@TeacherToolkit – Flying Start

This is the fifth of five posts featuring Ross Morrison McGill’s mainstage presentation at the SSAT National Conference 2015. Ross is @TeacherToolkit.

Here is an engaging exercise that works just as well with staff as it does with students (strangely enough, I’m doing this at the end of my presentation as part of the ‘teach’ section of our Learning Policy).

It focuses on literacy, prior knowledge and things to come.

Equipment needed: several blank pieces of paper for each participant; a pen/pencil.


  • Ask students to write their name and numbers 1-10 on a piece of paper
  • Ask students to spell three words of your choice (eg waffle, workload, well-being)
  • Get them to crunch the paper into a snowball and throw across the room! (there should be a 10-second countdown)
  • Ask students to find another scrunched up bit of paper and open it up (if a student ends up without a piece of paper, they’re out(!) but can re-join in the next round)
  • Ask students to spellcheck the three words written on the paper (if there are any spelt incorrectly, cross them out and rewrite with correct spelling)
  • Ask students to write their name on their new piece of paper
  • Ask students to spell three more words of your choice (eg simplicity, priorities, teacher), then repeat process beginning with scrunching up paper and throwing across room
  • Open new piece of paper – add name – spellcheck all words – re-draft if needed
  • Ask students to spell four final words (eg mark, plan, teach, trust) (should be total of 10 but there is no set rule) on their new piece of paper, then throw paper for the last time
  • To finish, you could get students to throw paper into a bin, or aim for a target (including yourself!) etc.

Not all pieces of paper will hit the target, allowing you to focus on the pieces that do. You can then use a visualiser to zoom in on spelling and keywords, rewarding students who have hit the target and have proven their literacy credentials.

I’ve found this to be a great activity at any point in a lesson, with any age group. Even adults!

Ross-McGillRoss Morrison McGill is @TeacherToolkit, the ‘most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK’, an award winning deputy headteacher who writes the ‘most influential blog on education in the UK’ and one of the most widely read across the world. Once nominated for ‘500 Most Influential People in the Britain’ by The Sunday Times in 2015 and ranked one of the ‘Top-100 Brands in Education’ worldwide by Onalytica; McGill was nominated for ‘Teaching Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in London.’ He writes for Schools Week newspaper and for Guardian Education and is also the founder of @SLTchat and co-author of the #5MinPlan.

Download Ross’ SSAT NC15 PowerPoint presentation.

Visit Ross’ website.

Follow Ross on Twitter.

Follow SSAT on Twitter.

Like SSAT on Facebook.

Watch more SSAT National Conference 2015 films.

Ross’ school, Quintin Kynaston, is part of the SSAT network. Find out more about membership here.

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