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.

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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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Revision Must-Do: Blank Sheet Summary

Last week when attending a conference fea38478898-stock-vector-light-bulb-character-in-moment-of-insight-turing a talk on short and long term memory, I had a lightbulb moment. I realised that the revision I am doing with my students focuses upon developing impressive revision resources such as posters, cards and notes with coveralls and motivating my students to read and memorise the material but then I started to ask ‘how do students actually check that this information is being registered in their memories?’

So for the past few lessons I have trialled a very simple way to test memory recall – the blank sheet summary. After stude59707158_2378210682460170_830716807567376384_nnts completed a ppt or coverall sheet, I gave them 5 minutes to read through, highlight, make notes (whatever it is that students do when revising) and then on a blank sheet of A4 paper they had 5 minutes to write everything they could remember from that topic – no structure necessary just a summary of brain on paper. Once finished, the students then shared with a partner what they had remembered and added in any missing information in a different colour.60258585_2378210719126833_1699873284671143936_n

The students found it extremely useful as a method to consolidate what they could and could not remember. The A4 sheets were filled with information within minutes, demonstrating short term memory was on point. In two days we will do the same test again to see if the information revised is embedded in longer term memory…

This strategy is by no means ground breaking but sometimes the simplest changes can have the biggest impact. An extra ten minutes per topic to consolidate learning and enhance memory recall might make all the difference in the exam. Fingers crossed!

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If you would like your own copy of the Consolidation Packs for first and second years, just click on the image below to add it to your shopping cart.

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Update (October 2019): The Consolidation Packs and Lessons are off to a flying start:

When in Rome…

I travelled to Rome many years ago with my family and since then I have always wanted to take students there – call it No. 1 on my Teacher’s Bucket list. 298983_248143781900923_773827034_n[1]The history, culture and religious undertones that floods through Rome is just captivating and inspiring. The problem was organising such a big trip! Now maybe it is the philosophy teacher in me but sometimes in life it feels like a window of opportunity opens…well that is exactly what it felt like on a college conference at the end of last school year when I got talking to Claire -a local R.S. HOD who mentioned an upcoming college trip to Rome in 2019. Spotting this opportunity I just casually said ‘Oh well if you need anymore to join you just let me know.’ Well you guessed it…in September I got the email that invited 10 of my students to join them on a 5 day trip to Rome (and me of course)!

Now I don’t know if any of you have organised such a trip before but it is like opening Pandora’s box of tasks from collecting payments, passports details, organising a presentation evening, sending endless emails and updates to students and parents, not to mention filling out all the paperwork, risk assessments and codes of conduct…my list went on. image1 (003).jpegMy saving grace was Claire, who had not only run a similar trip before but organised all the Rome elements from itinerary, accommodation, to transport and trips. Before we knew it the date had arrived, we were all packed and ready (wearing our Rome hoodies, armed with passports and even some homemade cookies and flapjacks from one Mum) and off we went to the airport.

We met the other college at the airport, seamlessly went through customs, had an amazingly easy flight and we were in ROME! Once bags were collected, we met our tour guide and coach and headed to the Catacombs were we wandered through the maze of underground tunnels, studied the art work and remaining visible relics and listened to the history of the many Christian Martyrs and pontiffs once buried there (with some still remaining). Once leaving the labyrinth of passageways (I would not want to get lost down there!) and re-entering the warmth outside we made our way to our hotel.

Up the winding roads towards our hotel, we were surrounded by epic views of Lake Albano, the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and Rome itself. Our hotel, Villa Palazzola a 13th century Cistercian monastery, was absolutely breath-taking! What a privilege to stay somewhere that housed monks and friars for centuries. Once unpacked we settled in for the evening, lounging on the beautiful terrace together whilst the students played cards.

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