Archive for the ‘revision’ tag
Last year, I had my year 13 class create a revision wiki in the run up to their exams. It worked quite well, but it needed a bit of pump priming with some ICT room time that I just don’t have this year, and I wasn’t completely convinced that my current yr 13s would take to it in quite the same way.
So when, on Monday, we were talking through some options for revision sessions for them, I raised the idea of an evening online revision session. I was initially thinking some kind of revision version of a twitter chat, but it quickly became clear that wouldn’t work. So, after chewing a few ideas around with them, we settled on the ideas of using Google Docs. We’re a Google Apps school, so everyone has access, it’s a tool they’re all used to using now, and it has the advantage of the chat as well as the main document.
So, on Monday at 8pm I copied and pasted the first section of the syllabus into a Google Doc and sat back as 7 of my class started adding their notes and ideas, along with occasional argument in the chat. I joined in adding content for the first few minutes, when it became clear that my time would be better spent adding the links and tidying up behind the rush of content that was being added. After an hour we had most of the first three topics added. They went off to watch Game of Thrones or Broadchurch and I spend another half an hour or so finishing off the tidying up.
On Wednesday lunchtime we met to talk through the sections they had highlighted as areas they wanted to review or didn’t understand and after school I printed out two copies of our now 13 page long revision notes, and we used them to plan responses to some possible essay questions.
All in all, I’ve been really impressed. The real-time nature gives the activity more drive than had been the case last year, and it allowed me to quickly spot a couple of areas that I needed to go back and clarify with the rest of the class. The quality of the final resource, along with the fact that it’s been mostly authored by them means that the investment of my time is more than repaid Even those students who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) join in have access to the revision document that’s been created.
The only downside has been a couple of students whose computers / browsers just haven’t coped with several people editing the document at the same time, but I can’t think of a better tool for the job right now, so we’re going to stick with it for another week and see if a chance of browser (in one case) and borrowing another laptop from a family member (in another) might help that.
While I’m aware that there a few places (particularly in the sixth form) that perhaps I still need to provide better quality revision notes, these days revision lessons are both far more frequent and far more about the students working, rather than me.
Take a recent yr 11 revision lesson.
I split the class in half and they had three minutes to write down all the topic areas they could remember on one of the papers. Points were awarded to the team with the most. And what do point mean? Well, nothing actually, but the competition itself seemed to help. While we were counting up the points, I ruled a few out of order (hopefully clarifying a few things in the process) and the teams copied down any missing points.
Part 2 – Add decades. Where several events happened in the same decade, students had to try and add a date, or at least get the order right. Most groups actually went much further, adding years and in some cases months
Part 3 – While they were doing this I created a quick graph, with decades along the bottom axis. These were handed out, and students quickly cut out the points from their notes (or in the case of one class, copied a few selected ones onto quickly cut up pieces of card. We then explored some of the final questions on the WJEC development study paper (in our case USA 1929-2000). They used the y axis to show change / progress depending on the question. This final discussion part made explplit both the fact that the students weren’t expected to write about everything, but choose the best examples to include in their answers, and that they had to make reference to the ‘y-axis’ in their answer.
One hour, great revision, virtually no prep. They were the ones that left exhausted. Not me. And that’s just how it should be!
Last time dear reader, you joined me as my year 12 students were hurling balls of paper across the room at each other all in the name of revision. I thought I’d finish the story of what we did next.
One of the things many students struggle with a A Level is the structuring of their essay. They know what to put in, but give little thought to the best order for the points to be made, or how to link them together.
So, we took the sheets of paper with all the ideas for our answers and cut each person’s contribution out. Then, issued with a fresh sheet of paper and a glue stick, students worked in pairs to decide what points were going to be jettisoned 1, and in what order those points that survived should be put. I wandered around getting them to justify their choices and clearing up any misunderstanding.
Finally, students had to draw lines between each section and say how they’d link each paragraph together. Did one cause the other? Where the caused by the same thing? Was one the next event chronologically?
Again, by making these things practical and hands on, the feedback was that everyone benefitted – those that were already doing it benefit from explaining their choices to others, those for whom the lightbulb hasn’t yet gone on have it broken down step by step and hopefully start to get what to do to access the higher mark bands.
Only time will tell!
By the way, my absolutely favourite thing about the example I’ve uses as the picture for this post is that one of the students has crossed out part of one of the points I made and improved it! :0D
- you can’t include everything, you don’t have time – therefore selecting the most appropriate things to include is a vital skill ↩
Quick twist on a old revision idea to share today. Yr 12 are prepping for their AS history exams in a couple of weeks and the key is both in selecting what areas to include in a question, and for potential A/B students getting the order and the links between the sections right.
So student one writes a question at the top of a sheet of paper. When I’ve done this before they’ve then passed them on. Today, for some reason I got the impression they were on edge and could do with cheering up. So, despite protests, funny looks and pleas to ‘just fold them’ each student dutifully lightly scrunched up their paper and waited for the next instruction:
…and now throw it across the classroom!
Once they realised I wasn’t joking the obliged, picked up another paper and added their first idea on how to answer the question. Then then rescrunched and threw again, repeating the process until each question had 5 possible ideas for paragraphs on. They then had to work together to work out what (if anything) they would drop from the list or add, and then what order they would write them in and what could link them.
This had two advantages on the usual ‘pass the papers’ activity. The first was stress relief – not to be underestimated as exam time looms ever closer. The other (which I hadn’t thought about until it happened) was that students ended up sharing ideas across the classroom, rather than with the people they normally work with around their tables.
Go on, give it a go. Throw it across the classroom!
One of the best investments we made as a school was to invest in a license for the Content Generator packages which allow teachers to quickly and easily create their own Flash based games.
For our revision CD-ROM I’ve created a whole series of games for the units that we teach at GCSE. These are Germany 1919-45, China 1949-76 and USA 1929-90. In case they’re of any use to anyone else I’ve uploaded them below. Feel free to use them in any way that you want. Each zip file contains a series of games based around the same set of questions. For anyone using the Content Generator packages themselves, I’ve also included the text file so you can edit and change the games to your hearts content.
A couple of people on the school history forum have mentioned in the past about setting up online revision sessions via MSN for year 11 pupils during study leave. My problem is slightly different – 50 AS Level students with an exam on the 9th January and plenty of revision to do over Christmas and me with little confidence that many of them will put in the work they need to do as well as they can.
My solution? Every couple of days for the last week I’ve been emailing them with the ‘quickcheck’ questions from the textbook. I’m hoping that these will not only provide a reminder that among the festivities they should be revising, but also provide a framework for those that need it – if they can answer the questions I send them they should have a good basis for their exam.
I won’t know until next week how sucessful it’s been. One problem I can see is that I’ve been emailing their school email addresses, which I suspect may remain unchecked during the holiday. Still, if it helps one or two of them it will have been worthwhile!
Image Credit: 7321 by c.a.muller