Using feedback whilst teaching virtually

With my Year 10 class, we began the lockdown period by revising. This meant that I did not have to write new work for them. However, I was keen to help them gain the most from revision. The class were a high attaining class and in previous class discussions, it had become clear that they relied on minimum revision for end of topic tests. They needed to revise five topics and relying on their usual strategy of a quick look through the work the night before was not going to work.

This gave me an excellent opportunity to show some of the ways they could structure their revision. I began by reminding them of the resources available to them, for example checklists, revision guide, past questions and mygcsescience. I also found them revision mats and gave them a list of the key ideas that from the topic. I gave them 40 minutes to complete the revision and then gave them an Educake quiz.

For those of you not familiar with Educake, it is an assessment tool. It has a bank of questions and it marks the students’ answers and gives them immediate feedback. It enables you to see how students have performed across the test and in individual questions. I was able to choose the level of the questions I wanted for this high attaining group and it gave me an opportunity to identify the questions in which students performed poorly.

I used this information to write a PowerPoint to address these areas. I began by choosing questions that had 40% correct answers or lower. I read each question and the accepted answers. Sometimes I thought the wording of the question or the precision of the answer might have been partly responsible for the number of students getting the answer wrong. Regardless I made a slide for each question explaining the science behind the idea with diagrams. I was not surprised it was often the more challenging ideas and those common misconceptions that were behind the wrong answers. It was however reassuring to have the proof that these still were problem areas for this group. It also gave me an opportunity to extend students’ knowledge by attaching web links to articles showing either the original experiment or an application used today.

The next lesson began with them looking through this PowerPoint and my hope was that whilst the mistakes were still fresh they could then begin to work on removing the misconceptions and adding to their understanding. I will only know how successful this was when I can assess them with an exam. I will be using this going forward not just whilst we are in the period of lockdown. I aim to upload a PowerPoint to the Google Classroom after every test with an explanation to the commonly poorly answered questions to tests. I do go through these areas verbally in class but I have realised that having a document uploaded gives students the chance to go back and look over it in their own time either straight after the test or later when they are revising the topic. I appreciate that this relies on the motivation of the students and I am fortunate that this class is very motivated and independent.

By Nicola Gunton, Head of KS5 Chemistry and professional learning team member, Sandringham School

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