I've been trying to find ways to help my AS and A2 English classes familiarise themselves with the storylines of plays, novels and long narrative poems and learn quotations ready for their closed book examinations. This year we have been summarising the storyline as we go along, writing a very short precis of key events and issues along the top margin of each page of their text. Sometimes I dictate these; sometimes they do their own for homework.
Recently, I realised that taking another moment to isolate one or two key words and phrases from each page and incorporate them into the mini-summary was extremely worthwhile. The students end up with the whole work summarised so that they can find parts of the text easily, handy for essay writing, class work and of course revision. It also makes learning short, key quotations much more possible and discourages them from using over-long quotations in their essays.
So, just as an example, one page of my A2 group's copies of Paradise Lost bears the sentence "Satan expects 'applause' but gets a 'dismal universal hiss' instead." The students have found this a useful tool and I will be using it with all my exam classes next year.
English teacher, Hampton School, Middlesex