The three steps of knowledge, retrieval and practice
Primrose Kitten and Jessica Walmsley
We all know that our KS4 students need help with revision for GCSEs; the revolutionary Oxford Revise series has made it easier for students to structure their revision and for teachers to signpost students on how to revise.
The excellent news is Oxford Revise has now made it easier to start teaching ‘how to revise’ from KS3; embedding these skills earlier in a student’s school career will make the transition to KS4 much easier.
Revision is a skill that needs to be learned and developed. Many students may have little experience with revision before and need to know how to review and consolidate their learning effectively. Or they may have leftover ‘bad habits’ from SATs revision that need to be undone.
Explicitly teaching revision skills can help students to understand the importance of revision and to develop effective revision habits. It can help improve their performance in assessments and reduce their stress levels regarding tests.
How to revise: our three top tips to get students started
Set clear expectations for revision: Make it clear to your students that revision is an essential part of the learning process and is expected of them.
Encourage active learning: Encourage your students to engage with the material they are revising actively. This can include using retrieval questions and practice exam questions in the Oxford Revise books.
Set aside dedicated revision time: Help your students work out how to set aside time for revision. This could be a set time each day or week or a more extended block of time before an exam.
How does Oxford Revise support students?
The Oxford Revise Books have the content divided into three areas; Knowledge Organisers; Retirival Questions, and Practice Exam Questions.
Step 1: Knowledge
The knowledge organisers in the Oxford Revise books are an essential tool to help KS3 students with revision. A knowledge organiser is a document summarising key information about a particular topic or subject clearly and concisely. They can help students to:
- Understand the main points and themes of a topic: Knowledge organisers can help students identify a topic’s key points and central themes, making it easier for them to understand and retain the information.
- Review and revise material: Knowledge organisers can provide a valuable summary of key information that students can use to review and revise the material. This can be particularly useful for students who need help remembering large amounts of information.
- Prepare for exams: Knowledge organisers can provide a useful reference tool for students to prepare for exams. They can use the knowledge organiser to review key points and check their understanding of the material.
Step 2: Retrieval
Retrieval practice is a learning technique that involves actively recalling information from memory rather than simply re-reading or reviewing the material.
- Improve retention: Research has shown that retrieval practice can improve long-term retention of information. By actively recalling information from memory, students are more likely to retain it long-term.
- Identify gaps in knowledge: When students are asked to retrieve information from memory, it becomes apparent if there are gaps in their learning. This can help students to identify areas where they need to focus their revision efforts.
- Encourage deeper learning: Retrieval practice encourages students to engage with the material more deeply, as they are required to think about and process the information. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the material.
- Promote self-assessment: By regularly testing their knowledge, students can become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses, which can help them to identify areas where they need to focus their revision efforts.
Step 3: Practice
Practising exam-style questions can be a valuable tool to help KS3 students with revision because it can:
- Help students understand the format of the exam. Students can become more familiar with the exam format and what is expected of them. This can help to reduce anxiety and improve performance on the exam.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses and focus their revision efforts accordingly.
- Improve time management skills. It is important that students develop their time management skills, as they will need to work efficiently to complete the questions within the allotted time.
- Promote deeper learning. A wide-range of questions can help students to engage with the material more deeply, as they must think about and apply their knowledge to new situations. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the material.
The sooner we can embed good revision habits in our students, the easier they will find the transition to KS4 (and then on to KS5), and the less stressful they will find revision in KS4.