Friday, 10 December 2010

Proper scrabble, piracy, sausage rolls, storytelling, hats and lolly sticks.

Last night I attended the latest TeachMeet North East.
The venue was the Tyneside Cinema, in Newcastle.

Once again it was thanks to Chris Harte (and his team) who put in a huge amount of effort organising and securing sponsorship so that the whole thing could take place.

Around fifty education professionals attended and were treated to some free wine, excellent sandwiches and some truly amazing presentations (and me doing a shortened version of the "lolly sticks" thing from MFLSAT)

All of the presenters were very good, but for me the highlights of the evening were:
  • Peter Dine's retelling of a recent Ofsted experience
  • Charlotte Bailey and David Gray's inside outside circles
  • Simon Finch's "sex and drugs and sausage rolls" (a serious learning conversation about e-safety and naked hindu dancers)
  • Amy Dickinson's use of De Bono's thinking hats in peer assessment (De Bono once claimed the solution to the Arab-Isaeli conflict was Marmite)
  • Darren Mead and Fergus Hegarty's metacognitive wrappers and proper piratical scrabble
  • Steve Bunce's twelve digital storytelling tools (including the Wagneriser)
You can find other accounts of the evening on Darren Mead's blog and Mark Clarkson's blog (and here) and Simon Finch has kindly published photos of the evening here.

It was a fantastic evening. I caught up with some old friends, met some new ones, and took away some excellent ideas which I can try out in my own teaching.

Huge thanks again to everyone involved - I loved it.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Cold weather, controlled assessments and chaos.

Last week my year 11 students were supposed to sit a written piece of Controlled Assessment as a part of their GCSE French exam.
Unfortunately, my school had to be closed due to the inclement weather and so we had to postpone the assessment.
As a conscientious practitioner (I've never been called that before, not even by myself!) and the fact that I had been left in charge of the department for the week, I contacted Edexcel, the exam board to ask for official clarification as to whether we could "postpone" an assessment, or if we had to give the students a different title.

Here is the email I sent to them:

My year 11 students have prepared for a written controlled assessment which they were to complete at school tomorrow. The school has been closed due to the poor weather. Will we be able to complete the assessment when the school reopens next week, or will we have to do another piece of assessment?

I was impressed to receive a reply almost immediately but not sure what to make of the answer.

Thank you for getting in touch. As far as I am aware, this is a 'first' for the new controlled assessment, and is not a scenario which has been legislated for. My understanding is that Edexcel would take a lenient view in this situation because the circumstances are beyond your control. However, I will pass your question on to the Edexcel office and ask them to confirm with you if their understanding is any different.
I hope this is helpful.
All good wishes,
Richard Marsden
Chair of Examiners, GCSE French