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Another UNIT 2 letter from Edexcel...

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by corblimeyguvnor, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    So, another letter arrived from Edexcel today basically lsiting a load of activities which are in the textbook or student guide but should now be ignored as they will not allow the students to meet the requirements of Unit 2. This includes a hot-seating task etc.
    I am disgusted. They are trying to back-peddle as fast as they can now that it has been pointed out to them that their own material is useless, conflicting and confusing. They are now saying the activities are only oart of the "wider programme of study" but that is NOT what it says in the books.
    So now I have gone through the exemplars online AGAIN and there are a few examples of off-text work in there on the Antigone SOW. So what exactly ARE we allowed to do?
    Can anyone give me a concrete example?
    we are not allowed to go off-text, we are not allowed to perform, we are not allowed to improvise, we are not allowed to evaluate.
    So are they saying that our whole Record of work should just be "Gave the students this extract, they worked out how they could not perform it, then we didn't evaluate their ideas"???
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHH I hear the faint call of AQA....
     
  2. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    So, another letter arrived from Edexcel today basically lsiting a load of activities which are in the textbook or student guide but should now be ignored as they will not allow the students to meet the requirements of Unit 2. This includes a hot-seating task etc.
    I am disgusted. They are trying to back-peddle as fast as they can now that it has been pointed out to them that their own material is useless, conflicting and confusing. They are now saying the activities are only oart of the "wider programme of study" but that is NOT what it says in the books.
    So now I have gone through the exemplars online AGAIN and there are a few examples of off-text work in there on the Antigone SOW. So what exactly ARE we allowed to do?
    Can anyone give me a concrete example?
    we are not allowed to go off-text, we are not allowed to perform, we are not allowed to improvise, we are not allowed to evaluate.
    So are they saying that our whole Record of work should just be "Gave the students this extract, they worked out how they could not perform it, then we didn't evaluate their ideas"???
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHH I hear the faint call of AQA....
     
  3. This was brought up yesterday. See my other thread in a bit and I'll comment on a couple of these things. Not had the latest letter yet.
     
  4. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Here is a letter I have just put in the post to Edexcel. Does anyone else feel like this or is it seriously just me?

    Dear Sarah and Team,
    Fistly I apologise in advance for the disgruntled tone of what is to follow, but in reality I am becoming increasingly despairing about this awful situation.
    This is not the first time I have written to you, nor is it the first contact about Unit Two (GCSE), but following the letter I received today I feel the need to write, yet again, for clarification.
    Neither the textbook nor the TPAG refers to these now excluded exercises being part of a 'programme of study' as now stated in your rather "back-pedalling" letter. They are in fact on "Editable Schemes of Work". This is highly misleading.
    In addition, the one (which in itself is ridiculous) exemplar record of work for Unit 2 on the Edexcel site refers to an "off-text activity" where the students improvise scenes as the guards. It also refers to creating still image work of the concept/entire narrative - in the exercise entitled "What is going on?".
    We are not now allowed to go off-text, we are not allowed to let the students "perform", or to verbally analyse or evaluate what they see in the sessions. I understand that in a course attended on Friday, delegates were also told that any work on the Drama Medium which does not use the text is not permitted now - the example of working on playing children for Blood Brothers was mentioned and apparently this is unnaceptable, even when the protagonists of this text spend half of the play as children played by adults.
    What exactly CAN we do? Can anyone at Edexcel provide CONCRETE examples of enough tasks which would meet the spec but also fill 6 hours? Of course we (as teachers) felt that you had done this in the TPAG, textbook and exemplars, but now (in January of the THIRD year of this spec) we are told these materials are no longer to be relied upon.
    Also, how are we supposed to use the explorative strategies if all we can (seemingly) do is directly use extracts of the text? I can think of examples for Thought-tracking and for a Still Image, but what about Narration? Is hot-seating now off-text if the students do not quote lines from the text? What about forum theatre? If it veers too far off what is actually written in the text, is it then off-text?
    Your expensive documentation (published by you) is confusing. The exemplar material on the web-site is now wholly inadequate. In addition there are STILL no examples of Outstanding work on the web-site and we are but four full months away from submission date.
    Surely with all the confusion, you should now be issuing EVERY centre, by post, further exemplars along with concrete examples of tasks which are acceptable. Surely you should also be redfunding centres who paid well over the odds for supporting material which is now directly in conflict with the examination requirements. I fully believe that the only fair course of action would be for the spec to be revised for NEXT YEAR'S series and for all moderator materials for unit 2 to be sent directly to centres so that we know exactly what is expected of us.
    I will be sending this letter (in the post) to the Chief Executive and to QCA as I feel that we are being grossly mistreated as teachers and that our students are being wholly disadvantaged.
    Whatever your response, you must certainly concede that this is a shambles and that in the majority of cases, centres will now have to make retrospective alterations to controlled assessments which have been taught in some cases up to nine months ago.


