At the end of a unit of study, divide a list of key words, terms, dates or invididuals among the class. Challenge each student to create a rhyming couplet to make memorising the essential facts easier. Join these together as a class to make an overall revision poem or song and record this as a revision resource.

Case Studies

Although the following examples here focus on a chronological approach, it can just as easily be used thematically: for example, the assessment of the successes and failures of a particular ruler could be broken down in the same way, as could the main beliefs of a particular ideology, religion or society (although you may wish to adopt the “Alphabet Revision” approach for these sorts of topics instead).

People: Roman Emperors

Following a balloon debate about ‘Who was the most interesting Roman Emperor?’, students sum up each emperor in a couple of rhyming lines, using this one as an example:

“Augustus, the first Emperor, the best some might say:
Left Rome made of marble after he’d found it as clay”.

Events: Modern World History Revision

The same approach can be adapted for revising a detailed chronology of events. At the end of the examination course for the Modern World History course, I remind students of the first event we studied, which was the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870). I use to start them off with this example:

“In 1871, the French lost Alsace / Screamed ‘revanchisme!’ at Germans, would not let it pass”.

I then challenge students to identify the most important events from the rest of the syllabus, all the way up to the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989). Each student then produces a rhyming couplet for their allocated event, and these are then collated into an overall rhyming timeline.

With both of these examples, conclude the exercise by lining students up in date order to read out their couplet as the teacher moves along the line, filming them step by step. This can then be shared with students as a revision resource.

Taking it further

To boil down the detailed rhyming timeline further for revision purposes, students should be encouraged to do something creative with the material. For example, they could use a Triangle 9 diagram to prioritise their findings (“Who was the most interesting Roman Emperor?”, “What were the most important turning points in Modern World History?”), or convert their timeline into a matchbox revision resource.