This was the second essay writing task I set my new spec students for homework. The task: write their first full essay, including introduction, main paragraphs and conclusion. In order to support them through this I provided a part a) answer written by a student from the previous year that showed A grade explanation (something along the lines of ‘Explain the Prime Mover and it’s relationship to the Four Causes’). Students had the option of using the provided answer as a framework to add their own evaluation, introduction, conclusion and links to the question or they could just answer it themselves from scratch.
Here is an example of an introduction (see Let me ‘Introduce’ myself: Writing an Introduction):Here is an example of a main paragraph (I recommend that students highlight/ underline their links to the question and their strengths and weaknesses as seen below):
Here is an example of a conclusion (see It’s Over: Concluding an Essay):
Here is an example of a full essay:
A current theme of concern on the Facebook Page: OCR A Level Religious Studies H173 and H573 (if you are a teacher you will find this page an invaluable support) is how to mark/grade essays based on the new specification grade boundaries.
At this stage in the year, I am not grading work. I mark the work according to my expectations at this stage: ability to structure and word arguments academically. Present evidence of evaluation, critical words and ability to present view points in relation to the question. The essay above presents evidence of these areas. So whilst I am not using the mark scheme closely at this stage in the students’ course, I am assessing students on their developing skills and improvement of technique over essays, which indicates progress. They are a long way from perfecting these techniques, so I don’t believe in knocking confidences early by giving them low grades, when they have only been studying the course 10 weeks. Instead I believe in rewarding good technique and promote improvement through feedback and guidance.
In about three weeks my college expects each subject to set an internal mock exam. This mock exam is a graded piece of work. I will be marking the students work according to the mark scheme. I will show the students the marking scheme before the lesson, set my expectations and thus prepare them for the outcome. Keep an eye for upcoming blogs as I post my questions, student examples and my feedback.
For support with structuring lessons to develop students’ essay technique in stages see The Four Steps to Teaching A01 & A02 Effectively
Please let me know if you would like a copy of the essays by leaving a comment at the bottom or following the ‘contact me’ details on the Homepage.
Revision bubbles/ advice and sample questions with guidance found in: