As discussed in blog posts 1, 2, and 3 I have been working on improving the writing structure of the Level 2 geography class. Initially, I felt this was an issue of students viewing their subjects in silos and not transferring skills from other subjects such as English into geography. However, after spending a lot of time in term 1 placing emphasis on the importance of writing in geography I felt I was starting to see a dramatic improvement from the bullet point structured assessments I had read at the beginning of the year. However, I continued to reinforce this point using various strategies such as feedback, feedforward and class discussions.
I continued to do this but felt I could re-visit the traffic light system mentioned in post 2
However, I decided to adapt this so it was less confronting and use examples from the NZAQ website to unpack other students work. As a class we used the traffic light system together to identify topic sentences, evidence, examples and linkages. I felt this was a useful way to model good writing and also point out problems and issues without students feeling like their work is being ripped to pieces.
This lesson was productive and allowed assess how much students had learnt or hadn’t learnt about writing structure over the course of term 1.
In Week 2 of Term 2 the second assessment for the year was due and I noticed a significant improvement with writing especially with their explanations which had been a problem before. However, a number of students were still having problems with linking their ideas back at the end of the paragraph which meant at times their key points were a bit hard to decipher. I almost felt that students were just throwing in a whole lot of detail in the hopes that something would be the “right” answer.
Next steps – I wanted to work on addressing the question, summarizing key points and linking ideas together. These skills are crucial for students working at an excellence level!