Early into Term 1 of 2017 I noticed some issues with my the writing style of a number of students in my Year 12 Geography class. I was surprised to find that at Level 2 a number of students were writing their assessments using a bullet points. Generally, the writing seemed to lack comprehension, flow or logical a structure. Furthermore, a significant number of students in the class were not providing enough specific, detailed evidence required at Level 1 let alone Level 2.
At this point I wasn’t exactly sure what was causing this issue with the classes writing but this initial assessment raised a few questions for further inquiry:
- Was this issue subject related? Did students think that literacy only mattered in English?
- Was it the format of the assessment – this particular assessment gave students a choice between working on a power point or a google doc. Did the power point mean that students felt that bullet points were acceptable?
- Had I not placed enough emphasis on the writing structure? Was I not sending the message that writing style matters?
Based on these initial questions I decided an obvious first step would be to place more of an emphasis on literacy with my Year 12 class. I decided to do this alongside introducing the next unit of work. We were beginning our research standard looking at “Where to build a coffee shop in Glen Innes center”?
I decided to take the opportunity to speak to the class directly about their essay writing – hoping this would reinforce the importance of literary in geography. I wanted the class to make links between what they were learning in their English class and in their Geography classes so I spoke to the HOD of English to see if their were any resources I could use in this lesson. Ms Thaver sent me a power point she used with her Year 13 class which I then adapted to make more relevant to Geography.
I felt this discussion with the class would demonstrate to the class that literary extends beyond English. Additionally, I hoped that this presentation would send the message that in Geography writing style matters.
Further, I wanted to provide some guidance around “How to write essay’s in Geography”. I outlined several key steps; reading the question, planning your answer, researching your answer, writing your answer, topic sentences, explanation, example, evaluate and proof reading. I then asked students to “Have a go” at writing an essay so I could see where each student was at with their writing and have opportunities to provide feedback outside of the pressures of assessment.