No-one knows what the boundaries for any grade are going to be next Summer; There is lots of second guessing going on and I’ve seen some things that are glaringly wrong and I’ve seen some things that are founded on good common sense but what is obvious is that the make up of the papers are so very different (whatever board!) to what we’re used to across the country. With the significant shift in content from the higher tier down to the foundation tier and the fact that 50% of the higher tier is aimed at grades 7/8/9 these changes have certainly sent a ripple through the teaching community based on the results being bandied around at the minute. The ramping up of the difficulty is glaringly obvious on the higher tier too – I do find it a bit bonkers that 50% of the content on the higher tier is supposedly aimed at less than about 20% of the cohort nationally (19.7% of 16 year olds got an A or A*).
Anyway this very topic came up in discussion during my visit to a school last week and I thought I’d share what they are doing which I thought was fab. My thanks must got to Katrin and Emma at Dame Elizabeth Cadbury for sharing the idea and also for the inspiration for the below idea. With the mocks that their students are doing they have added some additional questions from the current spec at the start of the higher tier so that the build-up in the level of difficulty is not so daunting for the students and they have also added extra questions at the end of the Foundation tier. The aim is that these questions don’t form part of the grading process but they will certainly provide them with more information to consider when making the tiering decision. I’ve written before about how important the performance on the “crossover” topics (i.e. those that appear on both tiers, of which there must be at least 20%) will be when it comes to making the final decisions later in the year and I’ve pulled together the crossover questions from both tiers which I’m hoping to set as Christmas homework for year 11.
Because of these extra questions at the start / end of the papers we were able to look at how well the students answered these questions (from the current spec) and then how this dropped off with some of the new AO3 style questions for a few of the students we got talking about what we can do for some of the topics (specifically the crossover topics!!) and so I’ve had a play around with an idea. It is obvious that students can be trained to answer some questions really well but some of these topics are just so unfamiliar that we need to instil specific strategies into them. Anyway, the intention is that over Christmas I’m going to produce what I have called “cheat sheets” for some additional specific topics based on the crossover questions in the mocks and also the practice papers/specimens etc – so far I’ve only done two questions! Seager has agreed I can copy the cheat sheets onto A3 paper too!! Wahoo!! (Have I said how tight he is??)
The idea with these, is that they will have the original question from the mocks with some hints and tips around the question which we’re going to use to explain the approach to the question (we would probably all do it slightly differently!) followed by another VERY similar question. The fact is the students should know how to answer these questions but in some cases they are so used to the old style difficulty ramping that when they are faced with the new style they appear to just panic. I’m also then pulling together a load more exam questions for each of the topics which we’re going to be using as additional homework for the students after Christmas when they get their results back and we can start discussing where they’ve lost marks.
For the “JustMaths’ers” out there I have already put the two questions I’ve done into the extras tab on JustMaths Online.