Over the past few weeks my GCSE and A Level students have had their mock exams which has inevitably meant a number of revision lessons. I don’t know about you, but I find that it gets difficult to think of new and engaging ideas as the lessons continue and students learn in different ways, so here are some of the revision techniques that I have used with my classes.
The New Year’s Day special of Sherlock on BBC 1 showed his use of mind palaces, a mnemonic device where a familiar setting is used to remember key details. In a similar way, mind palaces can be used for revision purposes. I asked my Year 12 students to draw a room of their house that was very familiar to them on an A3 piece of paper and then to attach a key piece of information (for example, types of fluvial erosion) to an object in the room. For visual learners this was a particularly useful way of trying to remember certain topics as they visualised their room and then remembered the information attached to the objects. Other students went as far as to place post it notes around the actual room to help them remember.
Breaking down case studies
My GCSE students struggle to remember the details from their case studies that they need in their 6 or 8 mark questions. To help them focus on this, I asked them to concentrate on one case study and to write down five details on a small piece of blue paper. We then strung the paper up across the classroom so that they could collect the details from other case studies. Standing up in the lesson gave the students a break from the traditional revision lessons and allowed them to look at case studies in bite sized pieces.
The BUG exam technique (Box the command word, Underline the keywords and Go back to the question) has worked well with my GCSE classes to pull apart exam questions. It allows the students time to read the question and to focus on what the examiner is looking for. Every time they now answer an exam question I remind them to ‘BUG’ and it is improving their work.
Pictionary is a great kinaesthetic way of getting students to revise key terms and processes. I gave my Year 12 students a word to draw which they then had to guess and define. For some the drawing was simple but the definition pushed their knowledge and understanding.
The revision clock
My final idea is the revision clock that I discovered on Twitter, created by @teachgeogblog, which asks students to concentrate their knowledge into small sections. I divided the specification contents into the clock (10 minutes for each small topic) and then timed students as they completed it. It helped to produce focused revision and was more useful when students had completed their own revision at home.
I hope that these ideas can be a source of inspiration for your revision lessons. What are your favourite revision techniques?
Rachel Hawke is currently teaching Geography at George Abbott School, in Guildford. She completed her PGCE at the University of Oxford, during which time she developed an interest in enquiry learning. Her ideas on this subject have since been published in the ‘Teaching Geography’ journal.