Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Revision - making it stick

This is the first of a couple of posts about revision.  This has been inspired (if that's the word) by my need to help my pupils understand what revision looks like, because between you and me, I'm shocked at how vague many of them are about how to learn.  My holiday reading has therefore been "Make it stick" by Peter C. Brown. Reading this book made me think about how I can make the process of revision explicit for my pupils. This is not a review of the book, but is my attempt at thinking through how I want to get the pupils to apply the principles in their MFL revision in the coming weeks (apologies to my colleagues teaching French GCSE, who don't have the luxury of time).

The goal
To recognise and understand all of those words IN A FLASH in the exam - that means you need FAST RETRIEVAL from your LONG-TERM MEMORY
The principles
1. Use it or lose it
Done your revision on Healthy Living? Lovely. Well done,you. But if you want it to stick, you've got to return to it and practise it again for it become part of your long-term memory. The more you return, and the more defined the path will become.
2.  Mix it up
Switch between topics, switch between skills.  You don't get bored, your brain doesn't get bored, and the effort you have to put in to remember different topics strengthens your long-term memory.
3.  Get your learning spaced out!
Don't bunch everything from one topic up in one session or week.  Space your revision of the topic out, so you have to dig the knowledge back up again
4.  No pain, no gain
Maybe not pain, but definitely effort, but that doesn't rhyme. The more effort you need to remember something during your revision, the better you remember it.
5.  Don't assume - it makes an ass out of u and me
You've done a whole hour's revision! Woo-hoo! But have you tested yourself to see what's gone in?

Making it manageable AND effective

So - what should their revision look like at home? We still have quite a lot of lessons ahead of us, so this is in addition to what they are doing in class. Asking pupils to do 20-25 minutes a day sounds much more manageable to them. They may not always do it, but if they can sign up to the principle of it, then we are getting somewhere.

1.  Every day – 5 minutes quiz on what you did yesterday

                        - 15 minutes active learning new topic with flashcards (quizlet.com)
                           Learn difficult words/irregular verbs in a phrase or sentence
                       - 5 minutes make yourself a quiz to re-use tomorrow and later on
                          Good types of quiz questions:

                         1.  Fill in the gap
                         2.  find the opposites
                         3.  word association games

2.  Once a week (MINIMUM) – skills practice. 
Either a past paper or listening/reading exercise from kerboodle from last week’s topics.
Make a quiz out of the questions you got wrong.

3.  Once a week – do the quiz you made from things you got wrong