At Harper Green, we want to create regular and meaningful home learning opportunities. Our aim is for students to use Independent Study to secure their knowledge and enrich their broader understanding of the topics covered in class.
Independent Study at Harper Green therefore has two strands:
Key Stage three:
- - Knowledge retrieval
- - Academic Reading
Key Stage four:
- - Knowledge retrieval
- - Exam practice
What is Academic Reading?
At Harper Green, we understand the importance of being able to read with fluency and comprehend accurately in order to access the curriculum and broaden our vocabulary. Therefore, each half term, students at Key Stage three are given a booklet of articles to read and answer follow up comprehension questions. These are always non-fiction as students have had less exposure to this at primary school but need to access a wide range of non-fiction from Key Stage three and into Key Stage four. It also contains information that links to their topic but that teachers do not have the time to cover in lesson, yet they feel will be of interest or importance to our students.
What are Knowledge Organisers?
A Knowledge Organiser is a set of key facts or information that pupils need to know and be able to recall in order to ‘master’ a unit or topic in a subject. Students will be set a weekly or fortnightly section of their Knowledge Organiser from each subject to learn. They will then be tested on this knowledge in class. They will receive a folder to keep their Knowledge Organisers in that will form part of their equipment. They will also be available on the website each half term so students can have access to their Knowledge Organisers electronically.
Why are we moving to Knowledge Organisers?
New GCSE specifications require students to memorise more than ever before. From reading lots of evidence, we know that trying to learn lots of information in one sitting is not very effective: we therefore encourage students to revisit key knowledge strategically through Independent Study retrieval schedules to help them to retain it for longer. The secret to success is to regularly revisit the knowledge to be learned. This helps transfer the knowledge to the long term memory.
Research also indicates that just reading or highlighting information is not an advisable way to revise. For this reason, we encourage students to actively engage with the information that they need to learn. We share educational research around how our memories work with students and hold memory workshops to help them to build strategies to retain information. We want our students to recognise the importance of revisiting key knowledge and develop good learning habits. For this reason, students are set Independent Study that is rooted in learning and quizzing themselves on key knowledge, using a Knowledge Organiser. This will mostly link to what they are studying in class but will sometimes be an opportunity to revisit a topic covered earlier in the year.
Key Stage four students will be given additional exam practice to demonstrate how to utilise the knowledge they have acquired to approach exam questions.
How will a Knowledge Organiser help me to help my child?
Many of you ask us how you can help to support your children at home. Some of you are worried that you do not have all of the subject specific knowledge to be able to help your children. Some of you worry how to check that your children have done their Independent Study and revision. The Knowledge Organisers will help you to do this easily. Family members can test and quiz students on the content of the Knowledge Organiser regularly and check their cheat sheets.
For more information about memory and for some approaches as to how you can support your child with their Independent Study, please watch the video below.