DISPLAYING ITEMS BY TAG: REVISION

I’m teaching the new GCSE English specification for the first time this year and I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty nervous about it. The rest of my department have had a year to get to grips with it all and fine tune it, so while I’m getting what I can from them, I also need to make it work for the students in front of me, and not someone else’s class. With four hours of lessons per week, and three years before their final exams, there’s a lot of time to embed good working habits with my class - no matter how resistant they’re currently being!

Whether it be individual lessons, schemes of work or curriculum, it’s very easy to focus on what is being taught in a school. But how often do you stop to consider effective ways to ensure that students remember content and are able to recall and utilise it at a later date? What strategies can be used to ensure that the teaching going on in their establishment really ‘sticks’ and in doing so, ensure long-term value to planning, quality and practice? Being aware and engaging in the science of learning and the research that surrounds it, means that practitioners not only concentrating on passing on knowledge, they’re taking steps to ensure that it isn’t lost after they do.

If students love revising, then they love learning and their progress will improve as a result. Therefore, to engage all students in revision we have been bringing it alive as a school. Here are five strategies we have used, particularly to ensure our most able students increase the depth of understanding needed as they chase their A*s.

As a teacher there is a great deal you can do to help your students through the exam period. Naturally you have taught them the subject area comprehensively, but you should also explain exam technique and give them some practical steps to make the most of their revision time.

As a PE teacher of many years, one area that I have traditionally struggled with was supporting students to be able to write high-quality extended essays for the A2 exam paper. I always seemed to struggle with the ability to help students write concisely, using technical language and actually answer the question that was posed rather than the question they wish had been posed!

It’s evident that being a sufferer of dyslexia can mean taking on a huge amount of hard work, particularly when it comes to revising for exams. That’s why it’s important for teachers of dyslexic students to be well prepared to help with learning needs. With this in mind, Glasgow teacher David Imrie gives his best advice on the matter.

With GCSEs starting in May, it’s important that dyslexic students are provided with support and assistance from teachers to help them achieve their best grades.

Over the last couple of years, Deputy Head and Geography teacher Chris Woodcock has been trying to develop strategies to support and challenge the low ability students he teaches.

Being a content heavy subject, these students struggle to recall the knowledge required to answer exam questions effectively, and as a result, they have been missing out on valuable marks. With this in mind, Chris wanted to develop a quick and easy strategy they could use to improve their recall of information. He has been doing this by using very simple diagrams as visual prompts.

So, having taught a topic, a simple diagram is used to summarise the main ideas. This can be easily memorised and then used to recall the main facts - an example follows:

Consolidating new information can be a very difficult process for students, particularly if they don't understand the main elements of a fact or concept. Using the iPad combined with suitable apps that are flexible enough to cater for their creative and imaginative minds, however, students are given full control over the subject from researching it to sharing and presenting it to the class.

When it comes to learning new knowledge and facts relating to a topic, it can sometimes be tricky to find tasks that help children share their learning so that they retain the information.

I have seen many lessons and work in books that just seem to involve research and simply copying it into books. I always question how much knowledge the children can recite from this approach.

The iPad is now transforming the way children demonstrate their learning and recently a class of Year 2 children have been using different approaches relating to the same topic of animals in the Savannah to show how these activities are making the new found knowledge stick.

Having students identify for themselves where they think they need to improve and then comparing this to their performance on a task will give an accurate insight into which parts of the criteria they do not understand how to satisfy. The teacher can then point this out and explain how it can be achieved. A good method to conduct this is by using 'predictive grids':

Too often, students see the grade that they receive and do not take enough notice into the written feedback that is given during marking. Dylan Wiliam's suggestion of not giving the grade to the students works but I've been wanting the students to engage with the success criteria when it comes to their exams and they really are incredibly motivated by seeing the grades, or even a number.

Something suggested by a colleague, which I've started to implement with exam classes, is 'predictive grids'. These are success criteria grids (usually using the exam board language as much as possible) which the students highlight according to what they think they achieved in the piece of work. This can either be done directly after the piece of work is finished or the lesson after which is what I usually prefer to do. When the work is marked, the teacher can then see where specifically the students are not achieving, but also see if the students know if they are not achieving in that particular area.

 

In his latest blog post, English teacher Adam Lewis describes an innovative yet stunningly simple method students can use to ensure they are improving in the actual areas where they need to improve. The so-called 'scaffolds' that Adam writes about are the tools a student may or may not need to answer a question and can 'bet' on, such as working with a partner, but there's a catch - each scaffold is 'priced' accordingly to how objectively useful it is and, if chosen, will cost the student marks at the end of their answer. We think it's an ingenious method for students to help them discover their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and we encourage you to read Adam's post in full below.

I'm afraid I do like a flutter but, as a teacher, I can't afford to spend more than a few pennies (literally) each week. I decided to introduce this idea to the classroom. I've only used this in my Year 12 English Language class but I expect it could be easily applied to most classes and would result in interesting conversations in most contexts.

It allowed my Year 12 class, who have target grades from A-D, to choose the differentiation they required. Each scaffold was given 'a mark'. These scaffolds included being given the mark scheme, getting examiner comments about successful responses and working in a pair. There were about ten different scaffolds available and each scaffold would cost the students marks in their final mark for the question from 2 marks for the least useful scaffold to 20 marks for the most useful.

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