ECA: Boosting Grades

18Apr11

It is – as it always seems to be – revision time once more. This year the AQA B2 exam is early and Easter is late, so I’m more than a little concerned about the level of preparation of some of my students. Maybe they’ll surprise me. But as an additional strategy, I’ve tried something this year on the board that I’ve now turned into a printable revision resource.

Students often struggle to make progress from lower grades to higher ones, even if they have the understanding. What I produced was a table on the board with three columns, marked E C and A. In the first column I wrote a few simple, but correct ideas. I then explained to the students that as these facts were something they all understood already, they would all be able to get past an E grade. The challenge was to add more information so that they could achieve at least a C grade, and perhaps an A.

Regular readers of the blog will recognise that I was asking them to Organise what they knew, and to Simplify their notes into brief bullet points. You could argue that by doing this activity a few times, they would be Rehearsing their understanding, and by approaching the notes in a different way that they would be Extending themselves. Yes, this is one of those activities which ticks the MORSE boxes once more. (and much to my pride, a few of them were able to tell me that too; it’s sinking in!

But it’s also about showing them how close they are to improving their grades; I wanted to encourage those who are convinced that they can’t better their D grade, or that a B is out of their reach. With a few exceptions, all of these students could have told me the first, basic idea from my table – albeit some without the key vocabulary. By practising this method, students learn the cues which mean they can use higher-level facts in the exam. We talked about how the material in the A-grade column, rather than facts to learn, was about evaluating or comparing, using flow charts or considering causes and effects (they had recently used Bloom’s Taxonomy to evaluate their own revision resources during ‘speed dating revision’).

The improved, printable version will be made available to them through the school VLE. I’m going to combine the idea with a B2 summary leaflet I produced last year, having them complete it with information, then decide what information they’d need for each grade boundary. We’ve always used the idea of  ‘all must, most should, a few might’ to differentiate material in a lesson. Perhaps by asking the students to divide up the content, they’ll be able to see not just where they are, but how they make the next step. That is, after all, the whole point of formative assessment – and of education generally.

printable: eca boosting grade as pdf

printable: AQA B2 leaflet as pdf

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