Revision is hard work but now we are firmly into exam preparation season here are a few ideas you can use to differentiate revision for your students:
- Allow them to prove their knowledge of a topic in any way they choose
Say, for example, you have been revising how to approach a particular exam question. When you have done this set your learners the challenge of proving their understanding in a way which suits them. If you need to provide a few examples, here are the forms of revision I have received from my students in the past:
- A response to the question which was annotated with advice and sections from the mark scheme, demonstrating how the marks would be awarded
- A detailed mind map with rules and suggestions for approaching the question
- A script between three students discussing the best approaches for the question (which we used as a starter for discussion in the next session!)
- A vlog containing approaches, advice and top tips
- A rather beautiful drawing created by one of my artistic students. She had drawn herself in the exam and had included all her thoughts about answering the question well. It really was a lovely piece of work. She told me after the exam that she had used it as a form of visualisation and it had really helped her! What a lovely moment that was.
According to my research journaling is an ancient tradition which can be traced back as far as 10th century Japan. To me this suggests it may well be quite useful! I’m a big fan of allowing students to have journals which are kept completely separate to their exercise books. The options are to use another set of exercise books (if you are allowed), ask the students to buy their own or, as I have done, buy an inexpensive set of books yourself to give out. I’ve used the ones below before. They aren’t too expensive (the price is for a pack of 10) if you have a large class but they aren’t as flimsy as some of the cheaper packs so they serve the purpose well.
The deal I have with my students is that I won’t mark their journals, but they must use them specifically for reflection and revision. After a topic I allow them time to reflect and add notes to their journals for revision. The variety is pleasing to see; some are full of mind maps, some with relevant doodles and some are filled with straightforward notes and ideas. I have found that giving the students the freedom and ownership to revise in this way has been really beneficial. It also helps to relieve the tedium of revision!
- Offer different types of study time
This one takes a while to set up but can really make revision a much more enjoyable and useful process for your students.
- Audiobooks with relevant materials
- Station for group games and quizzes (I find this is a good one for SPaG)
- Quiet space to take notes
- A table with laptops or devices for YouTube revision etc.
- A reading corner. In the past I’ve just made a “comfortable corner” for students who want to spend the revision time reading the set texts (or supporting guides).
4. Wallpaper Revision
Get your hands on a really cheap roll of plain wallpaper and this can become an excellent resource for differentiation! The students like doing something a little different and the size of the paper allows for a range of notes and ideas to develop. I’ve used wallpaper to write out sample questions and allowed students to work in their own groups to add ideas, sketches, quotations etc. It was well worth the quick trip to B&Q!
There has been a huge debate about the value of learning quotations but I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a little old school and think there is value in students learning literature by heart. As an aside I can still recite “He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven” which I was made to learn in Year Nine. I can assure you this was many years ago but there is something quite special in being able to do so. Two years ago I taught in China for the summer and was able to recite it to a group of eager Chinese students in a poetry workshop. It was such a lovely experience. Anyway, I digress. I think the key for our students being able to learn quotations is to differentiate approaches. Here are some suggestions:
- Repeated recall. Simple but effective.
- Missing word quizzes (where the challenge can be increased by removing more words as they progress)
- Anagrams (for adjectives used in relation to Lady Macbeth, for example)
- Start the lesson with a statement which students must support with an apt quotation
- Charades (great fun!)
- Record key quotation podcasts
- Create key quotation vlogs
- Cover your walls with key quotations. Take one down before the lesson and the students must tell you which one is missing. Word perfectly, of course.
- Bring out the wallpaper!
I hope you have found something useful in this post to help your students with their revision. I’m off to recite a poem…