Great Tip for Revision Lessons

Double GCSE lessons all of a sudden become much longer when its revision time; both for pupils and teachers. This year I have, thanks to other people’s suggestions, stumbled upon a TOP TIP for getting pupils to work more enthusiastically and work for longer.


In between topics or tasks give your pupils sweets.


They will love you and then after a couple of minutes will restart the next bit of your lesson with renewed energy and vigour.


This article is not in anyway sponsored by the processed sugar industry.


Revision and Solo Part 2

I taught this lesson to both my 2 Y10 classes this week. One of the groups has abilities ranging from FFT D band grades of E to A* and the other from C to A. They are all taking a module of their Geography GCSE in a month’s time that is worth 37.5% of the whole of their AQA syllabus A GCSE in Geography. Both groups are therefore a mixture of pupils taking higher and foundation papers. I am very fortunate to be teaching at a school primarily made up of well motivated pupils; it is a secondary modern 11-16 Girls school.

I took some advice from @learningspy and decided to try using hexagons to follow up my revision work from last week. The credit for this revision ¬†lesson comes from tweets of his and others I have read. I must admit that there aren’t any original ideas here. Only the arrangement is mine ūüôā

Here is the powerpoint I showed that has the lesson instructions on. The written description below refers primarily to slide 5 onwards. 1-4 only give the context of the lesson

The idea is simple.

  1. I reminded them of the differentiated SOLO-based and exam-grade-linked targets I introduced last lesson.
  2. I gave everyone in the class 1 of 4 case studies to revise
  3. I gave them 2 minutes to brainstorm everything they could think of about this case study
  4. I put them in groups of 3 to do each case study.
  5. They shared their lists and then wrote down all the words and phrases they had between them, putting each one on a separated laminated hexagon. This is the first target, what AQA mark schemes call Level 1 answers; normally relating to G up to D grade responses.
  6. I next asked each group to arrange all their hexagons into a way that made sense to them. They moved the hexagons around placing any words/phrases that were linked together next to each other. This is the second target, what AQA mark schemes call Level 2 answers; normally relating to C up to B grade responses. this took no more than 15 minutes
  7. I then reminded them of a revision checklist I had passed onto them last lesson which laid out the basis of each case study. (Look at this post on my student blog if you wish. We were revising the tourism topic in this lesson) This gave all groups the chance to rearrange their ideas in a way that may be useful for revision purposes. In each class only a minority of hexagons were moved; generally they preferred their own explanations. To ensure that this thinking wasn’t lost and that they all had further time to reflect further on it, I asked them to write up ‘into paragraphs’ what they had organised and linked (mark scheme words) using their hexagons. those who didn’t quite get this i asked to use the revision checklist prompts help organise their ideas. I would have hoped not to have to do this, but these pupils all produced well written, explained and linked work. Some pupils also took photos of their hexagons to use for their own revision.
  8. The third main task was for each group to write questions for other groups. They were to base these questions on ‘intersections’ where 3 or more hexagons met. The only guide I gave for this task was that they shouldn’t write Level 1 questions. This may have been a mistake because the questions i received back were all very exam-like. but maybe because the pupils knew this was a revision lesson and I had talked a lot about grades and levels already. We discussed rather than wrote possible answers to one question for each group. It was this section of the lesson that I felt was the weakest.

I asked at the end of each lesson for a brief feedback by asking pupils to raise their hands lifting up the number of fingers out of 10 they would give for “how much it helped your revision”. The results of this were all very positive. However I have better evidence that the lesson was a success: when the second group were coming in to be taught on Wednesday i was asked “Are we going to do the honeycomb lesson as well sir?” when i said yes there was a minor ripple of ¬†UNPROMPTED approval.

Next time i will not call them hexagons I will call them honeycomb.

Revision Classes and the Death of “The Joy of Learning”

It is the end of the school day. You have finished your 6 hours of learning. In every lesson you have worked as hard as you can.You have worked as hard as you can for nearly two years now. This morning, you heard¬†the headteacher talk in assembly about the importance of good grades and how last year’s Year 11 gained the school’s best ever set of GCSE results. You have listened to everyone of your subject teachers tell you your target grade, your predicted grade, your current grade and the % chance you have of reaching your FFT. At the week-end you got¬†cornered in the kitchen by your parents as they lectured you about not wasting your opportunities and your talent. You are going home tonight to 3 hours of revision – as you do every evening.

You are looking forward to the 20 minute walk home were no one can bug you at all. But you are an earnest and diligent 16 year old, so what do you after school instead of going home?

Of course – or go to an extra after school revision class.

The school is providing many each day of the week. In fact there were some in the Easter holidays and there a couple at half term too. You get the impression that there is nothing at all in your life other than revision and work. How many GCSE grade points will you get? How many A-A*? How many A*-C grades? ¬†It feels there is no other way of weighing up your value to the school or the school’s value to you, other than by your exams results.

From being a bright and enthusiastic Year 10 with a passion for 3 or 4 of your subjects in particular, you now feel burdened by the never ending expectation and pressure to work and achieve. The joy of learning? More like the over bearing duty of it.

I worry about what we are doing to our teenagers; what we are telling them about what matters in life; what pressures we pushing down on top of them. Just how many extra classes do they need to go to reach their potential?

Teachers,  headteachers, governors and the government Рwe are all to blame. We have begun to judge each other and at other schools by exam passes and grades. We have fallen into the trap of simplification and as a result, the joy of learning and of thinking is being sucked out of our pupils, our lessons and our schools.

If I was to say “Stop! Relax class. Exams aren’t everything. What matters most is how you treat each other” I would be regarded as a naive simpleton. My point of view would not be taken seriously and my teaching methods would come under scrutiny. I would be asked “How do you know if every pupil in every class has made progress in every one of your lessons today?”

Because to far too many people,  measurable progress is all that matters in education.