A little bit of practice goes a long way – a message we’ll be reinforcing next week at our workshops on how to prepare students for their Literature, English and EAL exams. We’ll be sharing basic strategies such as this one:
Organising information for retrieval:
In order to effectively retrieve examples when they need it (i.e when brainstorming examples for a text response or compare and contrast question), students need to organise information so their brain can remember it. When we group, label, categories and map information, our brain is more likely to remember it. We’ll be sharing lots of charts and maps students can use for the different types and pairs of texts they study. Here’s an example:
|Character||What evidence best shows what they’re like at the start of the text?||What evidence best shows how they are challenged or begin to change during the text?||What evidence best shows how they change or don’t change at the end of the text?|
However, we’ll also be emphasising that the English exam is fundamentally a skills test – and there’s no way students can cram for skills. That’s why it’s important to get them into a routine of a ‘Daily 5’ – i.e a daily five minutes of skills practice. We can do this in class and work up to a daily 10 or 15, all the while telling students that these are things they can do at home as their own daily 5, 10 or 15 minute practice. Here’s some example of 5 min skill practice activities:
|Improve knowledge by…||Improve writing skills by…|
|*Memorising at least three quotes by writing them out, repeatedly saying them or using flashcards.
*Creating a study plan for the types of essay topics you need to be better prepared to answer. Look through a long list of essay topics, ticking the ones you’d be confident responding to and putting a question mark or cross next to the ones you know you would have trouble with.
*Writing a series of sentences linking themes to minor characters or symbols.
|*Picking a theme from the text and write one sentence of at least 35 words, linking it to a major character, minor character or symbol.
*Planning a response to an essay topic in 5 minutes.
*Planning a response to an essay topic where you brainstorm evidence from two of these three categories: Major Characters / Minor Characters / Techniques & Symbols.
*Practising writing individual analytic sentences that begin in one of these ways: