So Mr Justteachem, how do you justify saying that intervention isn’t necessary? Her target grade is an A, but she only got a C in the mock!
Yes Mrs Datashot. The students have only just finished going through the book. The mock exam was their first real essay on it.
What on earth do you mean? Are you saying that they haven’t been been doing essays on it since the beginning of the course?
Yes I am. It’s rather difficult to do an essay on a book you haven’t read.
Well, why on earth couldn’t you have just given them the book to read over the summer holidays? Then you could have started them in September on their essay writing technique, getting them familiar with the exam board’s mark scheme.
Well, Mrs Datashot, the book is in a foreign language and not only does it have very sophisticated vocabulary, the style is also quite complex. I wanted to analyse the book chapter by chapter, getting the students translating sections of it, noting down key words and phrases, discussing the author’s choice of language, that sort of thing.
Seems a bit of a waste of time to me, Mr Justteachem. Surely the thing to do is get them looking at the rubrics – the criteria for an A grade. All this vocabulary stuff – they can just look that up in their own time. A bit of flipped learning!
But they’re still novice learners, Mrs Datashot. Of course, as a long term goal, I want them to be able to read independently in a foreign language. But before they can do that meaningfully, they need practice analysing the grammar patterns in a piece of text, so that they can make sense of it.
Ok – but there must be a translation. They could read that easily enough, leaving you free to spend lesson time on exam criteria.
There is indeed, but in places it goes some distance from the original and I find it fascinating to discuss with students where the translation could be challenged.
No doubt, no doubt! But does it improve their ability to distinguish between the criteria needed for a C grade and the criteria needed for an A grade?
Well, not exactly but…
Precisely! You’re wasting lesson time looking at grammar, vocabulary and translation, instead of showing them some examples of A grade essays and getting them to note down the things that make them A grade essays!
Well, nearer the time of their exam we will probably do that, but I’m a language teacher. I want my students to appreciate the language, extend and deepen their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary and enjoy the book as a book, to relate to the characters, to discuss the issues raised.
Well, that’s all very well, but she’s only got a C and her target grade is an A. And you’re telling me that intervention isn’t necessary!
That’s right. She just needs more practice at writing essays, which she will get over the next few weeks in normal lessons.
Well, I’ll take your word for it for the moment, but if you ask me, she should have been practising essay technique and looking at success criteria right from the beginning! Those students need to know the mark scheme backwards! Oh I understand, I suppose you’ll need to do a bit of language teaching as well, but for goodness sake, stop faffing about and having pointless discussions about language and get them concentrating on the exam board’s criteria. OK?
Very well, Mrs Datashot…….