     
  5. Like. +1. Heat.
    Heads shoukd roll.
     
  6. I have done hotseating and it is on the dvd
    I also have a abstract mental state of mind for Mrs J
    we also did warm ups in role as small children
    We did it in Yr 10 so wrote the CA ages ago - to make them redo it all is just not possible - even if we could re film something iT would take ages to redo the CA
    We will fail, i just don't understand it any more - the spec doesn't make all this clear and this is what we use- by the time the ICE (know it has a new name now) arrives we have done it
    I give up!
     
  7. PS - Great letter Mr Corblimey!
     
  8. From what I understand - see my other thread - hotseating of the characters, as long as it refers to what's in the text, will be fine. Abstract mental state of Mrs J, again as long as it focuses on what's going on in the text, should I *think* be fine. The warm up as kids isn't part of the assessment. They said it was ok to do it but that you shouldn't mark it.
     
  9. Thanks Crunchy ...Do you think I should make it REALLY clear on my Record of work how the hotseating and abstract refer straight back to the text?? really worried now.
     
  10. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Thanks, but I'm a Miss ;-)
    The thing is here that I am actually confident in my own SOW now. I rewrote it for this year (and wasn't scaled last year) I'm new to a centre that WAS scaled (massively) and deservedly last year (but this was actually down to poor marking by the previous HOD). I'm just worried that if we get scaled down again the parents will start to lose faith.
    It is just purely the principle of the thing that gets to me. It is just awful the way that we are stilol now getting new "clarification" and for most of us we are teaching out third lot of year tens on this spec. By now we should be confidently delivering our SOWs and running our controlled assessments with ease. But this is just not the case - we are all flailing around in the wilderness making wild stabs in the dark at what may and may not be acceptable.
    The issue is that if WE are unsure then you can bet your bottom-dollar that after a one-day training course, so will the Moderators. This means there will (yet again) be disparity in the marking of these units.
    I know of two centres who are part of a "sister school" arrangement. Both taught the same SOW for Unit two last year. One centre was scaled, the other was commended in their moderator's report, inspite of the SOW including work which we now know is unacceptable (off-text tasks).
    I also have issues with the "controlled conditions" element of all this. Here is an example:
    By now I have marked my students' work which was completed in controlled conditions. Most are amazing, some are dreadful but essentially I have taken it in and it is complete and can no longer be edited. Suddenly this letter from the board gives me the excuse to let the students re-write some of their work because I may have included off-text tasks (and even if I haven't, how will the board know that I didn't?). My marks and comments are all over their written work by now and are highly detailed. So as a teacher wanting the best marks for my kids, do I give them this work back and ask them to cut the off-text stuff out? Any sensible student would make additional changes to their work. This could definitely lead to teachers "re-drafting" even inadvertantly, their students' work. Thus raising the standard across all entries and making the grade boundaries higher.
    This course was sold to us (when deciding on post-2009 specs) on the notion of how much freedom we would have as teachers. Now I am going to have to rewrite my SOW for next year (this will be my third annual rewrite, when I had previously taught another SOW, tailored to the old spec, for five consequetive years with no rewrites and always been praised for it and got all A/A*).
    I think when I do rewrite it it will be incredible prescriptive and restrictive. Essentially all we can do is get them to examine actual extracts of the text and then try avoid evaluating what they have done during a "sharing" of their work.
    So the key question here is WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS ACTUALLY LEARNING in this unit? If we follow the requirements strictly I think they will only be learning how thought-tracking, hot-seating etc can help them see the sub-text of a scene. This is a TINY part of what drama means in the big wide world and a tiny part of the skills they would need at A Level or when moving onto a career. So in short it is pointless - it becomes more of an English Literature exercise on the meaning of the written word, structure of plot and narrative etc.
    Quite apart from the countless hours and days I've spent stressing, rewriting, meticulously marking etc, I feel we are letting our students down with the content of this unit.


