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Considering change to AQA Drama and Theatre Studies GCE

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by suitcasegirl, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Having just received bizarre Unit 2 marks from Edexcel for the third year running (talented, committed students begin marked the same as one who forgot lines and was almost inaudible, plus an almost surreal rank order), I am considering changing back to AQA, which I taught until 2008. Does anyone have any thoughts / advice?
     
  2. Use website and book the face to face and online standardisation and support/feedback sessions. There is a new subject officer in post now for both A Level and GCSE Drama at AQA - Sarah Ewins, the same person at both levels for the first time - and she is very approachable. The other really helpful person at the end of their direct phone lines is Jeff Edwards and he will always tell you where to get support if he can't access it directly. Teach the written papers using practical methods - and do plenty of practice of essays as you go along. The questions are fair and you can use past papers to virtually write your own mocks, adapting questions from two or more years before but substituting scenes/angles/characters/focuses that haven't been set for a session or two.

    The hardest thing is getting the right choice of play at AS which matches the practitioner - complete freedom so you have to be clued up for what YOU would be happy to teach. We let the students loose with about three plays each to research and do presentations/direct scenes on and formally teach the major theatrical conventions of three or four major practitioners that would match one or more of the plays they are looking at. Then we mention a few more practitioners and key features of their work and suggest a few other plays that might go with those practitioners and set an assignment for each student to make an individual case for a play and practitioner that go together. They then have to do 5 minute persuasive cases and we have a time-limited balloon debate saying it is a matter of life and death for them AS A GROUP compromise and agree on one. It's a high risk method but it always seems to get there in the end. A couple of times in last few years we have had to change tack if they aren't energised - or once they went for a practitioner that I had to research from scratch so that was hard work for me. But if they OWN the play and practitioner by involving them in the choice, the course goes so much smoother. Your job is to make sure there is a match between the play and the practitioner and don't let them go off on the wrong course. You can ring a Coursework Advisor to get their final choice ratified. We do all of this in about three quarters of the lessons up to a fixed deadline date in mid-November; alongside that you introduce the terminology and prepare for theatre visits for paper 1. We try to get them to attend 4 with at least one that we hope will provide a lot of design notes. Prep for that goes through to the exam - and they have to do essays in timed conditions using the notes they will take into the exam - one essay per half term until one a week after the practical which we always do in mid to late March and after the practical they then do timed essays every other lesson with feedback in between. The key to success in DRAM1a seems to be getting the production notes well organised and giving them chances of practising timed essays and making sure they include lots of varying ASSESSMENT/EVALUATION words in every paragraph.

    We delay a decision about the set text until we are sure which period they are choosing for their practical play. Antigone is short and means the rest of world drama is available so it is a favourite choice. Taming of the Shrew ahs been an option when we know we have strong candidates. Doll's House and Shadow of a Gunman are also possibilitiies and good. THere is plenty on the web about the first three I mentioned. We tend not to have chosen Playhouse Creatures or Oh What a Lovely war simply because they're the most modern and you can't choose somehting from the same period for the practical then. The way to approach that is to rehearse scenes with a clipboard and keep annotating texts with dynamic adverbs and adjectives so they can do details about small moments and just get to know the play and all its important key practical decisions. "The actor's thesaurus" is good for prompting strong vocabulary for their set text annotations (and for making the words on the production notes vivid.)

    Finally there is a text book for both levels which students can use out of lessons to gain all the right vocabulary - written by Su Fielder and Pat Friday.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Thanks - this is really useful. The word "fair" is one which appeals after years of Edexcell! Thanks for taking the time to reply in such detail.
     
  4. thingwall

    thingwall New commenter

    I thought of switching to AQA after the great AS marking fiasco of 3 years ago but still prefer the freedom of Edx. eg they're not hung-up over accents. However my AS Unit 2 last year (didn't do AS this year) was marked illogically. As always joy will only come when we have one exam board run not for profit.
     

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