. Two activities, set research questions where the students have to leave the chat room, search the internet and return with the answers. Or fast finger (typist) first questions. Set the question and wait for the replies to flood in.

One for Me, One for You.

This is a quiz designed to get the students to do what you want them to do, before giving them the opportunity to answer a question. The task might be perform a practical skills, a language translation, working quietly for THREE minutes, returning to class promptly from a break. Teams generate points through the lesson for a reward at the end.


Students are given a handout with no headings or subheadings, but with space for these. Students read the handout and decide headings that summarise what follows in that section of text in the form of a statement. This produces headings such as ‘The heart is a blood pump’ or ‘The heart has four chambers.’ Of course you can reverse this process, by providing the headings and asking the students to write the paragraphs.


Using a grid students have x minutes to fill it in – writing an answer beginning with the letter given, can you write something that no one else has come up with? The categories can be related to the topic.

Action taken by a character


Provide each group with a image. Ask the students or teams to identify key terms with image from a range of subject areas, for example a range of BTEC units or AS /A2 modules. The next step is the most important. Now ask the students to link the key terms synoptically. 3 points are awarded for key words and bonus points for correctly identifying links.


Outside of the class there are a number of different activities, but perhaps the best example I have come across is Quizlet, a real gem! It allows you to create very simple learning and quizzing activities and add some much needed kinesthetic  learning on your wiki pages from a very basic manipulative lists. Simply type in a list of words and definitions and quizlet does EVERYTHING else for you.

FIVE minutes to close a lesson

With FIVE minutes left in class, ‘a ticket to leave.’ or consolidation activities. Any of the quizzes above but also quick fire questions. I use a tennis ball, students have to pay attention as dropping the tennis ball is almost as worrying as not having an answer ready.

‘The most important thing I learned today was…….’

Finish the Sentence

‘I would use cooperative learning to…’
‘It is not an educators role to teach you what to think but rather…’

Right Hand Wo/man

Teacher looks a students directly in the eye and poses a question. The students ‘right hand man’ answers the questions for him. Encourages eye contact and is fun.

Missing Card Sort

Give a pack of cards with 1, or 2 or 3 cards missing. First team to correctly identify the missing card(s) from the pack. Teamwork prevails.

‘The important thing is not to stop questioning.’

Joker rounds

NTP – nearest the pin answers

Bonus rounds and bonus, bonus rounds.

Random point allocations and deductions (Most sporting?) – be prepared to defend your decision Chance or bonus points Ask different questions to different teams

Classroom roulette

Weight or aim questions to student strengths when in last place

Predetermine teams

Poor answers deductions?

On the buzzer…

Weight or aim questions at student weaknesses when in first place

Web 2.0 Tools

Wordsearch Blockbusters Dingbats Quizlet 10×10 Online-stopwatch

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