10.3: Developing your teaching

Time allocation

20 minutes


  • There are suggested activities below for you to develop your classroom practice. 
  • Select one of the ideas for practice to try out in your classroom.
  • This will require some additional planning either individually or in collaboration with a colleague. 
  • You should also evaluate the effectiveness and impact of this in discussion with your mentor.

Making explicit links to embed new content

By trying this activity you will…

Learn how to:
Support pupils to build increasingly complex mental models, by:
3h. Drawing explicit links between new content and the core concepts and principles in the subject.

If this is happening in your classroom, you will see…

  • Pupils can articulate the key concepts/principles.
  • Pupils are able to articulate the links between new content and core concepts/principles.
  • Pupils articulate a shared understanding of how key concepts/principles link together.


At the end of each lesson ask pupils to make a link between their new learning and the big ideas of the subject

You can demonstrate to your pupils that links to the foundations of the subject can be made through everything they learn. Embed opportunities for pupils to practise making links and connections between their new learning and the big ideas that underpin the subject.

You could ask:

  • Is there a key idea we have covered that helps you understand this topic?
  • When else have we covered similar ideas?
  • Can you think of another character similar to this one? What makes them similar?
  • How might you link this idea to (diversity / mass / grammar and meaning / product life-cycle)?

Draw pupil attention to structures and links

Pupils will not be able to make links between what they do not know so make sure that they have a good understanding of the big ideas that they will need in order to build a shared understanding of the subject. Once they have a secure foundation of knowledge built on the big ideas you identified, you can use this to help pupils make sense of new concepts.

Practise using structures pupils already know in new contexts: ‘we know this is the formula for X and you have practised using it for X, how could you use it here?’

Cover the same concept in different forms: ‘What does this diagram show us about X?

Use every opportunity for retrieval as an opportunity to build connections: ‘The quick quiz you did at the beginning of this lesson tested you on your understanding of X. Keep your answers in mind as we look at this…’

Plan retrieval opportunities for the core concepts and principles and use these to help pupils form new connections.

Plan retrieval opportunities in places that will help pupils form new connections. This will not only strengthen and reinforce the big ideas but support pupils to make links between new content and existing knowledge.

  • Use low stakes quizzes to reinforce learning of key concepts and to support pupils to make links. For example, you might set a short quiz on descriptive techniques as a starter activity in a lesson in which pupils are asked to write descriptively. 
  • Consciously space out practice over time. When planning out your curriculum map, actively plan out when pupils will be quizzed on the core concepts and principles to match the learning outcome of the lesson. 
  • Use think/pair/share to get pupils to consider their learning of the big ideas and make connections: ‘In silence you are going to have a go at working out the challenge on the board. I am going to give you two minutes… Now the two minutes are up, I want you to discuss how this links with X.’

In your notepad – reflect on your practice…

  1. Which idea(s) for practice did you try?
  2. What did you do?
  3. What happened?
  4. What will you do next?