In hindsight, I probably should have written about my goals at the beginning of summer AND THEN written the review…but hey this is me we’re talking about and I’m not that organised, especially when it comes to blogging.
Anyway, a couple of weeks before the summer holidays, I started to make a list of things I needed to do over the summer for my A Levels, and now it’s nearing the end of the summer (two weeks left for me!!), I thought I’d write up the review and see how many of my goals I actually completed, and which ones I’m going to have to cram into the last few weeks.
This post is scheduled as I’m currently away in Yorkshire for the week, so hopefully whilst I’m away I’ll be cracking on with some of these goals still!
Despite not having a teacher for 1/3 of the year, I was surprisingly not too behind on history, as I’d managed to catch up in time for exams, so I didn’t have too much of the first year of A Levels to do over the summer.
Make a keyword glossary – I actually did this fairly early on in the summer. it didn’t take long but I wanted to make sure I had it ready for next year as during GCSEs I found glossaries really helpful for revising history.
Organise history folder with sticky flags – again this didn’t take long – I also transferred my notes into lever arch files.
Write up Holocaust notes – the Holocaust isn’t an examined module in the history spec I’m doing, but this year we’ll have to write a 4,000 word piece of coursework on it, so we spent the last few weeks of term brushing up on our Holocaust knowledge, during which I took notes which consequently needed to be rewritten.
Holocaust reading list – well, let’s face it I was never going to read all 12 of the 400-1200 page books on the reading list for the coursework, but I have started to read Hitler, The Germans and The Final Solution by Ian Kershaw, which will give me views from one historian to cite in my coursework, so that’s something. I chose this book mainly because it’s the shortest on the list at 400 pages and it’s divided into three sections, only one of which is relevant so I don’t actually have tonnes to read!
Geography is one of those subjects where there is always work you need to do and copious amounts of course content that’s impossible to teach in the the timescale given, so it’s fair to say I had a lot to catch up on (along with needing to re-discover my love for the subject because I’m fighting the urge to drop it – even though I can’t realistically as I wouldn’t be able to get into uni with two A levels). As with history, I’d managed to make my way through the two text books (well, skim-reading the second one) before exams, so I’d got those out of the way, but there was other stuff I needed to catch up on, as well as making a start on my fieldwork.
Catch up on first year online resources – hahaha yeah I’ve kind of decided to abandon this one. My theory is if I could get my target grade in the end of year exams without trawling through the pages of “extra knowledge” that my teacher has put together for us, I don’t really need it. I mean, it would probably would be helpful, but it’s just so time consuming and I can’t find the motivation for geography at the moment. besides, I would only be giving myself even more content to revise for next years exams, when I’ve already got 4 textbooks to revise from as well as an A Level maths workbook.
Go through geography maths – as mentioned above, the new A Level geography has a maths element requiring you to be able to use some of the skills taught in A Levels maths, and because we had to TEACH OURSELVES the maths last year, I had intentions of going through it this summer to make sure I understand it. But, I just can’t bring myself to do it. My GCSE maths skills a fading away quicker than you can say pythagoras and every time I try to tackle the maths I get frustrated because I just don’t understand it, or why we’re being examined on it. I mean, I may try to do it before the end of sumer – I hope I do – but for now it’s just one of those things I’m hoping will magically disappear if I ignore it for long enough.
Background reading and introduction chapter for fieldwork – I think this is my only “homework” I’ve been set for the summer from geography, and I have started it but it’s just so time consuming! I’ve probably spent around 6-8 hours working on it already, after trying to make sense of the 50 billion different ways the resources our teacher gave us think is “the best way” to structure the coursework. I mean, honestly geography, where is your consistency?? I haven’t done much in the way of reading, because there isn’t much to read up on my location of study because it’s so small and insignificant, and also the reading is only used to back up knowledge in the introduction, but because I don’t know how to write the introduction, I don’t know what to read up on. In fact, I did write a draft introduction that was reasonably presentable, but then I decided to completely change my fieldwork hypothesis because I wasn’t happy with the one I chose at first. So I’ve had to start writing it again, and honestly there is only so long you can go on writing about how pebbles are deposited on beaches and how the depth of the seabed affects the energy of waves breaking on the shore. I’m going to have to finish this by September though so I’ll definitely be working more on this in the coming weeks.
Collect more fieldwork data – finally a geography thing that I have actually (somewhat) done!! I spent two days at the beaches I’m researching collecting data – and enough of it to be able to calculate statistically accurate averages (which included measuring the length, width and depth of over 100 pebbles). The only thing I need to do, is to finish shading a field sketch, so I’m going to class this as complete because that won’t take me long.
As I talked about before, French is something I wanted to keep up over the summer so I didn’t forget it. Although I haven’t been speaking it as much as I’d have liked to, I did set myself goals for reading, writing and listening.