     
  11. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Rentonave -
    I have divided my ROW into sessions and for each session I have photocopied the extract of the text which was focused on, highlighted the text we used and labelled it up to show how it links with the tasks.
    At the start of the ROW I have made a list of the extracts used in the workshop sessions and then numbered them with what session they were used in.
    I think we would all be wise to make the direct link with the text clear to the moderator.
    I did one task which I am still slightly unsure of, but most of the students didnt choose to write about in in their documentary response and it only took 20 minutes so I'm hoping we'll be ok.

     
  12. Yes, I think that might be a good idea. I think the more detailed your record of work could be the better.


    corblimeygovnor, I'm similar to you in that I wasn't scaled last year though I can see little bits of my record of work (which I re-wrote for last year based on the launch course) would still need amending for this year. I've never really done vastly off-text work but I didn't realise it was quite as strict as it is. I understand that you can't, for example, write an alternative ending to the play but I do think there's a line somewhere where it's a bit blurry.
     
  13. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Hi Crunchy - your other post is so helpful and must have taken ages - thank you so much.
    I suppose what I am most upset about is that it was the off-text tasks that the students get the most out of. They love inventing new scenes, alternative endings etc. When I give them an extract and we thought-track it, their general response is that it feels like what they do in English.
    I know we have to "move with the times", but I miss the freedom of helping the kids to really explore the text, rather than just work on the characterisation.
    Now the written papers in OCR and AQA seem more appealing because they do allow for that experimentation and exploration., albeit in a way which leads to a written response.
     
  14. No worries. Glad it's helpful. :)
     
  15. There is no reason why you can't do these off-text activities with your students. However, they are not to be assessed and students should not write about them. No reason on earth why you shouldn't do an alternative ending but add it to the six hours. It's six hours of assessed practical. Why not have a 9-10 hour scheme of work that includes these activities. It's fine, provided you clearly identify which are the six hours of assessment in the record of work you send and provided students don't write about the unassessed work in their documentary responses.
     
  16. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Have received a reply from Edexcel (on a Sunday which is quite impressive!)
    Here it is - not sure it helps much, just makes me more confused!

    can see how anxious and frustrated you are and have therefore done my best to answer your specific questions by numbering these and adding notes - for the sake of clarity, I have used cut and paste to do this and I do hope my responses are clear. I also hope that if you have specific concerns about the activities that you have completed you will review these carefully considering for example, what proportion of your 6 hour exploration is spent on such activities and whether these activities are part of your sample session, as well as the purpose of any off text activities and how subsequent tasks fed back into the text, before choosing to re-do sessions. This advice is being given to all centres who contact ATE.

    I would add that all the clarification provided by Edexcel has been designed to support teachers of GCSE Drama. However much support we offer, the fact remains that with an open specification such as 2DR01, responsibility lies with centres to select the most appropriate approaches, activities, themes and texts for their studen. No matter how great the support offered, it is perfectly possible for "approved" approaches to be used in an inappropriate way and this is why the Edexcel GCSE Drama senior team are not able to recommend or endorse specific approaches or activities.

    Re your queries:

    1. Neither the textbook nor the TPAG refers to these now excluded exercises being part of a 'programme of study' as now stated in your rather "back-pedalling" letter. They are in fact on "Editable Schemes of Work". This is highly misleading.

    Please see p.69-71 of the teacher’s guide “Planning for Unit 2”. The paragraph beginning “The five example schemes of work here...”. is especially helpful (bottom p.69) as is the paragraph beginning “A scheme of work could be used...” (bottom p.70)

    2. In addition, the one (which in itself is ridiculous) exemplar record of work for Unit 2 on the Edexcel site refers to an "off-text activity" where the students improvise scenes as the guards. It also refers to creating still image work of the concept/entire narrative - in the exercise entitled "What is going on?".

    The activities you mention are allowable, because they are short off-text activities which bring the students’ understanding and focus back to the text - please see the activities that follow in the ROW and the comments in response to point 7 below.


    3. We are not now allowed to go off-text,

    All the clarification on Unit 2 clearly states that off -text tasks are allowable.

    4. we are not allowed to let the students "perform",

    This is very clear both in the specification and the teacher guide - please see paragraph top p.71 “The Assessment of Unit 2 does not concern itself with performance...”

    5. or to verbally analyse or evaluate what they see in the sessions.

