Tutor Activity – Just a minute

This tutorial activity can be done in a 10 minute morning registration or a longer 1 lesson tutorial, but either way the results can be hilarious especially if you take part as well. It takes very little preparation on your part and just requires a timer and random words on cards.

The Just a Minute challenge is based on a round from the popular BBC programme “Mock The Week” where the panellist have to jump in and talk about a topic without any preparation. In the case of the TV show they have to make it funny but for the classroom based activity the students just have to talk for a full minute.

The way it works is that you have a number of random topics in a envelope, these can range from topical current affairs to silly

everyday objects. For example you could have:


  • The Olympics
  • Toothpaste
  • A Roast Dinner
  • Syria
  • Toilet Roll
  • Electric Cars

You can change your topics to fit your class as you see fit. I have a year 13 tutor group so I try to get not just the silliness but also current affairs in there to try and get them thinking about the world outside their bubble.

The students randomly select a topic card from the envelope and have a few minutes to think about what they are going to say. I use my random name selector to decide who is going to go first so that way I am not accused of being unfair. The idea is that the students talk for a full minute with as few “fillers” as possible. It doesn’t matter if they go off on a tangent to what you think they would discuss or take a completely unexpected view on what they have been given, that is part of the fun.

I have made it into a bit of competition and the class vote on which they think was the best at the end of each session and that person goes through to the next round, this then continues till we have a “Just a Minute Champion”

I also have my own name in the spinner and have to compete along with the rest of the class. There have been times when I have had to talk about Miley Cyrus or Eggs for a minute however I have never been crowned the just a minute champion.

This is a great activity for practising public speaking and for the students to gain in confidence with presentations and public speaking. It also means that they start to move away from the “read from the PowerPoint” style of presentations in lessons. 

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