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, Bangkok.

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.

If this is reflective learning then we should throw away the mirror

reflective learnersI’ve just picked up a post on LinkedIn (here) that labelled the the above sheet as “Developing reflective learners”. Really???

To save your eyesight, here are the two student comments from the bottom of the sheet:

I think that I did well on talking about the formation of ox-bow lakes and identifying river processes. However, I didn’t do well on the formation of waterfalls and advantages and disadvantages of channel straightening.

Continue reading

Analysing spelling errors

When students misspell a common word, what is driving the error? I analysed 35,000 Peer Feedback entries in which the student had intended to write “wrong” and found 1614 instances of misspellings – about 5% of the total.

 

wrong again

Of the misspellings,

  • 62% entered “rong”, a phonetic error
  • 27% entered “worng”, a typographical error.

My own spelling changed from atrocious to moderately good overnight, when a psychologist colleague taught me the visual spelling strategy. It looks like a good proportion of these students could still benefit from the same thing. The rest just need to learn touch typing.

Copyright misconceptions

copyright distortSometimes kids get hold of the wrong end of the stick en masse. A great example is copyrightthe right to copy. A quick sampling of students’ peer feedback statements reveals that approx. 50% of statements that mention copyright see it as some kind of a crime. Here’s a quick sampler of the 20+ most recent examples:

  1. It is copying someones work and is illegal and this is called copyright.
  2. Because copyright is an act of Continue reading

Seven ways to implement differentiation in Yacapaca

My thanks to new member Yasmin Sheikh of Whitfield School in Barnet for asking why we show each question for 10 seconds before displaying the options. I realised that although we have worked like stink build opportunities for differentiation into every point of the Yacapaca process, I have never really explained them. Here, then is chapter and verse.
  1. Implicit differentiation: thinking time between question and options
    This gives students time to challenge themselves to get the answer before receiving the restricted possibilities of the options. This is a higher level of challenge, and it gives the student who manages it a great deal of confidence. You can gently encourage this by applauding the behaviour, but please don’t push students to do it if they don’t feel ready.
  2. Differentiation by time: Question speed
    Different students think at different speeds, but this does not correlate particularly with ability. Yacapaca times each answer from each student with an accuracy of Continue reading