The Science of Learning – What you need to know.

This morning Bradley Busch ran a CPD session at my college. Usually with CPD events it falls under one of these categories: loads of ideas that never actually become reality, some ideas that you have already been doing for years, fads or an opportunity to write your to-do lists whilst you wait for it to finish! Today was very different.

For me, Bradley Busch is the best speaker I have come across since Dylan William. Maybe the reason for this is that he is not a teacher by trade but a psychologist. Maybe it is because he worked with athletes for years rather than teachers. Maybe it is because he focuses upon educational research rather than teaching ideas. At the end of the day it is the research that helps us formulate new ideas, since we are all professionals in our fields after all. So here are the highlights:

Busch started the morning by presenting the question: “why do some students learn20191002_091200.jpg faster and more effectively than others?” Is it ability, motivation, resilience, hard work or is it the way they are storing their learning? He represented the research using a grid that questions: Am I aware of it (the learning)? and Do I really know it? Students who don’t know and are not aware are just ‘clueless’. Students who know the answer but not how they know it are working from ‘gut feeling’. Students that are aware and are confident with their answers sometimes leads to ‘blind spots'(over familiarity). We need students to fall into the final box = Deep Knowledge. Testing the confidence leading to ‘blind spots’, rocking the boat of familiarity and moving the learning into deep knowledge.

So how do we do this? The answers lie in the memory and what works…

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A Level DCT Predictions 2019

I have to admit I haven’t been very impressed with the exam questions so far. Yes they are fair questions (minus the use of the word ‘analyse’ in Aristotle as I have never seen that before in OCR) and the wording of them is generally straight forward (if not a bit long winded in parts) but I feel that the examiners are trying so hard to limit the predictability of the questions they are missing out on a wealth of other topics and questions that would still test the cohort properly. There are so many questions that could be asked, that predicting the questions is slim to none but then to ask the same two topics from last year on the ethics paper (conscience and meta) I think is a bit frustrating.

So once again, with this in mind, prepare yourself for anything! Revise all areas as best as you can (I know there is A LOT for DCT). One thing that is interesting to point out from the first year’s question paper (other than Bonhoeffer making a third appearance – the examiners must be getting bored of marking them!) is the specific question on the biblical story of the Sheep and the Goats. My advice is make sure you know all the biblical stories and references made by the examiners on the spec i.e Ephesians.

So let’s have a look at the questions so far over the years (please see this year’s questions at the bottom of the first column).

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Teaching and Learning Reflections 2018-2019

It is that time of year when you start to look back and reflect upon what has worked well (and what hasn’t gone quite to plan). We all start the year with lots of new ideas, plans and reignited enthusiasm for teaching…unfortunately I am lucky if I see new ideas through until Christmas! With this in mind, I have learnt over the years that having a select few gems to focus my attention on throughout the year, often means I see them through more successfully. This year’s new focus was the HW booklets (see Homework – who is it really ‘work’ for?.) I am so pleased to report that they have been a huge success:

  • Only two students, out of about 70 students that I taught this year, lost them.
  • Students got into a routine quickly of completing the different sections, mostly on time.
  • The standard of work in a lot of cases was outstanding because students could maintain consistency of work throughout.
  • Students now have a record of extended activities, wider reading and exam practice all in one place.
  • It was easy for me to remember where we were up to with HW, I didn’t have to worry about setting it and constantly reminding them.
  • The designed activities were relevant and purposeful for development of understanding – rather than a last minute thought of ‘just finish off …’.
  • Above all else…they were so EASY to mark! The students were doing more work than me (which is very unusual when it comes to marking and work load), I could write feedback relevant to the task and all of the feedback is in one place.

I have to admit that I wasn’t as regimented as I had hoped and struggled to keep to the every Friday was HW set and collect but the booklets did mean that if I had five minutes here or there during lessons, I could grab a couple of booklets and mark them.Students comments on the HW booklets included: Continue reading “Teaching and Learning Reflections 2018-2019”

A Level Ethics Predictions 2019

First of all I was very uninspired by yesterday’s Philosophy questions (my feeling was a bit ‘meh’). I think they were deceivingly difficult i.e ‘Analyse Aristotle’s four causes’ appears easy but you would really have to work on developing and formulating strong evaluation with so few words to work with in the question. What is also noticeable is that Teleological and POE both came up in the first year’s exam as well. What this means is that there is no correlation between first year and second year questions. I think the exam board are going out of their way to make the questions as unpredictable as possible and thus repeating a lot of the same areas (Bonhoeffer in DCT has come up three times already -there has only been four exams!). But that is now old news…let’s look ahead towards ethics.

Here are the previous questions from the first and second year’s exams:

ethics Q

All that we can learn from looking at these is how the questions are worded. The obvious gaps in the second year are: Sex ethics, SE and Euthanasia and Util and Business. However the way that the examiners are throwing in a few curve balls, you need to go into that exam ready for anything.

So I think potential question areas could be:

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A Level Philosophy Predictions 2019

Predications are a really tricky business especially since we have very few past exam questions to go on. My advice is to make sure you know all topic areas as well as you can but for some of you knowing what came up in previous years might really help. So here is a table of all the first year questions asked so far and the questions from last year’s full A level. The importance of knowing the first year questions is because, whilst the same topic might come up in both years, it is extremely doubtful that the exact working will be the same.

questions.PNG

What we can see from this is that Plato, Aristotle, Soul, Onto, POE and RL: 20th Century were not asked last year in the A Level exams.

So I think potential question areas could be:

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