Students using hexagons to make connections

This guest post was written by Chris Bailey @MrCwBailey.

It has been well documented that hexagons are the perfect tool for supporting students to make connections between topic areas. I first stumbled across the technique in an inset delivered by @LorraineAbbott7 and got further insight into its effectiveness from blog posts by @Totallywired77 and @Lisajaneashes.

I started using them in my BTEC Sport class because, although the students could demonstrate a good level of understanding of topics in isolation, they struggled to link concepts together. This therefore meant that they were not scoring well on the “discuss” question in their external assessment. These questions are obviously looking for an evaluation and without being able to make connections between what they have learnt meant that the students were not able to achieve more than a level one answer (1-3 marks out of 8).

I started with using key words in individual topic areas of unit 1; components of fitness, exercise intensity, principles of training, methods of training and fitness tests. The students had to make connections between the key words and sporting examples (figure 1). After all topics were taught the students had the ability to make connection between the different topics areas. For example, they could link components of fitness to different methods of training and fitness tests, and then apply these to different exercise intensities and principles of training (figure 2). Their responses to questions had far greater depth and as a result they were far more prepared to answer an evaluation style question.

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The hexagon activity served as the planning process and the students used this to support them in answering a scaffolded question sheet. Each answer built up to the requirements of the next question, which ended with the 8 mark discuss question (figure 3). The answers produced went from strength to strength and the students were more confident at combining knowledge from other areas.

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I feel that this has been a success, however there is definitely more that can be done in my lessons. I am going to be stretching the more able by getting them to make links across different units. Using the above example, I am going to ask the students to make connections between their existing knowledge in unit 1, and apply it to unit 4 (training adaptations/energy systems) and unit 7 (anatomy and physiology).