AfL and A level teaching

There are a number of AfL techniques that I have found to have been particularly helpful with A level classes:

  • In the first lesson I give students a copy of the specification and a programme of study that identifies the order that I will teach the topics in.
  • Furthermore I outline what AfL principles I will be using, how I will expect students to work in groups and the use of self-assessment and learning objectives.
  • Using the students’ GCSE scores and ALIS data I calculate how an average student with his/her GCSE marks (A*=8, A=7, B=6 etc.) would do at A level – this becomes their Predicted Points Score (PPS); it is based on UCAS points where A=120. I share this with the students and I find that it forms the basis of a discussion about expectations and targets for the two years of study.
  • An electronic mark book helps to keep track of how students are performing in comparison to their PPS.
  • Target setting is carried out using a SWOT analysis in January of the Lower 6th. It also includes their PPS and students are asked to set a target grade.
  • Students are given a revision timetable prior to the Easter holidays – their revision is checked during the first lesson of each week.
  • Students are given a copy of the A2 specification and a programme of study for the Upper 6th.
  • Upper 6th target setting takes place during September; marks from external exams are compared with their PPS on a spreadsheet. I then discuss how the students need to perform if they are to achieve their PPS grade and the grade above their PPS. Again a SWOT analysis forms the basis of the discussion.
  • Again the electronic mark book is used to keep track of the students’ progress.
  • Time is spent in March with any students that retake or sit new modules in January; again the marks they need for their PPS grade and the grade above are discussed using the updated spreadsheet.
  • A revision timetable is again issued prior to the Easter holidays and revision is checked during the first lesson of each week.
  • Once the final marks are awarded in August I discuss with the Department how individual students have done in comparison with their PPS – this is the student’s residual score. We reflect upon the performance of individuals and ask how we can improve the teaching and learning that takes place.

Many of the documents used can be found on the downloads page

In addition to the above, there are a number of AfL strategies that I incorporate into my day to day teaching:

  • I start each lesson with 10 minutes of silent reading; this is particularly useful in Business and Economics. Students then contribute to the Department’s on-line forum.
  • Learning objectives are given to students at the start of each topic.
  • At the end of each topic the same learning objectives are revisited and the students are asked to traffic light their level of understanding. We do not move on to the next topic until every student understands the learning objectives.
  • We discuss mark schemes prior to the first piece of work being handed out.
  • Give all students time to consider their response and then I decide who to ask; sometimes using a random names generator or pass on the question is used.
  • Give students role during group discussions – chair, scribe, observer and challenger. These roles are rotated during the course; students are aware of these roles at the start of the course.
  • Provide pupils with a choice between different answers and asking them to vote.
  • Self and peer assessment enables students to apply mark schemes and give them an insight into how their work can be improved upon.
  • Revision and interim tests are used to highlight gaps in the student’s knowledge; they are based upon the learning objectives that students are already aware of and familiar with.
  • Students mark their own work before they hand it in.
  • Students swap work, mark each others and then collaborate to produce a top answer.
  • Two stars and a wish on homework.
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