GCSE Controlled Assessment – Panic? Moi?

When I hear the words ‘Controlled Assessment’, this is what I think…

I think I’ve been worrying more about the new controlled assessments than my pupils!  And I suppose that’s to be expected, because although neither of us really knows what we’re in for yet, I at least have been pondering the practicalities since around March, whereas Year 10 are just trusting me to do the right thing.  No pressure there, then!

I have therefore persuaded the languages department to take a proactive approach, and we will be ‘training’ Year 10 in the requirements of the written task in January, although not actually using the outcome as a ‘proper’ task.

The idea is this:  school is suspending the normal school timetable on 13th January, to enable such things as super learning days and theatre visits to occur, and the languages department is taking Year 10 for the day.

  1. I am going to introduce the concept of the controlled assessment to them together, then we will split into groups of the different taught languages.
  2. Pupils will be given some still images from a film in the language they are studying, but (hopefully) have not seen.
  3. Teachers will lead pupils in deciding what information they could give about the stimulus images, and perhaps share some useful phrases.
  4. In small groups, pupils will create sentences or phrases to describe the images.
  5. The title of the task will be given to pupils.  Working alone, they will be given a restricted amount of time to compile their response, and condense it to something resembling the 40 word list they are allowed to use for the assessment.
  6. Pupils will then have around 30 minutes to write up their work, using only their prompts.

To round things off, we’re going to let them see part of the chosen film, to see how close their comments were to the reality of the film’s characters.  On the off-chance that one of the pupils reads this (highly unlikely, I’m sure), I’m not going to divulge the title of the task just yet, but will gladly share all after the event.

The idea isn’t to produce a decent piece of writing (although that would help!), but to understand the steps involved in this part of their GCSE examination.

Maybe I’m mad to try this, but I don’t want the first experience of a controlled assessment to be an actual one, as I don’t think it’s fair.  And I also think it will be good for me as a teacher to get my head around the structure of the beast, even if the timescale is squashed.  It’s still making me tackle something I’m nervous about, which can’t be all bad.

Am I totally bananas?  Have you just jumped in with a proper assessment?  I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

First blogpost!

As a result of an excellent couple of sessions recently from Joe Dale and José Picardo (thanks, guys) I now seem to have been inspired to get my own blog.  Not sure how that happened!  So the question now is, what to put in it?

Keeping it simple for the first one, I thought I’d share an idea that I picked up from Sara Sullivan at the SSAT National Languages Conference in October this year.   She explained how she put a proverb on the board in a foreign language as her Year 11 class were coming in, and that they loved the challenge of working out the meaning before the lesson began in earnest.  So I decided to try it with my class, and I am really impressed with the results.  In fact, if I have forgotten a proverb, they even ask me why there isn’t one for them!

Here’s a website I use to find proverbs in German.

I also brought back a few postcards from a recent trip to Berlin, which had some nice phrases on them.  My class asked if this one was of me.  Cheeky monkeys!