IT excitement

For a while now I’ve been looking for a simple way to project the pupils’ work up onto the board, whether that’s answers to an exam question, notes from discussion, or even good diagrams in Economics. We don’t have a wifi network in the building, so screencasting, in whatever form, is a no-go. I’ve been using a clunky solution which involves taking photos on my mobile, connecting the phone to the computer via USB, then opening the DCIM folder: it works, but it ain’t pretty!

Some time last year, John Tomsett blogged about explicity modelling thinking with his Economics class as a way of developing exam technique; he followed this up with another post about a teacher doing this process with a visualiser. A visualiser? THAT’s what they’re called! Clearly I am a long way behind the technological curve.

During the final week of the summer holiday, the HOD for Economics and I discovered that we’d got money left in the budget. After ordering all the new spec resources we could justify, I persauded him to let me spend eighty quid on my own visualiser. Technically it’s the department’s visualiser, but I’m not going to split hairs about that! It arrived on the first day of term, and I’ve only just got round to setting it up, but already I’m excited about the possibilities – my Y13 are tackling their first BUSS3 paper this week, and the ability to show them how I’d like them to annotate the case-study is going to be invaluable. As we read it together, I can make notes, which they can then see on the board – talk about making the implicit explicit!

Now all I need a long USB extension cable so I can use it in the middle of my classroom…

Legacy exams in a linear world

I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to sort out my classroom – it’s a slow work in progress! – but I’ve felt a bit odd filing things back into my Y12 teaching folder. After all, the course is radically different next year: how will my folder of resources, built up over several years, be of use next year?

While the topic headings are pretty much the same between legacy and linear specifications, the approach is going to be very different: I suspect that a lot of the things I’ve developed so far are eventually destined for the big recycling bin in the sky. One thing that should transfer between specs are the past exam papers for BUSS2 and BUSS3: although the question style is different next year, there’s a wealth of data just waiting to be mined. In the linear course, most of ratio analysis appears in the second year, but it should be possible to use the BUSS3 papers with only minimal tweaking, particularly for the 34-mark questions which give a nice test of the interrelations between functional areas. The BUSS2 papers are a bit more tricky, but there is certainly enough data within them to meet the “10% quantitative” rule, and I envisage using the same case-studies but writing different questions that reflect the more theoretical nature of the new spec. BUSS1 papers are predominantly going to be used for quantitative questions – we might even sack the stories and just use the numbers!

We’ve decided that we’re going to use the 2016 AS paper(s) for our end-of-year internal exam (although school policy is that no-one does AS exams) as most of the questions will be of a similar style to those on the A-level paper. This means that we can use all of our legacy papers during the course without having to retain any for mock exams. I want to avoid using the AQA specimen papers for internal exams at any point during the first year of the course, so that they’re available for mocks in the run-up to the real thing. Besides, they’re all on the internet already, and I suspect that some pupils might perceive this as a revision short-cut!