I am lucky enough to have a set 1 in year 11 – I’m not going to discuss the merits/drawbacks of ability streaming – and I’ve been teaching them for 3 years now with practically no changes of students in that time, so you can imagine we’ve grown to know each other pretty well. In the early days they were very quiet and studious and initially it was tough to get them really engaged them. By that, I don’t mean they wouldn’t work, I suppose I mean there wasn’t “a buzz” if you walked in the room … you know that feeling when you sometimes feel a little redundant as they’re getting on, and asking those “what if?” or “why does that work?” type of questions. Now, however they are really up for anything, and are always happy to try new ideas out and are even beginning to believe me when I tell them “this isn’t going to hurt a bit!” when ramping up the level of difficulty within a lesson …
Today we tried another novel idea which involved the students working in pairs on past exam questions, to consciously but CONVINCINGLY get the wrong answer. The idea being that they had to consider what mistakes could possibly have been made and get their head around why they happen, in an effort for them to become conscious of the obvious mistakes, made under exam conditions. It was brilliant!! A little bit like having your own “classic mistakes” poster factory … there was loads of “but why would you do that?” and then another student explaining where a possible misconception could have come from and even discussions about which “mistake” was more likely to be made. Towards the end of the lesson, a conversation took place:
Me: So was that more difficult than you thought it was going to be?
Student: Yeah, we had to think about the right answer and then work out how to be wrong. It was really tough as making mistakes on purpose just feels so wrong!
Me: So tell me … why is it so easy getting it wrong in an exam then?
It wasn’t as harsh as that last line sounded, but I have to be honest: I have high expectations of this group and they know it too. I’m all for “it’s about the method and the journey of learning” but with this group, its about that but also about getting the “right answer” and I suspected this task would be tough but boy! did they rise to the challenge!!
In other news my observation got cancelled due to sickness and no cover available – so take that as fair warning of another twitter silence in the very near future as I spend hours
grudgingly lovingly preparing resources .. so for future reference, please don’t take my silence personally … it’s not personal .. I’m ignoring everyone 😉