Report by Beth Newmarch, PGCE student, University of the West of England
The Bristol Branch GA event on the evening of Tuesday 4th April 2017 opened with the students being asked to discuss a picture of the words ‘Writing the Earth’ written in the sand on a beach. This opening activity was a delicate reminder that geography is ‘not just’ a subject learnt at school but a discipline that has been studied for centuries because of its enduring relevance to us all. Whist I am not disillusioned in thinking that every student aged 16-18 has a burning desire to become a geographer, it is still a worthy activity to ensure students understand some of the delicate intricacies of the multidisciplinary subject that is geography!
For me, whilst the evening centred on preparing students for exam success, it was clear that genuine interest and creative revision techniques were the ingredients for the recipe of success. The evening attracted AS and A level students from a range of schools including Ashton Park, Wellsway, Redland High and Bristol Cathedral Choir School. With such a diversity of specifications represented in the room the broad theme of ‘Better Written Responses’ was the primary focus for the first half of the evening. Really usefully ‘tips and techniques’ were shared on how to answer an exam question, ranging from identifying and using command words to planning answers of differing lengths. Attention was also drawn to the importance of highlighting what the examiners had to say from the previous year’s papers. This to me and my peers seemed like such a simple and helpful thing to do, yet we know this does not necessarily occur on a regular basis.
The second half of the evening focused on students collaboratively undertaking engaging, interactive and creative revision techniques. An example of this was ‘Ropey Revision’ whereby students used pieces of card, labels, and string to create various different graphs or models, for example; DTM, Climate Graphs, TALC, hydrograph etc. This activity was a huge success among the students and the trainee teachers, as it was a lovely side step from the traditional written revision techniques, I know I employed when I revised not too long ago.
Overall my peers and I felt that the evening was not just valuable but successful too. The students appreciated the chance to approach exam and revision techniques in a different way and in a different setting. For me this really highlighted the important of such events as it is no secret that when one enjoys something you are far more likely to succeed.