I have a lovely, lovely Year 11 class this year. They're an absolute mix of abilities but most of them seem really driven to achieve. At the start of the year I asked them which standards they would like to do, and which topics from the junior years they felt they were the best at. Almost unanimously the class said "volcanos."
So at the start of Term 2 we began the Surface Features of New Zealand assessment. I did only one week of teaching about hotspots and subduction, relying heavily on what they could recall from their junior years and hoping to give them enough of a reminder to cope with any online readings they came across.
My focus for the internal was to build confidence and abilities in online research and report writing. To do so I decided to model the process from start to finish, and show students the skills required for report-writing in a way that they could return to and rewind whenever they needed.
We spent a full two weeks doing a half-sized practice on Surface Features in America (Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon).
Students had access to a series of screencast and narrated videos where I tried to speak my thoughts out loud as I researched and wrote:
I used the idea of checkpoints, rewards and punishments from my earlier PD on writing with Joseph, and while it was in place for all students my particular focus was on the boys in the class. I gave them some choices in rewards, and also let them honestly choose consequences that they wanted to avoid. For some it was chocolate or a phone call home, others wanted lollies and to (avoid) being sent to their Dean.
Every single day I left feedback on every single practice essay, and I updated every single one of their checklists so they could see what they had done and where their next step was. Some students started to do this on their own towards the end of the practice time.
For a few students who were really struggling, I made personalised screencasts of how I would go about continuing to craft their essay from where they currently sat. Here is an example below:
Click here to view the full screencast made for one student as they composed their practice essay.
I don't really have a measure that I can use to show that every student in the class grew in confidence. I can't really compare this year's results to previous years' because the class itself is different. They're quite a motivated bunch.
However, 13 out of 17 students who sat the internal did pass, 1 with excellence and 2 with merit. 2 students failed for plagiarism and 2 were incomplete in the time-frame given.
One thing I can share is anecdotal evidence. At the end of Term 2 I presented students with this list of possible internals they could choose from, to do as our final internal of the year at the start of Term 3.
They didn't choose the one with a field trip.
They didn't choose either of the ones with practicals and chemistry experiments.
They didn't choose the one that would help them with their exam.
They chose the one that was most similar in assessment FORMAT to their volcanos standard. They chose to research online and create a report (and evaluate their sources) about an Earth and Space science event. They told me they chose that one because it would be the "easiest." Even though I don't approve of the laziness underlying the word 'easy' - I was so happy that my students were confident enough to engage in a LOT of reading and writing BY CHOICE!