For many, this coming term is a crucial time of the year as exam timetables are drawn up, and we all enjoy the opportunity to see how students have developed over the academic year. But no matter what your thoughts are about assessment techniques, we all want our pupils to achieve their best; an opportunity for them to show how hard they have worked and engaged with their learning.
For this #ukedchat session, we explored your best strategies to support your pupils through the exam and assessment season; sharing ideas and techniques that help everyone achieve their goals. Revision guides; revision classes; extra support….what are your best tips that you use which really support your students….at primary school level or beyond?
The Questions asked included:
- You’re under pressure to achieve the best results from pupils. Do you diffuse this pressure with your students? How? (8.01 pm)
- What are your best revision strategy ideas which you share with your pupils? Does this include #edtech? (8.11 pm)
- What, in your opinion, are the most effective means of assessing the pupils in your class. Why do you think this? (8.21 pm)
- Examinations are now standard across most subjects – How can pupils best prepare for these formalities and isolation? (8.31 pm)
- Let’s get controversial. Who actually benefits from Year 6 pupils resitting SATs in Year 7? Who and why? (8.41 pm)
- Ideally, how would you like to see exams, tests and assessments develop over the next few years? (8.51 pm)
This session took place at the start of April, as the testing, assessments and exam time of year was about to embark for many working in schools – with lots of pressure on pupils, teachers and leaders to ensure that results are as high as possible. With such pressure being applied by different layers of groups, the first question wanted to explore how teachers diffuse / protect the pressure to their pupils, so they enter the assessment arena in the right mindset.
Brittany Wright thought it is important that, “students should be supported not pressured”, whereas Phil Ruse commented, “Empathy is crucial & we need to try to reduce this”. Chanmi Chun pointed to how, “Research shows how stress and anxiety negatively impact student performance. So yes, we need to address those issues head on”, continuing that her “school implemented a program called Calm Classroom to address S’s stress & anxiety. Self-talk & calming techniques helped” (Tweet Link). Brittany Wright explained, “I make efforts not to [pressure] but students know how we feel. I protect students from extra mock exams at silly times with scaffolding and notes pages (e.g. The a level mock scheduled before Xmas). Students gain confidence and practise skills – better than failure”.
Rob Chambers kindly shared his “Revision Strategies and Support in and beyond the classroom” resource (Click here to open PDF Document) which is packed full of tips and ideas, yet Chanmi Chun added, “’Writing for a test’ has been a new genre I teach. Make it authentic, helping Students understand purpose, process & audience”, which is critical. Historylecturer also added his blog feature, which includes five handy tips for revision (Click here to view).
The conversation moved on to Education Technology strategies and apps which are good in supporting revision, and this is very relevant as many students now have their own mobile devices which can be used effectively to revise with. James Gibbons shared that two of his favourites are the Free Quizlet App (Click here to view in Apple App Store or Click here to view in the Google Play Store) and the Free Gojimo App (Click here to view in Apple App Store or Click here to view in the Google Play Store). However, we were reminded by Maths4ukplc to, “make sure students know which exam is on which day. They create a revision schedule to insure all subjects/topics get required time!” Sound advice indeed. Miss Stringer pointed out https://getrevising.co.uk/ site as a useful aide.
— Phil Ruse (@WellsportsPhil) April 9, 2015
— Catherine Hughes (@hugh3sy09) April 9, 2015
The session progressed onto thinking about the most effective methods of assessments that teachers have encountered, being reminded by Mark Boylan that, “(I) don’t think there is any one method, depends on subject, age stage and student which is why we use multiple methods”, but with so many assessments moving towards a ‘final exam’ structure, attention turned on how pupils can be supported towards these isolating and formal tests. GLOW suggested to, “make them believe they can achieve. Get them to practise thinking sat in exam room looking at blank wall and finding solution”, but also “Mock exams are essential to prep them and allow them to make mistakes and learn from them” (via TheDairy Bcot). It is then down to the individual students to “act on feedback & compete to get most improved mark!” (via L Crean).
In fact, Phil Ruse advocated a “Walking talking mock” system as a great way of preparing, which “Definitely helps those Students who regularly misinterpret questions & struggle with exam technique”
As recent electioneering from parties were in full swing, there had been a public call by the Education Secretary in England calling that pupils could re-sit their SATs attainment papers once they entered secondary school. We asked the question, who actually benefits from this? The community drew a blank on this, as the impression was this it is pure political posturing. Like many other, Mark Boylan concluded, “to be honest I can’t think of anyone who would benefit from y7 resits”.
Back on task, the final question asked, “They are actually necessary, so how would you like to see exams, tests & assessments develop over the next few years?” allowing for a utopian view from individuals.
Brittany Wright considered this a, “difficult question! More valuing student individuality and independence – maybe a free choice (within rsn) text choice in English?”, with Phil Ruse questioning, “They are inevitable but surely time exams better replicate real life/ work scenarios Students will experience after school?”. Musicmakers UK also questioned, “Given that these examinations bear no relation at all to any other real life experiences, isn’t it time for radical review?”
In this regard, TheDairy Bcot dreamt, “to have the time to assess my learners in the way that allows them to fulfil their potential differentiation at its best”. In response, we chipped in, “Indeed. Learners come in all different shapes and sizes. Yet we have a one size fits all exam system. The sense?” Thomas Claxton added for a, “Movement towards teacher assessment. We know the children, the quality of work they consistently produce”, but trust and accountability does not allow for this under the current regime across many educational systems. Perhaps StuartBeardPhoto is correct in adding that the ideas are, “Soundbites to show how tough they can be on underachievement. I agree it makes no sense, definition of insanity springs to mind”
Phil Ruse concluded succinctly, “Why do learners sit silent exams on their own to allow them to earn future jobs that rely on new tech & working with people?!”
— Phil Ruse (@WellsportsPhil) April 9, 2015