How to use our new Pinch Point tasks

Girl thinking

After two years of development and consultation with teachers, we have finally published the Pinch Point tasks in the Activate Intervention Workbooks and they have been very well received. If you are new to the Pinch Point concept, there is a good summary in this article [1].

At the ASE Conference 2018 in Liverpool, we were able to discuss with teachers how they thought they could use these activities. So, here are four ways to engage your students with Pinch Points and help them tackle difficult concepts in science.

The Vision

Within the context of the Intervention Workbook, I envisioned the Pinch Point tasks being used to come back to and focus on a more difficult concept after working through a topic. It is very easy for students to ignore more difficult concepts or give up on tackling them. The Pinch Point task encourages students to think about a difficult concept with a multiple-choice question. The options represent a correct answer, missing knowledge, missing a connection, or a misunderstanding/misconception.

So, the intervention activity addresses the mistake the student has made and allows them to reflect on their original answer. They approach it in this order:

  • Read question
  • Select answer
  • Do intervention activity of same multiple-choice letter
  • Reflect on answer
  • If correct, move on, if not, try again.

This is intended to help learners to engage with the difficult concept, challenge themselves and justify their decisions.

Alternative approaches to using Pinch Point tasks

Intervention Workbook as homework

Without teacher guidance on the Pinch Point task, we expect that students might just work their way through all the intervention exercises. This will do no harm as they will have challenged the major mistakes made on the concept and been extended on it as well.

Intervention Workbook as classwork

With teacher direction, students can have a more focused approach to the Pinch Point task. If the Intervention Workbooks are being used in lessons, the teacher could plan a focus on the Pinch Point task, after teaching about that Pinch Point concept. I would suggest giving students 5 minutes to decide on their answer, then up to twenty minutes to complete the follow-up task. Then ask them if they have changed their mind about their first answer. Guiding the learning in this way will ensure every student has tackled any mistake they have made, or if they were correct, have deepened their knowledge and understanding.

Pinch Point Task use in group work

This approach would mean that students work in small groups of three or four. They discuss the Pinch Point, decide on their own answers, then do the follow-up activity. They can then be challenged to justify their answer and explain why the others are wrong. In doing this, you are challenging students to talk about difficult concepts and justify their understanding.

How would you do it?

There are probably many other ways in which to use these activities and I would be interested to see how they are used. Please comment below with your ideas!


The Power Point presentation from the ASE session is available here.

The Activate Intervention Workbooks can be ordered from the Oxford website.

Dr Andrew Chandler-GrevattDr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt has a PhD in school assessment and a passion for science teaching and learning. Having worked as a science teacher for ten years, five of which as an AST, Andy has a real understanding of the pressures and joys of teaching. Alongside his research in school assessment, Andy is a teaching fellow on the PGCE course at the University of Sussex, and is a successful published assessment author. He is the Assessment Editor for Activate, AQA Activate, AQA GCSE Sciences Third Edition and OCR Gateway GCSE Science.

2 thoughts on “How to use our new Pinch Point tasks

  1. Flavia says:

    Hi – Would be really keen to write a blog for you. Could you possibly get in contact and let me know how? have recently written this: about how curiosity impacts are ability to learn. Have a PhD in Neuroscience with special interest in the neuroscience of learning..

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