Fan & Pick Cards and Peer Coaching

I’ve recently discovered the excellent Number Loving blog and resource site.  If you’re a Twitterer, it’s creators @lauarareeshughes and @numberloving are well worth a follow.  Lots of their resources have made their way into my KS3 Scheme of Work.

I was impressed with the resources detailed in their blog post on Cooperative Learning Resources and wanted to give them a try.  When it came to teach my new (as of June) GCSE Higher group Rounding and Bounds I desperately needed something to ignite a very dry and dull topic.  The group are a set 3 of 6 and will struggle with a lot of the Higher content so I wanted to ensure they had time to collaborate and learn from each other.  These Fan & Pick Cards, using Kagan startegies, on the topic were ideal.  As I’ve mentioned before my classes all work in teams of 4 anyway so this activity would slot into my usual classroom routine well.  I researched a little of the strategy for Fan & Pick which is:

1. Student 1 holds question cards in a fan and says, “Pick a card, any card!”

2. Student 2 picks a card, reads the question out loud and allows five seconds of think time.

3. Student 3 answers the question.

4. Student 4 restates the answer. a. For right or wrong answers, Student 4 checks and then either praises or coaches. b. For higher-level thinking questions which have no right or wrong answer, Student 4 does not check for correctness, but praises and paraphrases the thinking that went into the answer.

(Taken from this website)

As well researched as I’m sure this strategy was I didn’t like the non-mathematical nature of roles 1 & 2 and although pupils rotate roles for each question I wanted something that would fully engage all pupils in the Mathematics at all times.  Whilst team-planning with a colleague we bounced ideas back and forth and came up with this alternative structure:

1.  Share the cards out amongst the team so that each member has an equal amount and ownership of their cards.

2. Allow thinking time for pupils to work through their questions ensuring they understand how the answer given has been reached.  If they don’t fully understand they should seek teacher input now.

3. Going around the team in turn each pupil asks the rest of their team their red question, the other three team members answer this on their whiteboards and the questioner checks their answer and coaches their peers through any problems.  The rotation continues through 3 cycles (for teams of 4) until all the red questions have been answered.

4.  The same process is repeated for the amber and green questions.

I was impressed by how well pupils responded to this and how well they did at coaching each other through why and how to solve rather than just giving the answer.  A few over-eager pupils were trying to call out the answer rather than write it down but after discussing with them why this might not be helping others learning they all got on board with the task.  There are three errors in this set of cards but as someone who frequently throws in deliberate mistakes I saw this as a bonus (it gave me a good opportunity to see which teams picked up and questioned the mistakes). At the end of the lesson I asked pupils to RAG rate the task and got about 90% green response (the rest being amber).  Pupils commented that they felt that “explaining it to someone else helps me understand better” and “it was a good way to practice and learn and you can see that you’re getting onto harder questions”

Fan and Pick cards are available on the Number Loving site for: Rounding and Bounds, Percentages, Ratio, Decimals to Fractions, Angles, Indices, Fractions and Trigonometry.  There is also a useful template. I recommend you head over there and grab them now! Fantastic resource.



  1. Dave · December 30, 2012

    I always had the same thoughts about person 1 and 2, I’m really looking forward to trying your alternative structure in the new year. Thanks

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