Over the years this revision strategy has been tried, tested and adapted to meet the needs of the students we have. It seems to work in our context, but that doesn’t mean that it will work for all contexts and I’m aware of that, but as well as the ‘embedding learning over time’ drive that we have in classes and as a department priority and the continual reflection back to previous knowledge, which we hope will have a significant impact over time (it will be a slow burner). Realistically, it will take five years for the whole cohort strategy to bear fruition, but that is one element of the bigger picture to allow students to hopefully retain information in their long term memories. So, with the bigger picture in mind these are some of the shorter term, but ongoing strategies and ways that we encourage revision in English.
Revision Booklets ‘One Stop Guides’
In January we give students printed copies of our department collaborated revision booklets to Y11. We have split them this year (as they were significantly weighty and difficult to staple together) into a Language revision booklet and a Literature revision booklet:
The students have also had the relevant booklet e-mailed to them and they are available to download on our Weebly (more on that later).
We want the students to have available to them resources that they are familiar with, structures that we have taught consistently in class and a format of explanation that they again are familiar with. In this way producing our own bespoke revision booklets seemed sensible, as well as the fact that the speedy start of the GCSE left a gaping hole in the market for subject specific exam books which our students could use that were tailored to the new GCSE. We hope that students with the tangible resources and information in front of them will choose to put in purposeful practice and explore a range of questions that they may be faced with in the exam. We encourage them to hand in these extra practices and will give feedback as and when they do this.
Quote Guide Booklets
Every student in Year 11 have been given key quote booklets which synthesise information for characters in the Literature exams and which they can use to revise from. By having them in one place they become a useful document for reference, using to make flashcards and other revision resources.
So that students have a key list of quotes that they can use as a guide to help. We have synthesised some of the key ideas relating to the literature texts in order to help the students. The quote booklets are here:
We direct the students to the Weebly if they are struggling, if they want to have extra help or if they want to have specific strategies for a particular exam. The Weebly is basically an online website, which we have built to accommodate the different requirements of the @Eduqas_English exam. It is updated and adapted to suit the needs of the students. We have information pages about each component of the exam which guides them through the texts (some of these pages need updating, and this will be a next step – but time here is the enemy) and we have individual revision pages with specific areas to help the students. For example:
- Knowledge organiser links
- Useful guides and English Information
- The One Stop Guides
- Essay Example Page
- Quizlet Links
- Podcasts on a range of the texts and exams (created by the English department specifically for the students)
- Quotation page with links to our Literature key quotation booklets (again produced by the department)
- Useful website/YouTube video links
We want the student to know where to access the best information or the most relevant information that they need for their exams. By compiling it all in one website there is no room for variation. Every single student has access to this, whether it is at home, on their phone or by using the computers at home. It means that they cannot or should not say “I don’t know how to revise for English’ as we have clearly guided them to how and to where.
The Twitter Revision Campaign
Follow @ChurchillEng to see the #revisechurchilleng campaign
We tweet every day from the first of January a revision prompt. Some students follow the account, some parents follow the account, some students don’t follow, but tell us that they have a look at the revision prompts. The idea is that we are in @Xris32’s words drip feeding them a bit of revision. A link to Chris’s inspirational blog is here: http://learningfrommymistakesenglish.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/marketing-english-revision.html Every day there is a thinking prompt or question or guide or picture that promotes revising something different and something little every day.
We wanted to harness the power of social media in some way and drip feed revision in 5-minute daily bite-size chunks. The time element for the teachers is minimal, but it also certainly gets me thinking about all the different elements that students need to know and remember, so from a purely selfish point of view it is really useful as a thinking process tool for me, so by extension I think it must help the students who engage with it too.
I’m in the process of thinking about whether we should have a department Instagram account and whether that would be more engaged with, but that is a thought for another day. The prompts are also shown in class as starters by some of the teachers and as talking points in lessons. We want students to engage more with this and this is something to think about more carefully.
Inter-Leaved Homework in KS4
This just means that we set specific homework on a rolling programme – Week 1: current unit, Week 2: previous Literature unit and Week 3: previous Language unit. We do this in year 10 to an extent, but it properly works in Y11 when students have covered a range of the topics and literature texts. The homework can be metacognition, essays, target/reflections on previous learning, essays, revision posters etc. There is no set expectation of what the homework entails, just that it follows a structure over time to reflect on current and previous learning.
We want to ensure that the homework is purposeful and relevant and significant. Teachers still have autonomy over what they set for their classes, meaning they can set homework that is particular to the needs they have identified, but it also means that over time all units of previous learning are covered.
The Lunchtime Sessions
This is a truly collaborative process and the time and effort of the department are very much appreciated here. Every Wednesday one member of staff will do a 30 – 40 minute revision session on a GCSE linked component of their choice. These are advertised in school and the students know these are available and open to all. They are sessions which are still structured, but which offer the students tips, hints and ways of purposefully revising for their exams. Last year I did a Power of Three session: See here https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/susansenglish.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/why-i-love-the-power-of-three-for-revising/amp/ during these sessions and I think it was really useful and gave students another way of memorising what they needed for the exams. We try to ensure that we vary content and cover all aspects of the course, because in lessons we continue teaching content, these extra sessions can be a good way of students going back to previously learnt content.
We want one day a week to be a go to session if students have questions outstanding that they have not yet asked their teacher. Hopefully, students know that they can turn up and go over an aspect of the course that they want more information on or to look back at. As they are completely voluntary and open to all, there is no pressure that students must attend, which gives them a more relaxed feel and the students do appreciate the time that is given up. Questions I am sure will be thrown up about these sessions, but we wouldn’t ask anyone to do it, if they weren’t willing to. On average each teacher will perhaps run two sessions from January till the exams and as I said earlier we do very much appreciate the teachers giving up their time to run these sessions.
The English Lectures
These are new for 2018 and we have yet to discover how these will be received or whether they will have an impact. Influenced by Twitter and discussed by myself and @daveg5478. We will put on a once monthly aiming high English Literature subject knowledge lecture. Students will sign up and it is open to all students, but aimed at achieving the highest grades. They will be 45 minute lectures with 15 minutes for questions at the end. This is very new so watch this space.
To challenge and engage and offer something different to what we have time to cover in the class. We will record these lectures as podcasts to upload to our Weebly, so again if someone doesn’t have the opportunity to attend they will be able to listen at their own convenience. We hope that these will be well received and useful.
Hopefully, this is interesting and gives a little insight into some of the ways we encourage our students to revise, to engage with resources that they have and to encourage them to continually work hard and independently. As I said at the top this is what seems to work in our context and some of the ideas may transfer or already be embedded.