Reading around the subject is incredibly important especially at A level. It is maybe even more important now we are fully immersed in the new A level syllabuses. In order for students to gain access to the highest grades they actually need to know something; memorising vast amounts of information will no longer cut the cheese and they need to be able to apply their knowledge, especially with the dreaded ‘suggest’ questions.
The best way of extending their knowledge I have found is getting them to read recent articles from level appropriate magazines. As a biologist, I am very lucky as the Biological Science Review is an excellent publication, written specifically to meet this requirement. However, how do you make them read it, check they have read it or make them process the information? In this blog post, I will share some of the methods that I have been using.
Give them questions, they highlight the answers in the text.
Strengths: different method of question answering- they like it as they do not have to write, helps them to learn how to highlight and pick out the important parts.
Weaknesses– may only look for the answers rather than processing the article as a whole.
Get them to read the article and then ask 10 questions on it during the next lesson
Strengths: Does get them to process the whole article and it is obvious who has and who has not completed the task. A student will have to summarise/make notes on the article and summarise it if there has been a few days between it being set, completed and assessed.
Seven step summaries- write 7 questions based on the article. Increase the number of answers each time and the student fills in a pyramid style grid. A progression on this would be to make the students write their own 7 questions and then swap with another person in the class.
Strengths: there is obvious evidence a pupil has processed the work and it forms a nice basis of discussion in the next lesson.
Make the students give a short presentation/ summary of the article that they have read. This could then form a discussion and an introduction to the topic.
Weaknesses: This may take time and is dependent on the students actually doing it.