Know-how on the internet

21st January 2005 at 00:00
At Year 11 parents' evenings I'm often told that even the most angelic of pupils can become snarling monsters when confronted with the cry:

"Shouldn't you be revising?" Parents are usually extremely keen to support their children's learning, but are often unsure of what revision actually is, beyond gazing forlornly at the open pages of a "one size fits all" revision textbook. I find it useful to give parents a list of the best revision websites, which they can work through with their children and discover the wide range of superb learning activities that are available.

BBC Bitesize

The "granddaddy" of all revision sites, encompassing a wide range of topics, including those needed for Schools History Project and Modern World courses. The revision sessions take the form of "bitesize" chunks of information, followed by short tests that check for immediate recall.

Active History

If the Queen taught history then Russel Tarr would be a knight of the realm. His superb site has saved me thousands of hours of planning and is a constant source of innovative and exciting ideas. It contains such gems as "James Spod -secret agent", where pupils play a Bond-like character entrusted with the job of assassinating Hitler, and sneakily revise Nazi Germany along the way. They can also refresh their memories of the trenches with an excellent trench-life simulation. There are lots of role-play games like this that are fun and also consolidate learning. Active History is also home to "Head2head" where you can interview Martin Luther King and Henry VIII, and ask Adolf the truth behind those missing testicle allegations. The site is well worth the pound;40 subscription cost.

This is another site that is invaluable and jam-packed with ideas to enthuse even the most disillusioned reviser. Far from making revision a dry and tedious pursuit, my pupils confessed to spending hours playing the games. There's a duck shoot, a basketball game, a penalty shoot-out and games where you fling the teacher and make him walk the plank by answering revision questions correctly. Another brilliant aspect of this site is the interactive diagrams, which you can complete online or print off. They are similar to Mind Maps and provide a good way of ensuring pupils have the basic factual knowledge needed for the exams.


Project GCSE:contains detailed notes on a wide range of topics.

GCSEHistory Pages: includes interactive notes where you can test your knowledge by entering the missing words, detailed revision notes to print off, and a comprehensive set of links to other sites.

The History Channel: features a variety of revision games, including multiple choice, word matching, missing words and a word square.

Schools History: particularly useful when studying medicine. The revision section includes readily accessible notes on key factors and individuals, along with "test your knowledge" sections.

History on the Net: features word games and quizzes on a variety of topics. a useful resource containing inspirational lesson plans for teachers with the theme of active learning and thinking skills.

It includes the resources to teach a revision lesson about medicine called "Germs have feelings too!"

Becky Hewlitt teaches at Perryfields High School, Oldbury, West Midlands

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