Category Archives: KS3 assessment

APP Assessing Pupil Progress

APP – love it or hate it? I know people who fall into both camps and I change my mind daily.

Having been washed up in the English department, from MFL,  just before the publication of the grids, I was at a loss to understand just what I was trying to achieve each day in the classroom.  Then one enlightening day the APP grids arrived in the department and all became clear – ‘so that is the difference between a level 5 and a level 6 reader’. And for that, mostly, I love them.

Once the learning objective has been set using the strands, I use versions (student friendly where necessary) of the APP descriptors to let the students set their lesson outcome. Deciding what target to set themselves often gives an opportunity for valuable discussion on achievement. They can set on or above their target grades depending how confident they feel and lesson by lesson, it gives them a sense of either success or understanding what they need to do to progress. Using short term goals in an all boy’s school is a powerful motivator.

As per the norm, .gov.uk posted them as PDF files and as PDF files, they are a nightmare to manipulate. Using the tabs at the top of this page (AFL/Assessment), I can easily access, copy and paste these descriptors to the IWB for classroom activities.

The APP grids, do you love them or hate them?

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Learning Objectives and the English Strands of Progression

Knowing what the students should be achieving and by when is, more than ever, nationally prescriptive. Although some people grumble about this, rather than seeing the framework as constraining, I use the strands (see under ‘AFL’ tab on this site) as a kickboard to spring from and for regular reality checks to make sure, with all these new tools where the technology could take over the lesson, that I am teaching English and not applied IT.

Alongside the APP assessment descriptors, the strands are shared with the students so they discover and apply these skills. In the last couple of years, I have started using the strands to set a learning objective at the beginning of each lesson which, along with differentiated lesson outcomes drawn from the APP grids, have generated some good student discussions about progress and achievement.

Getting these objectives and outcome targets onto the IWB and worksheets is always a faff because mostly, .gov.uk like to use Adobe to post their information. This might be convenient to them, but not for the classroom teacher as I find PDF files are fiddly to manipulate. Using the ‘AFL‘ tab at the top of this page to access a ‘copy and paste’ friendly version of the strands, I can now easily use these descriptors on worksheets and the IWB in my lessons.

Tweet me, Facebook me, comment on this post – let me know if and how you set learning objectives for your lessons.

The Planning Process

Do you too think that planning a unit of work is a little like planning a journey? And with that thought, I often ask myself how I can fill it with fun, discovery, adventure, learning – and all other elements of a good trip in order to open and grow minds?

As all good journeys, I move through considering the destination, identifying the landmarks I hope to see along the way, ensuring I’m heading in the right direction, considering which modes of transport I shall use to get there and taking a break somewhere along the way to acknowledge how far I’ve come. I then read the opinions of others who have visisted the same places, and decide how I’m going to make a record of my own experience.

Which roughly translates into how I plan a unit of lessons and looks something like this:

  • The Strands – all my planning starts from the ‘strands’. If i ensure I’ve cover those, I can be more confident my students are making progres in the skills that count for English assessment
  • APP – after ensuring I am guiding the students to learning the right stuff to progress in English, I like to know there are benchmarks to measure progress. I use the APP grids for self, peer and teacher assessment.
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy – after having decided where I’m trying to get them to by the end of the unit and how we’ll know whether or not we’re heading in the right direction. it’s time to think about not running before we can walk. To make sure the students have some knowledge before they try to applyt it. And only then, to make sure we push on to higher skills.
  • The reading strategies – Now is the time to look at the more basic reading skills for researching and collating information – fact and opinion, making links etc
  • Writing conventions – once the students feel confident they have something they want to share, they care about correct use of structure, punctuation. spelling – looking at presentational devices for non-fiction and media texts which are more information based.
  • Platforms for writing – giving them a real audiences for their work motivates them to better writing and presentation. Giving them options of a range of output such as presentations, moving image and sound files and print.
  • The reading strategies – now that they have the confidence of a knowledge base, higher reading skills to read between the lines, form own ideas on writer’s pov and effect on readers can be explored.
  • Choices in writing – being selective about vocabulary, sentence structures, rhetorical devices, text structure to show voice in their own creative writing.
  • Platform for writing – again, giving them a real audience for their work will motivate better engagement

Note to self – do some digging around for ‘progress arcs’.

How do you prioritise your long term planning?