Red Hot lessons Blog Post 2:Exam Questions

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In an attempt to improve student’s exam technique and literacy ability I have been experimenting through a number of strategies with GCSE students. This has been an ongoing measure so the opportunity to receive some feedback from peers by demonstrating one during Red Hot Lesson fortnight seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

The task involved setting students an exam question and allowing them time in groups to plan a response on a specially prepared sheet. Students were asked to write their responses themselves under timed conditions, then rotate answers to allow their peers to review their work and make suggestions for improvement. Another rotation of work allowed for peer marking of their initial answers against the GCSE mark scheme, The activity culminated in the final rotation of work to allow students their books back to review the comments and marks. Students were finally asked to take home their books to act on the comments to result in an answer worth full marks.


Most students coped well with this approach and were happy to participate in the activity, benefiting from the opportunity to plan their answers together and then offer suggestions for improvement. There were general nods of agreement after the lesson that they would be happy to undertake this approach again. What stood out for me most, though, was the fear in a couple of students eyes who actually failed to write more than two sentences (most wrote  between half and a whole page). They were anxious that their peers would be reviewing their work so closely, preferring instead to maintain a solitary approach to their learning (despite careful planning of groups to alleviate  this anticipated situation). They were reluctant to join in the group planning and could not bring themselves to write their answers. The interactive approach took them out of their comfort zone and, despite coaxing in the lesson, they did not benefit from the approach. I need to find a way to include them without them realising their are being included!

Their books and answers are due in for marking today so I hope the quality of the answers reflect the effort that appeared to be shown in the lesson.

Kerry Anstee



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