Getting spidey sense and peeling hexagons

Introduction lessons are always a conundrum – do you go in heavy with expectations and rules or do you go for something that explores more of your subject?

I find them even more difficult to get to grips with when it’s a new year 12 class.  Our classes tend to ebb and flow for the first week of term, so I can’t start reading the text.  I, therefore, have 3 hours to grapple with and not much need to lecture on contents pages and neat presentation of classwork.

So with one of my new year 12 classes this week, I decided to get all spidey.  Inspired (again) by @rlj1981

Getting spidey sense with your ideas

Lay a bunch of ideas out around your classroom.

Here are the ones I used.  They were specifically general (if that’s possible) as I hadn’t met the class before and I didn’t want them to assume anything.


Put students into pairs and give them string, blutac and sticki-notes.

Talk about making connections, giving examples, having a personal response.

everything is connected

Ask students to make a connection (any at this point) between two ideas.

They should use the string to make a physical connection and then hang a post it note from the string explaining their idea.

Chaos, talk, thought, connections ensue.  Arguments abound.  Critical thinking happens.

Spider web

As time went on, students found evidence from history, current affairs, art, literature, music (etc) to justify their connections.

Peeling hexagons

Anyone who teaches Edexcel Literature will know that the exam board have once again changed the mark schemes, this year it feels very on the down-low.

The Shakespeare CA goes from 30 to 40 marks, now with no marks for AO2 and 20 marks for AO4.  This prompted some quick rethinking for me.  As this CA has been fairly dull and formulaic up until now.  It has not provided much of a preparation for the Literature exam.   Students struggled with it as it sat slap in the middle of Lang and Lit skills, being neither one nor the other.

The new mark scheme provides a great opportunity at the beginning of year 10 to teach some proper Literature essay skills.

Here is how I started out:


We reminded ourselves of the purpose of essay writing and why we use PEEL.

Then in groups, students were given a bunch of different hexagons, each representing one element of a PEEL paragraph.

They used these to write an essay (in note form) and to connect their ideas in anyway they wanted.

White = Point

Green = Evidence

Blue = Explanation/Analysis

Red = Evaluation

Yellow = Context

Orange = Conclusion

hexagon peel

The challenge was for students to show visually and through their written ideas that Mercutio’s character is complex, multi-faceted and difficult to pin down.

As you can see, some of the groups really went with this idea – sticking hexagons on top of one another to create varied layers.  I like the one that uses the points to create Mercutio’s torso with the rest of the paragraph making his arms and legs.  The linear ones were fine too – interestingly the most linear one, was from one of my most creative thinkers!

Let me know if you try these activities in your lessons and how you get on.


2 thoughts on “Getting spidey sense and peeling hexagons

    1. Hi Phil – thanks, if you like that task – have a look at Kill the question. Very similar activity, less string. I am also trying to work out how I could do this activity across a wall using masking tape – so they stick ideas on the sticky side. Watch this space!


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