A ‘Sharing best practice’ post by Sarah Fox (Food Technology)
Reading time: 2 minutes
‘I’m looking forward to revising for my exams!’, said no student ever.
Revision is a fact of life for students preparing for exams and for many it may seem like an insurmountable obstacle. Building revision time into your scheme of work, teaching students effective and efficient revision strategies and lots and lots of exam practice will all help but the fact remains – revision is about hard work.
Once students have faced the fact that revision is a necessity if they wish to achieve their best results, then offering them support, encouragement and resources is the teacher’s next job.
One of the ways in which you can do this is to provide them with a ‘Take-Away Revision Bag’.
In the bags go…
- ‘What is the examiner looking for from each question?’ guides
- ‘How to answer different types of exam questions’ guides
- Revision booklets
- Past papers
- Pen and Pencil
- A highlighter
- Blank revision cards
- A personal message from me
Once students have been given their take-away bag they can add to them, or use them to keep all their revision materials and notes together in one place.
Students then bring elements of the bag to each lesson to use.
The bags also mean they are able to work through different tasks at their own pace and plan their own revision.
I am then able to use the time gained from having pre-planned the revision activities to analyse their exam answers to target further revision on required topics or to focus on the needs of individual students.
The students were delighted by their revision ‘gift’ and it gave them a lift when undertaking the hard work that was being demanded of them.
Why not offer your students a take-away!
A sharing best practice post by Jodie Johnson (Mathematics)
This activity sharpens up pupils’ ability to precisely follow a particular process to complete a specific task. These examples come from Maths but they could apply equally well to any process in any subject. For instance, ‘constructing a perpendicular bisector on a line’, ‘bisecting an angle’, ‘drawing an equilateral triangle’ etc., etc.
Step 1: Pupils A and B sit back to back with Pupil A facing the teacher/board with an incomplete worksheet (see above)
Step 2: The teacher silently demonstrates the process to complete a task on the board. Pupil A copies the teacher’s demonstration onto their worksheet.
Step 3: Without changing position Pupil A now explains to Pupil B how to complete the process on their worksheet by giving clear verbal instructions (they are not allowed to look at what Pupil B is doing)
Step 4: Pupil A and B look at the results and discuss the instructions given (were they specific?, were they clear?, how could they be more precise? how could they be improved), in order to refine and perfect them.
Step 5: (Here is where the ‘awkward mole’ comes in!) You now invite a ‘random’ pupil to come up to the front and follow the instructions they are given by another member of the class to demonstrate how to complete the process in front of the class. Unknown to the rest of the class you have primed the ‘random pupil’ to be your ‘awkward mole’ and instructed them to be as awkward as possible when following the other pupil’s instructions – to take instructions literally, to deliberately ‘misunderstand’ ambiguous instructions and so on. The onus is then on the pupil giving the instructions to refine their thinking and instructions until they succeed in getting the mole to ‘get it right’!
In one case a pupil instructed the mole to ‘draw an arc’, so that’s what he did with Noah and the animals too!
You can prime more than one pupil to be your mole in the lesson and don’t forget to reverse the roles for pupils A and B so they both get a turn.
Featured image: Mick E. Talbot, Mr Mole, CC BY-SA 3.0
An Action Research Project by Darragh McMullan (Humanities)
The focus for this will be year 10 students going into year 11. From previous experience and with the increasing demands on students to undertake exam revision, I feel students need to be clear what areas of a course they are weaker in and what areas they need to focus on more specifically for revision. This is not taking away from the fact that students still need to revisit the whole course but it can enable them to attend specific revision sessions and target certain areas in the run up to exams.
I set out to use PIXL to track students’ knowledge of topics in year 10. This was achieved by creating simple 10 question knowledge tests on the key points for that unit. Based on what students achieved they would receive a Green, Amber, Red rating. This was recorded in their books for their reference and also on an Excel spread sheet. This would enable targeting of students at revision time.
Students can then prioritise attendance at revision sessions for areas of weakness. In these sessions I do not want them to be a similar lesson to the one taught the previous year. I feel the best way for students to revise independently is using learning mats (see below). This includes all the key questions students need to know for particular units. Students can find and discuss these questions in revision sessions with the teacher becoming a facilitator, helping students, answering questions and stretching students.
Taking this further I have begun to look at exam questions and how this can be tracked to enable students to see what questions they need to concentrate on. I have also started to develop revision packs that include these questions as HW.
This will enable HW to be set as a revision task with students looking at the different types of exam questions to enable them to practise these throughout the year. These questions will include mark schemes and suggested sentence starters so students are clearer about what is required for that particular question. This can again be recorded and students can be guided to practise certain questions that they are weaker on.
The aim will be to ensure that at the end of the course students are clear what knowledge they need to revise, what questions they need to practice and will have the revision materials (learning mat, revision guides) to complete independent revision.
Featured image: Adams Monumental Illustrated Panorama of History (1878) By Creator:Sebastian C. Adams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A ‘Sharing best practice’ post by Jodie Johnson (Mathematics)
“Shhh! We’re going to have a silent conversation…”
An unusual instruction to a class but one that can help to focus thinking and forge collaboration amongst pupils. How? Well listen in…
Working in pairs, the class are given a series of questions of varying levels of difficulty. Their challenge is to answer the questions in silence. Partners can ‘ask’ each other as many questions as they like, as long as they do so in writing. At the end of the activity pairs can then demonstrate to their peers or to the class, how they would solve the problem…in silence just like they will have to do in an exam!
By taking it in turns to solve each step of the problem everybody is engaged and by being allowed to ‘ask’ questions they can help each other get ‘unstuck’ when necessary. The focus on the written demonstration of the solution helps cement the process needed to reach the solution.
Here’s an example of some worked solutions shared (in silence) by pupils with the rest of the class:
Featured image: ‘Silence’ (original image) by Alberto Ortiz on http://www.Flickr.com (license CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)