“I have never enjoyed a Science lesson so much.”
“Okay, we’re going to take a break from your evaluation again, now Scott, and start your journey to exam success.”
Scott looked at Stacey as if she was joking, but he could see she was being serious.
“My journey to exam success?”
“A crucial part of your journey to success is for you to develop your effective learning skills, and a useful way of doing this is by applying it exams.”
“That’s going to be tough.”
“I was older and much worse than you at exams when I came in here, and I improved tremendously, so I reckon you’ll be fine.”
Scott bemused look at Stacey, reflected his difficulty in accepting what she had said. However, his respect and confidence for her had grown so much he thought as she’d been so open, honest and fair with him that he showed some faith and responded positively.
“Okay, we’ll give it a go, what’s it involve?”
“In a short while, we are going to same room CAI room we were in yesterday, and this time we will have a session on ‘The Solar System and Earth In Space’.”
Scott’s face expressed his surprise, Stacey smiled and continued.
“It will give you a chance to see how SUPERlearning is applied to exam success; I think you’ll be very impressed.”
Scott replied sceptically, clearly not convinced.
“Okay, if you are ready, Scott, we need to be fairly quick and we can pop to the loo on the way.”
When they arrived at the CAI room, there about 10 people already sat around the table chatting, and Scott actually recognised some of them from yesterday’s session. Stacey suggested they should sit in the similar positions as they had in that session.
“Morning Scott, morning Stacey.”
Was the friendly yell from most people in the room, Stacey responded immediately and following prompting from some strange felt a force, Scott managed to respond
Stacey knew that this one word greeting was not easy for him and she smiled at him, giving him a charge of positive energy as he sat down next to her.
“Well done, Scott”
She said as she touched the back of his hand, and he felt more positive energy flowing into him.
Scott felt so relieved and pleased that Stacey was aware this sort of thing had been so difficult for him in the past, and how important she felt they were in his journey to success. Stacey began to address the group.
“Well you’ve got me in charge again, I’m afraid. I think you all know me, I’m Stacey and correct me if I’m wrong we have Claire, Alys, Dave, Andy, Kelly, Grace, Aron, Dean, Amy, Hannah, and Scott.”
Stacey had begun with the girl opposite, Alys, and identified the people on their right each time going around the table. Scott recognised Claire, Alys, Dave and Andy from his previous CAI session.
“As usual for the traditional school subjects we will be following the ‘SUPERlearning For Exam Success’ process.” Stacey’s left hand gestured towards the screen.
The topic today is ‘The Solar System and Earth In Space’. We begin as usual with a videostudy and I have sheets printed off here for that, could you take one and pass them to your right, please Scott.”
The Solar System and Earth In Space Videostudy
Select the answers from this table below and write them in the box you think it matches.
Tick or alter when you watch ‘The Solar System and Earth In Space’ video
The sheets with the title, ‘The Solar System and Earth In Space Videostudy, were passed around and then shown on the screen.
“I know most of you are familiar with the procedure but I’ll explain it, anyway. You will be attempting these questions in pair, but you both need to put down the answers on your sheet in pencil, so you can rub them out and change them easily. In about five minutes you’ll get to see a video that provides all the answers to the questions, and you’ll be able to check them when you watch it, before you have it assessed or marked. Is that okay, anyone need further explanation? Good, please start.”
All the students immediately began the task set, with Scott being paired with Stacey.
“I think I’m the only one who has done this activity before, Scott, so I’ll try to just support you. Is that okay?”
“That’s fine, Stace. It don’t seem too difficult, I reckon I can work out where these answers go.”
Scott started studying the sheet carefully and pencilling in some answers. He then carried on talking.
“Some of these are easy, I’ve done them already. I’m going guess the rest, I can change them anyway when the video’s playing.”
Stacey smiled broadly.
“That’s just the positive attitude I was hoping for.”
“Oh, I don’t mind doing fun quizzes like this, it’s studying I can’t do.”
Stacey chuckled quietly, as she knew this was studying, but in a very different way, before commenting.
“But that’s the whole point of this process and why it’s so effective. There’s no real pressure and you feel it’s just a quiz. I actually managed to get good GCSE grades by doing the stuff you’ll do in this session.”
Scott wasn’t really listening, as he was so engrossed in the activity.
After a few minutes, Stacey began the video and the pairs whispered to each other, and checked their answers. Scott talked to himself really, mainly congratulating himself on how well he was doing.
