I have 2 year 10 English classes, one is an extension class but it is not this class that I am writing about today. I have just completed entering the grades for my mainstream year 10 class and have had a pleasant surprise – 10 Excellences for the visual text essay! This is unheard of for me, I would normally get 2 or 3, and it has led me to reflect on how this may have happened.
We viewed the film Little Miss Sunshine and close read 2 important scenes together. I then flipped the teaching and learning by making all tasks and activities available on our learning management system. Students then worked through the activities at their own pace. They published each artifact that they created on their blogs. At 2 points during the film study I gave due dates for 2 essays and provided flipped resources to help students write their essays.
All tasks and activities were on a powerpoint which also included explanations of key themes and terms. I provided an Explain Everything video and essay templates for the weaker students. I also made myself available during class at the Essay Help Desk, and at other times via email.
Tasks and Activities
Checking out the data
- I completed an informal survey to see what resources had been used and found that most students had used an essay template.
- I also had a quick discussion wth 2-3 students about the unit of work and they commented that they enjoyed being able to work at their own pace and choose what they wanted to work on and when. They seemed to think that I had taught them something! I did prepare resources but there was very little sage on the stage.
- I questioned whether I had been a little generous in my marking so I looked in my Kamar markbook summary and found that 5 of the 10 excellence students have a GPA over 75 which means they are very capable students. The other students had helped each other or I had worked closely with them at my Essay Help Desk.
So what worked well:
- The choice of film. Students love this film as the characters and their issues are easy to relate to and understand.
- Allowing students to choose what tasks they wanted to work on and when to work on them. I often had some students writing essays, some pimping out their blogs for our class competition and some creating artefacts to demonstrate understanding in the same lesson.
- Giving extra time to write the essay. In the past I have spent one period teaching essay writing or brainstorming and then made the essay homework to be handed in a week later. This time I did very little essay teaching and allowed a 2 week deadline. Students were also able to work on their essays in class time so that I was able to help them when needed, and they also were able to help each other. Many students actually identified and wrote about themes other than the ones explained in the resource.
- Making all resources available on line – including me! I did have one or two students email questions about their work to me and I was happy to reply at a time that suited me. One student is very reserved in class and she was the one who emailed me the most. It was great for her to be able to ask questions in a non-threatening environment.
Examples of Student Work
Have a look at the following student blogs to see how well they did: