Our exam week begins on January 23rd, and for my IB students it will be their first “practice” session for their exams in May of 2016. The biggest thing I want to impress upon them–as with all of my students–is that reviewing for an exam is a process, not a cram session. They need to approach it as a thinking exercise, not a memorization one, if they want to be successful.
In order to practice for their exam next week, I gave the students three short stories to read. Last week they analysed each story on its own; this week is all about finding links between them and figuring out how to approach the kinds of questions they will see on their exams.
To the left, you can see the graphic organizers I gave them. They had to brainstorm: author purpose, important elements and literary devices for each story. On the next sheet, they had to find links between the stories.
If you’d like a copy, you can find it here: Finding the Link handout
Where’d everybody go?
Next, I told them to take their paper and pens and go for a walk-and-talk to discuss all of the links they found between the stories. By getting out of their seats and moving, they are activating the kinesthetic learning style, which can help with the thinking process. These kids love the walk-and-talks! In fact, even when we are doing individual seat work, I will have kids ask if they can go for a walk-and-think. Give it a try sometime!
After they returned, and we had discussed all of the links they found between the three stories, I showed them an example of a question from a previous IB exam. Before we even began relating it to the texts, though, I took the time to talk about the importance of reading and understanding the question. I modeled how I would re-read, underline and make notes just to be sure I knew what to focus on.
Once they had a handle on what the question was asking, they did some brainstorming for how their texts could relate. Their homework for tonight is to write a thesis statement and at least two topic sentences, which they will share tomorrow.
But class wasn’t over yet. I had placed three pieces of chart paper throughout the room for each of
the texts that they will be responsible for in the exam next week. Each student was given a marker, and s/he had to add one important element for each text. After they had done that, they walked around the room with their notebooks, brainstorming links between the texts. It was an action-packed and productive class!
Next up: practicing outlines for the exam. Oh, the fun we will have this week!