When the video finished Stacey spoke again.
“Okay, one of you swaps your sheet with one from the pair next to you, one of you will mark your own sheet and one of you will mark the other pair’s attempt.”
The sheets were swapped; Scott swapped his with Hannah next to him.
“Alys, would you be so kind as to read out what you think are the correct answers, and the rest of you can let her know politely, whether you agree or not. If you disagree, can you explain why you think it is wrong, thanks.”
Alys began reading out the answers, and the rest just keep agreeing with her, until she had finished.
“Okay can you give back the sheets to their original owners, please.”
Again the students did as they were asked. Scott looked at his score and was amazed that he got full marks.
“Could you please raise your arm if you scored 12 or more.”
Everyone raised their arm.
“Excellent, the next activity is another one you are probably familiar with, MC Jigsaws. Again, I have the sheets printed off here, please could you take one and pass them to your right, as before, thanks.”
The sheets were passed around and Stacey continued.
“Basically, you will see you have a photocopy of a page on ‘The Solar System and Earth In Space’ from a text book. However if you look closely you will see the numbers 1 to 10 scattered around the page, these are to replace the key words that have been removed and placed in the box at the bottom of the page.”
At the bottom of the page there was a table like the one below.
‘The Solar System and Earth In Space’ Missing Words
Place the number behind the word that you think has replaced it in the big picture above
“As you’ve just done, in your pairs, try to workout where you think each of the words should go. Anyone unclear on what to do? Again you’ve got 5 minutes to decide on your answers.”
As with the previous activity, the pairs completed it then swapped one sheet with the pair next to them. Claire read out the answers this time, they marked the sheets and returned them as before. Again Scott struggled to believe he had got full marks. Stacey resumed talking to the group.
“Very well done, all of you. The next activity uses these Quizcards; you will all need a set, take one and pass the rest on.”
The sets of cards were passed around the table. Then Stacey continued.
“Place your cards on the table in front of you, with the questions facing upwards and in number order, please.”
They all did as requested and had the cards set out similar to this below.
“If you turn over each card you will see the answer to that question is on the other side. You are going to use these quizcards to play a version of ‘The Weakest Link’. I will demonstrate with Scott, how to play it first, okay?”
Scott was both baffled and intrigued as to what this was all about. So far he’d done a quiz, watched a video and completed a jigsaw, so he felt playing a game was no longer a surprise.
“Scott and I need to collect up our cards, keeping the questions facing upwards, and place them in a pile on the table in front of us.
We are both going to ask and be asked questions, alternately. I’ll go first, I shuffle my cards, Scott does the same and we place them back in front of us.”
They both did as Stacey said.
“Right the first question in front of me, I will ask Scott. What G is a cluster of stars, Scott?”
Scott looked at Stacey blankly, and just about managed to say.
“Now I turn over that card and show it to Scott and read it out, ‘Galaxy’. Because he did not get the right answer, I put it back in front of me to the left of my pile, Scott, now you need to ask me the question at the top of your pile.”
Scott felt uncomfortable and previously would probably not have taken part, but in this environment he was not so worried at making a mistake, so he attempted to read out the card.
“Which planet orbits the Sun quickest, Stacey?
“Oooh, that’s an easy one, Scott. We’ve just been doing that in the MC Jigsaw, the answer is ‘Mercury’. Turn over the card, Scott.”
Scott turned over the card and he said.
“Because I got it right, he puts it to the right of his pile, and that’s how many I get correct. We just carry on for about 3 minutes, asking each other questions. Once we’ve finished the pile, if we’ve got time, we can start attempting the ones we got wrong or didn’t know. Do you think you understand? Anyone want more explanation? No, okay your 3 minutes starts now!”
All the pairs began their game asking and answering questions, alternately, for 3 minutes.
“Three minutes are up! You need to count how many you got correct.”
Stacey shouted. She had to shout because they were all so wrapped up and excited by the activity. They quickly calmed down and worked out how many they each got correct.
“The person in each pair that got the highest score will stay seated where they are. If you both got the same total correct, the one who answered questions second, stays where they are, the others are called ‘the weakest link’ and as it says in the programme, ‘take the walk of shame’, with their cards to the next position on their right. They will compete against a new opponent.”
