Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guest Post: AP/IB Review ideas from Mike Corayer

Mike Corayer, an AP and IB Psychology at Shanghai High School, sent this review idea and hopes it's useful for you all! Thanks Mike! By the way, you can find more materials from Mike at

Fill the Board

I write a general topic at the top of the whiteboard (such as Sensation and Perception) then I give 5 or 6 students markers and a few minutes to write or draw anything they remember from this topic. I encourage students to incorporate drawings as much as possible. Any drawings should also include some related terms, theories, or labels.

After the writing is finished, students return to their seats and I head to the board to briefly go over all the terms, names, and drawings. At this point, we can add any related terms that might be missing and I try to get students to come up with these by asking questions.
I encourage the students to work together while they're writing on the board. This isn't a test and the purpose is not to judge. If a student is stuck,  other students should provide suggestions. Sometimes one student will write a single term which triggers another student to think of a related term and the board starts getting filled up that way. Even a “misplaced” term (from another topic or chapter) isn't  wrong because it gives me a chance to review that term and make sure students know why it is or is not related to the main topic we're reviewing.

One potential criticism of this technique is that students are just reviewing what they can already recall and therefore what they probably don't need to review! While this might be true for each individual student writing on the board, if there are several volunteers writing I generally find that we get a wide variety of terms and concepts. If we don't, this indicates that this is a topic I need to go over in more detail and students can clearly see the gaps in their knowledge in the white space left on the board.


One way to vary this is to simply create teams and cover multiple topics simultaneously. For instance, I might write “Consciousness” on one half of the board and “Personality” on the other. Then I give students different colored markers for each topic and they work in teams to fill their side of the board. They might even feel a little competition for which side can come up with more items.

Category Challenge
Write a general category (such as Memory) on the board, then one at a time, each team writes a related term on the board (no using notes!). If they write a term, they have to be able to explain what it means if I ask. The next team then writes another term related to the general category. This continues back and forth until one of the teams can no longer think of any terms related to the chapter (or if they write a related term but can't explain it).

Connect the Dots
This is a variation I use in my IB classes, where longer essay assessments often require students to make connections across multiple perspectives. In this case, things begin as normal, and I might write two general topics on the board and send groups of students up to start writing. After the board is full, we briefly review the terms, and I might add a few that were missing.

Next I give out different-colored markers to a few students. Their job is to circle something from one side of the board and then draw a line across the board and connect it to something on the other side. After a few connections are found (not everything will be connected to something) I ask the students to explain why they made that connection and what the relationship is between the two items.

I hope these ideas can help you to have more interactive and engaging review sessions, let me know if you have any questions and be sure to share any other ideas in the comments!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

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