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Edexcel Unit 1 and 2 course

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

  1. Hello Edexcel teachers!

    I attended a course on Friday and am wondering about trying to summarise some of the info to go on here, if it would be helpful to people? I do have to say, this is the information I've been given and may contradict what others have been told! And I can't guarantee that the advice won't change again so if you're really unsure contact Edexcel yourself as well!

  2. Hello Edexcel teachers!

    I attended a course on Friday and am wondering about trying to summarise some of the info to go on here, if it would be helpful to people? I do have to say, this is the information I've been given and may contradict what others have been told! And I can't guarantee that the advice won't change again so if you're really unsure contact Edexcel yourself as well!

  3. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Hi Crunchy,

    YES PLEASE. I got another confusing letter today from Edexcel.
    What I would really like are some concrete examples of what they DO suggest you do in Unit 2.
  4. I'll do my best though I'm certainly still not clear! I'll get my notes. Hang on... :)
  5. Before I post this, it?s just from the notes I?ve taken. I don?t represent Edexcel in any way and if anyone from Edexcel would prefer this to be removed then please let me know and I?ll happily do it. I just know that the course was pretty important for me and I know others haven?t been able to attend one so I just want to share what I learned. I know Sarah from Edexcel is knocking about on here so, if there?s an issue, please let me know. I will try and present the information as I understood it and as fairly as possible.

    Also, please, please, ask Edexcel if anything I say goes against what you?ve been doing/been told in the past. I can only pass on what I learned on this course but don?t treat this as the oracle - get it checked by ask the expert if necessary. I don?t want to cause further confusion or cause anyone to do anything which might cause them problems.

    Ok. Well, it was a very tense course! The whole thing was filmed and there was a senior member of the Edexcel team there who was sort of supervising the whole thing. There is just so much confusion out there. I am also pretty confused and I wasn?t even scaled last year so, in theory, I should know what I?m doing!??The three big things that have come out of it are off-text work, evaluation and ?performance?.

    The off-text thing. This was a big issue for people. I thought I had my head round this but it?s even stricter than I thought. It?s a bit complicated so I?ll do my best to explain. I?ll use Blood Brothers as an example as everybody probably knows it. The example given was that things like doing a parents? evening for Mickey wouldn?t be allowed as it isn?t anywhere in the text. You can do this as part of the preparatory work but it should be assessed or counted towards the 6 hours. The DVD showed some work in which they used three scenes from Blood Brothers but did them off text in their own words and brought them together. This was allowed and could be counted. I gave an example from my scheme which was that, in preparation for looking at Mickey and Eddie aged 7, we do a 5 minute warm up in which they all improvise being kids in the playground at 7. I asked if this would be ok as a short warm up. He said yes, but that I couldn?t assess it or count it towards my 6 hours. I don?t have any lessons in my scheme which are really off text like the example given of the parents? evening, but I was surprised that warm ups like that were also discounted. I think things like hot-seating, still images of the characters at certain points in the play are fine, as long as it is closely linked to the plot of the play and they not doing things like, ?Mrs Johnstone in 10 years? or ?what if Linda had married Eddie instead?, type things. I hope I?ve explained that clearly! We were told that forum theatre should be used to explore key moments of the text, rather than exploring different outcomes for the character. eg. ?Fred, could you try using an angrier tone when you say the lines...?

    As per the other post on here from corblimeygovner there are issues with the Edexcel teacher book. There was a girl who was really upset because she was scaled last year and is only in her second year of teaching. She taught from the book this year, thinking she was playing it safe. She then received a letter saying some of the tasks she?d done from the guide were not appropriate. She was so upset because she felt she?d done exactly what was asked. I haven?t seen the letter from Edexcel yet but it?s a bit of a worry. So be careful with that!