Most of the group were familiar with this game, so followed the instructions comfortably. One person in each pair got up and moved around the table. Alys came across to sit next to Stacey, in the space that Scott had left when he moved to his right, to compete against Hannah. Scott normally would be struggling if he had to sit next to a girl, but because he felt this activity was easy to do, and he was very competitive, it didn’t bother him.
“Okay, same as before, this is your second round. Place your pile on the table in front of you, and the person who has not moved, asks the first question. Your three minutes, starts now!”
The same process was repeated several times, each time one person getting up and moving round. Eventually Scott ended up sitting next to Grace.
“Can you all now put your cards into the plastic money bag, and pass them around the table back to me, please.”
Everyone did as Stacey requested.
“For the next activity, you are playing, ‘Head To Head’, and in a moment, you will all receive one of these large cards that are being passed around. Please leave them on the table, face down in front of you.”
They all did as Stacey asked and had a large card in front of them.
“This time, your quiz is to correctly answer more questions on the card in 3 minutes than your opponent. You will need the pencil in front of you for this. In a moment, I’m going to ask you to turn over the card and start attempting the questions. Any problems before we start? No? Good, your three minutes starts now!”
They all picked up their card and turned it over and smiled, some even chuckled. The questions were exactly the same as those on the quizcards they’d been using for the last activity. They all frantically wrote down answers, some finished after only two minutes.
“Okay, times up, swap your cards with your opponent. You will mark the card you now have. Hannah could you read out what you think are the correct answers, and as before, if anyone disagrees, please let us know, and why you think it is wrong.”
Hannah did as she was asked, and nobody disagreed, and they passed the cards back to their opponent.
“Did anyone manage to get 20 out of 20?”
Everyone’s hand went up, including Scott’s. He was amazed and delighted, he’d never been any good at Science, and could never remember getting full marks.
“Great effort everyone, well done. Can you please hang on to these cards and in a moment you will receive a large envelope. Please leave the envelope on the table in front of you. The second part of this ‘Head To Head’ is as you’ve just done, to try to correctly answer more questions on the cards in the envelope in 8 minutes, than your opponent, again you’ll need your the pencil.”
Since this was much as they had just done, Scott and the others understood.
“In a moment, I’m going to ask you to take out the cards and start attempting the questions. Any problems? Good, your time starts now!”
They all grabbed their envelope and took out the two large cards in it. A few smiled this time, but also some confused faces, including Scott. These questions were a little different from the previous ones, but not too much, he looked around the room and everyone was reading and writing. He started to study the questions, and felt they were fairly simple, some were multi-choice much like the MC Jigsaws he’d attempted earlier. He got to the end and was just about to check it through when he heard Stacey’s voice.
“Okay times up, swap your cards with your opponent. You’ll see there are yellow cards being passed around, please take one. They are the mark schemes for these questions. Again, you’ll mark the cards you now have, using the mark schemes on the yellow cards. Aron, could you just let us know how the answers on the mark scheme are worked out. If anyone has any questions please let us know and we’ll discuss it.”
They all did as they were asked and Aron explained the answers to the group, a few questions were asked, not by Scott, of course, but he did manage to understand and mark all the questions. They returned the cards to their opponents. Grace and Scott had both got the same score 18 out of 20.
“Did anyone manage to get 15 or more, out of 20?”
Again everyone’s hand went up.
“Brilliant effort! You all managed to get at least a grade C at GCSE for Science. You just attempted two questions from recent Science GCSE exam and that was the mark scheme used by the examiners.”
There was suddenly a bombardment of noise, as everyone commented. Scott’s chin lowered and he sat there open-mouthed in astonishment. He looked across at Stacey who was smiling at him at him, and his expression changed into a huge smile. He was really struggling to believe that he had done so well, it had always seemed far too difficult for him, previously. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by Grace, his opponent, who spoke to him.
“Well done Scott. You seem to be good at Science.”
Scott was startled, not only by Grace speaking to him, but also what she had said. Normally, he would’ve avoided looking at a girl like Grace, a girl who was in her late teens, especially as he thought she was very attractive. He could feel his heart quickening and his face reddening as usual, his impulse was to look down or away, but he didn’t, he looked at her bright blue piercing eyes and stayed looking. She had pale almost white skin, apart from a slight blush on her cheeks. Her black hair was cut in the five point bob style introduced in the sixties, which seemed to make her black spectacles even more fashionable that almost hid her very petite nose. The redness of her lips contrasted with her white skin and faultless teeth, giving the appearance of that Andy Warhol had painted them. This gaze from Scott lasted only a few seconds, but it seemed much longer to him. In the past he would not have replied but this was not the past, this was now.
