This blog post is all about revision and sharing some practical ideas both in and out of the classroom.
I’ve always strongly felt that high quality revision strategies are simply high quality teaching and learning strategies. Since I believe that revision is not something that should be left until the end of the course but it something that should go on continually throughout a programme of study any of these strategies can and should be useful in lessons throughout the year.
Here are 10 useful strategies that can hopefully be beneficial to your classroom.
1. Top Trumps
I love a good game of top trumps and they are a great revision strategy. The one above is one we created in the history department about the reign of King Henry VIII and is designed to revise key figures in the AS History course. It helps students evaluate significance, impact and recall key information about key individuals on the course. Even better to get students to make their own and consider the information from across the whole course in a different way.
2. Only Connect
I love key words in grids to go through key concepts and ideas. This is something I use a lot in teaching Sixth Form Government and Politics where there are many new concepts and ideas for students to understand. Only Connect taps into this and is taken from the popular BBC4 quiz show Only Connect. It is great for revision because it helps students think and make connections between different words. Here is an example for GCSE History.
A timeless classic. Everyone knows everything about mind-mapping these days. However, go a bit further and get them to write them on the table and take a picture for their revision with their smart phones. Fun, engaging and messy!
4. Revision table mats
These are great for revision. They help to focus students on key words, key events and in particular for chronological understanding. Our students tell us they find the chronology really hard on our GCSE Crime and Punishment course so we made up some A3 table mats focusing on chronology to support with this. This is an example of a table mat we have used to promote academic writing across the department.
5. Revision booklets
We used to give revision notes out at the end of the course before the exams. Why? Now, we always give them out when we start the unit. We use them as a kind of course booklet but students have everything in there they need for revision. It gets them used to the revision booklets. The booklets have activities in them and personal learning checklists so students can use them as a kind of learning diary too.
There are a number of great e-learning websites out there which can help you. There are websites which allow students to make mind-maps, quizzes and flash cards. Increasingly, students like to learn and revise interactively so this is going to be a key area for us to continue to develop.
7. Exam questions
This isn’t a new idea at all as when I was studying for my A Levels my teacher gave our class all the past questions and told us to complete revision plans around as many past questions as we could. It’s still a great idea for students to prepare for the exam and doing something active as part of their revision. Revision is a bit like training really and students need to be match-fit for the big day. Here are all the past papers put in a handy booklet for our A Level students.
8. Revision bookmarks
Exam board criteria and style of questions really needs embedding. We’ve found that condensing this information down into a simple bookmark is a really useful way of helping students with this process. Plus they can use it to keep their page in their revision booklets.
9. Revision songs
We have a brilliant ability to remember words of songs and I like to tap into this by making up some fun songs about different events from the past. My favourite is a song about Thomas Wolsey set to the theme tune of Neighbours. ‘Wolsey, everybody needs a Wolsey’… and so on. The song helps students make sense of the Alter Rex debate and consider how far everyone did actually need a Wolsey.
Quizzing, regular questioning and getting students to think are hugely important. We often use regular competitive quizzes between groups of students in class to help them revise. Anything along these lines however is useful. So activities like 20 questions, Bingo, Speed dating tasks are all beneficial as long as it gets students thinking.
So there are 10 activities that may help you as students prepare for the final few weeks before the exams. Try and embed this culture of revision throughout the year. Revision is a marathon not a sprint!