    Discussion and evaluation was another big thing. We were told very clearly that no evaluation should be marked as part of the practical. We were a bit confused as, to me, that?s partly how you assess understanding of their use of strategies, mediums and elements and of the play in Unit 2. We were concerned that there are a lot of kids who muck in well during lessons but don?t have a fantastic understanding of what they?ve done, etc. and this distinction would be hard to draw. So, using the theme of ?conflict? as an example, if you give a stimulus of the painting Guernica (sp?) none of the initial discussion should be marked, which may show understanding of the theme. The practical tasks and simple evaluative comments during the discussion which then lead to further work can be. eg. ?I think this is working really well because... this isn?t working so well because... should we try...?? The ?should we try? is the key. The sort of end of lesson of post-sharing of work (not performance!!) comments like ?I think this is worked really well because... this didn?t work so well because...? shouldn?t be marked towards their understanding of the use of strategies, etc. This should be saved for the controlled conditions. (I understand that we are focusing on the drama and not their understanding of a painting, etc. but I do find it hard to see why ?I think the use of the element of contrast was really effective there because... and helped me to understand... ? can?t be used as I feel it is quite an important part of a practical lesson.) This was a pretty controversial point! He suggested putting these things on your record of work in brackets to show you understood they weren?t to be assessed.

    The use of the 6 hours seems to be key. I think it?s quite hard as most of us teach in hour blocks to keep track of the 6 hours if you?re constantly having to discount this part/that part of the lessons.

    So, the other big thing was performance vs sharing. The example that they gave showed the kids ?sharing? their work. They defined performance as a ?polished and rehearsed? piece of work, as opposed to ?15 minutes to work on something? and an ?exploration? of ideas. The choice of words here seems to be important. Sharing is fine and can be marked but they did stress that these units shouldn?t be building towards a performance, but I think most people know that anyway, as this has always been the case, even on the old spec.

    I asked about whether it should be kids or teachers choosing the strategies/mediums/elements and he said this was ?centre choice?. It was fine for the teacher to be saying ?now we?re going to hot-seat Mrs Johnstone...? or ?I want you to use still image to represent...? They said, at times, pupils might select them themselves but this wasn?t a requirement.

    We got some sample work which was interesting. It was similar to what we did last year (and, Nicky - if you?re reading this - to what you emailed me) which was reassuring. The focus is evaluation of the strategies, mediums, elements and should avoid discussion of the theme at length, concentrating on the drama. There was one which had a huge paragraph about the topic and this was marked down. The other thing was that it needs to be a sense of the exploration rather than performances they did in lessons, as this was also criticised in one of the samples. The highest mark we saw was 17/20 which looked pretty impressive to me. I asked about what would?ve needed to be different in order to get 18/19/20 and I didn?t feel I got a very clear answer. Still, these are very useful for moderation. A lot of people were talking about writing frames, note-taking guides, etc. which can be taken into controlled conditions. Again, they stressed that we shouldn?t be marking drafts, which I think has been fairly clear all along. He said that for the theatre review their QWC didn?t need to be outstanding for them to be in the outstanding bracket, which was a surprise to me. He said if their review was outstanding and QWC was excellent then that could still be outstanding. Again, they stressed that outstanding was really for your exceptional students.

    We looked at 2 lessons on DVD. It was a shame as he couldn?t tell us the marks on the first one but the second one (Unit 2) he told us what they would?ve got. He said there are some egs on the website and that there should be some more coming soon.

    It was a good course overall, in the sense that some questions were definitively answered. I?d certainly recommend it, if you are able to go. It was very stressful though and I think a lot of people left feeling pretty uncertain. The leader did a really good job of trying to help but I felt, at times, he was a little unclear himself of how to explain things. It wasn?t his fault and he did a great job of staying calm in the face of some very upset people.

    It does feel to me that there?s still at lot of confusion at Edexcel. I left the course feeling really down about it all and really uninspired about finishing the course. I need to do some serious thinking. And I?m one of the lucky ones who actually had a fantastic set of results last year!
  6. resources4drama