“Er, thanks Grace, you also did well. I’ve always been rubbish at Science in the past, I can’t believe I’ve done so well.”
Scott could barely believe that he actually said all that, a full sentence, and throughout it, he kept focused on Grace’s face.
“It’s this place, Scott. It has that effect on all of us as far as I can see. You seemed to suddenly have all sorts of talents and abilities, it’s why so many think it’s a school of magic. I felt just like that when I came here about 5 months ago, I can’t believe how much I’ve improved in that time. I was in so much trouble when I came here, you just wouldn’t believe. I was an absolute mess, but somehow, this place has saved me, and given me a real chance of success.”
Scott looked at Grace, while she was talking and trying to imagine this very attractive girl, probably a few years older than him, as a ‘complete mess’. He desperately wanted to keep chatting to her, but he was struggling to do so, he just couldn’t think of what to say. His mind wrestled with different alternatives, but was too unsure how she might react, and so didn’t say anything, as usual.
Grace detected his internal struggle, and helped him by adding a further comment.
“I do hope the magic works for you, as well Scott, I’m sure it will.”
Scott was still trying to speak again, when he heard Stacey speak.
“It’s time for your next session, thanks everyone, well done.”
Grace got up, and held out her hand towards Scott.
“Bye, Scott, it’s been really good to meet you, perhaps we’ll meet again sometime.”
He also stood up, and somehow, his hand moved forward and shook hers. He was determined to speak to her again.
“Thanks Grace, er I mean goodbye, er yes.”
She smiled, and made her way out of the room. Although Stacey had been putting the envelopes, cards and pencils into her plastic box, she had been trying to watch Scott with Grace, and went to Scott.
“I was very impressed with you, Scott.”
Scott could still feel his heart pounding hard, and was clearly extremely excited, and responded enthusiastically and very rapidly.
Absolutely brilliant, Stace. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed a Science lesson so much. I can’t believe I could’ve done so well in the GCSE questions. That hour went so quick it was nothing like anything at school.”
Stacey laughed loudly.
“Actually Scott, I was referring to you with Grace. I thought you did really well in chatting to her.”
Scott also laughed when he realised that Stacey is invariably focusing on his eight success skills.
“Thanks Stace, you’re right I did do quite well there. It was difficult, but I was determined to look at her and talk to her. Perhaps more of this magic is working on me.”
“exam success and without the need of a specialist teacher!”
“As well as an improvement in your social skills, you seem to be very motivated throughout the whole session.”
Stacey was talking to Scott as they made their way back to Scott’s room, with Scott carrying the box of resources they used in the session.
“It was nothing like I imagined.”
“So what did you think?”
“Brilliant. As you know I am very competitive, so playing games and activities like that was great fun.”
“I thought you’d feel that way, but do you think you learnt much?”
“I cannot believe how much I learnt. I have never done that well on any GCSE Science questions.”
“You did seem to be studying throughout the whole session.”
“Studying? How can that be studying? It was just good fun!”
They were just entering Scott’s room, Scott placed the box on his bed and they sat in their usual positions.
“I asked the same question when I first came here, I think we all do. There’s a session on the website that helps to explain why it is so effective.”
“Good, cos I really don’t understand how I could’ve done so well with so little effort.”
“It is important to remember that JC struggled to learn as a kid and when he became a teacher he was determined to discover as much as he could about the science of learning and apply it to help everyone learn to succeed. What you’ve just experienced is a superb example of SUPERlearning and I reckon you will use it to learn academic stuff for school and college in the future, I certainly have!”
“Definitely, if I can succeed in exams doing that sort of stuff.”
“I’ll start by asking you who was the teacher in the session?”
Scott looked at her and thought for a few moments and replied.
“Well, I was going to say, ‘you’. But then you didn’t actually tell us anything to do with science, did you?”
“No, and I’m certainly not an expert in Science.”
“So did we have a teacher?”
“That depends on what you think is the meaning of a teacher. It may help for you to look at this definition.”
Stacey moved and clicked the mouse and tapped a few keys and the following appeared on the screen.
A teacher is anyone or anything that helps you learn
“But there were lots of people in the session that helped me learn, were they all teachers?”
“I would say so.”
“What about the Videostudy, MC Jigsaws, Quizcards, are they teachers?”
