The #5MinAfLPlan

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Sharpen your classroom practice with The 5 Minute AfL Plan from Ross Morrison McGill (@TeacherToolkit) and Paul Dix (@PivotalPaul). Outstanding Assessment for Learning doesn’t happen by chance.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Our new 5 Minute Plan addresses the finer points of excellent Assessment for Learning; the refinements that cut to the heart of learning and allow you to swiftly plan for fantastic progress. The 5 Minute AfL plan address the moments in a great lesson that the best teachers pay most attention to:

  • the critical questions that cut to the heart of the learning
  • the moments of transition where responsibility for the learning is passed over
  • hinge questions that differentiate accurately and instantly
  • peer assessment and peer marking that has a tight focus
  • self-reflection that has a beautifully simple structure and ritual.

The 5 Minute AfL plan is now available and we would love to see some of your examples from your own lessons. Do read on for an explanation on how to complete and use each section. There is a blank template and a completed version at the foot of this article.

The original plan:

The original plan
The original plan

Juicy Questions:


Which questions are going to provoke the deepest and juiciest thinking? Which questions for this lesson cut to the heart of the learning?  For fresh ideas have a look at Tony Ryan’s Thinkers Keys, then use @TeacherToolkit’s adapted Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce (#PPPB) to introduce each question.

Pose Pause Pounce Bounce
Are you a Tigger in the classroom?

Tony Ryan’s 20 Thinkers Keys:

The teaching of thinking as a core skill.

You can download his own resource here and watch a tutorial here on YouTube.

Thinkers Keys by Tony Ryan
Thinkers Keys by Tony Ryan
Thinkers Keys by Tony Ryan
Click to download

Peer assessment and Peer marking:


It is too easy to offer criticism of someone else’s work. Set the rule. All marking and feedback follows the same rule. In order to offer advice/criticism/direction to your partner, you need to first find three things that deserve positive reflection. In written or spoken feedback the rule sustains. You are deliberately shifting the classroom culture to look for what works automatically. You are also giving peer assessment and peer marking a structure that makes it safe for all students to work with one another without fear of intensive criticism or ridicule.

Hinge Questions:


A good hinge question has 4 answers:  a ‘right right’ answer, a right answer, an ‘almost right’ answer and a wrong answer. Ask students to write their answer down in secret to avoid negative peer influence.  Be prepared to intervene, change direction, rearrange the students and your lesson in light of the response to the hinge question. You are testing what they have learned and using it to inform your teaching. After the hinge question you will regroup students, ask students in the ‘right right’ group to help those in the ‘almost right’ group, invite peer teaching, let some groups work independently and others work intensively with you.

Targets with an emotional kick:

5MinAfLPlanConnect the formative targets in the classroom to the bigger picture and the student’s wider ambitions. Emotionally connected targets are pursued more enthusiastically. Targets written for students on a Sunday night are virtually useless and ignored. Targets work when students agree them; own them and are connected with them.

  • What is really driving the students’ pursuit of their targets?
  • Family expectations?
  • Personal ambition?
  • Greed?
  • To change the world?


5MinAfLPlanGreat feedback is a conversation not a monologue. Who starts the marking conversation and when is it started? To initiate a marking conversation invite students to mark your marking: they will use a ‘tick’ to say – “I understand and agree with your marking”; a ‘cross’ to say, “I don’t agree” (and then they give their reasons); and a ‘question mark’ to say, “I don’t understand the comments”.

Many marking conversations start in the lesson and need to be held and recorded. How are you going to capture these conversations? Digitally with a visualizer? A Wiki or as an audio recording? Analogue methods include using paper wristbands, a Negotiated Assessment Grid (NAG) or a marking/feedback diary.


5MinAfLPlanStructure self-reflection using three simple questions. Give the students 2 minutes to answer each one with an exhaustive list. The ritual of structured self-reflection improves students’ ability to recall their input and involvement. If you don’t teach students a ritual and structure for self-reflection, they will improvise their way through it, badly. Try these headings:

  1. What have I given to the task/group/class?
  2. What knowledge/understanding/skills have I taken away?
  3. What troubles have I caused?

Moments of transfer:

5MinAfLPlanWhen do you transfer the responsibility for the learning to the students? What techniques do you use? Lowering your status by sitting on the floor and scribing while students sit on chairs and suggest success criteria for the task; showing students the quality/breadth/ambition of their own ideas by posting them on the wall and asking them ‘Whose ideas are these?’; using check-lists or grids of criteria positioned next to the students while they are working; asking students to lead sections of the lesson?

When you persistently transfer responsibility for the learning to the students and make it clear that they are driving progress, then progress accelerates.

Final template:

Here is what The 5 Minute AfL Plan by @PivotalPaul & @TeacherToolkit looks like.

Click to open the #5MinAfLPlan
Click to open the #5MinAfLPlan

Completed version:

Completed 5MinAfLPlan

Download a template:

Download ‘The 5 Minute AfL Plan by @PivotalPaul & @TeacherToolkit‘ here.

Please do let us know how you have used your plans. Enjoy!

Paul Dix:

Paul Dix - @PivotalPaul
Paul Dix – @PivotalPaul

Paul speaks all over the world on Behaviour, Assessment and Excellent Teaching. He is a leading author, a columnist for the Times Educational Supplement, and has advised UK Government on Teacher Standards, Behaviour and Restraint. I have used his training in Behaviour Management at my own school, which is accredited by Edge Hill University at Masters Level.

Sign up for free tips on: and download free resources here and follow Paul on Twitter @PivotalPaul.




 Creative Commons License


@TeacherToolkit by Ross Morrison McGill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on all work published at

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

3 thoughts on “The #5MinAfLPlan

  1. Pingback: Twilight CPD materials on Peer and Self-Assessment | Beckenham Learning Site

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