    resources4drama New commenter

    Which directly contradicts Arthur Dent's recent advice.
    Thanks Crunchy for this.
  7. A couple of things: 1 Thank you for sharing that. 2 The Assessment Criteria for the theatre review uses the word 'faultless' to describe QWC, so what they said at the course is interesting. Perhaps drama moderators are not as highly literate as English teachers, so an understanding of 'faultless' might not actually be without any faults in QWC. That seems to be the problem with using a word like 'faultless' in the assessment criteria! 3 Your meeting would have been filmed with a quality assurance person present as a direct result of the recent 'scandal' about exam boards revealing too much about the exams - you may remember it in the papers, on the TV, in the TES etc etc.. I don't think the filming is in any way connected to teacher disquiet or unease about the spec. 4 Everything you have written amplifies the spec. I don't think you have said anything that isn't in the spec. The emphasis on the on-task nature of work is, I think, a result of seeing too much off-text work last year and the new spec is much more focused on the text compared to the old spec.Did Edexcel see schools just teaching the previous spec with its off-text work (that was allowed under 1699) and not enough of the new spec's focus on the text? I don't know. I haven't seen the examiner's report to know. Crunchy,I think the following is in your other thread - and I cat remember if you said it or someone else - but I'll make a comment on it here as people will be following both: we are teaching are third set of Y10s BUT we only have ONE year of exam results, so there are still going to be problems and teachers are still likely to feel uneasy about the spec this year and, even, possibly next year before everything settles down.
  8. Hi Arthur. Thanks, I'm glad I haven't misrepresented anything.

    Regarding point 2, perhaps that's why it is. I know some drama teachers, and even Unit 1 and 2 moderators, who have far from 'faultless English' themselves! It might be hard if you have someone who thinks a piece of work is faultless, when the same piece of work might be marked down by a teacher who has a better ability to judge. I think it's perhaps just allowing for that? He did say that the primary thing we should be marking is the quality of the evaluation and that the QWC should be secondary to that.

    Regarding point 3, yes there was a statement read about that. The senior member of the team was following round the room when the course leader was speaking to people individually. It was a bit unnerving!!

    Regarding point 4, yes that was my understanding of it. I remember it being briefly mentioned on my launch course but, as I didn't have any majorly off-text tasks in my scheme, I didn't make note of it particularly. It was stricter than I had realised and I'm surprised that even my Blood Brothers warm up was too off-text to be included, even though it was only 5 mins or so. I'm concerned that it's going to get very difficult for people to keep track of the 6 hours.

    Yes, that's on the other thread - can't remember who said it though. I understand what you're saying but it's disconcerting because, for those students who went through last year or who are going through this year, we need to be clearer now. I remember on my launch course asking lots of questions and the response being 'we won't know that til the first cohort has gone through' - things like appropriateness of tasks and approaches to documentary evidence. I remember distinctly the general advice was along the lines of 'nothing much changing but just tightening things up'. I can see that this is sort of the case, though I can see why this might've been misleading to people who then felt secure in just tweaking their existing schemes.

