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Your approach to GCSE Lang Q4 'evaluation'

Discussion in 'English' started by OneLooseCrank, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. OneLooseCrank

    OneLooseCrank Occasional commenter

    Hi all,
    I teach on the OCR side of things, where the GCSE Language Q4 is both a comparison and an evaluation. I don't find this a very easy one to teach, and the resources / direction from the examining body is simply terrible. It isn't marked on AO2 Language analysis, but many of the exemplars seem to award many analytical comments marks that don't appear to be accounted for in the spec (there is some natural language analysis within the evaluation AO, but not to the detail that some candidates are going into where they are treating it like a Q3). When contacted about this, OCR confirmed that the exemplars did appear to be awarding marks for AO2 style comments erroneously... So the department spent a small fortune on inhouse training from OCR to help develop our GCSE Language teaching. When asked about how best to approach the Q4, we were not given any satisfactory direction. We were actually able to have refunded a large amount of the cost of the training because of how vague OCR have been about this.
    So I'm in a position where I'm pulling my hair out a bit. We each teach the question in our own different ways, and I'm interested in garnering some ideas from the wider community.
    I ask my students to:
    Draw some comparison between the two text > find evidence of the common theme or language > explore which author expressed the themes of the text best when comparing the quotations.
    But, the language of the question doesn't really seem to suggest this (it doesn't even say the word 'evaluate' in it). As I'm teaching this approach, I'm finding most students really really struggle to grasp the idea of weighing up better/worse, most/least successful, most/least effective between two texts. Now, I have had a student reach a grade 9 for this paper, and we used this response to undermine the exemplar material being shown to us by the OCR representative and she did use the concept of most/least, better/worse. I just don't find that most students can access this, the language of the question doesn't necessarily imply this, and the examplar material rarely supports this...
    So how do you approach the evaluation question? Have you got any supportive structures or scaffolds you find works?
  2. OneLooseCrank

    OneLooseCrank Occasional commenter

    Something I've started discussing when doing evaluations of language at KS3 is to have students weigh up 'alternative interpretations' to the author's, and weigh up how difficult it is to tell the intended meaning from the erroneous meanings. Student sometimes say it's impossible to know, to which I say it is fully possible to know when you are thinking about the wider text. Evaluating how easy it is to misunderstand the author is an important skill, and something we might often fall foul of when reading text messages. But still, I think is so high-order I'm not sure how the middle and lower target grade students could possible cope with the demands of this question!
  3. firstpoet

    firstpoet New commenter

    Retired after forty years and this is one reason I have no regrets. You can’t train a student on an attitudes question to an unseen although you can model this from yr 7 onwards. Admit it’s about having attitudes! The only way to embed this is paradoxical: encourage open ended responses in KS3 without grading or they’ll only want to know the right thought they’re ‘supposed’ to have. The more you train them so they don’t choose their attitude, the less they can think for themselves. Good luck!
    OneLooseCrank likes this.
  4. OneLooseCrank

    OneLooseCrank Occasional commenter

    Yeah, I think this nicely summarises the problem. They are looking for the right answer, and I'm trying to tell them that the Q4 has more in common with the creative writing than it does the analysis. I ask them to imagine they are in a pub having a good natter on the subject with the authors of the article. BUT, the advice says they shouldn't be talking about their own experiences, only those they retrieve from the article. It is utterly opposite to what we do in real life when we engage in discussions with others... And I can't figure out a language to train them with that succinctly summarises the technique in a non - contradictory or hypocritical way.
  5. louisee9

    louisee9 New commenter

    I am a private tutor so teach this question across the different exam boards and have found looking at the guidance, specifications and mark scheme of all them and comparing notes between them useful, considering they are ultimately testing the same skills.
  6. louisee9

    louisee9 New commenter

    I have more recently been asking students to look at from the point of view of how they write stories - why did you tell it from that character's point of view? why did you want dialogue there? did you want it to be fast or slow paced?
    I also have some resources such as model answers and Powerpoints going through the question.
  7. CloudsTES

    CloudsTES New commenter

    I'm a private tutor, and I can only say that I feel your pain! I currently tutor across two UK (AQA and OCR) and two international (Edexcel and Cambridge) specifications, and Q4 of OCR Language (across both papers) is the question for which I feel least equipped to prepare my students. The confusion comes, for me, because the Question is both an evaluation and a comparison question, but with most of the marks being attributed to the evaluation aspect. I'm quite new to teaching this specification and I had thought there as maybe some trick to answering it, of which I was not aware. When I've asked my students how their teachers have approached it with them, they're quite vague (this could be to do with the lack of clarity the teachers have had in grappling with the Question, or due the students not having understood/ grasped what they’ve been taught). Another student, who I tutor only on the OCR Literature side, suggested her school had moved away from OCR Language, as they were having difficulties with the specification, which perhaps validates our experiences! Anyway, my approach, to date - and I'm in an easier position than you, as, as a tutor, I am there essentially to support and build on classroom learning, and would encourage the student to be guided by their teacher’s approach to answering any question (unless something clearly wasn’t working), which means I’m not usually at the frontline in terms this type of difficulty - is to suggest to the student that they find themes to compare across both texts (as you say, above), and to then write one PEE about Text 1 followed by one PEE about Text 2, ideally making a comparison across both texts (I say ‘ideally’ because some students find this comparison across a single idea/ aspect difficult, and I don’t want them to end up stumped and confused, which might lead them to missing out on evaluation marks). I basically say for each PEE to directly answer the question – agreeing with it (or disagreeing with it, if they’re brave) – and to back up their opinion with evidence from the text. Now, though, I’m thinking I’m perhaps slipping a bit too much into AO2 territory. I’m going to have to do a bit more thinking about that! Also, I don’t tend to go down the one text is better than the other route; this isn’t an aspect of AQA and, as the previous poster suggested, as each board is essentially testing the same areas, I would have thought that this aspect might not be necessary. However, looking at the mark schemes, and from reading your post, above, including comments from the OCR representative, perhaps I’m back to the drawing board…

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