Today’s post is about a GCSE English intervention session I use. I have been lucky enough to have a whole morning to run this but it can easily be chunked into lessons or extra intervention sessions. It could also be used for a whole day if you have one!
I designed this session as a result of the most common mistakes I was seeing my students make. They were:
• Poor timing
• Incorrect question focus
• Uncertainty about how marks are awarded
• Incorrect spelling / use of key vocabulary
Materials needed: Exam questions, mark schemes, paper, highlighters (flip cameras).
1. Target a section of the exam. For example, Section A (Reading) of AQA Paper 1. Ask students to work in pairs and allocate one question to each pair (there will be duplication). This can obviously be differentiated.
2. The pair have to work together to become expects on that question. They have to research the basics such as marks awarded, timing, question focus, key words they may need and what the question requires. This should all be done before attempting a response. If you are doing AQA, the Mr Bruff videos are an excellent research resource for this and can be found here. They will need the mark scheme at this stage. If they haven’t done so already, a great revision exercise is for them to create their own “pupil friendly” mark scheme for each question.
3. Once they have gathered and recorded the information, they work together to write a response to the question. You may want to ask the pairs who are focusing on the shorter questions to produce two sample responses.
4. The next stage is for the pairs to join up with another pair who are doing the same question. At this stage they have an opportunity to discuss their findings. They also need to mark and target the response from the opposite pair.
5. The final stage is a jigsaw activity. New pairs are made within the group (so students can’t work with their original partner). The first new pair stay at their table to reveal their findings and discuss the sample responses with the visitors, the other pair visit the other groups to gather information about the other questions. Depending on your class this may need to be more structured so you could give them a list of things to find out.
6. This can be rounded off with a plenary quiz about the whole section. Ask each group to devise three questions for their section. Together these form a class quiz.
If you have time this can be adapted to allow for a little more creativity:
• Ask students to create displays of key vocabulary for their question
• Ask students to create an instructional video or podcast for their question
• As a starter activity for the next lesson, students could mark and target one of the written responses for a different question.
• Home learning could be to write a response to a different question (or the same if necessary) or to really stretch them, find their own material and write their own question and response.
• Flipped learning could be to complete the whole process for another section of the exam.
• Collect in all of the resources from the session and photocopy for the whole class for a revision booklet. Or, even better, if the task has been done digitally put it on the VLE.
I love doing this session at this time of the year. It really helps to focus the students and if it is set up effectively it requires minimal input from you as the students are doing all of the work – as they should be! It allows you the freedom to monitor and support.
I hope you have found this useful and can use it, or some of the ideas, for your own students.