Monday, 20 May 2013

Betting in the Classroom

I'm afraid I do like a flutter but, as a teacher, I can't afford to spend more than a few pennies (literally) each week. I decided to introduce this idea to the classroom.

I've only used this in my Year 12 English Language class but I expect it could be easily applied to most classes and would result in interesting conversations in most contexts.

It allowed my Year 12 class, who have target grades from A-D, to choose the differentiation they required. Each scaffold was given 'a mark'. These scaffolds included being given the mark scheme, getting examiner comments about successful responses and working in a pair. There were about ten different scaffolds available and each scaffold would cost the students marks in their final mark for the question from 2 marks for the least useful scaffold to 20 marks for the most useful.

The part which made this process the most interesting was allowing the students to choose which scaffold would benefit them the most and allowing them to choose which scaffold was worth the most marks. There are only eight students in the class so the discussion only lasted ten minutes but it allowed them to discuss what is most useful when answering this type of question.

After they had decided what marks would apply to which scaffolds, they could then 'purchase' the scaffold which would then be taken off their final mark. I decided to call it 'betting in the classroom' as they were betting on how much they knew but it could easily be reworded if you're worried about some of your students becoming gamblers!

Interestingly, I've used this technique a couple of times with the same class and they've changed their minds about which scaffold is the most useful. For instance, in one of the earlier lessons, they decided that they did not need to purchase the 'ability to speak' whilst they did purchase 'work with a partner'. This prevented them from discussing their ideas with a partner in depth as they were much better at discussing their ideas verbally in comparison to trying to discuss their ideas by writing them down. This has prepared them well for the exam so they know what will be most useful for helping them revise and practice past papers. One pair have decided from this process, that they are much better at revising together, so have set-up a weekly revision session at each other's house.

It allowed my students to judge what help they need rather than just automatically getting all the help straight away. Gradually, they are becoming more independent by decided to not purchase as many of the scaffolds which will reflect the exam conditions where they will receive none of the scaffolds!

The scaffolds I have used in the lesson vary but have included:

  • Work in a pair
  • Work in a four
  • Ability to talk
  • Ability to use own notes
  • Ability to use teacher's notes
  • Examiner's less successful responses comments
  • Examiner's more successful responses comments
  • Examiner's general comments
  • Mark Scheme
  • Mark Scheme specific for this question
  • Full mark answer for a different question
  • Full mark introduction
  • Full mark conclusion
  • Ask an expert 1 question (the teacher!)


  1. I love this idea and your casual/fun tone. Connie

  2. Great blog, I like your style and your innovative outlook.

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    Jeremy Dean, Valencia

    1. Many thanks for the kind comments. I'd love to get a copy - any education book is worth reading! Will email shortly.