Like flares and fondue, the art of drilling has recently started to come back into fashion. Whilst jazzy games and iPads may seem like a fun alternative to traditional teaching, there’s nothing more effective for embedding understanding of complex concepts than a bunch of satisfyingly repetitive drill exercises.
Although useful for all subjects, I find drilling to be of particular use in science. Learning how to balance an equation, for example, is extremely tough. It takes hours of relentless practice to really understand how to do it. At Michaela, we teach all pupils a method which they all memorise. We then give them drill after drill after drill until they can do it without thinking.
Kids love a challenge. When they know a fool-proof method, they are more than happy to sit and do it over and over again. Below is a picture of our pupils practising balancing equations in the yard during their own lunch break. To support pupils to practise outside of school, I uploaded this video to YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxUsyJy7s0o
And that’s not all: drilling can be used for all kinds of question types. For instance, I recently taught the children how to answer questions on carrying out ecological field studies and got them to practise each one tens of times, using different contexts.
At Michaela, we are unapologetic about our emphasis on drilling the basics. It really helps our pupils to solidify their understanding of new concepts, and helps them to feel successful.
Here is an email received from a grateful pupil:
Dear Miss Dyer,
Thank you very much for uploading the balancing chemical equations video on youtube. They have truly been beneficial to me and I am now more confident in balancing simple and complex equations!
You might think that getting pupils to learn methods by memorisation is boring, but it works. They feel so accomplished when they can achieve in areas they would have otherwise found difficult.
If you wish to read even more about Michaela’s unashamedly academic curriculum, pre-order your copy of The Michaela Way today. In it, I cover drill and didactic teaching in science, in even more detail. If you like what you have read about today, come and visit us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a visit.