Saturday, 26 April 2014

Setting the tone for Y11...

So, we've just had the 1st week back and the 'big push' for our Y11s is well underway. I decided that in the 1st lesson back from Easter with each of my Y11 classes, that I'd give them a bit of a 'spiel' about revision and the run in to their GCSE examinations. Here's what I did...

After the classes had arrived and got sat in their new seats (I change my seating plans each half-term) I referred them to the new display board I put up for them to use. See my previous blog post... I also showed them how many days they now have until their 1st Mathematics examination.
I then, on my IWB, put up my slides I created for them. On the 1st slide I had 4 charts of their progress to date. The 1st chart was of their end of Y10 results to show them where they had come from and where I had picked them up from. The next two were of their 2 main 'mock' exams they had had in February and just before Easter. Lastly, I showed them the chart of their target grades. This was all to show them how far they'd come already this year and where we were headed. I then told them all about the effort still needed, the danger of some of them being happy with the grade their on and therefore perhaps having relaxed a bit. I reminded them they were all capable of certain grades and that just because they're on the grade they 'need' or want they are capable of more (in an attempt to get them to aim higher).

Here's what the graphs looked like...

Simple enough - just to show them clearly how their grades have gone up and where we need to get to.

Next, I gave out to each of them an 8 week revision timetable and a useful list of websites to use for their revision. I started to think over the holidays about how much (or little) they were doing revision wise over the holidays and am always nerved by the lack of control we have over the amount they'll be doing! So, I thought as long as I feel that I've given them all the help I can, I have done all I can and the rest is up to them!

The 8 week timetable covers all of the week just gone and the final week in which they have their 2 Mathematics GCSE examinations. On the timetable, for each class, I highlighted our lessons and those exams from other subjects that may get in the way of our lessons. I stressed how little 'teaching time' we have left and that they need to start planning around their other commitments. I said that if they had jobs or clubs they attend that their revision will have to take place around these. I also drew attention, again, to my 'number of days left' display and said that that included all the weekends and the half term week between now and their exams.

Here's how the timetables look:

At this stage, I asked them how much advice they'd been given in terms of 'how' to revise. There was little response. They had been given, earlier in the year, a 'study skills' day with some external presenters, but other than that they shrugged.

I then drew their attention to the list of useful websites that I had stapled to each of their timetables and referred to the revision display I had put up to remind them of other sites/resources they could use to revise.

Here's the list I gave them...

I suggested my YouTube Channel and any other Mathematics based channel they'd found/used before - I also recommended Hegarty Maths (as it's way better than mine)!
Also on the list was's 5-a-day resources (these are great) and then the resources I have put for them on the school's VLE and of course...mymaths (the main site we use at our school)

After this I went through my [general] top tips for revising (any subject), but tried to link it to their Mathematics as much as possible.

*I told them that this is what I did for my revision and what I had been told had worked for past students, I gave some brief success 'stories' of past students too to motivate them/reach out to those students in similar positions this year.*

Here are the top tips I shared with them:

1) Do little, often and not to overdo it in any one 'sitting' of revision

2) get organised - use the timetables I had handed out and to attend after-school revision sessions where possible (I also told them I now have an even more 'open door' than I have had all year and they can turn up whenever they like for help [break, lunch, after-school, before-school] and said that if I was in my room then I was there to help)!

3) Revise when's best for you. I linked this to my recent goal to go swimming once a day having just got a swimming membership at the local leisure centre. I told them that I was a rubbish morning person and although I'd hoped to go swimming in the morning before school it just doesn't work for me (I did the morning of the INSET day, but then couldn't get myself up early enough before school the other days and so have gone after school), so to revise when's best for them.

4) Music. This is a massive thing for me personally as I also DJ in my spare time and love music. I used to listen to the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack everytime I did any coursework/essays for my degree and this helped settle me into the routine of doing work. I get distracted very easily and so told the class that this has helped me focus in the past. I also tried to link some Psychology into my explanations and how music can be used to aide your memory and recall of information. I did say that this wasn't for everybody but to try it. Although, I do believe in them all having a 'motivational song' and playing this in the morning before every exam to get them psyched up! I then shared too much and told them that my 'motivational song' was S Club 7's 'Don't Stop Moving'.
My top set Y11s do now want me to play this at the start of all of our remaining lessons, my other Y11 class weren't so keen!

5) Post it note and poster all round their houses. I spoke to them about prominent places to put up mind maps and revision posters etc. We discussed those places around the house that we perhaps don't always know we look at on a regular basis and where best to place posters in an attempt to take in the information on the revision posters. Examples were, above (to the side of) door handles, light switches, fridge door, bedroom walls, front door, windows/mirrors, behind the TV/Computer screen (but so it's still visible) etc.

This only took up about 20 minutes of each lesson and the classes responded really well to the information I gave them and were in good spirits. We then got on with the topics we left off on last term and the class were focused throughout and I was impressed with their efforts. I'm under no illusions that there will be times in the next 4 weeks when some will need reminding of the urgency and lack of time to 'mess about', but for now they seem 'on the ball' and in the right frame of mind.

The Action Jackson video is waiting for when I sense a dip in their efforts!

Thanks to @hegartymaths, @Corbettmaths, @Actionjackson for their resources and work that they have freely shared that will go towards making my Y11s successful this Summer!

Oh, and remember...'don't stop moving to the funky funky beat'!!

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