“Well did they help you to learn?”
“Definitely, so I suppose they could be considered to be teaching me. I see your point, I’ve not thought of it like that before. So why was it so effective?”
Stacey pointed to the poster on the wall.“This slide answers that for you.”
Stacey moved the mouse and clicked it a few times and this slide appeared.
Scott’s headed rocked up and down as he nodded in agreement to each line.
“That’s it! That’s why I’ve been unable to learn in lessons, But why was it so different in the CAI session?”
“Just consider each of the five requirements. You were motivated because from the start there was little pressure on you. You felt you were involved in a quiz and part of a team, supported by your peers. Because of this, your environment was unlike the usual lessons and you were able to discuss and concentrate comfortably with your partner. Each activity was carefully planned so that it was done in small steps, none seemed to difficult on their own but added together meant you did a lot. You were continually assessing each of these activities or steps so you kept feeling you were achieving success. In the end you did two exam questions that normally you would not even have attempted but you just carried on as before and got almost full marks on them.”
“That’s so cool, Stace. I suppose all you had to do was make sure we had the resources and understood what we had to do.”
“JC was very keen to develop a process that helps us to learn effectively and achieve exam success and without the need of a specialist teacher!”
“Remember the first of the 8 skills is effective learning and the earlier we can develop as effective independent learners the greater our chances of success.”
“That’s brilliant. Why don’t all schools do it this way?”
“Excellent question Scott. It’s a very different from the traditional approach and developing people to do it this way will take time, but hopefully one day they will, but at the moment too few know about it.”
“Is this how we are going to learn all our school subjects in here?”
“English, Maths and Science. This section on our successfeelosophy website on ‘SUPERlearning and Exams’ is what we use all the time, I’ll show you some of it and I’m sure you’ll do the same.”
Again Stacey moved the mouse and clicked it. Scott was very impressed by all that he’d heard and adjusted his position on the chair so he could be more attentive and show Stacey he was interested.
“This slide is crucial in realising what is needed to succeed in exams.”Scott looked at the slide carefully trying hard to understand it. Stacey continued.
“The CAI sessions are cleverly planned to help practise and develop these skills, usually so that that we don’t even realise it. The videostudy required a little of all of these, especially the matching, that’s why the answers were provided to reduce the reliance on recall. The MC Jigsaws are brilliant at developing these skills without realising it, they are superb practise to develop our cognitive skills, our skill at matching the solutions to the problems. The quizcards are outstanding at developing our recall, as you saw, Having the mark schemes immediately after doing the past exam questions meant that writing exactly the correct answers could be learnt, it is essential that it is done in this way.”
“It certainly worked for me.”
“It works for all of us, Scott. But you also need to be aware of these slides.”
The screen changed and this slide appeared.“The last activity you did in the CAI session was attempting the exam questions, but gradually you need to practise doing more and more questions in one go, so you can cope with a full exam. Also you need to get used to using this to analyse you exam papers.”
A new slide appeared.
“I’ve used this table so many times in the last 18 months, it has been absolutely brilliant in identifying what I should concentrate on in exams, Using it stopped me wasting time on stuff I’ve already learnt. Since I’ve been using this process I improved so much in exams that I managed to get much better grades in GCSE in Maths, English and Science.”
“What were your grades, Stace?”
“I got grade B in English and Double Science and a C in Maths, in a year.”
“That’s impressive, Stace”
“Especially when you consider I had not attended college or done any studying for almost two years before I started it.”
“Do you think it could do the same for me? I’m supposed to take my GCSE’s next year and I’ve just had predictions of grade F in all of those subjects.”
“If you follow this SUPERlearning process, yes, I’m sure you will, Scott.”
“Well I’ve got six months here, so I can make a start.”
“Virtually everyday you’ll have a CAI session in Maths, English or Science, so you’ll get lots of practice and almost everyone in here is in the same situation, so you’ll get lots of encouragement.”
“It’s really weird, Stace. Probably for the first time ever, I’m actually feeling positive, even looking forward to it.”
“I know, Scott. Most of us have felt like that, It’s another reason why so many of us talk in terms of this place being a ‘school of magic’.
“The more I experience in here the more I believe it!”
“What is also important to note, Scott, is that the sessions are designed to develop the 8 skills and it was wonderful to see you displaying and developing the skills in it. It should also help us to complete your initial evaluation of the skills.”