3 Revision Strategies for Last Minute Lessons

It’s the time of year when exams are looming and workload seems at an all-time high. Revision sessions, extra marking and last minute interventions take their toll on your time and energy. It’s all for the best cause and with the best of intentions, but it can be a lot to deal with.

This year, I am teaching Literature to three year groups. I have loved it, and feel immensely lucky in an age of English Language priority to be able to do so. However, the revision stress and pressure is looming (we have had over 100 students from various years at revision regularly), and I have found myself searching for ideas for revision tasks and lessons that let the students feel they have really made some progress, but are not too laborious to put together. My top three are below.

1. Quote Quilts

Adapted from a History and MFL idea I saw on Twitter, these work really well for essay practice without the write-up (and the resultant written marking). Feedback can be verbal and quick, making students feel they have progressed and learnt in a faster loop than a traditional written response. I have used these as preparation before an exam style write-up, and have also used them to prepare quotes for a competitive ‘quote tennis’ style match, pitching half the room against the other.

The concept is simple: take a grid (4×4 for the whole text, or you could do 2×2 or 3×3 for individual characters) and write a list of themes or essay question topics. Colour code the topic list as a key and fill in the grid with quotes. Then, colour each quote with all the colours you can link it to. The more colourful the quilt, the better your quotes!

quilt inspiration

A history themed inspiration from Karen Knight (@KKNteachlearn) on Twitter)

This has been good to do in groups on big bits of paper, or individually to revise quotes and think critically about them.

2. Revision Clocks

 

revision clock

Picture from Slideshare

I discovered these via Twitter (again) and they are brilliant! If you have loads of things students want to cover in a lesson, or you want to cover all the characters or themes in a text, one sheet and five-minute increments make even the rowdiest of classes focus. It’s really clear to see what segments students are confident in and where they need a little more help, and they have a piece of revision they can be really proud of at the end. they can be used in a number of ways, but here are some I have tried:

Student-led (individual): Students are given the timings by the teacher and simply fill each segment in with what they know. They can have a minute at the start of each segment for questions, then it’s them and their individual knowledge. This works best with success criteria (eg. aim for 3 quotes, 3 points and 3 links to context in each segment).

Student-led (group): Using fewer segments (6 instead of twelve) students complete the clock but all start at different points. Every five minutes they swap their work with the person next to them, or around a small group. This means they will have a mixture of their own work and others’ ideas on their sheet at the end. it also encourages them to further others’ ideas and think beyond the obvious.

Teacher-led: The class decide the topics they are unsure about and the teacher delivers notes covering these in five-minute segments, with time for questions in each bit too. This allows for a structured approach, constant motivation due to time constraint, and everyone to have lesson time on something they want to cover.

I’ve found these particularly useful with lower sets, but higher sets have found it good to take home and use in a structured revision hour.

3. Who Am I?

post it notes.jpgI must admit, my penchant for colour coding and stationery has garnered me a bit of a reputation in my department, but I do love a good post-it note. They are just so useful. And that’s all you need for this game (which has saved me on numerous occasions when half the year group has shown up for revision and I’ve planned for 25 students). Students simply write a character name, theme or essay topic on the post-it note, and stick it on another’s head. That student then has to ask questions and guess what their note says, but the only information they will have from others will be in the form of quotes. This has kept students who have finished early amused for a long time, and they ended up writing and guessing things like ‘The Boss’ and ‘Candy’s Dog’ and ‘The girl from Weed’ which was pretty impressive.

So there you have it! My top three newfangled revision methods for this season. What revision methods are you enjoying at the moment? Have you discovered anything new? Let me know, and thanks for stopping by!

 

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Reading Royale: Engaging Reluctant Readers

Reading is wonderful. It underpins everything we do in school, and yet is becoming a rarer hobby each year. Fewer and fewer students get truly excited by books, and the necessary measures taken to ensure they are reading and making progress dampen that enthusiasm even more.

I am met with eye rolls, huffing, puffing and disgruntled muttering when I ask students to pick up a book. Some are keen and still have that joy of literature alive in them, but many put up the mental brick wall when discussing what book they could try (and like), with the age-old excuse of, “It’s boring. I just hate reading”.

I have battled for a long time with this until a game of dodgeball earlier this year. You see, I have a KS3 form class who are a little unruly. Loveable, but unruly. They are a class you would expect to eye roll at the mention or sight of a book, and generally don’t enjoy a sense of discipline. And then dodgeball came along. Never have I seen my form class become more disciplined and honed as a team to compete against their peers in other form groups for the title of Tutor Sport Champion. The transformation was stark. And it gave me an idea.

Spurred on by the current trend of Fortnite, I introduced the Tutor Sport concept to reading in the form of Reading Royale. Students read a book and complete a short Google form, detailing the book and any extra work they put into the entry (reviews, booktube vlogs, AR quizzes etc.). This then counted towards points for their form. The forms then have a leaderboard where the scores are updated each week. So, each week I count up the scores and update the totals. The winners each half term get a big trophy full of goodies (and in some cases a trip or other prize). There is also the opportunity for individuals to get a certificate and little prize for outstanding contributions to their form.

 

IMG_9138

Following the success of this, we have also introduced reading events after school. It’s a pretty simple concept: students turn up with a book and a blanket, have some cake and read for an hour with some calming music in the background. We have run two so far with real success.

READING LOCK IN TICKETS

It’s certainly not perfect, and needs some refining, but the Reading Royale has been a success in motivating students to read (and having some fun at the same time!). What do you do to motivate readers in your department? Have you tried something similar to this? Let me know, and thanks for stopping by!