Earlier this year I presented at a TeachMeet organised by my new school on how blogging can be used to collaboratively revise and highlighted why it was important to digitise our notes.
In order to highlight the latter point, a week before the TeachMeet, I popped a slip of paper with the title of my presentation and the date of the TeachMeet into the pigeon hole of every person who had signed up for the evening. I then started my presentation asking them to get out the important notes I had given them.
A sea of baffled faces looked at me, wondering if I was losing the plot, I’d imagine.
Fortunately this was the reaction I had planned for. I didn’t expect anyone to have kept it, they didn’t need it when they got it. Even though I had put a date on it, they didn’t connect the dots.
If we cannot hold onto a piece of paper for a week, then how can we expect our students to collect revision resources on paper over two years, and have them at the right time and the right place to be useful.
In order to combat this, I have created an enrichment blog, with information and activities that my classes have worked on throughout the year.
It is now three days before the GCSE Literature exam, and my classes have got shared ownership, of access anywhere, personalised revision material without having to rummage under the bed, in the rugby boot’s bag, or anywhere else a teenager could have stuffed their notes.
Unlike other scholarly pursuits, I firmly believe that teacher led revision is a team sport. Some students are mature enough to manage their GCSE revision independently; many students need a few pointers in the right direction. Teacher time is precious and sparse, so to have maximum impact you need to give more than one student the opportunity to revise during that time. In previous years I have used after school time to have groups back in order to revisit the material for the exams. The problem is, that with every subject wanting time, siblings, sunshine etc students are frequently unable to access the sessions, especially the students who need that last minute intervention.
This year I have been working differently and instead of running a few hit or miss after school revision sessions, I have been using Twitter to run a 15 minute revision session each evening. The class decided on their own hash-tag (a hash tag is one of these # for the non twits) and I have been tweeting out three questions each evening. I published the timetable with which poem we are studying on which day, and have been strict with myself to keep to it. One evening I even ended up sat on the beach running the discussion for the revision session; I had popped out for a quick geocache and lost track of the time.
Some evenings there have been quite a few engaged in responding, some evenings there have been none, however most days I have had students bringing in written responses “because 140 characters wasn’t enough”
The best thing is that the students can be wherever they like and do not even need to have an account to access all the revision questions, all of the comments made by their peers, and they can do this just by searching for #rbotcrubh.
Revision is important and we can’t expect our young people to keep hold of two years’ worth of ‘important pieces of paper’. Get them to revise together. Get them to revise online.