Revision in the twenty first century classroom

Revision lessons – how to ensure that it’s the students doing the work? How to ensure they are revising effectively? And, in this century, how to involve the four C’s (collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity)? Here is an activity that I adapted a few years ago  from a suggestion made by a colleague. It is probably more suitable for subjects with more fact content such as my specialism (Physics) but I leave that decision to you.

Take a topic, or unit of work and cut it up into statements. For older students the exam board specification or a list from the teaching scheme may be fine.. Younger or less academic students will need such statements to be chunked and/or rewritten. Set up a document with a three column table: Give the columns titles: statement, question, answer. You may wish to number the statements. Copy the statements into the first column. It is the students’ task to invent questions (and supply answers) for each statement. If it is a preparation task I usually set each student a different bank of statements to prepare questions for. If they meet the list at the start of a lesson, students collaborate in pairs for 10 minutes or so to devise, say, 3 questions each pair (again, I allocate these so that the list is covered). 

Then one of each pair stands and moves along to the neighbouring desk. My classes are used to (have become resigned to) these circulation patterns. The students take turns to ask their new partner their questions. If they meet a question they can’t answer the student must write down the question and answer, questioners learn to refine their questions as they pose them to other students. If students do not agree on an answer they ask me to arbitrate. Every 3 minutes or so, the same students move along again to a different partner, with different questions.

Plenary activities can be mini-whiteboard, Socrative, or other tests, votes (again can be with Socrative) for most difficult statement, or things that need explaining next lesson.

Students have worked collaboratively, they have criticised unclear questions and unsatisfactory answers, they have created Q and As, and a great deal of on task communication goes on. The task may be pencil and paper or completed digitally. Students are required to engage with the material when devising questions, not just parrot it. Students learn a revision technique to take and use elsewhere.


About lifelonglearner

Teacher in Southern England enthusiastic about exploring ways to learn and teach, and evangelistic about sharing them. Specialism is Physics, but that's just a useful starting point.
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