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Before testing students on a taught unit of work, it is always a good idea to take some time to review what you have done with them. Some units of study may take several weeks, or even months, to complete. As much as teachers would like to think their students remembered every word of every lesson they taught them, they know that this is just not the case. The information is likely stored away in the students’ brains somewhere, but it needs a little jolt to bring it back into circulation again. This is the purpose of review activities.
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As well as the traditional book review, why not get your students to write the blurb for a story, design a new book cover or create an advert for the press advertising the book as a poster, audio clip or TV commercial. You can have your students act out parts of the story as a short skit or play. Give each small group a different scene, and once each has acted out their part for the class you will have reviewed all the important scenes from the book. Let your student's imaginations loose and have them interview one or more of the characters from the story, or retell the story from the point of view of another character, as Stephanie Meyer almost did. More book review activities can be found here.
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It seems like almost everybody has used them at some point in their life, and this is probably why flashcards are still one of the more popular review activities. They can be used in many creative ways, but popular uses include vocabulary words on one side and a definition on the other, math problems on one side and answers on the other, or historical events on one side and dates on the other. Students can create flashcards themselves, or use teacher generated cards. Studying can be done individually, or in pairs and small groups. It is a simple but effective way to review just about any topic you have studied.
A variation on flashcards is the memory game. Instead of putting their information on both sides of the cards, the students use only one side. Make sure all the flashcards are turned upside down, and students can take turns to try and match two corresponding flashcards. The winner is the person who makes the most matches.
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Why do all the hard work when the students can help you out? Student generated quizzes are a great way to recap on all those important skills for an upcoming test. Give the students the relevant textbook, and ask them to create questions and answers based on what they have already learned. Once they are done, collect in all the quizzes and choose one question from each student to put on a master quiz sheet. Hand these back out to the students to complete.
I often find that adding the student’s name next to their question can give the others a bit of extra motivation to try and outwit the author of each question. With this activity, the students are reviewing the information twice – once when they are looking through the textbook for questions, and again when they are answering the class quiz.
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Interactive Whiteboard Games
If you have access to an interactive whiteboard, or even an LCD projector, there are numerous game show type quizzes around that can be used as review activities with your students. What better way is there to revise than by being contestants on Jeopardy, or Deal or No Deal? Templates for these games are freely available on the Internet, and can be customized to suit any unit of study. Install yourself as the host, or again have the students create quizzes to share with the class. You can download blank templates for games like these, and find ideas on how to use them in your classroom.
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Vocabulary baseball is just one of many sports themed review activities that you could use with your classroom. Draw a baseball diamond on the board and split the class up into two teams. Make a game counter for each team. The teacher is the pitcher, and will pitch every student a word. Once they see the word, the student can decide how many bases they want to try to run. First base is an acceptable definition of the word. Second base is a definition, plus a sentence in which the word is correctly used. Third base is a definition, a sentence, and a part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.). A home run is all of the above and a synonym or antonym of the word.
Students can stay at any given base and rely on their team mates to get them home on the next turn, or go for broke and try for a home run. A wrong answer means you were caught by a fielder. Teachers can vary the requirements of what is required for each base, or adapt the rules to fit the needs of their class. More vocabulary review activities can be found in this article.
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Review activities are best used when they are fun and engaging. When done this way, the students often do not know that they are revising in class because they are so caught up in the excitement. Many of the activities in this article fall into this category, and many of your own will do too, but vary the activities to keep them fresh and your students' grades will soon show the results of your effort.