It’s that time of year, but I’ve not been able to post much about revision lessons and activities because I’ve been too busy doing them. And because of other projects, too. So my apologies for the long absence.
P2 electricity quick ref (as pdf)
This grew out of activities trying to help students make clear links between past questions and revision content. It was intended to be a fast way for them to check details (using the QR codes, which link to websites including BBC Bitesize and My GCSE Science) without getting bogged down in minutae. Time is short with Year 11 and this kind of approach should work well with revision classes, allowing self-directed study which you can then explain when they visit for extra sessions – I combined it with some relevant questions, broken down by topic.
Having students creating something like this would also work well. I’m going to try giving them an electronic blank with four spaces to write their own questions, but insist they add links to different resources which contain the answers to each of the four.
When revising, as usual I’m asking students to focus on active rather than passive techniques. A recent activity challenged them to suggest ways of turning common but less engaged methods into more dynamic ones.
Not Just Reading
It’s very telling when a student is asked how they revise, and respond with ‘looking at the revision guide’. Simply reading is too passive, but the use of looking suggests even less engagement. We came up with:
- Pause to write summary sentences or bullet points
- Highlight/underline key words, practise definitions
- Convert format to revision cards (paper or electronic), mindmaps or similar
- Write questions (split between recall, explanation and mathematical) linked to content
Practice questions are of course a very useful way to prepare for exams, even if the focus inevitably turns to exam technique rather than understanding. I’ve blogged before about useful variations but most recently have been relying on:
- BUS structure (from Twitter, can’t recall source) where students box command word, underline key points in question and scribble additional vocab to include
- Write three hint words and pass to a classmate who has to use those words
- Write an alternative question (convert maths Qs to words and versa vice) testing similar content
- Produce a deliberately mid-level answer and add commentary for how to improve
The links in the worksheet include one to the video archive, Khan Academy style, of My GCSE Science. Some of these have built-in pauses but even if not, I’m encouraging my students to use a very specific format which also works for audio, such as the Naked Scientists podcasts hosted at the BBC.
- Write title and spend a couple of minutes bullet pointing what you think will be in it.
- Watch/listen to first few minutes, then pause.
- Tick what you were right about, adding details/examples where needed, and add main points you’d not remembered.
- Bullet point what you think will be coming next.
- Next few minutes, then pause and repeat.
- Once finished, attempt a question relating to the content, referring back to notes if needed.
One Hour to Success
It’s amazing, as usual, how many seem to think that putting their phone to one side is unreasonable while revising. I suggested to several parents recently that phones should be given to them during an active revision session in exchange for tea and biscuits
- 0-15 min: active revision using methods above
- 15-20 min: break, with cuppa, parents looking at written work while student texts their mates, then returns phone
- 20-35 min: attempt and mark a past paper question on revised content
- 35-40 min: second break, student loads dishwasher (including used mug) while parent looks at the exam answer
- 40-55 min: worked examples and further practice of weak areas as identified, or simply learning vocab that’s relevant.
- 55-60 min: write title of next revision priority on a new sheet of paper, ready for next time, placed in revision guide at relevant page.
I wonder how many will stick to it…
I’m trying to track my impact (eg you using this resource or basing your own on my ideas). You don’t have to leave your name, just a few words about how what I did made a difference. If you’ve blogged about it, I’d love for you to include a link. Tweets are transient, comments on the posts are hard to collect together, but this would really help.