Tonight’s 15 minute forum was led by Director of English, Kate Bloomfield. A year ago, Kate led a 15 minute forum discussing how she was encouraging her students to take more pride and care with their exercise books – with a view to getting them to understand that their exercise book was actually the best revision guide they could have. Read the blog here.
A year on, she has developed this idea further. In September Y10 and the English department, like most other subjects, were having to get to grips with a combined 2 year Lang/Lit course, which will culminate in 4 terminal exams. With this in mind, preparation and revision will be key. From the start of the course, Kate has been emphasising to students that their books will become their best revision guides. To support this, she has been insisting on immaculate presentation of all work in their exercise books e.g. using a ruler at all times. Kate has then also played a part in ensuring students are able to keep their books neat and tidy e.g. making sure that worksheets are cut to size so that they can be easily stuck in (without hanging half out of the books!) and providing them with plenty of glue sticks! This has all encouraged them to take ownership over their books.
Last term, the lesson before half term, Kate was teaching Y10 the final lesson of their topic – An Inspector Calls. Students were told that they will not see these books again until they have to revise this topic, as they would be given a new exercise book for the next topic. So, their task was to turn their exercise book into a revision guide. To start, they were given a blank contents page (above) and told to number their pages. They then completed the contents page – but were left to do this in a way that they chose to. An examples follows:
The great thing about this activity was that it made students revisit their work. They then had to think carefully about each piece of work, because they had to consider how best to summarise it e.g. key vocabulary; character summary (Mr Birling) etc. Furthermore, Kate was able to use her time, circulating the room and discussing this with students.
Next, students were given a collection of images associated with ‘An Inspector Calls’, from powerpoints that had been used in lessons:
Students were then asked to use these images, to liven up the cover of their books. This activity had a knock on effect that Kate wasn’t expecting – it prompted lots of memories and discussion about the work they had done in lessons, probably because the same images had been used in lessons. Students approached this in a variety of ways – two examples follow:
The student on the left used it as an opportunity to re-visit some of the key vocabulary from the book, whilst the other student focused on the main characters and some important quotes from each of them.
This approach has had a really positive effect on students:
- It has given students a much greater sense of pride and ownership over their work.
- It has helped them to organise their work – making revision easier.
- It has made them review their work and think about it – because they have had to summarise each lesson. This in itself is great revision.
- It has made them discuss their work.
- As they are given new books for each topic, they have a fresh start – this seems to ‘revitalise’ them and kick-start a renewed focus on presentation (possible cost implication here – but buy thinner books!)
- Another English teacher, Tod Brennan, has noticed students putting a number beside each topic on their contents page. When asked about this, he was told that they were rating their understanding of each topic.