Action Research


My initial thoughts on a suitable topic for action research, fit in with an area where I'm already experimenting. At school for KS3 our scheme of work is broadly structured around "Exploring Science". Typically we teach the 6-8 lessons for the topic, have one revision lesson and then use the Exploring science end of module test.

My interest is around the "revision lesson", currently mine have evolved into the following structure....

  1. Use the Exploring Science Summary sheet. Pupils are asked to read carefully and highlight key concepts
  2. Use a supplied mindmap... this is currently "gifted" to them. They are asked to read each branch in context and to tick the check box once they are 100% happy with each concept. If they are unsure they are encouraged to use their books, the text books, ask a neighbour or ask me
  3. The exploring science multiple choice "quick quiz" is then used to check progress. Pupils are told that this is a learning activity rather than testing and that they should aim for 100% since there is nothing standing between them and the correct answer.
  4. Pupils then mark the QQ against the markscheme
  5. Pupils then complete the "I have learned this" column of the target sheet (the "before the unit" column was completed during the test lesson from the previous topic
  6. Pupils then use the results from 2 and 3/4 above to design their revision strategy which is the 3rd column in the target sheet

While there are questions about the whole approach, this is what has been achievable during the first half of my NQT year using the available resources. Pupil feedback shows that these lessons are considered "popular and productive". In particular the mind maps are popular. Moreover, whole school results at all key stages are very good and so it would be easy to provide arguments showing that the current departmental approach is fine

However, I'm interested in how these resources can be re-arranged/tweaked to achieve the best result. This evidence could then be used to inform a more wholesale restructuring/review should it ever happen.

At the present I've started to experiment with the following

1) At the start of lesson 1 pupils complete the quick quiz. Pupils still complete the quiz during the revision but in a different colour. My interests are two fold:-
a) Pupils will have a before and after pciture so that they can see tangible progress during the topic
b) It is hoped that the inability to answer questions during the first attempt at the quiz will generate real interest and focus the mind when the topic is covered in a future lesson

This will start soon :

2) I have a long term plan for pupils to learn mind mapping skills, (there is a Y7 session on this). I currently believe that asking pupils to produce a single map for the whole topic is beyond their ability and what can be achieved in a single lesson and/or homework. My current thinking involves around suppling a map with only the main 3-6 main branches present. There will be then be a number of homeworks set where a map for each main branch is assembled on an A5/A4 sheet. During the revision lesson pupils join these to the supplied "main node" and construct the whole map on say A3. Maybe they compare it against the map I supply? or maybe the collaborate and compare/share maps

This is being considered:

3) Adding a "pre-test" before the revision lesson. My thinking is that revision will be better focussed if they already know what they are weak at. One idea which would be easy to implement would be a suitable test generated for KS3 sats by test base. Actually, this is slightly back to front... a test base test would be more meaningful than the current exploring science end of topic test, particularly if it focused on SC1/HSW type questions. Maybe the order should be reversed?