Supporting learning with helping hands

I use this simple strategy a lot with my classes.
It is perfect for students who need extra support approaching a particular task.
The idea originated from a primary colleague who uses hand templates to provide students with feedback and easy to action targets.  

Students were able to self assess using them as well, the hands could either work as a memory cue for success criteria or a review template.  
I have used the template in a number of ways over the last few months (there are some ideas at the end of this post). 
The most helpful, so far, has been in preparing some of our SEND students for their GCSE exams in English and English Literature this summer.   These students often struggle to remember the process for tackling an examination paper or a particular question.
Here's how we use it:
  1. Written on the palm of the hand "Reading Section - 1 hour"
  2. Written on each finger:
    1. Key words in the question
    2. Read the passage
    3. I am writing as...
    4. PEE
    5. 15 facts
Now these won't mean anything to you. But they do mean something to the kids I teach.
They are memory cues to keep them working.
These hands are tagged to front of their classwork books. Every time we do an exam question. They get them out. Actually mostly now they don't need to, they have learnt them.
So when they are in the test and a question stumps them, they don't freeze any longer.  They have a prompt to remind them what they are doing.
When we were practicing - I would stand at the front of room and point of my little finger, then my students would mouth their way through the instructions and remember that "15 facts" meant they need to find 15 facts from the text.  
A light came on, the pen started moving again.
It takes a lot to be test ready; content and skills are all very well, but if the process of working through a paper is a challenge, then we start on the back foot.
Some kids need more support just to put the pen on paper.  Every now and again, we all need a helping hand. 
More ideas for the hand template:
1. Target setting - stapled into the front of classwork books, each time a target is met and a new one set.  I have used it for "5 steps to Level 5".
2. Success criteria - teacher sets 3 of the criteria, students sets the last 2 individually.
3. 5 things I know - this week it was 5 things I know about Shakespeare's Sonnets.
4. 5 sentence structures - a permanent prompt for the best writing structures. The more, more, more sentence etc.
The possibilities keep growing...
Thanks for reading.  Do let me know if you try helping hands!


  1. I followed a link here to find Growth Mindset payers but can't find anything even closely related.

    1. Hi Ginger - I have no idea how you found your way here - but I'm glad you did. Have a great day. Mrs E