I’ve been threatening to write this post for some time now. For weeks I’ve been doing that annoying thing where you tweet, ‘I’m working on something epic. It’s going to be great. I just gotta finish it’ then three days later, ‘This task I’m doing is going to kill me, it’s so massive but I hope it’s worth it.’ Then when it’s complete you walk around the staffroom saying things like, ‘Wow, I’m glad that’s done. It took me ages. Hours and hours in fact.’
I’m sure you’ve all had those moments, where you’ve had a demon task that you just gotta complete … as Orwell would say, you are ‘driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.’ This has been my experience of this task. Apart from my research proposal (which I have also bothered people by telling them how hard I’m working, whine, gripe, and generally trying to get them to tell me how awesome they think I am cos I work so hard, yada yada) I haven’t been focused on anything else so intently in the last two months.
This task is a vision of what I think (at this point in time) is what a quality assessment looks like for the HSC. You have already seen my Advanced English Module B task (if not see it here) and I know I banged on about that for a while. But here is our new Area of Study assessment task – it accounts for 30% of the HSC in-school assessment mark.
I was really inspired by the work of Geoff Petty and the learning effect-tables of John Hattie. I wanted to create a task that gave students a ‘built-in’ learning success scaffold. This is why the check-lists, criteria/rubrics, mind-map and plans are included. The ‘portfolio’ is to be completed over a term and a bit. The ‘chunking’ of the task has kinda been done for the students.
I have been increasingly concerned with the teaching approach to HSC English that focuses solely on the final external examinations. I am hearing rumours that teachers are not setting assessment tasks that actually assess students’ abilities to represent, listen and speak. I’m sure I’ve blogged about this before as well, so I’ll spare you my tirade … or ‘grudge’ as my new English teacher friends like to refer to it. To counter this trend 9one that I am highly critical of) and to create a task that we believe is in the spirit of our syllabus, we have given our students the opportunity to represent their understanding of belonging in any form they choose. I love this task and am very excited to see the results.
As my friend Glen McLachlan said today, this assessment requires a significant amount of ‘unlearning’ and ‘learning’ for both teachers and students. I will post something else about Glen’s (gentle and constructive) criticism of my approach to creating this task a little later. For now, here is the task: