Like every other school in the country that I have come across we are trying to build more independence in our students. I fear that as schools and teachers have become more accountable for results the temptation to spoon-feed has increased; these are our results, not theirs.
As we hurtle towards our first exams of the year I am trying to ensure that my plans for revision put the onus back on the students to take responsibility for their learning.
- No more after school revision classes. In the past I always ran revision classes after school. I’d spend time preparing resources and planning activities. All for the dozen or so extra keen pupils who would turn up. Eventually I realised that my time would be better spent planning excellent revision lessons during curriculum time that everyone would benefit from. I’d hit a hundred students rather than a dozen. I have made sure we have enough time at the end of the course to revise and pupils know they can find me at lunch or after school to help with specific problems but that is their responsibility.
- More targeted intervention. Rather than those revision classes for a dozen students who need the help least I am using more targeted intervention. Small groups of students who need help with very clearly identified issues. They are set work after each session that they need to complete ready for the next one. Again – the responsibility for their learning lies with them.
- Teaching revision. At the start of each lesson we spend a few minutes discussing what they have been doing to prepare for their exams. We have a quick show of hands for people who have used past papers, PLCs etc. Anyone who says they have been “reading through their notes” gets a sharp look. Of course we had to start by looking at how to revise. Every pupil is armed with different techniques to try.
- Model. One thing that I have been doing much more of this year is live modelling of writing excellent geographical answers. As we come to the exams I am finding it useful to go through an area of the content and then model how to answer a particular question on that topic. After that they complete a similar type of question. Every fortnight they complete a past paper in exam conditions.
- You do. I’ll assess. This month all I seem to be doing is marking past exam papers. After they do the paper they use the mark scheme to mark each other’s work and discuss how their answers have differed. This should mean that when they get to the exam they have a much better idea of what the examiner is looking for. After they have peer assessed I then mark it and give feedback in who to improve. Their next task is to rework questions until they get them right.
Will this approach work? At the moment it seems to be. My classes are making much more rapid progress than classes in the past and have more confidence. Just as importantly they seem to be taking that responsibility for their own learning and for their own results. That has got to be a positive.