    I felt so much for a lot of the teachers there, who had made a real effort to find out what was expected of them and to ensure their delivery was in line with Edexcel's guidelines, and yet were still having issues. Of course there will always be some who simply don't read the spec thoroughly or who fail to ask when they're unsure, but this did seem like more than that. I feel very unsure as to whether I'll be getting it right this year or not.
  9. Who led the course? Sorry, only just thought that it might be helpful to know.
  10. I can't remember the name of the guy, I'm afraid - I'm hopeless with names. I think he said he was a chief examiner. Sorry. I'll have a look at my stuff when I get a chance and see if it's on there.
  11. "We got some sample work which was interesting. It was similar to what we did last year (and, Nicky - if you’re reading this - to what you emailed me) which was reassuring. "
    Thanks for that crunchynut.
    I still worry a LOT about Unit 2 though. I have actually been marking the Response to Live Theatre Performance pieces my Y11s have completed and I am finding myself deliberately NOT giving outstanding marks - the highest I have marked is 16/20 like with the Documentary Response; the highest I have given is 8/10 because I am actually scared to give top band even though I genuinely and professionally feel that a student should gain top band marks on their work. That sounds awful but it's true. I have convinced myself that my students will get marked down again (and potentially lose a grade as happened last year when I genuinely felt that students should have got an A for their Unit 2 but they only got a B grade!) I understand where I went wrong but now I'm panicking again ........
    We shouldn't be feeling like this but we are and I know I'm not alone!
  12. No, how you're feeling is fine. It's bound to be the case. After this year, you will have a much better idea of what works and you probably have the standard of marking right. In my experience, I rarely told a centre that their marking was on the mean side.
  13. Thanks Arthur but I can't help by feeling negative; that I'm letting my students down. I have some who I feel are A* candidates but I'm basically telling them that I won't predict them an A* because I'm playing "safe" and I'm marking their work rather mean because I don't want them marked down..... I'm definitely penalising them but I don't want to risk it!! [​IMG]
  14. Yes but surely revealing so little is even more scandalous. We are not asking much, not privvy information which would enable us to cheat but simply the resources and examples to ensure we don't deliver in an incorrect way.
    They SHOULD be uneasy the *** ups they have made are damn near neglegant!
  15. I feel the same. All the teachers in their other subjects are giving them grades for pieces of coursework, etc. and I don't feel confident enough to. I feel dreadful that they're working so hard and yet I'm not able to give them the reassurance they need that their hard work is paying off. :(
  16. lolI hope you are taking such maths tasks with caution because elements of the course are worth different percentages and all marks are converted to UMS before the grade is applied. How UMS works, is beyond me (and most people, I think!) SO, you might have some students who do get A*. Besides, A* is only given to the top 5% of marks in the country, so it's perfectly possible that you don't have students in that grade boundary - might sound harsh but it's something that we might wish to keep in mind.
  17. Granted; I'm not very good at maths but I've been using last year's grade boundaries - Unit 1 52/60 for A* and; off the top of my head; 49/60 for Unit 2; altogether 180/200 for A* for the full GCSE grade......
    It's that information which I've taken the numbers from and explained to students clearly that boundaries may change by summer etc etc.
    I think it's a joke to be honest that only 5% of the students get A* - is it like that in EVERY subject? I think it's unfair; if a student is A* quality and standard why shouldn't they be awarded that result and not an A grade when they are clearly above the A grade.....
    I think; off the top of my head again; that the grade boundaries were issued on results day via Edexcel online??? So; I'm using their information.......
  18. Yes, the top 5% in all subjects.To give you some sort of comparison. I was talking to an Art teacher the other day who pointed out that they needed 78/80 in either coursework or exam (I forget which) to get an A*. It is a bit mad. But, then, A* is for the very best. It ought to be seen as the reward for students who produce work of a higher quality than you would expect at GCSE. That's always been my understanding - don't know how grounded my understanding is. I can see what you are doing BUT.... Unit 1 is 30%, as is Unit 2 and Unit 3 is 40% of the total. My copy of the Spec has 270/300 UMS marks for A* Each unit is converted to UMS and then the unified marks (hence its name) are added together. It's not as simple as totalling them. At this point my brain tries to explode. With my students, I only ever go as a far as "A on Unit 1, A on Unit 2 means you must get A on Unit 3 if you want an A." I never try and analyse in any more detail. (Of course, if someone could actually explain how UMS works....)
  19. So; what I'm confused about is the actual subject marks and boundaries - I am aware that THESE may change but; in the paperwork given from Edexcel last year on results day and on the website there are marks out of 60 for each coursework unit and out of 80 for Unit 3. Aren't these to be used to advise students where they are?
    Unit1: A* = 52/60, A=45/60, B=38/60, C=32/60, D=26/60, E=21/60, F= 16/60 and G = 11/60
    Unit 2: A* = 49/60, A=43/60, B=37/60, C=31/60, D=25/60, E = 20/60, F=15/60 and G= 10/60
    Unit 3: A*=70/80, A=61/80, B=51/80, C= 42/80, D=34/80, E=27/80, F= 020/80 and G =13/80
    These marks total to 200 marks altogether (60+60+80) and there are subject marks out of 200 which equate to the following grades:
    A* = 180/200, A = 160/200, B = 140/200, C = 120/200, D = 100/200, E = 80/200, F = 60/200 and G = 40/200
    These are the figures I've been using to work out my students grades (or potential grades) and, to me this makes sense as these have actually come from Edexcel themselves. Last year was very much a guessing game as there were no subject marks available and this has made my life easier although I still think that I genuinely have students (two of them) who should gain A* but, due to the marking last year i feel that they have to do even more in this spec than they did in the previous. I am having to have a meeting with my line manager about why students aren't achieving their "target grade" set by school and this is what I mean by feeling like I'm penalising them and letting them down. It's not fair on them. And, I am using these figures to prove how many marks they need for whatever grade.
  20. resources4drama

    resources4drama New commenter

    If they use FFT data at all then I hope you are using the article I wrote to argue your case.

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