Revision strategies: create a revision book

This revision activity is a slow-burner, and is something that students might work on over a number of weeks or months. It is also important to make sure that students aren’t simply copying out information – the process of selection, refinement, and retrieval that I outline below will maximise their ability to retain the information over a longer period of time.

Step 1: Create a template

Decide how you would like your students to present their work. For an English Literature exam, this might mean breaking the text down into key characters or themes, and creating a template for what the pages might look like. Here is my template for Love and Relationships Poetry:

You will notice that in each box, I have specified how much detail I want students to include. I also created some WAGOLLS – again, with the purpose of showcasing the level of detail I expect.

Step 2: Discuss and model

As I noted above, it is important for students not to simply copy information across onto the template. Rather, they need to re-read their notes or re-watch revision videos and select the most useful information to add. They will also need to reduce this information into a clear and concise summary. Selection and summarising are both tricky skills, and therefore you may need to work through an example sheet with the class.

Step 3: Use the revision book for retrieval practice

As with every piece of work students complete, information can be easily forgotten if it is not revisited and embedded in their long-term memory. Therefore, it is important to actively use these revision books as part of retrieval practice. One way of doing this might be to ask students to bring their book to a lesson and then complete a timed look-cover-write-check activity. Once modelled and practised in class, the homework for the following week could then be to complete this activity for 10 minutes each night. Alternatively, students could use their books to create retrieval questions for one another, or to test one another in pairs – again, practising the activity in a lesson and repeating it for homework.

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