Testing… testing… 1, 2.

Here’s what I’m doing to maintain my GCSE students’ knowledge of events.

I read Joe Kirby’s ‘Knowledge, Memory and Testing’ chapter in the Michaela  book and immediately realised (or reflected) that my pupils forget the basics really, really quickly. One of my pupils was writing an analytical response to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde last week. It was a decent response; he was working on identifying the writer’s technique and picking out specific examples of where an effect is achieved. He looked up at me and asked, “wait a minute. Which one is Utterson?” If you’ve not read the book, Utterson is the central character; he’s essentially the narrator. The pupils need to know who he is.

I’d probably ask the same question if I faced a carousel of five different subject areas in any one day.

So, I am now working to embed a strong understanding of the basics with my students. I am not doing this the Michaela Way at the moment. This is a scaled-down version. Here’s what I do:

Specific days and chapters are arbitrary for this example, naturally.

Monday

1. Read chapter 3

2. Test them on that chapter, with a 10-question comprehension test, immediately after reading.

3. Teach the lesson, leaving 5 minutes spare at the end.

4. Test them again, using the same test.

Tuesday

1. Read chapter 4.

2. Test them on that chapter, with a 10-question comprehension test, immediately after reading. Repeat the test from Monday, immediately after the chapter 4 test.

3. Teach the lesson, leaving 5 minutes spare at the end.

4. Test them on chapter 4 again, using the same test.

Wednesday

1. Read chapter 5.

2. Test them on that chapter, with a 10-question comprehension test, immediately after reading. Repeat the test from Tuesday, immediately after the chapter 5 test.

3. Teach the lesson, leaving 5 minutes spare at the end.

4. Test them on chapter 5 again, using the same test.

And so on. Then, at the end of the fortnight, I put aside a whole lesson to repeat the tests. All of them. They get given 3 minutes before each test to revise the specific chapter.

This is not meant to develop analysis. It’s not meant to strengthen their writing skills. It’s simply to give them confidence and a thorough knowledge of the novel. When they get into that exam, and read the extract, they’re going to know exactly what is happening in the book at that moment.

Of course there are downsides. I’m sacrificing lesson time for this – although I’m not sure that the word ‘sacrifice’ is right. What would I be doing in my starter time? Probably something that doesn’t build their knowledge and understanding as this does.

I’ve only made 5 tests so far. They’re attached and I often release them on my Twitter feed too. Help yourself – I will update this document as I write more.

jekyll-and-hyde-basic-knowledge-tests

Advertisements