I felt very uninspired by this year’s set of questions. We are only into the second round of linear exams but I found the questions very ‘samey’ from the previous year. I am not sure that the questions enabled the students to show a depth and breath of knowledge and understanding or gave them the opportunity to really shine and show off the tireless amount of work and revision they all do.
So I turned to the examiner’s report to grasp an understanding of what is expected from our students. I unfortunately found them to be quite brief, not always that insightful and quite repetitive in parts (which is fine as it just means students are making the same mistakes across the board.) I like how they have provided samples of answers this year to back up the points made but this seemed to replace a lot of the depth found in previous reports.
So here are the main highs and lows of this year’s exams.
General (fairly predictable):
Focus directly on question not general topic
Outlined line of argument at the beginning (often in introduction) and followed this throughout answer (AO2 driven). Those that added evaluation near end of each paragraph often did not score into higher brackets.
Relevant material used
Write everything I know on that topic (pre prepared formulaic answers)
Evaluate through juxtaposition of different views. In other words putting one name against another name and thinking this is evaluation. You need to say which view is stronger/ more convincing ect.
Lack of planning leading to long rambling answers- paragraphs are your friend!
Lack of awareness of Q’s/ language used on Spec.
1. How successfully does the language game concept make sense of religious language?
Critical dialogue with Wittgenstein
Contrasted views e.g. Ayer, Flew and Hare’s bliks
Effective evaluation including whether language allowed for inter-faith dialogue (seems like a very clever synoptic link to me!), was prone to fideism (belief that faith is independent of reason or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths) and whether or not you can escape language games.
Check out this Top Tips from a Tired Teacher on how to write a UCAS Personal Statement. In this video I go through the three steps to writing your personal statement including the main do’s and don’ts.
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 learn 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…
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).
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”→