Welcome to my Professional Learning blog.
My name is Matt Nicoll and I am a high school teacher in New Zealand, interested in improving the classroom experience for my students. I am open to trialing new approaches and hope to use this blog to reflect on my ideas and practices.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Simple but Effective


It is that time of the school year again - revision for the seniors. I don't know why I try to be so "clever" with revision sometimes; the simple ideas work so well.

Today, we were revising the links between the "big ideas" in Genetic Variation. Basically, my students struggle with the links between the key terms: chromosomes, DNA, genes, nucleotides, bases etc.

Collaborative Revision

This is an old one, but keeps proving to be successful (and the students stay focused!). I work with five groups of 5-6 students in each for this activity.
  1. Every group is given a key concept to describe, ideally using labelled diagrams. They do not know which concepts are being done the other groups.
  2. After 10 minutes of discussing their given concept, every member of the group must have a copy of the group's work (even if it is a photocopy).
  3. Then the groups are mixed up so there is at least one person in each group from the original groups. They work together to create a single summary which shows the link between all of the key concepts.
In this lesson, I taught for less than two minutes (!!!), yet every student was engaged and refining their understanding of these key concepts. Some of the summary sheets were absolutely brilliant!

Student Feedback

I asked the students to put an anonymous mark on the board during the lesson on a "Lesson Appreciation Continuum"; did they find the lesson "Very Useful" or "A Total Waste of Time" or somewhere in between? Overwhelmingly, the response was "Very Useful"; the students actually ran out of space to put a mark at that end of the board!
Interestingly, there was a real buzz in the room today; the students were having fun doing revision, believe it or not!

1 comment:

  1. So far, this has worked very well for:
    Year 11 Genetics (as described above)
    Year 12 Structure and Bonding: Determining Molecular Polarity
    Key concepts were: electronegativity, intra-molecular forces/bonds, Lewis diagrams, molecule shapes, and inter-molecular forces/bonds.
    The students were NOT told they were revising polarity, just to write as much as they could about each key concept. Then the procedure above was followed.