On Monday I attended the annual Guernsey Headteachers’ and Leaders’ Conference where the speaker was Shirley Clarke. One of the things she reminded us of was the importance of involving learners in the co-creation of success criteria.
With this in mind I have decided on a slightly different approach to the revision sessions I will be running in Guernsey secondary schools next week.
The first stage will be to present each learner with a broken down version of the assessment objectives for the GCSE English Language course they are taking. For this I will use the Self Assessment Tracker booklet that I created while working in Lincolnshire. If you are interested, these are still available via NATE’s Virtual Bookshop here. We will focus on the objectives for writing and the learners will start the session by individually rag-rating themselves on the 9 discrete skills listed. They will then work with talk partners to identify the three areas that they feel they need to work on most urgently.
I will quickly gather together all their ideas on these areas and we will have a class discussion to agree on the most important areas to concentrate on given the short amount of time remaining. We will then look at the prompt questions in the Tracker document for each of the identified objectives we have agreed we need to focus on. From these we will try to distil exactly what the skill-gap is that needs to be filled and then agree on some activities that we can work on to try to do this.
The focus will be squarely on skills, trying to increase their understanding that English Language is all about skill development and application, not knowledge and content. The message will be positive and encouraging, focusing on the importance of planning, drafting and re-drafting, as a means of continually improving the final product, even in an exam context.
I have been reading about and starting to use SRSD (Self-Regulated Strategy Development) approaches a lot recently and it seems to me that this fits beautifully with the growth mindset and co-creation of success criteria approaches that underlay Shirley Clarke presentation and which this revision approach attempts to embody. We will use the Tracker suggestions to create SRSD criteria that we can then use to score some sample responses on and then use this information to develop much higher scoring re-drafts. The focus will be on how easily borderline pieces of writing can be made more effective through the application of straight-forward ideas and approaches that enable improved communication between the writer and their audience and thus the examiner.
It feels exposed as I shall be going into the lessons not knowing exactly what will happen or exactly what we will end up talking about but I think I need to be confident that with almost 30 years of experience in English teaching it will be OK. What I can be sure of is that I won’t be slavishly sticking to a plan to deliver content to them which may well be irrelevant. The focus throughout will be on what will help them feel more confident to tackle the exam and a little discomfort on my part is a small price to pay in relation to this. Whether or not the enterprise is successful I will know once the lessons are over and the plenaries and self-assessments completed and I will post an entry addressing this in a week or two. Of course the real impact won’t be known until August.