How do you solve a problem like….checklists

Checklists / can do lists / PLC (personal learning checklists) were often given out at the end of topics or when Y11 were about exam leave. The trial of thought is now flipped on this – why not give them the information they need to know before each topic?

This does not always mean that we as teachers will always lose that moment when we set the students out on a challenge. This happens a lot in Science, we set up a practical in the hope that the students will complete it well and something amazing will happen (even in their brains or at the very least with the results).

I use two different types of checklist/PLC. One is for me and not shared with the students. It is RAG rated and tracks students knowledge. (There may be another blog on this at some point). I also give students a checklist.

Students also get a checklist. These are created from the specification and put into more student speak. Tom Sherrington  has written a very good blog on why checklists are not always successful and do not do the job they are meant to do

I read this and saw a post on twitter about a checklist someone had made. I saw it, and then could not find it again (It was only after I found out about the twitter bookmark) however it got me to think and reflect how could I make a checklist work in class. I knew it had to:

1)      Be given out before the topic starts (A change of practice for me – but I took the leap)

2)      Contain all the content that students must know

3)      Be able to support students learning and retrieval.

4)      Help inform my planning

I designed a checklist by turning the teacher speak exam specifications into student speak. I am aware there are dangers of doing this if the checklist was used alone. It is important to make sure checklists are a tool and should be used along side other materials to support learning.

resistance 2

The checklist statements all have a code. I have added these to support the organisation of students work and so they know the “why” to what we doing, so they feel more in control of their own. I will sometimes tell students the code reference at the start of the lesson, sometimes I will ask them if they know they can find the code, from the list. Hopefully by doing this they will remember other areas they may have forgotten. I ask students to write the checklist code in their books next to their written work in the margin of their exercise books. This aids their revision at a later date and along with knowledge organisers can be used for self quizzing but mostly keeps books organised. Some students have gone as far as creating tabs and transforming their exercise books so they look more like revision guides. Overall students seem to take more pride in their work, when they know why they are doing it.

One great advchecklistantage of these checklists is that if a student has been absent they can quite easily see what has been missed and so they know what they must catch up on. If the content is in students books they tick the ‘book’ column on the checklist. If they feel they want more time on it they tick ‘DIRT’ – this is so I know they need to go over it again. The ‘Revise’ column is for students to use when they feel they need to focus their revision on that particular area, to act as a reminder.


I also use copy sections on of the checklists on to homework, so students again no why they are spending time on it. It is a win win situation. It is also handy for me to have a checklist of the unit in hand, so I am able to make sure we cover the relevant content and I know if we need to revisit any of the material again.

It takes time for students to get kinetic 2used to being proactive with their checklist, but it soon becomes a habit.

To summarise the checklists

·         Guide learning

·         Identify gaps in knowledge

·         Help with revision

·         Keep work organised in exercise books

·         Connect homework with class work

These are my examples for AQA Physics – They are free to download from my TES Shop 

Atomic Theory & radiation 

Particle Model 




Electromagnetism and Magnetism 



Tell me how you have used them on Twitter. Follow me here


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