3. Making revision fun

One of the best ways to reinforce learning is to try and explain the ideas to someone else. Some people find that they only really understand a topic when they have to teach it. The same can apply to your students. Copying text and diagrams from the chalkboard will give them a good set of notes to learn, but it will not necessarily help their understanding.

Particle theory is really important and underpins ideas about chemical reactions and properties of materials. It is worth taking a bit of time to make sure that your students understand the ideas and how they link together. It might be helpful for them to produce a teaching resource that would be suitable for younger students or for someone who does not know much science. The teacher in Case study 3 sets such a task for homework so that it does not take too much time out of the lesson, but she does spend some time getting her students to think about what makes a good resource. Students are more likely to do well, if they know what you are looking for. Alternatively they could produce a resource to help them revise, such as a mind map or a concept map, as in Activity 3. Resource 5 explains some background to concept maps and mind maps.

Case study 3: Preparing a teaching resource

Mr Mumba had ten minutes left at the end of a lesson. He had just finished the topic on particle theory and wanted his students to make a teaching resource suitable for younger children for their homework. He gathered them round the front and explained what he wanted them to do. He suggested that they might make a poster, a leaflet or a small booklet. He asked them how they might judge such a resource. Able, a student, suggested that it should have pictures and diagrams. Lena thought it would be helpful if it had lots of real life examples and Sonia thought it was important to explain all the scientific words very clearly. Mr Mumba made a list of their suggestions on the board. Some children find it difficult to find time to do their homework because they have to do a lot of jobs around the house. So Mr Mumba arranged that anyone who wanted to could stay in the classroom after school to do the homework. Some students went and sat under a tree in the grounds and worked together on their posters. Mr Mumba did not mind; he realised that talking to each other about the ideas would help them to learn. Hari and Vincent made a poster in which Hari drew the diagrams and Vincent did the writing.

Activity 3: Making a mind map

You should explain to your students that one of the purposes of revision is to reinforce their learning. Simply reading through notes is not always as effective as they might think. A good thing to do is to draw a concept map, a mind map or a poster, or to make a summary of the key ideas on small cards or pieces of paper that can easily be carried around in a bag or a pocket. Divide the students into pairs and ask each pair to devise a revision tool that summarises the key ideas about particle theory. You could give them A4 paper or take a double-page from an exercise book to do this. They should be encouraged to use everyday examples to illustrate the ideas, to use pictures and diagrams and to think about how the ideas are linked together. If students understand how the key ideas link together, they will find it easier to remember the details.

Once they have completed the work they should swap with another group and use the evaluation criteria (Resource 4) to assess the quality of their work.

Resource 1: Misconceptions surround States of Matter