This week it’s back to school after the Easter break and examination season is upon us. I need to help my students prepare; so, how to help them recall all the concepts and techniques they need for formal examinations? I have become convinced of the need for frequent recall; see this article on how highlighting is a waste of time – and note the conclusion to the Time article ‘ditch your highlighter and get busy with your flash cards’ and this from Science Daily on how short tests improved student retention on online courses (thanks to Earl Samuelson for pointing me in the direction of that article on Twitter).
Something I do regularly with all my classes is ask them some questions at the beginning or end of a lesson to see if they can recall recent (or not so recent!) work. See this file for an example: Mini-test example. The questions are short and can just be read out for students to write responses in their exercise books (making this a great starter – no IT or resources required). The questions in my example here are just recall type questions on a variety of topics but could of course be a series of questions on just one topic; questions requiring higher order thinking skills could also be used (see Rich Questions for ideas). I have added a new page to which I will add any mini-test resources.
I think this type of exercise is valuable at any time, not just at examination time and we should spend time regularly helping our students recall current or earlier work. A really useful source of questions which can be used this way are the mental tests from CIMT; these are included with their resources for Years 7, 8 and 9 and also for GCSE. For Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14) scroll down this page for the Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 course material, the resources include mental tests as part of the teacher support material. On the GCSE page scroll down to the teacher support material and note the mental tests available for most units, see this on Formulae for example.
The Collective Memory resources on TES can make an excellent revision activity, students look at posters and then have to understand and recall that information. These can be used in a variety of ways which are fully described in the article. (A further set of resources is available here). Last year my GCSE students created several posters of their own which they found a very useful revision activity.
Some students find mind maps helpful to recall information, I have seen students create some excellent diagrams with Bubbl’us for example. For some more online revision tools including some to make flashcards the resources mentioned here may be helpful.