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surprising discoveries

December 6, 2014

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Sunrise through the gum trees at our place yesterday captured a sense of breakthrough.

Weeks of marking and moderating exam papers leaves me feeling hyper-sensitive to visible strengths, gaps, directions and insights to learning. Here’s the final bundle in progress:

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Continuing conversations with students during walkthroughs and feedback sessions also conveyed a sense of shift. Maybe it’s the time of year. I was surprised by some of their reflective comments:

We need to read more.

Can you help with spelling?

There needs to be more practice.

How can I write 300 words?

I need to expand my writing and give more evidence.

I didn’t like the room (desks in rows).

As a backtrack – since I’m starting at the end of this cycle – it’s worthwhile to look at the summative task we designed for our Year 7s:

By breaking the structure into responding and composing (analytical vs. creative), we aligned the expectations with thinking underpinning the new WACE exam brief previously mentioned here. Key differences?

  • Brevity was flagged in word counts. 300 words proved a surprising stretch.
  • Scaffolding was supplied to prompt engagement. Many still asked what ‘conventions’ meant.
  • Intertextual links were invited. Sometimes ignored/ overlooked. Misunderstood?
  • Text prompts were deliberately uncomplicated. Wave image proved confounding for a few.

What I loved were the flights of fancy in newspaper headlines/ poetry/ narratives about skateboarding nuns. Comic characters proved well-loved, and most elected to disagree with the statement. My favourite reading experience overall was the honest evaluation of their (relatively) new experience of high school. Like this example:

I always wanted to be in high school because I am one step closer to being an adult and this is the main reason for education in school. We are becoming old, and it is close to finishing school, and then I am getting a job I want to do and learn more about life. I am learning how to spell better because I am not so good at that, and our reading and maths skills will help at work and at the shops. I am getting closer to being a full adult and I will get my licence and drive around. When I finish school I will go live in the real world, get a job I will love and enjoy doing every day.

Getting out of school will be good for you, so you can still learn. You will be prepared. Life is full on at all times – you are always doing something. That is what school is for. To get us ready to live in the big world.

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CC Image Source

Great hearing what they think about purpose. Useful springboard, too, for taking learning into planning outlines for Year 8s in 2015. Final quotable moment: When one of my Year 7s remarked

You remind me of my Nanna.

He is on to me (birthday soon; surprise of growing older). And that feedback I took as a compliment.

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