Brookfield Community School (BCS) Sharing Practice

Planning for memory & revision – Afternoon INSET 2

With the heightened focus on terminal tests and the exam season fast approaching, how do we help students best prepare for them?  Are there ways to manage the frenzy of the revision build up?  Can we make changes to the way we teach lessons so that we don’t need as much revision intervention?  Can we help students manage their revision more effectively so it becomes an independent process?  The afternoon INSET on Wednesday 26th November began to share some insight and generate discussion about how can we as teachers help plan for memory and improve revision with students.

[divider ]John Fenlon[/divider]

John Fenlon – Teaching students to write effective revision notes

Writing effective revision notes:
Revising is not the same as reading from a text book.
In order to make revision more effective you need to reduce the number of words you are reading and trying to remember.
Included are a number of strategies to help you do this when writing your own revision notes.
Once you have read something, you need to practice remembering it, not just re-read the same pages over and over again.

“Our students mistake reading for revision”

“Write less and make revision more effective”

“Number your revision notes in topics so you can say “What are the 8 things about Red Cloud’s War?”

“Use mnemonic’s as a starting point for retrieving revision information”

“Spend time in lessons teaching students how to create revision notes effectively”

“Get students to reflect on revision.  What works and what doesn’t?”

[divider ]Fran Bennett[/divider]

Fran Bennett – Planning memory into our curriculum

Slide 2 – Using the research of Bjork we have been looking into how to help information stick in students memory better.  In particular focusing on 3 main areas of testing, spacing and interleaving.  It is not the case if we don’t use it we lose it, it is just harder to find.

Slide 3 – Bjork talks about storage strength (how well learned something is) and retrieval strength (how accessible something is).  The better storage strength is the better retrieval strength is.  We are working on how we can develop storage strength.

Slides 4, 5 & 6 – we have looked into the fact that study followed by testing, testing and more testing has a greater benefit to information staying in the memory.  We have been doing multiple choice pre-tests at the start of every unit.  Multiple choice allow students to have a go at working out the answer even if they don’t know it and therefore start to make links before they study it further. We have also been doing fun, low stress tests at the start, middle or end of lessons.

Slides 7, 8 & 9 – examples of the types of fun, low key regular testing we have been using in the lesson to test the information learnt in the lesson or from previous topics.

Slide 10 – to help information stick in the memory we needed repeated practice planned out throughout the year.  The brain stores information much better the 2nd, 3rd, 4th time and therefore retrieval strength as well. Therefore you need to plan and space out re-visiting and testing the information.  Ideally increasing the length so the information is almost forgotten before you test it again.

Slides 11 & 12 – example of how we have planned out our schemes of work for Yr 10/11 including how we have planned out our testing.  For example we cover unit 1 then unit 2 etc and keep repeating spread out over a unit.

Slide 13 – Another way of testing information and reinforcing what has been previsouly covered is by interleaving topics especially user for higher order tasks.  Some examples of how we have created tasks interleaving two or more topic areas.  For example the first unit we taught was all about how factors such as age, gender etc can affect an individual’s ability in sport.  A couple of units later we talked about fitness so the task involved students taking the information they learnt about age, gender and using it to consider how this may affect an opponent’s fitness.

“Avoid the mad panic of revision season by building memory into our curriculum”

“Use pre tests at the start of every unit to begin the memory process”

“Study – Test – Test -Test is better for long term memory”

“Low risk, frequent, varying and fun – testing in lessons”

“Can we space out when we revisit/retrieve topics throughout the year”

[divider ]Mark Barrett[/divider]

Mark Barrett – Planning for memory and revision

I presented a session on memory strategies that are utilised in MFL teaching and discussed ways in which they could be translated to other curriculum areas. I also explained how students best retain information over time and how to make their learning more “memorable”. We looked at some memory statistics and thought about how that could impact on student concentration.

“Ebbinghaus curve shows that 80% of what is taught is lost in the first 24 hours”

“Chunking is a great way for splitting up complex topics”

“How do we use ‘remembering lyrics’ to our advantage in revision?”

“Journey method is good as it piggy backs onto existing memories”

[divider ]Amy Hunter & Fiona Sandford[/divider]

Amy Hunter & Fiona Sandford – Revision and terminal assessments

A copy of the full presentation can be found here: Revision and Terminal Assessments.

“Communication at home through the revision period is a great help”

“Present an overview of your curriculum on your school VLE so everyone knows what is going on”

“Flip learning? Can key materials be online (VLE) so students have a base level of background knowledge when they come to your lesson”

“Practice, practice, practice”

“Journey method – Teach students the technique so they see how it works. Use random words at first and then build in subject specific terminology”

“What is the fundamental piece of information in each topic to trigger memory?”

“Could co-ordinate topics as you go throughout the course. Add notes as you go throughout the year”

“Help students to organise their work so it is revision ready”