How teachers can assist students with Exam Preparations
It’s another new year. As the chill of the winter fades and the warmth of summer arrives, students gear up for the final term of school. The final term brings along with it excitement and nervousness – there is excitement about completing a milestone and moving on to the next, and there is nervousness of appearing for the final term examinations. Examinations help us assess performance – of students as well as teachers.
If a class performs well in a subject, it would mean that the students have a good understanding of the subject. This, in turn, would mean that the teacher did a good job teaching the subject in class.
So, it is in the interest of teachers to ensure that they not only teach the subject well, but also assist and support students as they prepare for their exams.
Typically, exam preparation means revision of concepts and solving model papers. But, that’s not all. Teachers can use many other strategies to help and support students. Let’s take a look at some strategies. Learn From Mistakes: The CCE format allows teachers to continuously evaluate students throughout the year. Teachers can review past assessments and identify the common mistakes that students usually make. Then, they can plan a class period, where these common mistakes are highlighted and discussed, with the objective of explaining and rationalising why it is a mistake.
Think Aloud: Each of us approaches a problem differently; and with practice and experience, we devise shorter or rather smarter ways to solve problems.
Teachers can model problemsolving methods in class.
Modeling would mean speaking your thoughts aloud as you read the question and arrive at the answer – by speaking your thoughts aloud, you are demonstrating your thinking pattern and your approach to finding the answer.
Understand the Question: Empower students with strategies that can help them understand questions. Many times students make a mistake because they fail to understand the question. Teach strategies to help them understand the question or problem; you could ask them to look for key words or phrases in the question. You could also ask them to articulate the question in their own words – that way you can verify if their understanding is correct or not.
Identify Pain Points: While students understand most of the concepts in a subject, there will be some pain points that each student may have. Ask students to make a list of their pain points. Compile the list of these points; you may find a commonality amongst all. Then, dedicate a class period to explaining/discussing the concepts.
Apply What You Know: ‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand’. The best learning happens when we apply what we know. Organise activities that allow students to apply concepts they have learnt.
When students apply their learning, the abstract concepts become concrete, and they have a better chance of retaining the concepts. Tutor Your Partner: The best way to assess whether or not you really understand a concept is by trying to teach it to someone else. Pair students and have each person pick a random topic name from a pile of cards. Each person must prepare on the topic he/she picked, and tutor his/her partner on it.
Use Technology: If and where possible, introduce technology in class. Today, there are umpteen video resources that bring to life many abstract concepts. A documentary video describing the battle of Panipat or a video demonstrating how architects apply principles of geometry can make concepts interesting as well as establish relevance and application.
Play Games: Content can be categorised as fact, concept, process, procedure and principle. Organise quizzes for each content category. Let students know in advance the objective for each quiz. Divide students into teams and play games or quizzes. Team games are less intimidating than individual tests or quiz. Moreover, when one person in a team gives the correct answer, the other members automatically learn the correct answer.
Flip the Classroom: Flip the class – have students read through content before coming to class. Use the class time to discuss their thoughts on the content; allow students to articulate their understanding and allow them to clarify doubts that their peers may have.
Facilitate the class discussion, instead of teaching – by doing this, you will encourage collaborative learning and establish a strong teacherstudent bond.
Create Visual Guides: Create teams of students and allocate a topic to each team. Have the team brainstorm and create a visual to represent the concepts taught in the topic. The visual could be a Mind Map, a flowchart or an info-graphic.
Display the visual charts in class – they can serve as a ready reckoners for students. Talk, Relax & Unwind: Finally, have students share their feelings about appearing for exams.
Share your own experiences and fears you had when you were a student, and what you did to overcome them. Talking about the stress of exams will help relieve stress. Plan a surprise class period for students to just unwind, maybe do some yoga exercises, let them read a book, draw or just do nothing!
Kanchan Shine has over 10 years of experience in the education domain. Her firm creates training content for schools, ranging from curriculum design, teacher lesson plans and activity guides. Her team has also written content for Value Education textbooks, designed Educational Apps for children and created a curriculum for an NGO, to teach English to street children.
Kanchan also conducts teacher-training workshops and provides consultancy for curriculum development and implementing experiential learning in classrooms. Kanchan is passionate about teaching and believes that children learn best through hands-on-activities and play.