Tuesday, 12 July 2011

GCSE Statistics - Probability activities

People are always talking about probability. ‘I think it’s going to rain’, ‘I have no chance of passing my maths test’, ‘I expect I’ll win the tennis match.’ Probability is the measure of how likely an outcome is.

An impossible event has a probability of 0.
Something that is certain is given a probability of 1.
All other probabilities lie between 0 and 1.

Probabilities can be represented by marking the position on a probability scale from Impossible to Certain.

Download a pdf of probability exercises and activities suitable for grade B to grade G students or click below to play two probability exercises.

Collins Education blog

Key Stage 3 Geography - Views on the coast

According to the popular BBC series, ‘Coast’, nowhere in Britain is more than seventy miles from the sea. Our coastal margins offer plenty of potential for interesting geography. We love being beside the seaside apparently: houses with a sea-view sell for considerably more than those without. Locations such as Sandbanks in Dorset are amongst the most expensive in terms of land value in the whole country, if not the world, with houses selling for millions of pounds. The traditional ‘bucket-and-spade’ holiday has grown in popularity recently as the squeeze on family budgets has led to the rise of the ‘staycation’ and a resurgence of interest in camping. The glamour of the remaining seaside piers is also a major attraction for the towns that have them.

Download this free Views on the coast case study from the Geographical Association including 2-pages of activities for students.  Let us know how your students get on with the activities.

Collins Education Blog

Monday, 4 July 2011

Secondary English - Controlling the Assessment

When speaking to colleagues about the challenges this year the conversation always seems to end up on GCSE Controlled Assessments. Teaching, managing and marking the Controlled Assessments appears to have been even more complex than people feared.  And everyone I know has all their fingers and toes crossed that the difficulties are just teething problems and not a sign of things to come!

The main frustration teachers seem to have is the feeling that we are simply invigilating and marking exams on the cheap. Along with the huge amount of class time now taken up with the students writing their assessments and the associated admin, there is a real danger that GCSE students will suffer from having less time to explore the skills and content of the GCSE English Language and Literature courses.

Furthermore there are big question marks over whether a mark-scheme which does not include actual grades really does benefit either the students or the teachers. And of course, there are the logistic complications of organising the appropriate SEN support.

However, there do seem to be benefits to the CA.  Some teachers I have worked with have found that weaker students have performed better and boys in particular seem to do well out of having to work in such a focussed way. This spotlight on independent learning will also be a better preparation for Further Education.

But most of all, I am thankful to have abandoned the pitfalls of marking (sometimes endless) drafts of GCSE coursework and the chasing of missing pieces by our more lackadaisical students!

So, what can we do next year to make it a bit easier on ourselves? Here are some tips that my colleagues have suggested:
  • Save the CA to year 11, so that students can benefit from really building their skills throughout year 10 before they begin them.
  • Ensure that all the students in a year group sit the CA at the same time.
  • Schedule a period of compulsory catch-up sessions for all CA for absentees.
  • Plan enough time to teach the units, as well as write the assessments.
  • Plan the GCSE course as a team so that resources are shared.
There is no magic answer, unfortunately, but hopefully with some tweaking the CA will get easier next year and become less of an exam for all of us!  How have you been finding it and what are your top tips for next year?

Naomi Hursthouse
Advance Skills Teacher
Steyning Grammar School

Primary drama - Ideas to get reluctant children involved

I used to hate drama at school, being very self conscious and took that dislike of the subject into teaching it, trying to swap lessons with other teachers to avoid it but since investigating techniques for teaching drama and trying some myself, I’ve realised that it can be fun and have set about trying to ensure that children who seem as self conscious as I was benefit from working in the subject. It surprised me really that many boys were anti drama as I’ve often watched them playing war games in the playground so I think it’s the enjoyment and comfort zone that’s been missing in the past.

Here's an activity, tried with my class, that can help spice up your drama sessions and get reluctant dramatists actively involved.

Acting Through Sound

In this drama activity we decided to write and perform a play which was performed only through sound. There was to be no movement and no speaking. We had only the sounds our voices could make plus a few implements to make additional sounds with.

We did ‘A Day At The Beach’ but you can do any simple play that you feel the children can cope with.

We began with the sound of pouring water into a container (making tea for the picnic), a sawing sound for the sandwiches and then the sounds of a car engine.

For the journey, we had beeps for traffic jams, bells on bicycles, a quiet rumble for the engine and then the squeal of brakes as we arrived.

The children did crunching noises for feet on pebbles, a rain stick for the sound of the ocean, accompanied by seagull cries.

For the lunch there was the sss.. of the fizzy drinks bottle, the pouring and sipping of tea, the crunch of an apple and the rustle of a crisp packet.

We had a song (hummed) for the radio, the rustle of dad’s newspaper and the closing of four car doors for the start of the journey home.

We asked the audience what they thought it was about and we were pleased to get suggestions that were close to the answer.  It was agreed by the class that it was a lot of fun and despite my nerves, we probably will do it again!

Dave Lewis
Portsmouth High School Junior Dept