Remembering Subject Specific Words by Jill Maunds
Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat …
It’s getting the time of year again when pupils are about to sit GCSE final exams and we’ve been looking at revision, how to ensure pupils remember information and exam technique. We’ve been looking at doing more mock papers, practice questions and how to tackle the exam paper. Revision sessions in class have included going over key concepts and facts that pupils need to know and then answering past questions on these. Giving feedback to pupils on these questions on how to improve their answer and repeating the questions in order to gain marks and doing the same with mock exam papers. Pupils have been given revision packs, revision books and even video clips to revise from. What I’ve found in all of this is that something is missing … the pupils are struggling to remember key words and terms, basic facts and meanings and without being able to remember these in the exam, on the day no amount of exam technique is going to get them the marks they need!
As a result we’ve gone back to looking at the key terms and meanings that pupils need to know at a basic level in order to have enough information to be able to answer short answer questions in the exam and give the information to be able to answer longer answer questions. As departments we’ve been asked to focus on revision and recap as part of starter activities in lessons and have decided to look at using these as a basis for this. I do feel as though this sounds very, very basic, but without the key knowledge terms and their meanings pupils simply cannot tackle the exam paper so I thought we’d give it a go.
The exam board provide us with a glossary of terms that are used in the course, so I used this as a starting point. I then looked at how I could use these key terms and means for as many activities as possible. My plan is to try to immerse pupils in keywords and to expose them to them as much as possible in the hope that by constantly revisiting these something might sink in! Taking the words and the means (just for A at first) I’ve been able to do the following:
- Flash cards
- Draw an image on the flashcards to represent the meaning of the key term
- Card sorts
- Spelling test (sounds very old fashioned but they need to know how to spell it!)
- Guess the meaning by reading out the key word
- Guess the key word by reading out the meaning
- Use the keyword in a sentence
- Making file index cards with keywords and meanings
- Produce a spider diagram with keywords and meanings for ‘A’
- Finding past exam questions with the keywords and meanings and ensuring that the keyword is used in the answer.
These can be done at the beginning of each session to revisit the key term and the meaning as well as sent home for homework and revision.
Below are copies of the card sort and flash cards and the domino cards to give you an idea of how they could be produced. None of these ideas are anything new but I thought going back to basics and trying out some old repetitive memory techniques might be worth a try.