Sunday, 5 May 2013

GCSE Revision...with Y9! (Relay)

Last month, during the Easter holidays, I saw a tweet from @Ms_Kmp with a link to an idea on her blog to make GCSE revision more fun.

See her blog post here. Check out the rest of her blog too for some great ideas.

Our Y9s are sitting a mock METHODS in Mathematics paper next week in preparation for setting them for Y10 and to give them an idea of what will be expected next year. All bar the top sets will be sitting the foundation paper. As I teach one of the top sets I decided to put @Ms_Kmp's idea into practice. Here's how I did it...

We gave out a topic list to all classes as to what was on the mock paper and therefore what they should be revising for the examination (just the non-calculator paper). I asked the class, after giving out the topic list, if there were any topics in particular that they saw on the list that they had little or no idea about and then highlighted these to focus on in this week and next's lessons prior to their examination. The topics that were identified here were predictably Venn Diagrams, Surds, Standard Form etc.

I decided, on seeing @Ms_Kmp's tweet, that I would, in the first instance, use her revision lesson to go over a past paper, focusing on all the topics the class should be able to do based on the topics learnt to date. This way I could then identify those topics they'd need some more support on.

So, I browsed the Edexcel emporium ( for some past exam paper questions that were similar to those that they would be faced with in their mock paper. I then put all of these questions (15 in total) into one word document. At the same time, I picked out the answers to each of these questions from the official mark schemes and put these in a separate document. I then, with the help of my tutor group, cut up the past paper questions document into individual questions so that I had 15 piles of the 15 questions. These were then put at the front of the class on the 2 tables where I would sit my G&T students.

On the tables at the front of the class I also put 4 copies of the mark scheme document for the G&T students to use throughout the lesson. The 4 students I chose were those who have consistently performed well this year and will be aiming at the level 8s come the end of the year. These students, as suggested, are also on the school's G&T register for Mathematics. At the start of the lesson I briefed these students on their role and explained the terminology of the mark scheme and how they should 'mark' the rest of the class' work using the mark scheme. Whilst they were browsing through this and familiarising themselves I was setting the rest of the class up. I asked the class to get themselves into teams of 2 or 3 students. They then had to allocate roles within their groups. One person was to be the 'runner' - the person who would take their questions up to the markers and then get the next question. One person was to have the final say on the groups answer to the questions before the runner would take them to be marked and the final person/s would be working through the questions with the group and keeping an eye on the class spreadsheet.

The class spreadsheet was where I came in. As the groups were arranging themselves I set this up on the IWB and put the group's names into it. Then, throughout the lesson I updated this with the questions the class were getting correct/incorrect. This gave a clear indication to the class as to which group was on which question etc.

The activity started with each group being given the 1st question. Once they felt they knew the answer they would go to the markers. If they got it right they would be given the next question and the markers would hand me their answer to update the spreadsheet. If they got it wrong they would be told how many marks they got and then a 'dash' would be put at the top of their question to indicate that they'd already got it wrong once, if they got it wrong a second time it would be marked incorrect and given to me for updating the xls. They would then be given the next question.

The lesson worked extremely well with the whole class engaged and trying to beat the other groups in terms of the question they were on and the accuracy of their answers. My 'markers' were fantastic and they all were actively marking groups' work and suggesting where they had gone wrong in line with the mark scheme. I told them that they could offer advice as to what the groups had done wrong in order for them to adjust their answers and this was a really positive experience for them. They were, at first, concerned by the fact they would not actually be answering the questions themselves, but I allowed them to have a copy of the questions to try as they were doing the marking themselves and I told them that by looking at the mark scheme and marking their peers' work that they'd be doing more than it first may have appeared. I believe that by them seeing the mark scheme, and working with it, that it will enable them to see where they pick up all the marks and how the 'workings' are needed and just by what extent in terms of the marks awarded for them. In our next lesson I am going to get them to feedback to the rest of the class what they found by doing this role and what they learnt from it - hopefully here they will be able to give the rest of the class tips when doing their exam.

Here's how the front of the class looked - the markers' desk...

This was right at the end of the lesson (I almost forgot to take a photo) and so it looks a little bit chaotic! The questions are to the right of the picture on the end of the tables - groups were to take the next question along each time. You can see the mark schemes on the desks the markers were using.

Here's a selection of the marked questions that were handed to me...

Hopefully you'll be able to see the marking on these, the corrections some of the groups had to make and those that had a 'dash' put on their sheets to indicate an initially incorrect answer?

Below, you can see the spreadsheet at the end of the lesson. I have deleted the names to keep my guys anonymous. I used some conditional formatting to highlight all the correct answers (1) and the incorrect answers were left as normal (0). From this I can now see that I need to, next lesson, go over HCF and LCM and enlargements from a centre of enlargement. These will form the basis of the starter of my lesson and then I'll go onto covering Venn Diagrams with the class (based on feedback from the class on their topic trackers). Here's the spreadsheet...

As you can see, group 5 managed to answer all their questions correctly. Group 9 were unable to answer question 7 as there weren't any questions left - some groups needed a spare as they had scribbled all over theirs. I put the topics of each question on the xls too so the class could see what was coming up!

If you do use this idea it'd be great to here how and how the lesson went for your class. Oh, and remember to thank @Ms_Kmp for the idea and to visit her blog


  1. Daniela Vasile, SIS, Hong Kong5 May 2013 at 16:36

    Hi, Mr. P (Peter?)!

    We are using this idea for years in my school, South Island School of Hong Hong and call the activity "Gecko Maths".

    I run it with one class or even to a whole year-group, I had 150students in the school hall running and problem-solving.

    A couple of ideas: get as markers older students, or even your top students, but give them the questions in advance to solve them.

    Copy the questions for each team on colored paper, different colors to different teams going to the same marker.

    I very often use multiple choice questions from competitions (as, for example, the Waterloo competitions). These are easy to mark. My role is to go around and help students, fix misconceptions. For older classes, this activity changes from a competition into a collaborative problem solving activity. For them I ask full solutions and I am the marker, this meaning I can carry an assessment for learning and give feedback to each team, on each question, while marking. If I am the only marker, students do not wait for their solution to be marked immediately - they just leave one problem to me, then move to the next one. If the previous one is wrong, I make a comment and put the question paper back to their pile.

    Hope it helps,
    Daniela Vasile
    South Island School
    Hong Kong

  2. Hi,

    I love relay races, they can be used for any subject and once created the resources stay nicely stored for future use.

    I have used them successfully with mixed ability groups, however it takes some monitoring when there are two different relays happening in one room. (will use the pupil markers to help with this)