Current Electricity and Revision Thoughts

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
  • Cover/copy/check
  • 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.

  1. Write title and spend a couple of minutes bullet pointing what you think will be in it.
  2. Watch/listen to first few minutes, then pause.
  3. Tick what you were right about, adding details/examples where needed, and add main points you’d not remembered.
  4. Bullet point what you think will be coming next.
  5. Next few minutes, then pause and repeat.
  6. 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.

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T&L 3: Video Ideas

These posts are pretty much copy/paste duplicates from the emails I’ve been asked to put together for my school. They’re going out to all teaching staff on a weekly basis, but responses so far have been limited. Any ideas on how to promote engagement? On with the show:


Morning all
As an antidote to Ken Robinson – who is indeed an entertaining and passionate speaker, but somewhat divorced from the reality of teaching in a classroom – some links and ideas about videos. [NB: I’m not necessarily criticising Sir Ken’s ideas, that’s another post – but I did wonder how useful it was to use as CPD in-house for teachers.)
For Students
How about a TV series for a starter or plenary? Have students write the five or six episode titles, then perhaps a single-sentence plot summary, for the topic they are studying. This could be a series of questions to prompt the topic, or a way to sum up and organize what they know. There’s an obvious link to groups for revision or recap activities for the main part of the lesson, putting together a concept map or similar. (I used to do this as ‘chapters in a book’ but got tired of the blank looks.)
Lots of BBC clips are available, searchable and free, intended for classroom use. As usual some are dated but they can be great starting points, or set them as HW for students to review at their own pace. Like any other video, it’s easy for students to switch off; studies have shown that having them make notes, giving them questions in advance so they’re paying attention to key words, or having them write a test sheet with answers as they watch can all boost recall. They can be useful to define the objectives for the lesson, much as David Didau suggested in September.
Making videos can be daunting but students can really get on board with it. Making a strict time limit and a focus – perhaps a 30 second or 1 minute TV advert – means they can concentrate on what they want to say, not just how they want to say it. If completed for HW, or set as an option for revision evidence, it can always be emailed to your work account for sharing in class. Unless they beg you not to.
Resources like Brainpop, Youtube for Schools, C4 Clipbank and so on may offer benefits, but you need to sign up and pay first. The usual problem is finding something good, as it normally exists somewhere. Don’t assume that because you know about it that colleagues in your department do also.
For Teachers
Who better to listen to than another teacher? This was the basis of Teachers TV, back in the day, but the archive is still available. Search, watch, be inspired – or at least relieved that someone else has ideas you can steal. Remember that we can divide educational ideas into methods (things you can change in your classroom), tactics (things a department or school can put into place) and strategy (for schools, LAs or Gove to worry about). There’s no point watching something about changing how schools in the UK teach less engaged students with a global approach if what you need is a way to stop Johnny shouting at Sarah during discussions.
If you want something less, well, polished, then check out TeachMeets. Attending them in person is best, but may not be practical. In the meantime, you can see lots of 2 and 7 minute presentations by colleagues who wanted to share (or were bullied until they said yes to sharing) something that can be used quickly in the classroom. More will hopefully be appearing sooner or later.
Would really welcome some suggestions, queries, requests from colleagues about what should be covered in these emails. Hope that more than one person (Thanks, you know who you are) found the revision ideas useful.