Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Revision Strategies

Revision Strategies

Learn, Practice, Review

Revision consists of 3 stages – Learn, Practice, Review.

Stage 1: Learn

There are many different types of learning methods. The most basic is to read the information. Reading here refers to intensive reading and not skimming or scanning. Intensive reading means to pick up information/concepts/keywords.

Good Studying Habits

Highlighting keywords/important information/ concepts is always useful. Use different coloured highlighters to make the informative attractive and interesting. Highlight words that you don’t understand (reserve red highlighter for this purpose). This applies to all the subjects. Even for Mandarin, she highlights key phrases and new words for every chapter. Natalie would then write down the meaning next to those key phrases or new words.
Highlighting keywords that she needs to learn and writing down its meaning. 

An example of her making her own notes on the textbook. 

Write down your question on the page immediately and tab it or write it on a post it and stick it on the page.  Many a times, students come to me and say that theyhave a question for me. But by the time they want to ask, they have already forgotten what their question is about. So, don’t just “think you can remember your question”. Write it down immediately.

But reading may not translate to learning. Hence, for some children, they will need to summarize what they have learnt, depending on their learning style (Click to read on the different learning styles).

  • Visual Learners: Mindmap ( draw/use different colours/shapes) *Natalie is a more linguistic learner and hence, I have not yet done any mind-mapping with her. 

  • Linguistic Learners: Notes ( point form/ paragraphs)

An example of notes for Mathematics Model drawing. I'm keeping the example question real simple so that she can concentrate purely on the concept.
  • Verbal – Linguistic Learners: Read aloud

  • Mandarin - "Ting xie" will be given for all key phrases and new words for all the chapters. By writing all the key phrases and new words out for each chapter, she is in fact consolidating her learning. This becomes her consolidated revision list. However, it is made clear to her that at the learning stage, she shouldn't be afraid to make errors because this is the part where she should be learning.

Summarizing is always good as a revision strategy because it means that you don’t have to read through all the informative again. All you need to do is have a good summarized version and it can be used for mid year examination and then again for end of year examination. Do the work once, then maximum the use.

Stage 2: Practice

There are 2 types of practice – formative and summative.

Formative practice means to do as a means to find out “what you know and what you don’t know”. This form of practice aims to achieve subject mastery. Doing assessment books is a form of formative practice. The focus is the learning process. 
(*Tip: avoid studying with music/ with the television on at the background. Some kids get so used to the noise that they feel uncomfortable/restless during real exam condition.)

Summative practice means to do a test/exam paper in an exam condition (to finish within a given time). This form of practice aims to train stamina, concentration and most importantly, time management and other exam skills under examination conditions. The focus is to test how much the child can achieve.

Summative practice is important because there are kids who can perform under normal circumstances but fails under examination conditions as they lack stamina/concentration/time management/ exam skills. Hence, it’s important to get the child to get used to examination condition while doing summative practice. 

For instance, what do you do if there is a difficult question that you can't solve? There are real instances where a child continues to attempt one difficult question and ends up not being able to finish the rest of the paper. 

These skills have to be taught to the child, especially if the child is in lower primary. Some kids just cannot sit there for 1.5hrs or even for an hour. Most kids will be sleeping during exams. Even though, the teachers will constantly wake the child up should he be sleeping during the paper, there is nothing the teacher can do if your child chooses to go back to sleep again. 

*Tips on doing the paper.

Usually, I write down the duration taken for Natalie to complete round 1 of the paper and the duration of her checking the paper as well. This helps with time management.

It is obvious that during her first attempt at the paper, she completed the paper too fast and hence, she can learn to slow down.

Secondly, for round 1 of doing the paper, it is done in pencil. For checking, I will ask her to use a blue pen to make changes. In this case, I can track the number of errors that she spotted or the changes that she have made. Checking is challenging for the child, so practicing how to check is essential. By making the child use pencil first and then blue pen for checking, it is easier for us to follow their train of thoughts. I encourage Natalie to redo all the questions and then check against the final answer.

Highlighting key words on the exam paper is a good practice that will keep the child focused on what he needs to do. 

Simulating Examination condition at home.
a)  A quiet, conducive environment.
My girl will be seated alone at the table to do her paper while her sibling will be inside the room with me. This reduces noise and movement around the house. I will check on her every 15-30mins. The air conditioner is also off because there will not be air con under real exam condition. So she better get used to the heat and being seated her doing her papers.

b) Only toilet breaks are allowed.
There will be no food or drinks during the paper. Even toilet breaks are cut to the minimum. For an hour paper, she understands that there can only be 1 -2 toilet breaks.
 (* You will be surprised that under real examination condition in school, some kids will constantly go for toilet breaks due to nervousness or boredom.)

Stage 3: Review

Reviewing the errors, also known as corrections. 
For mathematics, one effective way of doing corrections is to redo the whole question again. But most of the time, I will do a quick analysis of the errors and find out "what went wrong?". Is it that she doesn't understand the concept or what the question means or just pure calculation error. 

If it's just pure calculation error, it's simple, just count it again. But if it's the concept or the question that she doesn't understand, I will go through step by step with her again. Clarify all her doubts and then look for similar questions (at least 5-10 questions) for her to practice, just to make sure that she truly have learnt. 

For English, if it's a new vocabulary word, I will make her write out the word and its meaning in her vocabulary notebook. She has a notebook to record new vocabulary and form of words in the different tenses. She practically have a notebook for everything. 

For Mandarin, she will have to rewrite the words/sentence and I will test her on the meaning of the the words/sentences before asking her to attempt similar questions again. 

Reviewing repeatedly
Repetition helps one to transfer the information from our short term memory to our long term memory. Moreover, repetition can deepen understanding. Hence, reviewing the information regularly is equally important. 

Finally, revision is about “quality learning, not about quantity”. Some children can practice a lot and learn very little. Use the errors as a form of feedback of what the child doesn’t understand. Go beyond just the question. Look at the concept the question is actually testing.

"An error remains an error as long as you learnt it. It only becomes a mistake if you commit the error again. So learn from the errors and don’t let them become a mistake."

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