By Helen Wilson (Maths) and Sarah Hopkin (Business and Economics)
It’s that time of year when we all hope that our year 11, 12 and 13 pupils are starting to “gear up” in their studies, working out where they need to concentrate their revision and decide exactly what they are going to do to revise and prepare for the up and coming external exams. All too often, pupils feel overwhelmed by the task and move into the “ostrich-head-in-the-sand” mode where they concentrate on things that they can already do and put the skills they are less confident with at the bottom of an ever increasing list of things they will sort out “later”. Sarah and I were looking at the whole idea of revision with exam classes separately and then in a staffroom T&L chat started to share some ideas and talk through what we had been doing. The ideas here may be useful in various combinations with a variety of years, abilities, classes and subjects – our aim was to get pupils thinking about what they need to work on, and what kind of revision activities work for them.
Sarah used a Learning Styles Questionnaire with her 6th form class:
“I asked students to write down their main revision methods and they then did this quiz. With the results of the quiz, the class then moved into groups based on their learning style. They discussed what they had learned about themselves and how they should adapt their revision plans. They then were given a topic to revise and discussed what would be appropriate to meet their needs. I was able to interject ideas to help them.
Each student then ended the lesson with an exit pass- the feedback was fantastic. Every student felt they had learned something valuable about themselves and identified some practical revision skills.”
Sarah has also been using the ‘think circle’ with her sixth form groups to either answer exam questions or revise a topic:
“Revision – The centre of the circle has the topic name; the next layer either advantage/disadvantages; the third layer the analysis of the advantages/disadvantages made and the final layer the evaluation. This helps students to move beyond fact based revision and is a useful tool which they can then use for themselves independently.
Answering question – The centre contains question; the next layer contains the application; the next layer the analysis points and the final layer the evaluation. This helps students to build an answer from their knowledge, ensuring that they produce an answer in sufficient depth. It is particularly good for planning in the lesson before a written homework. The students seemed to respond well to this as it helped them to develop skills and understanding.”
In my year 11 maths class I felt it was important to tackle the “head-in-the-sand” issue early, as I wanted pupils to sort out problems with key topics now, rather than leave them until the last minute when the pressure of time means anxiety can make ideas seem more difficult than they really are. I showed them this video which made them laugh and also set them thinking. Then we spent a lesson identifying which were their personal target topics and talked about a variety of ways to revise. Pupils wrote their three most important topics onto post-it notes which I collected in at the end of the lesson. This powerpoint guided the lesson, but having specific tasks to do at each point was what kept the class focussed. All left the lesson with a list of target topics, the beginnings of a revision plan, ideas of different ways to revise, and the comfort of knowing that I had all their target topics on post-it notes to allow me to plan revision lessons over the coming weeks. For me, this is “Taking Ownership” at it’s best.
Look out for the Learning Lunch next half term where we will talk about activities and games for revision in lessons.