Saturday, 18 October 2014

My Favourite Recap Activities

I like a good recap activity and my classes always seem to do well in their assessments. I think it's because of the way that I prepare them during the week or so prior to their end of unit assessment, or in the case of GCSE classes, during the month or so leading up to a mock or the real thing.

'Revision' seems to be a dirty word at our place. 'Boosters' and 'Catch up' are always used, but why are we not 'boosting' and extending during lessons, and why are we needing to 'catch up'? How have they been allowed to fall behind so much that they need a 'catch up' session?

I do revision. It's an opportunity for kids to revisit what we've done in lesson. They'll be told that they're expected to have learnt it, and I won't reteach something after school. I'll give them hints, but that typically sees kids recalling what we'd done in lessons and them carry on individually.

Unfortunately, when left to their own devices, a large proportion of our cohort lack the necessary skills to revise properly, even after sitting through 'Learning to Learn' workshops and 'This is how to revise' (not their actual name) sessions.
I think it's right to make allowances for this, especially at Key Stage 3, and make sure that I've allocated 'learning time' to recap what we've been doing before they are assessed.

I have two 'go-to' activities that the kids seem to enjoy a great deal.

1. The Locked Box
I've blogged this before, but Chris Smith (@aap01302)'s newsletter brought a wonderful activity to my attention. Take some goodies, lock them in a box, and set some questions - around 8 seems to be enough for an hour. Label each question A - H, and set a 9th question based upon the answers from the previous 8. The 9th question gives a code (3-digit for me, as I have 3-digit combination locks) and the kids race to get their first.
Sometimes, nobody will get there. That's when I get the goodies.

A typical lesson would start with a short trailer (a different one for each of the different activities - I currently have two), and giving them a short 'storyline', before setting them to work on the activity. About 15-20 minutes before the end of the lesson, I stop them (even if nobody has the code) and go through the solutions, suggesting that anyone that doesn't understand where they've gone wrong speaks to me about their issues.

My two activities are called 'For British Eyes Only' (a reference to a show called Arrested Development, which is very difficult to explain as a concept to 14 year olds) and 'Race to Treasure Island'. My trailers for each are 'Johnny English' and 'An Adventure with Pirates'.

'For British Eyes Only' looks like this, and the goodies are locked in a silver canister:

These are printed A5, two-sided. The example above was set for my 9 set 2 within the past fortnight.

'Race to Treasure Island' looks like this, and the goodies are locked in a small treasure chest with gold-painted pennies in the bottom for authenticity:

The map is printed A5 and the A - H table is shown on the board. The example above was given to my 7 set 1 at the beginning of last year. I haven't done Race to Treasure Island this year yet. but when I do, I get an inflatable parrot and cutlass out and walk around shouting 'YARGH! How ye doin' there matey?'. My colleagues have concerns about me.

2. Circus Time

Circus time is great for the kids, but your classroom becomes very loud and you have to trust them.

I bought 8 of these photoframes from IKEA:

I have made a Word document where each page is a table made of two cells, the size of standard photographs, where I type in one side 'Carousel Activity 1', the title of that activity and the questions for that title and copy this into the other side when done. I print these 7 activities, cut out and put in the frames.

I rearrange my tables in to 7 groups of 4 seats, give each child a piece of paper and have two timers on the board: one at 4:30 for the task and one at 00:30 for moving. This means the activity takes 35 minutes and gives the opportunity to recap the answers and address any misconceptions prior to the end of the lesson.

Here are the activities I gave my 7 set 3 during period 5 yesterday:

I'm also currently playing with...
3. Pub Quiz

Put your pupils into teams of their choosing and have them compete against each other. There doesn't even need to be a prize. I did this with 10 set 1 regarding their understanding of calculations with decimals. I put in a few silly rounds, like missing letters in band names and which jokes was the best at the Edinburgh Fringe, but it let me know where the kids were and allowed me to plan appropriately for the next lesson (a bit of work on multiplying and dividing decimals and we were away!).
I'm going to create a pub quiz for my classes this week prior to their half-termly assessment.

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