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Year 11 retakes, terrible start - advice?

Discussion in 'English' started by figgins, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. I have a difficult year 11 class retaking GCSE English language in November in order to improve the B & C grades they all ready have. This is not their choice and they are very unhappy about it. The start has been difficult; there is a significant element of boys presenting challenging behaviour and I am managing at the moment by being draconian. They're staying in their seats and doing the minimum, but if they are to actually improve their grades in 8 weeks time I need to get them engaging quickly. Does anyone have any ideas for activities that would engage this group and also focus on A grade responses to the papers. We're doing WJEC, but it's similar to other GCSEs.
  2. Blimey, poor kids, no wonder they are disruptive - why isn't a B or a C good enough?? They've done really well and yet they must feel like they've failed.
    Maybe start by telling them you understand that they might be feeling this way and give them the reasons why they have to do better. Children need to understand the reasoning behind the things we make them do - especially when they're being asked to do something that seems as ridiculous and unreasonable at this.
    They probably didn't enjoy the poetry the first time round ... are they going to have to do it all again? Maybe choose a different poet / text this time so they don't feel like it's Groundhog Day.
    A grade B or even a C would be good enough for most schools/teachers so why not theirs?
  3. Maybe I'm just totally out of the loop/touch but that seems crazy - why make them re-sit if they've already got B or C? I can understand some kids wanting to try to improve their result if they had a bad day on the exam or really want to get an A* or A but to make them all do it...
  4. It's a long story that, in the telling, would give away my location. It's not my choice but it is my lot to have to manage it. I have decided to give them their coursework back and give a choice of improving a couple of pieces or working on exam technique for the same area of study so that they are basically covering the same skills but will feel they have opted in to something. Luckily it's language so no worries about texts and, being WJEC, there's no anthology so no going over exactly the same ground. I'm going to focus on individual and group work too, in order to minimise the effect of the disruptive influences.
  5. Gosh, I really feel for you. Although you - understandably - haven't given all the details it sounds like these kids weren't really A grade kids to start with and so pushing them up from Bs or Cs doesn't sound like a good prospect.
    They clearly need some motivation don't they - a reason for working towards the A which either has to be for achievement or to avoid punishment. Do they know why they're working towards an A? Do they know what the benefits of getting an A are?
    Presumably you've added up all the marks and know how many more they need to push up the grades which, to make a resit worthwhile, can't be very many marks. Perhaps share that with them and let them see how close they are.
    Perhaps give them tasks which target their own interests - writing letters to football clubs or writing reports about a sports issue - that might be a little more appealing than the usual letters to the headteacher!
    Hope you get through it.
  6. We do a lot of re-sits where I work - though only for those who get a D and need a C ...
    Usually we persuade them it's a good idea by saying they are older and wiser now than they were last year and that they are lucky to have a second chance. It's one way of motivating them and it does make them feel a bit better about having to do it all/some of it 'again'. Also we look for areas where they have done well - in PE or in art or history or geography - and focus their coursework around things they are interested in/good at already.
    Good luck - to you and your students.
  7. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    We had an AST come in and do some great stuff on the WJEC reading section (non-fiction) all about tattooing (a guide to tattooing and then a personal account of the process). The kids really engaged with it as it was fascinating for them - it was interspersed with clips from youtube etc. In light of this, I would say avoid past papers and find texts/articles they are really interested in and set the reading questions from that. Likewise for the fiction. It doesn't really matter about the texts, it is the skills that are important.
  8. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    PS For my two-penneth worth - I have to agree with most of the other posters who find this situation bizarre to say the least - why retake? They have better things to be focussed on in Year 11. Anyways, good luck.
  9. Can I ask what sort of thing the AST did with the texts?
  10. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    she set questions similar to exam ones (i.e. reading between the lines, reading for info etc.). There was some group work around the texts too - putting presentations together etc. on new topics - best group won a prize etc. All using reading skills.
  11. http://english.edusites.co.uk/category/c/teaching-ideas-skills-development/ They have ASTs who will come to your school. Contact them. They are also developing their WJEC resources.

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