Get your students thinking!

Get your students thinking!

We all struggle with the dry difficult topics that leave us wondering what we can do to make it interesting for students. The areas that require an understanding of technical medical terms, the areas which just ‘need to be learned’. 

We have composed a number of activities that will help to make the driest of topics more accessible to students and get students engaged right from the moment they walk through the door.


Think back to your own school days.  Mine were full of teachers dictating lessons and reading information from books.  There was little excitement and classes were boring to say the least.  There was the ‘odd’ lesson that I can recall where the teacher was more of a facilitator, where we were allowed to find out information for ourselves. 

  • Pick an exciting starter activity, even if it has nothing to do with the topic you are teaching.  Allow students to think for themselves.  Brain training activities are easy to come across.  Show them logos and get them to guess the answer.  Let them listen to snippets of advertisement songs and see if they recognise them. 
  • My latest one is ‘handcuffed’.  You will need string for this for each student. This challenge is done in pairs and is a mind-bender. Tie large loops into the ends of the strings. Each string should look like a set of handcuffs. Have one student put their cuffs on and hold their arms out. The second student has to run their string through the circle created by their teammate’s arms and cuffs before they puts on their cuffs. The two are now cuffed together. The challenge is to become uncuffed without removing your wrists from your cuffs or cutting the string. It is challenging but can be done. It will take good communication and strategic thinking.   Check out this website for more ideas:



  • If you have a topic which includes a number of new medical terms then have a pack of cards ready.  One side of the card has the key word, the other has the definition.  Get students to pair up and test each other on the terms.  Do this early on in the lesson so you can show ‘rapid progress’.
  • Give students a silly rhyme or acronyms to help them remember something or get them to come up with their own.  My own students one year, were covering the routine checks for pregnancy.  They all stood up and pointed to parts of the body where tests take place and named the tests.  Then one student came up with a rhyme and said it at the same time as they pointed to their body parts.  I must say it was a very rude rhyme but it worked!

For example when learning the main nutrients needed by the body my colleague always says ‘Fluffy vampires munched canned people’ (fats, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein).

  • Give students information packs and a set of questions.  Do this at random points in the classroom.  They have to hunt for the information, don’t make it easy for them!  You could give them clues after they have completed one set of instructions as to where they can find the information for another set of questions.  Or if you are brave hide the information around the school, a bit like a treasure hunt.
  • YouTube clips are always a good way of explaining something that you think they will struggle to understand if they don’t actually see it.  For example just saying what issues pregnant women can face if they drink or take drugs may just go in one ear and out of the other, but showing them has far more of an impact.
  •  Get in guest speakers.  Your own school nurse will have contacts that you could use.  Instead of just having someone come in and talk to students get the students to come up with a list of questions on the topic that will be covered so they can interview your speaker.
  • Keep students on their toes.  Use a random name generator, especially when doing group work.  This way ever student has to learn the information and not just one person.  If you don’t have one already use this website



There are many more strategies that you can use to engage your learners.  Most of which we have already heard of and a lot of the time we feel we don’t have the time to make the resources.  However, once you have made the resources you only need to adapt them for the type of learner in your room. 


Top tip!

Get them moving!  It’s easy for me to say this as I teach a practical subject and I am use to movement in the room.  If you are not use to this and feel out of your comfort zone try it anyway.  Even if it is just once.  Go and watch colleagues that do teach a practical subject to give you an idea on how to structure your lesson.