    Verbal evaluation is a very important part of GCSE Drama but students cannot gain marks for Exploration by evaluating. However teacher-assessors and moderators will use discussion/ verbal response tasks to indicate the level of understanding in the session. Centres need to ensure that such tasks are appropriately balanced amount within exploration sessions so that the focus of ythe assessment is on the Drama Exploration itself rather than on discussing the Drama.

    6. I understand that in a course attended on Friday, delegates were also told that any work on the Drama Medium which does not use the text is not permitted now - the example of working on playing children for Blood Brothers was mentioned and apparently this is unacceptable, even when the protagonists of this text spend half of the play as children played by adults.

    I would direct you to the comments referenced above on performance as any task that focuses on acting EG “playing children” rather than exploring will not meet the re requirements of an exploration unit. Work on “playing children” would however be appropriate in the preparation for Unit 3 performance of a text where “the protagonists of this text spend half of the play as children played by adults.”

    7. What exactly CAN we do? Can anyone at Edexcel provide CONCRETE examples of enough tasks which would meet the spec but also fill 6 hours? Of course we (as teachers) felt that you had done this in the TPAG, textbook and exemplars, but now (in January of the THIRD year of this spec) we are told these materials are no longer to be relied upon. Also, how are we supposed to use the explorative strategies if all we can (seemingly) do is directly use extracts of the text? I can think of examples for Thought-tracking and for a Still Image, but what about Narration? Is hot-seating now off-text if the students do not quote lines from the text? What about forum theatre? If it veers too far off what is actually written in the text, is it then off-text?

    Off-text activities are not at issue. Some such exercises take students back to a moment in the text/ understanding of the play via a short diversion and this is entirely appropriate for a unit focussed on exploring a full and complete text in 6 hours. However, the kind of exercise which involves a lengthy journey away from the text and producing work not closely related to the original play could result in students spending too little time exploring the way that the playwright has written this specific play.

    8. Your expensive documentation (published by you) is confusing. The exemplar material on the web-site is now wholly inadequate. In addition there are STILL no examples of Outstanding work on the web-site and we are but four full months away from submission date.

    I understand that you are aware of the data protection/ permission issues we have had with these materials as well as the limited number of clear appropriate DVDs and DRs with a number of students in the correct mark range - remember A* = 5% of the cohort. break that 5% down to the fact that only 5 students from each centre were seen by us at Edexcel and the vast majority of these DVDs were not appropriate to use. However the intention is to publish two complete units including sample sessions and DRs as soon as possible to aid teacher moderation of both units well before submission.

    I will certainly forward your letter and my response to the Edexcel GCSE Drama GQ Assessment team, the senior team for GCSE Drama and to Sarah Ross. I appreciate that your intention is not to be disgruntled and that your confusion is absolutely genuine. I do hope that you find my comments as helpful and supportive as they are intended to be.
     
  17. It is an impressively quick response


    Completely understand this: "Off-text activities are not at issue. Some such exercises take students back to a moment in the text/ understanding of the play via a short diversion and this is entirely appropriate for a unit focussed on exploring a full and complete text in 6 hours. However, the kind of exercise which involves a lengthy journey away from the text and producing work not closely related to the original play could result in students spending too little time exploring the way that the playwright has written this specific play. " ... Though I do feel that my example of the warm up of playing children feeding straight into work on Mickey and Eddie at aged 7 would kind of fit this description? Surely that is integral to the way the playwright intended the play?


    Glad to see your letter was taken on board so promptly though.
     
  18. Tell you what, as a mod, I'd like an annual standardising meeting brought back - we used to have them for 1698 - yes, the spec before the now defunct 1699. However, Edexcel is owned by Pearson who, as a company, need to make money and standardising meetings are expensive, so, don't hold your breath on that one! (It would be nice to be proved wrong!) Secondly, the detail of that reply would hint that it has come from someone at the top of the drama tree! And, yes, impressive to get a reply on a Sunday. Shows you that the people at the top of Edexcel Drama care enough about the course, its delivery, teachers and students that someone is willing to do that at the weekend.
     
  19. It would be great, wouldn't it? I know when the head of Eng goes to the English standardisation she finds it really helpful. Think it might help a lot.
     
  20. Hi everyone,

    I would like to reassure you and confirm that nothing has changed in the Edexcel GCSE Drama specification.
    If you have any more questions about Unit 2, or GCSE Drama in general, you can email me on dramateam@edexcelexperts.co.uk
    Sarah
     

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