Structured Peer Assessment reviewed by Adam Williams

adamThis guest post is by Adam Williams, Teacher of IT and Computer Science, City of Norwich School an Ormiston Academy.

I have trialled Structured Peer Assessment exercises over the last few weeks with my classes. When I first saw it pop up as a new way of getting structured written work out of students I jumped at the chance. They are focused both during their own responses and even more so when they are giving feedback on others.

Following the lesson, the structure of their writing for long mark questions has dramatically improved and the amount of waffle has reduced.

I had planned to block out one of my whole one hour sessions to trial this initially but due to time constraints of the lesson I ended up with about 40 minutes left . To start with I showed them the video provided on the website and set the question “People often want to buy the latest smartphone or other computing device, even though the devices they own still work. Discuss the impact of people wanting to upgrade to the latest smartphone. In your answer you might consider the impact on: * stakeholders * technology * ethical issues * environmental issues!”
and set them off with 30 minutes, leaving a little bit of time for feedback at the end of the session.

They took it very seriously (They are an optional GCSE class taking my subject as an extra option) They could see the benefits themselves. Responses to other students was purposeful and exceptionally useful for them to draw out misconceptions and I love that I can pick up their answers afterwards, display them on the board and dissect where and why they would be picking up/losing marks and how they compare with other answers. They also quite liked being high up on the leaderboards as ranked by their peers.

From their feedback they would have preferred a little bit less time on the feedback as they felt it was just too long to be reading through the same content worded slightly differently a number of times.

Following the lesson, the structure of their writing for long mark questions has dramatically improved and the amount of waffle has reduced. They are now more succinct and have learned over a few of these that sometimes quality over quantity in an exam question is good.

Structured Peer Assessment reviewed by Ruth Greener

ruth greenerThis guest post is by Ruth Greener, Teaching, Learning and Assessment Coordinator and Teacher of English at St. Andrews School, Green Valley Campus, Thailand.

When I got the email from Yacapaca, with details and links for the Christmas Story competition, I was keen to try it out. Students at my very sporty school LOVE games and competitions, and I knew that with Primary students rehearsing for carol concerts and busy with Learning Journeys near the end of term, the chances of being able to book a lesson in the ICT lab were high. And a lesson that runs itself at the end of a long term? Well, yes, please.

And a lesson that runs itself at the end of a long term? Well, yes, please.

I tried out the Christmas SPA with my high-flying Year 9s first, and despite my mistake with the timing, they performed very well – fantastic concentration on the task itself, and also on the feedback. The quality of their writing for both was high. However, one thing that really got me invested in the concept was a comment from a student. He is always conscientious and prompt with homework, but he doesn’t really feel the love for English. He said he “really got into” writing his story – just in the 10 minutes he was given. Sure enough, peers voted his second best in the class – a position he would never normally ever achieve.

I became more convinced of the benefits when I shared the Answer Rank and Judgement Rank with the students – they were very interested, and like me, really valued the information about who showed good judgement, even if their own writing wasn’t great.

Having completed the same task with my Year 8 middle set, I am keen to develop and extend my use of these SPA writing tasks, especially in conjunction with drafting and improving. The tasks give so much opportunity to see how individuals think and learn, and the feedback the students are able to provide for each other is useful, accessible and insightful.

 

It is long past time to abandon paper-based examinations

chinese exam g edit

The ‘exam paper’ has been around for the last 14 centuries and it is still going strong. The way things are going, the exam-paper looks likely to outlast even the news-paper.

But it shouldn’t. Paper-based exams are a hideously-unreliable method of assessing competence. Here are some of the major reliability problems of Continue reading

How much does your school spend on marking?

I have yet to meet a single head or senior teacher who can answer this off the top of their heads, but it is easy to work out using government-published figures.
  1. Teachers work 55.7 hours/week total1, and spend 9.4 hours/week marking2. That’s 17%.
  2. The average teacher salary is £28,9513, but we have to add the employer’s NI contribution of 13.8% to give an employer cost of £32,946, ignoring all overheads.
  3. 17% of £32,946 of is £5,601. That’s what we spend on marking per teacher, per year.
  4. The average secondary school employs 654 qualified teachers, so the total cost per school is £364,053.
I’ll repeat that. The average state secondary school spends well over a third of a Continue reading

Set an exam using Quick Assignments

Sam Hucker from Winterbourne International Academy asked me this question this morning:

I have set up a partial exam for my BTEC Engineering students. Is there a way that I can set up further questions where they have to type paragraphs or free sentences in larger
quantities? Continue reading