Episode 42 What is a Pivot Task?

In this episode, Dan explains what a pivot task is and how to use one.

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Show notes

It is a pivot task because it has to be used by the teacher to pivot the lesson.

  • should not take long… 5 minutes max
  • They focus on knowledge not higher-order thinking skills
  • you want to make it impossible for students to get the right answer for the wrong reasons
  • The incorrect answers should be interpretable

How do you do this?

  • ask open ended questions
  • get verbal answers
  • ask for a short demonstration of their understanding

Crafting questions

  1. list any misconceptions that are common for the content
  2. write answers from the misconception
  3. write questions that will elicit the misconception
  4. generate the answers either for students to choose from or to help you interpret their answers

Example 1 – The sound “A” makes

  • Misconception is it makes 2 sounds, but it makes 5
  • So, to identify this we might play various sounds and ask them to identify what sounds can be recorded using the letter “a”.
  • The more correct the better the understanding of the coding process
  • we could ask how to spell “Talk” and how options such as “Tork”, “Talc”, “Tawk” and “Talk”

Example 2 Energy Systems

  • misconception is that the ATP/PC system is used first, then the lactic acid system and then the aerobic system
  • BUT, your body always uses the aerobic system and uses the other systems when they are needed
  • ask how the energy systems provide ATP in a football game
  • Do they tell me that it is one then the other? Do they tell me that the aerobic energy system doesn’t start until 3 min into the sport? OR
  • Do they identify that the systems are all working, but which one provides the most ATP varies according to the intensity

It is very important that is pivot task is planned

  • The answers to the task should change what happens for the rest of the lesson
  • If correct then you move onto higher order thinking activities
  • If not, go back and reteach it and help them, but in a different way.


The pivot task should lead to differentiation

Leave a comment below and tell me how you are going to pivot your students' learning


  1. Gregory Dutton

    Thanks Dan. Thought I might try a pivot task with sports med, environmental considerations. Perhaps use a scenario where an athlete makes a particular choice (eg wears a particular article of clothing) and have students explain how/why this will promote a safe playing environment for the athlete.


  2. Tanya Laird

    Like the idea of a short, to the point podcast with examples. Will use this concept today in revision for energy systems and nutrition.

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