shotgun approachLast week my two year 11 classes that I teach as part of my day job started their exams, and so our lessons are very much hit and miss in terms of whether there will be 32 of them or 2 (there was only 2, for one of my lessons today). The entire year group are now following a revision timetable, which means that they either attend (in order of priority): an exam, a revision session (usually for an exam that day or the day after), a one to one session, or their normal lessons. In addition to these “patchy” lessons, and because the maths exam is quite late this year, we get to see our students for 4 timetabled revision sessions between Friday (when their proper study leave begins) and their last maths exam. All of these are for half the year group at a time for 2 hour “blocks”. For these, we tend to have a carousel along the maths corridor whereby the students move to the next classroom every 30 minutes and each teacher focuses on different topics – we’ll try to “mix it up” a bit in terms of activities and there may be card sorts, worksheets, collective memories and of course some good ol’fashioned chalk and talk!

If you’re interested this is as far as we’ve got in terms of planning the topics we’ll be doing:

  • Half Term Revision Topics  = Transformations x 4, Constructions and a”whistlestop” tour of the basic “you should know” topics like estimate of the mean, stem and leaf (of course!), product of prime factors etc.
  • Weds 4th Revision Topics = Fractions/Decimals/Percentages, Sketching graphs (straight line, quadratic and cubic), CF & Box plots, Surface Area/Volume, Expanding & factorising
  • Friday 6th Revision Topics = nth term & sequences, Angle Facts (int/ext angles), Forming and solving equations with angle facts, Ratio & Proportion and Bearings.
  • Thursday 12th Revision Topics = to be decided after the non calculator paper.

So why the reference to scatter guns? well!! …. At this stage most year 11’s are probably feeling slightly overwhelmed and also feel that they are being pulled from “pillar to post” in terms of every teacher “wanting a piece of their time”, and so I’ve learnt to back off at this point. There really is no point bombarding them with loads of links to stuff to help them revise more “stuff” – when faced with loads of choices about what to revise, lots of students, will get overwhelmed by the information and end up doing nothing. Just think about what you’re like when you have a massive “to do” list and people just keep adding more … how does it make you feel? With my two groups I think that I’ve given them all the information that they need and we’ve made really good use of their assessment sheets (the ResultsPlus style ones) so that they know exactly what topics to revisit and also where to go for more information. In addition to the revision sessions, the one thing that I have done is I’ve emailed them past papers and mark schemes for them to work through – it is essential that they mark their work and I am pretty confident that they’ll do it too (they are set 1 and set 2!) and are really up for it!.

And my secret weapon … come closer … shhhh … I have written every single one of them a letter saying (the general gist is) how it has been a pleasure to have taught them for the last 3 (in most cases!) years and it has been an honour to have been part of their journey to the mature young man/woman they are today. I then went on to say that I am already proud of their achievements but now is the time to make themselves proud of what they are about to achieve. I had originally typed them up and blogged about it a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t use the letters as I wanted to make it a bit more personal and this weekend I hand-wrote 63 “notecards” (how 1980’s does that sound!!) A couple of them that read their letter today claimed that I was “playing dirty” as they now had to choice to do me proud and do some work as I’d written some lovely stuff about them!