Sunday, 21 February 2010

Update on a busy term

I haven't posted here for a while for a number of reasons, but wanted to send a quick update to myself. I have been working quite a lot recently on projects which, although not school based, will hopefully have some influence on the work I do in school. Much of the most recent work has been creating literacy reading tasks for the Scottish Survey of Achievement. I had the pleasure of a two day training stint in Stirling which really opened my eyes with regards assessing students. In particular, an excellent thought-provoking presentation on validity in assessment made me realise that I have been doing things back to front in the past when creating my own assessment items. I normally constructed the questions and then the marking scheme, but actually, the two can't really be divorced. I was also interested in the range of texts being used as potential assessment items, and this is something I have been speaking to some colleagues in the English department and on the literacy working group about. In terms of completing the tasks, I am a little late due to some time off with illness, but have now had them checked over and they are ready to submit. I found the exercise difficult, but although I can't guarantee that they will be used, I really enjoyed creating most of the tasks and exploring the mechanics of making a reliable assessment item.
There have been some excellent returns in school with regards how departments are promoting literacy, and the most impressive by far was from the Design and Technology department. Unfortunately, I am finding out the hard way that some things need chasing in person rather than an e-mail (people are busy and my priority probably isn't theirs), and also that literacy is such a massive area. It's difficult where to put the next focus of the group, something which myself, a colleague from English and the school librarian will be discussing over the coming week.
I was also lucky enough to be invited to user test the National Assessment Resource by Gordon Brown of the SQA. This was a really interesting afternoon for what could be a truly fantastic resource, depending on how teachers embrace it. I think, as my Depute Head said at our recent in-service, it could be a big advance in how we share the standard in assessment. I was also approached about having an input to an LTS showcase for Global Citizenhip. I thought about some of what we do in class and viewed this as a good way to raise the profile of Geography, which fits with my long term aims of running a department. I am awaiting further details about this, but think it is an exciting opportunity. Staying with the subject focus, I have approached some potential speakers for the SAGT conference as part of my role on the committee, and really saw the value of having built up a network of contacts through online spaces such as twitter here.
That brings me nicely to this coming week whch promises to be a busy one. I have the first of three twilight sessions receiving some Glow Learn training. I don't have to travel far, it's in my school :) It will, however, be nice to see how this dovetails with some of the Future Models of Assessment work that I've been involved in through SQA, which I posted about before. I am going to an after school session on Wednesday where I'll receive an Activ Expression interactive voting kit and some training. I'd like to see how I can use this to bring more formative assessment into the classroom. I also asked last week through twitter for novel uses of ICT in Maths after a request from a colleague and got a fantastic range of replies. I've drafted a copy for the Maths department and will hopefully post on here about this later. Finally, it'll be good to see how ASDAN students respond to our latest correspondence from Mathandani. We have film to develop from the camera we sent and they have suggested a set of activities around an important date in the Malawi calendar which, as it falls in July, we will probably pull forward and may be a nice end of year project for the group to concentrate on. They are having a retrospective Burns celebration with the kit we sent as they could not source some of the ingredients easily for the recipes. This was an eye opener, even for myself, as we assumed that butter and flour would be two things that would be relatively plentiful, but it would appear not. That's it for now, time for more prelim marking...