100 words is all it takes. No, really.

That educational juggernaut which is our exam system is hurtling head first with no brakes into the business end of the year for our senior pupils and we didn’t even have time to look at the scenery or visit the gift shop. If you’re like me you’ll be coming home every night trying to discover the key to that last concern, that last little problem area which might just make the difference to Demotivated Darren, Lackadaisical Lauren or Indifferent Ian. In not many more words than are in this paragraph, here is a quick and easy revision tip you could use  tomorrow for exam classes.

This exercise works really well in English but there is no reason it couldn’t be used in any subject area. Choose one of the main revision areas for your topic. I chose ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’, our novel for this year. Break the topic down into as many smaller parts as there are students in your class. There are thirty in mine and could be in yours, so it will be important to be creative at this point. Go for the minutiae here, don’t bother about how small that part of the topic is. I broke my topic down to six possible themes, six characters, five examples of symbolism etc. until I arrived at thirty topics.

Stick them all up on the white/black/interactive board for all to see. Invite volunteers to choose a topic, as quickly as possible, creating a buzz as the harder ones are left until the end. This could be great fun or chaos depending on how quickly you want to do it. You could, I suppose, develop a bit of competition or offer first or next choice as a reward for good behaviour/ excellent effort etc.

Their homework task is to write EXACTLY one hundred words on that topic. Not ninety nine, not one hundred and one. And certainly not, clever Megan at the front of the class, as many as you can fit in because you can’t narrow it down. This is a real challenge, especially if you ban the name of the topic – or title and author in my case. Accept no less than perfection here, in terms of word count. It does challenge students to be precise and creative. A bit like Twitter in a way.

When they are done, stick them all together. You could put them all on a blog or present it some other way electronically. Perhaps a download they could have on their phones? However, I think this might be something which is more helpful to some on paper, despite the photocopying implications.  Give it a fancy shmancy cover and voila! A quick and valuable revision source.

4 thoughts on “100 words is all it takes. No, really.

  1. At this evening’s DM, some Higher English staff said they had tried your revision strategy detailed above and had found it really productive and recommended its use; others are now away to try it with their classes tomorrow. Thanks for another great idea!
    Liz

  2. Pingback: The Finishing Line | Class Teaching

  3. Pingback: One Hundred Words in Science | Reflective Teacher and Learner

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