Thinking about when I have needed to revise for exams in the past, I am aware of various behaviours I exhibit that get in the way of any actual revision. I agonise over which parts I should be revising first. I take time to get everything in the right order, even if that means spending 10 minutes looking for my favourite pencil. If there are gaps I swoop off to fill them, then get distracted reading about something new and probably unconnected. I spend too long reading and not enough time testing. I waste time deciding the best method to distill my notes: flashcards or mind maps?
In an attempt to help my students overcome these and other potential tools of procrastination, I’ve started to provide them with revision planners. Year 11 had one in September that broke their year 10 content down into weekly chunks, each with an accompanying task. We backed this up with a weekly quiz on the content students should have revised in the previous week, keeping scores and providing a leaderboard. If followed, this enabled them to revise all the content before the mocks and then a second time by February half term. I then provided a fresh planner to structure their revision of the year 11 content, which was helpful when we set a paper 2 mock the week before Easter.
In large part, the point of these planners is to help students get out of their own way, but they have the added benefit of showing that revision needs to be an ongoing process, no matter how far off the exams seem to be. With that in mind, I have now written one for year 10 to help them recap their unit 1 knowledge before the end of the school year. This is less detailed than my year 11 version, with just one task suggested for all the content, to encourage a methodical, consistent approach. I have included it for download at the end of this post.
The planners are given to students in hard copy, placed on their Google Classrooms for download and sent home to parents. They sit alongside any homework we set. We refer to them regularly in class but don’t check up: the burden of revision needs to be on the student, not the teacher. They take a little time to write but, as with so many things like this, once made, they’re reusable.
In case anybody hasn’t realised, nobody has sat the new GCSE yet so I can’t speak about impact. However, these are modelled on a planner I made for year 12 some years ago: that was the first year students performed better on my unit than they did on my HoD’s, so I am feeling quite positive about their efficacy.
Other things I am doing for year 11:
I’ve been meeting with underachieving students on a one-to-one basis in the intervention slot each week. We work through the PLCs, talk about where they’re feeling confident and where they need to do some more work, discuss how, when and where they will revise etc. I read some research about tackling the disadvantage gap that said these conversations can have an impact, so I’ve been trying to have them with all my students this year.
I’m offering a 25 minute revision slot before school, once a week. All our students, Y7-13, stay at school for an extra 30 minutes Mon-Thurs (hence our earlier finish for the summer) so they will willingly come at the end of the day but that doesn’t mean they will willingly work. Putting revision on during a time when their attendance isn’t compulsory ensures I get only those who are really motivated and want the extra help.
I’ll offer a 30 minute grade 8-9 revision slot in our assigned after-school intervention session in the coming term. We never have to barter with other subjects for these students.
We’ve created a question-a-day calendar for year 11 to cover the next 8 weeks. It covers all the question types from all three papers, multiple times. Again, these will go home and be shared online. I might assign them on the Google Classroom so they can be submitted online for easy marking and feedback.