Think about French research project – you would have thought just thinking about something would be an easy goal to meet, and I have definitely thought about what I would like to do my research project on next year, but I would like to narrow it down to one idea by the end of summer. Basically, for next years speaking exam, one part consists of me giving a presentation (in French) on a topic I have researched and then having a discussion with the teacher for 10 minutes, so it needs to be a topic that is sort of controversial or something you can have opinions on. We will be starting the research in March, but my teacher advised to think about what topic we would like to do now so it’s easier when we get to researching it. So far I’ve come up with the ideas of researching the French occupation during WW2 (because that’s the topic of the French set text I’m currently reading and it’s quite interesting) or the role of minority languages in France (
because I wrote in my personal statement that that’s what I’m interested in – in all seriousness, we study le verlan and l’argot last year, which are forms of French slang, and it was really cool!).
Read Un Sac de Billes in French – I AM SO HAPPY I FINISHED THIS. It was such a long read, and although I enjoyed the book, I sort of lost motivation towards the end because reading in French can be exhausting and I just wanted to read YA fiction.
Read A Bag of Marbles in English – I have to read the set text (above) in English too to make sure I understand it, so I’m making steady progress through that.
Finish La Haine scrapbook – this took me almost a month but I got there in the end! Basically, we are studying this film in French and I decided to consolidate my notes into a scrapbook with drawings and everything so when it comes to revising next year, it’s a bit more fun.
Go through Year 1 grammar book – the first year of French A Level was very grammar-heavy, but we didn’t go through it in the same order as the book, so i basically read back through it and made sure I had notes on everything we were supposed to cover and ordered my little grammar flashcards in the right order.
Update French vocab book – something I did all year during French was write down new words I’d learnt in class in the margins of paper with the intention of writing them up into a little notebook that I bought specifically for this purpose, but I sort of gave up writing them in the notebook halfway through the year so I took some time to go back through my notes and do this.
Write up “y” and “en” rules – this is basically grammar rules we did in the last week of term, and as I went away to Marseille with college as soon as term was over, I didn’t stick to my usual habit of rewriting my notes a few days after the lesson.
Watch two French films – this was a task my teacher set us as homework, and I’m halfway there! I watched Sage Femme at the cinema with my friend, which was so exciting to see a French film surrounded my fellow French-learners, and I almost bought La Belle et La Bete (the original 1940-something version of Beauty and the Beast) from HMV last week but was talked out of it because I could get it cheaper online. So to complete this I’m either going to have to buy some French films online or hope that I can find one on freeview.
Read 2 French books – well, I read Un Sac de Billes which counts as one, and technically I haven’t read a second (I bought Le Soleil Est Pour Toi – the French version of I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson whilst I was in Marseille, but I haven’t got round to reading it yet) but I have read a copy of Ca M’intéresse (please excuse my inconsistent use of accents) magazine which I also bought in France, so I’m going to count that. AHHH HANG ON I’VE JUST REMEMBERED – I also read Le Petit Prince which is a really cute French children’s book too (it was so short I forgot about it lol).
Make a travel scrapbook of the Marseille trip – because I don’t go abroad often, I like to make scrapbooks of the trips to consolidate all my memories, photos and other little bits and bobs I picked up during my travels. It’s also relaxing as I like doing arty stuff to de-stress. I’ve started the scrapbook and done a bout three or four pages, I just need to motivate myself to do some more haha.
Personal statement first draft – ahhh personal statements, my (and every other 6th formers) arch enemy. Basically, it’s an essay-like piece of writing you have to write to accompany your university application, explaining why you are interested in your chosen course, what skills you have gained from A Levels ad what you will gain from the course, as well as relevant extra curricular things you’ve done and your aims for the future. The tough bit is trying to fit that all into the 4000 character limit. But!! After literally hours of writing, redrafting, and editing, I think I finally have a copy I am ready to hand in to my teachers in September, so they can give me feedback. Not going to like I am a bit nervous to let them read into my thoughts and hopes for the future (mainly because I want to go into teaching but don’t want to admit it to my teachers because I don’t think they’d believe I could do it) but it has to be done I guess. I just have to change one smallllllll thing – he course title I refer to within my personal statement. It’s a bit difficult though because you have to make it clear which course you want to study, but I’m applying for two different courses – French and Politics and European and International Studies. Whilst they are essentially the same course, I don’t want to keep using the terms “French and politics” and put off the admissions staff of the other course (which happens to be my preferred university), but it shouldn’t take too long hopefully! Otherwise I’ll just ask my tutor what I should do when college starts again, but overall my statement is basically finished (for the purpose of the post).
Make a revision time capsule for next year – I did this fairly early on in the summer and I’m hopefully going to do a separate post on this soon! Basically, because A Levels are now linear, next summer I’ll have to take exams on last years content as well as this year to come, so I decided to make some really good quality revision notes for all my subjects and put them in a sort of “time capsule” which I will then “open up” next year and use to revise from.
Okay! So, overall I’ve completed a grand total of 12 goals, am halfway through 6 and haven’t started 2. I think we could all tell by the end of that that me and geography aren’t really “friends” at the moment haha. Anyway, thank you for reading, I’m sorry this turned into basically a massive rant about A Levels, but it does make me feel better knowing that I’ve completed over half of my goals this summer and will hopefully have done more by the time I go back to college.
Did you set yourself any goals for this summer? How are you getting on with them?