It’s the beginning of a new school year and you’re anxious to jump into the new curriculum. However, as many veteran teachers will tell you, before you jump headfirst into the new curriculum, it may be helpful to take some time to review. Of course, you can also review during the school year – before midterms, after covering a difficult subject, or simply when you want to see where your students are. One thing’s for certain – reviewing can you save you a lot of time and headaches during the year. In addition to saving time and headaches, reviewing previously taught material offers other benefits as well.
Review Helps Students Gain Confidence
You don’t start an AP Calculus course by having students find the derivative of a function. Instead, you build up to that skill by reviewing trigonometric functions and discussing limits. By starting with something students know, you help build their confidence to tackle more complex tasks.
Review Shows Where Students Are
Reviewing with students, also helps you gain a sense of where students are and what gaps may exist in the learning. For example, you may hope to move into a lesson about writing complex sentences and realize that students still don’t understand the basic parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives). While you may not be able to fill in all of the gaps before introducing new content, you will know the areas where you may have to spend a bit of extra time as you introduce new concepts throughout the school year. If only a few students have gaps, you may be able to provide them with worksheets, video lessons, and other resources to help catch them up.
Review Improves Retention
As a teacher, your goal isn’t just to cover the standards, it’s to ensure that students retain the information as well. By reviewing previously taught material with students, you help that material to begin to take root in their brains so that it’s more likely to stick with them. For example, if students hear once that a comma goes inside quotation marks, they’re not as likely to remember it, but if they hear it multiple times throughout the school year and are required to practice putting the comma inside quotation marks, they’re more likely to remember that bit of information.
Strategies for Review
When it comes to reviewing material with students, the level of review will depend on the level each student is at and the amount of time you can build in for review. Pick and choose the following strategies based on your students’ needs.
Let Students Conduct the Review
Give students a chance to show what they know and to make sense of the information themselves by allowing them to conduct a review. A few ways you can do this include:
Give students a concept or briefly review information with students and have them summarize what they’ve learned or what they remember in their own words. As students share their summaries with one another, they’ll gain a better understanding of the concept.
Give students a set of information and have them organize it in a way that makes sense. You could give students a paragraph that needs to be put back into order or a group of animals that need to be organized by habitat. As they organize the information, students will get the chance to review the material and make meaning out of it.
Give students a task that requires them to use information they need to review in a new way. For example, students could use the laws of physics to solve a problem.
At the beginning of a lesson, give students a chance to complete an info dump, where they write down or say everything they remember about a particular topic. Have students work in pairs or small groups so they can learn from one another. When you get into the actual lesson, you can touch on topics students remember and clear up any misunderstandings they may have.
Incorporate Short Video Lessons
Short video lessons are a quick way to help students review a concept before introducing a new one. Help Teaching’s self-paced lessons feature short videos accompanied by practice questions and worksheets. Best of all, you can assign individual students lessons to watch based on their needs.
Play Fun Review Games
Download a slideshow template to create your own version of Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? that includes questions related to material students need to review. If you don’t have time to create an entire slideshow, just create a list of a few questions and have teams of students take turns answering them in the classroom. You can add excitement by letting students try to shoot a basket every time they get a question correct.
Choose a Topic of the Day
Start each day or class period with a particular topic students need to review. You may have students answer a question in their journals, read a short paragraph and complete reading response activities, or even complete a short worksheet, such as a daily grammar review or number sense worksheets. You only need about five minutes a day to conduct a short review.
Integrate Old Material with New Material
As you teach new material, build upon previous knowledge. You can do this through an info dump, short bell-ringer activities at the beginning of every lesson, or by simply pointing out how the skills build upon one another. Not only will students review the concepts, they’ll begin to see how different skills and topics work together. This will help them begin to make critical connections on their own.
Very few people can read or hear something once and remember it forever. Instead, they need to regularly review material to keep it fresh in their brains. Don’t think of review as a waste of time. Instead, try to build time in your schedule to review with students at the beginning of the school year and throughout the year.
Do you have any strategies you use to review? If so, we’d love to hear them. Share your ideas in the comments!