Apologies for the fairly History-centric post here.
An evaluation of days five and six (independent schools have teaching on Saturdays) of the 100 day challenge.
Idea #5 is an adaptation of a resource gained from the very useful Keynote Educational course I attended earlier in the term. Inspired by David Didau (@learningspy) and his posts on interleaved curriculums, I have redesigned how I teach Year 12 History. I teach the AQA History Unit1F AS course which is an essay based exam. I see the group four times a week. I have devoted three lessons to knowledge (@joe__kirby would be proud, see here for his ideas on the importance of knowledge) and one to applying this knowledge to essay based skills. I hope that this will give me time to re-visit and build on these skills in a systematic way – I have already seen a dramatic improvement in their essay structure so it seems to be working.
Last week we looked at question analysis and this week was on selection of knowledge to strengthen an argument. The course leader had designed a grid, which I adapted (see picture). The students are then given four past paper questions and have to select and rank which concepts/ ideas/ arguments that they would use to create an answer specifically for that question. They then plan the answer as a pair and complete it individually for homework.
- The students were very engaged in the task and found it challenging which is brilliant.
- The students were thinking deeply about the nuances within historical arguments which is a great skill to develop.
- Students had to apply their wider contextual knowledge to assess and rank which, again, is brilliant to develop.
- It takes a while to think of things to fill the box that will allow students to use it effectively. Particuarly since I am taking a leaf out of @hfletcherwood’s book and considering the thought processes I want students to have in the task.
Would I do this again? Yes, certainly. It was brilliant and my students worked really well. It was clear as they were planning that they were creating more sophisticated arguments as a result.
As a history teacher, one of the biggest challenges I face is teaching students how to evaluate a source’s utility and step away from the stock ‘it is biast (sic.) so it is not useful,’ approach. I am also sick to the teeth of going through past paper questions very carefully with the class, although this is resulting in some progress in the quality of work.
I decided to approach the task from the other direction and get the students to create their own ‘past paper question’ in a collaborative task, an idea that has cropped up in a lot of the ‘100 ideas’ books that are available on the market.
The idea: students would create their own question (key terms provided) and then select the sources that would help them answer this question. They would then evaluate the sources. I hoped that by creating the question students would think carefully about what was required. I also hoped that in selecting their own sources to match the question, students would have to think deeply about what was in the source that made it useful.
- Students did think carefully about the task and really appreciated the change of activity.
- It was a challenging task that really stretched the students and led to some excellent discussion and debate among a class that is normally quite tricky to keep on task.
- Students were able to tell me why the source was useful and this then improved their written answers.
- It is very easily differentiated in that students select sources that they can access.
- It is quite time consuming finding a range of sources to provide the students with an adequate range of materials to select from.
- In a similar theme it is a lot of photocopying which is both time consuming and expensive if your department has a limited budget (fortunately my school is amazingly generous with photocopying).
Would I do it again? Yes, certainly. I think it worked well. A member of SMT was observing and he commented on the effectiveness of the task and the engagement of the students which confirms my ideas about it too.