The second half of this post will be mostly relevant to AQA Science A and Additional, because that’s mostly what I teach. The rest will be my own opinions on revision. I say opinions, but I try to make sure these are evidence-based, because that’s what we try to do, right? Let’s start off with active revision, what it is and isn’t, and how to convince kids to do it. You could argue this puts the responsibility back on the students rather than us doing it, which strikes me as both moral and effective. It’s incredibly depressing when kids turn up at a scheduled ‘revision class’ expecting to listen to a teacher read through the syllabus. Pointless, frustrating and demoralising for everyone concerned; surely there’s something more constructive they could be doing?
Most of the hyperlinks are to my own posts, because I could find them quickly. I’d love for comments to be added with more/better stuff, so please do!
Active Revision inc MORSE
I like the acronym MORSE, standing for
- Mnemonics (Yes, I know, relatively small benefit, but can’t miss it out)
- Organisation (links between concepts, not remembering your calculator)
- Rehearsal/Repetition (ideally using the ideas behind ‘spaced revision’)
- Simplification/Summarising (key words, lists, page to paragraph to sentence)
- Extension (applying facts to new situations)
I presented on this ages ago at a TeachMeet, but it’s continued to be useful when working with my students. It’s a straightforward checklist to make sure that whatever they’re doing, it’s active rather than passive. As I explain to my classes, although there are some surprises, most revision advice is simple. Like healthy eating, it’s not about mysterious secrets, but about willpower.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Active revision isn’t a complicated idea. It’s about doing something. Writing, not reading. Describing or thinking or explaining, not just watching or listening. It’s quite telling that when I asked a student how they had revised for a recent test, they told me they’d “looked at the revision guide.” Not even read the revision guide, you notice. Have you seen that students seem to treat revision guides like gym memberships? Owning them is enough to ensure the result you wanted, apparently…
Anyway. I like to get students:
- using past papers in loads of ways
- writing revision notes as summaries from a range of sources
- producing mindmaps/revision cards then using them
- asking and answering questions with peers
- rote learning definitions using cover/write/check
- linking concepts with examples and consequences for the 6 mark questions.
- advantages/disadvantages, comparisons with linked ideas/examples (eg the Five Cs format)
- practising mathematical situations, both clear and challenging
Booklets for students to complete, with checklists. These are all in .pdf format.
Nothing for Chemistry, on account of me being a Physicist who can also teach the squishy stuff, but is more likely to blow himself up accidentally rather than on purpose. 🙂
Hope some of the above is useful – please met me know what you think, whether positive or negative.
- Secret Teacher: where do teachers draw the line in helping students achieve? (schoolsimprovement.net)