Why RememberMore builds a better curriculum
Year 7 The Declaration. Year 8 Hound of the Baskervilles (HoB).
I have been building the RememberMore decks for both texts as I teach. The Declaration is a brand new deck (having read the book last year) and I am revisiting and updating an old Retrieval Roulette HoB set of prompts (Hat tip to Adam Boxer @adamboxer1). Here is what I have learnt from building both deck experiences.
From both decks
Professionally, writing RememberMore deck really does helped me explore and appreciate the texts / topics. Categories and tag “surface” from writing prompts, common threads quickly surface and are then defined. The decks then enable me to track and weight the various threads the authors are weaving and when and which characters are associated with each. In the case of The Declaration, take “Dehumanised” – 29 cards, Chapters 01, 02, 05-11, 13, 15 and interestingly delivered through the expose of Anna – our lead protagonist.
I know I keep saying it but having this resource on hand is invaluable.
Then sharing these prompts via Classroom – I have been able to learn what my class understand, and as importantly, what they do not yet know. More than anything, we have really benefited from revisiting the Plot and learning Vocab 1 and 2 in advance of reading the chapter has been such a revelation for Year 7. Props to Andy Sammons @andy_samm who suggested splitting the Plot and Vocab into arbitrary “levels,” enabling a fast and more in depth review.
The Declaration has grabbed (and held) the classes attention, now they are curious. When learners in Alternative Provision buy-in to a book, I feel you can safely make that statement. The dehumanising dystopian context of Grange Hall (borstal), the shared inner thoughts of a suppressed Surplus’s journal (our young, female protagonist), threads of immortality, bullying / indoctrination and a global energy crisis have them hooked.
Classroom.remembermore.app (CRM) works. RememberMore for those with access to the App in class – is working even better. Not all Y7 have a mobile device, so we split the class. Personal learning on the app and class learning via the board and CRM. That works to.
I have also exposed, just how much we expect young readers to assimilate from these class readers. The Declaration deck, much like The Maze Runner deck, is fast approaching 600 prompts. So I will be utilising a Dan Smith @teach_smith style approach and building an essentials deck. Maybe not 25 quotations but 100 essential knowledge nuggets. I think the small deck size will encourage completion.
Adding Value to last years HoB ‘roulette.’
Revisiting the retrieval cards from the retrieval roulette and upgrading them to RememberMore (adding tags for flexibility and notes for interrogation) has taught me just how far my card (retrieval prompts) design has improved. But the most powerful reflection is simply being able to target knowledge. With CRM in class, it is the difference between going fishing and going hunting. With tags I can use my professional expertise to hone in on a chapter, a character, theme, any tag or combination of tags AND so can the learners. Interestingly, some of them are. The most common deck review, is early evening on the day the learners have English.
What is more, we now even more insight coming back from the RememberMore app, that is our task for the next few months. What I can already tell you is, not only do I know what the learners know and can remember, I know which cards are fastest to mastery – and that gives me more than enough to think about over the next few months. Feel free to get involved if you are interested.
Right – back to finishing The Declaration deck.