Sunday, 7 November 2010

AQA GCSE Course: Improving Preparation for Writing, 1st November 2010, Manchester

This course focused on the writing part of the GCSE: 2 externally marked assignments.

The assignments can be on any topic but must not duplicate content. They must also be different from the speaking tasks.

The quality of the pieces will be assessed overall even if the pieces go beyond the recommended number of words: 230-350 across the 2 tasks for grades G-D and 400-600 for grades C-A*

It is therefore not in the students’ interest to write in too much length unless the accuracy and the quality of the range can be maintained throughout.

Although writing and speaking must be different, they could both come from the same topic. It is however important to ensure there is no duplication of content (3+ sentences, not the odd word) as the language can only be credited once

It is the response to the title which is assessed, bullet points can be ignored (unlike for Speaking)

6-7 bullet points is what seems to provide students with the best kind of guidance

Beware of over or under-prescription: responses need to be individual but lower ability students need more support with structure at the start.

When writing your own task, you need to keep the following in mind:

• You need a title and to keep the title separate from scene-setting

• Use simple and clear language in bullet points

• Make sure ALL bullet points are directly relevant to the title

• Look at exemplar material for recommended format

• Tasks do not have to be approved by your Controlled Assessment adviser. Advisers cannot mark tasks but can offer useful general advice.

Stage 1: is the stage when students are being taught the language. All materials including marked work can be used at stage 2.

Stage 2: The task is given to students, who have 6 hours of planning and preparation time in school and at home. Teacher can launch Stage 2 with general advice to the group, going through the bullet points and explaining what is required e.g. give an opinion and a justification, ask them to recall what piece of homework they have done that could help them with the task, direct their attention to helpful resources, but no further teacher help is allowed after that. Students can work with and help each other but responses should be individual. There is no requirement to measure the 6 hours preparation time.

Drafts must be kept in school and teachers must not comment on them.

The task and the plan can be used a home and in school.

Task-planning sheet: 40 whole words maximum, no visuals, no conjugated verbs, no phonetic transcriptions, no codes.

Students should be taught different strategies to write an effective task-planning form, such as:

Set it out in the same order as the bullet points,

Use the first word of each bullet point to help you with sequencing

Make a list of words you find particularly difficult to remember

Highlight “impressive” structures to enable you to score higher for the range of language used e.g. après avoir fini... (l’ d’ and hyphenated words are not counted separately)

Stage 3: Test conditions-one hour maximum, students have access to the task, task-planning form and a bilingual dictionary. There is no access to the draft and no access to online resources if a computer is used.

It is important to bear in mind that the use of tenses is credited in the Assessment scheme. 2 different tenses are required (NOT references to 2 time-frame) e.g. the perfect and the imperfect are OK as they are 2 different tenses. Please note that in French near future is not considered as a future tense, so "Je vais aller/ J’irai" count as 2 different tenses. Conversely, do not use “J’espère” if you want the student to produce a future tense construction.

Accuracy is only 5 marks so it is important to use the whole 1-5 scale-it does not need to be perfect for a 5. When assessing for accuracy, tenses are not taken into account but the emphasis is on the range of the language and the content. Candidates do not need to write in paragraphs.

All key materials can be found here for reference:

The AQA resources list can provide additional ideas and resources for teaching at Stage 1:

• Speed-dating

• Fill-in-the-gap activities: text with every 5th word missing, text without linking words

• Pictures: write something about it including one opinion, two time phrases...

• Tarsia formulator (dominos with different and more complex shapes)  (Spanish-advanced)

The last activity of the day was to reflect on the opportunities provided by different titles:

A wide-ranging title is more effective like “Life of a Celebrity” rather than “A day in the life of...”, “Holidays” rather than “My last holiday” etc...

The letter format can also be more restrictive than an article but the title must not encourage the candidate to produce lengthy lists rather than a wide range of structures.

As always networking and sharing good practice will ensure that opportunities are maximised for students.

1 comment:

Vanessa Burns said...

Thanks Isabelle, this is very useful! I am totally new to AQA after 13 yrs using Edexcel so you feedback is extremely valuable! Thanks again! V.Burns @nessalovesshoes